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Total Depravity: Is it biblical?

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#31
justaname

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This judgment that Jesus began with his first coming forced a division between those who pursued evil deeds and those who accepted and embraced the light. In a similar fashion, Jesus' death and resurrection (passion/glorification) draws people to himself (John 12:32 NIV) but it is also demonstrating 'judgment on this world' - not the last judgment, but judgment by rejecting the Son, which was rejecting God Himself (see John 5:23 NIV)


This bit is the only portion where we may have a slight disagreement in your post unless I am misinterpreting your contention. There is nothing in the context of the verse you presented (John 12:32) that omits the possibility that Jesus is speaking about judgement once one dies. (Hebrews 9:27 also John 5:22-24) Through this view the thought of "all people" is to be interpreted as individuals rather than all people groups. The fact that there is only one Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) affirms the condition of any possibility of salvation is only through the person and work of Jesus (John 14:6) thus this "drawing of all people" signifies some people unto condemnation and some people unto salvation.

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,
1 Pe 3:18-19

see also Ephesians 4:9-10, Zechariah 9:11, Psalm 49:15
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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#32
NetChaplain

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Your interpretation of the sinful nature's guilt association' being 'passed away' is nowhere mentioned in 2 Cor 5:17. That's your imposition on the text.

 

I must admit, what I was trying to share does not relate directly to that passage but only indirectly. Please excuse me. I see it that the old that has passed away is the control the old nature had on the believer in causing a willful desire for sin, which no longer can ever exist again due to the Cross.

 

To me, to desire sin is to be ruled by it and to willfully perform it is to be dominated by it.

 

So how can the 'old self' be 'set free from sin' when you and I know that the believer continues to sin and needs to seek forgiveness from God and people for that sin? I think verse 6 answers that question: The Christian should no longer be 'slaves to sin', i.e. unable to do anything else but sin because of a commitment to continue sinning. That's my understanding of diabolos - (slave), infinitive form in Rom 6:6 (NIV).

 

I do not see Scripture teaching that we can be without the sin nature nor live without ever sinning. The point is that the sins of the saints are never their desire, i.e. sinning as an unwilling "captive" (Rom 7:23) instead of it being a willing desire (natural man).

 

Paul said in his reborn state that he still serves sin with the part that he no longer is joined with--the flesh (sinful nature, not the physical body); but serves God with the part that is himself, which is the new nature (Rom 7:25), because he is no longer "in the flesh," e.g. sinful nature (Rom 8:9).

 

The intention of 1 John 3:9 concerning that those who are born again do not sin is in reference to that part of us that sins not--the new nature.


Edited by NetChaplain, 14 January 2017 - 06:43 AM.

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The Christian life is not our living a life like Christ, or our trying to be Christ-like, nor is it Christ giving us the power to live a life like His; but it is Christ Himself living His own life through us; 'no longer I, but Christ.'"  MJS 
 


#33
OzSpen

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The intention of 1 John 3:9 concerning that those who are born again do not sin is in reference to that part of us that sins not--the new nature.

 

Net Chaplain,

 

There is no indication in this verse that it refers to those who do not sin in reference to the new nature. That's your interpretation. The fact is that when we look to the Greek text, we don't have to create an argument from silence - which is a logical fallacy.

 

The KJV of 1 John 3:9 (KJV)  is a bad translation: 'Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God'. Even the NRSV has fallen into this trap of not conveying the meaning of the Greek accurately with its translation, 'Those who have been born of God do not sin'.

 

The ESV gives a better understanding of the meaning of this verse, 1 John 3:9 (ESV), 'No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God'.

 

The reason why the KJV, NRSV and HCSB do not accurately portray what the Greek says is because the verb used is poiei, the present, active, indicative of poiew (I do). Being present tense, this refers to continuous or continual action of doing something. Since the verb is negated with ou and refers to the noun, hamartia (sin), the ESV translation is a good indication of the meaning, 'makes a practice of sinning'. Literally, it means, 'Everyone, having been begotten of God, continually/continuously does not sin'.

 

Oz


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#34
NetChaplain

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Net Chaplain,

 

There is no indication in this verse that it refers to those who do not sin in reference to the new nature. That's your interpretation. The fact is that when we look to the Greek text, we don't have to create an argument from silence - which is a logical fallacy.

 

The KJV of 1 John 3:9 (KJV)  is a bad translation: 'Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God'. Even the NRSV has fallen into this trap of not conveying the meaning of the Greek accurately with its translation, 'Those who have been born of God do not sin'.

 

The "seed" is the new nature, which "cannot sin," because it is "created after the image of Christ (Col 3:10), and is the part of us that "serves the principles of God" (Rom 7:25).

 

Blessings!


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The Christian life is not our living a life like Christ, or our trying to be Christ-like, nor is it Christ giving us the power to live a life like His; but it is Christ Himself living His own life through us; 'no longer I, but Christ.'"  MJS 
 


#35
Wormwood

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Someone can believe that a person can still have a sin nature without believing in the faulty doctrine of Total Depravity.  Total Depravity teaches that human beings are so depraved that they cannot even recognize or accept the truth.  The idea that human beings are so depraved that they cannot even understand or accept the Gospel without a special act of grace or illumination from God is simply not taught in the Bible.  Again, the entirety of the NT implies that those who hear the Gospel have the capacity to accept it.  

 

Does God veil the minds of some?  Does God harden hearts?  Yes.  But this is done as an act of judgment on those who close their eyes and turn their hearts from the truth when they hear it.  So, if someone accepts the doctrine of Total Depravity they have two options.  1.  God gives prevenient grace to every human being to allow all people to accept the Gospel when they hear it or 2.  God only chooses to quicken some and permit certain individuals to understand and receive the Gospel.  The latter teaches that God only has determined to save some in his own sovereignty (the conclusion of Calvinists) and the former basically affirms the doctrine but nullifies its effect.  

 

But why must we affirm the doctrine to begin with if there is no teaching of it in the NT?  First, the NT affirms that God desires all to be saved and second it implies that all who hear the Gospel are capable of responding and are held accountable for that decision.  There is no teaching of prevenient grace that God bestows on each individual to allow them to accept or reject the Gospel.  Rather, the Bible teaches that we are partially depraved.  We are born in a sinful world and we are physically and mentally corrupted by its effects.  In fact, we will all sin due to the world's influence and our own nature's bent toward wickedness.  However, this is not to say that we are so depraved that we cannot even recognize what is good.  the Bible simply doesn't teach this.  The primary verse that is used to argue this point is Paul's statement that we are "dead" in our sins.  Yet, one must not stretch this metaphor beyond its intended purposes.  The point Paul is making is that we are dependent upon God's grace for salvation and we are death without that grace.  He is NOT teaching that we are "dead" in the sense that we cannot respond to the Gospel.  This is a horrible over-reaching that extends the metaphor far beyond the author's intent.  Paul is not addressing a person's inability to understand or accept grace with this metaphor.  

 

The evil of the world and human beings is compounded by the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Jesus taught that humans see the light but choose to remain in darkness because their deeds are evil.  The problem is not that humans cannot discern light from darkness because of their total depravity.  Rather, they choose darkness because they prefer it, not because they are incapable of choice.  This is why their condemnation for rejecting the Gospel is so great. 

 

In sum, there is no need to accept the doctrine of Total Depravity.  To do so forces one toward unbiblical teaching of limited atonement (Jesus died only for those God predetermined to save by removing their depravity and causing them to be reborn...quite separate from their own choice to accept Christ (this choice comes after their election and rejuvenation)) or to basically nullify the doctrine by teaching prevenient grace.  Personally, I just don't see any need to jump through either of these hoops since the Bible doesn't teach total depravity to begin with.  


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#36
OzSpen

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The "seed" is the new nature, which "cannot sin," because it is "created after the image of Christ (Col 3:10), and is the part of us that "serves the principles of God" (Rom 7:25).

 

Blessings!

 

I provided exegesis for 1 John 3:9. There is not a word in that verse about the 'seed'. Therefore, you comment here is a red herring.


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#37
FHII

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I provided exegesis for 1 John 3:9. There is not a word in that verse about the 'seed'. Therefore, you comment here is a red herring.



