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Originally Posted by Johan
Is this "besetting sins lose their grip on us over time" really in line with the 5th head of the Canons of Dordt?
Johan,

It would be really helpful if you could perhaps copy/paste that section of the 5th Head of Doctrine which you think is relevant. Okay, call me lazy since I don't feel like scouring that entire head to try and guess which section you are thinking about. [Linked Image]

In His grace,


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HisAlone, apology gladly accepted. I guess I have one of those names that is androgynous in some parts of the world, LOL. Where I come from it is a masculine name.

I think you can avoid some misunderstandings if you choose your words with great care. We don't have facial expressions, verbal inflections, hand gestures, or other clues to tell us what you "really mean." I fall victim to the same thing sometimes. So I try to be very precise with words, especially if am writing about God's holy word.

-R

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Robin, thanks for accepting my apology, I was embarrassed because of my error. I was thinking of what I stated in this discussion and can't see it any other way. J.I. Packer wrote a book a while back called "Rediscovering Holiness". I really liked it, because it spoke of how the way down is the way toward holiness. True humility. I can't see any humility in the idea of doing anything out of our own willpower or strength that is of any good.

Now, if because I saw the obligations of the Christian in scripture and decided to do them because I was instructed to do so and because I truly love Him, I have reason to boast. However, if I see my duty in scripture and acknowledge I can't do it in my strength, but to ask God to enable me, then I have reason to boast in Him. That is true humility, understanding the truth about ourselves, and the truth is, we CAN'T do anything good other than ask Him to work through us, "present your bodies a living sacrifice".

Just because scripture talks about our working etc. it does not mean we do those things in our own power and strength because we were instructed to do them, if that were true then even our decision for Christ could be attributed to our own power. As I said, we see in scripture Christ and as we see Him we are being transformed more and more into His image. Changed internally which is evidenced outward.

1 Jn. 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. NASB

The more we see Christ here on planet earth, the more we become like Him, and we see Him in scripture. My strength and my obedience are only in relation to my time spent with Him and the brethren. The things of this world do not benefit me spiritually in any way, Note: I can't even benefit myself, other than humbling myself before God calling on Him and seeking His face. Its a process too, we aren't perfected here, but we press on. Now don't accuse me of going Monastic either, we are called out of the world to glorify Him. We even show His glory to the heavenly host who desire to look into these things. Side note: I wonder how shocked the heavenly host must be with the christian's continuous rebellion, arrogance and unthankfulness? As Isa. 29:13-14 says: The people honor Me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me.

Everyone must be convinced in their own minds, but I hope that whatever view we hold, that ALL the glory goes to God and not to ourselves which would be great sin. I know whose I am, and if all were to disagree, I cannot deny Him as long as His strength resides in me.

In His Strength,
Hisalone



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Originally Posted by hisalone
Now, if because I saw the obligations of the Christian in scripture and decided to do them because I was instructed to do so and because I truly love Him, I have reason to boast. However, if I see my duty in scripture and acknowledge I can't do it in my strength, but to ask God to enable me, then I have reason to boast in Him. That is true humility, understanding the truth about ourselves, and the truth is, we CAN'T do anything good other than ask Him to work through us, "present your bodies a living sacrifice".
Now see.... here's the problem with what you wrote above: it begs a question to be asked. This smacks of the type of Pietism promoted by the "Deeper Life" movement, again once popular in the 70s. There is no denying, which I have beforehand affirmed, that one cannot do that which is pleasing to God without true faith. And all that a true believer does is of grace; the Holy Spirit working within. But the problem is, and this could be due to your inability to express your view(s) succinctly and/or perhaps without knowledge and/or regard to the errors which both Scripture and history teach, that there is a concerted effort, a will to do that which is right before God in the believer. It is NOT an "either/or" scenario which is at least implied in what you have been insisting upon, but rather a "both/and". Paul puts it like this, which I believe couldn't have been stated more clearly:

Philippians 2:12-13 (ASV) "So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure."

