Questions Answered About Sin and the Atonement
We are often grossly misrepresented and have many false charges brought against us. Many of these are by men who are not present at our meetings and some are by men who are not even aquatinted with us. This is just a beginning attempt to answer some of the false accusations. If you have questions please feel free to contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be glad to explain in a Christ-like manner what we believe and why we believe it.
There are two great divisions in mankind made by God. There are the righteous and there are the wicked. Just as in every age of apostasy there are many in our day who seem to want to blur the lines and make no distinct difference. This was always one of the main charges that God brought against the prophets when He brought judgment upon Israel. They had failed to make a difference between the holy and the unholy, between the clean and the unclean.
Ezekiel 22:26 through Ezekiel 22:27 26Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. 27Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.
After a person is saved God nowhere in the Bible refers to him as a sinner. He is not considered a sinner from Gods viewpoint or anyone elses. It is confusion to teach such a thing, and there can be no purpose in doing so except to ease the conscience of a hypocrite who is pretending to be something hes not. It can only serve to give a sense of false humility and lower the expectations of holiness for the person himself, as well as everyone else.
A sinner is one who practices sin. That is, he is a continual, habitual sinner. That is his habit, his lifestyle. That is what he is about. His thoughts, his desires, his plans, his life is all about sinning. He is controlled by the lusts of his flesh and that continually "brings forth sin" in his life. "He that committeth sin is of the devil." 1 John 3:8. This verse is explicitly explaining it to us this way. The word "committeth" means a continual action not a one time thing. The person who describes a Christian as such a person simply doesnt know what salvation is all about. Jesus came to cure that problem and "take away" our sin. After we have truly repented of our sin and trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ we are not habitual sinners. We may sin, but it is not our habit and our lifestyle. It is not our desire and our ambition. We do not plan and plot to sin.
The Bible refers to the "saints" 96 times, and 61 times in the NT alone. Who in the world is it speaking to? Saints are not those who have died, but those who are still alive.
Peter called the saved people saints:
Acts 9:32 32And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.
Paul called the saved people saints:
Acts 26:10 10Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
Romans 15:25 25But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
Ephesians 1:1 1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Philippians 1:1 1Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
Why did God give us pastors, evangelists, teachers, etc.?
Ephesians 4:12 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
If we are all sinners, then just try substituting the word "sinner" everywhere in the Scripture where it says "saint." The notion that saints and sinners are the same would then appear as ridiculous as it really is.
We sing songs that say, "I was once a sinner, but I came; Pardon to receive from my Lord." This is a new thing that the devil is trying to force down everyones throat. Our spiritual forefathers never taught, or believed such a thing. The author of confusion is obviously at work here and we should reject his lies. If you are saved by the grace of God you should NOT consider yourself a sinner, but a saint of God. You should make a difference between the clean and the unclean and between the holy and the profane. They are NOT the same.
Is it because he is born with a sinful nature that forces him to sin? Is it because there is something physically wrong with his body that makes him sin and he is unable to avoid it? Is he guilty when he is born because of what Adam did 6000 years ago without his knowledge or consent?
Most would answer all three of these questions in the affirmative because they are the foundation of the doctrines that are taught and believed by the modern apostate church. These doctrines are nothing more than the teachings of Augustine and John Calvin which have been spread like a cancer throughout Christendom. Calvinism and the teachings of Augustine are one and the same. Inability is the foundation of both, and it is the premise upon which all the other teachings of Calvinism rest. If the idea of inability is true then all of Calvinism is true.
The Bible could not be more clear on the matter of why men sin.
James 1:14 through James 1:16 14But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16Do not err, my beloved brethren.
Every person is born with natural desires that are not sinful in themselves. God gave the boundaries for these desires to operate within. These natural desires must be constrained within these boundaries or they will cause us to be drawn away and enticed. When "lust hath conceived" means that when lust takes control it brings forth sin. That is, when these natural desires are turned loose sin is the result.