Accually there is Oz. The word "seed" is right in the middle of the verse.
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#38
FHII

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I provided exegesis for 1 John 3:9. There is not a word in that verse about the 'seed'. Therefore, you comment here is a red herring.



Accually there is Oz. The word "seed" is right in the middle of the verse.
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#39
NetChaplain

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I provided exegesis for 1 John 3:9. There is not a word in that verse about the 'seed'. Therefore, you comment here is a red herring.

I always appreciate your replies and since we're apart on this issue we can rejoin our communications on other issues. 

 

God bless and God Be Blessed!


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The Christian life is not our living a life like Christ, or our trying to be Christ-like, nor is it Christ giving us the power to live a life like His; but it is Christ Himself living His own life through us; 'no longer I, but Christ.'"  MJS 
 


#40
OzSpen

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Accually there is Oz. The word "seed" is right in the middle of the verse.

 

You are correct and I was wrong. I apologise for this error on my part.

 

However, what is the meaning of 'God's seed abides in him' (ESV)? The NLT gives this dynamic equivalence (meaning for meaning) translation from the Greek: 'Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life[a] is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God'. 'God's seed' is given the meaning of 'God's life' in the NLT.

 

Conservative Lutheran commentator, R C H Lenski, provides this interpretation of the meaning of 'seed' in 1 John 3:9:

 

 

This "seed" is the Word of God (1:10; 2:5 which he guards; 2:14), the light (1:6, 7), the truth (1:8; 2:4); the commandment (2:7, etc.). Here belong 1 Pet. 1:23 and James 1:18. It makes no difference whether we say that the word remains in us, or that we remain in the Word, the truth, etc. "Seed" is figurative, but the figure extends only to the fact that a seed has life in it. The Word of God is a living power  (1 Pet. 1:23). It is not necessary to extend this figure, to talk about vegetable seed and human seed, life germ, and to seek for analogies in natural life, seed growth, etc. Jesus and the holy writers dominate their figures and are not dominated by them. Does this interpretation of the "seed" as the Word lose the Holy Spirit? Indeed not! The great means by which the Spirit quickens, kindles life, keeps life alive, is the Word, in which he is, by which he works.

          When he has the living Word in his reborn heart no one is able to go on sinning simply "because he has been born from God." The matter is axiomatic. All that can be done by way of explanation is to insert that this Word of God remains in the person and thus to shift the emphasis in the subject: "everyone born of God" does not, cannot go on sinning because of this seed in him, and to emphasize in the predicate that "from God this person is born." Note the position of ek tou theou [from the God]; it occurs first after the participle and then before the verb (Lenski 1966:463, emphasis in original).

 

This was as good an explanation as I could find in my library and I share it with you for clarification of what 'God's seed' means.

 

Oz

 

Works consulted

 

Lenski, R C H 1966. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers (this is a limited edition publication in 2001; copyright is with Augsburg Publishing House).


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#41
OzSpen

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I always appreciate your replies and since we're apart on this issue we can rejoin our communications on other issues. 

 

God bless and God Be Blessed!

 

As I mentioned to FHill, that was my error in missing 'seed' in 1 John 3:9 (ESV). As I explained to him it seems to refer to God's life in the person (NLT translation) and Lenski attributes it to 'the Word of God' in the person.

 

I also appreciate our healthy engagement, even on issues about which we may disagree.

 

Blessings,

Oz


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#42
NetChaplain

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As I mentioned to FHill, that was my error in missing 'seed' in 1 John 3:9 (ESV). As I explained to him it seems to refer to God's life in the person (NLT translation) and Lenski attributes it to 'the Word of God' in the person.

 

I also appreciate our healthy engagement, even on issues about which we may disagree.

 

Blessings,

Oz

Thanks for your humility, it's a good example all should remember to maintain! I would like to include this from Gill:

 

"For His seed remains in him"; not the word of God, or the Gospel, though that is a seed which is sown by the ministers of it, and blessed by God, and by which he regenerates His people; and which having a place in their hearts, becomes the ingrafted word, and there abides, nor can it be rooted out; where it powerfully teaches to avoid sin, is an antidote against it, and a preservative from it.

 

"Nor the Holy Spirit of God, though He is the author of the new birth, and the principle of all grace; and where He once is, He always abides; and through the power of His grace believers prevail against sin, and mortify the deeds of the body, and live. But rather the grace of the Spirit, the internal principle of grace in the soul, the new nature, or new man formed in the soul, is meant; which seminally contains all grace in it, and which, like seed, springs up and gradually increases, and always abides; and is pure and incorruptible, and neither sins itself, nor encourages sin, but opposes, checks, and prevents it."


Edited by NetChaplain, 15 January 2017 - 02:03 PM.

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The Christian life is not our living a life like Christ, or our trying to be Christ-like, nor is it Christ giving us the power to live a life like His; but it is Christ Himself living His own life through us; 'no longer I, but Christ.'"  MJS 
 


#43
justaname

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Validation: 1John 3:9
οὐ δύναται ἁμαρτάνειν
I. Identification of the Problem
A. Significance of the Problem
1. Lexically what is the strength of the phrase οὐ δύναται ἁμαρτάνειν? Is this an absolute statement?
2. Contextually how does this phrasing fit within the epistle thus far? What is the thrust of the epistle and how does this pericope fit within it?
3. Theologically when interpreting the phrase the verses 1 John 1:8, 2:1 must be considered as they seem to contradict 3:9. With this apparent contradiction in light how is the exegete to interpret the pericope?
4. Application requires comprehension and proper interpretation of this text. This is vital for combatting unnecessary dogmatic practices, division among Christ's followers, and improper or false teaching about God's word.

B. Nature of the Problem
1. Easily a literal interpretation can be applied yet does this interpretation apply to the reality of the Christian experience?
2. Within the purpose of the epistle John is giving instruction as well as directing objections to opposing views. Some interpreters disregard this fact when looking to the epistle. Also looking into the arguments laid out to the point of the phrase reveals specific context interpreters may overlook.

II. Examination and Evaluation of the Opinions
A. Those born of God cannot continually habitually sin.
1. Support
Johannine usage of poiein hamartian (lit. ‘to do/commit sin’) as it is used in the Johannine writings does denote habitual sinning (John 8:34; 1 John 3:8)
2. Objection
a. The use of the present tense says nothing about the habitual or non-habitual character of the sinning, but only shows that the author has chosen to depict the sinning as something in progress, rather than as a complete action.
b. The present tense is also used in 1:8, where the author says, "If we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves".

B. Author and Redactor theory.
1. Support
The idea of a sharp contradiction (cf 1:5 and 3:9) within a brief span of writing suggests different writers.
2. Objection
a. The theory of a redactor in 1 John has little following in scholarship today.
b. This theory is a confession to irreconcilability of the passages.

C. The author is thinking of specific types of sin.
1. Support
a. The OT alludes to deliberate (those done with a high hand) and indeliberate sin.
b. John in 5:16-17 speaks of sin that leads to death.
2. Objection
The direct context does not lend to this interpretation.

D. The author is directing his statement to two different groups of opposition.
Objection
Most commentators agree on only one group of secessionists.

E. The author is thinking of only elite Christians.
Objection
This elite Christian is yet to be witnessed or experienced when considering sins of pride, vanity, coveting, and the like let alone sins of omission.

