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"The Wading Pool" - Questions from the Newly Reformed discuss Evil confusion in the Information and Introductions forums; One thing I have tried to understand ever since becoming reformed is the topic of evil and sin. Maybe someone could explain it in reformed ...

  1. #1
    Sonny's Avatar
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    Evil confusion

    One thing I have tried to understand ever since becoming reformed is the topic of evil and sin.
    Maybe someone could explain it in reformed beliefs for me.
    We humans choose sin by nature; is there a choice rather or not to sin? Or is Satan the one controlling our actions. I do not belive Satan controls our actions, I believe we choose to sin or not. According to Luke 4 and of course Gen. 3.
    So what is the author of sin? To my understanding it is us, the humans.

    Now Satan is the author of evil? Evil can tempt, but the action which is sin is done by us.

    I keep thinking on how I would answer the question; well if God decrees all things, then is God the author of evil? I of course say no, but can not explain clearly on why I said no.

    So I brought this topic here. Thanks.
    Chris
    Salem Presbyterian (A church plant of the Redeemer Presbyterian network)
    PCA
    North Carolina
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    Herald's Avatar
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    Chris,

    You're asking a few different questions. I'll try to answer them in order.

    We humans choose sin by nature; is there a choice rather or not to sin?
    Adam, the first human being, was created posse peccare, posse non peccare (able to sin, able not to sin). Adam was created with a true free will. He had not yet been tainted by sin. Once Adam sinned he ceased to be able to sin and able not to sin; he now was able to only non posse non peccare (not able not to sin). Adam could no longer choose not to sin; he was now bound to sin because his nature had been changed. This is what Paul refers to in Ephesians 2:1:

    Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
    Adam acted as our fair and just representative. In other words, Adam acted in our stead, much like elected officials in a republic act on our behalf. In theology this is called the federal headship theory. Adam's sin plunged his entire posterity into a fallen state; not because his posterity would choose to sin, but because the entire human race was now tainted by sin. This is the doctrine of original sin. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

    1 Corinthians 15:22 22 For as in Adam all die...
    Now, we aren't just sinners because of Adam. We are also sinners because we sin.

    Romans 3:23 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    So, we're born into a state of sin, but we also commit sins. If left in the state in which we are born into we are not able to not sin.

    The status quo is changed for the person who places his faith in Christ and is born from above. Instead of being not able not to sin, the new Christian, through Christ, is as Adam once was; posse peccare, posse non peccare (able to sin, able not to sin). This state of being for the Christian applies to this physical life only. Because Christ was perfectly obedient during His first advent, the Christian shares in His righteous nature. In Christ we are viewed by the Father as non posse peccare (not able to sin). But while we struggle in this life, in our mortal bodies, we will fight the battle between sin and righteousness.

    Or is Satan the one controlling our actions.
    Satan does not control our actions, although the forces of wickedness assault our mind and senses constantly. Because our body and mind is weak we often give in to these assaults and sin. When we sin, we do so willingly.

    So what is the author of sin?
    A better question is, "Who is the author of sin?"

    1689 LBC 3.1:

    God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.
    The confession makes it clear that God is not the author of sin.

    The confession continues:

    1689 LBC 6.2,3

    1. Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honour; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.


    2. Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
    The author of sin, as far as the human race is concerned, is Adam.

    Romans 5:12 12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--
    To be sure, Satan also sinned against God, but his sin was not imputed to mankind.

    I hope these answers are a starting point for your understanding.

    Blessings.
    Bill Brown
    Elder
    Grace Baptist Church
    Student at Midwest Center for Theological Studies


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    Sonny's Avatar
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    That makes perfect sence. Now here is a question for you.
    Unsaved folks, they do, do some good. I have seen unsaved folks do allot of good Christian deeds. Now is that because they are elect (may not know it) and are able to do good because Christ already has their salvation lined up?
    Does that question make any sence?

