Ability, Opportunity, and Motivation

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Heavenly Pilgrim, Nov 6, 2007.

  1. Heavenly Pilgrim

    Heavenly Pilgrim
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    These three issues are at the forefront of many debates and are confused by some. Let me illustrate.

    A bright young man in college ends up on skid row. How did this happen one might ask? Did he necessarily lack ability, opportunity, or motivation, or could of he just lacked two of the three?

    Could one have all the ability in the world and still end up on skid row?

    Taking this one step further, could you place blame upon a man that failed to succeed as a doctor that simply had been born without the mental capacity, the natural cognizant abilities needed to succeed in that field or had been injured by an accident that rendered the individual impotent and as such impossible for such a one to make and perform the needed decisions and or physical tasks necessary for being a doctor?

    God blames man for being a sinner, even those who lack opportunity or motivation to hear and respond to the gospel message. Can God, in justice as a Just God, place blame on man if in fact man lacks the necessary ‘abilities’ to do anything other than what he does, and that from birth?
     
  2. Andre

    Andre
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    I do not see God as "blaming" me (and you) for the sin of Adam. When Adam sinned, he doomed following generations to the fallen nature of sin. But our problem is more of a "genetic inheritance" problem than a "moral culpability" problem. In my view, I am not "guilty" of Adam's sin. But I am still a victim of it. I inherit the "tainted flesh" associated with the fall.

    I will still die if I am not rescued from the sin nature. The fact that I am not morally responsible for being born a sinner does not change that reality. By the way, you should know that I think the Bible teaches that the unregenerate are annihilated in the lake of fire and do not experience eternal torment. So God does not so much punish the lost for "being born sinners" as the lost experience the unavoidable result of dying with the sin nature undefeated (perhaps I have not worded this all that well).

    The underlying assumption I am making in all this is basically the following: when God commits to making the world, there are certain things that even God cannot undo "magically". Adam falls and the fundamental nature of reality is changed God "took that chance" as it were (again, do not take this too literally). The power of sin spreads out like a virus and infects all of the cosmos. This is an almost "physical" process, not an abstract judicial issue. God loves all his children, even though they are all infected with the sin nature. If they die unredeemed, God does not sentence them "judicially" to eternal torment. Instead, they experience the "natural" result of dying in their sins.

    The other side to this is the following: In order to solve the sin problem, God initiated a plan of redemption when He made a covenant with Abraham. At Calvary, that plan was completed when Jesus cries out "It is finished". My point: God could not simply "wave his hand" and solve the sin problem. He had to work in history and do real things. I think the appropriate metaphor is that God is like a research doctor who sets out to solve the problem of tainted fallen flesh. He needs to work within the nature of reality - there is no magical "you are forgiven" declaration that can solve the problem. Sin is too "real" - it is too deeply ingrained in the very fabric of the cosmos.

    Even God cannot "short-circuit" the consequences of what happens in the world He created.
     
    #2 Andre, Nov 6, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 6, 2007
  3. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: Succinct and well stated!





    HP: Unless you are caught up in the rapture, your flesh will see death, rescued or not. Yet another proof that physical death is not the penalty for sin.





    HP: I might respond, close but no cigar.:) In your last sentence there are some problems that go beyond the scope of this thread. If they have sinned, and Scripture states that all have sinned, and have not been redeemed, they will forever be separated from God as a direct result of their personal sins, not the state of the physical nature they were birthed into.



    HP: Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. In this I am certain we agree.
     
  4. skypair

    skypair
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    To be saved, does one...

    Lack ability? No, unless they are infants or mentally challenged. John 3:16

    Lack opportunity? No. "...[T]hey are without excuse." Rom 1:19-20

    Lack motivation? No. Ecc 3:11, 14

    skypair
     
  5. Andre

    Andre
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    I think we need to explore this a little further. If someone makes the following argument, there is still a conceptual problem:

    1. All people are born in a state that makes it impossible for them to resist sinning.

    2. All such people are judicially sentenced to an eternity of torment for the sins that they commit.

    I am not suggesting that you are making this argument. But if anyone makes this argument, they cannot avoid making God unjust. The reason: even though the sins that we commit are specific acts, and when we refer to the sin nature we are born with we are indeed not referring to these acts, the fact remains that there is a necessary causal relationship between these two things. More specifically, the sins we commit are fully and sufficiently caused by something over which we have no control - namely a sin nature that we are born with.

    So, in order to be truthful to what I claim is a universally held concept that one can only be morally (judiciously) culpable for acts over which we have the power of contrary choice, we simply cannot make any sense of such an argument (i.e. the argument made up by points (1) and (2)).

    There is a lot more I want to say to anticipate objections, but I will stop for now.