III. Proposed Solution:
A. The author has eschatological ideals in mind with an already/not yet idea behind the reality of the experience. Behind already/not yet it is meant already believers are empowered to abstain from sin though we have not yet felt the full effect of this empowerment as we will in the new age or the culmination of the eschaton. Wallace states, "Thus, the author states in an absolute manner truths that are not yet true, because he is speaking in eschatological hope (2:28-3:3) and eschatological judgment (2:18-19).
1. Support
a. John is speaking in an apocalyptic context (2:18)
b. In the context of 3:2 John speaks of an already/not yet manifestation of the children of God.
c. In Jewish apocalyptic expectation the last days would be void of sin experienced by those close to God.
d. The OT speaks of deliverance from uncleanness (Ezekiel 36:29).
e. Extra biblical books from the period speak of no longer sinning in the eschaton (Enoch 5:8-9; Jubilees 5:12; Testament Levi 18:9; 1QS 4:21-23; CD 20:2,5,7).
2. Objection
a. This is a subtle nuance not explicit in the writing.
b. This view weakens the immediate sense given within the text.
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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#44
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Word Study 1 John 3:9
σπέρμα - sperma

I. Diachronic Study
A. Classical Usage
1. Seed of plants: Homerus, Homeric Hymns, 2.307; Herodotus, The Histories, 3.97; Xenophon, Economics, 17.8, 10
a. Seed of fruit: Antiphanes, Comicus, 58.4, iv B.C.
i. Products of earth, of corn stalks: Anthologia Graeca, Philippus Epigrammaticus,, 9.89 I A.D.
ii. Crops in general, Supp.Epigr. in LSJ, ii B.C.
b. Metaphorically
i. Germ, origin of anything: Homer, Odyssey, 5.490; Pindar, Olympian Odes, 7.48 v B.C.
ii. Elements: Anaxagoras, Philosophus, 4, v B.C.; Epicurus, Philosophus Ep, 2p.38, Fr.250 iv/iii B.C. ; Demosthenes, On the Crown, 18.159, 25.48; Plutarchus , Marius, 10; Zeno, Fragments 102, 108
c. Seed-time, sowing: Hesiod, Works and Days, 781
d. Seed of animals, semen: Pindar, Pythia, 3.15, 10.17 v B.C.; Timaeus Locrus, Philosophus, 100b,; Plato, Timaeus, 86c; Euripides, Orestes, 553; Plutarch, Lycurgus, 15;
i. Race, origin, descent: Sophocles, Tragicus, 214, 1077 v B.C.; Aeschylus, Supp., 290; Aeschylus, Tragicus, 236 vi/v B.C., Sophocles, Antigone, 981; Pinda, Olympia, 7.93
ii. In Poets, seed, offspring: Aeschylus, Tragicus, 503,
1ο. Of a single person: Pinda, Olympia, 9.61; Aeschylus, PB, 705; Sophocles, Philoctes, 364

B. Septuagint Usage 280x
1. Of plants: Gen 47:19
2. Seed time, sowing: Gen 8:22
3. The male seed, semen: Lv 18:21
4. Seed, offspring (of men): Gen 9:9
5. Seed, offspring (of animals): Gen 3:15
6. Descendants, children, posterity: 4 Mc 18:1
7. Crops: 1 Sam 8:15
8. Emission of seed, intercourse: Lv 15:16
9. Seed for sowing: Lv 11:37
10. Yielding seed: Gen 1:11
11. Sower: Jer 50:16
12. Arm for MT: Ez 31:17, 1Sam 2:31, Is 17:5

C. LXX usage compared with Classical usage:
1. Classical Hellinism: In Hellinistic literature the sense is often seed of a plant (Homerus, Homeric Hymns, 2.307). Also it is used for human or animal progeny (Pindar, Pythia, 3.15, 10.17). These convey a literal meaning. There is a transferred sense to mean offspring (Pindar, Pythia, 3.15, 10.17), or origin of anything (Homer, Odyssey, 5.490). There is an elemental sense dealing with a divine seed (Epicurus, Philosophus Ep, 2p.38, Fr.250 iv/iii B.C).

2. Septuagint: Common with Hellenistic literature is the literal senses of seed of a plant and seed of an animal or human. Also analogous to Hellenistic usage is the transferred sense of σπέρμα as offspring ranging from immediate offspring (Gen 4:25) child or son, to children, descendants, or posterity (Gen 12:7), race or nation (Wis. Of Sol. 10:15), and entire human race (Tobit 8:6). Differing is the usage in the MT meaning arm (Is 17:5) Theologically σπέρμα is developed as the promised seed (Gen 3:15) throughout the entire OT.

II. Synchronic Study
A. Koine usage:
1. Seed: Zenon Papyri I. 59097 257B.C., Paris Papyri II 63 165B.C., Berlin: Griechische Urkunden II 597 75AD, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri I 117 ii/iiiA.D.

B. New Testament usage 43x:
1. Individual Usage
a. Matthew: seed, 13:24, 13:27, 13:32, 13:37, 13:38; children, 22:24, 22:25
b. Mark: seed, 4:31; children, 12:19, 12:20, 12:21, 12:22
c. Luke-Acts: seed, Ac 3:25; descendant, Lk 1:55, Ac 7:5, 7:6, 13:23; children, Lk 20:28
d. John: seed, 1Jn 3:9; descendant, Jn 7:42, 8:33, 8:37
e. Pauline: seed, 1Cor 15:38, Ga 3:16, 3:19; descendant, Ro 1:3, 4:13, 4:16, 4:18, 9:7, 9:8, 11:1, 2Cor 11:12, Ga 3:29, 2 Ti 2:8; posterity, Ro 9:29
f. Hebrews: descendant, 2:16, 11:18; to conceive, 11:11
g. James: None
h. Petrine: None
i. Jude: None
j. Revelation: children 12:17

2. NT usage compared with Koine, LXX, and Classical: The semantic range in maintains the same sense of a literal seed and a transferred meaning of offspring.

3. Usage in 1 John 3:9: Translators have rendered the translation "seed" traditionally. Interesting is a more complex contextual meaing sometimes rendered in this particular passage. Due to the depth of information I will give the local entry from BDAG and a summery of the information presented: "genetic character, nature, disposition, character, of the divine σπέρμα (acc. to BWeiss = the word of God; acc. to EHaupt, Westcott, HHoltzmann, OBaumgarten, OHoltzmann, HHWendt, FHauck = the beginning or germ of a new life, planted in us by the Spirit of God; acc. to HWindisch and THaering, who are uncertain, = word or spirit; acc. to WWrede = the grace that makes us holy; RSV et al. ‘nature’) that dwells in one who is γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ (γεννάω 1b) and makes it ‘impossible for such a pers. to sin’ 1J 3:9 (JPainter, NTS 32, ’86, 48–71). The imagery suggests a person of exceptional merit, in Greco-Roman circles a model citizen, possesser of ἀρετή (q.v.; on the importance of ancestral virtue s. Pind., O. 7, 90–92; P. 10, 11–14; N. 3, 40–42; 6, 8–16; cp. Epict. 1, 13, 3: the slave has, just as you do, τὸν Δία πρόγονον, ὥσπερ υἱὸς ἐκ τῶν αὐτῶν σπερμάτων γέγονεν; s. also Herm. Wr. 9, 3; 4a; 6 ἀπὸ τ. θεοῦ λαβὼν τὰ σπέρματα; Philo, Ebr. 30 τὰ τοῦ θεοῦ σπέρματα al.; Synes., Ep. 151 p. 289b τὸ σπ. τὸ θεῖον; Just. A I, 32, 8 τὸ παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ σπέρμα, ὁ λόγο.—Musonius p. 8, 1 ἀρετῆς σπ. Maximus Tyr. 10, 4g σπ. ψυχῆς.—Pind., P. 3, 15 σπέρμα θεοῦ καθαρόν refers to Asclepius, Apollo’s son by Coronis.).—B. 505. DELG s.v. σπείρω. M-M. EDNT. TW."

In this pericope "seed" has been viewd as Offspring, Spirit, Word, and Divine Nature by various commentators in interpreting the text. The phrase σπέρμα αὐτοῦ meaning literally "His (God's) seed" is unique in this context within the NT providing problematic interpretation. The interpretation concluding in "offspring" is viable and has the most lexical support; from the RSV "for the offspring of God abide in Him". The objections to this interpretation (Dodd, 75) are the lack of a definate article and this rendering producing an unnecessary repition, yet both of these objections are not serious (Bruce, 92). The Spirit interpretation brings fourth the concept of the Holy Spirit similar to John 3:6. In John 3:24 and 4:13 divine abiding is associated with the Spirit. The objection lies in the inadequate lexical support and a failure to distinguish between the sense and referent of the word. The interpretation of "word or gospel" rests in the identifications found in 1 Pt. 1:23 and Lk 8:4-15 where Peter speaks of begetting through the seed and Luke gives the parable of the sower. The objection to this is σπορᾶς is used by these authors and not σπέρμα; σπέρμα is never used to refer to the word of God. Divine Nature is the final addressed interpretation and the preferred rendering. This rendering keeps intact the context of σπέρμα and explains the phrase σπέρμα αὐτοῦ against a Jewish and Christian background by combining the concepts of "Spirit" and "word". It also falls within the semantic range of the word within the synchronic study. In the OT the ability to renounce sin derives from God's word or Law (Ps 37:31,119:11). According to the prophets the messanic age was to be characterized by the cleansing of believers in whom abide the Law and Spirit of God (Jer 31:33-34; Ezek 36:25-27). This interpretation also harmonizes with the annointing John speaks of which indwells the believer (2:20, 27) as well as the purification from sin resulting from the indwelling word and Spirit of God elsewhere in the NT (John 15:2-4; Acts 15:8-9).

