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What is Original Sin, and how does it relate to free will?

Discussion in 'Hamartiology' started by TrueMyth, Nov 10, 2006.

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  1. TrueMyth

    TrueMyth Member

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    I tried to post this thread elsewhere, but I didn't get much of a response, so I'll try here. I am very very very interested in what people might have to say on this topic.

    I have a twofold question to ask of the people here, because I have yet to receive a rationally complete answer.

    1) What is Original Sin? This phrase gets bandied around an awful lot, but it is like some current PC topics where there is an understanding that such a thing exists, but it is invoked more as a given that everyone understands but no one dares define. Is it transmitted in some fashion at birth? Is it a sinful nature that we all have, and if so, when do we acquire it? What is the substance of this sinful nature? Is it merely a propensity to sin (a weighted die, so to speak), or is it a certainty that at some point, all will sin? I agree that all of us deserve death; but at what point do we deserve death? At birth? At the age of accountablity? After we have heard of Jesus? After we sin? Etc. I would be interested in everyone's opinion on all this.

    2) What is human free will? Is it such that for any given choice, it is within person A's ability to do both X and not X (libertarian free will)? Is it such that person A is free, but only in respect to their character (compatibilist/soft determinist)? Or is it something else, something to the effect that it doesn't matter what the ontology of the choice is, as long as we are aware of the choice and believe that we have free will, then we are responsible for the moral content of our choices? As this relates to #1-- Can we ever be said to be free, if we have a sinful nature? Or, if you prefer, if "all have sinned" and this makes us objects of God's just wrath, then how much responsibility do we bear for sinning if we are borth with a sinful nature? Is it just for God to weight the dice, and then punish us when we roll a craps?

    There is also another corollary to this which is probably important to square away first, and that is this: What is sin? If we say of action Q "That is sin" and of action P "That is also sin", what is the connecting thread between the two? Or, if action R is not sin, what does it lack or possess which Q and P either have or don't have, respectively?
     
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  2. UMP

    UMP Well-Known Member

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    Here is my irrational incomplete answer :)
    Original sin means we are all made from the same corrupt lump of clay. A bear gives birth to a bear not a cow. Sinners give birth to sinners.

    Freewill,
    We are free in a way, free to do what we like to do, free to sin. Not free to do things which are contrary to our nature. i.e. A bear is not free to fly as a bird.
    One other thought. What is true freedom ??
    Is God more free than man? Or is man more free than God?
    Think about this:
    God cannot lie. Man can lie.

    I must conclude that TRUE freedom is not even being able to sin.
     
  3. UMP

    UMP Well-Known Member

    +109
    Christian
    "How Can The Sinner Be Held Responsible For The Doing Of What He Is Unable To Do? And How Can He Be Justly condemned For Not Doing What He Could Not Do?"

    A.W. Pink
    http://www.sovereign-grace.com/pink/chapter08.htm
    http://www.sovereign-grace.com/pink/0-index.htm
     
  4. TrueMyth

    TrueMyth Member

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    Thank you for your response!

    I am quite sympathetic to the idea of free will as being compatibilistic, for two reasons: 1) Libertarian free will has logical problems, and 2) I'm not sure that in the end analysis the two are different.

    For example if we say "We are free to act within our natures," then we must ask, "What qualities do our natures have?" Are they always fixed? Or are they more complex and open? I believe that God's nature is fixed in such a way that He will never sin, and will freely do so. Satan's nature is fixed in the opposite direction. But are human natures fixed in the same way? Are we all Satan without God's intervention? I'm not sure this is the case. I agree that we are all sinners, and that we need God's intervention to come to Him. However, I think that there could very probably be a variation in natural inclination, such that it is not necessary to say that without God we will always sin.

    This is why the two questions are intrinsically related. The properties of our sinful human nature determine what the freedom of our wills will be like. As far as your conception of OS/Sinful Human Nature (SHN), I agree with you that things will always beget like things. However, we must see in which way they beget like things. With regard to cows/birds/etc., the answer is genetics and physical transmission of traits. If the analogy holds true then, we could say that there is a "sin gene", or go along with Augustine and say that sin is transmitted in the male sperm. :doh: If we are going to abandon the analogy, and state that sinful human beings will always beget sinful human beings-- perhaps in the same way that child abusers beget child abusers-- then this raises other questions. Is this then learned behavior? If so, can we adequately attribute fault? Or, at what point is this learned?