    I do indeed agree, but the reason I hold this view is that I think that, by virtue of the fundamental nature of reality itself, God "has no choice" about this. In other words, I am suggesting that if God could, He would indeed forgive us without having to shed any blood at all. But I propose that the very act of creation itself "paints God into a corner" and forces Him to deal with sin through the shedding of blood.

    Do you think that that the necessity to shed blood is grounded in some "judicial necessity" that is somehow not intimately entangled with the nature of the creation itself? If this question seems vague, please let me know and I will try to sharpen it up.
     
  6. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: I would say that without question there is indeed a problem with anyone making this argument. They indeed cannot help but make god unjust in punishing them for the very reasons you state her, i.e., there is a relationship that exists between the cause (original sin) and the effect (their actual so-called sins) that is one of necessity. If man is not the first cause of his intents and subsequent actions, no morality can be justly predicated of anything he does. I find you to be absolutely on target with your remarks on this point.



    HP: I fully agree.




    HP: I do not think your question is vague, I just do not have an answer. I just accept Scripture as true although the reasons why are hidden from me, at least at this time.
     
  7. trustitl

    trustitl
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    Ability, Opportunity, Motivation

    Question posed by Andre:

    Do you think that that the necessity to shed blood is grounded in some "judicial necessity" that is somehow not intimately entangled with the nature of the creation itself?

    I know it will be disputed, but the penalty for sin is death. Death is not spiritual sepration from God. It is death: the kind Jesus went through for you and me, and the kind that man has feared for thousands of years. God declared it to be the penalty so it must be administered.

    You are correct is saying that we are not guilty because of Adam. However, I would disagree that it is some flaw that is passed on through genetics. I do have Adam's genes, like all people, but my sinning is not related to this. Our flesh is subject to corruption, but is not the cause of our sin. Adam's flesh did not change after sinning as far as it's desires were concerned, only in it's susceptiblity to corruption due to being removed from the tree of life. His flesh was perfectly capable of enticing him into sinning before he sinned, that is what lured him in the first place.

    We do not have a sinful nature; we have flesh which is full of desires wanting to be fulfilled 24/7. This is the same flesh Adam was created with and Jesus was born into. Jesus did not have a sinful nature, did he? I doubt you would say yes, but you may want to say that we do. If we do and he didn't he would not be able to identify with our tempations would he?
     
  8. Andre

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    You'll get me no argument from me, dude. I hold the same position you do about this.

    I am not sure I understand what you are saying here - can you please try another angle on this? And you will probably be surprised to read that I am indeed quite open to what you are saying about Jesus' nature. For your information, I believe that Romans 8:3 indeed teaches that Jesus bore the sin of the world in sinful flesh.
     
  9. Heavenly Pilgrim

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    HP: Let’s examine that position for a minute If the penalty for sin is physical death, why do not all die physically?(Case in point Enoch. Elijah, and all that will raptured at he second coming of Christ)

    If the penalty of sin is physical death, why do believers, who have had their sins paid for still see death? We hear much talk about believers being restored to Adam’s original state as believers, but we still die physically, men women an children.

    What about the death of infants or anyone for that matter. When they die, and pay the penalty you say is the penalty for sin, will all then be forgiven? If not why not? According to you the penalty would have been paid.

    If Christ paid the penalty for sin, and still all have to pay the same penalty when we die, what did Christ’s death really accomplish? It could not have paid the penalty for sin under your scheme could it? Does the penalty for sin have to be paid twice, once by Christ and then once by us?

     
  10. trustitl

    trustitl
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    Ability, Opportunity, Motivation

    Have you ever heard of the saying "Guns don't kill people, people do"? It think it is somewhat applicable to the topic at hand. It is flawed in that guns have no desires whereas that is what flesh is full of. The point is that the flesh does not have a will; someone needs to pull the trigger or keep the safety on.

    Most people teach that man has a sinful nature, some uncontrollable force that makes them sin, and that only. This is not what the Bible teaches. The term sinful nature is a poor substitute for the greek word sarx that is always translated flesh.

    It is fair to say that flesh is sinful because it is the source of passions where we are tempted. Being born in flesh does not make a man a sinner as many teach. He becomes a sinner when he lives after the flesh. It was God's intention that Adam would live after the Spirit, but Adam chose otherwise and God left him to his carnal choice.

    I think we are born with the curse of physical death because of Adam (Romans 5:12-14) and are condemned eternally if we sin and are judged according to the standard in Romans 2. I don't fully grasp the age of accountablity thing and leave that up to the Judge who is very just.

    Jesus was fully man. If we have a sinful nature Jesus had to have one too (which would be an heresy). So the nature of the man Jesus's flesh is the same flesh this man was born with. He lived after the Spirit without sinning and suffered the penalty that that all sinners deserved. All have sinned and the wages of sin is death. Jesus got something he didn't deserve and you and I can have something we don't deserve because of it.