4. Comparison with the EDNT: The definitions of seeds of plants, sperm, and descendants are given. Regarding 1 John 3:9 it is suggested John is using an ontological citation from Gnostic adversaries speaking of God's sperm. The context is a metaphor of procreation by God where seed refers to the Spirit or the event of the word, whereby God's sperm characterizes one's actions.

5. Comparison with the TDNT: In the Johannine tradition the word is found a total of 5 times always referring to the transferred meaning of offspring or progeny except in 1 Jn 3:9. It is noted the idea of God's seed does not occur in Pharisaic or Essene circles yet is common in Hellenistic Judaism and the mystery religions. The seed of God is the Spirit who manifests Himself in His Word.

6. Comparison with the NIDNTTE: The idea of an echoing of the Philonic concept of the "divine seed" is discredited. The divine principle of life in the believer (God's word? The Spirit? Grace?) is what John has in mind. The physical seed was the generator of life in the creative order (Gen 1:11-12). The divine σπέρμα is origin of life in the new order of recreated humanity.
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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#45
FHII

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You are correct and I was wrong. I apologise for this error on my part.

However, what is the meaning of 'God's seed abides in him' (ESV)? The NLT gives this dynamic equivalence (meaning for meaning) translation from the Greek: 'Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life[a] is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God'. 'God's seed' is given the meaning of 'God's life' in the NLT.

Conservative Lutheran commentator, R C H Lenski, provides this interpretation of the meaning of 'seed' in 1 John 3:9:


This was as good an explanation as I could find in my library and I share it with you for clarification of what 'God's seed' means.

Oz

Works consulted

Lenski, R C H 1966. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers (this is a limited edition publication in 2001; copyright is with Augsburg Publishing House).



Oz,

I appreciate you acknowledging your error. It is rare on these boards.

When I read 1John 3 I tend to take the whole message of the NT into consideration. That is, the message of grace.

I do not condone sin. I urge all to stop. Yet, I am not going to condemn anyone, including myself. The message of grace says our sins are covered and forgiven. That means our past, present and future sins.

In short, sin is not imputed to us. I haven't given any verses for these assertions, but students of the Bible know they are true.

So the KJV reading of this verse suggests that we can't sin because God's seed or life or word is in us. Thus, because Jesus was without sin, we are. I agree.

In this same letter John urged his readers not to sin, but if they did sin the had an advocate in Jesus.

I agree with that too.
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#46
Wormwood

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II. Examination and Evaluation of the Opinions

A. Those born of God cannot continually habitually sin.
1. Support
Johannine usage of poiein hamartian (lit. ‘to do/commit sin’) as it is used in the Johannine writings does denote habitual sinning (John 8:341 John 3:8)
2. Objection
a. The use of the present tense says nothing about the habitual or non-habitual character of the sinning, but only shows that the author has chosen to depict the sinning as something in progress, rather than as a complete action.
b. The present tense is also used in 1:8, where the author says, "If we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves".

 

 

I must say I strongly disagree with the "objection" listed by this commentator.  Comparing 3:9 to 1:8 is apples and oranges.  One is the Greek word "to do" and the other is the Greek word "to have."  Clearly there is a distinction here.  It is one thing to use a present active verb describing someone "having" sin currently and another to describe someone of continually "doing" sin.  Moreover, the author here seems to completely miss the context.  The point is that Christians are to walk as Jesus walked.  These false teachers were teaching that it was okay to sin, because as long as you had the right knowledge, you would be accepted by God. 

 

So, in my opinion, these verses have nothing to do with how someone becomes a Christian and whether or not there is free-will in the process.  It is talking about how to recognize a true believer from a false teacher.  Those who teach and practice wickedness are not true believers.  Those who really are moved by the truth and the Spirit will not indulge in sin.  They will repent of it and confess it.  I think that is the simple point John is conveying and to use these verses as justification for total depravity is misguided in my opinion


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#47
justaname

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I must say I strongly disagree with the "objection" listed by this commentator. Comparing 3:9 to 1:8 is apples and oranges. One is the Greek word "to do" and the other is the Greek word "to have." Clearly there is a distinction here. It is one thing to use a present active verb describing someone "having" sin currently and another to describe someone of continually "doing" sin. Moreover, the author here seems to completely miss the context. The point is that Christians are to walk as Jesus walked. These false teachers were teaching that it was okay to sin, because as long as you had the right knowledge, you would be accepted by God.

So, in my opinion, these verses have nothing to do with how someone becomes a Christian and whether or not there is free-will in the process. It is talking about how to recognize a true believer from a false teacher. Those who teach and practice wickedness are not true believers. Those who really are moved by the truth and the Spirit will not indulge in sin. They will repent of it and confess it. I think that is the simple point John is conveying and to use these verses as justification for total depravity is misguided in my opinion

The strength of this verse hinges on this phrase
καὶ οὐ δύναται (present, middle or passive, indicative) ἁμαρτάνειν
Eberhard Nestle et al., The Greek New Testament, 27th ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), 1 Jn 3:9.


This is stating it is an impossibility to sin or is unable to sin. John attributes this impossibility to the presence of the divine seed. To add habit to the phrase is to do just that, add to the text. Yet to continue down this line of thinking we would translate {and is not able to habitually sin}, yet this phrase is not realistic. Are we to conclude a believer is unable fall into a state of habitual sin in light of marital affairs and eventually divorce especially considering Jesus' position on divorce? How about believers that fall into alcohol or drug addiction? Then we have the continual nagging sins of coveting, lust, pride, and the list could continue. Finally I question if any believer is not in a habitual state of sin in itself. Are we not directed by the Savior himself to ask for forgiveness of sins along with asking for daily bread? Sin presents itself in various contexts and manifestations, thereby sin is habitual although the particular sin may vary.

He traces sin in the life of the child of God to its root—the old fallen nature” (Pentecost, 83). From that divine “seed” being unable to sin Hodges (130) concludes that “at the inward level of his redeemed nature, the believer is every bit as pure as his Savior is. That purity will be totally realized at the coming of the Lord (v. 2), but is ours now at the core of our being” (bold his). Habitual sin is an inconsistency in the life of a Christian though not an impossibility. Thus believers are theoretically able not to sin, but will never achieve that status until the old nature is replaced by a glorified body (Brown 412–16; Smalley 158–64). The old nature, being fallen, naturally and consistently rebels against God. Thus when someone sins, it is the person sinning, but under the influence of their old nature.969 Even when a believer sins, he or she is acting out of the old nature and being consistent with it. It is the new nature that motivates the believer to obey God, though once again it is the person, not his or her nature, who is doing the obeying.[1]


968 This is especially made clear by Paul in Rom 7 wherein he describes the believer’s struggle with sin. Though some theologians attempt to place the struggle in Paul’s pre-conversion experience, the location of the chap in the flow of his argument in Romans cannot describe his unregenerate state. Chapter seven lies at the center of Paul’s discussion of sanctification (Rom 6–8) rather than condemnation (Rom 1–3) or justification (Rom 3–5). The attempt of theologians to place Paul’s struggle earlier arises from their theology, not the text.

969 This is evident in Paul’s experience in Rom 7, with the subsequent solution in Rom 8.



[1] Gary W. Derickson, First, Second, and Third John, ed. H. Wayne House, W. Hall Harris III, and Andrew W. Pitts, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), 330–331.




I suggest also referring to Dan Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics particularly in reference to this verse (particularly 522-525 for the Gnomic Present)
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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#48
OzSpen

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The strength of this verse hinges on this phrase
καὶ οὐ δύναται (present, middle or passive, indicative) ἁμαρτάνειν
Eberhard Nestle et al., The Greek New Testament, 27th ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), 1 Jn 3:9.

This is stating it is an impossibility to sin or is unable to sin. John attributes this impossibility to the presence of the divine seed.

