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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Foreign
Sin enters into the human race, and death through sin...Pronunciation: 'for - en,
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English forein, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin foranus on the outside, from Latin foris outside
1 : situated outside a place or country; especially : situated outside one's own country
2 : born in, belonging to, or characteristic of some place or country other than the one under consideration
3 : of, relating to, or proceeding from some other person or material thing than the one under consideration
4 : alien in character : not connected or pertinent
5 : related to or dealing with other nations
6 a : occurring in an abnormal situation in the living body and often introduced from outside (a foreign body lodged in the esophagus)
6 b : not recognized by the immune system as part of the self (foreign proteins)
7 : not being within the jurisdiction of a political unit (as a state)
"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned" - Romans 5:12 [ESV]
Here we read that sin "came into the world" - I might add, the world was already created at this time - that is (for those of you who are paying attention) sin is -not- a part of God's creation. When God pronounced His creation good, there was no such thing as sin. Sin came into the world through Adam, and we are told, that along with sin, came death.

When we read that death came through sin let us guard against simply nodding our assent and moving on - we ought to really get a handle on that first, because I think a right understanding of what happened in the garden will give us a more accurate insight into what Paul is about to express.

The Tree of Life

We see from Genesis 2:9 that the "Tree of Life" was planted in the middle of the Garden of Eden. It was a real tree which bore real fruit, and was really located in the middle of the Garden - which elsewhere is referred to as the Garden of the Lord (c.f. Genesis 13:10, Isaiah 51:3).

Consider that scripture elsewhere teaches that God alone is the source of life (c.f. Acts 17:25), for it was God who breathed the "spirit of life" into Adam (c.f. Genesis 2:7; 7:22). But here as the ornamental centerpiece, the very heart of Eden, the Tree of Life, which Adam and Eve were directed to eat freely of, along with every other fruit in the garden (except of course, the forbidden fruit).

When Adam sinned, He and Eve were exiled from the Garden to prevent them from eating the fruit of the Tree of Life, as we see in scripture:
Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever" therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. - Genesis 3:22-25 [ESV]
I think some of us picture eating the fruit as a one timer - that if Adam could have gotten to the tree in time, he could have taken a bite - and faster than you can say SHAZAM! - He gets eternal life apart from God.

I add "apart from God" because the scenario I painted - the one where one nibble gives eternal life - is one in which a created tree imparts the ability to achieve eternal autonomy from God.

I think that scenario is wrong.

We see the tree of life once again in the book of Revelation, where is it planted? Why, smack-dab in the middle of heaven, that's where (c.f. Revelation 2:7)! Is it described there as the sort of thing you would nibble once and never need again? Let's see... Revelation 22:2 says, "through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. " - Why would such a tree bear fruit each month, if we only needed to eat from it once?

We need food in order to continue living - that is something we all can relate to. If we stop eating, we will eventually die of malnourishment. In a very practical and real way - this pictures the tree of life. So long as one partakes of its fruit, life is sustained - but when one stops taking of its fruit - life is no longer sustained.

Speaking of God, Habakkuk says, "You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong,..." - Habakkuk 1:13a [ESV]. We reason that when God ejected Adam and Eve from the Garden, it was because God was no longer able to tolerate their presence. Let us not forget how many times God "broke out" against the Israelites when they were wandering through the wilderness - I believe that God, in order to preserve Adam and Eve's life, sent them out of His presence.

I would further add, that if you wanted my definition of "original sin" it isn't some genetic thing we are born with, nor is it some tangible flaw that we inherit progenetically - as though at the moment of conception I inherit some "taint" from mom - I think original sin is just that - I inherit the consequences of Adam's sin - I am born into a world that is already separated from the very Author of life. This is why the Tree was in the center of the Garden - it pictures God, it pictures life - it pictures the centrality of God, the necessity of God, the primacy of God as the sustainer of life. When Adam was driven from the Tree of life, he inherited a vacuum where the life of God used to be - and His children inherit that same vacuum - this is original sin. We are born into a spiritually lifeless vacuum - If God is life, the absence of God is death - and this separation from life is mapped out clearly enough in Genesis that we shouldn't wonder how death came into the world through sin - it came in because sin drove out life, and death is merely the vacuous wake that is left in its stead.

