Romans 8:7: Does It Support Calvinism?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by DrJamesAch, Jul 15, 2013.

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  1. DrJamesAch

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    Since Romans 8:7 seems to be the verse that some hang their hat on to prove Total Inability, it needs to have it's own thread and be dissected so that folks know what this verse really means, and that it does NOT support the assertions offered by certain "biblicists" on here.

    " Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Romans 8:7

    Now the Calvinist biblicist writes the verse as follows, " Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be". with emphasis on the "neither indeed CAN BE". The trumpet is sounded in victory and there you have it, the sinner CAN NOT BE SUBJECT to the law of God.

    However, a consistent reading of this chapter with this form of "exegesis" would lead to the erroneous conclusion that we are saved by works. Romans 8:13 states that "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" Thus if verse 7 is applying to the unsaved, then verse 13 shows that salvation comes by mortifying the deeds of the flesh. There are verses that DO show the unsaved are at enmity with God (James 4:4), but not from THIS VERSE.

    What Romans 8:7 does NOT say is that "Because the unsaved is at enmity against God. For the unsaved is neither subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be". That's not what it says. What it does read is that the CARNAL MIND is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

    Now, anyone that has ever debated a Calvinist for any period of time knows how often they resort to pronouns such as "WE" "US" "OUR" to show that the audience was BELIEVERS (see any Calvinist interpretation of 2 Peter 3:9 where to US-WARD is referred to as only the elect are those to whom God does not want to perish). So using their logic on such terms, look at the following verse that identify Paul's audience:

    "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh." v12

    Paul is showing that a believer can not PLEASE GOD if he has a carnal mind. 8:8. The question then becomes, can a Christian be saved and have a carnal mind?

    "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ." 1 Cor 3:1

    Notice that Paul speaks to them as carnal, and yet says "AS BABES IN CHRIST" Paul then moves on the assert that:

    "2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
    3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"

    Romans chapter 8 followed the heals of Romans 7 where Paul showed that even though he had a WILL do to good, he struggled with doing what he WANTED to do (Rom 7:18), and Romans 7 follows verses such as Romans 6:16:

    "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"

    Although a Christian is permanently saved, a believer's sin can often lead to physical death, whether by natural consequences or judgment of God. 1 Cor 5:5, 1 John 5:16, Acts 5:1-7 [if you don't agree with those 2 being saved, then stick to the first 2 verses]. In Romans 6:16, it is clear that you have a choice between 2 natures depending on which one you FEED (yield to).

    Nevertheless the entire context from chapters 6-8 is about the believer living in victory of the flesh, and the inability to please God with a carnal mind. Romans 8:7 has absolutely NOTHING TO DO with an unsaved person having total inability or no will to be able to choose God or seek God. Now Calvinists may try to make an argument for this elsewhere (as they normally do from Ephesians 2:1-9) but Calvinists have a much better chance at attempting to prove their doctrine from Ephesians 2 (albeit however erroneous)than with Romans 8:7.
     
    #1 DrJamesAch, Jul 15, 2013
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  2. Greektim

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    Your entire argument hinges on this concept:

    But I find some problems with that. Many verses compare our past unregenerate experience w/ the present regenerate one.

    So is this about believers? Yes, but in context it is also a comparison of the believer before salvation. So to flat out say that 8:7 is about a believer is just false. It is as false as saying that the above comparison is no comparison at all since it is all about believers (as you would have it).

    And your OP is too long. Free advice, shorten it. KISS -- Keep It Short and Simple (some substitute the last w/ the direct address ", Stupid")
     
    #2 Greektim, Jul 15, 2013
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  3. Greektim

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    You could also work the context backwards and see that v. 7 is about an unregenerate person.

    Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.

    What is a mind set on the flesh?

    Rom 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

    Answer: one that is related to death not life in the Spirit (regenerated mind)

    Is this dichotomy between death and flesh vs. life and the Spirit continued?

    Rom 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

    Answer: YES! This is big. If flesh is set at odds with Spirit, then that conflict would continue in v. 7 making v. 7 in conflict with walking in the Spirit.

    How is "flesh" pictured in the context?

    Rom 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
    Rom 8:4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    Answer: weak, unable to fulfill the law, sinful, to to be walked in but rather walk in the Spirit. The conflict between the two is heightened.

    What prompted all this discussion about the law, flesh, et al.?

    Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.



    It appears that 8:7 is completely about the unregenerate person--one at odds with the Spirit and walking according to the Spirit.
     
    #3 Greektim, Jul 15, 2013
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  4. DrJamesAch

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    No, the entire argument does NOT simply "hinge" on the context of the overall theme of chapters 6-8. That does provide context, but is not the primary argument. The primary argument as is clearly stated in bold capital letters is that the subject is about the CARNAL MIND not being able to please God.

    If 8:7 means the inability to be saved based on the unsaved not being able to be "subject to the law, neither indeed CAN BE" then that same logic would also have to apply to the believer AFTER he is saved, which would have the implication of losing one's salvation. You can't bifurcate the text to have one meaning toward the saved, and one toward the unsaved from the exact same verse.

    Also, you can't have your cake and eat it to. You can't pick and choose when the same pronouns that Calvinists use to claim that 2 Peter 3:9 is only talking to believers by defining the terms "us-ward" "you" "we" and then make the argument that those same terms DO NOT apply in passages from Romans 8.
     
  5. Greektim

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    I don't think you even considered my point. Many of the verses in 6--8 (the ones I listed) compare the regenerate vs the unregenerate person. Therefore, there is bifurcation since there are clear comparisons in this context.
     
  6. DrJamesAch

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    Whether you work backwards or forward, you can not take this verse out of context and force it say what you want it to say, and mean what it does not mean. Romans 8:7 clearly shows that it is the CARNAL MIND that can not PLEASE GOD (v. 8). It says nothing about an unsaved person having total inability.
     
  7. The Biblicist

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    The context is very simple. Saved people are not sin free. Regeneration does not eradicate the fallen nature or what Paul calls "the flesh" or the "law of sin" or the "body of this death."

    In romans 7:1-5 we are liberated from the condemnation of the law in regard to ETERNAL consequences. However, the problem is not in the Law (Romans 7:7-13) but in the fallen fleshly nature and regeneration does not remove this problem (Rom. 7:14-25). This problem is a constant source of DAILY condemnation as the regenerate man has no power in and of himself to overcome this problem so he ends in failure whenever he attempts by his own will power (vv. 18-22). So the consequence is frustration (vv. 23-24). This dual nature does not change in this life (v. 25).

    Romans 8 provides the solution how to find relief from the DAILY guilt and power of indwelling sin. It is found in walking after the Spirit, or in the power of the indwelling Spirit rather than walking after the flesh (Rom. 8:1). Romans 8:1 is the summary solution.

    Romans 8:2-3 provides explanation that condemnation by the law was resolved judicially before God by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Relief from Condemnation in day to day living is provided by the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:4).

    Beginning in verse 5 Paul makes the necessary distinction between the two sources within the regenerated man. The fleshly fallen nature has not changed at all but is still as it was when unregenerated and as it is in those who are "in the flesh" (unregenerated") - Rom. 8:5-8. However, there is something additional in regard to the regenerated man. He has another nature due to regeneration so that he has in addition to his "flesh" an "in the spirit" condition as well as, the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9). This additional factor provides power to overrule the law of sin or the flesh or the fallen nature as by yeilding to the indwelling Spirit he can "mortify" or put to death the "works" originating from the flesh that overule the regenerate nature as seen in Romans 7:18-22.

    Be sure to note the present tense verbs in verses 12-13. When we fail to yeild to the power of the indwelling Spirit, then the law of sin produces the fruits or works of DEATH (separation) in our lives that yeild guilt and condemnation.

    The point of Romans 8:7-8 is that the fallen nature has not changed at all in the saved man. It functions the very same way as it does in lost people (Rom. 8:8) who are completley dominated by it. So yes, Romans 8:7-8 teaches total depravity and inability of that mindset under the control of the fallen nature.

    Although the overall context is about the saved man, the specific context is about the fallen nature in its relationship with the saved man. Paul's point is that the fallen nature remains the same in its resistance and inability and if we yeild to it the product will be death IN OUR LIVES. The works of death and separation from fellowship with God. Paul's point is also that this same fallen nature totally dominates the unregenerated man (Rom. 8:8-9a).
     
