Short Answers: What is Sin?
Consigned to Disobedience
Sin or iniquity is, simply, the transgression of the law, or lawlessness (1 John 3:4). The person who breaks the law in one point breaks the law (James 2:10), and is a sinner, having presented him or herself as a willing or unwilling servant to sin.
Before a disciple is born of Spirit, the person was consigned to sin (Rom 11:32) as a son of disobedience (Eph 2:2-3). The person had no choice about whether he or she obeyed God, for the person was condemned to disobedience because of one man, the first Adam—and if condemned to disobedience, the person has no free will; the person is not free to keep the commandments of God. It is this concept of being consigned to disobedience that separates Western Christendom’s understanding of free will from both Eastern Christendom’s and Rabbinical Judaism’s.
In both the Greek
Church’s and Judaism’s understanding of sin a person can, through
good works, prevail upon God to accept the person, thereby making
The Second Birth by Spirit:
The antithesis to original sin is a second birth by Spirit, with this new creature that has been born of Spirit being born free, sin having no dominion over this new creature (cf. Rom 8:1-2; Rom 6:14). The redemptive work of God is the “renewing” of the creature through a second birth; through the creation of a new life within the tent of flesh of the old self. Because sin no longer has dominion over human beings who have been called-out of this world, these called-out ones are today under judgment (1 Pet 4:17), with their judgments to be revealed (1 Co 4:5) upon Christ’s return.
The new creature that returns to sin when sin has no dominion over this new creature spurns the mercy of God that is extended by a second birth.
When a person is born of Spirit, the person has been set free from the law of sin and death, and can now live by the commandments of God. The person was not previously able to present his or her members to God as instruments for righteousness (Rom ), for sin had dominion over the person (v. 14).
No person can force the Father to draw a person from the world and give to this person a second birth. Unless the Father draws the person, he or she remains consigned to disobedience. Being redeemed from sin is all about being born of Spirit so that the liberated person can keep the commandments.
Christendom’s prevailing dogma would have the born of Spirit disciple free from having to keep the commandments of God, thereby making this disciple an unwitting bondservant of sin, whereas the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2) sets a person free to keep the commandments of God. This dogma is the exact opposite of what Paul taught. Disciples are not set free to transgress the law, but set free to keep the law. They were not before free to keep the law. And since obedience equals life, disobedience is sin which equals death.
Not a New Set of Commandments:
Jesus said, ‘“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them’” (Matt 5:17). Jesus’ father was not the first Adam but Theos, so Jesus was born free to keep the commandments. He wasn’t born consigned to disobedience; so one reason He came was to demonstrate that the person not consigned to disobedience can live by the commandments of God. The person is liberated from death.
Twice born means that the person has two lives, one that animates the flesh (the birth by water), and the other that is of Spirit. The mystery that Paul did not understand (Rom ) is that the flesh (because the Body of Christ is presently dead, crucified with Christ) remains in bondage to disobedience until the Second Passover. The new creature born of Spirit must wrestle and strive against the indwelling law of sin and death that remains in the members of every disciple (Rom 7:21-25), and the new creature must ultimately prevail. Grace covers those times when this new creature loses battles to indwelling sin. But if this new creature will not or does not fight against this indwelling sin, this new creature will perish in the lake of fire.
The fight into which the infant son of God is born can be won, and has been won by Christ Jesus, who disclosed the relationship between the old written code that regulated the actions of the hand and body of a natural Israelite, not born of Spirit, and the inner written code inscribed on the heart and mind of a spiritually circumcised Israelite:
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the Gehenna of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come offer your gift. (Matt 5:21-24)
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart (vv. 27-28).
Jesus did not give a new set of commandments, but the same commandments written on the heart and placed in the mind, or figuratively, written on the inside the cup, on the inside of the clay pot that will be made into a vessel for honored use or into a vessel of wrath. And when the inside of the cup is clean, the whole cup is clean.
What was outside the person—what was written on two tablets of stone—regulated the activities of the flesh, itself the dust of this earth [i.e., powdered stone], but what is inside the person—what is written on two tablets of flesh—regulates the desires of the heart and the thoughts of the mind, the inside of the cup. And when desires and thoughts are pure, the actions of the flesh will also be pure.
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