Saturday, January 22, 2011

Born In Sin


Psalms 51:5 ~ "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."

Sin is most certainly a theological concept. In many instances, both Christian and non-Christian alike has redefined sin as simply bad, unethical  or immoral behavior. In fact many people do not wish to be called or considered a "sinner" because of the implications of the word and the immoral or bad behavior to which the use of the word is normally associated.

In a recent conversation on Facebook the very issue, of being called a sinner, appalled my niece (who is an atheist by the way) so much that she resorted to lying, fabrication, insult and simply anything to strike back at what she considered to be a derogatory comment toward her. It seems that calling her a "sinner" gave her the thought of being identified with a morally reprehensible group of people and individuals.

While it may or may not be true that sinners are associated with the materially immoral, according to the bible every nonbeliever or sinner is associated with the spiritually immoral and non-functional. As in the case of my niece, it seems that persons even devoid of what Christians would consider to be a right relationship with God and  spiritual values, consider the association with sin and sinners negatively and interpret the label in a negative light.

The Doctrine Of St. Augustine?

Many, including the modern day Jew, believe that what is called the Doctrine Of Original Sin began with St. Augustine. However, nothing is further from the truth. The doctrine of original sin began within the pages of Old Testament scripture and is revealed in the New Testament as the "curse of the law"

Galations 3:10-14 ~ "10-For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11-But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12-And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13-Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14-That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."


One Man's Transgression Is Upon All

Under the Doctrine of Original sin, the sin of Adam falls upon all of the human race. Many have a problem with this understanding and call it the epitome of immorality to hold the sins or crimes of a "father" to the son's account or that of a previous generation to the next generation. But we must look at this for a moment, just as the faith of Abraham not only made Abraham righteous but also all of his seed, the curse of the law, which is sin, makes all unrighteous and all of the seed of the original transgressor. As an example of this, in the the book of Joshua 7:24-26, not only was Achan judged for his sins, but his whole family and personal possessions were surrendered. This was a shadow of the egregious nature of sin and its ultimate judgement, alluding to the fact that sin has a devastating effect not only upon the individual that commits such sin, but also upon the family and the entire community.

For a minute contrast this to the condition of many of our communities. We are a generation that can readily and easily observe sons paying for their parents sins through high incarceration rates, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, poor and under education, malnourishment and a host of other issues. The only ones who don't see and understand that sometimes innocent children and whole families pay for the sins and transgressions of others whom some don't know, are those in the ivory towers of "criticize everything and do nothing". Unfortunately, all one has to do is go to the inner city and find many families that have been devastated by career and generational criminal activity, which is SIN. It is an obvious, open, clear and sorry fact that sins of prior generations often heap judgement and terrible circumstances on the heads of the innocent.  

{Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Program} 

As a result of Adam's transgression, man, the entirety of what was and would be mankind,  was in sin and needed a savior as he could not save himself from sin, nor the power of sin. By virtue of this we WERE all sinners at one time. In fact many today, although Christians, yet believe that they are still sinners. The song and phrase "I'm just a sinner, saved by grace" yet rings in many of America's modern churches. Maybe it's a gap in understanding or language and maybe it's a point being driven home that we can do nothing to deserve the grace of God. 

Although God has fashioned himself as a "Father" toward us, but he is more than that, he is our God. What disengages our God from us is our sin. (Isa. 59:2) A "sinner" is one who practices sin or is engaged or overwhelmed into sin as a lifestyle. A "sinner" is not one who commits sin or who has committed a sin. A sinner is one who yields themselves to the pursuit, and practice of sin. They have no regard for the Christian worldview, nor the authority of God. True believers and followers of Christ, do not practice sin and they are subject to the rule and the authority of Christ through his word. Although none of us are sinlessly perfect, once in Christ we are no longer "sinners", for IN Christ, there is no sin. The advantage that we have is that although we were born into sin, we can preform better actions through Christ, and subdue the nature of sin with which we are born. The disadvantage that Adam had is that he had no sin from the beginning and when he chose transgression, that transgression tainted and damaged everything, even things beyond and outside of himself. With all of that said we must ask the following question:

When Does A Person Become A Sinner? 