Considering what you wrote, "we CAN'T do anything good other than ask Him to work through us", one has to ask, How and when do we know that it is God working through us and not our own efforts? Is there some magical tingling that occurs that indicates that it is the Holy Spirit moving us to obedience or ??? Yes, we must have total reliance on the grace of God to work in us so that we will be made willing and thus DO all that God requires of us. And, we must constantly pray that the Spirit will be our guide, etc. Yet, it is our own desires and wills that is also required. The Scriptures do not instruct us to wait for the Holy Spirit to convict us, make us desirous of holiness and righteousness, to repent of sin, to put off the old man, etc., etc... NO! nope The Scriptures enjoin and command us to do all these things while relying upon the grace and power of God to accomplish all these things. Augustine's famous prayer is most instructive here: "Lord, command what Thou wilt, and grant what Thou commandest."

Now, will you at least consider that how you are articulating your view leaves open wide a door to either misunderstanding and/or error and thus it should be revised so as to prevent this? scratchchin

In His grace,


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I believe the problem may be in the articulation, I didn't see anything contrary to what I believe in your last post. The only point of possible difference (I think this is just my failure to grasp what you are saying) is that I would say we are made willing, the love of Christ contrains us to be obedient. It is at that point we do His will and are obedient. My will is to do His will as a result of His Spirit within me guiding and instructing.

How do we know it is God working through us and not our own efforts?

When it is a work that glorifies Him being done out of "Love". How often do Christian workers keep working at something but it is being done out of obligation or pride, but not out of love? But someone will say they love God and that is why they are doing the work, but is that really true? most likely they continue to do the things because they feel an obligation to do it or they don't want to appear weak or for some other carnal reason. Do we quit when we become weary? No, but we need to search our hearts as to what our motive and attitude is.

My greatest excitement is when I see christians doing things because of the love of God within them, not out of any obligation. These people will plod on no matter what the discouragements or difficulties (I am speaking to myself, because when my love wanes, I DO become frustrated and discouraged, and instead of doing it for Him, I look at myself and what is happening around me than doing it because I love Him and it pleases Him no matter if I have results or not) Look at my previous topic, that was exactly where I was. What I do for Him is His working in me, do I sit back and let God, No, I follow where He leads. I believe the problem with Ephesus was this very thing. They were working in their own strength, having drifted from Christ, maybe doing the work in order to gain His acceptence or out of fear or even to prove something, but they weren't works based on love.

Rev. 2:2-5 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.4 ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.5 ‘Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. NASB

I do not disagree that it requires our desires and wills in order to be obedient and do the things requied of us, but I also believe that those things are changed through the power of the word and the Spirit which promotes the love in us which constrains us to obediance (our desires and wills are moved to obedience out of love to Him).

The issue I believe is that I am speaking of the source of our works where you are speaking of their outworking. (attitude vs action) I was saying that our desires, affections and wills are changed by the spirit of God through His Word, I don't think you would disagree with that. It is after those things are changed that we do His work and are obedient doing those things that please Him out of a proper heart. Basically He changes us in order that we do the works He has prepared for us.

Martha and Mary are other examples of this. Martha was busy about many things, but Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. I think there are a lot of Martha churches out there, busy at a lot of things, but they rush off without hearing what Christ has to say. Many pulpits give marching orders (moral lessons) but we see very little of Jesus (worship) so there is very little love behind the work the church does.

Does what I said leave room open to misunderstanding or error? I hope not, because that wasn't my intent. I thought the explanation was clear, but I guess only in my own mind.

In His Grace,
Hisalone


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It would appear that we are now on the same page with one small exception. grin

Yes, regeneration is that work of the Spirit that creates a genuine desire to love God and to do all that He requires. And it is the same Spirit that works sanctification in us to continue in the truth and to do all righteousness.

However, there are times when our love to do that which is pleasing is all but extinguished, to which most who are born of the Spirit will admit to. Do we then sit back and wait for a "refreshing of the Spirit" and until then refrain from doing that which God requires of us? nope We are to be OBEDIENT regardless of how we "feel". We are to read and study the Scriptures, for example, even when we don't feel like it. It is in these circumstances when we are to put aside how we feel and simply submit to the will of God because we know it is the right thing to do.