 

justaname,

 

That is not what this Greek clause states when translated into English: καὶ οὐ δύναται (present, middle or passive, indicative) ἁμαρτάνειν [present tense infinitive].

 

The translation, based on the Greek grammar, is, 'and not continue to be able [for oneself] to continue to sin'. That's why these are excellent translations:

  • 1 John 3:9 (ESV), 'No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God'.
  • 1 John 3:9 (NLT), 'Those who have been born into God's family do not make a practice of sinning, because God's life is in them. So they can't keep on sinning, because they are children of God'.

Oz


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#49
justaname

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justaname,

 

That is not what this Greek clause states when translated into English: καὶ οὐ δύναται (present, middle or passive, indicative) ἁμαρτάνειν [present tense infinitive].

 

The translation, based on the Greek grammar, is, 'and not continue to be able [for oneself] to continue to sin'. That's why these are excellent translations:

  • 1 John 3:9 (ESV), 'No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God'.
  • 1 John 3:9 (NLT), 'Those who have been born into God's family do not make a practice of sinning, because God's life is in them. So they can't keep on sinning, because they are children of God'.

Oz

Oz,

 

Thank you for your correction as I failed to represent the present tense in my loose translation.  I agree with your literal translation although contextually I interpret a nuance differently.  This though does not detract from the arguments presented in #47.  

 

(Again refer to Wallace to understand the use of the Gnomic Present)  https://books.google...Wallace&f=false

 

My interpretative translation:

3:9 Πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ ἁμαρτίαν οὐ ποιεῖ, ὅτι σπέρμα αὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ μένει, καὶ οὐ δύναται ἁμαρτάνειν, ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεγέννηται.

3:9 Everyone begotten (perfect, passive, participle, γεννάω, substantival) from out of God does (present, active, indicative, ποιέω, gnomic present) no sin because His nature is abiding (present, active, indicative, μένω) in him, and he is unable (present, middle or passive, indicative, οὐ δύναμαι, gnomic present) to sin because he has been begotten (perfect, passive, indicative, γεννάω) from out of God.


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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#50
skypair

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No.  Men are not ever "totally depraved."  That notion follows the thought that man is biune in nature — only having body and spirit.  But man is triune and there is on aspect of man that cannot be totally depraved by its very nature.  That is the spirit of man .. his mind, emotions, and will.  The spirit of man hears and sees both good and evil and chooses which are good for him and which are bad.  So just as an example, suicide is bad but the instinct of all men in that regard is life, good.  Also. according to 1Cor 2:14-15, men "do by nature the things contained in the law" and those things are good, too.

 

The doctrine of total depravity exposes the error in the Reform and Arminian doctrine of the nature of man.

 

skypair


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#51
Wormwood

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The strength of this verse hinges on this phrase
καὶ οὐ δύναται (present, middle or passive, indicative) ἁμαρτάνειν
Eberhard Nestle et al., The Greek New Testament, 27th ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), 1 Jn 3:9.

This is stating it is an impossibility to sin or is unable to sin. John attributes this impossibility to the presence of the divine seed. To add habit to the phrase is to do just that, add to the text. Yet to continue down this line of thinking we would translate {and is not able to habitually sin}, yet this phrase is not realistic. Are we to conclude a believer is unable fall into a state of habitual sin in light of marital affairs and eventually divorce especially considering Jesus' position on divorce? How about believers that fall into alcohol or drug addiction? Then we have the continual nagging sins of coveting, lust, pride, and the list could continue. Finally I question if any believer is not in a habitual state of sin in itself. Are we not directed by the Savior himself to ask for forgiveness of sins along with asking for daily bread? Sin presents itself in various contexts and manifestations, thereby sin is habitual although the particular sin may vary.

He traces sin in the life of the child of God to its root—the old fallen nature” (Pentecost, 83). From that divine “seed” being unable to sin Hodges (130) concludes that “at the inward level of his redeemed nature, the believer is every bit as pure as his Savior is. That purity will be totally realized at the coming of the Lord (v. 2), but is ours now at the core of our being” (bold his). Habitual sin is an inconsistency in the life of a Christian though not an impossibility. Thus believers are theoretically able not to sin, but will never achieve that status until the old nature is replaced by a glorified body (Brown 412–16; Smalley 158–64). The old nature, being fallen, naturally and consistently rebels against God. Thus when someone sins, it is the person sinning, but under the influence of their old nature.969 Even when a believer sins, he or she is acting out of the old nature and being consistent with it. It is the new nature that motivates the believer to obey God, though once again it is the person, not his or her nature, who is doing the obeying.[1]


968 This is especially made clear by Paul in Rom 7 wherein he describes the believer’s struggle with sin. Though some theologians attempt to place the struggle in Paul’s pre-conversion experience, the location of the chap in the flow of his argument in Romans cannot describe his unregenerate state. Chapter seven lies at the center of Paul’s discussion of sanctification (Rom 6–8) rather than condemnation (Rom 1–3) or justification (Rom 3–5). The attempt of theologians to place Paul’s struggle earlier arises from their theology, not the text.

969 This is evident in Paul’s experience in Rom 7, with the subsequent solution in Rom 8.



[1] Gary W. Derickson, First, Second, and Third John, ed. H. Wayne House, W. Hall Harris III, and Andrew W. Pitts, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), 330–331.




I suggest also referring to Dan Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics particularly in reference to this verse (particularly 522-525 for the Gnomic Present)

 

Justaname,

 

Thanks for your response.  Again, I must strongly disagree with your stance on this verse.  It seems you and Hodges are implying that this verse is only referring to the inner, legal stance of the believer.  Please correct me if I am wrong.  I find this entirely out of scope with the context John is discussing.  His point is to try to help believers discern truth from error and genuine teachers from false teachers.  John's concern is how we "walk" and not simply our inner, justified status that is free from sin.  

 

So, I think we need to follow the context here.  John is dealing with false teachers (Gnostics) that taught that the flesh was of no concern so one could indulge in its desires as much as they wanted.  For these teachers, the only thing that mattered was having the proper knowledge passed down from the Christ.  In fact, they taught that the crucifixion was irrelevant and that the Christ spirit left Jesus on the cross.  They taught that the Christ spirit resided on Jesus for a time (came upon him at his baptism) and through that spirit Jesus passed on knowledge to allow his followers to ascend to the higher heavens.  For Greeks, spirit was good and material things were evil.  Thus, it didn't matter if someone indulged the flesh because the flesh was helplessly corrupt anyway.  Knowledge and spirit was all that mattered.  

 

His point is simply that those who have the seed of God cannot indulge in sin and teach others to do the same.  Those who live in such a manner show that they are carnal and do not belong to Jesus because they do not walk as he walked.  Jesus walked in purity and his followers were to do the same.  Indeed, the Spirit dwells in the believer to sanctify them and convict them on sin...not enable them to indulge in it.  

 

As for "believers" who indulge in sin, as you mentioned, I am not sure of what to say.  Yes, I agree some believers backslide for a time.  Yet, I believe this grieves the Spirit within them and they put themselves in grave danger if they quench the Spirit and harden their hearts against Him.  I do believe there is the possibility of falling away, but I realize that is another thread for another time.  In any event, I believe the Spirit is given to us to sanctify us and transform us into the image of Christ.  Our flesh may battle against the Spirit, but those who walk in faith will find that the Spirit is greater than the flesh and He will accomplish His work in their lives.  If someone lives in continual, unrepentant sin that does not convict them, I believe such a person is in great danger.  Either 1) they never truly had the Spirit of God, 2) they are living carnally and are grieving the Spirit...in danger of hardening their hearts to the faith, or 3) they have fallen away and the sow that was washed has gone back to wallowing in the mud.  I think Hebrews 6 & 10 and 2 Peter warn specifically of such situations.  

 

Be blessed.


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#52
justaname

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Wormwood,

 

Context is key to understanding all Scripture.  Here we agree.  We also agree that habitual sin in the life of the believer is an inconsistency.  Yet the use of the present tense does not denote habit rather it denotes an incomplete or progressive action or state.  To use Oz: The translation, based on the Greek grammar, is, 'and not continue to be able [for oneself] to continue to sin'.  This literal translation fits directly within my theology and interpretation of the text.  A similar statement is made at 3:6:

 

NASB: No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. ("sins" also in the present)

 
Adding the idea of habit lessens the strength of John's argument (those who abide do not continue to sin) and is eisegetical in nature.  John does not condone any sin.  He is not switching to the concept of habitual sin at 3:6 or 3:9.  In fact John moves to a more absolute statement in 3:6 that raises the intensity of his argument.
 
