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  1. Elaine Nelson
    29 June 2011 @ 6:32 pm

    “If you were blind, you would have no sin.”

    Should this be interpreted as one who is “blind” to sin? Sin is a very movable and selective connotation depending on the culture, the time, and an individual. Unless sin can be more succintly defined, of what us to describe penalties?

    When did the idea of “original sin” become a prominent Christian doctrine? Augustine is often credited with initiating that term. The commandment warns that one sins may extend to the third and fourth generation. Does that mean we are responsible for their sins? Do we inherit sin the same as genetic traits? The gene pool demonstrates that humans benefit from diversity, and it is well recognized that inbreeding causes many conditions that are detrimental to offspring. This was surely the practice for many centuries as siblings cohabited, and likely uncles with cousins, and more.

    Without benefit of the church to define sin (and there have been thousands of definitions, beginning with the 600+ laws in Judaism that could be broken. If sin is separation from God, one must have a particular idea of God from which to be separated. Who has the perfect picture of God? Some see God as arbitrary and condemning. Others as a god of love. Doesn’t everything depend on one’s idea of God?

  2. Tracy Calvert
    29 June 2011 @ 8:25 pm

    Thank you, Herb, for your blog posting. I have a few questions and comments. In reading your article, it almost sounds like you are advocating a doctrine of perfectionism, particularly in the last paragraph, and when talking about habits and neural pathways. It sounds as though we should be able work our way to a perfect state, free from all sinning. Am I reading correctly? Do you believe sanctification is ever 100% in this lifetime? My last question is, is there a difference between sin and sinning/sins? It’s always been my understanding and have heard this within the church many times, that we are born sinful and there’s nothing we can do about that because of choices our parents, Adam and Eve, made thousands of years ago. Weren’t we separated from God at Eden, and isn’t this sin. Sinning is about the choices we make. Maybe I’m reading wrong what you’ve written, or maybe I’m just way out in left field.

    • William Noel
      30 June 2011 @ 11:34 am

      Good question! Yes, there is a difference between sin and sins. Sin is what is in us, what changed the nature of our entire world and causes us to behave in ways that are contrary to the essential character that God originally implanted in us.

      It is helpful to think of it with a medical metaphor. Sin is the disease in us and sins are the symptoms like headache, nausea, pain and fever. Those symptoms may causes you to go to the doctor, who diagnoses the disease and prescribes treatment. Part of that treatment is to relieve the symptoms, but the greater objective is to resolve the cause with a long-term course of treatment.

      Our sins (the symptoms caused by sin) make us aware of our need for redemption. God begins by forgiving us (relieving the symptoms) while inviting us into a closer, long-term relationship with Him so we will allow Him to transform us. The visible result of this is changing our behavior (less sinning). God is able to do this because our focus has moved from changing the symptoms to curing the disease.

      Will you get well if you focus only on modifying your symptoms? Will taking aspirin to relieve pain cure the cancer causing the pain?

      Yes, God’s ultimate objective is perfection in us. His immediate objective is demonstrating His power to forgive and change us now. The choice facing us is: Will we remain focused on just the symptoms? Or, will we seek the cure?

  3. Elaine Nelson
    29 June 2011 @ 9:22 pm

    Tracy, you seem to be implying that the old but important cliche when writing on any subject is: First define your terms.

    This is never more appropriate than when writing of such monumental subjects. Until we can properly define sin, rightousness has no meaning. So, please, Herb, could you give us your definition of these two words?

  4. Glenn Hansen
    30 June 2011 @ 2:32 am

    Herb, The passage in James indicates that a specific situation is being described. The people were making plans about doing business, traveling, and so forth, as if life would go on forever. James said that they should be willing to submit themselves to God’s will and preface their declarations with “God willing” as in “God willing, we will go to Macedonia next month and open a fruit selling stand.” To not recognize the temporary and uncertain nature of our existence is a sin.

    I don’t believe that this passage can legitimatley be used to “prove” that all sin is a choice.

    Romans 7 is quite clear, specifically, addressing the issue of sin, that sin is not a choice, that people are not free to choose, that we are indeed slaves to sin working in our members which conflicts with the good we know we should do.

    I’m not sure where you get this stuff from but It’s difficult for me to believe that it is coming from the Bible.

  5. Elaine Nelson
    30 June 2011 @ 2:44 am

    “any deviation from the known will of God, with special emphasis on “known,” is sin according to Jesus and James.”

    Again, before being “known” someone must be taught, and there have been many things taught as sin that were not, necessarily sins. Need more be said in Adventism there were almost as many as Judaism: eating meat, “working” on Sabbath, even coveting–which would remove all ambition to better ourselves in most any way.

  6. Bill Garber
    30 June 2011 @ 2:55 am

    Herb, friend …

    How can one become a former sinner by not sinning, even for a moment? A felon is always a felon, no? The scripture declares the penalty for sin is death. ‘I only robbed one person!’ cannot justify one robbery. And whether it was choice or inheritance, the scripture affirms that we have all sinned and therefore are sinners and therefore will to dust return. Nothing we will every do, can ever do today or tomorrow can void our state as sinner. This is why there is no conflict between faith or works as a means of salvation. Neither can contribute whatsoever to our salvation. Both are of ourselves, and our salvation is not of ourselves.

    The reason our righteousness is termed ‘filthy rags’ is about not robbing a thousand or ten thousand cannot make sweet the putridness of one robbery, indeed claiming such cover soils such otherwise righteous actions before they are brought in contact with the wound of our sin.

    Now, if you articulate the prospect of fulfilling the law by loving one another in truth and reality, no matter our nature or nurture, in those moments we sense our having been embraced by God’s loving grace, indeed, indeed! As the scripture notes, such love by God constrains us … and in wonderful and inescapable ways!

    To what end such constraint?

    That the world may marvel in our love one for another, I’m thinking.

    And the reason we love anyone is that we see our selves in the other. We love one another because we see no difference between us and any human, every human. We see others as we sense God’s gracious gaze on us, aspiring to be chief of sinners should Paul relinquish that self-appointed position.

    What comes to me from this is that while we can come to prefer love over desperation prior to our salvation in actuality from our dusty destination, that salvation in no way is conditional on the timing of such realization, today, tomorrow, yesterday, or post judgment.

    We will all come to see clearly, and we all see through a glass darkly in this life. Perhaps that clarity is made true when the books are opened and we see ourselves as God has always seen us. And if such a sight is then for the first time, it will be soon enough, as that is the moment that the Righteousness of Jesus swaths us by His grace, grace we can only imagine by faith today.

    And what imagination your bring to your vision, friend!

  7. Ella M
    02 July 2011 @ 3:00 am

    I like your blog, especially the following: “Every child born into this world, regardless of country, has a Forever Partner — the Holy Spirit that “gives light to every man [person] coming into the world” (John 1:9, NKJV). See Romans 2:13-15 where Paul argues boldly that everyone will be judged by a fair God;…”

    I know that God is fair/just. Given that strong belief, I am free to go on to other questions that have puzzled me over the years in my interactions with different Christian people. I would appreciate your opinion. Much of this has to do with emotional or mental issues that are physiologically caused from ADHD to depression, anxiety, and worse. These illnesses were once blamed on the individual as if it were a choice (simmlar to homosexual orientation today??) Christians suffer these things about as much as nonChristians. (I think they can deal them better.) So this puts the definition of “sin” as rather nebulous.
    Sin in the Bible seems to always be associated with extreme behaviors in action or thought rather than day-to-day mistakes or habits.
    It appears as if a person on medication “sins” less than one without it. We know the fruits of the Holy Spirit, yet certain medications can make it easier for the ill person to exhibit them. As a medical friend once said years ago to the idea of some mental illnesses as demon-possession, “the demons certainly respond to lithium.”
    Going back to Rom. 7, I think this is a struggle for all of God’s people and not just unbelievers.
    Concerning your last paragraph that infers “perfection,” I think that biblical perfection is that of love. It is not being concerned about every tiny aspect of our lives about whether it is sin or not. Anyone reaching the biblical perfection of love wouldn’t know it. But aren’t we all perfect in Christ?
    Original sin?? Whatever you call it, we are born selfish, and this is the corruptible nature that haunts us in degrees all our lives and what sanctification is about. Yet we have been reconcilled to God, saved by Jesus “from the foundation of the world” until and unless we reject the Holy Spirit given to all as you have so well-stated.
    I think the neural pathways are not really chosen or we are too young or vulnerable when they are chosen. They can be part of nuture or nature. I know it is said we can overcome all learned and inherited “evil,” yet so few do or seem able even though they pray and pray and try and try. Like illness it seems rarely cured, yet they are not abandoned by God, and if they do not abandon Him, they are saved through His grace.

  8. Elaine Nelson
    02 July 2011 @ 3:16 am

    We can no more “overcome” all learned and inherited “evil” (define inherited evil?) than we can “overcome” our genetic inheritance from our parents. We should appreciate the good genes and traits we received from them and only endeavor to control such as we are able to. But we cannot control all, nor should we attempt to do so, any more than we can control our physical features that we also inherit. Just as a baby, devloping normally, is “perfect” at the various stages of growth, just so we can be “perfect” in our progress of overcoming but never will either a baby or an adult be perfect in the sense of absolute perfection–that is God’s characteristic alone.

  9. Ella M
    02 July 2011 @ 10:26 pm

    Some rational points here, except for the following: ” But we cannot control all, nor should we attempt to do so, any more than we can control our physical features that we also inherit.

    If born with a disability, deformity, or illness that can be improved or healed, of course, we have surgery or medication to remedy it. General physical features aren’t destructive, so there is no reason to change those. Habits can be very destructive and do need struggle to overcome or cure, and prayer is one of them. I agree about being perfect on every level of growth as you said–it was said by EGW as well.
    Evil is a much-overused word (a different definition at varying times of history) and quite extreme in our modern terminology meaning something like demonic. It could also mean anything that is destructive on any level. Therefore, inherited would be something like a tendency toward alcoholism. And anyone believing the church should cancel its stand on alcohol is not considering the large percentage in this category (a selfish idea). We might wonder how many more alcoholics we would have if this standard wasn’t in place.

  10. Trevor Hammond
    02 July 2011 @ 11:48 pm

    How would this bible verse below, from one who was also quite accustomed to both sin AND righteousness, impact on a topic like this?
    [Psalm 51:5] Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

    In the SINLESS Saviour – Jesus Christ!


  11. Seminary Student
    03 July 2011 @ 4:30 am

    I think we need to study the effects of Adam’s sin on the human race .If we read the bible we will see that after Adam’s sin ,all human beings have been born under sin that is ” unconverted “. Sin is more than choice , Ellen White understood this in Steps to Christ page 18 “It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Job 14:4; Romans 8:7. Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless. They may produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life. There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness “.

  12. L. Humberto Covarrubias
    03 July 2011 @ 5:03 am

    We are born sinful; our mortality is the essence of sinfulness in our physical lives and we “must be born again” this time of heavenly Parents so that in our lives the image of God would be restored. As far as our physical mortality, we’ll have to wait till the “glorious morn”. But God is so good that He has defended our intellectual freedom and in this sense we don’t have to wait. It is called imprinting in the nonintellectual animal kingdom, identification in the human realm. Yes Elaine, covetousness is selfish, egocentric, not in the image of God; but admiration and worship are positive, godly traits. The more we know Him, the more we will admire Him, the more we will identify with Him, the more like Him we will be, we will be righted, justified, sanctified, glorified, etc. Simply put sin is ascribing the wrong character to God. Isn’t that what the Great Controversy is all about?

  13. Herbert Douglass
    04 July 2011 @ 11:30 pm

    I am glad for the mental energy you folk put into your comments. A quick response to two items: When anyone chooses to use Psalm 51:5 (“in sin my mother conceived me”)to prove we are all born sinful, I must ask whether David’s Mom was a prostitute. But I immediately turn to Ps 71:5,6: “You are my trust from my youth, By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb” or Ps 22:9–“But You are He who took me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother’s breast. I was cast upon You from birth, From my mother’s womb.” This particular question always helps me to avoid making theological statements from David’s songs.

    Character of God: Yes, above all else, the core isssue in understanding the Great Controversy is the character of God. The core question is, “Can God be trusted?” Such was the issue when Satan accosted Eve in the Garden. And it has been the central concern on any subject that troubles many thinking men and women today. John the Revelator forecasts how this core question turns out: “Just and true are Your works” (Rev 15:3; “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and rightesous are Your judgments” (Rev 16:7; see also 19:2).

  14. Herbert Douglass
    05 July 2011 @ 12:02 am

    Regarding whether we were born sinful or become sinful by choice, it seems that some are falling back unconsciously on assumptions that have been passed on for hundreds of years. Where does the notion come from that we are all born sinful? Historically, we can trace that notion back through one theologian after another but never to the Bible. As I wrote earlier, James 1:13-15; 4:17 and John 15:22-24 and John 9:41 say otherwise. Personally, no theologian takes priority over Jesus and James.

    Obviously, we have all sinned for several reasons. We are sinners! But by choice and for all that we must take responsibility. That word is a key word in the Great Controversy, or else why do we talk so glibly about the judgments of God? Take away one element in our theological picture, and many other issues are immediately affected. That’s the fundamental issue in trying to understand how to make rational sense out of Christ’s messages to us. Try it and see how all other doctrines are directly affected by misunderstanding the core understanding of sin.

    In discussing this subject in a classroom, it doesn’t take long for the students to see that understanding “sin” directly affects one’s sense of responsibility. No one will be condemned for being a sinner but will be if light is rejected (John 3:18-21). That may be underneath the thinking that says Jesus was not born with the same human weaknesses that we have because that would mean He would automatically be a sinner! Or if Jesus truly was born with the same human weaknesses/tendencies, etc, then none of us would have any excuses. But that is another subject. Cheers, Herb

  15. laffal
    05 July 2011 @ 12:03 am


    Am I to understand that by not being sinful you mean, that I was not born guilty of sin? Or are you saying that I was not born with the propensity / predisposition to sin? The 1st option I can accept. But to the second option I must ask, how do I reconcile your point with Romans 5:19; For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners?


  16. Bill Garber
    05 July 2011 @ 1:48 am


    I appreciate your interest in God’s trustworthiness. It is God’s trustworthiness that Grace at once reveals and substantiates.

    There will never be any doubt in the mind of every sinner saved that they were saved as a sinner after being judged to be in open court. Grace is how God avoids putting Himself in the position of having to depend on the blind trust of the saved in believing that in the unknowable mind of God every saved person was worthy of salvation and quite apparently those not saved were no so worthy.

    Instead there is the judgment so there can be no room for subsequent doubts about God’s intent. Grace, once an for eternity, saves the sinner from certain, justifiable separation from God and certain death. As such, God is proven to be transparently and utterly trustworthy. Doubt and separation will forever be foreclosed on.

    Now, whether each sinner is unavoidably, accidentally or on purpose a sinner will not matter in the judgment. The judgment is about what is, not about why what is, is. God is in the business of saving sinners. The judgment will confirm to the universe as well as to each saved one, that every human saved is a proven, judged, and undeniable sinner, and therefor God is transparently trust worthy in the deepest parts of God’s character we can possibly imagine.

    Using biblical metaphors and their words as a cookbook for escaping being judged a sinner will, if successful, preempt our qualifying for God’s grace, for which, of course, we are already disqualified before breaking out the measuring devices.

  17. Herbert Douglass
    05 July 2011 @ 8:10 pm

    Thanks, Laffal, for drawing attention to Romans 5:19–a text, the exact meaning of which has been disputed for a long time. The context helps us with Rom 5:12 when rightly translated: “death spread to all men, because all sinner.” In other words, “by one man’s disobedience, many became sinners.”