We reason therefore that the Tree of Life pictures Christ, the Vine (c.f. John 15), and that those who abide in this Vine have life, and those who do not abide do not have life. Our daily bread - manna - the bread of life that comes down from heaven - all picture life in Christ, and sin therefore produces the absence of life - that is, sin produces death.

We could go the extra mile and say that Christ came to restore us - to reconcile us - to make it so that we are once again fit for God's presence, and can once again partake of the tree of life. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Sin Is Foreign

As I mentioned previously, sin itself isn't a "something," neither is death for that matter - sin is the absence of obedience, and death the resulting absence of life. But we tend to discuss these things as though they had substance. In Romans 5 Paul explains that these things entered into the human race through Adam - they were not part of God's creation and are therefore foreign and even incompatible with God's creation. We may well reason that it is just as inappropriate for us to die as it is for us to disobey God. Creation simply was not designed that way.

When Paul begins in Romans 7 to talk about sin dwelling within him - we need it clear in our mind that sin is something foreign to creation, and subsequently, foreign to who we are. But let's not jump ahead just yet. We come to Romans seven through (or by way of) Romans six, so we ought to follow this through Romans six first.

When we get into Romans six, Paul begins to explain the relationship between life, death, sin, God, and the Christian. This chapter answers an anticipated charge of antinomianism - Paul reasons that when the Jews hear that a man is saved by faith and not works, it is essentially teaching that you are free to sin like devils because your righteous standing before God rests on your faith and not your works. I have heard it said that any time you really preach grace you will always run the risk of someone calling you antinomian - and I for one believe it. Here Paul says that you won't continue to give into sin because when you became a Christian, Jesus set you free from sin's dominion.

Paul loses more than a few people when he describes "how" that happens, but basically Paul is saying that if you are a Christian, then that which you inherited through Adam ("The Sin") - that separation from God which was producing death in you - the very heart and source of all your disobedience ("sinn-ing") - that void within you so alien to creation - this was taken by Christ to the cross - and there God poured his wrath upon it until the life of Christ was spent - and when it was, our judicial separation from God was over. The power of sin was death - separation from life - and Christ closed the gap on the cross, releasing us from that which held us, releasing us from death!

Paul explains that sin no longer has dominion over (reigns in ) a Christian, that they are reconciled to life, and that the life that they now life, they can live to God.

But this is a seriously difficult concept to understand (and I probably have some, or much, of it muddled up myself), yet the heart of what Paul was saying in Romans six is that the Christian doesn't continue to sin, because he has been reconciled to Life, and life doesn't produce sin - death does!

The Law and Sin

In Romans 7 Paul anticipates Jewish objections - this time anticipating a charge that righteousness through faith must necessarily contradict the Law, and Paul begins to show that the purpose and function of the law was not to produce righteousness, but to identify sin in such a way as to show the sinner that they are in fact condemned and not righteous - a realization that ought to cause the sinner to genuinely seek God.

In Romans six Paul explained that those who were in Christ when Christ died on the cross are truly dead in one sense - and since they are dead, he explains (in Romans 7) that the law (which only binds the living) no longer condemns the Christian. The purpose of our death in Christ, Paul explains, is to facilitate our genuine obedience to God. Having been released from the law (condemnation) we are free to serve God "in the Spirit."

Paul again anticipates that the reader will not be able to picture how this could possibly play out - so Paul (in the latter half of Romans 7) begins to paint the picture: He begins by laying out a few facts: [1] the law is good, [2] the law reveals our sinfulness, [3] and sinfulness continues to produce death (separation from God). He then argues that "the sin" not only dwells in the flesh, but enslaves it, so that a man is not able to overcome the flesh - even if he has the law.

There is a lot of discussion about whether Paul is talking about a Christian or a sinner. I say that is beside the point. Paul is describing how the flesh is [1] enslaved to sin, and [2] how the law cannot correct that. If an unsaved person is trying to conquer sin through the law - that person is going to fail. If a Christian or a Jew, or a Buddhist, or anyone for that matter tries to have victory over sin through the law - they will fail. It doesn't matter if Paul is speaking about before or after he is saved, it doesn't matter if he is discussing himself hypothetically or not - he is describing a truth - the law cannot free a man from sin, but that what the law could not do - Christ does!

Gives ya the shivers, don't it?