    This is what I mean by it depends on the nature of our natures, so to speak, and how this makes libertarian free will and compatibilistic free will the same in the end. I am inclined to think that every choice we make will take us further down one of two paths (wide or narrow), and that the further we go down one, the less likely it is that we will return to the other one. If you like, I believe it is possible that every choice we make fixes or character more and more, to the point where eventually it is fixed as either a heavenly vision or a hellish horror. Of course, to state that our character becomes "more fixed" implies that there was a previous state of "less fixed" or non-fixity. I suspect that this is the way we are at birth: we have no self-- our character is neither fixed nor open; it does not exist. Thus, up to a certain age, we cannot choose-- we only respond. However, once our sense of self develops, our character is open to pretty much any possibility. At this point, we basically have libertarian free will: It is possible to do both X and not X. However, the more choices we make, the more our character evolves or devolves, and the less likely it is that we will be able to choose one way or the other, since our character becomes more and more fixed.

    In this way, we still will only ever choose according to our desires (our character), but there is some point at which we desire both X and not X. Therefore, free will as a complete concept encloses both libertarianism and compatibilism. It has been said (by the author of the link you gave me) that God's sovereignty and human responsibility is the Gordian Knot of theology. I believe human responsibility is maintained even though a person will only choose according to their nature because that nature is freely chosen. And God's sovereignty is still maintained since He is the only one who can ever draw us to Him in salvific choice. Thus, if this is a Gordian Knot, I propose Alexander's response: cut the thing in two!

    But that's just my imperfect response... :holy:
     
  5. TrueMyth

    TrueMyth Member

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    :sigh: I guess no one will answer this one either. Everyone's plenty willing to rant and rave about homosexuality and abortion; very few want to think deeper about their faith...

    :confused:
     
  6. ArcticFox

    ArcticFox To glorify God, and enjoy him forever.

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    You are only free to do what you want to do. Our hearts, prior to conversion to Christ, are wickedly deceitful and sinful. We want only to sin, even if it looks like a holy action, it is done for other reasons. Romans 14 tells us that ANYTHING not done out of faith is sin. We also know that EVERYTHING should be done to the glory of God, so helping the poor for any other reason than ultimately to glorify God is sin (loving people to glorify God is good, so if you help the poor to love the people because you want to spread the love of God, that is the same as glorifying God).

    The only way we can escape our sinfulness is if God changes our hearts. It says in Ezekiel that he will remove the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. Ephesians 2 tells us how he raises us from the dead and makes us alive together with Christ. We did not raise ourselves, nor can a dead person do anything but wait to be raised from the dead.

    I hope this helps! It's not man's freewill, but God's; he does what he pleases, and we do only what we can do given what God has done for us.
     
  7. seanHayden

    seanHayden Well-Known Member

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    I think original sin is bunk--

    I don't sin because Adam sinned, but as Adam sinned. (Bumper Sticker Theology)

    I wonder if it is easier for people to think sin has them and has had them since birth? Obviously, from my point of view, I have had sin by the tail, and not since birth, but since I first decided to chase it until it was mine--all mine.

    Now the fun part, people are going to say "That isn't true, you were born a sinner." like you don't know yourself already. So, examine it and find out, did you have to sin because your sinful nature? If you say yes...I'm sorry. (This last comment was uncalled for--appealing to your emotion, how absolutely wrong! sorry--)
     
  8. Zeena

    Zeena ..called to BE a Saint

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    Knowledge of good and evil is the death that past to all men :eek:

    No room for knowing Jesus as Eternal Life when you're too preoccupied judging! :(
     
  9. cygnusx1

    cygnusx1 Jacob the twister.....

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    Pelegius is alive and well.........
     
  10. Antilles

    Antilles New Member

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    Hey TrueMyth:
    Original sin just simply refers to the fact that all humanity has a fallen nature to do what is wrong rather than follow God's commandments. That is, we are predisposed to sin because it is in our sinful nature to do sin. The Bible records that we are sinners from birth (Psalm 51:5) and it is because we are sinners that we sin (i.e. our sinful nature predisposes us to want to sin).