    So, you are right, we are not born guilty of sin, because sin would be a choice. And yes, according to Hebrews 2:17 (Jesus, in all things, every way had to be made like his human family) that meant (Heb 4:14-16) Jesus was tempted in all points like every other member of the human family, yet without choosing to sin. That meant He had the predisposiions/inclinations TO sin but he never allowed those human weaknesses to cause Him TO sin. That is, those predispositions did not become “predispositions OF sin.” Did that help?

    And Bill, if I understand everything you said, I could not agree more with you. There will be no doubt left after the universe beholds how God judges everyone who has ever lived–everyone in relation to the Light he/her had. Rom 2; John 1:9. “Just and true are Thy ways!” Did I understand you correctly? Cheers, Herb

  18. Elaine Nelson
    05 July 2011 @ 9:44 pm

    If Jesus was tempted in all things as we are and yet without sin, is that the description of humanity? Has any human on record in the past 6,000 years been sinless? If Jesus is the only one who has accomplished that feat can he then be called “human”? Is that truly an aspect of humanity? How does that harmonize with the belief, held by Christians that Jesus was both human and divine? If divinity cannot sin, then if Jesus was divine it was impossible for him to sin.

    So, “Choosing sin” is what we do, not what we are–which is the position held by many Christians: “we were born in sin” which has been described by some as “original sin.”

    Given the misconceptions held by most Adventists, is sin a choice, or our human condition? Why is human weakness impervious to sin? Do we have “predisposition to sin” and Jesus did not have such predisposition? Does that not mean that there is a very unique difference in our ability to live sinless?

    It’s all so confusing.l

  19. Glenn Hansen
    05 July 2011 @ 9:57 pm

    Herb, It might be a good idea for you to deal with the rather extenive passage which directly addresses the issue, Romans 7. Romans 7 is quite clear that people are not free to choose because of human nature. That’s why Jesus was born in the “likeness” of sinful flesh.

    It’s unclear to me just how the prooftexts you provide prove your point. Examined in context, James 4:17 plainly does not. James 1:13-15 is not addressing the issue of choice as a sin. The passages in John are about Jewish unbelief. It’s unclear to me how those passages support your theory.

    As an aside, Herb, I never followed you as a thought leader in Adventism. In the time when I was listening to many speakers, tapes by you were unavailable, so I really was unaware of your views. Certain people online, Tom Zwemer, for example, appear to have an ax to grind with you. Of course, his opinion of you is irrelevant to me. Apart from some disturbing things [to me] Kevin Paulson wrote about you, on the GC website, I’ve really only been able to see your views first hand online. I never read the Perfection book to which you contributed.

    I find your approach to theology weak, extremely weak. I see the same weaknesses in KP’s theology, prooftexts which are irrelevant to the topic at hand, or difficult passages which may be understood in different ways being forced to say things which they could mean but might not.

    It appears that you belong to the EGW school of theology, that is to say that you derive your views from her and carelessly use the Bible to suit your agenda which is really based on what she says.

    If that is the case, you would do her, yourself, and the Bible more justice by simply reproducing the quotes from her. Let us decide whether what she says is correct.

    If you actually believe EGW is a suitable guide to belief, no need to be embarrassed. The Mormons make no apologies for their belefs about Joseph Smith. Why should you?

  20. Elaine Nelson
    05 July 2011 @ 10:12 pm

    Glenn, does this describe many Adventists?

    “Instead of shaping belief around painstakingly gathered, soberly judged evidence, people most often decide upon their beliefs first, and then use an impressive range of cognitive tricks to bend whatever evidence they do discover into support for those pre-determined acts of faith.”

  21. Glenn Hansen
    05 July 2011 @ 10:17 pm

    Right hand of fellowship!

  22. Seminary Student
    06 July 2011 @ 4:07 am

    The doctrine of sin is a very difficult to understand and Seventh day Adventist are divided on this , one of the problems is that we use some texts like James and John to define sin . we can not deal with sin if we don’t study the Nature of Christ . We need to study the ” totality of scripture ” to understand what sin is . I propose we go back to Genesis and study what happened after Adam and eve sinned , then what is it that we inherit from Adam ? I think Adventists haven’t dealt in a proper way with what the reformers called ” Total depravity ” because we are afraid of Calvin and “predestination ” we have moved to the other way and I would say we have a ” Semi pelagian ” and in some cases “pelagian ” doctrine of Salvation . Because Adventist are ” Semi pelagian ” they interpret texts like John 1:14 as saying that Jesus “took our fallen nature ” and because he overcame , we can overcome . So Jesus becomes a good example ,but the bible presents Jesus more than an example , He is our Savior . The result of this Theology has led many souls to reject the gospel because a gospel like this is based only on our performance , so we are always looking at ourselves , there is no assurance of salvation, there is no joy in the Christian life . Salvation is a gift from God . Ephesians 2 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” My Question is , Who is the one who is doing all this ? God is ! Paul says when we were “dead ” my next question is , Can “dead people Choose ” Can dead people do something ? NO , Nothing . Yes there is a part that the Christian plays and that accepting or rejecting this , but this is given freely to all , who believe , Paul speaks of Salvation as gift several times in this chapter .

  23. Seminary Student
    06 July 2011 @ 4:12 am

    So going back to the Topic , When John speaks of Jesus as becoming ” flesh ” he is describing Jesus’s humanity .Remember the Heresies during that time ” gnosticism”. Paul speaks of the ” second Adam ” not the second Peter etc .

  24. Pat Travis
    06 July 2011 @ 8:29 am

    Careful SS! You may be on to something that will dangerously bring you in line with Calvin and Luther…and most dangerously…the “legal fiction” of JBF “alone.”

    More importantly dangerously in focus with all of scripture…we as humanity and individuals are dead…till awakened and called by the Spirit of grace.


  25. Glenn Hansen
    06 July 2011 @ 1:11 pm

    Correction in post to Herb above.

    “James 1:13-15 is not addressing the issue of choice as a sin.”
    This should say: James 1:13-15 is not addressing the issue of sin as a choice or as something we choose.

  26. Glenn Hansen
    06 July 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    Herb has been leaning upon James 4:17 to support his contention that sin is a choice. This pericope begins in verse 13. The issue is people who are making long range plans in light of the uncertainty of the present time.

    Notice verse 16:
    “but as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.”

    James is quite plain about the issue. It is neglecting to take the will and plans of God into planning for their everyday life.

    He then follows up by saying that those who know to do good [considering and declaring that their plans are dependent on the will of God] and do not acknowledge that are doing evil. That’s what the context indicates.

    This is not a passage which legitimately contributes to Herb’s hypothesis that sin is a choice, unless you happen to choose to neglect the will of God in your planning for the affairs of life.

  27. Elaine Nelson
    06 July 2011 @ 10:22 pm

    Herb wrote:

    “Look at the blood line that Jesus was born into!”

    Does that imply that Jesus inherited (what else would blood line mean?) humanity’s sin by genetics? Or, was he implanted by the Holy Spirit in Mary, which would mean that he had no human genes?

    Historically, it would be the latter, as no one at that time had the slightest knowledge of genetics, and it wasn’t discovered until some 1700 years later. Conception to them meant that the male impregnated a tiny fetus in the woman and she was merely the “incubator” and only the male had the power of procreation, thus children always belonged to the father only.

    So, which is it? Did Mary only carry the embryo of Jesus, or did she contribute half of his genetic inheritance: half human, half divine? The NT writers didn’t appear to believe that, as he was called the son of Joseph and never was he considered to be God or divine during his earthly lifetime. It took more than 300 years later for the church to “declare” his divinity, and the question should be asked, “Did the church have the authority to decide his divinity?

  28. Herbert Douglass
    09 July 2011 @ 2:54 pm

    Thanks for the responses. You all knew that I knew how some would respond and I welcome them. Romans 7 has been the dividing line, especially among Protestants, since the Reformation when Calvists squared off with Arminians (later John Wesley). In other words, nothing said today is any different than what has been said by these two Protestant streams through the last 400 years or so. In other words, depending on one’s presuppositions in theological taxonomy, one sees Paul as either (1)the “converted” man who still struggles with his sinful passions or (2) the “converted” man who no longer tries to bring his sinful passions under control by “keeping the law” but by accepting and cooperating with the promised power of the Holy Spirit–something that the “faithful” Jew had now come to experience since he understood the role of Jesus as really being his Savior from sin.

    I could present a long list of prominent Christian thinkers since Irenaeus and Tertullian who caught the joy and good news that Paul is emphasizing.

    When people heard Paul’s letter read to them, they had no mental cubicles into which they put chapter seven, and then another for chapter 8. They saw what we now know as chapter 8 as the answer to his biographical dilemma in trying to be “righteous” as a faithful Pharasee without the Good News of Salvation from his sinful passions that He now understands through Jesus.

    Of course, Romans 7-8 is reflected in all of Paul’s other NT writings. Paul is remarkably consistent, such as Gal 5:16-25 (a beautiful mirror of Romans 7,8). If I am overlooking something, please help me. Cheers, Herb

  29. Glenn Hansen
    09 July 2011 @ 8:47 pm

    Herb, With regards to this blog, just who the man is has no bearing on the discussion. Don’t you agree that whether converted or unconverted, the point of Romans 7 is that man is held in bondage by a nature which he cannot control? If you want to say that Romans 8 changes that, please do so; however, also admit that the basic premise of Romans 7 is that, at some point, man is not free to choose his behavior.

    “One of the ways we can set the table is to ask: Is sin something we are born with? Or is sin something we choose?” said you. Am I not correct in asserting that your position is that sin is something we choose, rather than something with which we are born?

    Regardless of the answer to the question, the texts that you chose to make your point do not make that point. There may be others that do. Those are the texts which should be set forth, if you want to have a teaching based on Scripture.

  30. Bill Garber
    10 July 2011 @ 2:39 am


    I do believe we agree that the judgement itself will clear up all doubt with respect to the results of the judgment.

    If choice has any role to play in the assessment as to whether the behavior was a sin or not, then we are not judged by what we do, but only by what we thought. And that puts the Almighty in the position of forever perpetuating reason for doubt with respect to why any one was admitted to eternity and anyone was separated from life in death. And out of the collective doubt there can be no trust, there can be no resolution to the so-called great controversy question.

    As your reference in Romans 2 notes, people who sin apart from the law perish apart from the law, and those who sing under the law are judged by the law. (v 12) Whether one knows or doesn’t know, has or doesn’t have the teacher that is the law, sin is sin and the wages of sin are death … and the gift of God is eternal life and all have sinned.

    It seems inescapable, to me, that supporting choice as essential to one’s righteousness is to let the robe of Christ’s righteousness flow open, on purpose, displaying our own robe covering our own heart, and relegating the robe of Christ to our arm pits and our back, if you will, to use that familiar metaphor.

    Now are we free to fulfill the law in loving our neighbor before eternity? Are we free from having to sin (however that is defined) before the judgment? Sure! The judgment, though, is not interested in those questions. Our qualification for eternity is quite apart from those questions. We are judged by everything we have done. And by that judgment we are judged, each of us, as worthy of death by reason of sin. And to that reality there is no doubt by any as the judgment is made.

    Then and only then is God’s grace made effective, once and for all removing the possibility of there ever being any doubt among humans with regard to each other and the Almighty as eternity is opened to us.

    So Herb you are right that some will by faith, believing that God’s grace is and will be sufficient, will experience freedom from fear and panic and thereby love … and whether that happens to us, whether it is us or God in us, this is not part of the judgment, it does not obviate our dependency utterly for God’s grace.

    And if so, the matter of choice and self righteousness are rightfully marginalized. Or so it seems to me.

  31. Editor
    10 July 2011 @ 10:52 pm

    Posted on behalf of Herb:


    You ask again whether we are born in sin or whether we become sinners by choice. Any my answer as noted earlier is that I accept the biblical position that sin is a choice for which we are all responsible, sooner or later. Putting it another way, why the talk about God’s judgment?

    You suggest that it is not important to whom Paul is referring in Rom 7 when he talks about the “I” who “hates, that I do”—inferring that the “I” is in bondage beyond his control. No question, that situation describes everyone at all times. But that is not the whole picture that Paul is endeavoring to explain. Paul, here, is describing himself and the Jews who reject Jesus (as he was before his conversion). To make all this clear he continues his mighty analysis with his “Thank the Lord” explanation in Rom 8.

    Biblical anthropology from the beginning describes the great controversy for the mind/soul of every child born into this world, as noted in earlier thoughts in this blog. The Holy Spirit is at war with the Spirit of Satan over every growing child. Whether a child or adult knows not even the name of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, speaking to what we call conscience, is helping each person to seek and choose light instead of darkness (Rom 2; John 1:9).

    In other words, “with our flesh,” because of habits built in from our childhood, habits in saying No when we should be saying Yes to known duty, we will always have our weaknesses to indulge self-gratification. But the biblical picture of promises that make us more than able to keep saying Yes to known duty are clear, powerful, timely, and self-authenticating – Cheers Herb.

  32. Bill Garber
    11 July 2011 @ 2:25 am


    Of the 83 appearances of the word ‘choose’ in the NIV, not one is associated with the word ‘sin’ and in a great many instances, God is doing the choosing, and his choice is explicitly or otherwise never conditional.

    Choice as the explanation of sin is a concept that seems foreign to scripture. Neither Adam nor Eve were accused of choosing, only described as having eaten. Choice in this instance is an inference, not an implication.

    Choice seems to be a construct the reader brings to scripture in regards to sin. Choice is often implied to explain how God is justified in his destruction of sinners. This, of course, assumes sinners are destroyed by God, a concept that runs in the face of God declaring that he is fully vested in his commitment to save humanity, as testified by Jesus own words in John 3:16 and 17, where Jesus declares that he is sent to save and to not condemn. And such salvation is in no way declared to be conditional, let alone conditional by a person’s mistaken choice.

    As EGW declares, our salvation cannot be conditional on our participation, whether by choice or any other effort on our part, ‘or the Creator would be dependent on the creature’ and this she rejected as limiting the Almighty. I share this view with her.

    If we are indeed saved by God’s grace, there is no limit to God’s salvation, whether the limit is by our mistaken choices or any other human condition or behavior. Grace allows for there to be no choice when it comes to human experience, as inferred by Paul’s declaration through the original man sin was imposed on all mankind and that the new Adam Jesus brings salvation just as universally, imposes salvation if you will.

    God did not have to limit himself in order to free us to love him and in the process lose most of his creation to defects of one kind or another. We truly underestimate God to make such an inference, do we not?

  33. Glenn Hansen
    11 July 2011 @ 4:01 am

    We are probably not going to agree on this subject Herb. While you maintain that the Bible teaches sin is a choice, the texts you have provided, in my opinion, do not say that; consequently, the basic problem is one of reading comprehension. What does the text say? Really, this is not a complicated issue. If the passages, in the context, on their face, assert what you claim, I wonder why I can’t see that? Of course, I maintain that you are not grasping the inherent meaning of the passages. And while many might agree with you, I would also maintain that they also misunderstand the passages.

    A second issue is the testimony of our personal experience. While, in a sense, irrelevant to what the Bible says, our experience will certainly influence our perspective in understanding the passages of Scripture we deem relevant to the discussion. While I would not for a minute suggest that I am as upright, moral, patient, or gracious
    as you are, I can’t help but wonder why the grace of God has failed in my life and not in yours. Certainly inherited traits, environment, and the degradation of personal sin impacts our present dispositions. That is likely a factor, although I find the idea of inherent weakness overcoming the power of the spirit distasteful

    I know people who are essentially atheists who are superior to me in every way. I study Scripture every day, they rarely open its cover, so why should they exceed me in righteousness? I seem to be getting worse as I grow older. I’m glad you are getting better.

    Until we can agree on what the Bible says, it is hopeless to continue in dialogue, since our experiences have no impact on the objective meaning of the text.