Philippians 3:13-14 (ASV) "Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing [I do], forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Remember, Paul made it crystal clear that we are to work out our own salvation (aka: sanctification) with fear and trembling. Yes, love is the desired motive out which we keep God's commandments. (Jh 14:15; 15:10; 1Jh 5:3) However, on the flip side, John also says, if we keep God's commandments, this shows that we do love him. (1Jh 5:2; 2Jh 1:6). So you see, that BOTH are true... doing out of love and showing that we love by doing. wink

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I agree, even about the statement we are to be "OBEDIENT regardless of how we "feel". I hope I didn't give the impression that I was saying we are obedient in relation to how we feel. My feelings will more often than not lead me to sin. We are obedient out of the new nature, out of pure, undefiled love to Him. All is of grace, I'm not better than the next person with an ability to love more than the next person. If He shows me any favor. If I love Him more each day, it is because I see more and more of my own sin. I have nothing to boast in, but to be even more humbled for my own wickedness and His great mercy and grace. Luke 7:47 "for this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." NASB idea It just dawned on me, that may be the problem with a lot of churches today, sin is hardly ever mentioned, so people love little because they don't see their sin.


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Amen! all around. grin

Your last statement about "sin is hardly every mentioned" is unfortunately true in my experience speaking with professing Christians and in reading through many "Statement of Faith" pages on church websites. Although the word "sin" is sometimes included, it is more than not externalized and dumbed down. I'm sure you will concur in that man's sinful nature which produces sin is now ignored completely and what is offered is the simple statement, "we are separated from God". But the odiousness of sin and the sinful "nature" of fallen mankind is nowhere to be found.

This is lamentable for it is first from the conviction of sin which the Spirit brings along with one being given the eyes to see the wickedness of one's heart that one flees to Christ. Well, I could go on but that's another topic in itself.

The difference between what used to be preached and taught as the Gospel and what is currently its substitute is succinctly compared here: The Old Gospel and the New, by J.I. Packer.

In His grace,


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I think it is the changed heart - the desire and will to please God. First by finding out what pleases Him (in the written word), and second by the working out in our thoughts, words, and deeds, what He has "worked in" by His Spirit illuminating and applying the written word to our hearts (Phillipians 2:12-13).

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Getting back to the original topic though.

I agree with what Pilgrim has stated.

We ought to be obedient even when we are not motivated to do so to try to obey God's will and commandments.

But my concern is that, no matter how hard we try.... especially if we're a new Christian, or especially if we are in a very liberal church, we're still going to fall to our old nature often.

All I'm saying is that, even though we have a heart for God, even though His spirit is truly dwelling within us, even though we try to be as obedient as we can, there is still an obvious struggle.

When we read a lot of Reformed Teachers, there is always a strong sense of obedience and assurance but hardly ever a sense of - oh by the way, your still going to struggle and fall and that's ok, your still saved, don't worry, just pick yourself back up and try again. -

What I see happening in a lot of Reformed communities, is exactly what I see happening in Roman Catholic communities. There is an obvious focus on outward righteousness. But at the end of the day, people still sin against each other.

All I'm saying is that, sometimes I think that people should be less worried about everything being perfect and more worried about forgiving each other and encouraging each other. We're all in the same boat.

My family and I joined a PCA church and after almost two years.... not one member ever invited us over for dinner or desert. We didn't make one truly lasting friendship. We really didn't get a deep sense of love and kindness and it was all kind of cold.

So, I agree; yes, we should be very focused on our sanctification, but we should also be "assured" that we are saved and that we shouldn't constantly look behind us to make sure that we are "good enough" and are doing "good enough works." to constantly assure us. That creates fear and paranoia. God doesn't want that for us. He want's us to know His peace and love. That's the Good News. It's Good News because we no longer have to be afraid of our salvation. Let us go on now to walk by His spirit and not have to put our main focus on His law, but rather on doing the fruits of His spirit.