    I don't know how this sinful nature is "transmitted" but it seems to be in the soul of humanity; we can see the effects of original sin because we don't have to think about or try to do evil - it comes so easily and naturally, unlike being Christ-like. How much easier is it to bash some bloke who's been giving you trouble rather than treat him with love that Jesus taught?

    If human beings are sinners from birth, then it is from birth that we deserve God's wrath, IMHO. I believe that we will only be held fully accountable and hence justly exposed to God's wrath when we can to a reasonable degree hear, understand, and comprehend God's offer of salvation and reject it anyway. I believe that babies who die will be in heaven, like-wise I believe that God will show mercy for those who have no heard or cannot comprehend the Gospel message (like the mentally disabled) as you said, how can you hold someone accountable for what they didn't know or couldn't comprehend. Granted, this doesn't completely excuse them other wise ignorance would be bliss. Paul instead says that there is enough evidence in the created world to point them to a knowledge of who God is (Romans 1:20). The Bible also says that God has placed eternity in the hearts of men (Ecclessiastics 3:11) so that they know there's more to life than here and now.
    A sinful nature or being sinners doesn't make or force us to sin, it is a choice that we make. We are naturally inclined to sin (which is all what original sin and having a sinful nature means), but we are not forced to sin. This is what free will is - every time we need to we can make a conscious decision of how we want to react. Sometimes we speak before we think or we act before we think as I often do, but I still could have chosen to act godly rather than sin.
    Sin, to be blunt, is missing the mark of God's perfect standards. It is rejecting God's way and truth in favour of our own. This is exactly what Adam and Eve did when they ate of the forbidden fruit ("how great it would be to become wise... [and become like God]").

    At least, this post represents my basic understanding of it, which may change in the future as I learn more. Hence, I'm not too sure how accurate it is. :sorry:
     
  11. eladoni

    eladoni And the Brain.

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    I haven't read the other replies, so if I repeat something, forgive me.

    Original sin is the state in which this world, and all mankind is in. By nature we are innately sinful beings, a product of a broken world.
    We are sinful from the time of conception, and until we respond in faith to the calling of Christ upon our hearts to believe that our sins are forgiven by Jesus death.
    The scriptural basis for original sin is as follows:
    Roman 5:12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—

    David cries out in psalm 51: 5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

    And paul again in Ephesans 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

    After the fall of man, we do not have "free will" in the full sense of the phrase. As sinful man, we can no longer come to a perfect, holy, and righteous God. There was a "wall of hostility" put up by sin. By nature we were "objects of wrath" and by nature, we will do what is contrary to the divine law.

    That is why Paul states in Galations 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

    So, after the fall, our "free will" should better be entitled the "self will" for that is what we truely have; A will that is of self, and that is corrupt. God however, in his mercy, has reached out to us all through history. First by revealing himself to the patriarchs, then through moses, the prophets, and his judges. Finally, he gave us the ultimate gift by destroying the wall of hostility through Jesus' suffering and death on the cross, and now reaches out to us through his Holy Spirit that is in the heart of all believers.

    This is how we come to faith. The Holy Spirit convicts our hearts of our sinful condition, our guilt, and our constant raging against God. He then calls us to respond, in faith, to the vicarious atonement of Jesus Christ for our sins, at which point the wall of hostility is broken, and we are brought back into a right relationship with God, and stand before him Justified.

    As far as it being the work of the Holy Spirit, it is stated in 1 corinthians 12:
    3Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.
     
  12. TrueMyth

    TrueMyth Member

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    I am in agreement with you that we can only act on our desires-- compatibilistic free will. I won't go as far as you do and say that our desires are always evil, however; I would question very strongly whether there are verses in the Bible with state that it is. There are many which despair of the goodness of man: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9) and state our need for a savior. However, I don't think from this that the inference is justified that we are thoroughly depraved.

    I will leave aside for the moment a discussion of the doctrine of total depravity on the grounds that there is debate even among its proponents regarding what it means. If you can present a formulation of it, I would be more than happy to discuss it if you wish. Instead, I will offer an alternative solution.

    It is a clearly accepted Biblical fact that man is sinful. Exactly how sinful he is is up for discussion, but any answer must avoid the heresy that we can take credit for our own salvation. However, I see some hope in Paul's consistent reiteration that in Christ, we are a new creation--"the old has gone, the new has come". I see a further parallel in Paul's discussion of Christ as the Second Adam. "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous" (Rom 5:19). I haven't fully formulated this idea yet, but might it be that in Adam sin entered the world and human beings inherited that sin, but in Christ sin was vanquished and human beings are a "new creation"? For example, if the dice is weighted against us because of sin, might Christ's sacrifice have un-weighted the dice? It is still no credit to us if we choose Him: He has made it possible in the first place.

    I'll try to develp this further later and in future discussions.
     
  13. a_ntv

    a_ntv Ens Liturgicum

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    Original Sin:
    77 When tempted by the devil, the first man and oman allowed trust in their Creator to die in their hearts. In their disobedience they wished to become “like God” but without God and not in accordance with God (Genesis 3:5). Thus, Adam and Eve immediately lost for themselves and for all their descendants the original grace of holiness and justice.
    78 Original sin, in which all human beings are born, is the state of deprivation of original holiness and justice. It is a sin “contracted” by us not “committed”; it is a state of birth and not a personal act. Because of the original unity of all human beings, it is transmitted to the descendants of Adam “not by imitation, but by propagation”. This transmission remains a mystery which we cannot fully understand
    79 In consequence of original sin human nature, without being totally corrupted, is wounded in its natural owers. It is subject to ignorance, to suffering, and to the dominion of death and is inclined toward sin. This inclination is called concupiscence

    Freedom:
    358 The dignity of the human person is rooted in his or her creation in the image and likeness of God. Endowed with a spiritual and immortal soul, intelligence and free will, the human person is ordered to Godand called in soul and in body to eternal beatitude
    363 Freedom is the power given by God to act or not to act, to do this or to do that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. Freedom characterizes properly human acts. The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. Freedom attains its proper perfection when it is directed toward God, the highest good and our beatitude. Freedom implies also the possibility of choosing between good and evil. The choice of evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to the slavery of sin.
    366 Our freedom is weakened because of original sin. This weakness is intensified because of successive sins. Christ, however, set us free “so that we should remain free” (Galatians 5:1). With his grace, the Holy Spirit leads us to spiritual freedom to make us free co-workers with him in the Church and in the world.

    (from Compendium of the Cathechism of The Catholic Church http://www.vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html)
     
  14. TrueMyth

    TrueMyth Member

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    It is certain that human beings have a propensity to do evil. No right-thinking person can deny this. Further, it is not only that humanity as a whole has this difficulty, but each individual does bad things in their life. As the proverb goes, "To err is human." This is so clearly demonstrated through history and common sense that anyone who denies either of these propositions has their head irreparably in the clouds, in the land of gumdrops and lollipops. :) From all of this, it is obvious that something about what it means to be human includes the certainty of evil. The question then becomes "What is the quality of this bad nature?"

    The details are what concerns me. It is very simple (and very true) to say, "We are all sinners" or "Human beings are sinful". However, while this answers the question of why we see this feature in common human experience, it does not explain how this feature works. I want to find out. If I can't-- if this is one of those things I need to "be still and know"-- fine, I can deal with that. However, I want at least to clear up any contradictions in it so that I can prove to myself and others that Christian doctrine is at least not incoherent.

    I honestly don't see how it is possible that we are sinful from birth. The common Christian formulation is that God is Holy; therefore, He cannot be around sin. If we are sinful at birth, then babies which die 2 hours after birth are sinful. Therefore, they cannot be around God; therefore, they go to Hell. This is a moral contradiction: If God is perfectly good and allows/causes/decrees this, then goodness is something we know not what, and we are as likely to find a Divine Fiend as a Divine Lover in heaven.

    As for Psalm 51:5, remember that this is a Psalm-- roughly equivalent to a worship song today-- and thus may very well contain hyperbole, subjective expression, or outright falsehood. Remember the so-called "cursing Psalms"? Very un-Christian attitudes in those. We should not ignore or blow off any Scripture, but some of it is better for doctrine than others. What is clear from Psalm 51:5 is not that we are all ontologically sinful at birth, but that we often feel as if we were; in any case, we ought to feel that way in order to keep our pride at bay.

    So if not at birth, when do we acquire this "sinful nature," whatever it might be like? Remember, sin is violation of God's Law. Where God's Law is not known, we have the Universal Moral Law, in our conscience. Every time we sin, we are aware of it. Thus, conscious awareness is required for sin to occur. When we are born, we slowly develop our sense of personhood and awareness of self as distinct from others. Our conscience and awareness of right and wrong also slowly coalesce. I doubt very much that until both of these are fully developed (and God knows when), we cannot be said to sin in our actions.