    As an an ordained minister, you have a responsibility to the SDA people to teach the Bible as you you understand it. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t take that charge seriously. I, on the other hand, have no such responsibility.
    Perhaps it is bad style on my part to take issue with you in these matters but I mean no disrespect.

    Take care.

  34. Herbert Douglass
    11 July 2011 @ 5:14 am

    Glenn, you are the kind of guy that I could wish were my neighbor. I bet we could share some gardening tips or maybe some stuff about birds that I need to know. What is your basic background and life skills? You sound like an engineer. For the record, you are no weaker or stronger than I. We both are in need daily of the promised Spirit whose job is to nudge us into heaven-oriented decisions. Never a day goes by without those grey moments when I should be more eager to be useful or to be more earnest about reading a stretch in the Bible or do something for my wife that she did not expect. Try the Good News Bible–as good as any. Our Lord is not expecting a head full of information about revealed truth–all He wants is for is to appreciate and say Yes to known duty. And that seems to change for me as the weeks go by. I wish you well, Glenn. Cheers, Herb

  35. Howard Flynn
    11 July 2011 @ 2:20 pm


    Could you please spell out what the “Grecian philosophy” is that you are referring to. Please, not some generality, but spell it out. I want to know where you are coming from? Thank you

  36. Elaine Nelson
    11 July 2011 @ 3:29 pm

    Howard, has the SDA church ever taken a position on “Original Sin” or is still some neubulosity hanging over us like a black cloud? Can someone adequtely explain it and how it affects one’s life?

    Glenn, you represent many unnamed individuals. I, for one, have seen no difference in an atheist or Christian insofar as their kindness, generosity, charitableness and more; excepting Christians can be far more judgmental. Which raises the ultimate question: What does becoming Christian have to do with one’s eternal destiny? Wasn’t it Jesus who said that those who cared for the needy would enter into heaven, even though they claimed no reason for having done so? Is simply believing in an inscrutable God sufficient for eternal bliss? Where in Scriptue does one find the admission requirements? Why does “Godless” have such a terrible connotation in the U.S.? Why do most politicians make certain to disclose their religious beliefs as an incentive to gather votes? Is “being religious” simply a password into the better life?

    • Howard Flynn
      15 July 2011 @ 11:09 pm

      Hi, Elaine:
      I am not promoting nor attacking original sin. I just don’t see how Aristotle or Plato had anything to contribute to the concept. The implication is that Aristotle and/or Augistine are fe facto bad. This fallacy of this argument is what the Greeks (Aristotle to be more precise, sorry to mention the forbidden name–just kidding) called guilt by association which is not a valid argument. In fact, in the orginal blog there were no arguments at all, which is fine. However, I would avoid bringing up these “bogey men.” If we do bring them up, we need to give chapter and verse. That is only fair, don’t you think? Thanks again for responding.

  37. Bill Garber
    12 July 2011 @ 2:27 am


    On the chance this post actually posts … unlike the past few attempts … in terms uf admission requirements to eternity, you are right that scripture offers none for the admitted, while for the one admitting, the requirement is graciousness … after the judgement obviates any hope of self qualifying by the admitted.

  38. Bill Garber
    12 July 2011 @ 2:29 am


    On the chance this post actually posts … unlike the past few attempts … in terms uf admission requirements to eternity, you are right that scripture offers none for the admitted, while for the one admitting, the requirement is graciousness … after the judgement obviates any hope of self qualifying by the admitted.

  39. Trevor Hammond
    12 July 2011 @ 6:33 am

    That mankind, post-Eden, has a fallen nature which by default is prone to sin or has the propensity thereof to sin as a result of this ‘fallen’ nature just cannot be overlooked or brushed aside when considering what sin is. It is a real active ‘player’ in the sin vs righteousness game.

    Also, if ‘Original’ sin was just a NOTION and not found in the bible, then what about ‘Family Choices’ or ‘Genetic Predisposition’ to sin? Is that also not just a NOTION?

    Sin knows no favourites, whatever the ‘Brand Name Genes’ of one’s stock is. Sin has found a cosy ‘synapse’ in the heart and mind of mankind. “Sin DESTROYS the desire and capacity of knowing and loving God.”

    The gene pool of ‘human moralists’ hardly takes care of the sin issue that someone like the Psalmist David speaks of. It a ‘radical’ spiritual disease and therefore needs the radical remedy of Jesus’ BLOOD to set mankind free from it’s destructive deadly shackles.

    Beyond Belief by E.H. ‘Jack’ Sequeira has a study on this at:
    “As descendants of Adam and Eve, we are all in slavery to sin. We are born self-centered, and our natural inclination is to want to live independently of God [see John 8:34; Romans 1:20-23; 6:17].”

    Here are some texts and non-sda commentary thoughts on this which just cannot ignore our sinful condition:
    [Eph 2:3] – All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

    [Gal 5:16] – So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

    [Psalm 58:3] – Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.

    [Psalm 14:3] – All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

    [Psalm 51:5] – Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

    –>Two things are quite clear no matter how we may try and spin-doctor it:
    1) that people are born with a propensity to sin; and
    (2) that this fact does not excuse us in sin, but rather tends to aggravate and deepen our guilt.
    The idea is, “as soon as I began to exist I was a sinner; or, I had then a propensity to sin – a propensity, the sad proof and result of which is that enormous act of guilt which I have committed.”

    –>He deplores, not only the transgression, but the carnal mind which is enmity against God.

    –>David speaks here of what is commonly called original sin; the propensity to evil which every man brings into the world with him, and which is the fruitful source whence all transgression proceeds.

    –>This corruption of nature is the fountain, source, and spring of all sin, secret and open, private and public; and is mentioned here not as an extenuation of David’s actual transgressions, but as an aggravation of them; he having been, from his conception and formation, nothing else but a mass of sin, a lump of iniquity; and, in his evangelical repentance for them, he is led to take notice of and mourn over the corruption of his nature, from whence they arose.

    –>Lord, I have not only been guilty of adultery and murder, but I have an adulterous murderous nature; therefore I abhor myself.

    –>He elsewhere speaks of the piety of his mother, that she was God’s handmaid, and he pleads his relation to her (Psalm 116:16, 86:16), and yet here he says she conceived him in sin; for though she was, by grace, a child of God, she was, by nature, a daughter of Eve, and not excepted from the common character. Note, It is to be sadly lamented by every one of us that we brought into the world with us a corrupt nature, wretchedly degenerated from its primitive purity and rectitude; we have from our birth the snares of sin in our bodies, the seeds of sin in our souls, and a stain of sin upon both. This is what we call original sin, because it is as ancient as our original, and because it is the original of all our actual transgressions. This is that foolishness which is bound in the heart of a child, that proneness of evil and backwardness to good which is the burden of the regenerate and the ruin of the unregenerate; it is a bent to backslide from God.


  40. Glenn Hansen
    12 July 2011 @ 6:36 am

    Herb made the following comment about the passage which follows. I wonder if the average reader of Scripture would agree:

    “James wrote: “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17, NKJV). This leads me to conclude that any deviation from the known will of God, with special emphasis on “known,” is sin according to Jesus and James.”

    Here’s the passage in its entirety:

    13 come now, you who say, “today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”
    14 yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. you are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
    15 instead, you ought to say, “if the lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
    16 but as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.
    17 therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

    It appears clear to me that the issue here is about “boasting” of the future without reference to God. Because boasting springs from arrogance, it is evil; therefore it is sin to leave God out of one’s plans for the future.
    That’s what the passage says. It isn’t relevant to original sin, or the nature or causation of sin in general. Its referring to a specific issue which James addressed

    Herb, this isn’t about birdwatching or engineering, it’s about understanding the Bible, something that requires God’s help as well as the ability to read and comprehend what one is reading.

    While we may disagree on what this text says, I would invite others to give their opinions, if I may. I’m interested in learning how people understand what they read in Scripture.

  41. Seminary Student
    12 July 2011 @ 1:10 pm

    Once again the issue is that because Adventist have not dealt with ” total depravity ” they would continue to see ” Sin as choice only ” And they would make Jesus as a person who ” made all the right choices ” If that is the case , Why did Jesus have to die , if he could only help us to make the right choices ? So this view of sin as choice would emphasized Jesus as our example , not as our Savior . And Many Adventists go to sleep every night feeling bad about themselves because they did not make all the good choices that day , sin as choice is based on human performance , loses the joy of gospel , and assurance of salvation

  42. Pat Travis
    12 July 2011 @ 1:23 pm


    Spot on! Jesus as “example only” is the worst form of religious slavery.


  43. Herbert Douglass
    12 July 2011 @ 6:56 pm

    Thanks Howard, you ask forthrightly where did this notion of “original sin” originate. And you ask about Grecian influence on Christian theology. I surely resist making these blogs too academic but it seems necessary at this point.

    I think most historical theologians would agree that certain pregnant concepts of Plato, such as the “immortal soul,” flow through thinkers like Augustine-Roman Catholic theology-Calvin, Luther, to our day. Augustine had an intense focus on the “soul”–especially believing that it is separate from his body in every conceivable way and that it was marked by sin. He didn’t go quite as far as Plato in thinking that any contact with the body was itself polluting but it does suggest the thinking behind Augustine’s decision to forego any sexual activity.

    Augustine’s Platonism played out in many of his thoughts, especially in the soul’s identity throughout eternity–the soul can never be destroyed, etc. And if it is sinful, then it will suffer damnation forever, etc., (which led to all kinds of games to avoid or mitigate purgatory, etc.)

    Probably in the most definitive biography of Augustine, written by James O’Donnell, we read: “Different forces drove Augustine to the doctrine of original sin, his most original and nearly single-headed creation. This high-spiritualism of Platonism resonated deeply with him and left him suspicious of body and flesh and the messiness of ordinary human life.” (296).

    When one asks, “What was Augustine’s biblical argument as he struggled with his Platonic preconceptions?” we watch how he mistranlated Romans 5:12ff. The theme of Romans 5 is not original sin but death as the result of Adam’s sin. Or “death spread to all men, because all sinned” (NKJV).

    Further, it doesn’t help when the German translates “original sin” by Erb-sunde (inherited sin).

    Bottom line: follow the dots: when one accepts the immortal soul notion, it becomes almost inevitable to accept some form of “traducianism”–when Adam and Eve sinned, their souls were tainted, then all their children were thus tainted (damaged goods). So much is connected to everything else. Just study the mental gymnastics Augustine went through when he first saw babies being baptized!

    Bottom Line for me: We are all sinners. Our only hope is responding to the nudges of the Spirit who is helping us to resist the nudging of evil inclinations (James 1). His promise is that the Holy Spirit will make us
    “free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2)and “Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). My only safety and peace is being responsible with the help Jesus has promised. Cheers, Herb

  44. Pat Travis
    12 July 2011 @ 8:40 pm

    Herb, my friend, that last sentence is very sad for me concerning you…but expected.

    >>My only safety and peace is being responsible with the HELP Jesus has promised. Cheers, Herb<< My only hope is “having been” JBF “alone” I have peace and full assurance while I am growing through the indwelling Spirit and am yet unsatisfied with all the evidence in me I see. regards,

    My only hope

  45. Herbert Douglass
    12 July 2011 @ 9:34 pm

    Pat: I see your point and I hasten to cheer you. I should not have assumed that all those on the blog know that my day and night peace rests on (1) what Jesus has done for me in His life and death that underlies anything else I can think or do, and (2) on His promised help through the Spirit to respond favorable to all that He has given me as known duty. Faith is that response of Yes to whatever He has done and still does in my life and yours. I hope that is clear. Cheers, Herb

  46. Larry Kirkpatrick
    12 July 2011 @ 9:48 pm

    Hi Herb,
    It is a point of interest in this discussion that right away, and right after the race’s fall into sin, our loving Father calls on Cain to overcome his bent humanity. In the first verses of Genesis 4 He tells Cain that Cain should rule over his inclination to sin. As we know, Cain did not choose to comply. But the important point is that God indicated that he could and should. And this in a fallen nature!

    Maybe God needs some instruction on our “total” depravity… LK

  47. Seminary Student
    13 July 2011 @ 3:34 am

    Pat , it is also a sad story what Larry says :” He tells Cain that Cain should rule over his inclination to sin” That is the problem of using the ” clear word bible ” . So for Larry Human beings overcome sin by ” ruling over sin ” For them , we choose and then we rule . I wonder how people like Larry feel every day when they realize they can not rule over sin but the other way around . The ABC’s of the gospel is that it is the ” good news ” . The truth is that even if I never commit a sin for the rest of my life I am still saved by grace , Salvation is a gift , not choosing and ruling . Isaiah says ” all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” As I said before it is so easy to get “proof texts ” So to understand sin we need to study the effects of Adam sin on the human race . Pelagious , was the one who came with the idea that the fall did not affect the human race and that Human beings were free to choose etc . The reformers oppose that view .

  48. Herbert Douglass
    13 July 2011 @ 5:46 am

    SS: God didn’t tell Cain a fib or ask the impossible. I don’t mind repeating often that when Bible writers tell us to “resist the devil” they were not asking for the impossible. Jesus is our Forever Savior, the Giver of Good News: He assures us that through genuine repentance and faith we can accept His pardon and accept His power to help us overome what we have repented of. The gospel of grace always comes with two hands: the grace of pardon and the grace of power–the consistent double gift. No one wins anything if we simply choose pardon without choosing divine power. That’s the good news that changed the Mediterranean basin: “foris the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes [has faith]” Rom 1:16.

  49. Larry Kirkpatrick
    13 July 2011 @ 7:06 am

    Sorry Seminary student. I do not have or use the Clear Word item. Actually, this passage in Genesis 4 stands among the primary passages for Judaism’s anthropology. Because the concept of “original sin” is a post-NT development, you do not find it in the various substantial strands of Judaism. Psalm 51 (historically the “original” text used as a proof-text for “original sin”) was known to Jews for some 900 years before the rise of Christianity, but was not interpreted in Judaism as some Christians have interpreted it. It never became source for an “original sin” teaching. Which makes quite good sense. The Psalm is internally consistent with itself and anticipates total cleansing. The “Original sin” doctrine had to wait until approximately 200-400 ad to be developed.

    It is well to keep in mind the difference between the situation humans are born into, coming into existence in a kind of humanity that has weaknesses and tendencies toward evil, and personal decisions to endorse rebellion against God’s moral order by intentionally and with premeditation choosing to align oneself morally against Him. One category has no component of personal choice, hence, no potential for sin or guilt attached; the other does involve personal choice and potential sin and guilt.

    Subjective personal experience–whether of perceived victory or failure–cannot be criteria in determining what is possible in fallen flesh. The Bible, so far as we are able to understand it, must be authority. LK

  50. Pat Travis
    13 July 2011 @ 10:43 am


    Eph.2:1-3 and Rom.3:9-12 seem prety clear about our “natural” condition.

    It is only due to the kindness and Grace of God’s prompting Spirit that we are led to repentance. Rom.2:4.

    But guys…knock yourselves out trying to be “just like” Christ.


  51. Larry Kirkpatrick
    13 July 2011 @ 2:22 pm

    Um. All I really did was mention the content of Genesis 4:7, 8 and a fact about that text. Was it something I said?

    Before we jump off that text and look at others (guess what–I love and appreciate and am committed to being in submission to all the truth of those other texts too!) may I ask if I am mistaken about God’s reaction to Cain and about human choice expressed there? Or can someone correct me if I am mistaken about the historical fact that no the doctrine of original sin did not develop in Judaism but only later in Christianity? Before racing on ahead or assuming somehow that I am indifferent to those important texts, maybe we can just gently consider what God said to Cain. LK

  52. Elaine Nelson
    13 July 2011 @ 3:45 pm

    It seems that Cain’s offering was rejected without prior instructions. Is this God’s attitude showing his displeasure without explanation? He was displeased with the earth’s population and without prior warning, destroyed them all in the flood; He was displeased with the pagans, again without a reason, and ordered their murders.

