Hamartiology

The Biblical Conception of Sin

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CHAPTER I — THE BIBLICAL CONCEPTION OF SIN

BY REV. THOMAS WHITELAW, M. A., D. D., KILMARNOCK, AYRSHIRE, SCOTLAND

Holy Scripture undertakes no demonstration of the reality of sin. In all its statements concerning sin, sin is presupposed as a fact which can neither be controverted nor denied, neither challenged nor obscured. It is true that some reasoners, through false philosophy and materialistic science, refuse to admit the existence of sin, but their endeavors to explain it away by their respective theories is sufficient proof that sin is no figment of the imagination but a solid reality. Others who are not thinkers may sink so far beneath the power of sin as to lose all sense of its actuality, their moral and spiritual natures becoming so hardened and fossilized as to be “past feeling,” in which case conviction of sin is no more possible, or at least so deteriorated and unimpressible that only a tremendous upheaval within their souls, occasioned perhaps by severe affliction, but brought about by the inward operation of the Spirit of God, will break up the hard crust of moral numbness and religious torpor in which their spirits are encased. A third class of persons, by simply declining to think about sin, may come in course of time to conclude that whether sin be a reality or not, it does not stand in any relation to them and does not concern them—in which case once more they are merely deceiving themselves. The truth is that it Read more about The Biblical Conception of Sin

From the Archives: 1 John 3:9 – Those “Born of God” Do Not Sin?

Reprinted with permission from Faith Pulpit, November/December ‘05

Four views that appeal to this verse

1. The works-righteousness view

This view teaches that one earns or keeps salvation by good works, and thus that the person who chooses to sin has forfeited any right to heaven. This view contradicts the Bible’s clear teaching on salvation as God’s gift through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), purchased for us not by our works but by the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross (Romans 3:24-25, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24).

2. The instantaneous sanctification/Wesleyan view

Read more about From the Archives: 1 John 3:9 – Those “Born of God” Do Not Sin?

Paul's Testimony to the Doctrine of Sin

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CHAPTER IV — PAUL’S TESTIMONY TO THE DOCTRINE OF SIN

BY PROFESSOR CHAS. B. WILLIAMS, B. D., PH. D., SOUTHWESTERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, FORT WORTH, TEXAS

Theodore Parker once said: “I seldom use the word sin. The Christian doctrine of sin is the devil’s own. I hate it utterly”. His view of sin shaped his views as to the person of Christ, atonement, and salvation. In fact, the sin question is back of one’s theology, soteriology, sociology, evangelism, and ethics. One cannot hold a Scriptural view of God and the plan of salvation without having a Scriptural idea of sin. One cannot proclaim a true theory of society unless he sees the heinousness of sin and its relation to all social ills and disorders. No man can be a successful New Testament evangelist publishing the Gospel as “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth”, unless he has an adequate conception of the enormity of sin. Nor can a man hold a consistent theory of ethics or live up to the highest standard of morality, unless lie is gripped with a keen sense of sin’s seductive nature. Read more about Paul's Testimony to the Doctrine of Sin

Sin and Judgment to Come

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CHAPTER III: SIN AND JUDGMENT TO COME

BY SIR ROBERT ANDERSON, K. C. B., LL. D., LONDON, ENGLAND

The Book of Judges records that in evil days when civil war was raging in Israel, the tribe of Benjamin boasted of having 700 men who “could sling stones at a hair breadth and not miss.” Nearly two hundred times the Hebrew word chatha, here translated “miss,” is rendered “sin” in our English Bible; and this striking fact may teach us that while “all unrighteousness is sin,” the root-thought of sin is far deeper. Man is a sinner because, like a clock that does not tell the time, he fails to fulfill the purpose of his being. And that purpose is (as the Westminster divines admirably state it), “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Our Maker intended that “we should be to the praise of His glory.” But we utterly fail of this; we “come short of the glory of God.” Man is a sinner not merely because of what he does, but by reason of what he is. Read more about Sin and Judgment to Come

Federal and Natural Headship

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Most people balk when they are first confronted with the biblical teaching that all humans sinned in Adam. Their initial reflex seems to be, “How can God hold me accountable for something that Adam did?” This intuitive reaction to the doctrine of original sin is so consistent that it might just lead to the suspicion that most people are born Pelagians.

The two principal theories that attempt to answer this question are called federal headship and natural headship. To most people, the theories are hardly more comprehensible than the doctrine itself. Federal headship states that God sovereignly appointed Adam as the representative head of the human race, so that whatever obedience or disobedience Adam chose would be imputed to his posterity. Natural headship states that all of the human race was somehow in Adam, participating in his sin.

Most people can’t help thinking that federal headship is unfair. This supposed unfairness, however, evaporates pretty quickly once the theory is understood. Everybody understands that some people have to make choices for other people, and that sometimes these choices are matters of life and death. For example, small children are not allowed to decide for themselves whether they will receive an inoculation or other painful procedure. They do not have the maturity to make a wise choice. Parents are tasked to make the decision for the child, and a good parent will make the choice that mature persons would make for themselves if given the choice. Certainly Adam was in a better position to choose to obey God than any of his posterity. It makes sense that God would permit Adam to choose for all of his children. No evidence exists that any of Adam’s children would have made a better choice. In fact, none of them ever does. Read more about Federal and Natural Headship

1 John 3:9 – Those “Born of God” Do Not Sin?

Reprinted with permission from Faith Pulpit, November/December ‘05

Four views that appeal to this verse

1. The works-righteousness view

This view teaches that one earns or keeps salvation by good works, and thus that the person who chooses to sin has forfeited any right to heaven. This view contradicts the Bible’s clear teaching on salvation as God’s gift through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), purchased for us not by our works but by the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross (Romans 3:24-25, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24).

2. The instantaneous sanctification/Wesleyan view

This view states that it is possible for a believer to have an experience following conversion in which the principle or root of sin is removed and replaced by love for God. 1 John 3:9 does not support this view but, rather, argues against a second work of grace by implying that one who sins has never been born of God.

3. The progressive sanctification/perseverance view

This view recognizes that believers occasionally sin but argues that, because they have been regenerated, it is impossible for believers to habitually practice sin. This view has much to commend it but is not entirely satisfactory upon consideration of a literal rendering of the verse (see Five Factors, 1. The text). Read more about 1 John 3:9 – Those “Born of God” Do Not Sin?