Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Consecration

Being such an important word, it is amazing how little we hear it. So long as we as Christians are not consecrated to the Lord, we will accomplish extremely little or nothing for Heaven. We must learn what this word means and how we can become consecrated to our God.

Here is the meaning of the word consecration: set apart for the Lord's use.

What a tremendous need for the Church of Jesus Christ to be set apart in this day that we live! Perhaps the number one ailment that the Body of Christ suffers today is our failure to be consecrated. Rather, we are defiled! How then can we be useful to the Master? This helps to explain our degraded beloved North America. The quicker we acknowledge this, the quicker we can fix it, the quicker we can transform our societies, shut the lion's mouth and save dying lost souls. Consecration is the key to all spiritual success.

So the question is: How does a person become consecrated?


1. DEDICATION

When the Israelites were building the Tabernacle in the desert, the people came and presented gifts and articles to the Lord for use in His service. "And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD." (Exodus 35:22) Whatever was to be used regarding the temple of the Lord required the first act of dedication. Notice is says "as many as were willing hearted." Once an article was offered to the Lord there was no getting it back. Gold used in the construction of the temple was never to be used for anything else again.

As it is today, God is searching for people whose hearts are willing to dedicate themselves to His service without the thought of serving the world any longer. The verse for us in the New Testament is Romans 12:1-2, "...present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind..." Present your bodies. The first step to consecration is dedication, a willing act of the heart to serve the Lord.


2. SEPARATION

Once we are dedicated we then must be separated. It is not enough to simply offer yourself to the Lord one Sunday night and then go shrinking back to the world on Monday. The body must be separated. This is a subject many people do not like to think about, for they love the world too much. However, the only way to be used by God effectively is to be separated from the world and it's contaminations. There is no getting around this. You cannot serve God and this world.

"Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils." (1 Corinthians 10:21) Too many Christians have lived a life of duplicity. Did you know that the devil has a communion table as well? It says right here in this verse... he too has a table prepared for whosoever will. His table is filled with all the delicacies of the world, enough to seduce any lustful appetite. Yes, his food is seemingly more attractive than the simple bread and wine, but in deceitfulness he has loaded his menu with poison, enough poison to kill even a foolish Christian who thinks he can feast from both sides. In the end you are only fooling yourself and you are the one who loses.

This duplicity will not do. If we are to grow up into the full stature of Christ and obtain spiritual victories against the devil we must separate ourselves from all that defiles the body. There are five gates of entry that must be guarded at all times. These are the eyes, the mouth, the ears, the nose, and the hands/feet.

We must separate ourselves from all things that defile any of these gates and so defiles God's temple, our body (1 Corinthians 6:19). Unclean words, thoughts, actions, appetites, habits, etc... unclean movies, music, games, books, television, company, settings, food, etc... All things that defile must go if we are to be consecrated unto the Lord, useful for His service.

"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." (2 Timothy 2:20-21)

The defining factor between a Christian who is useful and consecrated to God and a Christian who is useless is whether or not they are separated from the world. This sets a man apart, making him available in the Lord's sight.


3. CONSECRATION

When a person is dedicated and separated, they then become consecrated by the Holy Spirit and He is able to flow through them unhindered and without measure.

"...So Moses finished the work. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle." (Exodus 40:33-34)

Powerful! Are you willing to say to God today: "Lord, I offer myself to You for use in Your holy service?" May God stir our hearts to be willing and obedient, a people set apart for the use of the Lord!

51 comments:

Adam & Karen said...

Eli, that is a very good word! Good, but hard! Then again... whoever said "taking up our cross" would be easy, eh?
We love reading your blog. It's wonderful to see how God is moving in your heart and life.
The words of a dear old hymn sum up what this article is all about: "Trust and obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey!"
God bless.

jedd said...

Hey Eli,

I think you raise quite a vexing reality within the Body (namely, complacency in Christian service). In general, I think this is a good word.

You say that "the only way to be used by God effectively is to be separated from the world." But I ask: How can a person be used by God effectively if separated from the world? Put another way: How can a person be an effective tool for God without regular association with the world, and a certain amount of knowledge of and experience in the world? Jesus and Paul knew their times and their audiences very, very well. They preached the things of God in terms that their audeinces could readily comprehend and identify with.

Also, you mention a need to abstain from "unclean movies, music, games, books, television, company, settings, food, etc." How do you know if a given CD is "unclean" or not? How do you know if a certain game is "unclean" or not? How do you know if a Wendy's JBC is "unclean" or not? And what exactly do you mean by 'unclean'?

There are a lot of don'ts in your post. This gives it the air of a legal code (i.e., a law). What would you say to someone who suggests that your post is simply legalism? What would you say to someone who compares you to a pharisee?

My own view on the matter is that it is my faith that sets me apart from the world, not my deeds. There are many people out there who act according to Christian ethics, but who do not do so "from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere FAITH" (1 Tim. 1:15). My faith, I believe, separates me from the world.

Thats all for now. And like I said before, your call to Christian service is a timely word.

jedd

Adam wright said...

Eli,

I agree with Jedd. There are a lot of do nots in your advice. Paul speaks about a similar topic in Colossians. Grace has set him free from clean and unclean. The only regulation he places on an activity is whether it will cause a brother or sister to stumble. I'm not suggesting we do drugs, or drink in excess, or take in pornography, etc. What I am saying is that our salvation is secure in the Grace of Jesus and that gives us freedom! Not freedom to indulge in sin but freedom from the eternal consequences of sin, namely clean and unclean. Since there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, why do you suggest that we abstain from many activities? Are you suggesting that our salvation is at stake? I just need you to elaborate.

I'll leave it at that for now. I have a feeling I know where this will lead, but I'll let it go there for now.

Logic said...

Eli,

I am curious, where did you get your definition of consecration? You said consecration is "set apart for the Lord's use." Where did you get this definition?

The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (1975 edition) defines consecrate far differently than you.

Quoting from p.951:

"The verbal form, 'consecrate,' connotes the induction of a person into a sacral office by means of a religious rite, or the declaration of a thing or object to be sacred."

"The nominative form 'consecration' indicates an act by which a person or thing is set apart to a sacred cause or purpose."

I think the point here is clear: that consecration is something that God does; he declares us to be set apart; he consecrates us, we do not consecrate ourselves. It is not something WE do, but rather something God does (or has done if you are a Christian).

I do not need to consecrate myself, Jesus did it for me.

Certainly we should not be involved in sin, that would be to make the grace of God in vain. It is God's grace, what he has given us (a gift Romans 5:17) that allows us to say "NO" to ungodliness (Titus 2:12) and allows us to reign in life, living Godly lives.

A few words to consider:

"Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?" Galatians 3:2

"After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" Galatians 3:3

"Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?" Galatians 3:5

"Why, as though you still belonged to [the world], do you submit to its rules: 'Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!'? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence." Colossians 2:20-23

"How is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?" Galatians 4:9

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Galatians 5:5

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Galatians 5:16

"But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." Galatians 5:18

I do not believe your idea of consecration agrees with scripture. I believe Jedd made an accurate assessment when he observed: "There are a lot of don'ts in your post. This gives it the air of a legal code (i.e., a law)."

Further, I believe Adam made an excellent point when he said, "The only regulation he places on an activity is whether it will cause a brother or sister to stumble." And later he asked an excellent question, "why do you suggest that we abstain from many activities?"

I believe your standards by which a person should be consecrated are contrary to the New Testament concept of grace. It is by grace we are set apart, and this is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works, but rather by Jesus, the one sacrifice for all. Through Christ we have been set apart (consecrated); through Christ we are made holy.

Funny how antagonistic scripture can be at times, isn't it?

-Logic

Nathan Staples said...

Logic, I am curious about a few things. Have you ever met with eli to discuss any of the issues that you bring up? Assuming you are from the area and know Eli personally, I encourage you to do this if you have not already. I mean that sincerely. Although there can be misunderstandings no matter what the setting is, I think a one on one setting is often the best to ensure a healthy and positive discussion can take place.

Is it safe for me to assume that you are from the area and know eli and others who post on this blog? If so, does it matter, does that change anything? Should any of us leave our names? Is it different if you leave your name but do not know anyone on the blog (like rodney who I think made a good point and I appreciated how micah responded) compared to not leaving your name but actually knowing others who post on the blog? I keep going through the reasons why I think it matters but i'm just curious as to what others might think and I look forward to your own response.