    How would such actions done by a human not be considered arbitrary and capricious and unmerciful?

  53. Pat Travis
    13 July 2011 @ 9:00 pm


    Your previous post had stated ” But the important point is that God indicated that he could and should. And this in a fallen nature!”

    On what basis do you say God said he “could” or “should” by verb form or syntax? Was there a promise of such total victory? On what basis can we see a promise fulfilled…if indeed it was actually implied as a promise, of “mastering sin” in the OT to the point of “perfection?” Can you point out the OT “victor” to me? Now I can show multiple texts where the OT ask or states “who is without sin.”

    God holds humanity responsible for sin and the curse. Likewise God holds Cain responsible for his circumstances. Is God thus unrighteous “if Cain/we can not respond” and are unrighteous as compared to God’s righteousness as Paul’s human argumant in Rom.3 ask? No God is not unrighteous if he judges us for we are held accountable for our sin despite our circumstance.

    Human depravity does not say we are as bad as we could possibly be and humanity offers no reflection at all of their creator. Human depravity merely says “their is none righteous no not one.”

    I am not naive enough to believe this will satisfy you but on what basis do you say Cain “could master” sin and the desire any more than the woman’s desire and frustration that the male would rule over her rather than being a “helpmate” after the fall and curse would enable that desire to be fulfilled…seeing all the original natural was corrupted.

    While exegesis would have us start with one text then expand as needed for clarification…why is this the exception? After all Cain was the Toledot of rebellion while Seth was the Toledot of those who began to call on the name of the Lord.


  54. laffal
    13 July 2011 @ 10:01 pm


    I am fully aware the we’ve passed this straight before, but I am not quite sure as to why you are so resistant to consider, rethink, and restudy the idea that the Bible teaches that “character perfection” is possible in sinful, fallen flesh… BY THE GRACE OF GOD, THRU FAITH IN CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS?

    What is salvation if is not able to deliver us totally, who are enslaved / proned to sin? Again, I’m speaking directly to the result of the outworking of what Christ has already accomplished once for all.

    Why wouldn’t this be what the Lord was conveying to Cain? Why would the Lord ever give instruction / council / admonishment that would ever imply failure if applying oneself to His word?


  55. Elaine Nelson
    13 July 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    How many humans do you know, personally, who have reached that state of “character perfection”?

  56. laffal
    13 July 2011 @ 10:38 pm

    Elaine… ask that question all you want, because it is your default defense, but that does not mean that it is not a Biblical reality for those who choose to “believe” to that end. There is no problem with your take on the subject because you do not believe that it is achievable “BY THE GRACE OF GOD, THRU FAITH IN CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS.” It is not a question of who has as much as it is a quest of who will believe to that end, and when.


  57. laffal
    13 July 2011 @ 10:40 pm


    It is not a question of who has as much as it is a question of who will believe to that end, and when.

  58. Pat Travis
    13 July 2011 @ 11:03 pm


    Yes we have been that way before. You know it “seems” very spritual to assume we can be sinlessly perfect and seems “very unspiritual” to assume we can’t.

    Elaine asks my question also. Where do you see in scripture…other than Christ…was one without sin? Where in scripture do you see the promise one will be without any sin prior to “our change” at his appearing when we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is…only faintly now lest we be put to our knees by His glory? Rev. 1:17.

    If you are correct that we can be “made perfectly righteous” then the RCC is correct on their understanding of Justification rather than the Protestant Reformers. No matter how Herb and Sr.Gane may protest the Reformers true position was Justification by Faith “alone” means we are “reckoned righteous” and not “made righteous” for our Justification before God.

    So who is correct Laffal concerning soteriology, Rome or the Reformers?

    Your “confusion”, I suggest, is rooted in the “uncertain sound of the trumpet” in Adventism to address the “problem” because it will offend some…yet we claim to be Protestants and the heirs of the Reformation. Thank God Luther and Calvin did not shrink from offending because upon that doctrine the true church “stands or falls.”.

    That said, Laffal, God justifies no one whom He is not in the process of growing in holiness/sanctification through the HS. We indeed are called to holiness…the issue is are we justified because of our holiness obtained by ANY means OR are we justified by Faith “alone” in Christ perfect obedience/attitudes done by Him alone in our behalf?

    Is He merely our example…or is He also our savior in whom we are “considered complete.?” You see, we are not talking about a direction as if holiness is just an added option to a believer rather we are talking about the “degree” we obtain to in this life…and why some insist it must be complete sinless perfection.

    Thus Christ Name as “Savior and Lord” is exalted above EVERY NAME…including ours to the glory of the Father…to which every knee shall bow…including ours. Isa.45:12,13; 21-25.


  59. Glenn Hansen
    14 July 2011 @ 12:59 am

    Larry, Thanks for wanting to focus on one text instead of jumping all over. I wonder why we couldn’t do that with he passage which Herb quoted from James, a text which clearly does not support his contention that sin is a choice.

    The passage in Genesis introduces two types of sin which vex humanity. The offering of the firstfruits was non compliance with God’s will in that no blood was in the sacrifice. A sin of ignorance. Cain misunderstood the necessity of blood. The killing of Abel was an entirely different matter, an act of passion, born of anger and resentment. The first sin was a sin of choice.

    Maybe Cain didn’t really understand the issue. He might have, in which case we have an act of rebellion. Murder, on the other hand, was a somewhat uncontrollable action of passion, motivated by resentment, jealousy, whatever.

    The passage in James which says that we sin when we are carried away of our own lust employs a word which indicates that one is a passive participant, as when Joseph and Jeremiah were drawn out of a pit. Another, more common, use in the LXX, refers to those who have been drawn out of safety into an ambush. It is often used to describe military tactics.

    I really don’t see a lot of support here for the idea that ALL sin is a choice. I like the idea that I can simply make up my mind to not sin. I don’t see Scripture supporting that.

  60. Elaine Nelson
    14 July 2011 @ 1:18 am

    What did Cain not understand? When was he given the necessity of which type of sacrifice was required? Where was blood specified so he could know? Retrospective assumption of a prior story must be woven into the story in order to make such statements.

    How can one rebel when there is nothing to rebel against? The inability to simply read the text as it is written removes all these assumptions.

    Cain has been maligned since the story has been analyzed. Why not just accept it at face value?

  61. laffal
    14 July 2011 @ 1:35 am


    Are you saying that Cain’s father Adam, and his mother Eve would let him grow up not understanding the instruction given to them by God as to what sacrifice was acceptable?

    How else are we to understand Genesis 4:7. Why did Cain kill his brother. He was wrong all the way around. What did he do that was right? The Bible is clear, there was only one acceptable sacrifice… the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, which was symbolized in the sacrificial system.

    Cain made a serious mistake, and his name is a symbol / example for those who willfully make the same kind of mistake.

  62. Elaine Nelson
    14 July 2011 @ 2:12 am

    Laffal, where do you find the instructions Adam gave to Cain on proper sacrifices?

    The story was written long, long after the story. Much later, the proper sacrifices were outlined to the Israelites, but when were Cain and Abel taught the proper sacrifices?

    The symbol “Lamb of God” was first mentioned in the NT, quite a long distance in time from the story of Cain and Abel.

    How did Cain make a “mistake” when he was given any instruction?

  63. Elaine Nelson
    14 July 2011 @ 2:14 am


    I’m curious: what Bible translation are you using that gives such information?
    I have many translations here and cannot locate the stories you give.

  64. laffal
    14 July 2011 @ 2:26 am


    You are simply assuming that there was not instruction because you don’t read in explicitly in the text. Doesn’t mean it didn’t take place. Where did Abel get the idea to offer a lamb?

    Your argument about Old Testament Israel, and the New Testament Christian church and your oft quoted differences between them does not hold water when you take what the Bible says as a whole. So as long as you choose to view story’s and circumstances outlined in the Bible with this viewpoint there is always going to be some clear disagreements.

    You cannot understand the New Testament without the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is empty without the New Testament. Both testify of Jesus as the Savior of the world.

    Back to Cain:

    By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4 ESV)

    What makes Abel’s sacrifice acceptable, and Cain’s not? Why would Cain be upset unless he knew what was required?

    We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. (1 John 3:12 ESV)

    If there was no law, how could Cain be judged as evil because he murdered his brother Abel?

    Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. (Jude 1:11 ESV)

    Cain rebelled against the will of God… period. That is what God was warning him about in Genesis 4:7. He didn’t take heed. The rest is history.

  65. Larry Kirkpatrick
    14 July 2011 @ 5:48 am

    Dear Pat,
    I am not sure what your problem is on TIMSHOL. Whatever syntax difficulties you have, the basics seem clear enough. BDB is clear enough. Sarna’s JPS Commentary finds the text understandable. The LXX translates to Greek KAI SU ARxEIS AUTOU, “and you shall rule him.” If the text is intended as a command, or, as a promise, or, only stating human possibility, in any of these three cases, the meaning is clear enough. What use would this be as Scripture were its meaning unduly ambiguous? I have not seen a Bible translation that does not land in more or less the same place.

    Why bring along phraseology I have not used, like “sinless perfection”? Why the nervous reaction? My reference was to Scripture. Are we not on common ground at least there? Perhaps I should confirm first of all whether or not we share a common framework of understanding about Scripture. In my understanding, Scripture is inspired by God in such manner that divine thought is expressed via imperfect human language. But not so imperfect as to fail of satisfactorily revealing to fallen men what God desires us to know. And any uncertainties that might remain about one line should be helped by the certainties expressed in the remaining material in the 66. A long list of passages points in the same direction: namely, God desires and empowers fallen persons who give themselves to Him His help graciously provided to for doing right rather than wrong.

    I wonder if the whole idea of sin as choice is simply not something that is allowable in your universe? LK

  66. Pat Travis
    14 July 2011 @ 11:04 am


    I believe in the Reformation principle of “sola scriptura.”

    I most certainly do believe sin is a choice…and, I believe in the “bondage of the will” in Luther’s discussions with Erasmus of the natural man who is at emnity with God…as was Cain.

    The statement was true with Cain. Was it an imperative? A subjunctive? A simple statement of fact? Did he do it? Can you demonstrate in the OT saints or otherwise this “should/could” mastery over sin so that sin did not at any point enter?

    I’m pleased you don’t believe in “sinless Character perfection” in the present age…no nervous reaction…just aware that often like birds flock together.

    I have no problem with the “born again” being empowered not to have sin have “dominion” over them.


    • laffal
      14 July 2011 @ 1:54 pm


      I believe your viewpoint of “sinless Christian perfection” is based on a faulty premise, “”should / could mastery over sin so that sin did not at any point enter in.” The issue is not about sin entering in, it is about overcoming the sin that dwells within. Why are you so resistant to the fact that “overcoming” can develop to the point by which “sin will no longer express itself in the believer”, because of the faith of Jesus exercised through the grace of Christ, and the outworking of the righteousness of Christ in the believer.

      And just in case you want to go back to the tried and true statements you make again and again about being justified by faith alone in Christ’s righteousness, overcoming is / should be the fruit / result / outcome of that justification working in the life of the believer. You have only half the truth when you so emphasize justification by faith as you do, while saying that the path is unto holiness. Why isn’t holiness achievable for the believer who will by faith in Christ’s righteousness, believe to that end. And no, I’m not talking about holy flesh, the state by which one is not tempted by the flesh in which we all have to live / contend with. I’m talking about overcoming that flesh, to the point by which it is dominated by the Holy Spirit because the believer has learned to walk in the Spirit to that end. The concept is Biblical. It is the object / goal of the gospel of justification by faith in the righteousness of Christ. If it is not at some point expressed totally in the lives of God’s people, then what’s the point? I do believe Job’s experience will be relived by God’s people, and necessarily so. The question is will they yield to Satan’s constant attacks, or will they like their Savior stand by faith alone, committing the welfare of their souls to a loving God whose grace is always greater then sin?

  67. Glenn Hansen
    14 July 2011 @ 11:54 am

    “The statement was true with Cain. Was it an imperative? A subjunctive? A simple statement of fact? Did he do it? Can you demonstrate in the OT saints or otherwise this “should/could” mastery over sin so that sin did not at any point enter?”

    Pat, You’ve correctly pointed us back the the Scripture record for examples of mastery over sin. Does one exist? Two examples would be required to draw a conclusion. Larry should/could provide us a couple of examples, if they do exist. My default position is the biography of Elijah, a type of those living in the last days who will be translated without dying.

    Oops, killed a few hundred men over religious differences and then ran away when threatened by an apostate queen. Any idea the degrading impact butchering hundreds of people with a sword had on Elijah’s soul? Was that God’s will or was Elijah doing his own thing? If Elijah can hack people to death with a sword and be translated, why should me being angry with my neighbior bar heaven’s gate? Any mention of Elijah’s repentance? Add this story to Ezekiel 9 and you have a recipe for murder in the name of the Lord leading to translation.

    In the NT, Elisabeth and Zacharias were about as righteous as one can be, “walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless.” Yet the response of Zacharias to the angel was doubt, followed by the angel chastising him. Their righteousness was like Paul’s before the commandment came and slew him.

    Some people live in a theological world contrived by EGW and then dishonestly pose as Bible students and advance theories which contradict the plain testimony of Scripture.

    Those are the ones who should be held accountable!

    • laffal
      14 July 2011 @ 2:01 pm

      Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are to look to our fellow man as an example in how it is that we are to live the Christian life. So that question / answer provided it moot. Christ Himself tells us that He is the only example given for us to follow. Again, it’s not a point of living without sin, it’s the point of growing in Christ / grace to the point of no longer yielding to sin.

      The one overcoming, I will give to him to sit with Me in My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father in His throne. (Revelation 3:21 LITV)

  68. Pat Travis
    14 July 2011 @ 2:53 pm


    First of the seed of sin does dwell within and it includes firstly attitudes that express themselves ultimately in deeds. I was referring to sin that waits at the door…as the external in the text regarding Cain. Those continual proper attitudes of the Spirit are Gal.5:23,24 vs. the things of the flesh vs.19-21.

    You say, >> Why are you so resistant to the fact that “overcoming” can develop to the point by which “sin will no longer express itself in the believer”, because of the faith of Jesus exercised through the grace of Christ, and the outworking of the righteousness of Christ in the believer.<< Now that sounds wonderful laffal but what role do you play? Are you but a pasive player…and let Jesus grab the car wheel? :>) Do you not have a role to play in resisting the flesh and is that not a noble “deed or work?”

    The “legitimate overcoming” are still deeds that require your effort…do they not?

    So ultimately we come back down to this principle…

    “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.Rom.4:4,5.”

    We are either reckoned righteous…or we in some way expect our changed character to be a righteousness acceptable before God for justification.

    It’s either one or the other…it can’t be both no matter the carefully crafted beautiful idea of a statement.

    How’s that walk to perfection working for you?


    • laffal
      14 July 2011 @ 6:40 pm


      Romans 4:5 is speaking to the salvation that is ours as a free gift, I get that. As to your question about letting “Jesus grab the car wheel.” YES! But that’s not passive, it is my choosing to let Him do so fully understanding the alternative, Satan grabbing the wheel.

      “We are either reckoned righteous…or we in some way expect our changed character to be a righteousness acceptable before God for justification.”

      Again, I believe you are one sided in your assessment of the place for character perfection. It’s not a matter of being accepted by God as the MEANS of justification, but the RESULT of that justification by faith in Christ’s righteousness alone working itself out in our lives in the pathway to holiness. Why would the Lord call us to walk in holiness if it were not an achievable goal?

