Excellent, excellent post. Great tie-in using Romans chapter 7, especially in light of the last 2 verses which state:
“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:24-25)
The word that Paul uses in the Greek translated into the English “I am,” is: “ego,” the same Greek word that Jesus used when referring to Himself being the voice coming out of the burning Bush. It is a primary pronoun of the first-person and is only expressed when emphatic, meaning that it is a literal reference to one’s self, and the emphasis cannot be placed anywhere but on the fact that the person is emphatically speaking about them self – you can’t make this one figurative, the Greek will not allow it.
And the noun that he uses prior to this concerning this word, translated in the English: “wretched,” is the Greek word: “talaiporos,” meaning: a person that is in a trial, that is miserable due to an exterior condition which affects an interior sense of dread, exhibited in suffering from a spiritual or emotional state of being miserable. What Paul is saying here is that due to the sinfulness of his flash which affects his outward behavior, his spirit is miserable due to this domination of sin which cannot be escaped.
Now this begs the question of the previous verses, “what created this miserable condition from which there is no escape in and of itself“? Well, in verses 15 through 20, Paul repeatedly states that he has no ability to maintain the perfect law of God, and though he is desirous to do what is good, he is constantly stuck in doing what is evil.
He is miserable #1) because of the sin which dominates him, and also #2) because of the contradiction which daily plagues him, that of wanting to do the right thing, yet never been able to. In the Greek the verbs used to describe this curse of sin that plagues his behavior is emphatic, and are in the present tense, meaning that they are continuous actions which never – ever stop. Paul is saying that he is sinning as a man, and can never stop sinning as a man.
So here Paul makes your point for you, that those that would say that if you as a believer still sin in your life, that you are not a believer – this Paul disputes. The Greek cannot be bent to say something it is not meant to say because it is a dead language that is fixed, unchangeable. It is the English that is a living language, wherein meanings can change from year to year. Yet, God in his wisdom picked a language that is set in stone.
For those that would say that Christians that sin, or continue to sin in their life are not Christians, the Bible says they are wrong, and therefore liars. Now this is not meant to be a permission statement to live a sinful life. In fact if the believer lives like an unbeliever, then it is the Holy Spirit that haunts him and convicts him until he comes back to sanity. That’s what happened to Peter after he denied Christ (in the Greek it says “he came back to sanity” ~ Luke 22:32 “…thou art converted” = aorist tense, active voice, participle mood), that’s what happened to the Prodigal Son after he came to the end of his insanity of himself (in the Greek it says “he came back to sanity” ~ Luke 15:17 “…when he came to himself…” = second aorist tense, active voice, participle mood), and realized who he really was, and what he was doing, and the contradiction between the two.
Insanity is defended by Merriam-Webster as: “…deranged state of the mind,” “something utterly foolish or unreasonable,” in classical counseling insanity is “abnormal mental processing,” it is a state of mind which is “non-normal” (“sane” is from the Latin adjective sanus meaning “healthy”, therefore “insane” is “unhealthy”). The point is that Peter and the Prodigal Son were normally sane, having healthy minds, to take a Greek philosopher’s words: “to be in yourself,” as opposed to “not in yourself.” This is the meaning directly stated in Luke 15:17, to be sane was to come back to yourself. You see both of these individuals were first sane – spiritually speaking, they were saved, but acted unhealthy, acting and thinking according to the sin nature – they were crazy, temporarily, until they came back to themselves – to sanity, to thinking and acting normal – back to their Christian walk!
Sin damages people, and those individuals around them as well, yet to say that true Christians stop sinning is unbiblical, and is the doctrine of demons (1 Tim. 4:1). It is only the baby that wallows in their own feces, not the adults. As such it is God who will bring back his children to Himself – to themselves, even if they live like they are children of the devil – which in reality they are not, and never can be, any more than the child can be unborn – hence the reason that Jesus used the term “born again.” And for those that take the analogy outside of the constraints that Jesus had placed it (we understand that all analogies break down because two separate things can never be exactly the same, because if they did, then they would only be one thing – analogies are stories that add meaning to something else, yet at some point are not exactly the same), a fetus has never self aborted itself. It is either a doctor, or a diseased body (and God is not a diseased body) that aborts a fetus. A fetus does not create itself, it cannot kill itself, it cannot be aborted by its own actions, this is as far as the analogy that Jesus used concerning the term “born again” can be taken.
Now back to Romans 7:24-25 ~ Okay Brent, you’re saying that this miserable state, which Paul is in, which is in the present tense, means that he is cursed for all of his life to being a wretched man. No, that’s the first half of the story, that we are all sinners; and this is the point that Paul is making. Yet, the second part of the message that Paul alludes to in the last verse of Romans chapter 7, verse 25, which is how to live out this life in victory.
Paul is talking to saved individuals only (Romans 1:7 ~ “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called [“to be” is in italics because it is not in the text – only implied by the translators] saints..” = these terms are ONLY used of saved individuals – NO OTHER INTERPRETATION IS ALLOWED), and Paul has already dealt with the subject of salvation in Romans 6:23 which states: “for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus OUR LORD.” Those that are saved are saved because Jesus is THEIR LORD, not because they don’t receive the wages of sin – which if you stay being saved you will not have to pay for – because if you become born again, Christ is paid for those sins already on the cross – you don’t have to pay “for the wages of sin,” which is death – Jesus already did – for the believer, the child of God. All true Christians, at some point in their Christian walks act like the Prodigal Son, which is why Jesus told the story, we will all forsake God like Peter did at some point – this is why you cannot lose your salvation, because if this is true we would ALL would die in our sins as backsliders, having lost what we cannot keep – it is God who keeps us, not we ourselves).
Christians sin and will all of their life, just like any fallen creature – this is why John stated in 1 John: 1:8, “if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not within us.” The Greek combination word for “we have” is a verb that is in the present tense, which again means a current condition that continues on without ever stopping.
To end, if we try to say that the Scripture teaches that he who sins is not a believer; this is only attempted by taking Scriptures out of context and twisting them. The only reason that I don’t give all of the verses prior to Romans 7:24-25, is because could you imagine how long my responses would be then (ha ha). Time does not permit for a thorough examination wherein all the verses prior to and after my citation are available.
Anyway, good job Rockman, as always I had to throw in my 2 cents.
“The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’ is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast:
the chicken was ‘involved’ – the pig was ‘committed’.”