Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Reality of Cannot

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on April 28, 2017

One of the things that sets man apart from all of the other creatures is his ability to observe reality and organize it. Language and words are fundamental to this end. Using words, man is able to conceptualize abstractions and understand his world. Using words, man is able to communicate with others. Using words, God communicated to man.

Therefore, when it comes to properly interpreting scripture, the words that are used are most important to communicate a specific message. The various authors used the specific words that they used so that there would be no misunderstanding by those to whom they were writing. For example, the apostle John wrote the following in 1 John 3:9:

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

Silly me, but I actually believe that when John wrote “cannot sin” he actually meant CANNOT sin!

Now you know me, I certainly won’t pass up the opportunity to examine the grammatical structure of words, being the grammaticist (is that a word?) that I am. The word translated “cannot” is the Greek word δυναμαι (dyoo-na-mai). It means to be able or possible. From this word we get our English word “dynamite”. It means to have the power or ability to do something. In the text of 1 John 3:9, “dunamai” is preceded by the negative particle “ou” which means “not”. John says that the one who is born again does NOT have the ability or the power to sin. It is not possible for him to sin!

Cannot has to do with metaphysical reality. Cannot speaks to the nature of existence. Cannot speaks to ability.

We have a tendency to be careless with the words we use. Often times when we say, “cannot,” we really mean “will not” or “do not”. One is a choice, the other is a metaphysical reality. For example, if I were to say, “I cannot play the piano,” I am not saying that I don’t have the ability to learn how to play the piano. Neither am I saying that there is something pertaining to the nature of my existence that prevents me from being able to play the piano. Now if I were to say, “I cannot fly like a bird,” what I am saying is that as a human being, I do not have the ability to fly like a bird. The metaphysical reality regarding my existence as a human being prevents me from having the ability to fly like a bird.

Consider the metaphysical two-step that Calvinists play with regard to ability, particularly with regard to their interpretation of 1 John 3:9. Let’s begin by looking at how they interpret this verse in their favorite bible, the ESV.

“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.”

Notice the two expressions I have emphasized and how they are related to each other. The Greek word for “practice” is the word πρασω (prass-oh), which means to perform repeatedly or habitually. This clearly seems to be the implied connation of the ESV translation. In other words, the believer might slip up and sin from time to time (i.e. he may occasionally forget to live by “faith alone” and think he actually did a good work), but as a “practice” his life is not characterized by habitually sinning.   By extension, it might also stand to reason that one who DOES make a practice of habitually sinning might have reason to doubt the genuineness of his salvation. (Is it any wonder why the lack of assurance runs rampant in the institutional church?)

But the problem is that John didn’t use the word “prasso”. In the original Greek manuscripts he used the word ποιεω (poi-eh-oh), which means to make or to do. If John had wanted to mean “practice sin”, he would have said, “practice sin”.

Compare the ESV above with the King James:

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

What the Calvinists have effectively done with 1 John 3:9 through their ESV bible is to make sin a function of choice and not ability. The Calvinist would have us to believe that one who is a believer makes a choice not to sin. This is step one in the metaphysical two-step. While on the one hand claiming the doctrine of election and that man has no free will, man somehow still has a choice in whether or not he can make a “practice” of sinning.

Step two requires us to consider that the doctrine of “total depravity” says that man is metaphysically evil. The question then is obvious. If man is metaphysically evil, how can he choose to not keep on sinning? The metaphysical reality of his existence would mean that he has no ability to do anything but evil. Is this not what Reformed theology would have us believe?

The contrast of what the apostle John teaches regarding the believer and sin is a direct rebuke to Reformed theology. The one who is born again does not commit sin because he cannot sin! It is a statement about the metaphysical reality of the believer’s existence with regard to ability. The believer is not able to sin because who he is makes the reality of sin non-existent.   He cannot sin because sin is not possible.

The believer is a new creature. He is the literal offspring of the Father, therefore he shares the same righteous nature as the Father. Furthermore, he is not under law because the old man who was under law is dead. The law has no more power over him. The believer cannot sin because there is no law to condemn him, and where there is no law there is no sin.  This makes the reality of sin impossible.  This is the metaphysical reality for the one who is born of God!

Reformed theology attempts to explain away the plain truth of scripture by changing the clear meaning of words in a vain attempt to wrestle it into compliance with their orthodoxy. Ironically, in their attempt to do so, they only manage to further expose the contradictions in their own twisted and evil theology.

~ Andy

Advertisements

Man Does NOT Have a Sin Problem

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 20, 2016
%d bloggers like this: