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Tag: Confession

Hamartiology: The Doctrine of Sin – Part 4

<– Part 3

I won’t spend much time, if any, revisiting the previous articles as I post new ones in this series. Let’s dive right in to new material:


Does a believer still have a sin nature?

For those of you in counseling contexts, Jay Adams and some of his followers do not believe in a sin nature for believers, only a regenerated nature. Essentially, ongoing sin in the life of a believer is the collection of habits left over from pre-conversion. So ongoing sin is a matter of habit. These habits reside mainly in the body. This would be the nouthetic counseling folks, not the CCEF folks. I side with the CCEF approach on this one. I get concerned with how much Adams links sin to the body. Is sin an enduring habit, or is it something that remains in us? This is partly a quibble over terms and definitions. It seems to me that believers still have something inside of us that wants to sin.

The NT does not use the word “nature” in combination with sin, nevertheless it does clearly intimate that there is some aspect of our being that is still sinful even though regenerate (1 John 1:8-10). Verses 8 and 10 are not redundant. Normally, verse 8 is taken regarding disposition to sin (indwelling sin) and verse 10 is talking about ongoing acts of sin. See also Romans 6, in which the idea of “dead to sin” doesn’t mean that sin has died. The “old man” is not the same thing as the sin nature, it is the connectedness to Adam. That connectedness is crucified. This is a text Jay Adams would use to show the connection between sin and body, but I don’t think that is what Paul is saying. It’s not that the body is sinful, but that we express sinful acts through our body. Notice how Paul personifies sin here: not died to sinning, but died to sin.

Look at it this way: before you are saved, you don’t have a choice of if you are going to sin. You simply choose between sins. Which will I commit? Sin is your master. After salvation, you have a legitimate choice of whether or not to sin. Sin is no longer your master. There is still some kind of sin principle going on. It has not died. You have died to it, its power over you has been broken. See Romans 7 also. There is some kind of abiding sin, some kind of principle, that leads Paul to want to sin even when his “better nature” doesn’t want him to sin. That sin principle is what sometimes gets designated as “the flesh.” Classic text on the flesh: Galatians 5 (esp. vv. 16-18; capitalize “Spirit”).

So is it all reducible to a black dog fighting a white dog and asking which one will win this time? Maybe. But if so, it’s a white wolfhound against a black Chihuahua. I’m not going to go to the mat for the term “sin nature.” But yes, something is still there and we still fight it (Jay Adams isn’t going to say there’s nothing there, he’s just not going to want to call it a nature. He doesn’t want to say there’s some substance there that inhabits part of us. Well I don’t think it’s a substance either. I think it’s a disposition. But I think we still have it.).

Is a believer still totally depraved?

Clearly an unbeliever is totally depraved, but the answer to this question depends on definitions. If totally depraved means that every aspect (mind, heart, will) is affected by sin, then yes, we are totally depraved. If it means every aspect of us is totally depraved, that argument becomes harder to sustain. I like Tozer on this: “God is impossible to satisfy, but He’s easy to please.”

How does sin progress in our lives?

Desire (or attraction, by which I mean whatever Jesus felt when He thought about bread in the wilderness)






“And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, a delight to the eyes, and to be desired to make one wise.”

“If you are the son of God, tell this stone to turn to bread.”

Temptation begins with desire. Desire, used simply, the way we are using it here, is not sin. If desire is itself sin, than apparently Jesus sinned. The temptation is not just the desire, the temptation is the inducement to fulfill the desire in some way that God forbids. The Devil can’t create new desires. Our desires are created by God. What the Devil can do is tempt us to misplace those desires, to feel them at the wrong time or in the wrong way or on the wrong object.

How do you get rid of a desire? Tell it to go away? That doesn’t work. You have to replace it with something else to turn aside from it. If you don’t, you begin to entertain the desire. If you want to stop thinking about all the things you can eat, you start to think about something else. The more you ponder those illegitimate ways of gaining food (for example) the more likely it is you will gratify that desire. This leads to consenting to the desire. Somewhere between entertaining and consenting is where the sin occurs. No overt outward act has been committed yet, but you invariably commit the sin in your heart before you ever openly act. Acting is that next step. And it is a very small step between entertaining/consent and acting. Now, I don’t mean no sin ever occurs between desire and entertaining. You certainly can sin there. You can have sin at each of the lines between these steps even before any act has occurred.

Sin has multiple effects:

  1. Guilt (which requires) Justice ( which requires) Retribution
  2. Harm / damage (which requires) Reparation
  3. Weakness (which requires) Reformation
  4. Pollution / “dirt” (which requires) Restoration

The Solution?

1. The Gospel is the answer to all of these, which is one reason we need to be reminding ourselves of the Gospel daily. Live in the Gospel.

2. Confession is a discipline that not only strengthens us in the fight against sin, it also cleans us from the pollution that comes with our sin.

If unaddressed, at some point, sins become habits and to live without them seems like committing suicide.