    #7 The Biblicist, Jul 15, 2013
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  8. The Biblicist

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    7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
    25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
    12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
    13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.


    The question asked in Romans 7:24 is immediately answered in summary "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord" but answered in more detail in Romans 8:11-13. Romans 8:11-13 is Paul's answer concerning the DAILY "death" he encounters by resisting indwelling sin in his own power.

    The answer is that the same power that raised the dead body of Christ and quickend the saint is the same power that solves this DAILY problem (v. 11).

    Note the present tense verbs in verse 12. He is not talking about some future state of final deliverance but the present deliverance from this body of "death" that dominates His daily life. His talking about the power available right now for present LIVING (v. 12) in contrast to present "DEATH" experience daily in condemnation, frustration and defeat - all of which are products of the reign of death through the flesh.

    Verse 13 provides the alternatives once again. If we PRESENTLY live or attempt to conduct our daily life in the power of ourselves we shall experience that "death" referred to by Paul first in Romans 7:24. However, if we PRESENTLY yield to the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit we will experience daily LIFE through the Spirit and victory over this "body of death."

    Verses 11-13 provide the DAILY solution to the DAILY problem in Romans 7:18-24. This has nothing about future condemnation as Christ has settled that issue by his own obedience in the power of the Spirit once and for all. The issue is not the future but TODAY the PRESENT! We do no live in the past or the future but always IN THE PRESENT. You are either living in frustration and defeat and condemnation IN THE PRESENT or your are experiencing victory over indwelling sin IN THE PRESENT.
     
  9. agedman

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    And this disputes Calvinism?
    Your statements do support Calvinism.


    Texas Calvinists have a hat, the rest use ball caps. :)

    This is not the only verse that supports Total depravity - inability being a by product of the continued depravity perverting the heart.

    However, for your OP sake, I will stick with just the Roman's passage.

    This passage is better translated:
    8 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
    Paul begins this discussion reflecting upon Chapter 7 (the therefore of verse 1) in which he is contrasting the two natures and the grand conflict between them that every believer senses.

    "Therefore, there is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"

    Paul goes on to express how the "law of the Spirit" has freed the believer from the "law of the sin and death." Verse 2

    We have this comparison, what the law could not do, the "GOD DID." Verse 3 & 4

    Note that verse 4 ends with "who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." It is the choice of the believer to submit to the will of the flesh or the will of the Holy Spirit. ONLY the believer has this ability. It is as Paul expressed in Romans 7. Without Romans 7 Romans 8 standing alone is not good for supporting true doctrine.

    Then a key verse occurs with "Those that are of the flesh set their mind on the flesh, and those of the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit.

    Paul goes on with expressing how the "carnal mind" leads to death and the mind that is set upon the Spiritual leads to life and peace.

    Any true believer knows this principle, and the Corinthian church is an example of those who desecrated through the carnal pleasures the Lord's table and the died. And, likewise, the true believer knows the tremendous "peace that passes understanding" by setting the mind upon the Spiritual. They have also known that the principles and the teaching of Scriptures the Holy Spirit brings to the believer leads to practical lessons of living life. Verse 6 -8

    Now Calvinistic thinkers can use these verses to support total depravity and inability because no unbeliever has the Holy Spirit. Because the lost are consumed in the "carnal mind" and cannot attend to the things of the Spirit, then the lost can and are incapable of self determination other than to that which is carnal.

    The believer because of the dual natures (as Paul expressed in Chapter 7) does have the ability to choose.

    Do all continue 100% in the mind of the Spirit 100% of the time - Paul would point one back to Romans 7.

    Do all continue 100% in the carnal mind of the flesh? Paul would say - because some persisted in that state they now are "asleep."

    Romans 8 does not disprove the Calvinist thinking, rather it very much supports it.

    So, how does the OP support Calvinistic thinking?

    Look at the quotes from the OP. What is in bold support the thinking.


    So, here is an admission that the unsaved and God are enemies. That the unsaved have no desire nor can they of their own volition "seek God." For what enemy seeks the opposition other than to destroy it?

    Is this not exactly what I pointed out by posting the passage and putting the exegesis in context?


    So the OP actually is stating that Calvinists do have the correct argument.

    That the OP rejects that the lost are in a pertetual state of "carnal mind" and have no mind to set upon the Spirit, is just a mirror of attempting to refute a view.

    However, ONLY the true believer has both the carnal and Spirit that Paul discussed as warring against each other in Romans 7.

    So, the OP actually does not refute Calvinism but actually supports it.
     
  10. The Biblicist

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    The good doctor cuts the passage too short. Let us finish it:

    7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
    8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
    9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.


    Look at the immediate application in verse 8. "so then" he immediately appplies it to those he describes who are "IN the flesh." Note the immediate contrast to those "IN the flesh" are those "IN the Spirit" (v. 9). The difference is that those "IN the Spirit are "his" while those "in the flesh" are "none of his."

    What is his application to those who are "none of his" in verse 8. Again, inability to please him. The minimal essential to please God is the ability to come to him by faith:

    Heb. 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

    However, those "in the flesh" cannot "please God" as they are WITOUT ABILITY to please God because of the stated condition in verse 7 which denies the presence of faith and "neither indeed CAN be."

    So Paul's application is the direct opposite of James. Paul is clearly teaching that all those "in the flesh" are completely characterized by Romans 8:7 so that they are incapable of the very minimal to please God.
     
  11. DrJamesAch

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    You were almost OK until you got to the very last paragraph where you had to ADD context to make the verse say something it does not say, and of which you had to add an entirely different context which is inconsistent (by your own admission) with the rest of the chapter.
     
  12. DrJamesAch

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    Again, not much here I would disagree with. It is when you land on Romans 8:7 that you throw a monkey wrench into everything you just typed.
     
  13. DrJamesAch

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    I'm not the one that "cuts it off". I'm addressing this post STRICTLY AS IT RELATES to your constant quoting of ONLY Romans 8:7, and NOW you want to add the rest of the verses!! LOL. You have quoted Romans 8:7 as an isolated proof text, and now you want to critique why I address it? That's not a very honest or consistent debate tactic.
    All this does is prove my point. The verse in Romans 8:7 begins with discussing those with a CARNAL MIND can not PLEASE GOD (v 8) THAT INCLUDES THE BELIEVER. You are taking 8:7 and claiming that 8:7 means the UNBELIEVER has the inability to be SAVED, and then taking it to apply in a different sense that a believer can not please God when he is in the flesh operating with a carnal mind. BOTH INTERPRETATIONS ARE NOT TRUE AT THE SAME TIME. You are eisegetically adding a context and interpretation to the Scripture that IS NOT THERE.

    Again, "neither indeed CAN BE" applies to BELIEVERS in the sense that a person with a carnal mind can not please God. You are taking the CAN BE and applying it to salvation when that's NOT the context of those passages. If it was, then the SAME logic would say that at the moment that a Christian slips into the flesh, HE IS UNSAVED AT THAT MOMENT because EVEN A BELIEVER that is CARNALLY MINDED is 'not subject to the law of God, neither indeed CAN BE".

    And again, if you are going to be consistent in interpretation this passage, you can not keep skipping over Romans 8:13

    "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" If the context is about salvation then mortifying the deeds of the flesh to live MUST be interpreted as salvation by works if you are to use the interpretation method you have applied to this context.

    An unsaved person however CAN please God when what they do is not done from a carnal mind.

    "But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" Acts 10:35

    "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Matt 7:11

    "And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God." Acts 10:4

    Cornelius pleased God, but he was not SAVED until AFTER Peter preached to him. No amount of Scripture twisting can say that God held Cornelius' salvation in abeyance until he talked to Peter. Peter did not baptize Cornelius until AFTER HE BELIEVED ON THE LORD. Acts 10:47. If Cornelius had ALREADY BEEN SAVED, Peter would have simply baptized him upon arrival. If Cornelius was ALREADY SAVED, he would have known better than to bow down and worship Peter. Acts 10:25

    When Paul is referring to being "in the flesh" it is not a STATUS but a STATE OF MIND (CARNAL MIND). An unbeliever can occasionally please God with good acts, but he does not consistently do so because he has a CARNAL MIND. Paul is addressing how a believe should LIVE from moment to moment, and that such a person that yields to a carnal mind can not live moment by moment because regardless of what occasional good an unbeliever can do, it pails in comparison to the righteousness of God (hence "amartia"=to MISS THE MARK). An unbeliever can not consistently be good because he has no power. A believer can not be consistently good when he yields to a carnal mind.