Eli said...

I am continually amazed at the debates we get into over such simple Biblical truths. How long does it take living in this world to realize that you must separate yourself from this world to be filled with the Spirit? This is elementary basics.

It's not that we separate ourselves from the "world" (people, places, etc), but from the world... the things of this world that are contrary to God (James 4:4). "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat." (1 Corinthians 5:9-11)

This is really silly that I have to even write this: "In the world but not of the world."

There are a lot of commands in the Bible as well as to what we should and should not do...

Should I or should I not beat my wife? Should I watch bad movies? Should I be a glutton? Should I swear? Should I gossip? Should I dress modestly? Rest assured, people who do these things are not going to be filled with the Spirit. Are you implying people like this can be effective ministers of the gospel? This is absurd.

But wait... does that mean I'm under law just because Paul tells me not to be a drunkard? Of course not! Here's a New Testament command: REPENT.

As A.W. Tozer once said: "God saves only sinners, and He saves only those who admit they are sinners... but He saved them from BEING sinners."

The Christians ought to be the most holy people on earth, not just like everybody else but "washed in the blood."

If you have a drunken fornicating unbeliever and a drunken fornicating believer... does one go to heaven and one go to hell?

Adam, you mentioned, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..." and this is true, but the problem with that is we stop right there... "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 1:8 KJV) You won't find this in the NIV!

Logic, what does keeping in step with the Spirit mean then? What does walking AFTER the Spirit mean?

If every Christian on the face of this North American continent was filled with the Holy Spirit as you are suggesting, wouldn't things be a lot different?! Are our churches "Spirit-filled?" I think not.

Sorry brothers, but this is amazing how we would debate something so basic as this.

Eli said...

*Romans 8:1 KJV

Adam wright said...

I'm not sure you understood by post. So I'm going to just ask the question that I meant to have you read: Are we talking about losing our salvation?

Eli said...

Sorry Brother Adam,

No, we are talking about being set apart for the Lord's use. I can't emphasize enough that Scripture from 2 Timothy 2:20-21 in the article.

However, that being said, I still believe that a person coming to the Lord must repent and bear fruits meet of repentance in their life. This does not mean instant perfection, but it does mean a change of mind, where we seek after what is the Lord's and not what is our own and this world. I do warn people who may think they are saved but live in sin.

Hope this is clear.

jedd said...

Eli,

I will begin by addressing your most recent post, and then I will return to mine.

I appreciate your clarification of "being in the world but not of it." I was sure thats what you meant. But tell me...if there really are non-believers who read your blog as you say, is it really that absurd to clarify these things?

You say that there are a lot of commands in the Bible as to what we should and should not do. I think there is indeed ample instruction as to what we ought to do. But, apart from the so-called Seven Deadly Sins, I find little instruction on what the Christian ought NOT to do. Quite the contrary, in fact: "I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean" (Rom. 14:14, ESV). We read throughout the NT that the New Covenant replaces a stern, harsh code of don'ts with a liberating law of love (i.e., do's).

I agree with you that believers ought not to beat their wives, watch 'bad' movies, be gluttons, swear, or gossip. But, I believe that we need to make a distinction between those who continue to live in sin without remorse and those who seek to throw off their former ways yet struggle with doing so. And so I would not go as far as to say that people who struggle with such things are necessarily ineffective ministers. Recall Romans 7, where Paul admits his own strugles with sin. So, can people who live like this be effective ministers of the Gospel? I would say that it is certainly possible, and is very much a casee-by-case thing. But ultimately, that's up to God.

Now, returning to my previous post...

Eli, you would do well to answer (or at least address) all my questions. You addressed my question on the believer's association with the world. Thank you for your response. But most of my questions remain unaddressed. I'll repeat them for your viewing convenience:

"[Y]ou mention a need to abstain from "unclean movies, music, games, books, television, company, settings, food, etc." How do you know if a given CD is "unclean" or not? How do you know if a certain game is "unclean" or not? How do you know if a Wendy's JBC is "unclean" or not? And what exactly do you mean by 'unclean'?"

"There are a lot of don'ts in your post. This gives it the air of a legal code (i.e., a law). What would you say to someone who suggests that your post is simply legalism? What would you say to someone who compares you to a pharisee?"

In closing, I do not think that 'separation with the world' is something that we do as Christians, but rather what Christ has already done for us at Calvary. My identity is in Christ. THAT is what sets me apart from the world. Not what I do and don't do. But my faith.

So, then, if I don't believe that 'separation with the world' is a necessary precursor to Christian service, then what is? Prayer. Fasting. Reading, meditating on, and memorizing God's word. Notice that these are all positive actions (i.e., do's...which reflect a law of love), not negative commands (i.e., don'ts...which carry an air of legalism and contradict the liberating aspects of the work of Christ at Calvary as seen in Rom. 14:14). On the importance and role of prayer in missions, see chapter 2 (p. 45ff) of "Let the Nations be Glad!" by John Piper.

jedd

Adam Wright said...

Eli,
Thanks for the clarification. I agree with you - there are certain fruits that begin to appear after true salvation. I also agree that it is a process that takes time.

I want to paint a scenario for you. I am away at school and am living, for the most part, amongst non-christians. It is quite impossible for me not to associate myself with them and still remain a credible witness. My heart longs that they all be saved. I see the disgusting lifestyles that many live while away at school. My heart is that they be delivered and turn from these things. However rediculous they may be, I love them. They have become my friends over time and I care about their well being. They have come to know where I stand and are quite astonished at how I am satisfied (key word) with not doing the things that they live for. Some would go as far to say that I would be a "loser" because they do not understand a life beyond living for their own appetites. Why don't I need this, or why don't I need that? MY satisfaction does not lie in the fact that I am without because I have all I need. As a result of this, I can be around them and still love them. I can see their actions and not be influenced to do what they do because I am already satisfied in Christ.

The point of my story is that our faith is what sets us apart. However, by my not indulging in their activities I also speak volumes in Christ's favour. The difference between me and them (because I have my vices, just as they do) is that my heart longs after a greater satisfaction found in Christ. This, of course, glorifies God in the highest possible way. Suppose we could stand strong and not be intimidated by the world, how much more could we make a name for Christ among the unsaved? The greatest testimony against evil is to do what Jesus did: stand against temptation and not flinch. Easier said that done, of course. But I think my message is clear.

The single greatest reason for our belligerance is our fear. What are we afraid of?

Eli said...

Adam, yeah great post and testimony. In no way was I saying don't associate with unbelievers, as the passage in 1 Corinthians was saying. Bravo!

Jedd, sorry for the lack of clarity. Often in my posts I try to answer questions in very indirect ways. For example, you asked me how I know if a Wendy's Hamburger is unclean, and I responded in my post about gluttony. Also, I suppose a type of unclean food would be eating something detrimental to your body when you know you shouldn't. After all, God wants us to take care of our bodies, His holy temple.

If I may say, I believe a Christian is set apart by both faith and deeds, and not just one or the other. After all, faith in itself is not even enough. If you have faith in Christ but live like the world, your faith is dead. Likewise, if you live like Christ but have no faith, your works are dead. I believe firmly that both faith and deeds must be evident in the Christian's life and THAT is what makes him/her different from the world.

As to the Romans 7 paragraph, I know many people won't like this, but I believe Romans 7 lays out the predicament of a person not filled with the Holy Spirit, living in and by the Spirit. I do not believe Paul was subject to such a lifestyle. Romans 7 is the problem, Romans 8 is the cure. "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" We have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and on the cross Jesus broke the POWER of sin. God wants us to live in victory! Romans 7 is a chapter of defeat.

When I say unclean I mean anything that defiles the temple of the Holy Spirit. We know that the NT teaches us we can defile our bodies. So unclean movies and music: sex, violence, carnality, grotesque... these are not things we are commanded to dwell upon (Philippians 4:8).

As to legalism, well, if you want to call it that then call it that. I call it keeping yourself unpollyuted by the world (James 1:27). I'm not preaching salvation by works.

Hope this helps. God bless,
-Eli

Matt Sears said...

Eli,

I was wondering if you could elaborate on your interpretation of Romans 7. Are you arguing that Paul is simply presenting a hypothtetical scenario which would affect a person unsaved or not filled with the Spirit, or that he is describing his own situation prior to his salvation? I have always found the passage to be a great comfort when struggling with particular sins, as Paul himself, although totally spiritually regenerated, still was affected by his corrupt fleshly shell. My own opinion is that he is in fact describing his own struggles even as a spiritually saved individual. Although repentence leads to a rejection of the sinful nature, temptation and unfortunately the occasional succumbing to that temptation is still a reality for even the stoutest of believers. We have an example of Peter himself continuing to sin by refusing to associate with gentiles, upon which he was rightly rebuked by Paul. Sin is indeed a constant struggle for us all, as spiritually filled as we may be.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to post my thoughts. I look forward to your reply.

Matt

jedd said...

Hey Eli,

Yeah, I would also like to hear an elaboration on Romans 7. I've never heard such a take on it before. Sounds rather interesting.

Thanks for your replies to my questions. About the legalism/pharisee thing, I wasn't calling you those things myself. Rather, I was interested to see how you would respond to such an allegation (keeping in mind that there are non-believers who read your blog, some of whom might be inclined think that way).

About 'unclean' practices, I'll certainly admit that there are some things that no believer should do (adultery, fornication, crime, etc.). But WHY do we not do those things? If the answer is simply that we just aren't supposed to do such things, well, to me that sounds like a legal code. My own feeling is that we aren't supposed to do those things because of a superior, deeper satisfation in something greater (namely, God).

I see 'friendship with the world' not so much as doing what the world does, but loving it more than God. When we love the things of the world more than we love God, that, I think, is the problem. Just a thought. I don't think God cares if I pig-out once in a while, or listed to a non-Christian band (whatever that means) from time to time. Its when I put these things before God that I think isn't cool. Does He ask us to love ONLY him, or to love him most of all? There is a difference.

Anyway, just some food for thought.

jedd

Dennis D. said...

I am not going to weigh in on the current discussion. I'm a new comer to this blog, and I just wanted to express how much I have already gotten out of the postings and replies given to those postings. I will definitely be checking it out frequently and will probably eventually throw in my two pennies worth of thoughts.
May the Lord bless you with Himself.

Adam Wright said...

Jedd,

nice post brother!! I couldn't agree with you more. What does our heart desire more? Where our heart is, our treasure is also! God certainly doesn't mind our eating a lot of good food or maybe having a couple beers after dinner. As you said, God is MAINLY concerned with our hearts! That's why I can be around my non Christian friends and not have to worry about a thing. What if I slip up? God still loves me! What if I slip up twice? What about seventy seven times? God's grace is bigger than me... it's about my heart! What a glorious truth! That's exactly what it means to not be apart of the world. Make no mistake brothers, we would do well to treasure this!

Adam Wright said...

Sorry for the double post... but I reread some earlier posts and wanted to make some additional comments. Eli, I have to dissagree with your comments on Romans 7. I say this because I believe that Paul, as amazing as we read him to be, still struggled amazingly. I relate so well to Romans 7 but the beauty is, I also relate to chapter 8! When Paul talks of his thorn in 2 Corinthians 12, he talks about something that torments him... what it is, we don't know. But! We do know that God's grace covered it meaning that it was somehow an offence to God. As sad as it sounds, there is no end to temptation - not while in this natural body! We're going to fail too, a lot. This is the beauty of Christ's sacrafice! I think we don't realize the extent of it because we're too busy trying to live in our own power. What greater glory can be given to God than by our falling back into his arms with all our sins? IF we mess up, who really cares so long as our heart is seeking after him? I say that with the utmost confidense that God has got my back. This is truly what it means to rest in his grace. I can't stop talking about it because it's so amazing. Just take a moment to grasp this concept.


Almost unbelievable, isn't it?

Eli said...

Thank for you all the great comments. I pray I can answer these questions satisfactorily, though maybe not as indepth as we'd like over this medium.

First of all, amen Jedd! It certainly is all about our hearts, our love for God, and not just a set of rules. You are absolutely right there and I do not argue with that.

However, the danger is completely throwing out rules and instruction and saying "It's all about my heart." Let's not forget that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) If I could stress this: When I mention rules and standards to live by I am NOT talking about anything else but instruction for godly living, for experiencing more of God in your life, for being equipped for every good work... not about earning your salvation by works! That would nullify the grace of God! But instruction, rules and examples are all useful for training in righteousness. Please understand this point as we continue to discuss these matters.

Okay, now let's talk a bit about Romans 7:

Brother Matt, I believe Romans 7 is describing the condition of a man living under the power and dominion of sin. That person is unable to do the good he/she knows and unable to resist the evil he/she clearly understands. This perfectly describes the bondage of living under the power of sin. If I may suggest, I believe Jesus Christ died to set people free from such a condition!

You are right, we will always be tempted, no doubt. This is part of the curse of living in a world ruled by Satan and in a body naturally prone to ungodliness, but we must never forget what 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 says: "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." Brothers, how does this verse line up with Romans 7? It does not.

Brothers, in all love, please read prayerfully over 1 Corinthians chapter 10. It is one of the most sobering texts in the entire Bible. It describes the nation of Israel and tells us that they are an example and warning for us today. They too tasted of the blessings of God and fell by the way because of their sin. Just before verse 12-13 it says "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (10-11) Be careful you are not thinking you are standing firm while living in sin! I say this in love.

But let me clarify. I believe wholeheartedly that a man's salvation depends only upon the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and it is by grace alone that we are saved. A person does not have to be "perfect" to enter heaven. But I firmly believe that a person must repent and bear fruits meet of repentance, and I believe, according to the Scriptures, that there is victory over sin in this life, and we all must hate sin, hate it like our greatest enemy, for God does not treat sin lightly... He punished His Son severely for sin, He is returning to rid the world of sin... let us not get slack with the curse of the Earth. Let us not use the grace of God to cushion our sinful falls and look past the fact that God abhors sin to the highest degree. "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16)

Paul was a holy man, I am convinced of this. There is no way the man who exhorted others to walk holy and flee from sin and overcome the devil would himself be a defeated wreck living in the prison of sin. He lived an exemplary life of victory. He was not beyond temptation, but temptation was beyond him! The late Duncan Campbell once said: "No man can get to the place where it is impossible to sin, but you can get to a place where it is possible NOT to sin." Remember also, the Bible says "IF we sin" not "WHEN we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous..." (1 John 2:1)

As to the thorn in Paul's flesh, no where does it say it was a sin. It says is was a "messenger from Satan" sent to torment him. When the devil shoot his fiery arrows at us, it does not mean we sin, but at the time they are painful, provoking and deadly, yet we have a shield which can extinguish every one of them.

To close this reply, know that all these things are for training in righteousness, not salvation. There is a holiness to be attained, dear brothers, let us not settle for the condition of "sinner" when Christ died to make us "saints!"

Love in Christ,
-Eli

Adam Wright said...

Eli,

I like what you are saying. I believe we agree on these points. It is about our hearts and in our minds we serve God (Romans 7:25).

I am going to continue to disagree with you on your interpretation of Romans 7, however. Before I get into my reasons, I would like to know what your sources are for your thinking. If you could list those people supporting your theory, I would love to read them.

About Romans 7: I will still hold that it is Paul speaking about himself. I seriously considered your theory that it was not Paul and how such a man who "walk(s) holy and flee from sin and overcome the devil would himself be a defeated wreck living in the prison of sin." The person in chapter 7 desires to obey God's law and hates sin (vv 15, 19, 21); he is humble recognizing that nothing good dwells in humanness (v 18); he sees himself as a sinner but that isn't all that dwells in him (vv. 17, 20-22); and he servers Christ with his mind (v 25). Paul also describes that none of those characteristics describe an unsaved person (1:18, 21, 32). Also, the use of personal pronouns and present tense verbs suggest that he is writing about himself in his current state. I realize that there is disagreement in the type of believer it could be, but I hold that it is Paul. Perhaps the greatest key to this is in verse 17. Paul uses the greek word "ouketi" which means "no longer, not anymore". This consititues a state of change. Paul is speaking of someone who has experienced a change, ie. someone who has gone from old to new. His sin doesn't come from his new self, but the old self that he MUST continue to live in until he dies physically.

Another question: What happens, in your opinion, to those who do "go by the wayside"?

Please do not forget to post your references as well. I'd love to read them!!

Thanks!

A Christian Brother said...

While following this post and its comments, I initially had the thought that it’s not all about me, and that it’s about pleasing God – he who gives me everything that I am, and without him, I am a sickly, lost, useless heap of flesh. Maybe I’m saved even if I make a lifestyle of sinning, I don’t know, but with salvation comes a responsibility to obey Him who saved me (Luke 17:10, below). I would even say that it is a privilege, but that’s my interpretation.
(NOTE: all scriptural references are posted at the end of this post for your convenience.)

I see that God rewards (therefore prefers) obedience (Matt. 5:19). Some scriptures imply that those who are not obedient won’t enter the kingdom of heaven at all (Matt 18:3, 5:19). Perhaps this is an exaggeration for effect, but the effect in unarguable.

I seem to remember Jesus saying something to the effect “if you love me, you will obey me” (I may need Eli’s biblical knowledge to locate this one), but I couldn’t find it. But I did stumble across Luke 6:46, which I feel is similar, but differently challenging. Lord, in this context, would mean master or ruler. To me that means that if I call him Lord, then I have a duty and obligation to strive to do his will, i.e., including but not limited to, obeying him.

Furthermore, 1 John seems to imply that we can recognize other Christians by seeing them obey God’s commandments (1 John 2:3-6, 2:29; 3:3-6, 5:1-5, below. In fact, I urge everyone to go read the entire 1 John with respect to this post, it’s truly beautiful and inspiring scripture from the one who Jesus especially loved!)

I am a simple man, and all my academic training is in the natural and applied sciences (biology, physics, engineering) so I understand things often for what they are, what it says to me directly. This is not a philosophical argument, but merely an accumulation of biblical facts to base a theory on, please respect the way my brain has been trained to deal with reality and solve problems. I am hoping that if I am explicitly wrong in my understanding that someone could help me see the situation clearly.

To me, there’s no excuse for sinning. Although I continually do sin, I have been set free from so much bondage since becoming a Christian, and through the POWER of Christ’s glorious forgiveness I am continually being set free from more and more each day (I’ve got a lot to rid myself of!). I believe one aspect of Christ coming to live on earth as a man was to show us the perfect way for man to live, and we should always aspire to this archetype. I am progressing to a goal I will never achieve (no man can), Christ-likeness, but I strive nonetheless. I also believe that sin is the direct cause of misery, so that it’s in our best interests to live according to scripture, and the Enemy wants us to sin not only for our eternal damnation, but to propagate misery here on earth. Along those same lines, I believe that Christ’s salvation is not only for eternal life with him, but also to save us on this earth from being in bondage to misery through sin.

Please can someone give me scriptural references of why my viewpoint is wrong? I have only really been a Christian for about a year and can vividly remember the HELL that comes from not knowing God. But because I am a new Christian I am not well versed in biblical knowledge so am prone to error. This is the most important thing in my life, and I want to make sure that I get it right, so I am turning to my Christian brothers (you guys) for help.

(I apologize for the length of this post, it was very hard for me to limit my scripture to just 3 books, but this is as short as I can make it. What can I say, I love God’s word. And I can’t really proof read this so sorry about the errors, but I have to go to Church now.)

SCRIPTURE:
Matthew 5:19 - Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 7:21- Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as `Lord,' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven.

Matthew 18:3 - Then he said, "I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Luke 6:46 - "So why do you call me `Lord,' when you won't obey me?

Luke 17:10 - In the same way, when you obey me you should say, `We are not worthy of praise. We are servants who have simply done our duty.' (a privilege, not a sacrifice)

1 John - 3And how can we be sure that we belong to him? (Jesus) By obeying his commandments. 4If someone says, "I belong to God," but doesn't obey God's commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth. 5But those who obey God's word really do love him. That is the way to know whether or not we live in him. 6Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did.

1 John 2:29 - Since we know that God is always right, we also know that all who do what is right are his children.

1 John - 3And all who believe this (That Christ’s followers are God’s Children) will keep themselves pure, just as Christ is pure. 4Those who sin are opposed to the law of God, for all sin opposes the law of God. 5And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, for there is no sin in him. 6So if we continue to live in him, we won't sin either. But those who keep on sinning have never known him or understood who he is.

1 John 5 - 1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. 2We know we love God's children if we love God and obey his commandments. 3Loving God means keeping his commandments, and really, that isn't difficult. 4For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory. 5And the ones who win this battle against the world are the ones who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

Adam & Karen said...

Dear Christian brother,
Wow! We are truly blessed by your remarkable grasp of God's word for just having been a Christian for one year. PRAISE GOD!!!
The book of John says over and over, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." These are the 3 verses we could find on the spur of the moment.

John 14:15 If you love Me, keep My commandments.

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, If a man loves Me, he will keep My Word. And My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.

John 14:24 He who does not love Me does not keep My Words, and the Word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.

Also, if you want a great study tool download E-Sword. It's free and very useful and comes with many different translations of the Bible. http://www.e-sword.net/bibles.html

Be encouraged and stay in the word.
God bless,
Adam & Karen

Anonymous said...

That's what I was looking for. Thanks - CB

Eli said...

Brother Adam,

Thanks for the reply. You are right when you say that this condition is not one of an unbeliever. I too believe that a Christian can be saved and yet live in such a condition as Romans 7.

However, I'm talking about a Christian who can walk in victory over sin. I believe fully that the power of Christ in us has the ability to say no to ungodliness and yes to holiness, shunning evil and embracing truth, walking in the light and no longer in darkness. I do not believe sin has the power to hold us in the Romans 7 condition since Christ disarmed the power of sin on the cross. We can now choose to do right where once we could not, thought likewise, we can also still choose to do evil.

Also, another thing I'd like to add is that anything good we do at all is Christ at work in us, for "as for me and my flesh there is no good thing." When a Christian obeys God, it is because of the power of Christ in them and not from any good thing already found in them originally. Everything we have which is right and good comes from above, thus no one can boast even in well doing.

I'd like to hear how you reconcile 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 with Romans 7.

I haven't really said anything new in this reply because mostly everything I wanted to say was in my previous post.

I do not see why Christ would die for a people who after being saved remain in the exact same condition as the sinning unbeliever. Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly! (John 10:10) Also, see Titus 2:14.

As for people who taught victory over sin in this life, here are some saints off the top of my head: John Wesley, Charles Finney, A.B. Simpson, A.W. Tozer, Duncan Campbell, Vance Havner, Leonard Ravenhill... I'm quite sure most great men of God taught and lived a life of victory over sin.

God bless.

Eli said...

I highly recommend anything by A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, or Vance Havner. These men have left a fortune of wisdom and spiritual depth that we have yet to discover.

Adam Wright said...

Eli,
I would appreciate if you could give me book names by these authors. I would prefer not to have to sift through every work that they've written to find an answer that aligns with yours. Book titles and the author would be excellent, thanks.

Concerning Romans 7, I am going to have to disagree with you, yet again. I will suggest that you are not reading the passage in it's entirety, but merely skimming to fit your point. I still hold fast that Paul is speaking about himself. Aside from my comments on gramatical evidense for this theory, I also pointed out that there is significant evidence that the Spirit is alive and active in the person mentioned in Romans 7. I do not think that we can say that the Spirit is unactive in the subject of Romans 7 because of the facts I mentioned (discerning sin and hating it being one of the major signs).

And so, the condition of Romans 7 is not one of defeat, but of reality. In reality we have salvation, knowledge of our own sins, hatred of that sin, frustration with our sinful habits, etc. Also, in reality we have the ability to overcome these things. However, you cannot say that those frustrations do not exist in your own life, Eli. You would not be so adament about shunning sin if you weren't upset about it's existence. I believe you are also that person who Romans 7 speaks about. As is every other Christian. Thanks be to Christ that we do recognize sin as sin as the subject of Romans 7 does. However, you cannot escape the frustration of temptation and the occational giving in to those temptations until we have escaped these fallen bodies and are with Christ in glory. To suggest otherwise is to say that have already achieved perfection. We can overcome sin, but we aren't free from it completely until we lose these bodies. We are not in the same position as we were before we were saved. As mentioned, our heart condition changes. The subject of Romans 7 is at war with sin, something not possible unless Christ were with him - in the case it is Paul.

In terms of my reconciliation of Romans 7 with the passage in 1 Cor 10: these passages are talking about two similar themes, but not how you are suggesting. 1 Cor 10:12-13 is talking to a Jewish audience who takes confidence in what they are as a race. We find these motifs in the gospel of John as well. The Jews were becomming arrogant because of their heritage (Abraham) and their possession of the law (from Moses). They were claiming that they were saved because of these things (see John 9). Paul is telling them that one should not be confident because of these things because it is easy to fall (as the Jews did again and again). Paul also points this out in their history. He warns us of sin, as does Romans 7, and that we should be careful not to fall into it. In both cases he is speaking to believers who have the Spirit active in their lives. Otherwise, they would not be able to desire avoiding sin and hating sin. Sin would still consume their minds but not so now. Otherwise, I would assume that he would be writing a salvation message. It is clear from both passages that as Christians we struggle with sin and we can avoid it. Romans 7 is not written as one who is defeated but a believer, rich with the presence of the Spirit, who is engaged in warfare with sin - as is 1 Cor 10.

In terms of the Spirit's activity: The Spirit comes and dwells in us at salvation. He aids us in conversion and helps us fight sin. He reminds and convicts us. It is because of his presence that we can even discern sin as sin. It is one thing to change our activities, anyone can do this. But to hate sin can only be the work of the Spirit. I do not believe that there is a Christian who does not have an active relationship with God. I would challenge their thinking if they claimed this.

In conclusion, I believe that EVERY Christian lives in the condition of Romans 7. We should hate sin, fight against it, recognize it, be annoyed with it's presence - these are all evidense that the Spirit is really AT WORK in us. Otherwise we would be very apathetic.

In terms of your hermeneutical approach, I suggest you read two books:

Biblical Interpretation: An Integrated Approach - W. Randolph Tate

Holy Scripture: Revelation, Inspiration, and Interpretation - Donald G. Bloesch.

Eli said...

Adam, I'm not even sure how to write what you are implying... it's an awful scenario you are painting of defeat and bondage. Sin shall not be our master, brother! "...sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." (Genesis 4:7)

Let me further clarify: Romans 7 is talking someone who aware of sin, saved or not, it is both. And it is not the Spirit which makes us aware of sin as you have said, but it is the Law, Romans 7:7-13.

There is a mountain of Scripture that command us to destroy sin and the flesh. There is an unlimited stream of exhortation that tells us to overcome and die to self. Before such a warning, is it safe to take this one chapter and justify our sin? Can you find one more Scripture that gives you the "assurance of defeat in your battle against sin?" Christ did not die just to give us grace so we could go to heaven, dear friends... no no. The old covenant people had the promise of heaven and forgiveness via animal sacrifice. Do not get me wrong, Jesus Christ DID come to die for our sins as the Lamb of God, no question, and to give us grace to go into heaven, but He did more than that, otherwise we are no different than in the old testament minus righteousness (for men of old were much more holy than most of Christians today). No, in Titus 2:14 it says "He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works." Just to note on the side, it's amazing how Christians today hate the sound of those words "good works", when Christ died for them as well.

You say you are justified. Wonderful, I believe you! Are you purified? Sanctified? What about these things? Romans 7 actually clamps down on them.

Romans 7 is a perfect picture of the power of sin over a person. Believe me when I say by the blood of Jesus Christ Satan's power has been disarmed! We are NEVER tempted beyond what we can handle, God ALWAYS makes a way out for us. Interestingly enough, Romans 7 talks about a person who WANTS to do good but can't. When a Christian gives in to temptation it isn't because he/she doesn't have a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13), but that he/she WANTS to sin. God gives you the power to resist but you don't take it. Think about it... Romans 7 doesn't involve this.

As for what you said about 1 Corinthians 10:13, you said: "1 Cor 10:12-13 is talking to a Jewish audience who takes confidence in what they are as a race." Where do you get this at all? First of all, the letter is written to the Corinthians, and second, at the start of the chapter Paul makes it clear that the stories of the old Hebrews are shadows and examples for us believers! I do not see any reasoning behind your comment there at all, brother, I'm sorry. I do not see the two Scriptures reconciled at all. One speaks of victory over temptation and the other defeat.

You also said: "Romans 7 is not written as one who is defeated but a believer, rich with the presence of the Spirit, who is engaged in warfare with sin" Brother, this is also very unreasonable. If it were true, the warfare would be losing and that doesn't seem to me like a rich presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit means POWER, means VICTORY, means OVERCOMING. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Well, I can't think off the top of my head of particular books by these gentlemen that deal with only this, but if you go to www.sermonindex.net/ you can listen to audio by them. I can only recommend anything by Ravenhill or Tozer etc. If I come across a teaching very specific towards this subject I will post it, but I believe the reason there isn't one so particular is because these men take this truth as elementary (Hebrews 5:11-14, read this). I know that if you read or listen to anything by them you will see they teach victory over sin. Just out of quick memory:

Audio: A.W. Tozer - "The Path to Power and Usefulness"

Audio or Books: Anything by Leonard Ravenhill, just choose a topic that interests you.

Book: A.B. Simpson - "Wholly Sanctified"

Book: John Wesley - "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection" (I haven't read this and might not agree with everything Wesley says)

God bless brother,
-Eli

Adam Wright said...

Eli,

What you think I am implying is not actully what I am implying at all. I've never said anything about being in bondage, in face, I've said the opposite. I also never said that sin is our master or master of the person in Romans 7. Sin is still very much a reality. I also did not say that Jesus died and rose again so we might JUST goto heaven. I'm not sure how you contrived that from what I said unless you changed my post or just weren't reading it.

I don't see the point in replying to any of your posts if you aren't going to read our replies. Please be sure of what I was saying before you place words in my mouth.

The two passages are completely reconciled because they both speak of not being caught up in sin. Romans 7 is speaking about a person who is aware of sin not one who is in bondage necessarily, but one who struggles. I would be hardpressed to believe you if you said that you didn't struggle with temptation.

Is that what you are saying Eli?

Logic said...

I still do not believe Eli has a correct understanding of what grace is, nor what it means to be justified.

Adam: Excellent work on Romans 7, very clear. I can find no argument against anything you said.

Eli: You would gain great wisdom from reading the sources Adam has suggested; I've read parts of the first one and it is excellent.

Eli, i think you should go to Bible college somewhere.

-Logic

Logic said...

Nathan Staples,

Who I am is irrelevant to what I have to say. I will not reveal who I am because I do not think it is relevant.

Who I know on this blog, or elsewhere, is not relevant to my arguments.

Suffice it to say that I know who Eli is, and I am aware of his activities.

The only reason I put a name 'logic' in the first place was to differentiate myself from other 'anonymous' people. If you would prefer, i could drop the 'logic' and simply post anonymous every time.

Also, I think people are much more honest, hostile, and disrespectful to people they do not know, which is great because i get to know what people really think of what I have to say. I find it fascinating how I am responded to, I think the responses would differ greatly if certain people knew who I was.

I hope to always remain unknown.

-Logic

Nathan said...

Logic; you didn't mention whether you have met or spoken personally with Eli about any of the issues you raise on this blog. If you have not, I again encourage you to do so since you mentioned you do know who Eli is.

Adam Wright said...

Eli,

Just to go back to my points on Romans 7. If you can make an argument against what I said concerning grammar and certain usages of Greek vocabulary which, I might add, cannot be discerned in the KJV, I would be interested to hear. So far your arguments are based on what you think other passages might be saying. Particularily, Romans 7:17;20-22. I have no idea how a person could identify sin as sin unless the Holy Spirit were with him. Even if the law does make a person aware of sin, using your own argument, how could a bunch of Romans be expected to know what the Law even was? Also, I do not think you have actually read Romans 7 intently because my arguments stand and you have not disproved any of them.

In terms of Jews being in Corinth, Jews could have been any place in the Roman empire after the Diaspora. Why do you think Paul used so many Jewish themes in his epistles? What about Paul's letter to the Romans? As I mentioned earlier, do you really think that a bunch of Roman citizens would know the Law and its implications?

Adam Wright said...

Nathan,

I'm sure any of us would love to sit down with Eli, if possible. If we could all talk in person, this forum wouldn't be nescessary. That's the idea of this webpage; to carry on discussion.

In terms of Logic's true identity, it makes no difference to me who Logic may be. I find his arguments to be interesting and thought provoking. I, personally, don't care if he places his real name or not. In reality, it makes no difference to the situation.

jedd said...

Adam,

IMO, solid interpretation of Rom. 7: It describes a genuine Christian convert who is free from the bondage of sin, yet actively engaged in a very real spriritual war in which there is ongoing struggle. And I agree that Paul is talking about himself (though, of course, his words apply to all true converts). I think this is evident enough from the text. And we also recall that Paul elsewhere describes himself as the chief of sinners, which, is evidence of his own daily struggles with sin. Good word!


Eli,

What do you mean by 'victory over sin'? From your posts, it sounds to me like you use the term to mean a state of complete and total sinlessness. You acknowledge that temptation will always continue; this is true and a point on which we all agree. But, if I'm reading your posts correctly, your view of 'victory over sin' does not allow for the posibility of giving in to tempation at times. It seems that you are saying that to experience 'victory over sin' is to ALWAYS overcome temptation (hence your reference to 1 Cor. 10).

I believe that a true convert can experience both ongoing struggle with sin and victory over sin. I do not believe that this is a paradox. I'll explain based on my own experieces. There are some things that I have, by God's grace, been able to overcome. In these things I now experience the joys of victory over sin. However, there are some things that I continue to deal with on a daily basis. At times the struggles can be so great that I do not see how I can ever overcome them. This is when I turn to Rom. 7 (namely, vv. 24-25). So it is that I both struggle with sin, yet experience victory over it. I think this is what Paul felt when he wrote Rom. 7. So long as we are on Earth, I do not believe that we can totally and completely experience victory over sin like you seem to be suggesting.

As to the sources that you have mentioned, what Adam is asking for (I'm sure) is for specific references to your suggestion that Paul is not describing himself in Rom. 7. No one is looking for references to victory over sin in this life because, as you rightly say, it is an elementary truth.


jedd

Logic said...

Nathan,

Would you mind explaining why you think face-to-face discussion would be so much more profitable than this forum? You continue to encourage me to speak to him directly.... but you give no reason for this; please clarify your argument.

And please clarify why you think my identity has a bearing on what I say; by remaining anonymous, what I say must be addressed rather than any bias due to who I am.

Adam, Thank you for your support.


-Logic

Eli said...

Hey brothers,

You are saying that I am not reading your posts. I am reading all your posts very well. From my perspective it is you who are not reading my posts or are misinterpreting what I am saying.

Adam,

I know you have not SAID bondage, but regardless of what you call it this is the condition of Romans 7. "I cannot do what I want to do and what I don't want to do this I do." Call it what you want... but this is the condition of someone who is under the law. And you call it freedom??? I cannot understand your saying this AT ALL.

Did you not read Romans 7 verse 1?:

"Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?"

You also said this was written to the Romans, yet you contradict yourself when you say right after that "Jews could have been any place in the Roman empire after the Diaspora. Why do you think Paul used so many Jewish themes in his epistles? What about Paul's letter to the Romans? As I mentioned earlier, do you really think that a bunch of Roman citizens would know the Law and its implications?"

Jedd,

Yes brother, I am saying that a person can live in total victory over all conscious sin.

Adam,

As for what reveals sin we know from Scripture this is the Law, not the Spirit. I will agree with you if you say the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, but it is the Law that reveals to man what sin is. And I am not talking about the written Law only, but the law written on all mens consciences (Romans 2:15).

By saying it is the Spirit that reveals sin implies that all non-believers have no concept of right and wrong, and I know you do not think this.

I honestly must ask that you read my previous posts again for I believe I have written sufficiently on this topic already. I remind you of the point that you are taking this one chapter and justifying a life of defeat, when entire Bible screams holiness in this life. What about 1 John? What about Romans 6? Romans 8? And all the other Scriptures that speak of overcoming? I want to stress Romans chapter 6 being apart of this debate.

Jedd,

As for Paul saying he is the chief of sinners, he is not saying I sin chiefly above everybody else! This is absurd and I bet every single person who ever met Paul would say the opposite and urge Paul: "You are not the chief of sinners!" Paul would then say, "Yes I am... as for me and my flesh there is no good thing. Were it not for Christ I am a wicked man killing Christians and going to hell." He was not a blatant sinner! He was acknowledging his true state in humility and lowliness in light of Jesus Christ, his righteousness.

Brothers, pray about this. God will show you that He is well able to keep you from falling and present you blameless on the day of Christ Jesus.

In the Lord's grace and power,
-Eli (least of all)

Logic said...

Eli,

After observing this Romans 7 debate, it seems to me that Adam ought to have persuaded you that you are interpreting the context incorrectly.

I believe the crux of your fallacious argument lies in your insistence that Romans 7 is about someone who is defeated by sin rather than someone who is struggling with sin, yet remains victorious due to having a secure identity in Christ. Certainly because a person 'stumbles' does not mean they're living in bondage; it simply means they screwed up.

I think if you would admit that simply because a person struggles does not mean they are not victorious in Christ you might better understand what Paul is talking about. Certainly I would grant that a Christian who has the Holy Spirit can walk entirely free from sin; meaning there is no obligation beyond what we can bear. However, this does not mean a struggle with the flesh does not persist.

Obviously no Christian MUST sin; but this does not mean that Christians will not struggle with sin.

I also think it would be good to clarify one other thing:

In a much earlier post you failed to differentiate between "a drunkard" and "a glutton" and a Christian who occasionally eats too much but is convicted and repents, and a Christian who may have gotten drunk but later repents. I do not think it is fair for you to say that if a person gets drunk once it makes them "a drunkard". This was not the intent of what Paul was referring to, but rather he was referring to those who get drunk and do not see a problem with it. I am in no way trying to justify drunkenness, merely to point out that "a drunkard" is a person who drinks excessively and sees nothing wrong with this behavior; where a Christian may get drunk, recognize the behavior as sin, and repent. This would more likely be the case that Paul is referring to in Romans 7.

Bottom line: we all have our weak moments as Christians. Even though we always have the capacity not to sin, sometimes we do... which is why we need continued grace.

As I mentioned before, I think Adam's arguments are much more consistent with the text. Excellent work. It seems to me you, Eli, ought to be persuaded by what he says.

-Logic

jedd said...

Hi Eli,

I just want to make sure I understand you fully here...

"Yes brother, I am saying that a person can live in total victory over all conscious sin."

1) Are you saying that a believer can reach a state of sinlessness?
2) If so, is this a temporary or a permanent state?

Secondly, I agree with everything you said about Paul and his "chief of sinners" quote. I did not mean to imply that Paul himself was the chief of sinners. I apologize if it came out that way. Rather, I take his "cheif of sinners" quote as evidence of Paul's own personal ongoing struggles with sin. The fact that he says this implies that he recognizes some degree of sin in his own life. And so I meant to use the quote as evidence to support my view that Paul is talking about himself in Rom. 7. Since there is this passage that talks about Paul's own ongoing battle(s) with sin, it is plausible that Paul is talking about his own sin once again in Rom. 7.

I hope this is more clear.

Jedd

Nathan said...

Logic, I encourage you to meet with Eli based on my own personal experience. I think this setting can give a better understanding of who the person is, where their heart is, where they are coming from etc. I am not saying Eli and I agree on everything or that I understand him completely. I am just saying that if you have the opportunity to do so, meet with an individual to discuss any issue. I have almost always found this to be beneficial or at least enlightening. No you might not end up agreeing on anything, I know this has happened with me, but the two parties might understand each other better.

I see what you mean when you mentioned that others might respond differently if you left your name. I can relate to that because I think that by leaving my own name, others who read this and know me probably have some sort of opinion of who I am which influences any point I am trying to make. It is unfortunate that an excellent point can be lost because of who said it.

I was reminded today of how I am biased. I want to be aware of this and try to elminate it because of how it can influence my opinions and what I think of others. I think that it is my responsibility to do this.

I think by leaving your name, that this is allowing the opportunity to be accountable to others. I want to be held accountable, I want to be open to correction. I'm not saying you do not want this as well Logic, just that I think this should be more important than how others interpret your words. When anyone puts their name by words, they will be held to those words whether they want to or not. They might be asked to explain what they meant or have to stand by their words etc. I just feel that this is important on two levels; that we should be held accountable for our words, actions and that we should not allow our bias to influence a good point or rebuke for example.

Adam, I also find much of what Logic says interesting but we seem to disagree about the relevance of leaving one's name. I was just wondering why you initially chose not to leave your name and then started to. I look forward to your response and Logic's, as well as any other comments and insights.

Adam Wright said...

Eli,

I must continue to disagree with you based on your interpretation. The verse does not say "I cannot do what I want to do and what I don't want to do this I do." It actually says "That which I do, I do not understand. For That which I do not wish, that is what I do (practice) {author's translation}." It does not say that Paul "cannot" do what he wishes to do. I don't think you understand my point because you don't want to.

Again, you are not understanding my posts. What you are quoting me as saying and being contradictory is actually your argument (note the phrase, "to use your argument"). So, of course, it's going to be contradictory. I'm very glad you see it as contradictory because you have just realized that your own argument makes no sense.

Of course there were Jews in Rome. After the diaspora they could have been anywhere. Paul did not expect the non-Jewish Romans to understand the Law (hence Rom 7:1). Paul's point, and is also common among most of his epistles, is that the Law doesn't save. Jews were being arrogant and saying that their lineage would save them. This is why Paul uses the vocabulary he does.

In terms of being convicted of sin, this has to be the work of the Holy Spirit. You could present to be a list of laws from another country and this would not apply to me in the least because I don't live in that context. I could recognize that they are laws and doing them could be bad, but I have no internal conviction about those laws. It was the same with the Romans. They had plenty of laws but not the Law as referred to in the OT. Therefore, we cannot assume that the universe would adhere to Jewish laws the way a Jew would. For a person to be truly convicted and for that person to understand sin as sin in their heart, they NEED the Holy Spirit. You'll see this in the Pharisees. Why did Jesus give them such a hard time? They knew the Law, so what? Jesus told them that they needed the Holy Spirit or else the Law was mere wording.

As to the conscience, people do have a sense of right and wrong. I also believe that there is a level of natural revelation that occurs in each person's mind. That is not the issue. What I am saying, is that for a person to understand in their hearts and be convicted of sin, the Holy Spirit needs to be there. Jesus said that himself about the Holy Spirit! "He will come and convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement" (John 16:8). So please tell me, what is the purpose of the Holy Spirit in regards to sin, then? Yes, the Spirit gives us strength but with that strength comes awareness. That awareness gives us the ability to not sin. Since you are not a Calvinist, you would agree that there is a level of human responsibility. The Holy Spirit in a sense is the Law acting in us teaching us of right and wrong; a refreshed conscience, if you will.

Because you are saying that I advocate a life of defeat proves to me that you understand little of what I have said. I have never said any such thing - very much the opposite. Your continual misunderstanding leads me to assume one thing: if you want to do serious exegesis, you need an education. Plain and simple.

Nathan,
Easy answer to your question: When I began posting here, I did not realize you could put your own name in. I later asked Jedd how he did it and he instructed me.

In conclusion, I am starting to recognize that your main purpose here is to be correct. I think the majority of the people on this particular blog have agreed and suggested that the interpretation of Romans 7 that I have suggested is correct. We have all given solid, biblical references and arguments from the text and you have yet to disprove any of them. Instead, you are having a hard time understand what we are even saying. This is proven in your most recent post. I would suggest taking a few moments in prayer yourself and meditating on your motives here. They are becomming quite clear to many people, as far as I can tell.

Logic said...

Adam,

That was an excellent and clear argument. Well done. I especially enjoyed the section about the role of the Holy Spirit in revealing the actual condition of our sin before conversion. Excellent points about the activity of the Holy Spirit.

I must say that I agree with your interpretation of Romans 7; I do not see evidence in the particular text that indicates it is written about anyone except Paul. Excellent translation as well.

Nathan,

Again I repeat: who I am is irrelevant to what I have to say. You are correct that people interpret what you say in light of who you are, which is precisely why I refuse to leave my name. I admire your resolve to avoid this sort of bias. Unfortunately, many other people are not as able to separate the 'what' from the 'who'.

Furthermore, your point about not letting our bias influence what a person says only adds to my argument that who I am is irrelevant to what I say. In admitting these biases are not good, you are, in effect, admitting that who we are is irrelevant to the arguments we make. Fortunately your argument does not rest entirely on this claim.

Instead, you raise the issue of accountability and correction.

With regards to correction, if people feel the need to correct my arguments, this blog is the perfect place to do it. That way, everyone benefits from seeing the fallacies of an argument revealed. I am certainly open to being corrected if I have made a fallacious argument or have said something inacurate.

As far as being accountable for my words... I do not understand how leaving your name makes you accountable to others. Perhaps you could elaborate on this. If people want to argue against what I say, they can do so by posting.

I think this is actually an excellent forum for discussion and debating because it allows people to express themselves in writing, which is consistently more reliable and accurate than verbal communication, and it also allows people to follow an argument and rebut whatever fallacies may crop up. Add to this that people can learn from how the more experienced people argue, and I think this becomes an excellent arena for learning about scripture and how to make good arguments from scripture.

You also argue that I should meet with Eli in order to understand him better. I believe what you are trying to say is that I would be able to see his 'heart' or his 'passion', which would ultimately attest to his good intentions. First, it is presumptuous of you to assume that I have never spoken to Eli or confronted him about these issues. Second, there is no way we would "understand each other better" by meeting face to face. My arguments that oppose some of Eli's claims are rooted in fallacious reasoning, not in his character or intention. Understanding him as a person is not relevant to understanding his arguments. Therefore, I consider all disagreements we have to be based solely on objective reasoning, not subjectivity.

While you might be better off arguing that Eli would be more receptive to my words if he knew who I was, this would only imply that Eli had a problem with allowing personal bias to interfere with the content of what someone is arguing... thus, I trust none of us will make this claim. Who would accuse him of such a thing? Certainly not I!

Since we can trust Eli to be objective and charitable to everyone(and I'm sure we can trust this), who we are should have no bearing on what we say. Right?

Thank you for your arguments, I'll be watching for a rebuttle.

-Logic

Logic said...

Nathan,

One last point about the unimportantness of who an author is:

We accept the epistle to the Hebrews as being an authoritative canonical work. But we don't know the author! This, of course, does not negate the value of the content.

Therefore, (to be consistent) if you, or anyone else, is going to argue that personal identity is necessary in order to provide valuable insight, I cite the example of the book of Hebrews - we don't know the 'who' but we love the 'what'.

-Logic

Anonymous said...

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Nathan said...

Adam, I wanted to rephrase my question. I assume you at first posted annonymous then started to put burdened then your name. I am basing this on a post where you put burdened and your name. I was looking for why you chose to go from burdened to your name. I was chatting with someone else who at first posted annonymous but now leaves their name. They shared why they decided to start leaving their name so I was just wondering what your thought process was. I assume you had one but maybe I am wrong in assuming this or to even ask this question, just let me know. I'm not looking for you to agree with me about the not leaving one's name issue, I'm just curious especially after chatting with someone who once did this but now leaves their name so I thought you might have some more input on this issue but correct me if I'm wrong. Thanks.


Logic, I have been left to assume that you have not meet with Eli about these issues. This was actually the first question I had for you but you still haven't mentioned whether you have before or not. I do not like to assume but you still haven't answered my question.
I find it unfortunate how you feel about meeting face to face. Is it fair to assume how such a situation would go? I am curious as to why you feel this way...and what are you basing this on, previous experience perhaps?
I think it would be interesting to see if there was a difference in responses in general if you chose to post and leave your name...

It has been difficult for me at times not to make assumptions and to take bias into account when reading this blog. I am grateful for being reminded of the importance of separating the what from the who, as you wrote, and to ask questions rather than filling in the blanks on my own. I do not think a good point or rebuke should be lost because of who said it, what a challenge this can be I continue to realize. I want to pray more that I would not judge and that if I rebuke someone that I would do so out of love rather than for my own selfish reasons.

I wonder if there is more freedom to write what one pleases when a name is not left.....I realize I can write what I want but by leaving my name, I can be approached based on what I have written. Overall I feel more accountable to those who read this blog and especially those who know me when I leave my name. Yes you can be approached by using this medium if your identity is unknown but isn't there more or even a different level of accountability when you leave your name? Also shouldn't we all be individually responsible for how we interpret and respond? Maybe I'm wrong here, I'm really not sure.

I do appreciate the aspect to this medium that allows one to re-read and really think through what you want to write. I simply want to encourage meeting in person if at all possible because of what I feel is a better means to communicate and to express any concern or ask any questions. I have also found it very interesting how people have responded using this medium. Lately while participating in reading and commenting, I have been trying to question what my intentions are. These have varied over the course of the existence of this blog from focusing only on the at times heated debates to being encouraged by the posts of the variety of people who comment. Although I struggle to, overall I want to remain focused on growing closer to Christ and encouraging others to do so. I'm not trying to question anyone else's intentions but just stating how I have been working through my own. To be honest I have realized recently how much I have been focusing on the discussions (specifically on any debates that take place especially when there is any kind of negativity present) on this blog rather than on encouraging others or asking questions so that we all would grow closer to Christ.

Thank you for continuing to respond Logic. I look forward to your responses and also have appreciated how you have responded to my questions and comments.


Nathan

Eli said...

Brother Adam please, I am not here to prove myself correct. If I am wrong I will be the first to apologize and repent. I am just not convinced of what you are saying. I see that you aren't of what I am saying either.

Please brothers please... read Romans 6,7,8 carefully. It is so perfectly clear. I'm going to take one more effort at this and let this be a post to consider very carefully. Please brothers, bear with me patiently:

Just before we begin, can I try to clarify our struggle? You believe that we are in under the power of the Law of sin and death IN THE BODY but free and alive IN THE SPIRIT. Correct? I believe we are free IN SPIRIT AND ALSO IN BODY. Is this an accurate portrayal of our difference?

If it is, let us read carefully viewing these points as we look at Romans 6,7 and 8.




Right away in 7:1 Paul points out who he is speaking to and about: "Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?" To them that KNOW the Law.

What does he mean, the Law has dominion over man as long as he lives? Does this suggest as long as we live sin has dominion over us? Not so. Remember: "He that is dead is freed from sin." (Romans 6:7). This is not talking about physical death but death to self, as we see in it's context: "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." (Romans 6:6) Brothers, this verse 6 is imperative!

Romans 7:2-3 then goes on to explain how a womman is bound to her husband by law so long as he is alive. This is likened to our relationship with the Law.

"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." (Romans 7:4) Here is mentioned this death again, not a physical one, but death to the Law... and why? Because of what Christ did on the cross! Jesus' death wrought about OUR death! This is not physical as we know... His death snapped the power of the Law over us. We are considered dead to it because of Christ.

"For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." (Romans 7:5) Now we jump to a past tense... When we were still in the flesh, the Law was at work in the members of our bodies producing death. THIS is the condition of the Romans 7 struggle. The Law working fruit unto death in us - sin. "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23)

"But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." (Romans 7:6) BUT NOW we are delivered... being dead that the members of our bodies serve in a new way, not in the old way, trapped by the Law.

Now Paul shifts the topic. He begins to talk specifically about the Law, since to this point he has made the Law sound something terrible. Paul reminds: "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." (Romans 7:7) The Law was beneficial in revealing sin to us, though because of our sinful nature, the knowledge of sin worked death in us... just like in the Garden of Eden with the Knowledge of the Tree of Good and Evil. Once we knew what good and evil were, we chose evil. We suddenely fell captive to the power of the Law.

"But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me." (Romans 7:8-11) This text reads as if Adam was writing it. Powerful!

The next two verses reinforce this thought, and shows us that sin is by the Law now "exceedingly sinful". This is no light thing by which God shrugs away. The full wrath of God was upon the shoulders of Jesus Christ at Calvary.

Now in verse 14, Paul assumed the position of a man under the Law, hence the present use of tense. We know he is talking about someone under the Law because of the content of the subject. It is "the law working in his members bringing forth the fruit of sin." There are more clues to this which we find later on...

"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." (Romans 7:14-20) Here is the miserable condition of this Law. The next three verses nail this point home:

"I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." (Romans 7:21-23)
This is painfully clear. Paul has just pinpointed the condition of 7:5.

The cry and the remedy! "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 7:24-25a)

Paul then sums up verses 14-20 in verse 25b: "SO THEN with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." The mind serves God, the body does not. It is not that this is the condition after Paul exclaims "thanks be to God!" It's almost like Paul couldn't wait until the end to write verse 25a because the condition of being under the Law of death is so horrible! (of course, this is my speculation!) Regardless, verse 25b takes us back into the deathtrap.

Now here you may argue this is not so! We come now to the dilemma: Is this our condition? Do we now serve God IN THE SPIRIT but remain under the Law in the Body? The answer is a strong no. Remember Romans 6:6?

"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." Are we still under Law? "For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death." (Romans 7:5)
No, next verse: "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." And that is the key... being dead. "He who is dead is freed from sin." (Romans 6:7)

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) Everything around this verse is wonderful, verse 17,18,19,21!

Now we can move on into Romans 8! "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2)

This is vital: "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:3-4) Read this in view of 7:7-11, Adam and the knowledge of good and evil. But now, Christ has made it so that the righteousness of the Law CAN be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit!

"But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." (Romans 8:11)

"What then do we do? "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Romans 8:12-14) So then brothers, we live by the Spirit of God.

Thus it is possible to "mortify the DEEDS of the body."

Brothers, I conclud with this Scripture: "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." (Romans 6:11-14)

Love in Christ,
-Eli

Logic said...

Nathan,

I think some confusion may have arisen in the lack of distinction between a 'rebuke' and an 'argument'. This is where i get the what/who distinction.

I would say that since the primary purpose of my posts is simply to argue against, or test, what I perceive to be poor arguments, and also to support strong arguments with stronger arguments. This is far different than a rebuke or a personal attack (ad hominem). Since the purpose of my posts is to argue for or against the 'what' of what is said, I see no need to be accountable outside what appears here.

Sometimes the 'what' reveals certain motives of the 'who', and as a consequence, a rebuke can be in order.

I think that since the 'what' is the primary source of debate and discussion, it is unnecessary for those of us who post to be accountable for what we say to anyone outside of the blog, within reason of course.

Since the purpose is 'argument' and not 'rebuke', I do not think revealing our identity is necessary in any way. The what is the sole concern as it pertains to this blog.

anyway, thats all for now

-Logic

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, my ideas on the whole consecration issue:

When the church gets a divorce from the world and worldliness and can ignore so-called Christian entertainers who attempt to combine Hollywood and holiness, and
when we cease from the strivings of the flesh and recognize that the Bible writtten yesterday is also for TODAY and for TOMMOROW... and that IT ALONE has the formula for revival...I think that we shall at least have started on the road to the reformation in the church, which must precede the TRUE spiritual awakening which alone can save our generation.

Eli said...

Amen Anonymous!... aka Leonard Ravenhill! :)

God bless,
-Eli

Eli said...

I decided to post my recent comment on Romans 7 to the main page article.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Very good, dear brother! You must have all of my books. Keep up the strong preaching and desperate reaching. Remember that the minister who doesn't pray, plays and the preacher who isn't weeping is sleeping. Keep delivering the Word with Holy Ghost fire, so men will not go to hellfire.

Len

Eli said...

Scary... it sounds just like Ravenhill.

Another great quote of Ravenhill's: "Great reapers in public are great weepers in private."

Amazing quote, I just heard it today!

Paul West said...

If you've just heard that quote today, it must have been because I posted it on ricky earl's blog! Praise God!

Brother Paul (A.K.A. Anonymous, A.K.A. Len)

Seriously, I posted the original to see how much heckling it would receive on your blog. I should have picked a less obvious one, though! I had no idea you were so well-versed in Brother Ravenhill's
writings! Kudos to you, Eli.

P.S. Those really are my ideas on consecration, though! Only Brother Len just puts it so much better than I can...