Psalms 53:3 ~"The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies."

This question is essential to our conversation. Some believe that if we are born imperfect that this is an insult to the creative ability of God. In other words God's work becomes ineffectual. However, as I will state later, the creation of God is completely different from how we are shaped, formed and enter into the world since the transgression of Adam.

In recent commentary with one of our readers, FM, I presented Ps. 53:3 and stated that the "wicked" (Rasha), [a morally wrong or actively bad person] is "estranged" [or a "stranger"] (Zuwr) from the womb. It would seem that sinners are born sinners from the womb. Further, they are considered "strangers" as it pertains to God. A stranger is an unknown person. Jesus states in Matthew 7:23, that there would be certain individuals that he would reject in judgement as those that he "never knew" ie: strangers. So this concept holds true throughout scripture.

Please be clear, babies are not the target of God's wrath as many hold under this doctrine or teaching.  Romans 5:13 states that there is no imputation of sin [(οὐκ ἐλλογεῖται) Put to account so as to bring penalty] where there is no law in reference to the time before Moses gave the law of God. Clearly there was law before Moses gave it, and men were held accountable for their sins. So could this scripture indicate a greater concept other than a literal epoc or time frame in which it has generally been interpreted? In addition Jesus invited all children to come to him (Mt. 19:14, Lk. 18:16, Mk. 10:14) and styled all them that enter the Kingdom of heaven after a "little child". Therefore, it would be more than a twisting of scripture to state that the same Jesus justifies the eternal condemnation of children. {but I'm sure that the literalists and the critics will persist}

Further, it is true that one can become a product of environment or circumstances, however that's not always the case. We have all been in sin and have been sinners because of the effects of sin in the genome and that is far beyond our control. How could a spiritual action create such a material defect? How does a spiritual breath of God animate life? Does having this understanding, that we are born with a sin nature impenge upon our perception of what man is now as a result of sin and the fall of Adam? Let's take a look:

God's Creation Is Sinless

The original creation fo God, or what we can call his "express image" (Heb. 1:3) is without sin. Adam, Eve and Jesus were the only humans created without sin. There were no physical, moral or spiritual imperfections within them. Sin is an element within mankind now, that WAS NOT a part of his original design. Neither did God place it there. It was and is an awful and ugly modification, an add-on because of the exercise of free-will.

I believe that it's important to consider the element of free-will and formulate a clear understanding of what it means, because a philosophical argument against the existence of God could be created  based upon the wrong and incomplete premise as a result. The argument being hailed by some critics, goes like this:
1- If there is a God he is a maximally great being 
2- A maximally great being would not create moral, physical and  so called spiritual imperfections
3- Moral, physical and so called spiritual imperfections exist
4- Therefore, God does not exist
Now, from a philospohical and logical standpoint this argument and type of argument deserves our attention because, no matter our view of God, when we acknowledge 3 this seems to affirm 4.  Here are the arguments thought through:
Argument 1- Although the critic would fight tooth and nail to allow this point, as Christians we acknowledge that God IS a maximally great being. A maximally great being can be defined as one who is omniscient, omnipresent among other attributes and also one without moral, physical or spiritual imperfection. In the Christian worldview only God could be considered a maximally great being. We say, "God is good, all the time and All the time, God is good!" This expression is an acknowledgement of God as a maximally great being.

Argument 2- We would also have to acknowledge that such a maximally great being, or "good God" would not produce or create what is morally, physically or spiritually imperfect. A maximally great being does not find pleasure in suffering and pain. The creation of what is morally or spiritually imperfect violates the nature of God as a maximally great being and disengages the "goodness" from God. This is called the "problem of evil". It is a problem because we all recognize that evil exists and that God is good, creating an insurmountable  inconsistency and contrast in the mind of many.

