Character vs Sinful Nature

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by BobRyan, Jan 3, 2006.

  1. BobRyan

    BobRyan
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    Even if you live to be 200 - you will still have your sinful nature there is no getting rid of it until we are brought into Christ's presence in our glorified form. We "inherit" the sinful nature from Adam - we are all members of the fallen human race. No amount of "good living" on our part removes it. It is the inner desire or propensity to sin.

    It is not the same thing as "character". Character is "you" it is who you are. It can be deformed by embracing sin and it can be restored by choosing a life of obedience. Character is what "does not change" when you go to heaven. It is what it is. The New Birth resets our Character pointing us in God's direction but it does not erase the character or eliminate its defects. We must choose daily to die to self and to remain in that God-facing direction inspite of our sinful nature and inspite of our character weakness. His strength is sufficient for our weakness. THough many think their own weakness is greater than God's willingness to provide strength.

    On the other hand - that weak sinful nature with its inclination to sin is removed for us by God at the moment we are raised from the dead with our new heaven-built bodies. (2Cor 5:1-3). There is nothing we did to get that sinful nature and there is nothing we do to get rid of it. IT is all of God.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  2. Matt Black

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    It's the removal of that sinful nature, that propensity to sin, what Catholics call concupiscence, which I would call sanctification pre-death and purgatory post-death; the Orthodox I believe refer to the whole process as theosis -- being conformed and transformed into the perfect image of God in Christ.

    From the other thread:-

    D28guy asked:
    I'm not quite following you there.

    (could be your British accent. )

    Could you re-phrase the question and make it a bit clearer?

    Thanks,

    Mike
    </font>[/QUOTE]Sorry, that's a reference to a cute little book called 'The Velveteen Rabbit' by someone whose name escapes me; it's one of those books written for children that every adult should read. The theme is that stuffed toys such as the eponymous rabbit become 'real' only by being loved by their infant owners; they legally belong to their owners from the start (cf imputed/ forensic justification) but only become really owned through love and hard use by the owner; in the case of another toy in the story, the Skin Horse, that involves having all his fur worn away over time.

    Bible-boy said:

    Kind of...although I would see what you call glorification as being purgatory - the final removal (if by then necessary) of our sinful natures; I would also see what you call sanctification and glorification both as part of theosis.

    A further word of clarification: in no way are either sanctification or glorification any 'work' of man; both are the work of God through the agency of the Holy Spirit.
     
  3. Bible-boy

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    I'm not quite following you there.

    (could be your British accent. )

    Could you re-phrase the question and make it a bit clearer?

    Thanks,

    Mike
    </font>[/QUOTE]Sorry, that's a reference to a cute little book called 'The Velveteen Rabbit' by someone whose name escapes me; it's one of those books written for children that every adult should read. The theme is that stuffed toys such as the eponymous rabbit become 'real' only by being loved by their infant owners; they legally belong to their owners from the start (cf imputed/ forensic justification) but only become really owned through love and hard use by the owner; in the case of another toy in the story, the Skin Horse, that involves having all his fur worn away over time.

    Bible-boy said:

    Kind of...although I would see what you call glorification as being purgatory - the final removal (if by then necessary) of our sinful natures; I would also see what you call sanctification and glorification both as part of theosis.

    A further word of clarification: in no way are either sanctification or glorification any 'work' of man; both are the work of God through the agency of the Holy Spirit.
    </font>[/QUOTE]Hey Matt,

    I have not studied the Orthodox teaching of theosis. However, as you have it explained above I'd agree that it pretty much lines up with what I said previously. Yet, I see nothing in Scripture that points to purgatory (place of waiting and final "clean up" before entering heaven). I believe that glorification happens (when we die or Christ returns) as a result of our being justified and sanctified (no matter how long, or short, we have been in the process) during our lifetime here on earth.
     
  4. riverm

    riverm
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    I would say that Catholics will agree that Christ accomplished all of our salvation for us on the cross. Is there anywhere in scripture that settles the question of how Christ’s redemption is applied to us?

    I’m looking at it this way; I don’t see any contradiction between Christ’s redeeming us on the cross and the Catholic process by which we are sanctified. We Christians have all suffered in some way, but does that take away from the cross? No. But the cross produces our sanctification, which results in suffering.

    I’ve been studying the Wesleyan theology of sanctification and justification and what Wesley says is that sanctification is a life long process, which includes suffering. Of course Wesley didn’t promote purgatory as a part of this sanctification, but I don’t see a problem if purgatory is the final stage of sanctification that some will need to undergo before they enter heaven.

    When we die, we will no longer be restrained by our known concept of time, we will be outside of our known dimensions of space and time, so it’s not a matter of “how long” one will be in purgatory, because there’s no concept of time.

    If purgatory is the final phase of Christ’s applying to us the purifying redemption that He accomplished for us on the cross, then so be it. Believing this doesn’t make one “not saved” or should even “scare” anyone.
     
  5. BobRyan

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    The sinful nature is not the character and is not affected by sanctification except that as you continue to choose sanctification you are not feeding the sinful nature - but it is there all the same until you are taken to heaven.

    The transformation of Character that happens as a result of daily sanctification does not "Accelerate at death" and needs not reach some "special milestone" before are "good enough" for heaven.

    The New Birth instantly creates the nature that is "fit for heaven".

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  6. BobRyan

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    All true.

    Justification is the imputed righteousness of Christ received instantly and daily.

    Sanctification is resulting change in character that happens day by day. It continues for the lifetime as Wesley points out.

    But there is "no magic line" along that path that "one must reach before entering heaven".

    That is the error that the RCC makes. It assumes that there IS a point that must be reached "first". They confuse the sinful nature with character development AND AS a result they suppose that there is a magic line one must cross in sanctification before you can go to heaven.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  7. BobRyan

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    The RCC has made up a lot of "stories" about the physics of the next life and the idea that there is no time there. But the Bible disproves that. In Isaiah 66 we are told that in the New Heavens and New Earth "From Sabbath to Sabbath and from new moon to new moon shall ALL mankind come before Me to worship".

    The "no time in the age to come" idea is a catholic myth - born of tradition and pretty much nonsensical.

    Without time there are no "events" no "sequence of events" and therefore "no learning".

    The dead experience that. No thought, no sequence of thougths, no events no sequence of events and no learning.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  8. riverm

    riverm
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    Hi Bob,

    In regard to your Isaiah 66 comments, Isaiah is putting into context of from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me. if you notice that Isaiah began the Book with a condemnation of the shallow worship of God’s people at the time of the New Moons and Sabbaths (Isaiah 1:12-15). Now after the greatness of the Lord’s work, all that is different.

    I was taught in my Fundy upbringing that the NEW Heaven and Earth will not be like the one we experience today. Revelation plainly states that there will be no night, therefore no moons and there will be no sun, for God will provide the light (Rev 22:5). This suggests to me that there will be no concept of time, for one day is like a 1,000 years to God. Time as we know it is based off of the rotation of the earth, night and day. Why would we need to be restricted by time in a place where no death exists?

    This isn’t a Catholic myth, about no time in the age to come. My past conservative fundy preacher would be appalled if he were preaching anything that resembles Catholic dogma.

    I understand you zeal towards the Catholic Church, but let’s keep it within reason.
     
  9. BobRyan

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    It is true that the Holy City "needs" no sun nor moon for light - but as Isaiah 66 shows the New Heavens and New Earth do have Sun and moon. And as you know the stars, galaxies planets in the universe all require "time" to "move". Our sun and moon are not the only objects used to track time. (Quartz crytals come to mind)

    Time is basic to "events" and also "Sequences" and without that - there is no "learning" there is no "going someplace" there is no "watching something happen" there is no "experience something".

