Featured Is concupiscence sin in the Reformed world?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by BayouHuguenot, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Is concupiscence sin in the Reformed world?

    This is something I was thinking of in light of the current Revoice arguments for spiritual friendships.
  2. Gforce9

    Gforce9 Puritan Board Junior

    I heard Drs. Duncan, Ferguson, and Sproul discussing this. Against Rome, they agreed it was sin. Their definition wasn't limited to sexual sin, however. They were using it more broadly. It was in a Q&A session in the 2004 conference, A Portrait of God.
  3. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

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  4. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Isn't this tied into view on Original Sin and infant baptism removing that, per Roman Church?
  5. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    No. The Reformers modified the earlier view on concupiscence. Rome tended to suggest that man's unfallen nature in the garden was morally problematic and needed a super-added gift of grace. The Reformers cut that off at the knees.
  6. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    This might be helpful. Turretin, in his second volume, has an entire chapter dedicated to this (the 21st chapter).

    “What concupiscence is prohibited by the tenth precept? Are the incipient motions sins? We affirm”
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Thanks. I am in a Neo-Calvinist group on Facebook that is soft on stuff like the Revoice conference and I needed to get clear on concupiscence regarding same sex desires.
  8. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    While Revoice would not have been close to his radar back then, Durham has a fairly packed chapter on the tenth commandment in his lectures on the ten commandments (out of print from NP but a new edition is in RHB's hands to come out later this year; meantime there are old editions online).
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  9. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    It is quite astonishing to note how many otherwise conservative people are confused on this issue.
  10. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    In much of the "reformed world" many take the idea that a strong sinful desire is not a sin based on..."Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."

    Notice how the lust precedes sin above? I think this thinking is from a bad hermeneutic and not connecting James with The Sermon on the Mount.

    Concupiscence is an area that has a nuances many refuse tackle, in that some strong desires (concupiscence) are not sinful in of themselves.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  11. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Quote from Owen:

    Now, what is it to be tempted? It is to have that proposed to a man’s consideration which, if he close withal, it is evil, it is sin unto him. This is sin’s trade: Ἐπιθυμεῖ—“It lusteth.” It is raising up in the heart, and proposing unto the mind and affections, that which is evil; trying, as it were, whether the soul will close with its suggestions, or how far it will carry them on, though it do not wholly prevail. Now, when such a temptation comes from without, it is unto the soul an indifferent thing, neither good nor evil, unless it be consented unto; but the very proposal from within, it being the soul’s own act, is its sin.

    — Owen, Temptation and Sin, 194 (Owen’s Works Vol. 6)
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  12. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

  13. Grumman Tomcat

    Grumman Tomcat Puritan Board Freshman

    I have always understood Concupiscence to be a strong lust for something. I have alway understood it to be sinful as well. Am I missing something?
  14. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Concupiscence strictly speaking is any strong desire...like Jesus wanting to follow The Father.
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  15. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

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  16. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Graduate

    Wow, that's a really good distinction. It also helps to explain how Christ could be tempted yet without sin.

    The Roman Catholic position is that concupiscence tends towards sin but is not sinful itself. I've noticed that something like this view has been assumed (perhaps unwittingly) by some of the [celibate] gay Christian advocates.
  17. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    What do you think about the word in Luke 22:15?

    καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς Ἐπιθυμίᾳ ἐπεθύμησα τοῦτο τὸ πάσχα φαγεῖν μεθ’ ὑμῶν πρὸ τοῦ με παθεῖν·

    And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. (ESV)​
  18. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    There are but two or three instances where the term epithumia does not have a negative cast. In these instances, Jesus and Paul are trading on the intensity of the language, they are making a strong rhetorical point and using this term in an "uncommon" manner. It's probably fair to call it hyperbole; though with the perfect Jesus, there is no danger of a "sinful flesh" impulse in him.

    So Jesus expresses in Lk.22:15, or Paul in Php.1:23, an "almost" inordinate desire, so strong is it felt. Practically out of control with passion (which if it were so, is contrary to the fruit of the Spirit, self-control). That's why we should regard such use as hyperbole. 1Thes.2:17 (Paul again) has the same thrust, with this added note: that this vehemence of feeling could be judged as having supplied Satan (mentioned in the next v) an angle of attack (becoming frustrated by his hindrance of them).