The logical conclusion then is sinless perfection.  I argue my interpretation maintains the strength behind the concept (inability) without adding the idea of habit and ultimately results in sinless perfection.  With this in mind read: "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be."  This statement by John sets the tone for his proceeding argument.  He begins with the idea that the children of God purify themselves. (3:3)  Then He moves to the idea that those who abide in Him do not continue sinning. (3:6) Finally he says those born of God are unable to continue in sin. (3:9)  His argumentation progresses in sequence and intensity.
 
My argument is supported through various ideas:
 

1 John 1:8-2:2 is important to retain while interpreting 3:9 as this is apportioned through the context and the building of the epistle's argument.  In light of this portion of text (1:8) the two sections are seemingly contradictory.  For one to have to admit they continually have sin they must be continually sinning. Both 1:8 and 3:9 are presented in the present tense.  3:9 states the child of God is unable to continue sinning.  

 

a. John is speaking in an apocalyptic context (2:18; 28) 
b. In the context of 3:2 John speaks of an already/not yet manifestation of the children of God.
c. In Jewish apocalyptic expectation the last days would be void of sin experienced by those close to God.
d. The OT speaks of deliverance from uncleanness (Ezekiel 36:29).

e. Extra biblical books from the period speak of no longer sinning in the eschaton (Enoch 5:8-9; Jubilees 5:12; Testament Levi 18:9; 1QS 4:21-23; CD 20:2,5,7).

 

You state: His point is simply that those who have the seed of God cannot indulge in sin and teach others to do the same. 

 

Here is my question.  Have you indulged in sin since you have come to belief or are you unable to?

 

I am NOT teaching that it is acceptable to sin just that we are able to sin (capacity and potential) in our present condition.  At His appearance we will be unable to sin because His Seed is in us, because we are born of God (3:9), and because we will be like Him (3:2).  John is also speaking of a continual purifying and sanctifying in the life of the believer. (1:6; 3:3)  Yet John increases the potential and strength of the argument (3:6; 3:9).  My interpretation maintains that not even one sin is acceptable in the child of God and this will be fully realized at the eschaton while it is being practiced and is a work in progress at the present. 

 

Finally Wallace makes arguments of his own.  Were you able to read that section in his book?  If you do a google search on "Gnomic Present Wallace" you can read it through a preview.  I do not have a digital copy so I would have to transpose it...I am not quite that ambitious right now> :rolleyes:


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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#53
Wormwood

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Wormwood,

 

Context is key to understanding all Scripture.  Here we agree.  We also agree that habitual sin in the life of the believer is an inconsistency.  Yet the use of the present tense does not denote habit rather it denotes an incomplete or progressive action or state.  To use Oz: The translation, based on the Greek grammar, is, 'and not continue to be able [for oneself] to continue to sin'.  This literal translation fits directly within my theology and interpretation of the text.  A similar statement is made at 3:6:

 

NASB: No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. ("sins" also in the present)

 
Adding the idea of habit lessens the strength of John's argument (those who abide do not continue to sin) and is eisegetical in nature.  John does not condone any sin.  He is not switching to the concept of habitual sin at 3:6 or 3:9.  In fact John moves to a more absolute statement in 3:6 that raises the intensity of his argument.
 
The logical conclusion then is sinless perfection.  I argue my interpretation maintains the strength behind the concept (inability) without adding the idea of habit and ultimately results in sinless perfection.  With this in mind read: "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be."  This statement by John sets the tone for his proceeding argument.  He begins with the idea that the children of God purify themselves. (3:3)  Then He moves to the idea that those who abide in Him do not continue sinning. (3:6) Finally he says those born of God are unable to continue in sin. (3:9)  His argumentation progresses in sequence and intensity.
 
My argument is supported through various ideas:
 

1 John 1:8-2:2 is important to retain while interpreting 3:9 as this is apportioned through the context and the building of the epistle's argument.  In light of this portion of text (1:8) the two sections are seemingly contradictory.  For one to have to admit they continually have sin they must be continually sinning. Both 1:8 and 3:9 are presented in the present tense.  3:9 states the child of God is unable to continue sinning.  

 

a. John is speaking in an apocalyptic context (2:18; 28) 
b. In the context of 3:2 John speaks of an already/not yet manifestation of the children of God.
c. In Jewish apocalyptic expectation the last days would be void of sin experienced by those close to God.
d. The OT speaks of deliverance from uncleanness (Ezekiel 36:29).

e. Extra biblical books from the period speak of no longer sinning in the eschaton (Enoch 5:8-9; Jubilees 5:12; Testament Levi 18:9; 1QS 4:21-23; CD 20:2,5,7).

 

You state: His point is simply that those who have the seed of God cannot indulge in sin and teach others to do the same. 

 

Here is my question.  Have you indulged in sin since you have come to belief or are you unable to?

 

I am NOT teaching that it is acceptable to sin just that we are able to sin (capacity and potential) in our present condition.  At His appearance we will be unable to sin because His Seed is in us, because we are born of God (3:9), and because we will be like Him (3:2).  John is also speaking of a continual purifying and sanctifying in the life of the believer. (1:6; 3:3)  Yet John increases the potential and strength of the argument (3:6; 3:9).  My interpretation maintains that not even one sin is acceptable in the child of God and this will be fully realized at the eschaton while it is being practiced and is a work in progress at the present. 

 

Finally Wallace makes arguments of his own.  Were you able to read that section in his book?  If you do a google search on "Gnomic Present Wallace" you can read it through a preview.  I do not have a digital copy so I would have to transpose it...I am not quite that ambitious right now> :rolleyes:

 

justaname,

 

thanks for responding.  I understand what you are saying, but I cannot accept your argument as fitting with the context.  There is nothing here that suggests John is speaking with an eschatological focus. Rather, he is speaking very practically about the Christians daily living and how the fruit of that living reflects who they truly are.  Jesus puts it this way, "You can tell a tree by its fruit."  That is the heart of what John is saying.  In fact, when John does make a brief eschatological reflection his point is very practical..."those who have this hope in them will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure."  Consider the following verses in this context:

 

  “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6–7, NIV84)  

 

  “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 2:1, NIV84)  

 

  “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:3–6, NIV84)  

 

  “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.” (1 John 2:9–11, NIV84)  

 

You get the point.  I agree with you that John is not, by any means, suggesting that occasional sins are okay and only persistent sins are an issue.  That was not what I was trying to say.  Yes, I agree that even one sin is contrary to God's desire and design for the believer.  Yet, there is NOTHING here suggesting that John has some eschatological perfection in mind.  Rather, he is showing these believers how to discern the true follower from the false by their practical, everyday behaviors.  This is not to be judgmental, but to be a safeguard to them so they can be discerning and not follow these false teachers who are misleading people and are "antichrists" (which he gets into in Chapter 2-3).  So, in my summation, John is making the following points:  1.  People who claim to walk with Jesus but produce fruit of wickedness and corruption by their behaviors are lying.  They don't really know Jesus.  2.  All true Christians accept the fact they are sinners yet have Jesus to intercede for them.  3.  Yet in spite of our sin, because we belong to God we will walk in the light and love.  4.  Those who do not walk in the light and in love are false and you should not follow or listen to them.  

 

In sum, there is really nothing here that relates to the issue of Total Depravity, imo.  These are simple instructions for these believers that warn them of these "antichrists" and helps them to recognize them by their evil behaviors, lack of love for the brothers and rejection of the truth about Jesus that was passed on from the Apostles.  


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#54
justaname

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Wormwood,

 

I appreciate your dialogue.  As we are apart on this issue I intend to make this my last response.

 

I think it a bit unfair your harsh position concerning the eschatological focus.  You state: "There is nothing here that suggests John is speaking with an eschatological focus." But then in then you admit John is speaking in an eschatological context although you attempt to diminish the actual inclusion.   Then you fail to recognize the other verses 2:18 and 2:28 that also speak of an eschatological focus. So IOW you understand no eschatological focus except those three verses situationally very close to our verse in question.  Why would the author even bring up the subject if it were not a part of His focus?  Does the Holy Spirit introduce things we are not intended to pay attention to?

 

Your following argument is stated:"Rather, he is speaking very practically about the Christians daily living and how the fruit of that living reflects who they truly are."  Why does it have to be "rather" instead of "and"?  I am not arguing against this case.  My argument is focused on the particular use of grammar and syntax in 3:9 though.  Please feel free to add your translation/interpretation concerning this exact text.  I completely agree with the broader argument John is presenting.

 

Then you state: "Yet, there is NOTHING here suggesting that John has some eschatological perfection in mind."  Yet there is without question an eschatological context that the Holy Spirit introduced as I have demonstrated.  Then we have the verse in question stating through a literal translation given via Oz, "'and not continue to be able [for oneself] to continue to sin'."  Again this is speaking of an inability to continue to sin, an impossibility to continue in sin.  So let me ask you again, are you able to sin today?  I know I am able even though my inner man is unwilling.  If we conclude that today we are still able, then for the Scripture to be true there must be a future time this will come to pass.  The only other alternative is to assume hyperbole, though with the manner of John's successive argumentation it is unlikely.

 

You argument proceeds: "Rather, he is showing these believers how to discern the true follower from the false by their practical, everyday behaviors."  I have never argued against this concept.  In fact it is my belief that John is exactly making this case and is stating contextually:

 

1. The children of God purify themselves. (3:3)  

2. Those who abide in Him do not continue sinning. (3:6)

3. Those born of God are are not even able to continue in sin. {presented proleptically} (3:9)  

 

Finally to summarize I have made a lexical case for my interpretation.  I have made a contextual case for my interpretation.  I have made a cultural case for my interpretation.  I have made a Scriptural case for my interpretation.  And I have made an extra biblical case for the interpretation.  For you to state there is "NOTHING" (all caps) is in my opinion your attempt to use strong language to discredit the mountain of evidence I presented.


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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#55
Patriot

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What our reformed brethren conveniently ignore in the discussion about total depravity (which is inextricably tied to original sin) is what Ezekiel says in Chapter 18:20

 

Eze 18:20  The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
 

The doctrine of original sin teaches that all humans beings are GUILTY OF ADAM'S SIN.  Ezekiel clearly says "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father", which completely destroys the reformed doctrine of original sin.  Augustine pounded on the idea that all humanity is guilty of Adam's sin in direct contradiction to Ez 18:20.  He made it clear all men are GUILTY of Adams' sin, not just infected with a tendency to sin.  Derived from the doctrine of Original Sin is the doctrine of Total Depravity, which teaches that all human beings are utterly incapable of choosing good.  Period.  Yet, when you read all of Ezekiel 18, it is clear that God holds every individual responsible for their own decisions, and there is no intimation made there that anyone is incapable of choosing good or bad.  All of us are capable of choosing good or bad in every situation. So the reformed doctrine of original sin is false, and the doctrine of total depravity flies in the face of Ezekiel 18.

 

If God holds us responsible for choosing good or evil, then we are inherently CAPABLE of choosing good or evil.  Our reformed brothers say that unless something is 'done for the glory of God', it doesn't count.  Ez 18 doesn't say that.  Nor does it say anywhere else in scripture that good 'must be done for the glory of God'.  That's something that our reformed brothers have added to scripture.  God simply requires righteous behavior, and he makes it clear that every human being is perfectly capable of choosing good or evil.


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#56
Wormwood

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justaname,

 

Thanks again for taking the time to respond.  Sorry my comments were not in detail previously.  I have been busy and unable to respond as fully as I would like.  I will try to address your points more directly in this response.

 

First, I agree there is eschatological points made by John (as I mentioned before).  However, this is much different than an eschatological focus.  John's eschatological points are used to make practical applications and so my point is that a comment about our future sinless identity before God has very little to do with the warnings John is giving about these false teachers and their doctrine.  If anything, such an argument could be seen as supportive of the false teachers views that what we do now doesn't really matter since we will be freed from our sinful bodies one day.  Rather, John's eschatological points refer to how we live now if we truly understand the Christian hope.  Let me address the texts you referenced and then give you my views on the primary verse in question.

 

2:18 - The "last hour" focus here deals with the strategy of the evil one in our present age.  The focus here is not so much the second coming but the methods of the evil one in this final span of history.  Certainly, this final span of history will be brought to a close at the second coming, but the focus here I believe is similar to what we read elsewhere in the NT concerning the "last days."

 

   

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1–2, NIV84)  

 

 

 

 

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.” (2 Peter 2:1, NIV84)

 

 

So, the point is simply this...  In the past, the enemy used false prophets as his means of deceiving the people of God.  In these "last days" he uses "antichrists" who twist the message of Jesus.  That is the focus here and so it isn't so much an eschatological point as a practical matter of educating believers about how to avoid deception and the evil one's present-day schemes.

 

That is the focus throughout this letter.  It is a letter of concern and warning...and as John says at the beginning, he writes it so they will not sin.  Personally, I don't know how mentioning their future sinless state as a result of an incorruptible indwelling Spirit manifested at the eschaton has anything to do with this practical letter of telling these believers to turn from sin and reject the teachers who are trying to lead them into it.  Allow me to quote the entire pericope of the section in question and add a few comments...

 

  “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:7–10, NIV84)  

 

 

Command:  Don't let anyone lead you astray.  

 

1)  It is easy to recognize who is from God and who is from the devil because the devil is sinful and God is righteous.

2). Jesus came to destroy sin and the work of the devil.

3) Those who are born of God do not remain in sin because God is in them.

4). Those born of God cannot continue in sin.

5) The way we discern God's children from the devil's is their lives of sin and refusal to love their brothers.

 

This structure is what is called a chiasm.  You can see how the thought flows  in a pattern.  It is a way of reemphasizing a core idea.  Think of it like an apple.  The skin is on the outside in red and the seed is in the green. Its like plunging into a thought and then back out. The thought is simply that the people of God can be easily discerned from the false teachers of the world.  God's people are characterized by righteousness and are righteous because Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil and the seed of God dwells in his people.  The result is transformed lives.  Thus, Christians should be able to easily recognize truth from error.  Someone who claims to know God but is continually acting in hatred towards other Christians is not a true Christian.  They wouldn't behave that way if they were.   

 

So the point here is not whether or not I or any other Christian stumble in sin or struggle with personal vices.  The point is much bigger than extracting one idea out of one verse.  The context reveals John's overall thought in first century thought processes.  John is talking about false teachers who are leading believers astray but their lives are filled with hatred toward Christians and sinful behaviors...as well as encouraging other believers to indulge in such sins.  John is simply saying, "If God's Spirit were in them, they could not remain in such a state.  They clearly do not belong to God because the fruit of the Spirit is absent from their lives."  

 

Let's apply this teaching to some teachers in the world today...

 

Example 1:  Consider those who belong to radical forms of Islam.  They claim they know the truth about Jesus.  Yet many of these teachers have lives filled with hatred toward Christians and are filled with the sins of violence, murder and pornography.  We need only look briefly at the fruit of their lives to recognize that such people cannot be born of God.

 

Example 2:  Consider those who claim to be branches of Christianity but belong to and promote various forms of sexual perversion such as homosexuality or fornication.  They say they know Christ, but they live lives of perversion, hate Christians who declare such works to be sinful, and they encourage and entice other believers to join them in their revelry.  Such people can clearly be seen from their fruit that they have not been born of God.  If they have, they would not celebrate or encourage such lifestyles.

 

So, you see the point is not some individualistic approach to whether or not a true Christian will ever sin or has free will.  That is a very Western and modern way of thinking that I believe was far from John's mind.  No, John's simply giving instruction to keep these young believers from being "led astray."  Just look at their lives, he says.  If their lives are characterized by ongoing hatred, sin and evil, you know they can't be from God.  Jesus came to put an end to such behavior and Christians have the Spirit of God in them that convicts and turns us away from sin...not toward it.  

 

I hope that makes better sense.  Be blessed.