Dave


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Originally Posted by savedbygrace97
...but hardly ever a sense of - oh by the way, your still going to struggle and fall and that's ok, your still saved, don't worry, just pick yourself back up and try again. -
I believe it is biblical to press people to holiness, and not give a free pass on sin, at least that is what I find in scripture. It has become to comfortable in that many church members do not grieve over sin. Instead of sin, it becomes, oops, I made a mistake but God forgives me. We shoudn't feel good about our sin. Don't you think that might be one of the reasons the church is so weak today? The light of the church is all but extinquished because of sin and compromise. People aren't becoming more wicked, people have always been as wicked as they would ever be, it is that the church is getting weaker and not having an impact anymore, darkness overtaking swallowing the light. We need holiness in the churches to impact the world. Now don't misunderstand, I'm not condemning those that fall into sin, but instead of saying that's okay, don't worry, maybe say it grieved God to do that, however there is forgiveness in confession 1 Jn. 1:9. Let them seek God's forgiveness and allow God to be the one who imputes the forgiveness because of a truly broken heart instead. We tend to "let people off the hook" to easily and that isn't scriptural. How do we know it is okay, maybe the person really isn't repentent. I know I have a hard time conveying my thoughts, but basically what I'm saying, is it is God who will say it is okay or not. It doesn't matter what any member says about my sin or forgiveness, I'm not going to be okay until God "lets me off the hook". Now we as a church, if the person has shown repentence on the issue, then encourage them on. We don't remove a part of the body because it got a scratch we take care of it until it is healed, and that is what we do with that member who sinned.

Originally Posted by savedbygrace97
All I'm saying is that, sometimes I think that people should be less worried about everything being perfect
When God said "Be Holy as I am Holy", I believe He meant it, so yes we should be worried about perfection. If we keep saying a person can never be perfect, eventually they will quit trying. I press on, haven't reached it but I'm not going to give up defeated, I believe it is possible because all things are possible with God, it is too easy to just call it quits in striving against sin. Also, I believe there must be a fine balance in all the Christian life, there is joy there too, but our joy is only in relation to how close we are to God.

Originally Posted by savedbygrace97
and more worried about forgiving each other and encouraging each other. We're all in the same boat.
I believe you are right about forgiving and encouraging each other, but in relation to our seeking to please God and glorifying Him. If you are speaking of forgiving and encouraging a repentent brother, then of course, we don't keep pounding on the person. An example if this is found in

2 Cor. 6-7 NASB 6 Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority,7 so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

Notice first though, the punishment inflicted by the majority, where the man was turned away from the church, but upon his repentence brought back in.

Originally Posted by savedbygrace97
.....didn't get a deep sense of love and kindness and it was all kind of cold.

I have been in churches that have very little love in them, I never could understand that and it is sad. Right living does nothing but bring joy, a joy and love that can't be hidden, so since I can't see hearts, I really can't address the reason for that.


Originally Posted by savedbygrace97
He want's us to know His peace and love. That's the Good News.

Yes it is, but we can't know that unless we draw close to Him, and we can't draw close to Him until there is confession and cleansing. Again, as in the beginning, I want God to assure the people that they are forgiven, I don't want to deceive someone into thinking they are okay when they aren't.

Hisalone


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Pilgrim,

Sorry for the slow reply. Was traveling.

I am refering to the general line of thought in the 5th head. What I read there is not remotely along the line that "over time besetting sins lose their control over us". Just take a look at, for example, the 4th Article:

Quote
Although the weakness of the flesh cannot prevail against the power of God, who confirms and preserves true believers in a state of grace, yet converts are not always so influenced and actuated by the Spirit of God, as not in some particular instances sinfully to deviate from the guidance of divine grace, so as to be seduced by, and comply with the lusts of the flesh; they must, therefore, be constant in watching and prayer that they be not led into temptation. When these are neglected, they are not only liable to be drawn into great and heinous sins by Satan, the world and the flesh, but sometimes by the righteous permission of God actually fall into these evils. This the lamentable fall of David, Peter, and other saints described in Holy Scripture demonstrates.

It is just unclear to me where Robin finds, even in Scripture, that over time sin looses control over us.

Johan


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It's about being conformed to the image of Christ, having our minds renewed, transforming us. It doesn't happen in a day for most of us. But I wish it did!

Romans 7:14-8:39, 12:1-2, 1st Corinthians 3:18


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Hi,
The problem evangelicals have is one I have also encountered often in discussion.

It is this: We have often been so filled up with a theology of justification that we don't understand the theology of sanctification.

Pink was a man who understood both.

