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Friday, June 7, 2013

The Nature of the Sinner

Romans 7:18 (ESV) 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

The world is surprised by sin. Many people really wants to believe that everyone is good and that they will always do good things. At least, that's what they say publically but they still lock their doors at night.

On the other hand, paranoia believes that everyone is out to get you. This is the belief that a nefarious plan is in every action. Can we honestly say that everyone is seeking do as much evil as possible? No, I don't think so.

So, what does Paul mean when he says that there is nothing good dwelling in him? He must know that he has done some things which are benevolent. In fact, he would have been required to so as a good Pharisee.

Paul is saying that he cannot act in a way which will ensure his salvation. There is nothing in his flesh that will earn salvation. Paul is saying that his fallen nature cannot be made pure by his salvation. He is saying that his flesh does not contain the goodness to do what he would really like to do. He is saying that he, therefore, wants to live a perfect life but the fallen flesh pulls him back to his fallen nature. He is frustrated in his lack of living a life that is totally devoted to Christ. He is lamenting his inability to live a perfect Christian life.

This, of course, means that I, too, cannot live a perfect Christian life. Nor can any other Christian. It means that I should not expect others to live a perfect Christian life. I should not always expect others to do bad things but I should expect that there will be times when they will do bad things. It means that I must be forgiven and I must forgive. I will always be actively asking for forgiveness and forgiving as long as I have fallen flesh and live among a people with fallen flesh.

This does not mean that I throw my hands in the air, scream, "O, What's the use?" and live an unrepentant sinful life. I am being changed. I do have hope. I know that my Savior is the only answer. I know that He is still working on me. I know that I have been made into a new creation. Yet, I must also be aware of my ability to act like an old creation.

So, I will continue to have security at church, lock my doors and refuse each caller who asks for my credit card number. I will not be surprised by sin in others though I will expect them to be honest, loving and good. I will cautiously allow them to prove me wrong.

Yes, I know that I was changed when I gave my life to Christ but my fallen nature was not wrenched out of me. I still live with the flesh.

That's just the nature of a fallen world.


Anonymous said...

I was just thinking of that specific passage in Romans and the point of this post this morning. :)

I began reading a Christian book on leadership. The first chapter discussed integrity. The author said that integrity meant being consistent--congruent would have been a better word for his point--in that one's outside behavior should match one's inside.

I do understand his point, but it gave me pause. It occurred to me that sometimes my inside was much better than my outside showed--and, unfortunately, vice versa.

Heaven forbid that I should act the way I sometimes think/feel! Seriously. And the Romans passage along with your point crossed my mind.

Oh, that I would behave the way my heart wishes...and praise God that His love constrains me (most of the time) from acting in the way that my flesh urges. :}

Sometimes congruence is a good thing...other times, not so much.

Thanks for this post.


Anonymous said...

In my view the Apostle Paul was not talking about his pre-conversion life struggle with his sinful nature.  Towards the end of your entry, you gave the correct understandings; but you have chosen the title as the nature of the sinner.  

I choose not to call myself a sinner or another believer a sinner.  One who is a believer is a saint.  An unbeliever is a sinner; on conversion, he is called a saint.  I prefer to call a saint who sins much, a dirty saint, unless I hear from God, that he ought to be called a sinner all over again, and that would be serious.

Overly grace believers, taught by their teachers, often argue that the Rom 7 text was referring to Paul's pre-conversion life.  But it was not; it was talking about the struggles we, believers, do have and have to manage - the tug of war between the pull from voice of the Holy Spirit and the same from the sinful nature that is still present in us, in our flesh.  The overly grace believers and preachers insist that upon born again, they are perfect, fully righteous, and having the full mind of Christ, and they believe the sinful nature is no longer in them anymore.  They are wrong, of course; but it is sad that overly grace theology and doctrines have large followings.

Paul was clear that the sinful nature in us can act up, and get the better of us, if we do not learn to fight it by not entertaining it, and instead to harken always, to the voice of the Holy Spirit.  

That even Paul would share it as his personal experience, it should be that many of us do have the same struggle.  Some overly grace believers, because they treated the Apostle Paul as the God-picked proclaimer of their so-called final gospel, of grace, they cannot accept Paul could be having such struggle experience as an apostle. That overly grace believers, many of them, can think that way, it is also not surprising that they almost worship their articulate overly grace preachers, but are quite blind to see the fallacy and flawed expositions of the same. 

To not self-examine ourselves, not study the Word to see if what we are taught are correct, and not learning to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit is sure not helping us to grow in the correct knowledge, and faith.  We need to learn to differentiate the two voices; we need to want to resist sins and carnality, and want to be holy as God is holy, and we need to want to be conformed to the likeness of our Lord, Jesus.  All in all, we need to spend time and energy on anything that is worthwhile, what more, it is to build a close relationship with our Lord, the Holy Spirit and God.

We need to effort and persevere, in working with God, with our refinement to conform to the likeness of our Lord.  When we fall down, get up, and work at it again; don't give up the working out of our salvation with fear and trembling - Phil 2:12.  We do need to end up as overcomer.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions