Sinners by birth

7 Jan

About ten years ago or so, I heard a story about a Pastor and his wife leaving the ministry after twenty or so years of service and moving to California.  Within two years, they were not attending church anywhere and had joined a swingers community.

wrong people.JPG

I felt so blown away by this story that I couldn’t really even process how I felt about it.  Were they never really saved? Did Satan deceive them?  Did they denounce their faith?  If they died would they still go to Heaven (can you lose your salvation if you haven’t repented of sins because you’ve picked a new lifestyle?) If they did repent, would they be forgiven and all would be clean again?

I don’t know that I ever got to the bottom of those questions because after all, it was a story I heard ten years ago about someone else and I could walk away from my thoughts about it.

In this last year, there are people close to me who have stories as shocking as this.

Which is forcing me to ask all these same questions again– but I can’t walk away from them.  They are there the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, and it never ends and I can’t escape.

We started these family devotionals at the supper table each night.  And so far, I might be the only one paying attention and getting anything out of them but new habits take awhile to adjust to so we’ll keep pressing on.

January 5th was titled “Are you a Sinner?” And the main theme was “We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we’re sinners.  It’s inside us, running through our bloodstream. More than what we do, it’s who we are. We are all natural-born sinners.”

And then one of the questions was “Does it discourage you or encourage you to realize that you sin because you’re a sinner? Why?”

I’d say the blog post that made this blog blow up to have so many followers and reach so many countries was the post My Demon.

It was shared on Pinterest, Facebook and definitely what caused the most traffic was The Peaceful Wife blog.

But maybe this devotional flies in the face of that post just a little. Or does it?

Frankly, I really don’t know and that’s what I’m wrestling with the most.

How much is Satan responsible for tempting us or leading us into sin – and how much is just flat out us being sinners?

Satan tempted Eve, and like I wrote about two days ago, Satan asked permission and tempted Peter.  We also know he tempted Job and he even entered Judas.

So, could we say, he’s the tempter but we’re the sinner?  And if that’s true, would we sin if he didn’t tempt us? We would still right, if we’re sinners by birth?  So if that’s true, maybe he isn’t always tempting us – maybe we’re just that evil all on own?

It’s easier to blame Satan than ourselves. Scripture says Ephesian 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

So, I’m wrestling through these thoughts.

I think this blog is going to be a lot more interactive this year instead of each post being tied up in a little bow. I do have my opinions on this, but I want to hear yours.

Let’s dive into these areas together, grow together and learn from each other.

Practical Application:

1.) How would you answer the first set of questions about the couple who changed life styles?

Were they never really saved? Did Satan deceive them?  Did they denounce their faith?  If they died would they still go to Heaven (can you lose your salvation if you haven’t repented of sins because you’ve picked a new lifestyle?) If they did repent, would they be forgiven and all would be clean again?

2.) Do we sin on our own?  Is Satan always the tempter first?

3.) Does it discourage you or encourage you to realize that you sin because you’re a sinner? Why?

 

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10 Responses to “Sinners by birth”

  1. jhilgeman2 January 7, 2016 at 11:44 am #

    I’ve personally come to the conclusion that sin comes not from action but rather from the heart / motivation. For example, Jesus indicated we don’t need to actually commit the ACT of adultery in order to be adulterers – simply lusting after someone can result in that sin. There are many other references to this kind of thinking straight from Jesus’s mouth (e.g. him and the Pharisees having it out over working on the Sabbath in order to eat) and also later reflected in Paul’s letters (e.g. the difference in the two men in how they treat the Sabbath, or the two people’s diets). We’re even given a definition of sin: “…EVERYTHING that does not come from faith is sin.”

    So we can choose to believe that actions are inherently sinful and God condemns us for doing things that we may not even know to be wrong, or we can follow the multiple guides laid out for us and understand that our hearts can make even the most ordinary thing sinful, or the most hideous act righteous.

    Some people would say that this leads to fuzzy / grey morality, but I would disagree. Sin is still black-and-white, but like salvation, sin is also personal. In that same verse that provides the quoted definition, we’re told that someone who has doubts about what they’re doing and does it anyway IS committing a sin. So it is still a black-and-white affair for all – we have to be convinced that something is NOT sinful before we do it, or else we’re sinning. There is no grey area because we completely understand our own motivations.

    Within this thinking, I’d agree that we’re not all born sinful but rather all born with a sinful nature – that we WILL commit a sin if we live long enough to do so. As we grow older, we start becoming aware of what is right and wrong, and the point at which we first do something that we KNOW is wrong but we do it anyway – THAT is the point that sin enters and condemns us.

    To answer your questions, it’s my personal opinion that since Satan is not omnipresent, he is not always tempting us. I’m certain Job committed many sins before Satan got a chance to mess with him. So for question #2, I’d say we sin on our own all the time. Just because Satan isn’t tempting you directly doesn’t mean you can’t be tempted all on your own. I think most Christians know that turning to prayer can help with those situations – filling the void with the Holy Spirit. Free will gives us the opportunity to simply leave the void as-is and pursue what we know to be wrong for our own selfish reasons.

    For #3, I’d say that I sin because I actively CHOOSE not to pursue the Christlike choice in a potentially-sinful decision. To me, that is encouraging because it means that I can also choose the other way in the future and avoid sin. The ability and power to NOT sin is already within me, and prayer can help win me over to the correct path every time.

    For #1, I’m hesitant to comment on anyone’s salvation or lack thereof. I personally do not know their hearts nor minds. None of us have direct visibility on the book of life, so we cannot look up someone else’s name in it. We’re not really told explicitly whether or not we ever lose salvation, although my own personal opinion is that if we are sincere enough in our faith to get our names INTO the book of life, it would take a significant effort and change to remove it. Many people fall into sin and make their way back to the light, and repeat the cycle. What we’ve seen of God’s nature through the Scriptures doesn’t indicate that he has a huge eraser at hand to keep wiping people’s names out, but rather he understands our situation and fills our lives with providence. A parent might allow their child to make a poor decision so they can experience the consequences of that action, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to kick the child out of the house until they repent. Again, that’s only my personal opinion. So while I think someone can “lose” their salvation, I don’t believe that it is lost the very moment we next sin. I think it has to be a conscious decision a person makes to refuse and denounce God in their life, like evicting him from their heart.

    Either way, dwelling on whether or not these people denounced their faith does not really improve my own. Someone close to them can make an effort to bring them back into the light, but if they are sinning, they will reap the consequences in time. Trying to convict them of their own sin might do more harm than good. If I were close to them, I’d simply make sure they knew that I was there for them in case they needed me. A couple that I knew long ago had an “open marriage” which ultimately ended up in them splitting up. I would imagine that swinging would also eventually result in a distance within their marriage, if not eventual jealousy and other problems. So if you are in the position to see a storm brewing on the horizon and you can’t keep someone from going into it, just make sure they know that you have some dry clothes ready at your place if they need them.

  2. jhilgeman2 January 7, 2016 at 11:52 am #

    Just to add a little color to the whole losing-salvation-when-we-sin thing, I’d also say that that kind of thinking tends to be very legalistic – something that the Pharisees would likely agree with. They prided themselves on avoiding the ACTIONS that were deemed sinful, but their hearts condemned all of their actions anyway. Jesus was the one who said that there was a purpose higher and greater than the law – that the law was there to serve us, not the other way around (that it was there to benefit us and guide us towards God rather than be followed for the sake of following the law). So another reason that I don’t believe we lose our salvation with each sin is that Christ himself seemed to indicate that legalism was overrated and that God was far more gracious than what was given to us for our own benefit.

    • Kayla Gulick January 7, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

      I love this really thoughtful and deep response!! This is good stuff. And I believe adds some more thought provoking ideas here.

      I too agree that we don’t lose our salvation every time we sin. We won’t stop sinning until we reach Heaven so it’d be a pretty rigid writing/erasing pattern multiple times every single day of our lives. And that’s a great point, that it can be considered legalistic to view salvation that way and does appear to reduce it to works.