Simply stated the doctrine of sin goes like this:
1. Sin is breaking God's law.
2. Breaking law always has consequences.
3. The consequences of sin are twofold: Eternal and temporal, i.e. consequences before God's throne and consequences which we experience in this life. It is this distinction between eternal and temporal consequences that has been lost in recent times. Older theologians like Pink understood it.
4. The eternal consequences of sin are guilt before God's throne, spiritual death, broken fellowship with God and, eventually, eternal death (Hell). (There are probably others also but this is enough).
5. The temporal consequences of sin are what the Bible calls "death" (Rom 6 - "the wages of sin") and "destruction" (Gal 6:6-8). Wages are what we earn in time. These include things like personal brokenness, sickness, the fruit of the flesh, a contaminated conscience (the feeling of guilt), and so on. These are all things we experience in time.
6. When we come to Christ we are justified - our sins are forgiven - including the sins we haven't even committed yet. We don't lose justification simply because we sin after salvation. The eternal consequences of our sins are remitted in justification thus: our guilt is washed away, relationship with God is restored, we are born again spiritually and we will go to heaven when we die. This is a once for all eternity transaction
7. However when we come to Christ the temporal consequences of our sins are not removed. This is the province of sanctification.
The bottom line is this: sin is destructive. Every time we sin we sow destruction into our lives and we will eventually reap that destruction - in time! This is just as true for the Christian as it is for the non Christian. The point Paul is making about sowing and reaping in Gal 6 applies to Christians - that's who he is writing to and warning! So even though the eternal consequences of sin are fully dealt with at conversion and we never lose our justification even if we sin again after conversion; the temporal consequences of sin (destruction) still exist and we still, as Christians, will experience destruction if we sin.
The brokenness of sin in our lives needs to be removed and this is done progressively through sanctification. We need to re transformed back into the image of God, who is Christ. As a result the addict or alcoholic is probably still an addict the day after he gets saved. The man with a temper or other strong "fruit of the flesh" (Gal 5) still has it the day after he was saved. We still experience sickness, brokenness, pain even though we are Christians. These things are not removed at conversion but we remove them by sanctification through his blood and "dying daily".

It is this simple failure to understand the difference between the eternal consequences of sin and the temporal consequences of sin and the nature of justification and sanctification that causes much angst in the evangelical wing of the church.

Many are so full of justification that they have not understood sanctification.

John B.

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John,

A quick note only on the opening and closing of your post:

Quote
We have often been so filled up with a theology of justification that we don't understand the theology of sanctification.
:
:
Many are so full of justification that they have not understood sanctification.

We need to be very careful not to appear to set these two aspects of the believer's life (or any other positive conditions) in opposition to one another. This is the theological Goldilocks Fallacy, in which for every positive quality there is a possible range from "too little" through "just right" to "too much".

The perennial concern that over-emphasis on justification would corrupt sanctification has been variously, brilliantly, simply and scripturally answered, as in:
Quote
Heidelberg Catechism, 64:
Q. But does not this teaching make people careless and sinful?
A. No, for it is impossible for those who are ingrafted into Christ by true faith not to bring forth the fruit of gratitude.
That is, true justification--"this teaching", with no caveats as to the amount thereof--inevitably issues in sanctification.
Quote
Westminster Larger Catechism, 78:
Q. Whence ariseth the imperfection of sanctification in believers?
A. The imperfection of sanctification in believers ariseth from the remnants of sin abiding in every part of them, and the perpetual lustings of the flesh against the spirit; whereby they are often foiled with temptations, and fall into many sins, are hindered in all their spiritual services, and their best works are imperfect and defiled in the sight of God.
That is, lack of sanctification is not the fruit of over-emphasized justification, but of sin. A corrupted, or worse, lacking knowledge of justification's unbreakable bond to subsequent sanctification is of course one among sins which will atrophy sanctification, but that is not at all the same as being "full/filled up with (a theology of) justification".
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Savoy Declaration, 13, Of Sanctification:
1. They that are united to Christ, effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, are also further sanctified really and personally through the same virtue, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened, and mortified, and they more and more quickened, and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
2. This sanctification is throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
Again, the fruit of justification--with no mention of an appropriate range thereof--is sanctification, and the root of imperfect sanctification is the remnants of corruption, which most certainly can not include a supposed superfluity of either justification or the awareness thereof!

Better to say that an undervalued emphasis on sanctification is a very probable indicator that justification has been insufficiently understood rather than overvalued.


In Christ,
Paul S
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