      Now the God of Peace, He leading up out of the dead, the great Shepherd of the sheep, in the blood of the everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus, perfect you in every good work, in order to do His will, doing in you that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21 LITV)

      This text makes it very clear that God wants / will work IN US to do those things are and pleasing to Him. It’s not us doing that which is acceptable to him by ourselves…NO. It’s our cooperating with Him, allowing Him to give us the victory over sin… NOT TO SAVE US, but TO WITNESS THAT THE POWER OF GOD THAT SAVES IS GREATER THEN SIN… It’s evidence that what Christ accomplished for all in His, birth, life, death, and resurrection is what God has planned and purposed for His followers to experience in the same way that Christ did… by faith. AGAIN, not to save, but to give evidence that this salvation is ours personally.

  69. Seminary Student
    14 July 2011 @ 4:02 pm

    Herb and Larry are trying to defend ” Sin as choice ” and they are good giving ” proof texts ” Once again they will go back and forth dealing with texts out of context as Hansen has shown in James , that when we put it in the whole context on the chapter and the book , is not speaking about sin as choice . I would like to know if Herb and Larry believe in “prevenient grace ” if they do , they are not that far .If they do , they have not done a good job because the impression I get from Larry and Herb is that ” we have to choose , we have to rule , we have to overcome , we have to, ” can you see the problem ? that is man’s centered and as studied their theology , I know where they are going . They are going to ” last generation theology ” . That is why they start with sin as choice , then they would say that Jesus made all the right choices , Jesus is my example , so I am saved by my choices ,imitating the choices of Jesus . ( Not sure if they will say it exactly like that but that is what I get when I read their books ) They will NOT put emphasis on Justification by faith alone .My problem is that when we make Salvation man’s centered ,is that leads to legalism because Salvation is based on my own performance . Once again , Herb and Larry , will not deal with the effects of the fall . According to a well known Adventist historian , this view originated with the post 1888 extremes views on Justification by faith , and it is built on the Theology of M. L Andreasen .

  70. Seminary Student
    14 July 2011 @ 4:11 pm

    Going back Ellen White believed in prevenient grace not sure if she ever used the term but read this “It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Job 14:4; Romans 8:7. Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless. They may produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life. There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness” this quotation from steps to Christ is ignored by ” Historic Adventists ” it was page18 and the title is” the sinner’s need of Christ “

  71. Pat Travis
    14 July 2011 @ 4:15 pm

    Spot on SS and Hansen.

    Laffal adds the additional twist that “faith in Christ Righteousness” is somehow infused in the process of the road to perfection.

    Again, we are talking of the differences of “final outcome expectations” and the present assurance of “I have been saved…I am being saved…and I will be saved. Indeed the HS does work in us to change His children that focus on Christ…but the HS does not glorify Himself. The bottom line is that “by one sacrifice Jesus has reckoned perfect those that believe in Him and are in the process of being made holy…but not yet having arrived.”

    God justifies the ungodly…what blasphemy to humanities pride. Rom.4:5


  72. Pat Travis
    14 July 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    The good news…that Christ died for the ungodly…

  73. Larry Kirkpatrick
    14 July 2011 @ 6:28 pm

    I would be glad to consider James 1. But it seemed useful to consider Genesis 4 and something near the very beginning of the sin problem. And I have yet to see recognition by others of what is there indicated. Instead, most jump over. Then there is the point that within Judaism no doctrine of original sin developed throughout the OT period. In fact, original sin is a post-NT development. One who traces this is Tatha Wiley, _Original Sin: Origins, Developments, Contemporary Meanings_. If original sin as a doctrine is a post-NT development, theoretically it could still be true and we could process the question of whether the doctrine is useful and correct or not. It seems well to establish certain facts, at least roughly, at the beginning of a discussion. Especially if prejudice lurks nearby! Of course, we cannot fully set aside our prejudgments; their existence and influence upon us is inevitable. But if we can acknowledge them, there is at least hope that we can correct for them. So far, dipping my toe into the water here I see little indication that it is cared to ponder these things dispassionately. Instead, there is leaping and frothing. What use is that?

    Let me try something again. I mentioned before that there is a difference between the situation of damaged and disordered humanity from the time of the Fall and afterward which impacts every single human being ever born; and that there is also the question of personal choice to intentionally rebel and which brings guilt, that sin for which individual humans are condemnable. It is not accurate to suggest that certain of us hold that there was nothing that happened that impacted humans at the Fall. What then happened was huge. It was cosmic. And yet, come now. How is it that Judaism never developed such an understanding? Does not this at least suggest the possibility that original sin as an understanding is a post-biblical development which some are mentally fusing with the NT? And where have I in this discussion quoted EGW, or proposed that many is saved by his works apart from God, or mentioned perfection or LGT? Please don’t respond to some caricature of me you may imagine.

    The fundamental question at hand is whether that sin for which humans are condemned and would be ultimately discontinued in God’s universe involves personally intentional, premeditated, chosen, unrepented of rebellion.

  74. Herbert Douglass
    14 July 2011 @ 6:34 pm

    SS: I really appreciate your willingness to keep chatting. Forgive me for being astounded but who could you possibly be referring to when you wrote, “According to a well known Adventist historian , this view originated with the post 1888 extremes views on Justification by faith , and it is built on the Theology of M. L Andreasen.” If any referenced historian said anything like that, he is sadly mistaken and if said, it shows a remarkably deficient understanding of Adventist history as well as Adventist theology.

    You referred to EGW and certain quotes on the utter inability of fallen man to save himself–and she makes that very clear. But that is not all she said. I am quoting her own summary of the issue:

    “There are two errors against which the children of God–particularly those who have just come to trust in His grace–especially need to guard. The first, already dwelt upon, is that of looking to their own works, trusting to anything they can do, to bring themselves into harmony with God. He who is trying to become holy by his own works in keeping the law, is attempting an impossibility. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin. It is the grace of Christ alone, through faith, that can make us holy. {SC 59.4}
    The opposite and no less dangerous error is that belief in Christ releases men from keeping the law of God; that since by faith alone we become partakers of the grace of Christ, our works have nothing to do with our redemption. {SC 60.1}

    God’s grace comes with two hands, grace of pardon and grace of power. It is a divine-human co-op plan. All God asks is that we accept His forgiveness and trust His ability to change us from sinners to willing obedient sons and daughters. That is the song of the NT that changed the Roman-Grecian world. Cheers, Herb

  75. Elaine Nelson
    14 July 2011 @ 7:24 pm

    “The Fall” is a Christian concept; The phrase “Fall of Man” is not to be found in the Genesis story, nor is there any mention of sinless existgence in Eden, nor is the serpent identified in the story as the devil.

    If Cain is the eldest son of Adam and Eve and he has only one brother, whom he has just now killed, why does he complain to God that one he is exiled “anyone who find s me may kill me?” There is “anyone” alive except his own mother and father.

    Paul and the other NT writers never attempted a precise, definitive explanation of the salvation they had experienced.

    It was Augustine, in the fourth century A.D. who left us the term “Original Sin.” He believed that God had condemned humanity to an eternal damnation, simply because of Adam’s one sin. The inherited guilt was passed on to all his descendants through the sexual act. This is a doctrine unique to the West as neither the Jews nor Greek Orthodox Christians regarded the fall of Adam in such a catstrophic light. A religion which teaches men and women to regard their humanity as chronically flawed can alienate them from themselves.

  76. Larry Kirkpatrick
    14 July 2011 @ 11:18 pm

    It seems to me that as a rough synposis, James 1:2-18 tells of the benefit of trials for Christian growth. Verses 13-15 deal with a significant pitfall: the idea of shifting personal responsibility for spiritual failure from oneself to God. Verses 16-18 make clear that the gift of perseverence comes from the same Father who permits trials.

    The particular argument of 13-15 is that when God permits temptation to come to the individual this cannot be an excuse for embracing that which was forbidden; He does not tempt us by evil. The temptations which have power in our experience are those which reveal how we are wrongly valuing matters. Sin develops as we process and confirm our commitment to that which we wrongly value.

    Yes, the Greek has a number of passives. But look at the passage. In particular, 14 and 15 speak of forbidden desires. “But each one is tempted by means of one’s own forbidden desires, lured away, and baited.” The continuing process is described in 15. Just as the earlier verses of ch. 1 describe how there is a process or sequence by which trials lead to a mature ability to endure, there is also a process or a sequence by which forbidden desires indulged lead to death.

    How is it that forbidden desire arises to begin with? Each person starts with a damaged kind of humanity which is already inclined toward self-indulgence. But our character is not joined to the self-indulgence theme of fallen humanity until we choose to self-indulge. Alas, all so choose. This sets the pattern for further self-indulgence. We choose our values; we build our character atop a disordered kind of humanity. That kind of humanity we are not responsible for, but the character built atop it comes into being only in response to our choices. We are permitted neither to choose the kind of humanity we are born into nor the composition of the universe’s moral structure. We are, however, because of Jesus’ prevenient grace, granted opportunity to realign ourselves with God. All of life is choosing selflessness or self-indulgence, humanity or inhumanity. Because of Jesus we can choose to become truly human. James contrasts how endurance develops and reaches full maturity and how its opposite–death–develops and reaches full maturity. James one actually is a helpful chapter which illustrates this process in a rich picturesque manner. LK

  77. Larry Kirkpatrick
    14 July 2011 @ 11:23 pm

    You are indeed right about the “Fall” in Genesis. It is also rue that not only Judaism but also Eastern Orthodox never developed the teaching of original sin. When it comes to that, we are dealing with exactly what you say–a post-NT Western Christian phenomenon. LK

  78. Elaine Nelson
    15 July 2011 @ 12:19 am

    Larry, if we only had the humility to acknowledge that many of the doctrines that we believe have existed forever and are sacrosanct, were in reality a long time evolving. The leaders who finally ruled became the victors and thus ruled what was orthdoxy. Once orthodoxy was established, all else became heresy, by default.

    We love to believe that the search for “truth” will always win the day, but it is the strong majority that is usually, if not always, the victors.

  79. Glenn Hansen
    15 July 2011 @ 3:01 am

    Larry, Welcome to this discussion. I appreciate your willingness to scrutinize the texts. Cain’s sin is definitely something I want to take a closer look at. As for the passage in James, the language used there, at this point, makes it difficult for me to heartily endorse the idea that people who are deceived and fall into sin are somehow choosing to sin

    I’m away from my study tools for a few weeks. Even though I find this discussion stimulating, I’ll have to bow out, until I can justly review the materials. I haven’t studied the example of Cain closely enough. I need to go over that passage.


    You appear to be equating holiness with character perfection. Upon what grounds do you do that? Sarah is described as one of the “holy” women of old. Urged her husband to violate the plan of God and fornicate. She was then consumed by jealousy and abused Hagar. Sound like a perfect character?

    Holiness in Scripture does not mean perfect character or sinless, especially when referring to people.

  80. laffal
    15 July 2011 @ 3:27 am


    My point is this, we will never be without sin (our sinful nature) until Christ’s return. But we can choose not to sin, give in to / yield to that nature, choosing rather to allow the Holy Spirit to dominate the flesh as He did in Christ. If one will walk in the Spirit more and more, relying on the flesh less and less, to me holiness / character perfection will be the end result… IF one follows Christ / the Holy Spirit to that end. That’s the objective of the Bible and the gospel of grace in terms of working out so great a salvation in the hearts and minds of Christ’s followers.

    I will say this, we need to be careful in how we parse this subject, because there are dangers on both sides of the issue. As I have stated to Pat, to rely wholly on Justification by Faith as it pertains to the accomplished work of Christ for our salvation is only a part of the gospel experience, we are to work out that salvation with fear and trembling, (which is not to say that we do not have the assurance of salvation). To say that character perfection / full maturity is not possible is to, albeit more then likely unintended, saying that sin is greater then grace when it comes to the conflict in each soul.

    While on the other hand, I have no qualms agreeing that there will is no such thing as “holy flesh” until the return of Christ. I’ve always presented “character perfection” as the full fruitage of the gospel worked out in the life of the believer (s). Never is subjective experience to be the means of being accepted by God, and saved. Yet… overcoming is a Biblical admonition… it honors Christ / gives glory to God / shows that Satan is a liar / demonstrates that the gospel of Christ is superior to sin… always.

  81. Larry Kirkpatrick
    15 July 2011 @ 5:11 am

    That would be hard for me to endorse too.

    Rather, I understand that people who have intentionally chosen to indulge inappropriate desires, and who then (in that weakened situation which they have brought into being) manage to place themselves where they are lounging amidst the very bait that attracts them, and who then choose to proceed with what is illicit and what they want–sin–are not innocent.

    Perhaps later opportunity will lead to our further discussion. God bless. LK

  82. Glenn Hansen
    15 July 2011 @ 8:54 am

    Laffal, The problem with your approach to this subject is that you are using Biblical terms to describe something for which no biblical example exists.

    There are many people described in Scripture as either holy or perfect. None of them are described as sinless.

    You are uncomfortable with sin prevailing over grace? Why, it happens every day in hospitals, nursing homes, and various unexpected places. People get sick and they die, even those who closely follow the SOP health counsel.

    How many people hqave been healed by the touch of your hand or raised from the dead through your prayer? If the answer is zero, why should I expect that you would have a perfect character like Adam before the Fall? And if his character was perfect, why did he fall?

    I don’t find this avenue of discussion very helpful. I just wanted to point out that our impotence is already on display. When we start raising the dead and healing the sick, then I’ll start closely considering certain perfectionistic emphases.

  83. laffal
    15 July 2011 @ 10:01 am


    I don’t see where raising the dead and healing the sick has anything to do with what I believe is the “ultimate objective” of the gospel. As for not examples being available, as I stated previously, Jesus is the Bible’s example for all who follow Him / believe.

    Why did Adam fall? That’s an interesting question in that as it is phrased, you can imply that God created Adam with an inherent weakness by which falling was inevitable. Adam chose to do that which was contrary to his nature as God created him… in God’s image. My concern with your / Pat’s / others stated position about “sin prevailing over grace” is based on that premise. Yet, I don’t see in the Bible where “WE HAVE TO SIN any longer. The reason we fall is not because of OUR BORN inherent weakness, but OUR UNBELIEF… period. To say that sin is inevitable in the experience of the believer is to openly deny the power of God to save us from falling, is a huge problem… to me at least.

    Again, I believe there is a disconnect somewhere in the discussion about one being able to grow in grace to the point that they can live above sin. As previously stated, I have / will never say that we will be come sinless in the sense that we will grow beyond temptation. Rather, what I’ve been saying is that the grace of God is more then able to enable us to say no to temptation… each / every time… if we so choose and believe. I agree wholeheartedly that “our impotence is already on display”, but when will the power of God over sin be on display in His people?

    You may “not find this avenue of discussion very helpful”, and I can see why, you don’t BELIEVE that overcoming sin TOTALLY, while yet retaining your sinful fallen nature is possible. Therefore, according to your so stated premise, the grace of God was sufficient to accomplish a perfect salvation for us in Christ only. And by that I do mean to say that the implication is clear, you are saying in no uncertain terms that Christ, thru / by the Holy Spirit can not do in us what is already been done in His life while hear in this earth. That’s a problem Glenn… I will state my concern one more time, because in your response you misquoted / misapprehended what I said. My concern is that your argument lends to the idea that SIN IS GREATER THEN THE GRACE OF GOD, not prevailing over it.

    You can believe what you will, and therefore choose what you will. To imply, or even openly state that GRACE IS GREATER THEN SIN… is sin at the end of the day. And I believe that is all part and parcel with what Herb’s talking about in this blog. And I would more then welcome Herb’s response if I have it wrong.


  84. Pat Travis
    15 July 2011 @ 2:30 pm


    I have no problem with the “fruit” of the good news be that “we are to grow in holiness”…that is obvious in scripture. It seems, however, that you make the “fruit” the good news.