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#57
Jun2u

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Someone can believe that a person can still have a sin nature without believing in the faulty doctrine of Total Depravity.  Total Depravity teaches that human beings are so depraved that they cannot even recognize or accept the truth.  The idea that human beings are so depraved that they cannot even understand or accept the Gospel without a special act of grace or illumination from God is simply not taught in the Bible.  Again, the entirety of the NT implies that those who hear the Gospel have the capacity to accept it.  

 

I used to believe in partial depravity for reasons that man is capable to do “acts of human kindness” (Mark 14:6; 1 Timothy 3:1). Until, with further study, I came across Romans 3:10-13 that reads:

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips 

Verse 13 is echoed in Psalms 58:3-4; Deuteronomy 32:33.  Each time we read a verse that is repeated two or three times in scriptures God is indicating He is bringing home a point.

 

Romans 3:10-13 is God’s assessment of mankind and there is no getting around it.

According to Romans 3:10-13, it is true that man is so depraved that he cannot see nor accept the truth and the Gospel unless God intervenes in his life! This principle can be seen in the raising of Lazarus.

 

When Jesus was at the tomb He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus come forth!” Can Lazarus hear Jesus’ command? No! He was physically dead but Lazarus did come forth. What had to have happened? Jesus had to qualify him to respond to the command. In other words, Jesus had to intervene and reach into the tomb to give Lazarus life.

 

As Lazarus was physically dead so are we spiritually dead.

As Lazarus was physically blind so are we spiritually blind and cannot see the truths of the Bible.

As Lazarus was physically without a tongue and lips so are we spiritually dumb and cannot speak the things of God.

As Lazarus was physically deaf so are we spiritually deaf and cannot hear the true Gospel.

 

I’ve given this illustration of the raising of Lazarus in these forums and no one has refuted it.

 

In conclusion, scriptures do teach total depravity as written in Romans 3:10-13; Psalms 58:3-4; Deuteronomy 32:33. If God does not intervene in the life of an individual he will NEVER become saved. In his arrogance, man would like to think he has “free will” to choose or reject the Gospel.

 

 

To God Be The Glory


Edited by Jun2u, 22 January 2017 - 06:29 PM.

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#58
Wormwood

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I used to believe in partial depravity for reasons that man is capable to do “acts of human kindness” (Mark 14:6; 1 Timothy 3:1). Until, with further study, I came across Romans 3:10-13 that reads:

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips 

Verse 13 is echoed in Psalms 58:3-4; Deuteronomy 32:33.  Each time we read a verse that is repeated two or three times in scriptures God is indicating He is bringing home a point.

 

Romans 3:10-13 is God’s assessment of mankind and there is no getting around it.

According to Romans 3:10-13, it is true that man is so depraved that he cannot see nor accept the truth and the Gospel unless God intervenes in his life! This principle can be seen in the raising of Lazarus.

 

When Jesus was at the tomb He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus come forth!” Can Lazarus hear Jesus’ command? No! He was physically dead but Lazarus did come forth. What had to have happened? Jesus had to qualify him to respond to the command. In other words, Jesus had to intervene and reach into the tomb to give Lazarus life.

 

As Lazarus was physically dead so are we spiritually dead.

As Lazarus was physically blind so are we spiritually blind and cannot see the truths of the Bible.

As Lazarus was physically without a tongue and lips so are we spiritually dumb and cannot speak the things of God.

As Lazarus was physically deaf so are we spiritually deaf and cannot hear the true Gospel.

 

I’ve given this illustration of the raising of Lazarus in these forums and no one has refuted it.

 

In conclusion, scriptures do teach total depravity as written in Romans 3:10-13; Psalms 58:3-4; Deuteronomy 32:33. If God does not intervene in the life of an individual he will NEVER become saved. In his arrogance, man would like to think he has “free will” to choose or reject the Gospel.

 

 

To God Be The Glory

 

 

I agree that humans are helplessly wicked and are condemned in their sinful state.  I believe that all humans are born with the marring of sin.  I think these verses all testify to this and I agree with them.

 

What I do not agree with is that human beings are incapable of understanding good or accepting grace of their own volition.  These verses do not teach this.  In fact, the context makes it very clear that Paul (and God) expect that those who are lost and condemned in their sin to understand and accept God's grace in Christ.  Consider how those verses continue:

 

   “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:20–26, NIV84)  

 

 

The point Paul is making is that our sinful state does not allow us to find righteousness through legalistic observance. That ship has sailed and we all fail that test.  Yet in our failing to uphold the law we become "conscious of sin."  Moreover, righteousness can be found to all those who trust in Jesus Christ.  

 

Notice it doesn't say that we cannot be conscious of our sin because we are dead in sin.  Nor does it say that we obtain righteousness only through God's quickening initiative that permits us to put our trust in Jesus Christ.  Rather, the law makes us "all" conscious of our sin and just as "all have sinned and fallen short" so too "(all) are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that game by Christ Jesus."  The clear implication is that just as all are condemned in sin, so all can find righteousness through faith.  This is not the case if most of humanity cannot find righteousness through faith because God will not allow them to see,  hear or understand His grace in Jesus.

 

In sum, yes, all humans are hopelessly and helplessly lost in their sin.  Their lives are full of wickedness and corruption and they cannot, by any means save themselves.  Yet they CAN recognize what is good and they can understand the Gospel message and cry out for God's mercy in their lost state.  To say they are so "dead" that they cannot even respond to the Gospel is to take that metaphor far beyond Paul's intent.  This has nothing to do with "arrogance."  It has to do with believing what the Bible says when it teaches that God desires all to be saved, that Jesus died for the entire world or that "anyone" could come to Jesus and find freedom and rest.


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#59
justaname

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When I look to the doctrine of total depravity it is not a solitary verse or section of Scripture that directs me to conviction, rather it is the mass of implicit and explicit teachings that direct me.  I have already in this thread posted a huge amount of Scriptures that direct to this view. Here again is a link that covers these questions giving scriptural answers.  Everyone is left on their own to do contextual research:http://traviscarden....ity-verse-list 
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You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.

#60
Jun2u

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In sum, yes, all humans are hopelessly and helplessly lost in their sin.  Their lives are full of wickedness and corruption and they cannot, by any means save themselves.  Yet they CAN recognize what is good and they can understand the Gospel message and cry out for God's mercy in their lost state.  To say they are so "dead" that they cannot even respond to the Gospel is to take that metaphor far beyond Paul's intent.  This has nothing to do with "arrogance."  It has to do with believing what the Bible says when it teaches that God desires all to be saved, that Jesus died for the entire world or that "anyone" could come to Jesus and find freedom and rest.

 

You said, “Yet they CAN recognize what is good and they can understand the Gospel message and cry out for God’s mercy in their lost state.”

You understood the thrust of Romans 3 to be true yet with the wave of a hand, you have completely dismissed the entire meaning of verse 11. Or, have you forgotten that there is none that understands and that there is none that seeks after God? If anyone cry out to God for mercy it is because God is drawing him (Jo.6:44), and of his own volition he will not seek God.

 

You said, “This has nothing to do with "arrogance." It has to do with believing what the Bible says when it teaches that God desires all to be saved, that Jesus died for the entire world or that "anyone" could come to Jesus and find freedom and rest.”

 

The Bible does NOT teach that God desires all (each and every) to be saved. Our understanding of 1 Ti 2:4 is very faulty. Imagine what would happen if the word “all” mean “each and every?’ That’s right, the Bible will no longer be trustworthy for scriptures teach that hell will heavily be populated. In fact, 1 Ti 2:4 is teaching that God desires “all” ‘whom He elected to salvation’ to become saved before the foundation of the world! He will accomplish this on the last day and will lose only one...the man of perdition.

 

You said, “Jesus died for the entire world”

Is a false statement.  We read in Mt 1:21:

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

The reason people say Jesus died for the entire world is because they have a “free will” gospel that they can feel good about that somehow they can contribute to their salvation.

 

You said, “That ‘anyone’ could come to Jesus.”

Another false statement as Romans 3 teaches there is none that seek after God no not one! As already alluded to above, if anyone do seek after God it is because God is drawing him. There is also a fundamental principle, ‘a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise.’

 

Yes, arrogance! Man who is a dirty rotten sinner have the gall to say he can have a part in his salvation.

 

 

To God Be The Glory


Edited by Jun2u, 23 January 2017 - 02:05 PM.

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