    The flesh must be the perfect enviroment for God to test our faith. Not only did God create us to live in it to see if we would live after the flesh as unregenerate flesh, he leaves us in it to develop our faith. My flesh is no different now that I am saved other than it is "dead" according to God. I just need to reckon myself to be dead indeed unto sin (Rom. 6:11), that is, believe what God says is true. Read Romans 6.

    I am saved by grace through faith in what God says and am to walk by faith in what God says. Next time you are tempted, look at your temptation this way and you will see that the choice is yours as it was before you were saved, but now we have the promise that we are free from sin. Rom. 6:22 "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness".

    Does this mean I don't sin? I wish. But thankfully now I have an advocate for when I do. Hope this helps. I know it took me awhile to undo my years of being taught differently.
     
  11. Andre

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    Hello trustitl:

    In short, I think that you and I share the same view about this. The whole question of the degree to which the sinful nature (flesh-sarx) that we are born with "forces" us to sin is an interesting and, I think, important one. If I follow you properly, you see a distinction between the "flesh" and some agency that can choose to act in accordance with the desires of the flesh (or not). I am inclined to think that this is indeed on the right track.

    A follow-on question: I am not exactly sure what you mean when you write

    in relation to the state of affairs after we accept Jesus' gift. If the same choice is present now as before, in what way have things changed? What are the underlying mechanics re how we are made "free from sin"? I assume that you will argue that the Spirit plays a role. Can you articulate that role more precisely? I hope to take a shot at this myself in a later post.
     
  12. trustitl

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    Ability, Opportunity, Motivation

    Andre,

    You asked me to articulate my last post more precisely. I will try.

    Not sinning. The words make most people, including Christians, recoil. I believe it is God's will for us. Most Christians will say they are free from the power of death but fail to see that the same verse says that we are free from the power of sin as well. You asked for mechanics as to how this happens and that is what I will try to do. I am not a scholar, Greek or otherwise, but believe what God says. Let's look at what he says. Most people to ofter look at what God means, I prefer to look at what he says first.

    Romans 5:6 "For when we were yet without strength" Christ died for whom? The ungodly. That is what everybody is before they are saved. What is ungodly? Most people think of dirty rotten sinners. But not all ungodly are dirty or rotten. A lot of them are really nice people (often nicer than a lot of people who claim to be Christians I am afraid).

    Paul has just finished a section talking about how Abraham was saved. It was not by works but by believing.
    Rom. 4:5 "to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

    Abraham was not able to save himself. He was to weak to do that work. This is a conclusion about chapters 2-3 where Paul made it clear that "all have sinned": Jews (by not keeping the law) and Gentiles (being accused by their conscience which they failed to obey).

    We were weak (Rom. 8:3) because we were walking after the flesh (8:4-5) rather than after God. That is UNGODLY.

    Websters 1828
    AFTER, prep. 6. According to the direction and influence of.

    But something happened. The most common thing to say is that we were saved. I like how Paul says we "were made alive unto God" (Rom 6:11) by Christs work on the cross and his resurrection. By faith we get Jesus' death to be ours. By faith we get Jesus resurrection to be ours. By faith the body of sin is destroyed (Rom. 6:6). That is what God says. What that all means "mechanically" is a little above me. I just need to reckon it to be true just like a southerner "reckons" it is going to rain when he see the storm coming.

    Webster again:
    RECKON, v.t. rek'n. [L. rego, rectus, whence regnum, regno, Eng. to reign and right.]
    to compute; to calculate.

    He can do the "figuring" based on simple reasoning.
    Dark clouds + wind picking up = rain.

    God says Jesus death is my death. God says Jesus resurrection is my resurrection.
    6:10 "For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God."

    Then I am told what to reckon:

    6:11 "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."

    When you become alive unto God you just need to "yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God". (Rom 6:13) Before I yielded my members as instruments of unrighteousness and therefore it was my master(6:16). Many teach that I yielded to it BECAUSE it was my master.

    Yielding at a yellow light is giving the right of way to someone who has it. This is what we are to do with God. Yielding is not a work, rather it is an act of my will. Before we are "converted" ( another word not used much anymore) we tend to just go through the intersections and cause wrecks because we were "self serving" rather than servant of God. We were in the dark, left to our own devices.
    We were enemies of God. We were in the flesh.

    The closest thing to mechanics I can think of is what is said to have happended to us in Colossians.

    1:13 We have been "delivered from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son."

    1:21-22 We have been "reconciled"

    2:11 We have been operated on by God. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

    Can you see why we are told to walk by faith and not by sight? If we look around us we will become like Peter who took his eyes of Jesus and looked at the storm and began sinking.

    Paul put it this way:
    II Cor 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
    7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

    In other words, we are still weak in our flesh (earthen vessels) but are given power to bring glory to God as we live each day.
     

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