    Isa.52:7 speaks of the “good news.”
    How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
    who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
    who say to Zion,
    “Your God reigns!”

    You see the good news that “our God reigns” was accomplished at the cross by Christ and the prince of this world was cast down…and our God reigns…and He is just and the justifier of the ungodly that trust in Christ.

    Paul tells us, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance a: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1Cor.15:3-5.

    And Christ in Lk.24:46-48 says that is to be our witness to all the nations.

    For we do not “preach ourselves”…but Him.


  85. laffal
    15 July 2011 @ 3:50 pm


    The key term in your assessment is, “SEEMS.” For some reason you want to hammer the idea that the good news is RESTRICTED to what Christ has accomplished on the cross. You can not produce one statement that I have made to give any indication whatsoever that what Christ has accomplished in His birth, life, death, and resurrection is not a completed action for the salvation for humanity. The objective facts of the gospel are clear, Christ dies once for all. That is the gospel without question…

    But for whatever the reason you appear to be resistant to the idea that the completed salvation accomplished for Christ has a work to do in each believer… it has to produce fruit. (John 15:4-8; Romans 7:4-6; Philippians 1:8-11) It can be called “growing in holiness” if you please. Again, where have I ever said that we are to bring attention to ourselves in the process of “growing in holiness” / fruit bearing? The texts provided declare quite clearly that it is the fruit born out in the life that brings glory to God, because it is His life working itself out in us. This process in no ways makes us anymore acceptable to God, it only bears witness to we have received the free gift of salvation, that WE ARE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH, genuinely, as opposed to the counterfeits.

    To me, it is good news that I can live a life that is pleasing to God. NO, it may not be THE GOOD NEWS OF OUR SALVATION in terms of being accepted by God. Yet it is definitely good news to realize that I don’t have to keep on falling in and out of guilt because of sin. I struggle like so many with this process, and the good news of Christ and Him crucified is vitally important to me. But I want to grow up and become a mature Christian man who can honor God in all that I think / do / say.

    There is another very important reason for Christian perfection… Christ’s return. As SDA’s we proscribe to the harvest principle. Christ will only return when the harvest is ripe, which is simply a metaphor for His character being fully developed in the lives of His followers.

    And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29 ESV)

    when he comes on that Day to receive glory from all his people and honor from all who believe. You too will be among them, because you have believed the message that we told you. That is why we always pray for you. We ask our God to make you worthy of the life he has called you to live. May he fulfill by his power all your desire for goodness and complete your work of faith. In this way the name of our Lord Jesus will receive glory from you, and you from him, by the grace of our God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:10-12 GNB)

  86. Pat Travis
    15 July 2011 @ 3:57 pm


    >>There is another very important reason for Christian perfection… Christ’s return. As SDA’s we proscribe to the harvest principle. Christ will only return when the harvest is ripe, which is simply a metaphor for His character being fully developed in the lives of His followers.<< So Jesus can’t come till His followers are “sinless as Christ was sinless?” You see Laffal, I don’t know you but I have witnessed this “SDA theology” for 50 yrs…and I don’t buy it. It is crushing…please don’t come just yet Jesus, I don’t think I’m ready. regards,

  87. Pat Travis
    15 July 2011 @ 4:03 pm

    PS. OR…some are deluded in thinking we are ready…apart from JBF “alone” in Christ.

  88. laffal
    15 July 2011 @ 5:06 pm


    I’ve been here with you the last 56 years, I understand clearly why you would come to your stated conclusion. That does not diminish the harvest principle. The problem is not with the principle, the problem has always been with the method of achieving that perfection of character needed for Christ to return.

    The mindset you point out, “please don’t come just yet Jesus, I don’t think I’m ready” is due to a theology that has robbed the people of the assurance of salvation that is free to all thru the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We as SDA’s have been rightly identified in many ways as legalists because of overemphasis on law keeping as being necessary for salvation to be ours personally, while fighting off anything resembling “once saved, always saved.” Your observation implies, and rightly so in many ways, that there are SDA’s that do not love His appearing, and that’s problematic in and of itself. There is no doubt that trying to keep the law to be accepted by God, and to be ready for Christ return is in itself “crushing”, and I know many who have left to never return because of their frustration as a result. So, I can appreciate your efforts to correct that.

    I have another observation I would like to pass by you. Is Luther’s teaching on Justification by Faith all we need today? Or is there a further development of this all important Biblical truth, (which I believe is the heart of Paul’s gospel), that can and will ultimately produce in the lives of believers the character of Christ in it’s fullness? In my studies I have found that this was the point and purpose of the Lord’s raising up Jones & Waggoner. But as did the Jewish believers resist Paul’s gospel, the leadership of the SDA church resisted Jones & Waggoner’s message of justification by faith in the righteousness of Christ. This resistance in many ways is still in force today, to our detriment.

    As for being as “sinless as Christ was sinless.” Were back to the point of Herb’s piece here… it’s the choosing! Mark 4:26-29 is clear, when the husbandman sees the fruit in full maturity, he goes out to gather the harvest. Revelation 14:14-20 gives us the same picture, with the additional details that there are 2 harvest, of the righteous (by faith), and of the wicked.

    Christian perfection to me is where one follows Christ to the point by which that person would rather die then to think / do / say anything that would cause Christ to suffer the indignities of the cross ever again. That person wants to be used to the fullest extent by God to reveal to the world what the life / love of God is REALLY like. In my opinion, the 144,000 are those people, (while not debating whether that number is literal or not). That’s why they will be able to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. That’s why they will be able to sing about the glory of by the grace of God gaining victory of the beast and it’s image. True Justification by Faith is living in Christ / for Christ / by Christ that the Father may be glorified in us.

    As for the deluded ones… they will be surprised to say the least if they are not delivered from they’re delusion.


  89. Glenn Hansen
    15 July 2011 @ 5:18 pm

    Laffal, You exhibit a couple of typical problems. Your remarks about being kept from falling are probably derived from Jude 24. Jude 24 is a standard perfectionist prooftext which is used erroneously. The issue was recently discussed in depth on one of these blogs. The passage is discussing specific issues covered in the earlier part of the letter. The passage has no legitimate use to prove that people will never fall into sin.

    Jesus is our example in one sense or perhaps several; however, he is distinctly different from us in that his soul was never defiled by sin. Paul speaks of the passions/motions of sin in our members. If I remember correctly, these “motions” are composed, at least in part, of the residue of sin in our past. There was no residue of past sin in the being of Christ.

    Elijah is referred to as a man with passions like ours. Jesus never so. Jesus was as much like us as he needed to be to redeem us. But he was different enough to redeem us. Paul discouraged superstitious people who would worship him by saying he was a man with passions like theirs. Jesus never said that. Actually, he accepted the homage and worship which Paul refused. One reason he could do this is that he was different from humanity. He didn’t have passions like ours. He was in the likeness of sinful flesh. A likeness is a resemblance, not an express image.

    Do you beleive in marriage? Why? Apparently Jesus did not, at least not for himself. Is he your example in that? Do you heal the sick, forgive sin, avoid formal education? If not, why not? Jesus did.

    You refer to Christ as an example but reject the idea that his example as a healer is relevant to you. Why? Even the disciples were able to heal people when their understanding of Christ and his mission was poorly understood. They rejoiced that even the evil spirits were subject to them. Were they sinless? Did they have perfect character? If so, where were they when Jesus was crucified? What were they doing when the mob was calling for Jesus to be murdered?

    You refer to the final generation. Does Elijah figure into that paradigm? Was he sinless? Did he exhibit a perfect character when he mocked the priests of Baal and then butchered them? One thing I learn from Elijah, a man with passions like mine, is that being covered in blood has its benefits.

  90. Pat Travis
    15 July 2011 @ 5:30 pm


    >>I have another observation I would like to pass by you. Is Luther’s teaching on Justification by Faith all we need today? << Luther, Calvin and scripture would say that JBF “alone” is all that will ever be the basis of us being accepted as righteous/justified before a holy God…not our character development. Calvinist,i.e. are very persistent in the fruit and need of sanctification in the life of beleivers. They just don’t carry it to the point of “some SDA’s” that one must “be sinless as Christ was sinless” for to reflect perfectly His character you most certainly would be! Now if you want to say we are to reflect Christ as the moon does the sun with it’s defects…I’ll buy that…but that’s a downgrade reflection of the only perfect God/man Jesus Christ. True believers do choose to grow and they ask forgiveness when they fail…and as I often has said growth in holiness/sanctification is not an option…it simply is a never ending process of the HS working in our lives this side of heaven. Justification/righteous/dik and it’s cognates and JBF never means “make righteous” but “reckon” as so…sanctification/hagios means “growth” in all aspects of righteousness and holiness in the character of the believer…as I said…a process never finished this side of heaven. Peace in Him,

  91. Trevor Hammond
    15 July 2011 @ 6:17 pm

    The Scriptures plainly teach that we are cleaned from ALL sin and unrighteousness throught the Blood of Christ. I think we need to embrace and experience this cleansing from sin and unrighteousness and let God take care of the perfection/blameless part. I’ve heard Ps. John Carter say that no white people are going to heaven; no black people are going to heaven; no yellow or brown people are going to heaven; ONLY RED PEOPLE! Those that have been washed in the Blood of the Lamb. I like that!
    When we are covered by the Blood of Christ, His perfection becomes our perfection not because we are worthy but because HE IS!
    1John 1:6 If we claim that we have fellowship with him but keep living in darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth.
    1John 1:7 But if we keep living in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
    1John 1:8 If we say that we do not have any sin, we are deceiving ourselves and we’re not being truthful to ourselves.
    1John 1:9 If we make it our habit to confess our sins, in his faithful righteousness he forgives us for those sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.

    In the Blood

  92. Pat Travis
    15 July 2011 @ 6:21 pm

    Let me try to add to the meaning. Sanctification also means sanctified “for a holy purpose” as the high Priest was in the OT…and surely the HP was growing in inward holiness as well.

    What would happen on Yom Kipper if The HP approached the “Mercy Seat” without the blood of sprinkling…for himself and the people based on their inward character? The answer is obvious and why we are never acceptable as righteous before God except in the person of our savior and risen king priest seated at the right hand of God…who is the “mercy seat” seated on the throne as King who we are to approach with confidence for mercy and grace in time of need.


  93. Glenn Hansen
    15 July 2011 @ 6:34 pm

    Larry, I have been using what resources I can find online. I found your reference to the passage involving Cain quite interesting but am frustrated by not having access to my usual resources. I have noticed, looking at several commentaries, that there is a wide range of understanding of that passage. It is a difficult passage in Scripture.

    Some commentators hold that the reference to “ruling” or “mastering” is referring to Cain’s relationship to his younger brother. In this sense, the meaning would be that Cain will be restored to his rightful position as the elder brother, a position usurped by Abel when his offering was accepted and Cain’s refused.

    The reference to “sin” is also disputed. Some hold that it is referring to the sin offering, that is to say that God is reminding Cain that he can be forgiven for his mistake and restored to his rightful position.

    This understanding is clearly illustrated in the Genesis NETS:

    It’s unfortunate that this passage is a disputed one and your view is not supported by the latest LXX scholarship. I haven’t formed a final opinion and won’t until I can get back to my usual and customary resources.
    I’m sure you are aware of the controversy over this passage. What is your response?

  94. Seminary Student
    15 July 2011 @ 6:36 pm

    I agree this side of heaven we will never come to a point where we have attained it . The moment we think we have , we fall . Christ is our righteousness , the bible speaks of “putting on Christ ” so this gift of Justification is Christ himself who covers the ones who believe in him .I know the concern of Herb in the quotations of Ellen White , was that some think that can we do it alone and others that God does all the work for us , I think his point is well taken . Those who are in Christ will grow in Christ , I think that big difference is that for me I put emphasis in Christ work . That work started even before I was born , he reconciled the human race to himself . I am in Christ . God predestined us to be saved , he calls us , he enable us to choose , he makes us grow . He is my friend and the more I know him , the more I love him , obedience becomes a joy in the life of the Christian , not to earn Salvation , but because of what he has done . Some of us , who have children will get this easier , what is it that we will not do for our Children ? now think about God how much more he will do for us .

  95. laffal
    15 July 2011 @ 7:32 pm


    Why is it that you appear to be so resistant to the idea that a Christian can so understand AND apply justification by faith that they thru the process of sanctification by faith can be led by the Holy Spirit that they will no longer yield to temptation and sin.

    Your illustration of the moon reflecting the sun is quite appropriate. Who is Solomon talking about in Song of Solomon 6:10? What does it mean that the bride of Christ hath made herself ready to the point by which she is given the righteousness of the saints to wear? What does it mean that the 144,000 are virgins following the Lamb where ever He goes, and don’t have any guile in their mouths?

    Luther and Calvin along with all of the other reformers are vitally important in the restoration of the gospel of Christ. But I understand that truth is to be progressive, it advances. (Proverbs 4:18) Again, what is it about justification by faith having a further / advanced development then Luther. No disrespect to the reformer, but his theology is over 400 years old. Why I bring this up is to say that if Luther had all the light we need for the 21st Century then why hasn’t Christ returned yet?

  96. Elaine Nelson
    15 July 2011 @ 7:46 pm

    I’m not Pat, but Laffal, if you can give just one, only one person who no longer yields to temptation and sins, you might be believable. Until that time, it is all theory with no evidence of results in anyone’s life. Maybe yours?

  97. laffal
    15 July 2011 @ 7:52 pm


    You continue to miss the point. Beyond Jesus we YET !!!

    The whole point is that, on our own it will remain to be what it has been for millenia. It is more then a theory, it is what the Bible teaches, the only problem as so stated previously, our lack of a true understanding of the gospel / justification by faith, and an attending unbelief, it’s not yet been demonstrated as a fact. And I would be more then glad to have it be my life that does so. I’ll also let you in on some very important news, you’ll see it before I tell I’m there. It’s the goal.

    Thanks for the observation.

  98. Pat Travis
    15 July 2011 @ 8:31 pm


    I “suggest” your problem and that of Herb, Gane, is that the doctrine of JBF “alone” can be “progressive.” It can’t be! Neither can JBF “alone” be “applied” towards our sanctified life of growth in holiness.

    That is, my friend, what separates the Reformation view from the RCC and “hybrid SDA views.”

    Another point…when the HP came forth on the day of atonement after his “ministry was finished” were the people perfect in character or merely “reckoned to be?”

    Likewise when our king-priest comes forth to deliver His yet defective/incomplete people when intercession is complete… who are “reckoned to be Righteous” rather than “perfect as He is perfect.”


  99. Trevor Hammond
    15 July 2011 @ 8:34 pm

    We have to also realise that sin and righteousness are NOT just theories. They are both tangible experiences of which sin occupies ‘pole’ position as the default condition of humanity; and no matter how we may spin-doctor it, that’s just the way it is…
    I do believe also that God in Christ Jesus can forgive sin, cleanse sin and keep us from SINNING. [Gen 20:6 – Then God replied to him in the dream, “I know that you did this with pure intentions, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore, I didn’t allow you to touch her.] (makes me think of a text from Jude for some reason)
    An insect once got into my eye and I just couldn’t get it out. Water; air; flipped and flapped lashes; but to no avail. The critter caused pain and discomfort as it scrambled around in my eye. Applying pressure over the area where it was helped stop it moving – but I couldn’t get it out. In frustration and desperation and without time for hospital or doctor I opted for my own home DIY First Aid. Take note of this! [Don’t try this at home :)] I caught the bug from outside my eyelid with my thumb and finger and SQUASHED it out of my eye and out of my life FOR GOOD. Yeah there was some muck left behind which I washed off and there was some redness and swelling; BUT the bug was gone.
    Sin cannot be managed, negotiated, or toyed with: it must be eradicated – and ONLY God in Christ Jesus can remedy it. Sin is an extreme condition and extreme measures are needed to gain victory over its mastery. The death of Jesus on the Cross was this extreme measure. Can I call this a Radical Manifestation of God’s Grace? or Radically Saved?