      Going a little deeper with your response here – would you care to dive into your opinions on Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the Earth. But if the salt loses it’s saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It’s no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

      Would you consider this to be those who denounce Christ?

      • jhilgeman2 January 7, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

        My opinion of 5:13 is that it’s the lead-in / companion to verses 14-16, where Jesus tells us that we’re the “light of the world.” I don’t think the “saltiness” has anything to do with salvation but rather with being special and set apart.

        Salt is what turns plain food into something special and sets it apart. Light sources illuminate the surrounding darkness. I believe these passages are referring to how Christians can enhance their surrounding world by adhering to God’s law and remaining special. However, if we lose our “saltiness” by simply becoming like the rest of the world, then we also lose our effectiveness and purpose.

      • Kayla Gulick January 8, 2016 at 8:15 am #

        That’s so true. I think it’s scary how hard it’s getting to tell those who are saved from those who are not. Let this be a challenge to me that my own life and my home doesn’t look like the world but that we add flavor and light to the world.

  3. Jessica M January 7, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    It’s incredibly discouraging knowing that every single human, most of all ourselves, are inherently sinful. I feel that perhaps Christians struggle with this more than nonChristians. I believe that Satan places temptations in our path — but no differently than how Christ has given us the Bible and it is up to us to make the correct choice. We are the ones sinning, and though it may make us feel better to say “it’s Satan’s fault,” the truth of the matter is that it is always OUR decision to choose right or wrong.

    As far as the backslidden pastor and wife turned swingers, I am convinced that unless they repent of their sins, they will not be found in the presence of God on Judgment Day. The Bible has told us that in Hebrews 10:29 “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?” He is also faithful and just to forgive us our sins, so in repenting and turning away from sin, they would be redeemed again.

    • Kayla Gulick January 7, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

      I think that’s a really good thought that if Satan “made” us sin, we wouldn’t be capable of choosing not to sin.

      I’m going to dive deeper into Hebrews 10:29 – but as a question back to you, do you think this applies whenever we sin, or if we choose a lifestyle or habitual sin that causes us to defile the righteousness that was once in us? For example, what about addiction?
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here! This is really great stuff to dive into together!

      • Jessica M January 7, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

        Most thought-provoking, thank you for the question!

        I feel Hebrews 29 applies to when we as Christians willfully sin and are unrepentant about it. Personally, how addictions (as far as substance abuse) affect our salvation is a tougher issue for me to wrap my head around. I’m not really sure if one is or is not saved due to a substance addiction. I understand addictions are typically accompanied by depression and these things become physical crutches, legal substance or not. When we know we are addicted to something that harms our bodies (be it alcohol, prescriptions, heroin, pornography, etc.) when God has told us that our bodies are His temple, I believe we are living in sin, but not necessarily damned to hell for it. It is what these substances make us do because of its use, and the individual acknowledging and not caring about its consequences, and that it consequently becomes a lifestyle, that cause us to sin. Fortunately we live in the information age and are aware of many harmful aspects to affect us physically and mentally.

        In other words, I feel that addictions are something of a gateway to sin. A very complicated issue, I have to say!

        I believe that the passage in Romans 7, which include the verse (20) ” Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it” doesn’t give a Christian an “exception” or a “pass” that it’s okay to sin. We know that even being okay with one “small” sin leads to a slippery slope to more sin. It is in our repentance and desire to be a better Christian every day that keeps us on the road to salvation.

      • Kayla Gulick January 7, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

        I wonder if the dangerous thing about giving *BIRTH* to sin is that we invite life into our body that is no longer our own. As referenced by Paul “if I do what I do not want to do then it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” He goes on to say in his mind he delights in God’s law, but there is a waging war because his members (body) is a prisoner to sin.

        It could be that addiction control the weakness of the body, even when the mind desires freedom.
        Unfortunately, I think most sin is addicting, even if it isn’t a controlled substance.
        God’s grace is so large – and yet, His justice is too. These questions are so difficult to conclude any hard – blanket truths for us all.

        And I wonder if that’s what keeps a lot of people not only from Christ to begin with, but more over those who once walked with Christ and walked away, from returning.

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