    My point is that the Bible never says there "is no time in the age to come". I was simply pointing out that this RC tradition comes from some place other than the Bible. And more than that - the Bible "specifically" points to "time" constructs in context of "New Heavens and New Earth".

    Even If you find a way to ignore those Bible time constructs for the New Heanvens and New Earth -- you still have no text saying "there is no time in the age to come"

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  10. Matt Black

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    But what if the sanctification process is incomplete at the point of death? Or does God wait till it is before letting the Christian die??!!
     
  11. Matt Black

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    Apologies for double post, but here's an interesting quote from the current Pope, with which I don't take particular issue:-

    "Purgatory is not, as Tertullian thought, some kind of supra-worldly concentration camp where one is forced to undergo punishments in a more or less arbitrary fashion. Rather it is the inwardly necessary process of transformation in which a person becomes capable of Christ, capable of God [i.e., capable of full unity with Christ and God] and thus capable of unity with the whole communion of saints. Simply to look at people with any degree of realism at all is to grasp the necessity of such a process. It does not replace 'grace' by 'works', but allows the former to achieve its full victory precisely as grace. What actually saves is the full assent of faith. But in most of us, that basic option is buried under a great deal of wood, hay and straw. Only with difficulty can it peer out from behind the latticework of an egoism we are powerless to pull down with our own hands. Man is the recipient of the divine mercy, yet this does not exonerate him from the need to be transformed. Encounter with the Lord is this transformation. It is the fire that burns away our dross and re-forms us to be vessels of eternal joy."

    I've also come across an article entitled "Purgatory for everyone" HERE written by the Methodist theologian Walls where he argues for evangelicals to accept purgatory. Interesting reading...
     
  12. Bible-boy

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    But what if the sanctification process is incomplete at the point of death? Or does God wait till it is before letting the Christian die??!! </font>[/QUOTE]Nope... you are making a mistake in assuming that we must reach a certain point of sanctification in order to receive our glorified bodies and its associated glorified state (i.e. heaven). Sanctification has to do with living and growing in the Christian life to become more and more comformed to the image of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and through the application of the Word. However, at our death (or when Christ returns whichever come first) we will be glorified based upon the justification of Christ's blood covering all our sins. We can never do enough good or work hard enough to merit heaven. It depends on Christ and His rightousness. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Eph. 2:8-9, ESV).
     
  13. Matt Black

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    Is the state of 'glorification' representative of total conformity to the image of Christ, as you see it?
     
  14. Matt Black

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    Again, apologies for yet another double-post, but here are some more thoughts on salvation and sanctification.

    In my view, Paul’s letters provide the greatest storehouse for the kind of soteriology promulgated by your average evangelical. Evangelical scholars and theologians draw heavily from Paul in formulating their views of what it means to be saved. It is therefore important that this body of New Testament writing be critically looked at for the purpose of this thread, IMO.

    Paul is frequently at pains to stress the utterly transformed nature of the Christian’s new life in Christ, and the consequences of this. The classic starting point here is 2 Cor 5:17 – the Christian as a new creation, as it were ab initio. This ties in well with the discourse on baptism in Romans 6, particularly v4; the picture is generated of the old having died and been completely replaced so that, the Christian being “in Christ”, there is “now no condemnation” (Rom 8:1) and nothing can separate us from God’s love (Rom 8:31-39), there being complete reconciliation (Col 1:21-23). The consequences of this for us as Christians, particularly vis a vis God, are clearly laid out in such Scriptures as Gal 3:26-47, Eph 1:5-14 and Eph 2:1-10. The general thrust of Paul’s message to many of his churches is that we are made righteous (or justified) as a result of putting our faith in the crucifixion (eg Rom 5:1-2) and thus God regards us as if we were Christ (perfect) with all the attendant rewards; furthermore, this is referred to in the past tense, indicating that it has already been done for us.