Argument 3 - Based on the trail of the analysis of Argument 2 listed above, we would have to acknowledge that moral, physical and spiritual imperfections exist. One proof of this is that certain persons are born with physical imperfections and abnormalities. Birth defects and diseases are physical imperfections and some lead to death.
The question is does God actively create individuals who are morally, physically and spiritually imperfect?  In other words the whole argument is contingent upon the thought that  Argument 3 (the existence of moral, physical and spiritual imperfections) are caused by God who is a maximally great being. We must ask however, is this true? Has God created physical, moral and spiritual imperfections among men and mankind?  

Back To Genesis

I believe we understand, that according to scripture, God's creation of the world was "good" and man in his original state or condition was also good. Man was originally sinless and perfect and created in God's own image. I have written and continue to contend that, at that time, death did not exist in that perfect condition or creation of God. This is the indication that sin did not exist among men, mankind or what God had created. Death, even amongst animals, was not a part of the perfect physical and moral condition which God created. Further, it is a moral impossibility and inconsistency of nature for God, which is perfect, to create such imperfection, but beyond that it is not an inconsistency of God's nature to make such moral, physical and spiritual imperfections possible.

The problem with the argument above is that it is not tenable. There is no basis to conclude, given the element of free will, that because we see moral and physical imperfections that God is somehow responsible for them. Are we to affirm that God has the culpability for human choice of moral imperfection? This type of sentiment is a leap into a chasim of unfounded and unsupportable assertion and speculation. In fact it strips mankind of any such free-will and only creates an illusion of such. If free-will is really "free" the "possibility" of adverse choice must exist, even though the actualization of that choice is not sponsored, nor endorsed by God. Therefore I believe the argument as stated fails intellectually and logically. It certainly fails biblically.  

A better and more accurate argument is this:

1-God is a maximally great being
2-A maximally great being cannot and does not create moral, physical and spiritual imperfections
3-God's creation was without moral, physical and spiritual imperfection
4-A maximally great being creates the potential for moral, physical and spiritual imperfection by creating communicable agents with free will
5-Man, through the exercise of freewill, actualized or brought about moral, physical and spiritual imperfection
6-Man's exercise of his free will does not impugn the existence or maximal greatness of God's being.
To The Heart Of The Issue

To some this may seem a bit confusing. If we are born IN sin or with sin, then how could we choose sin? The point that I am trying to make is that sin has already been chosen for us since the sin of Adam. It is an inexcapeable product of Adam's choice that is upon us all. Further, if my logic holds true that God is not responsible for the corruption that we find within humaity in the form of moral, physical and spiritual imperfection, there are certain questions that can be posed that I believe the church and bible believing Christians should answer or at least address or assess. Here are some:
1- Is it a problem for the church to acknowledge that certain individuals are born with the conditions that they currently exhibit?

For example, homosexuality...Is it harmful to the truth to acknowledge that indivuals are born homosexuals? If sin is a perversion of what is morally good and right, then why would it be a threat in any way to acknowledge that individuals are born with certain sin tendacies?

2- Replace homosexuality referenced above with adultery, idolatry or any other sin. Would the same hold true? 

3- Do we believe that all men are somehow born perfect and that their sinful nature is only a product of environment, impulse or negative influence? This would mean that we would believe that all men are born holy, and is that what the bible really teaches about men and mankind?
Does the church loose it's position with the acknowledgement that individuals are born sinners from the womb? If it doesn't then why would we fight sinners that say that they are born in certain sins?

I invite you to comment. This may be good bible study material. One thing is for sure, no matter how or what we were born with. we must be born again! (John 3:3) 

Blessed!

2 comments:

  1. Minister Gerald Palmer

    That was a really sad interaction. I really feel for you. On the bright side, your bad facebook interactions lead to some new great friends for me. Anyone that you strike out against turn out to be some great people.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Palmer,

    Mindlessness, true mindlessness! Nothing of any value to add to the convo, or any convo that I've seen you on.

    Mindlessness!

    ReplyDelete

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