    In the extreme love of Christ

  100. Pat Travis
    15 July 2011 @ 8:55 pm


    Why do you, Laffal and the others so oppose the doctrine of JBF “alone” and the Radical Love of the Father and Son who was an atonemnt for sin that we might be saved? That He might be just and the justifier of the “ungodly.?”

    Could it be that some are quite content with their sanctification and righteousness before God? Is it not true the closer we get to Jesus the more we recognize our own defects of Character compared to His and this is a sure indication we are overcoming our delusions of personal righteousness?


  101. Trevor Hammond
    15 July 2011 @ 9:34 pm

    Dear Pat – Sir

    Oppose? In what way?


  102. laffal
    15 July 2011 @ 11:34 pm


    I am by no means opposed to JBF. Quite the contrary, you seem to continue to think that I am stating that I am under the influence of “delusions of personal righteousness.” Yet, you continue to leave JBF as the historical work of Christ alone, while not, for some reason, willing to consider that the application of JBF will at some time, in some one who is willing to allow Christ thru the HS to work out that JBF in their lives, to the point by which they will no longer yield to temptation and sin. It’s Bible Pat.

    I agree with your position as to how we are accepted by God. But JBF must be experienced in addition to being accepted. That’s why it’s called JBF. You can ignore all of the texts provided to continue to rest on a theology that is, as important as it is, yet being 400 years old with no new developments that will enable us to meet the challenges of today. God always has light for those in time in which they were living. You bet Luther had light that was vital to shine on the pathway of the Christian church that would lead us out of the Dark Ages, but the light did not stop shining with him. There is more light to be had. Just because you’ve seen folks crushed by what they understood the harvest principle to mean in applying commandment keeping to the formula, doesn’t mean that it is not Biblical or relevant.

    The only other alternative you leave us with is that believers will continue to sin, or fall, however you may put it (although you’ve never stated it in an explicit form), until Christ returns. This is a dangerous position to take. It is as though God knows were going to sin until He returns, so what’s the point in pursuing a life of holiness that honors God? I know you don’t mean that, but it can easily be derived from your position. Because in fact, you are stating a position that states that sin is great then grace, (which is altogether different then sin prevailing in humanity).

    To equate sinlessness with growing to the point in grace and faith by which one no longer will yield to temptation and sin is irresponsible.

    The question now is who’s opposing what?

  103. Pat Travis
    16 July 2011 @ 12:49 am


    I’m not opposed to you growing to be all that God wants you to be in holiness. In fact I’m in favor of it. But when you’ve grown, as well as any saint, to the full ear…you will still need the merits of Christ to cover your iniquity.

    You can’t “experience” what Christ alone accomplished “for you”…your justification…the perfect obedience of Christ that you accept as yours by “faith alone.”

    Your Character is a product of the promised HS working in your life, who with your cooperation, leads to a growing holiness…and is your righteousness…for it is your character.

    There seems to be a blissful ignorance among many of the actual issues of the Reformation.

    However, I am glad you feel truth is progressive in some senses so that the “confusiing passages EGW has in places” are open to new growth and progressive understanding as we bwetter see the HS’s guidance of the Protestant Reformers concerning the biblical meaning of JBF.

    Happy Rest in Christ.

  104. Seminary Student
    16 July 2011 @ 3:03 am

    Pat Travis . Well said . We always need Jesus , we will always need him . Satan thought he could do it on his own , and see the results .

  105. Glenn Hansen
    16 July 2011 @ 4:31 am

    Jesus fasted 40 days, How many days, exampleites, have you fasted? 1, 3 5, 7, 10? Consider Jesus feeding the multitude. Three days without food and he was worried that they might faint if they weren’t fed. Why? He went forty days. Jesus knew that the constitution of the people was different from his. He could stand a forty day fast, they couldn’t. Jesus didn’t expect the people to equal his example, or even, in this case, follow it.

    Laffal, You are displaying Wieland’s toxic influence on your thinking. Usually, the only people who wonder why we haven’t moved beyond Luther’s justification theology are those who are ill informed of his teachings on the subject. One reason we don’t move beyond it is because his thinking is fully grounded, even permeated, by the NT teaching on the subject.

    Visit this website and look through the older posts to the two from Luther on Genesis 15:6:

    You will see a good example of why Adventists can’t move beyond Luther.

  106. laffal
    16 July 2011 @ 5:19 am


    I guess it can as easily said that it is yet to be determined. I have no issues with Luther, and thank God for him. But to say out of hand that his theology on the subject of justification is all the light that we need on the subject 4 centuries later does not appear to coincide with the development of the Christian church as outlined in the NT, especially the book of Revelation.

    You and may not agree, but to assess one man’s theology as toxic simply because you do not agree with it, for what ever the reason, does not make you right and him wrong. All I’ve done is share what I see, and how I understand what the Bible teaches, not Luther, not Wieland, or anybody else for that matter.

    The bottom line here Glenn is as I said previously, it is all yet to be determined. It remains to be seen…

  107. Glenn Hansen
    16 July 2011 @ 6:27 am

    Yawn, Really, you folks are so predictable. What you are suggesting is that we move away from the cross into legalistic perfectionism. That’s not progress, Laffal, really, it’s apostasy. One can see the toxic influence of not only certain modern men. EGW adds more confusion to the mix and then you have Jones and Waggoner, who may as well have cursed the darkness for the dimness of the candle thy lit.

    No doubt you have read Jones, “Historical Necessity of the Third Angel’s Message.” His legalistic framework is plainly declared there. The SDA denomination is about the Decalogue, not the cross. Good luck with that.

    Go where your pastors leads you. After all, you pay their salary. Reminds me of Solzhenitsyn’s little book “We Never Make Mistakes.” Sad.

  108. laffal
    16 July 2011 @ 6:57 am


    Who said anything about moving away from the cross to legalism? I just don’t at this point see the need to attempt to state myself any clearer then I have to this point. You seem to want to take liberty in slicing and dicing what I have set forth as to how I see the issues at hand because of some set of predetermined notions that you have about SDA’s and all those you chose to mention. Your mind is made up and you obviously don’t take the time to read what is actually being said, so what’s the point?

    Granted there has been an overemphasis of the Decalogue at the expense of grace / the cross of Christ. But as to your free handed snipes… again it is quite simple… you think your right and we SDA’s are wrong… time will tell, and all we can do is wait and see… Not much else to say at this point… agreed it is sad.

  109. Pat Travis
    16 July 2011 @ 10:43 am

    Hansen & Laffal,

    EGW said, “The great doctrine of justification by faith, so CLEARLY taught by Luther, had been almost wholly lost sight of; and the Romish principle of trusting to good works for salvation, had taken its place.” GC p.253.

    How can something clearly taught be “progressively changed?” If that is true then SDA’s are using pretense and statements of being Protestants as a mere fasade. It is called “bait and switch.” So I suggest this Reality check is needed in the SDA church Mr. Wilson…your father refused to go there!

    Yet, what Luther clearly taught Laffal wants to be “progressive.” Which is an interesting twist by Weiland, Larry and others. They who accuse those who hold to Luther’s understanding of JBF as “the new theology” in adventism are actually the ones having a “new progressive theology” of the doctrine based on “some”(while some are good and consistent with Luther & Calvin) confusing comments by EGW and Jones and Waggoner about JBF.


  110. laffal
    16 July 2011 @ 12:01 pm


    I’m not sure that you’ve understood what I’ve been trying to say. I’ve said that “truth is progressive”, not in terms of a”new theology”, but in terms of a further development. That is to say, that what Luther understood / taught there is to be departure from, but a clearer understanding of. And the only point or place I can see where we differ is on the work of JBF in the life of the believer, or what the work of JBF will actually accomplish in the life of the believer.

    The basic premise that I hold to is this, there is eternal truth, of which JBF clearly belongs, no question. Then there is present truth, that which applies directly and specifically to those now living. The issues and the circumstances of life today are not equal to Luther’s day… Yes we as SDA’s hold to the Anti-typical Day of Atonement teaching, which united with JBF gives a dynamic to the gospel that has yet to be seen / experienced. Is it wrong? The possibility does exist, but on the other hand, what are we debating about anyway? Who sees / understands the true gospel?

    There is much to which I have agreed with. Yet, to continue to try and pigeon hole my / for the most part SDA theology based on preconceived ideas of the concepts set forth, is quite interesting to say the least. Over and over again, what I’ve actually said does not get addressed as much as what you want to make me say. And yet this thread is supposed to be about sin / righteousness… I believe interesting sums it up well. Reminds me of Luther, Carlstadt, Zwingle in their day…

    Pat if you and Hansen are saying that the reformation was complete in Luther’s day, then I will stand corrected… but if not… then there is a place for a further development of what Luther taught and preached…


  111. Pat Travis
    16 July 2011 @ 1:00 pm


    On the doctrine of JBF “alone” what Luther and Calvin taught can not be improved on.

    They said that Justification was an “alien rightousness” that belongs to only Christ. We accept THAT righteousness as ours by a “simple act” of faith.

    We don’t “experience” that in the sense it is acted out in our life. We accept “His alien righteousness” not posessed by us internally as our only assurance till the end.

    That can’t be improved on…ever.

    Wieland, Larry K. as I recall refer the above understanding I have stated as the “new theology.”

    At least you seem to be acknowleging you are changing the reformed position for what you conceive to be a “progressive one.” At least I will give you credit for honesty rather than trying yo say your view was held by Luther…and Calvin.

    I know what you are saying Laffal. You are saying the “righteousness by faith of Jesus” is being infused into you as you walk in faith. I say, not so, s His Righteousness that Justifies is always “outside us” though an internal growth through the HS is taking place in which we do better reflect our savior.

    My thought to President Wilson is that before you send the GC throughout the land you take care of the basic problem concerning JBF in your own home and “look in the mirror” before correcting some true Protestants outside.


  112. laffal
    16 July 2011 @ 2:19 pm


    Honestly, I don’t think you get it. Your so busy defending Luther / Calvin that you can’t see anything else. You continue to misapprehend what I’ve been saying. The righteousness of Christ received is always of / from Him. But when you receive that righteousness by faith… the Holy Spirit will work out that righteousness by which it will become a part of our everyday life, if we cooperate with Him. Yes, it is / will always be Christ’s righteousness as the source, yet it becomes ours in experience thru the Holy Spirit. But in line with this thread, as long as I choose His righteousness as the free gift from God that it is, as opposed to sin and temptation, victory over sin will happen.

    “On the doctrine of JBF “alone” what Luther and Calvin taught can not be improved on.”… “Ever.”

    I don’t agree… in the sense that if this were the case then could have come in Luther / Calvin’s day. And I’m not trying to diminish what Luther / Calvin set forth. Their work was very important in the recovery of gospel truth. But the light did not stop shinning on the plan of salvation in their day. Otherwise Matthew 24:14 in theory should have been fulfilled at some point in the last 400 years. It hasn’t yet, why?

    Never did I see that their understanding of JBF needed to be improved… But I have said that there is more light to be had… And just maybe your issues with Adventism as 5 genner as I, which I can clearly understand, and not debate, could be a part of the problem in the way you approach this. Not that I blame you. For a lack of better terms, your appear to be stuck in the past.


  113. Glenn Hansen
    16 July 2011 @ 4:07 pm

    Laffal, The point of reading Luther is his exposition of Scripture.
    That’s what gives him credibility. The same might be said of Melanchthon, to a lesser degree. I find it difficult to believe that you or anybody else, can read Luther’s writings on justification and then talk about moving beyond to “present truth.” Just what of the two have you read?

    I recall a conversation I had with Robert Wieland. Martin Chemnitz was mentioned. He made no effort to direct me to purer streams of Reformation theology, which makes me wonder just how extensive his knowledge of the subject was/is.

    A lot of Adventists think they understand Luther because they have read EGW’s narrative biography in the GC. Luther’s/Melanchthon’s theology is virtually absent from that book. Books/transcripts/articles such as Christian Liberty, On Translating, Lectures/Commentary on Galatians, The Heidelberg Disputation, Lectures/Commentary on Genesis, The Augsburg Confession, The Apology to the Augsburg Confession, The Commonplaces of Theology, and Luther’s Sermons are necessary reading before one can begin to grasp the theological issues of the Reformation.

    Only a portion of Luther’s writings have been translated into
    English, so there may be more jewels to come. EGW wrote a few chapters on Luther in GC. Martin Brecht, in recent times, wrote three entire volumes, volumes which dwarf the GC, in terms of biographical content, on Luther.

    Melanchthon’s knowledge of the Greek classics was comprehensive from a lexicographical perspective. His insight into the meaning of obscure NT terms, based on his knowledge of Classical Greek, was amazing. And his understanding was validated by the discovery of koine, 400 years later. They were well ahead of their time, even centuries ahead. Their insights leave Adventism in the dust, struggling to develop a Christian theology based on the
    Decalogue rather than the Cross.

    Plenty of Adventists try to soft peddle crass legalism with expressions such as “loving obedience” to the Decalogue. Rome tried the same rubbish on the Reformers. They didn’t buy it. Neither do I.

  114. Seminary Student
    17 July 2011 @ 4:10 pm

    I have a problem when people use the word ” legalism ” , Legalism is when what we do for Jesus is only from the outside , but how can I know if someone goes to church on Sabbath out of legalism or because it comes from the heart ? The only one who knows the heart is Jesus , so the only one who can call some one ” legalists ” is Jesus because he knows us from inside out .my other problem is with the ” decalogue or the cross ” Glenn Hansen , why do we have to always be forced to choose either or , how about both ? As an Adventist I don’t believe we are saved by the law , the law is not an instrument of salvation but a witness of Salvation , the law is fulfilled is us who walk after the spirit not after the flesh .Paul is very clear in Romans , should we reject the law that grace may abound ? By no means ! our discussion took a turn , going back to sin as choice . Dr. Douglass , when I speak of sin not being my choice , I will try to explain this , If Jesus gives me his grace and I think that we both agree that grace is not only forgiveness but includes power to do his will , we can not choose to do his will , we can not change anything in our lives but by the grace of God and his power , he enable me to give my will to him . We were dead in sin but by the grace of God we are now dead to sin . Do I see this as a state that I reach ? NO . we need to die to sin daily . Jesus promised that if He be lift it up , he will draw us to him , when I look at the cross , I am drawn to my loving Savior knowing that No one , will love me more than him .Then , I am crucified with Christ , and I no longer live and the life that I now live , I live it by faith , learning to say Yes to him . Do I get any credit for this ? No , this is grace ! In Luke 4 After Jesus performed the miracle when the disciples caught all the fish , Peter realized that he is in the presence of the Almighty God , and he fall on his knees , and realize how sinful he is , and tell Jesus ” depart from me because I am a sinner ” and Jesus tells him ” Don’t be afraid , from now on , you will be fishers of men ” you see only we are on our knees at the feet of Jesus , we realize our sinfulness , and only then he can work in our lives . So Our Christian experience is all about Christ .

  115. Pat Travis
    17 July 2011 @ 4:59 pm

    Hansen, SS, & Laffal,

    Hansen I appreciate and beleive as you do that Luther’s and Calvin’s(me)value was more than “one concept or idea.” Both developed the Protestant view of JBF firmly in sound biblical exegesis and that is what overthrew the power of the midevil church over the “soul.”

    “legalism”, I suggest is simply trying to be “justified by one’s obedience” to the law or any perceived standard of righteousness by “any means.” Growing in the Spirit is also the “putting off of the old man and it’s spirit” and growing in obedience but by no means is it ever “the means”
    of justification.