    Earlier I spoke of babies and sin: your response to this is confusing, since you state both "It is from birth we deserve God's wrath" and "Babies who die will be in heaven". How can anything which deserves God's wrath be in heaven? If God is willing (to say nothing of able) to suspend His just wrath on a baby, why does He not do so for others who are deserving of it? This cuts to the heart of what is meant by "sinful human nature"-- Is it this which brings God's wrath (and thereby hell) on us, or our sinful actions, freely chosen? You seem to acknewledge that some measure of conscious awareness needs to be present in order for a person to go to hell, but how can God's wrath and hell be separated? I'm not sure your position is logically consistent here, but I appreciate you offering it!

    Aaah, this is the Million Dollar Question. As I said in other posts, I am all for the compatibilist freedom idea. We are inclined to sin (we desire to sin), and since we will always act according to our character (our inclinations/desires), we will sin unless God steps in and changes our inclinations/desires/character. This of course raises questions for those who do not accept Christ, however. If it is acknowledged that God must change our desires for us to choose Him, it is then proper to ask "Did God change the desires of those who do not choose Him?" If He did not, it is very hard to call Him good, let alone perfectly good. If He did, we must ask why they did not choose Him then. Did God not change them enough? Was there some other factor operating?

    The only way out of this that I can see is to say that while all will certainly sin, and our desires are for evil, they are not always that way. To go back to the baby, I wonder if it is possible that our characters are not fixed in sin at that point. They are open to our choice of God or self. Thus, while we still only choose according to our desires/character, our desires/character are open to both options. The more choices we make, the more our desires/inclinations/character gets fixed. Since we live in a sinful world, and are raised by sinful parents, inevitably we will make the choice of self (sin). However, our hearts and our minds are still open to God, and He will continue to speak through whatever crack we allow Him until we finally shut the door in His face. Once shut, it will never open again. Remember: we will only choose according to our character. It is certain that all who are able to read the Bible are also able to realize that their character is tended toward evil. However, is it necessary to believe that it always is so? I don't think there is either good logical or Biblical support for this.

    Therefore, to go back to the question of those who do not choose God, I think it is probable that God begins speaking to them from a very early age, working against the effect of sin in the world to keep their hearts open to Him. The more times the person chooses God, the more open they will be to His further advances. The more times the person chooses self, the more closed they will be to His further advances. God alone knows when His intervention would override their free will; He will not cross that line. As the person freely chooses to further fix their character either for or against God, He will continue to give grace to choose Him, until finally their character is fixed either completely surrendered to Him (heaven) or rebelling against Him (hell).

    I may change mine too-- I have no illusions that I have it all right! I do, however, want to eliminate contradiction and suggest options for solutions.
     
  15. PETE_

    PETE_ Count as lost, every moment not spent loving God

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    The word sin (and its synonym, trespass) is the key word in Romans 5:12, just as it is in Paul’s description of the human condition in the first three chapters of this epistle. How are we to understand what Paul means by that term? What is his understanding of the origin of the human situation which he describes with this term?
    Paul’s understanding of human sinfulness is expressed in two phrases: (1) “they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God” (Rom 1:28) and (2) “you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God” (2:17). Sin is seen as refusal to accept our creatureliness, to acknowledge our dependence on our Maker, to recognize our limitations. “We are sinners” does not mean, primarily, that we have moral problems, but that in the deepest and final sense we are severed from relationship with God because of refusal or bragging.
    Sin is not a genetic defect. The idea that sin is passed on genetically and thereby becomes the property of each individual through heredity ultimately led to a low view of sex. Sex came to be seen as the prime locus of human sinfulness—tolerated for the purpose of procreation, but not celebrated as a part of God’s economy for human wholeness and fulfillment.
    Nor is sin a perverted inner nature. The problem with this understanding of sin is that it divides the individual into a number of separate boxes. It arises from the idea that the Fall resulted in the perversion of one essential part of ourselves. A number of candidates for this part have been proposed. For some, the perverted part is the will. For others, it is the emotions or passions. For still others, it is reason. The pervasive mood of anti-intellectualism in some Christian circles is traceable to such an understanding. Since the mind was affected by the Fall, our reasoning capacity is perverted and depraved and the quest of the mind cannot be trusted. But such a view does not do justice to all the biblical data. As total persons we are fallen and stand under the judgment of God. Both our heads and hearts stand under the signature of death. Both are dust.
    From the biblical point of view, the term sin designates a particular kind of relationship between the creature and the Creator. And a relationship cannot be inherited; it can only be established or destroyed, affirmed or denied. Sin is thus a relational reality.
    We are sinners insofar as we are unrelated to God. The questions raised by that statement are: Why are we that? Why is that our condition? Why do we find ourselves in such a dilemma? Paul’s answer to such questions is found in Romans 5:12–13.
    This text has traditionally been seen as the biblical foundation for the Christian doctrine of original sin: “We all stand under the Fall of first man; that is why we are in the mess we are in!” But this view is inadequate. For Paul does not say that we sin because Adam sinned. He does not say that we die because Adam sinned. What he does say is this: Sin (alienation from God) entered the stage of history in the first man’s rebellion (“sin entered the world through one man”). The result of that separation is disintegration and death. But the universal penetration of that condition is due to the fact that all persons have sinned; all persons have become revolutionaries against God (“because all sinned”).​
     