That is not a genetic problem. It is not something inherited in our flesh or our blood that makes us do that. In no place does the Bible teach such a thing about sin. The Bible does teach clearly that it is a heart that turns from God to satisfy itself. It is the decision of a mind to choose the evil and refuse the good. Therefore, the responsibility for sin lies completely upon the sinner himself. He cannot excuse himself because of his flesh, or his sinful nature, or any such thing. The Bible says he will give account of himself to God.
Does God consider our sin to be a debt that must be paid?
There are many problems with the idea that sin is a debt. First and foremost, it is totally inconsistent with the way sin is presented in the Bible. Here are some things to consider.
If sin is literally a debt, and that is what God considers it to be, and Jesus "paid" the "sin debt," then how can a just God extract payment AGAIN from every person who doesn't trust Christ? He would be double-charging, and that isn't just, fair, or right in any sense of the word. You cannot explain this without acknowledging that forgiveness is what it is all about.
You cannot forgive a debt AND pay it. It must be one way or the other. If it is forgiven the debt is discharged. You either PAY a debt, or you receive forgiveness for it.
There is a great deal of difference in the effect of this teaching on a sinner. For instance, if I go to a bank and ask the bank president for a loan and he gives it to me, I then owe a debt. If I meet that bank president on the street tomorrow I will not be ashamed, afraid, or intimidated by him. It is simply a debt and I have done nothing wrong. However, it is a totally different situation if I go into the bank with a gun, put it to his head and say, "Give me all the money in this bank or Ill blow your head off!" If I meet him the next day on the street I am going to be very uncomfortable. Thus, if a sinner is taught that he simply owes God a debt dont be surprised when he is not convicted about his sin. He will take it rather lightly and the fear of God will not be something he will be concerned about. On the other hand, if he is convinced that he has transgressed against an Almighty God and is a criminal in His sight deserving of punishment, he will be far more likely to fear God and be convicted of his sin.
What God does with sin is he forgives it for Christ's sake. He does that for everyone who comes repenting of their sin and trusting in the Son of God as the Atonement for their sin. Sins are not paid for - they can only be forgiven. The Catholic Church used to sell indulgences for this very reason. They believed sins could be paid for with a price.
In a figurative sense the idea of sin as a debt has only a slight justification. For example, we talk about a criminal as one who "owes a debt to society." However, everyone understands that he doesnt literally "pay" for his crime by spending time in prison, or by being put to death. Rather, that is the PUNISHMENT for his crime, and it is meant as a deterrent to others who might consider committing the same crime. His punishment, no matter how severe, does not restore what his sin has destroyed. A murderer may be executed for his deed, but the family of the one murdered does not get their loved one back he is still dead. There is NO price that will undo sin and its effects. There is only one hope, one cure, one solution, and that is to be forgiven.
God sent his Son to be sin for us. That means He was the sacrifice for our sin. He suffered so that we would could be forgiven. He was innocent and we were guilty. God, for Christs sake, will forgive all who come to Him in repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the true Gospel message.
Are we teaching sinless perfection?
Absolutely not! We have made that clear many, many times, but our adversaries keep trying to convince people otherwise. We have never said that a Christian cannot sin after he is saved. We have never said that a person is lost if he does sin. These are accusations that we keep hearing, but they are simply not true. We do believe that being free from sin should be the hearts desire of every Christian. We do believe that sanctification does clean a person up and our light should be shining brighter and brighter as we move along our journey. We should be making progess.
Again, the issue is that there is a difference between a continual, habitual lifestyle of sin and an occasional stumble. Although this seems to be hard for some theological minds to figure out I can't help but notice that they have no problem with this kind of thinking in other areas of life. They will tolerate an employee who occasionally makes a mistake, but they won't tolerate one who is continually making mistakes. They will keep a car that breaks down once in a while, but one that is continually breaking down gets traded off or sold. A man who breaks the law one time gets off much easier than the one who has a record of breaking the law many times. But somehow, when it comes to God all logic and common sense, as well as the plain Scripture teaching on the matter, gets all confused and mushed up.
We believe God's people are a holy people. They are striving for righteousness - not sin. Before a person is saved they may do an occasional good deed, but the main flow of their life is sin. After a person gets saved he may occasionally sin, but the main flow of his life is righteousness. There is a BIG difference and that is what we are saying.