    Generally, the term--being rendered as lust and passion--does indicate the natural connection to sinful flesh, and a polluted desire.
  19. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Sure. Shedd notes that some desires are natural and innocent. And since celebrating Passover is obeying God's law, this was a good desire. Other desires arise from within from a bent will. I think that is what Owen and Shedd mean by epithumia.
  20. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks y'all! I've been trying to contrast epithumia, coveting, lust, and understanding where concupiscenece all fits in so I appreciate the replies.

    Still, I'm trying to get at the nuances between concupiscenece and temptation. It seems that at the end of the day, what differentiates them is our corrupted nature.

    Calvin's commentary on Matthew 4:2 states something like this:

    But the whole difficulty lies in the first point. How was Christ surrounded by our weakness, so as to be capable of being tempted by Satan, and yet to be pure and free from all sin? The solution will not be difficult, if we recollect, that the nature of Adam, while it was still innocent, and reflected the brightness of the divine image, -- was liable to temptations. All the bodily affections, that exist in man, are so many opportunities which Satan seizes to tempt him.

    It is justly reckoned a weakness of human nature, that our senses are affected by external objects. But this weakness would not be sinful, were it not for the presence of corruption; in consequence of which Satan never attacks us, without doing some injury, or, at least, without inflicting a slight wound. Christ was separated from us, in this respect, by the perfection of his nature; though we must not imagine him to have existed in that intermediate condition, which belonged to Adam, to whom it was only granted, that it was possible for him not to sin. We know, that Christ was fortified by the Spirit with such power, that the darts of Satan could not pierce him.
    It seems to me that Calvin can say temptation in us leads to sin because we have already been corrupted. But Jesus, whose body was of man but without the taste of corruption, could be tempted and yet not sin.

    I was also reading a blog from Kevin DeYoung on the topic and it gives a different conclusion than Calvin.


    If being tempted was in itself a mark of wickedness, we could not confess that Jesus Christ “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). It is possible to experience profound temptations to sin while still being blameless from that sin.​

    But I think I'm tracking... epithumia is connected to sin because of who our first parents were and who we still have inside of us.

    Is that right?
  21. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    If you recognize corruption as not only "rot" but the tendency to rot, then (I think) it's plain to see what the ordinary human problem is when it comes to our desires, our inclinations. According to our (rotten/rotting) flesh, those are sinful, just as much as the result of the tendency.

    Now, if you have an uncorrupted thing, flesh even, if corruption has not gained any hold, then whatever forces act on it (such as nature presents to things subject to entropy) do not work this destruction. As long as the pure body effectively resists the force, countering its corrosive qualities by its own superior strength and capacity, then corruption cannot begin. There is no concupiscence, no tendency to corruption. An upright moral whole is not natively subject to entropic forces.

    So, when we by the Spirit and *not* by the flesh resist sin, in that sense by the power of Christ and to that degree we may be blameless. We're blameless insofar as God regards our resistance as his own work in us, and his Son's work; it is our effort by dint of union with Christ. It may be his power eclipses practically any taint of our own making.

    But whatever proceeds from us in ourselves--that remains just as worthless and even blameworthy as ever. I'm not sure but, that KDY is merely speaking in respect to an ideal situation, and one that Jesus alone truly exemplified. The blamelessness of the Psalmist is ultimately only one of degree and union with the Mediator, or else perfectly demonstrated only by the Mediator when he sings those words himself upon his Incarnation.

    The reality of Jesus' temptation has been stated thus: that he could know and feel the attraction of what was proffered in the test; while Satan's attack could not be finally successful, thanks be to God, due to who Jesus was. To be a "real" temptation did not require the possibility of his failure, but only an alternative with some plausible advantage; to be overcome by reliance on the Word and Spirit.

    Furthermore, it has been stated that only the person who has vanquished temptation has felt its fullest power and known its true danger. Everyone who falls to temptation has given in before the tempter gave up. Our Savior was ever faithful, even unto death.

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