    I think therefore it is fair to conclude that there is much agreement between Paul and evangelicals over what salvation means, with some important provisos:-

    • As with any Biblical interpretation, the usual exegesis needs to be carried out – for example, we have to ask ourselves whether Paul wrote what he did because there was a particular issue in the addressee church which required comment. It is important to bear this in mind; for the moment, I would say that the fact that the above soteriological theme was communicated to a number of Pauline churches strengthens the case for it being treated as a principle of general theological application.

    • There are also apparently contradictory Pauline passages that cannot be ignored – on suffering, on the lack of completion of God’s work in us, producing a dialectic tension with my comment above

    I will look first at the Pauline scriptures that appear to go against the picture of salvation painted above, with a view to explaining these to a degree; this includes examining the meanings of both salvation and sanctification.

    It is clear that, despite the verses referred to in the last section, Paul also talks about the concept of ‘unfinished business’ between us and God quite a bit. Important verses here include Rom 6:18-22, 1 Cor 9:24-27, Phil 3:12-16 and, perhaps most perplexing of all, Phil 2:12. The Romans passage is of particular interest since it contains the ideas of both salvation (Rom 6:18) and sanctification (Rom 6:19-22). Both these terms need looking at.

    The distinction between salvation and sanctification has been the subject of a great deal of writing and preaching, especially by evangelicals, and I don’t really want to add a great deal to what has already been said here. Broadly speaking, most evangelicals would draw a clear-cut line between salvation, which they would see as being a once-and-for-all event occurring when an individual repents and gives his/her life to Christ, and sanctification, which is an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit within that individual beginning at the point of salvation and working out the consequences of salvation within this/her life. Putting it simply, whilst salvation is a crisis, sanctification is a process.

    I think it is fair to say that, in contrast, the interpretation of the more traditional churches, such as the Catholic and Orthodox churches, appealing more perhaps to Phil 2:12, is to blur the difference between the two terms, and also to down-play to a degree the role of the individual in both whilst emphasising the agency of the Church (the Holy Spirit is seen more as acting in the Church collectively, through for example the hierarchy of the Church). Salvation and sanctification are more interwoven, and sanctification is seen more as a means of effecting salvation rather than as a consequence of it (see for example the notion of purgatory and, perhaps also, suffering as an agency of sanctification).

    To a degree, I find both approaches to salvation and sanctification inadequate. Whilst agreeing with the general principle that salvation is a once-and-for-all occurrence (and thus disagreeing with the Catholic view), I take issue with it necessarily being a crisis event; I know many people for whom conversion was far more of a process, and perhaps evangelical soteriology needs to recognise this and be couched more in terms of individuals making a series of steps towards Christ rather than just one great leap. As an example, I understand that apparently Billy Graham can put his finger on the exact moment when he came to faith (crisis) but his wife cannot and her experience is better described as a journey to faith (process). Phil 2:12 is however a verse that cannot simply be ignored. It could be, adopting an exegetical approach, that Paul is admonishing the Philippians for taking their salvation lightly. It can also be interpreted as the results of salvation working themselves out through sanctification, but this does not explain the use of the words “fear and trembling”. Personally, I do not believe that Paul is here warning the church against forfeiting their salvation; he is perhaps reminding them just what they have been saved from and also heightening their awareness of the sheer wrongfulness of sin, something that maybe we Western Christians need to remember as well.