    Although an unbeliever can do good works, but even if he does them consistently, he can not be saved by them because works however good fall short of the glory of God. That is why repentance is not turning from what you DO but from what you ARE. It is not that an unbeliever can not do good, it is that with a carnal mind he DEPENDS on HIS OWN works to save him from what HE IS. He is not a sinner because he sins, he sins because he is a sinner, and that is the only element of total depravity that has any truth to it. But total inability is NOT supported in the Romans 8:7 by Paul who is emphasizing the CONTINUED STATE OF MIND that is necessary to please God. Hence the word for "walk" in Romans 8:4 "peripateo" (from where we get our word "perpetual"). It is the PERPETUAL state of mind in yielding to the Holy Spirit that pleases God, and it is only by yielding to the Holy Spirit that a believer can MAINTAIN that perpetual (walk) state of mind, and THAT is what Paul is talking about, not offering evidence that a non believer has total inability, for in this passage neither a believer nor an unbeliever (if you must) can please God with a carnal mind.
     
    #13 DrJamesAch, Jul 15, 2013
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  14. Revmitchell

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    I disagree with some of Calvinism. But it is infantile to be on a mission to try to tear it down at every hand. Give it a break for a while.
     
  15. Iconoclast

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    ACH

    This idea you offer is completely unbiblical with no support ,and actually proves the truth of rom8:7
     
  16. DrJamesAch

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    Wouldn't expect you to say any different. Thanks for that thorough analysis. :thumbs:
     
  17. The Biblicist

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    Your mind is so seared against the truth you can't even think rationally. Look at what you say above!!! First you deny you "cut it off" which is undeniable as your post stopped with the quotation of Romans 8:7 and then you admit you did by saying "NOW you want to add the rest of the verses" which is admission that you are not interpreting Romans 8:7 by its immediate context!!!!!! .

    You are only fooling yourself as no other reader is going to swallow your nonsense. The overall context is cyrstal clear that the FALLEN HUMAN NATURE dominates the lost man as that is what HE IS in his entirety while the saved man has an additional divine nature wrought by the Holy Spirit who also can be dominated by the fallen nature always and only when he attempts to fight it in his own strength. Romans 8:8-9 is a direct assertion that Romans 8:7 prevents the lost man "in the flesh" man from pleasing God and yet you turn right around and quote scriptures to directly contradict this assertion. You quote scriptures that have no bearing on this subject as you confuse scriptures that deal with lost man's ATTEMPT TO DO GOOD in direct contradiction to scriptures that define what God actually demands for such attempts to be regarded as good in his sight.


    Romans 8:7-8 says exactly what Romans 3:9-19 says about lost man and in a context you cannot deny refers strictly to the lost man. Romans 8:8 applies this directly to the lost man and explicitly denies that anyone "in the flesh" can please God and you turn around and directly contradict that assertion and jerk other scriptures out of their context to directly contradict that explicit assertion by Paul.

    Your mind is seared against the truth to the point you cannot even speak rationally or deal with scripture objectively.
     
    #17 The Biblicist, Jul 16, 2013
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  18. The Biblicist

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    James thinks that because the saved man can be dominated by the mindset of the fallen nature (Rom. 8:7) that this mindset does not completely dominate the lost man (Rom. 8:8) to the point he "cannot" please God - so he ignores this direct explicit denial and application of Romans 8:7 to the lost man in Romans 8;8 and scours the scriptures to find statements he can directly contradict Paul's assertion in Romans 8:7-8 to the lost condition. However, Paul already said this in clearer and more explicit language and repeatedly in Romans 3:9-19.
     
  19. Greektim

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    This post is insulting. You accuse me of taking this verse out of context even though I walked through the immediate context of the verse in question. Then, you had the temerity to use language like "clearly shows" and yet you failed to either provide proof for you "clear" assertion or refute my claims and logic.

    This is the quintessential pontification of your ilk. You work in the realm of certainty not truth. You are so certain of your interpretation, you don't bother to dialogue w/ others. You just ex cathedra declare others that are different than yours to be wrong.
     
  20. Greektim

    Greektim
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    We don't always agree, Rev, but this time you and I are in total agreement!
     
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