Being in Christ sets us free from this body's enslavement to sin and death. The flesh remains enslaved, but we are no longer obedient to the flesh because Christ's spirit is in us, and we have been set free from the enslavement to the body through the cross of Christ.

That is why we start Romans eight in victory - No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. God did in Christ, what the law couldn't do - free us from sin's dominion. By the Spirit we can appropriate victory over the deeds of the body - specifically - by setting our minds on the things of the Spirit (walking in the Spirit), rather than the things of the flesh.

That isn't some religious mumbo-jumbo either - it is life itself. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. We are obligated to live according to the Spirit and not the flesh, since obeying the Spirit produces life in us, and obeying the flesh produces death.

I want to be clear when I say that - when I say "produces death" - I am not suggesting that walking in the flesh causes us to lose our salvation - I am saying that walking in the flesh causes the life that should be flowing into, through, and out of the believer and into others - it pinches the flow of that life off, and instead of life producing righteousness in the believer, and life in others - the absence of life is seen instead - that is death is being produced.

I could go on, and perhaps I will do another part on this - but the point I wanted to get across was that sin is foreign to humanity - and that the necessary flipside of disobedience (sin) is separation from God (death). That for the Christian, life is setting the mind on Christ (as opposed to the law), and that this is where life and victory are at - and not in Romans seven where you spin your wheels trying to keep the law.

Encouragement

My encouragement - if you are one of those Christians who finds themselves on that big old hamster wheel, running in place - spinning out in the mire - never getting closer to God, but always busy, busy, busy... If you are having devotions every morning, yet you yourself lack devotion - brother, sister, remember what is on the cross with Christ, remember who was raised with Christ, remember where you really stand - stop trying to get to God on your own dime! You cannot, nor will you ever! You need to count on the cross of Christ, and if you feel you can't seem to reckon yourself there - then brother/sister, allow me to remind you that no one comes to the cross by being good and/or worthy. The first surrender, dear soul, is to surrender yourself to the knowledge that GOD... WILL... DO... IT...! Your job is not to try and make it happen, your job is to rest in Christ, and wait. He will do as He promised - it's time to walk by faith, and stop walking by sight.

Go in grace.
posted by Daniel @ 10:19 AM  
10 Comments:
  • At 9:39 PM, July 25, 2006, Blogger BugBlaster said…

    This is one of those longer posts that look very good on skimming, and will have to be read slowly and profitably.

    Which I will do!

    So for now, all I have to say is thank you for demoting the picture of the ugly guy and his trophy wife.

     
  • At 11:03 PM, July 25, 2006, Blogger jazzycat said…

    Good points. Rom 1:17 backs up your point that we not only start our walk with saving faith, but continue on by faith from first to last as the verse states.

    Jazzycat

     
  • At 9:17 AM, July 26, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel:

    I say a big AMEN!! to this post. Brother, you have definitely been given revelation on the the riches of Christ as seen throughout the pages of scripture.

    I think you nailed it bro, life in Christ is the key. Praise the Lord for that. If we could all understand this matter, I think it would free us from much consternation and struggling. We could then truly rest in Christ and what He has accomplished for us.

    Keep these coming!

     
  • At 11:01 AM, July 26, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    Nice, I need to look this over some more, but it does appear that we are on the same page, yet again...especially the last part, as we have discussd many times before...indeed, keep these coming, we all need it....

    I love dots......................................

     
  • At 12:36 PM, July 26, 2006, Blogger Kc said…

    This is a wonderful doctrine, an excellent admotion and IMO a perfect presentation. Great work!

     
  • At 10:25 AM, July 27, 2006, Blogger Rose~ said…

    Daniel,
    Thanks for this. I like the graphic too.

     
  • At 1:30 PM, July 27, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim thinks it is soft porn. ;-)

     
  • At 2:27 PM, July 27, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, it kind of started out as a joke. But you have a point, it probably does qualify as soft porn.

    Soft being a relative term for those exposed to much more.

     
  • At 2:36 PM, July 27, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim - thankfully I made the forbidden fruit red, to draw the eyes away from the nudity. I am surprised you noticed that they were naked at all. ;-)

     
  • At 3:46 PM, July 27, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    ahem...yes well.

    Anyways, how about this weather, eh?

     
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