    The tendencies after 1888 of J&W were towards pantheism. I suggest there is a “thin line” between a “hyper” understanding of the accomplishments of the HS within and a “pantheism of the soul temple.” The presence of “god within” can lead to the mere development of the carrier into a “mystical” form of god likeness…just like Jesus. Is it possible that an understanding of JBF as “making righteous” can contribute to that end?

    The proper balance I suggest is kept so by the sound Reformed teaching/doctrine of the roles of Justifcation, Sanctification and Glorification in the life of the believer. As has often been inferred that JBF “alone” and SBF through the indwelling HS are two rails/oars… perhaps without both the believer falls off the proper tract,understanding and direction.

    Regards to all,

  116. Herbert Douglass
    18 July 2011 @ 1:44 am

    I think angels are glad to see men thinking hard about what it means to say Yes to God. It is great to see different points being made that are worth considering. All that God’s plan of salvation is designed to do is to undo from our lives what sin has damaged. This involves man’s cooperation with God. We are not caught in the inescapable maw of God’s predestined decision as to whether we are to be “saved” or not–our response to His Free Invitation is as necessary as His Open Door to Return Home.

    God does not play word games. He is only interested in our cooperation in helping Him remove sins from our neural pathways (sin is really in no olther place). The Scriptures tells us plainly that only changed people will be entrusted with eternal life–not word games that the world is full of.

    That’s why “legalism” is a non-starter! Angels can see through those who may have the words but not the music–and all Heaven is focused on helping legalists to catch the joy of discovering the joy of really living the truth, finding the joy of trusting God in helping them as they meet all of life’s challenges–no more burdens to obey but sheer pleasure in keeping step with the nudging of the Spirit, fulfilling the law but never sensing that they have done enough. Like obeying my wife–I never feel I have done enough but it is all joy, day and night.

    Sometimes we get used to our theological verbiage and that is a pity. Paul and others use different language when writing to their various churches. But the story is still the same. Romans has a particular use of language and Philippians, for example, another–all depending on the occasion. But the simple truths of the gospel get through, though said in different ways. Am I saying this OK? Cheers, Herb

  117. Seminary Student
    18 July 2011 @ 5:02 am

    Herb says “Like obeying my wife–I never feel I have done enough but it is all joy, day and night.” Well said , I fully agree with you . I hope that one day , we can be classmates in the University of heaven and learn from the best teacher , Jesus . So let’s ask him to reveal more about him every day here and let’s ask him for the joy of his love in our lives , blessings ,

    Alberto .

  118. Glenn Hansen
    18 July 2011 @ 11:10 am

    Legalism in its simplest form can be understood as initiating justification through obedience to a law, ordinance, statue, or judgment. Hopefully, that is entirely absent from Adventism; however, there are those who maintain that justification is sustained by obedience to the Decalogue. A corollary of this is that one is lost when the Decalogue is violated in the Christian walk and salvation must be reacquired through repentance.

    This kind of legalism permeates Adventism.

    A.T. Jones, in a series entitled “The Historical Necessity of the Third Angel’s Message” opined that the reason for Adventism’s existence is to proclaim the Ten Commandments. One Adventist evangelist openly stated that God had called him to teach Christians the “binding nature” of the Decalogue. That’s what I call legalism.

  119. Trevor Hammond
    18 July 2011 @ 12:38 pm

    St. Peter said to all the men gathered at the pearly gates: “All those who were dominated by their wives please form a line on my right, and all those men who dominated their wives, on my left.” …All the men quickly stood on the right in the dominated by wives group, except for one guy who stood on the left. So St Peter said to the men on the right: “You guys should be ashamed of yourselves for letting your wives boss you like that. See this man on the left, he had the guts to stand up for himself.“ …Then to the loner on the left he asks: “Tell me sir, how is it that you managed to stick up for yourself and not get bossed around at home? – Tell us, what is your secret?” The loner on the left says to St. Peter: “I dunno… My wife told me to stand here!” 🙂

  120. Pat Travis
    18 July 2011 @ 1:04 pm

    I appreciate the fact that your saying yes to your wife “in obedience” is evidence of your love.

    The “Roman Schoolmen” of Luthers day would argue with him concerning love as one’s whole duty and then say “ justifies.” To which Luther would respond…”your evidential love does NOT justify before God.” You see the Sophist could not see that for Love to justify it would be no different than for the Law to justify…Said Luther,”There is not one man on earth that loves God as the law requires.”

    See Luther’s 1535 Commentary on Galatians. Gal.5:16.


    At least the honesty prevailed among the men. :>)


  121. Elaine Nelson
    18 July 2011 @ 4:27 pm

    The “Law” cannot command love, and only love for God is mentioned in the Law.

    In an ideal marriage there are no laws; true love wants to do everything that their partner wishes, when at all possible, even going the las mile. There should be no laws or rules in our love for God, but living to honor the name of Christian. Christianity was born on Resurrection Sunday and baptized by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. Something to think about.

  122. laffal
    18 July 2011 @ 5:11 pm


    The law of God is love, it can be not other way… For God is love.

  123. laffal
    18 July 2011 @ 5:12 pm

    God does not command love… He demonstrates it and then asks to learn from it, and follow Him / it.

  124. Elaine Nelson
    18 July 2011 @ 5:52 pm

    “But now we have been reeleased from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”

    “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

  125. Pat Travis
    18 July 2011 @ 5:57 pm


    I agree 100% that the law can not demand love…but that is not it’s purpose.

    Suppose out friend Herbert steals from his wife, kills his wife, commits adultery on his wife, bears false witness about his wife, and covet’s his neighbor’s beautiful wife for himself…as David did. Would you say Herb loved his wife?

    You have likely heard at church…we don’t obey God because we have to but because we are saved and love Him. WELL, those pesky and arrogant Reformers so beloved of the RCC said NO YOU DON’T! NO ONE…even Herb loves God as the law commands!

    Wow! What does that do to our estimation of our “Spirit led” life? But, Luther’s understanding is wrong and we have a “progressive” understanding of the issue now.

    Can you see why both “Traditional” and “progressive SDA’s hate Luther’s true position? That guy is denying any way for me to be justified…even by my loving spiritually led obedience…what absurdity that he recognizes not “my love.”

    To Calvin and Luther “the law” was first of to convict us of our sinfulness…forever…then it was to be a guide for our growth in sanctified holiness for what true love IS NOT.


  126. Elaine Nelson
    18 July 2011 @ 6:22 pm

    Pat, I fully agree that the Law cannot command love, nor was it written for that purpose but to instill in former slaves some modicum of decency and respect which they had been denied for 400 years. Like children, they had to be taught the basic essentials of how to live harmoniosly, just as children who first must be given detailed instructions. But once we have become adults, we should have internalized principles and no longer need such explicit instructions on how to live.

    The Law was a pedagogue, guide, or tutor to lead us to Christ. But now that Christ has come we are no longer in need of a guide. He has replaced the Law and expects us to live with both love and respect to all humans: the Golden Rule is a capsule of all laws.

    If a mature adult needs constant reminding not to lie or steal, he is yet a child and must be treated as a child.

    Something I was reading this morning had this to say about morals:

    “Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom notes that “it is often beneficial for humans to work together … which means it would have been adaptive to evaluate the niceness and nastiness of other individuals.” In groundbreaking research, he and his team found that infants in their first year of life demonstrate aspects of an innate sense of right and wrong, good and bad, even fair and unfair. When shown a puppet climbing a mountain, either helped or hindered by a second puppet, the babies oriented toward the helpful puppet. They were able to make an evaluative social judgment, in a sense a moral response.

    Michael Tomasello, a developmental psychologist who co-directs the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has also done work related to morality and very young children. He and his colleagues have produced a wealth of research that demonstrates children’s capacities for altruism. He argues that we are born altruists who then have to learn strategic self-interest.”

    These qualities are innate–or God-given. Only under horrible circumstances (slavery, war, privation) are they almost forgotten. Is this the reason God had to give the Law to former slaves?

  127. Pat Travis
    18 July 2011 @ 6:39 pm


    I suggest it was given as a continual reminder of our “lack” of Righteousness.

    Yes, in one sense the Torah is a pedogogue till the Spirit came indeed…BUT note what Paul said in Gal.5:17,18.

    Then notice Gal.5:22,23 what attitudes WE MUST ALWAYS MAINTAIN for us to say “against such attitudes there is no law” …LESS THE “DEFAULT” PUT’S THE LAW IN FRONT OF US AS A MIRROR again.


  128. laffal
    18 July 2011 @ 6:54 pm


    To rightly understand what Paul said: “But now we have been reeleased from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter”, you have to understand the issue.
    Paul was not saying that the law no longer has a place in the life of the Christian, what he was saying is that we are no longer under the condemnation / dominion of the law. To serve in the Spirit includes the law, but under a new motivation. Our union / walk with Christ is not based on if we make a mistake we do not have to fear being punished / rejected. Much rather our union / walk with Christ is based on the grace of God enabling us to walk in His law of love, and if we fall / fail, He reaches down to pick us up and to teach how / why we fell so we can learn how to live a life that represents / pleases him.

    The word end in Romans 10:4 does not mean primarily to terminate. It primarily means to fulfill / complete the purposes of the law. Example: Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. (Matthew 3:13-15 ESV)

  129. laffal
    18 July 2011 @ 7:32 pm


    “These qualities are innate–or God-given. Only under horrible circumstances (slavery, war, privation) are they almost forgotten. Is this the reason God had to give the Law to former slaves?”

    You didn’t get this from the Bible. That is only human philosophy.

    The Bible says that Israel had lost a knowledge of the God of their fathers. In addition, the law was given to them to insure their liberty and freedom, not only from Egypt / Pharaoh, but from sin itself which would turn them (us) from God to there own hurt and return to bondage. This is the sad story of the Old Testament, Israel failed to get it. And it wasn’t because of his law.

  130. Elaine Nelson
    18 July 2011 @ 9:30 pm

    The studies of toddler was based on observing human nature; demonstrating that there is within us the desire to “set things straight” and help the helpless. To do otherwise, it must be taught, which is what war does: it demands that soldiers kill “enemies” only by their ethnic or geopolitical location.

    God ordered the Israelites to go to war with this objective: take their possessions, their wives and children and utterly destroy them. With this example, Christian crusaders got their marching orders from their leaders, just as the Israelites took their orders from God. The song “Onward Christian Soldiers” is a perfect illustration of the military-like Christianity that has been extant in Christianity and Judaism since their beginnings.

    Laws have totally been ineffective to curtail human lust and greed. There is another way of living peaceably with all men: some cultures have demonstrated this. Those who follow Buddhism, the Quakers, and at one time it was Adventists. Where love is seen, it has a magnetic affect; but too often the squabbling over the Bible and its many positions has entangled us in a web where it is diffcult to become free.

  131. laffal
    18 July 2011 @ 11:17 pm


    The issue remains the same. No matter how you mix human philosophy with the Divine, as plausible / reasonable it may sound, your still not only going to come to the wrong conclusion, your not going to be able to identify the solution.

    More problems have been caused by the misuse of God’s law then can be documented. It’s not His law that is the problem, contrary to your stated / quoted opinion, it the human heart that is the problem… by nature it’s lawless.

    That is why the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile toward God. For it refuses to submit to the authority of God’s law because it is powerless to do so. (Romans 8:7 ISV)

  132. Elaine Nelson
    19 July 2011 @ 12:20 am

    And the Gentiles which do not know the Law but instinctively the things of the Law show that it is written in their hearts….On the day when God will judge the secrets of ment thought Christ Jesus.

    This indicates that pagans, atheists, and Gentiles will not be judged by the Law but the things they do. The majority of people do not look to the Law of Moses for their guides, but live by moral standards that all cultures know.

    That the Law has been misused is too evident. While there are thousands of criminals incarcerated, the far larger population lives quiet, law-abiding lives–some because of the Bible, but many have a conscience that prevents them from breaking laws.

    The “Law of Moses” has 5 laws that are incorporated in nearly all civilized nations, and were in effect long before Moses. These apply to all peoples; the first 4 applied only to the Israelites as was plainly stated in the preamble: “I brought you out of Egypt” “The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. The Lord DID NOT make this covenant with our fathers, but with us,with all those of us alive here today.” This limits the Law to the Israelites delivered from Egypt and no one else.

  133. laffal
    19 July 2011 @ 12:40 am


    “This indicates that pagans, atheists, and Gentiles will not be judged by the Law but the things they do. The majority of people do not look to the Law of Moses for their guides, but live by moral standards that all cultures know.”

    I beg to differ. Paul is talking the Jews whom God gave His law. He uses the Gentiles as an example that they who did not have the law, do those things that are contained in the law, will not be judged by the law. Why? Because the law will find not fault in them in the sense that their lives are in harmony with the law of their conscience that was placed there by God in the first place. They will be found faithful to the basic law of right and wrong. In the context this is important because not only did the Jews hate the Gentiles, they had a far greater responsibility because of the greater privileges given to them by God. It was His intended purpose for Israel to demonstrate in living detail what God and His rulership of love and fidelity was all about. Obviously they failed.

  134. Elaine Nelson
    19 July 2011 @ 1:10 am

    I thought that was what I was saying: “They (Gentiles will be found faithful to the baic law of right and wrong.”

    Are we Gentiles or Jews?

  135. laffal
    19 July 2011 @ 1:21 am


    I guess a way to address your question is with another text in Romans.

    “Now it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, (Romans 9:6 ISV)”

    In other words, we are Gentiles by birth, in the sense that is how the term is oft defined. But Paul used the term Gentiles to define those who did not believe the gospel. So we can be both in the sense that we are Gentiles by birth, but Israel by faith.

  136. Elaine Nelson
    19 July 2011 @ 1:40 am

    True, but that went unmentioned in the initial conversion of Gentiles who were exempt from living under the Law. When did the Law become a requirement for later Gentiles?

  137. Glenn Hansen
    04 August 2011 @ 1:47 pm

    Larry Kirkpatrick,

    I am back to my desk after a trip to Thailand. I highly recommend Thailand in the offseason for steep discounts, great weather, and fewer crowds.

    Regarding the passage in Genesis 4, I’m not going to dispute the reading in most English versions, despite the fact that the LXX has a significantly different rendering of the passage. The LXX rendering actually makes more sense to me but for the sake of this discussion, I’ll accept the passage to read as follows:

    7″if you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? and if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

    There are immediate problems with this passage because there are few other passages which contain any of the word combinations. “Sin is crouching at the door” for example, appears no other place in the OT. Neither do expressions such as “sin is crouching” “crouching at the door;” consequently, there are no cross references to shed light on this passage.

    “Sin” and “desire” do not appear together in any other OT passage.

    The passage below shows the only example of “sin” and “master”

    Nehemiah 9:37 “its abundant produce is for the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins <02403>; they also rule <04910> over our bodies and over our cattle as they please, so we are in great distress.

    Significantly, there are no examples of people mastering the sin which crouches at the door. Obviously, Cain failed to do this since he killed his brother after God told him to master his sin.

    To what does the “door” refer? This passage in Job may be related but it is difficult to draw any conclusion from it:

    Job 31:9 “if my heart has been enticed by a woman, or I have lurked at my neighbor’s doorway <06607>,

    Cain’s sin was not sexual in nature.

    Larry, if you can offer any light on the meaning of this passage, supported by examples from Scripture, I’d be happy to see them. Perhaps I have been too hasty in drawing my conclusion; however, I don’t consider this passage especially helpful. It has nearly no useful cross references and if it was an admonition to Cain, it didn’t prevent him from killing his brother.

    To suggest that this passage somehow demonstrates that sin is a choice, which was the point of the discussion, is really a stretch. Where did you get the idea that God is telling Cain to master his “inclination” to sin. I don’t see “inclination” in the text but I am willing to be shown.