    I'm trying to understand how free choice comes into play; or is their free choice?
    Chris
    Salem Presbyterian (A church plant of the Redeemer Presbyterian network)
    PCA
    North Carolina
    http://spjourney.wordpress.com/
    http://salemws.org/

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    The unsaved can indeed do good deeds, but these works are not done to God's glory, hence are "filthy rags" in His sight. They would not indicate that they may be God's elect.

    I would go so far as to say that since they do not acknowledge God in their good works, these works further condemn the unbeliever.

    There is free choice, but not free will. Our "will" will dictate our choices. Our wills are in bondage, either to God or to Satan. There is no middle or neutral ground.
    Last edited by MMasztal; 12-25-2009 at 10:54 AM. Reason: clarification.
    Michael Masztal
    Ruling Elder, Chapel By The Sea, ARP
    Melbourne Beach, FL

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    Herald's Avatar
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    Chris,

    It depends on how you define good. If good is defined by the standard of the world, then yes, unbelievers do good all the time. It is a good thing to care for the poor, to help a widow, provide food to the hungry, donate time to a charity etc. These things, and things like these, are beneficial to others. In that sense they are good. The real question is whether the deeds of the unsaved are considered good by God's standard.

    The LORD said through the prophet Isaiah:

    Isaiah 64:6 6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
    Even the best deeds of men are like a dirty menstrual cloth (that is what "unclean" means in this passage). The good deeds of the unsaved man are putrid and revolting to God. Why? Because they are performed while God is still at enmity with man.

    Imagine a man breaks into a house and steals all the valuables he can find. While in the process of robbing the house he knocks over a plant in the kitchen. The soil from the plant spills all over the floor. He takes the time to clean up the mess and makes sure the floor is nice and tidy. As he leaves the house he is caught by the police and charged with burglary. He is brought before the judge and is charged with the crime. He pleads with the judge that he did a good deed by cleaning the floor for the homeowner. The judge tells the man that his "good deed" did not negate his crime.

    The good deeds of the sinner cannot undo their sin-debt to Almighty God. I have already shown you, from the prophet Isaiah, that the deeds of the sinner are not in any way considered good by God. Consider this other passage:

    Romans 3:10-18 10 as it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one." 13 "Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving," "The poison of asps is under their lips"; 14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness"; 15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood, 16 Destruction and misery are in their paths, 17 And the path of peace have they not known." 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
    There is none who does good, there is not even one. That is quite an indictment on the human race. But, it is possible for men to do good. It's not just possible, it's God's plan for His elect.

    Ephesians 2:10 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
    The Christian is able to do good works because they are performed by the new man; the man who has been reconciled to God, and who has the Spirit of God within him. This is something that the unbeliever does not have.
    Bill Brown
    Elder
    Grace Baptist Church
    Student at Midwest Center for Theological Studies


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    Sonny's Avatar
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    If any man doth ascribe of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright.
    Martin Luther

    "...we allow that man has choice and that it is self-determined, so that if he does anything evil, it should be imputed to him and to his own voluntary choosing. We do away with coercion and force, because this contradicts the nature of the will and cannot coexist with it. We deny that choice is free, because through man's innate wickedness it is of necessity driven to what is evil and cannot seek anything but evil. And from this it is possible to deduce what a great difference there is between necessity and coercion. For we do not say that man is dragged unwillingly into sinning, but that because his will is corrupt he is held captive under the yoke of sin and therefore of necessity will in an evil way. For where there is bondage, there is necessity. But it makes a great difference whether the bondage is voluntary or coerced. We locate the necessity to sin precisely in corruption of the will, from which follows that it is self-determined.
    John Calvin from Bondage and Liberation of the Will, pg. 69-70

    Now evil makes sence when one is bound in the bondage of sin. My next or part 2 of my question is this; The Christian who commits a sin, why is this sin committed? Is there free choice? Not free will, but choice.
    Chris
    Salem Presbyterian (A church plant of the Redeemer Presbyterian network)
    PCA
    North Carolina
    http://spjourney.wordpress.com/
    http://salemws.org/

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