    Sanctification also is a term that can cover a multitude of sins (if you’ll pardon the double entendre). The very word itself has connotations of holiness, which is one of God’s defining attributes, so one way of looking at it is to regard sanctification as being the process by which we are made more like God (cp Rom 12:1-2). Clearly, therefore, on one level this is a life-long process; as obvious evidence of this I know of no Christian who does not sin (even those who have been baptised into Jesus’ death and resurrection) and who is therefore already perfect ‘on the ground’, as it were, and accordingly we all have some ongoing business with God that we need to attend to in this area (some, like me, more than others!). On the other hand, Paul also talks in terms of sanctification having already occurred in 1 Cor 1:2. Applying exegetical principles to this passage, we need to ask ourselves whether Paul was correcting an imbalance within the Corinthian church here, as he sometimes did with his churches elsewhere. For example, he is keen to stress grace to the Colossians and Galatians, who were still bound up by the Law to a large extent, but is by contrast harsh with the Corinthians’ licentiousness. It seems unlikely, given the Corinthians’ general arrogance in their spiritual gifts etc, that Paul is trying to reassure them that all is well between them and God; in fact, if there is any corrective soteriological concept which is addressed to this church’s over-confidence it is the idea of beholding God “as through a glass darkly” (1 Cor 13:12 and 2 Cor 3:15-18). I think therefore we need to take what Paul is saying here at face value; that there is a level on which sanctification is already accomplished – having been declared righteous, God regards us as being holy already and treats us accordingly. (Elsewhere, Paul does seek to correct the possible attitudinal problems arising from this way of thinking (Rom 6:1-2)).

    I would prefer accordingly to see a fine tuning of the definitions of the terms salvation and sanctification. I see salvation (and sanctification too, in the way set out in the above paragraph) as being accomplished by a combination of grace and faith, grace being a past act (the crucifixion and resultant forgiveness) with continuing consequences, and faith being a response-decision to that (whether taken instantly or over a number a graduated steps). The life-long ongoing process resulting from that I see more in terms of developing and deepening our relationship with God which flows from our salvation and in that way, God being Love, we are fitted for heaven; we try not to sin, not so much because it is wrong, but because it wounds God – love, not Law, should be the motivating factor.

    That does not necessarily answer the question as to whether that process is completed during our lifetimes or, if it isn't, whether it is necessary for it to continue post-mortem and, if so, how, of course....
     
  15. BobRyan

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    The RCC assumes that there IS a point that must be reached "first" in sanctification BEFORE you can be allowed into heaven. They are simply mixing up the issue of sanctification vs "The sinful nature".

    The sinful nature is immediately disovled/destroyed/left-beyond as we take up our new glorified form in the next life.

    That which "remains" is our character - not our sinful nature.


    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  16. BobRyan

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    If you define saved as "forgiven but not ready for heaven" then what are you saved "From"?

    If there is a "magic line" that you must cross first before you are allowed in - where does the Bible define it?

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  17. Matt Black

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    'Saved from' eternal death/ punishment, our sins and the consequences of sin etc. We are therefore 'allowed in' as you put it, but the issue is whether we are ready to spend eternity in the presence of the living perfect God if there is still sin in the very fabric of our beings.

    To take an (as always, imperfect) analogy: suppose I have two tins of paint, one white, the other black. I get a court ruling saying that the black paint is in fact white and can be marketed and sold as such and that consumers are obliged to buy it and treat it as being white with no come back. All well and good: the black paint is now legally white. But what if I try and mix the contents of the two tins together to make double the quantity of white paint? I must first physically turn the black paint into white for that to happen.
     
  18. Bro. James

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    "That which is flesh is flesh. That which is spirit is spirit. Ye must be born again." Jesus to Nicodemus, John Ch. 3.

    It is "black and white": they do not mix. Only God can forgive sin.

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
  19. Matt Black

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    And that answers my question how, exactly?
     
  20. Bro. James

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    At least 1,048,576 shades of gray.

    In our infinite wisdom, we have convoluted salvation and sanctification. A child can understand. Man is saved by grace--it is a done deal, cast in concrete, the names are in the book with indelible ink. That is salvation from eternal separation from our creator because of our sins..

    The sanctification is an ongoing process, again by God, see Eph. 2:8-10,"...we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them".

    Sanctification will be completed when we are given incorruptible, spiritual bodies. Until then we have a constant struggle with the flesh and spirit.

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     

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