At this point we have covered the in-class discussion of Hamartiology. In our next post we will begin the portion of this series on Soteriology (the doctrine of salvation), which is related to Hamartiology for obvious reasons.


February 23, 2015 Resources: Biblical Confession; Inerrancy; Workplace Evangelism; To Lent or Not to Lent?

Lots of good and timely resources today, enjoy!

Picking and Choosing Our Piety

Liturgy is cool

Incredibly helpful article on “workplace evangelism” that applies much more broadly to how we evangelize in any context. (Part 2 here)

What does biblical confession look like?

It is disingenuous to espouse an inerrant and authoritative Bible while playing fast and loose with its contents.

Knowing and Loving God: Part 3a

Click here for an explanation of this series

Wednesday, June 18 (previous post here)

This was only day three of class (of five total), and we had already covered an incredible amount of ground. Each step was loaded with truths about God from His Word, all pointing us to a greater knowledge and love of Him.

Also by day three, 5 1/2 hours of note-taking per day was taking its toll… there are going to be a few gaps ahead (don’t judge me, I had hand and also brain cramps). Keep that in mind. Any imperfections in the notes are mine, they are not a reflection on the seminary or the instructor.

We left off on Day Two with a look ahead to the next part of our discussion on things that shape our imagination. Before we get there however, we will take a short detour into a discussion on prayer. This is where my notes are a bit gappy. Dr. Bauder talked about several areas of prayer, and I took good notes on exactly one of those areas, poor notes on a second, and no notes on the rest.


Confession – Two Elements:

  1. Agree with God – Admit what you’ve done – Call it what it is
  2. Acknowledge the wrongness – this requires a change of mind from when you were doing the wrong; this sets it apart from the joking or “proud of it” type of “confession” the world laughs about

Psalm 51 is the best example of confession. The first element is not present due to the fact that David’s sin was already quite public and well-known. It was the second element that was missing prior to this Psalm.

This psalm shows us that whoever we’ve sinned against, it pales in comparison to that sin against God. Verse 4:

Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.

There are three things that happen when we sin:

  1. Guilt – Always and only dealt with at the cross of Christ
  2. Pollution – Corrupts to some degree and threatens to lead us to future sin
  3. Damage/Harm – Dissension, division, distress

David is praying for the third thing (damage) to be undone in verse 18:

By Your favor do good to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.

Some lessons:

  • God did not (and does not always) choose to undo all of the consequences. There is something wrong with people in counseling who think now that confession/forgiveness have taken place, restoration ought to be immediate. “OK, now restore me!” It doesn’t work that way.
  • Use your sins as future teaching opportunities for others. Learn from others’ mistakes and help them learn from yours.

Thanksgiving – What should we be thankful for? (not exhaustive by any stretch, simply representative)

  • Trials
  • Conviction
  • Sources of life (food, water, air)
  • Church
  • Doctrines of Salvation (justification, regeneration, sanctification, etc.)

Other Categories of Prayer

  • Adoration
  • Supplication
  • Petition
  • Intercession
  • Imprecation (2 Thessalonians 1)
  • Prayer of the Spirit

At this point we ended our discussion on prayer, and returned to the idea of things that shape our imagination.

  • KEY IDEA: What shapes our imagination is of primary importance.

All artistic media have the goal of shaping the imagination. We need to be aware of what we’re encountering, of what is bombarding us, both from the secular realm and the Christian. The difference between these types of imagery and Biblical imagery (for instance, the imagery of the Shepherd in Psalm 23) is that these are not automatically acceptable forms of imagery.

Phenomena from which we should shield ourselves:

  1. False Imagery – We can’t avoid it all because we need to know what our flocks are being bombarded with, but do this with your guard up. Avoid anything that falsely represents God or tries to shape the imagination against Him.
  2. Sources of imagery that shape our imagination without giving us the opportunity to think about what’s going on; bypassing our mind (theatrical, for example; watching a movie of an evil plot as opposed to reading it in a book – reading a book gives you an opportunity to think and respond); these bypass our minds and reach to our appetites

Together, a very toxic group, but also an appealing one (like meth). It’s just so much fun, once you stat you can’t live without it.

I wish I had typed these notes up when they were fresher in my mind, because there were some important qualifications and explanations given that I am having trouble remembering. For example, related to point one above, Dr. Bauder was not recommending against watching “Lord of the Rings” and categorizing all fantasy as “False Imagery.” That wasn’t the point. Certainly false imagery related to God or His Word ought to be avoided completely, but I do not remember if we expanded on that in class or if the total definition of false imagery was related to things about God.

Related to point two above, I do know that we discussed, for one example, the power that a movie can have as the plot unfolds, so that by the end of the movie you’re cheering for the guy who shot a political leader, or beat up his wife, or any number of immoral acts that you are shaped into approving of and feeling positively toward.

But this wraps up post 3a. Our next post will be a little shorter, covering our final discussion from Day 3: “The Glory of God,” which is a discussion that will spill over into Day 4 as well.

NEXT: Knowing and Loving God: Part 3b

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