  16. Antilles

    Antilles New Member

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    The following is the part which I believe is incorrect and is the cause of your problems:

    Aaah, this is the Million Dollar Question. As I said in other posts, I am all for the compatibilist freedom idea. We are inclined to sin (we desire to sin), and since we will always act according to our character (our inclinations/desires), we will sin unless God steps in and changes our inclinations/desires/character.

    I don't believe that this is the case. Some atheists (or Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, etc), for example, do good works that require sacrifices and self-lessness ... according to you, they don't have the ability to not to act self-centred or in accordance with their sinful nature unless God changes them.

    Hopefully, you can see the fallacy of such a position.
     
  17. PETE_

    PETE_ Count as lost, every moment not spent loving God

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    Such acts may seem good to us, but they are of no merit to God.
     
  18. Zeena

    Zeena ..called to BE a Saint

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    Anything that is not of faith (In Jesus Christ) is sin...

    Have these people (Muslims, Hindu's, ect) died to sin in Christ Jesus?

    Can they therefor reckon themselves dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord?

    No, they cannot, for they most likely do not even believe in the Name fo the Only Begotten Son of God!

    So, how can they live in anything BUT sin, if anything that is NOT of faith is sin.. They continue, and will continue to live out of thier own soul until the day they accept the Life of Jesus as thier own.

    Jesus is not Living His Holy Life through people who do not accept Him!
     
  19. TrueMyth

    TrueMyth Member

    429
    +11
    Protestant
    Married
    US-Democrat
    This is a tricky issue, and I hope you will allow me to have some corresponding complexity in my response.

    If I say "We are inclined to sin, and since we will always act in accordance with our character, we will sin unless God steps in and changes our character," this does not rule out the possibility of good works done by others. Let us ask: Why would God intervene in their nature to give them enough grace to not sin? Perhaps to whisper in their conscience? Perhaps to open the door to Him? My position is no that no man does good apart from God; my position is that when any good is done, it is the result of God's grace. In those who are with God already, the grace is given with the intent to bring them closer to Him. In those who are not with God, the grace is given with the intent to allow Him in. As these people progressively shut the door more and more to God's wooings, God will give them the means (according to His good will) to open it a little bit further again. However, He will never fling the door open. He will never thrust Himself upon a will which is set against Him.

    So yes, any action which is good-- whether undertaken by Christians or non-Christians-- is done by the sole gift of God's grace. Even non-Christians will tell you it is a struggle for them to do good. The question then becomes "What allows them to win?" I believe the only answer to that can be "God's grace".
     
  20. Zeena

    Zeena ..called to BE a Saint

    +538
    Christian
    Married
    Sinning is the result of eating from the wrong tree guys!

    If we eat from "knowledge of good and evil" we so sin, for it is not Jesus Living His Holy Life (He is the Tree of Life) in and through us! But, rather, US! Trying to fullfill the Law of the Holy God in the power of sinful flesh, which is most unflattering =P

    There's only ONE who ever can or ever has or ever will keep the Law of God perfectly, and that is Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God!!!
     
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