Discussion Between A. Leroy Moore and Colin Heesom

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At 03:40 PM 11/16/2004, you wrote:

>Subject: Re: Re: Sinless life
>Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2004 14:20:16 -0700
> >Colin,
> >As you admit, free choice is allowd by grace. When Adam and Eve sinned,
> >they lost the power of free choice. See on Gen 3:15 and surrounding texts.
> >God put enimity between them and the serpent. He gave them back the ablilty
> >to say "no." We do not have it anymore naturally. Given our drothers, we
> >choose sin. We are indeed born sinners. We are born lost, though at no
> >fault of our own, that is, until we choose to actually participate in Adams
> >sin of rebellion.

>Only the biological body can be considered simply natural - the mind and
>choices have always been enabled by grace: before and after the Fall.
You correctly distinguish the body (flesh) itself
from the mind. And, as you say, God's freeing grace
has always been available--but only by faith.

Thus, those who do not respond to the offered grace
by choosing to resist the impulses of the flesh and
submit that flesh to the Holy Spirit to function at
His bidding as a Holy temple, remain in bondage and
are not free. To live we must choose to die to the
flesh in response to the motivating and enabling of
the Spirit, Who Himself frees us from its bondage.

>Being born sinners entails the Roman Catholic dogma of inheriting Adam's
>guilt - a sinner is burdened with guilt, by definition.

You are right to reject any doctrine of divine
imputation of guilt (the Catholic dogam) or any
kind of inherited guilt. But the issue of "being
born sinners" does not necessarily entail the
issue of guilt, as is indicated in Leviticus 5,
where guilt follows discovery of the former
reality of sin. Only when "sins of ignorance"
are recognized as such is guilt involved.

This clearly indicates that sin may exist prior
to conscious choice. But it is sin, nevertheless.
And that sin, when recognized, requires atoning
to remove the guilt which follows recognition.
Indeed, the primary issue in the judgment in
cleansing God's people in preparation for giving
the loud cry of the latter rain is not conscious
sin but the uncleanness of the selfishness, pride,
etc. which are as yet largely hidden and unrecog-
nized by the believer.

>Personal choice remains yet the only method of being responsible for
>sinning. Sinful human nature includes the inclination not to respond to
>the Holy Spirit's impressions: therefore we are sinners because we are
>sinful, whereby we sin; the 'sinful' link cannot be bypassed.

Yes, indeed. I affirm all three points:
a) responsibility for sin relates only to choice;
b) sinful nature instinctively resists the Holy Spirit's impressions;
c) Thus we sin because we are sinful by nature.

>This is still about the choice not to sin: sinners are such by choice, not
>by nature - if a sinner was a state of being, it could not be altered
>without changing the nature. That we are called to obedience by Jesus is
>completely frustrated by being a sinner by nature - rather than by choice:
>choice allows a change of character, which starts as sinful, but change is
>mandated by Jesus.
I appreciate your attempt to be consistent and to
establish human responsibility for sin in relation
to choice. Nothing is more important than that.

But here you contradict your three-fold thesis above
because you fail to distinguish sins involving account-
ability and responsibility from "sins of ignorance."

A few questions may help clarify the importance of
recognizing sin as a state and not merely a choice
to act:

Is pride sin?

Yes, you reply. It is the sin that precipitated
all sin. Pride turned Lucifer into the devil
(Isa 14:12-14).

Is selfishness sin?

Ellen White says all other sin comes under this heading.

Are pride and selfishness, the underlying sin producing
all acts of sin, always the result of choice?

Are little children selfish? Are they selfish by choice?

Are we always accountable for selfishness and pride?

Do we only reveal selfishness or pride by choice?

Or do believers often act upon selfish impulses unknowingly?

Is defensiveness related to pride?

Do you ever see evidence of pride in the defensive
response of those who give every evidence of being
dedicated to Christ? Is this proof that he/she is
choosing to sin?

Thank God, He does not hold us accountable, let
alone impute Adam's guilt to us, for sins of ignor-
ance. But these are sins and they are the most
serious of our sins, but it is the hidden sins
of ignorance--especially selfishness and pride--
that give birth to all sins of choice.

And the most serious issue for the Christian is
not the sin of choice but the sin of ignorance--
the sin which makes unclean the fountain from
which our actions of choice flow. It is our
hidden motives that God seeks to expose in this
judgment hour, so that we can gain victory over
the fountain of sin by the overcoming power of
His love which will prepare us to reveal His
character to the world.

>Since our nature is not changed this side of translation, ie.
>glorification, being a sinner (by nature) cannot be changed despite the
>power of grace by faith, and the gospel cannot save God's people from
>their sinning. The only way for God to save us from sin, and supply
>righteous human characters is for Jesus and all men to share a sinful
>nature, from which one has power from the Spirit to ignore and resist it.
I can agree with your statement, provided we clearly
distinguish the "sinful flesh" Christ took from a "carnal"
nature. The sinful flesh will remain just that until the
coming of Christ. But converted Christians have something
to deal with that Christ did not and could not without
becoming a sinner--and that is a "carnal" nature.

Now, the Spirit does have power to give us victory over
the carnal nature--which means a mind that has been
infected by sin itself by its response to the lower,
instinctive nature. But the Holy Spirit must first,
step by step, bring to our consciousness the reality
of sins of ignorance, for which God has not held us
accountable, but which seriously mar His character
of self-sacrificing love and humility (Phil 2:5-8).

To have "the mind of Christ" is something we choose
at conversion. But it is something that is won only
by "hard, stern battles with self," as the Holy
Spirit reveals every more penetratingly the hidden
motives of selfishness and pride which lie undetected

But, all the while God imputes to us the perfect
sinlessness of Christ and looks upon us as though
we had never sinned--even while seeking to expose
our sin so we can choose freedom from it. Thus,
the first work of the Spirit is to expose hidden

When He the Spirit of truth is come, He will
convict the world of sin, and of righteousness,
and of judgment (Jn 16:8).

He convicts us of our sin and of His righteousness,
which He seeks to give us in place of our sin and
thus permit Him to stand in our place in the judgment.

Unless we clearly grasp the reality of continued
justification in imputing His righteousness we
cannot grasp the reality of sin without despair.

> >Christ, though born with a physcial body effected by sin, in actual
> >possession of fallen flesh, yet He was born without sin and never gave into
> >it. He was not carnal, that is, given into the flesh and its provisons.
> >For some reason we must make Christ like us wiht all its propensities so we
> >can say we overcome by the power of the Spirit just like Him. In doing
> >this, we deserve to be saved. This mentallity is still Salvation by works.
> >Albeit, it is empowered by the Holy Spirit, it is still these works that
> >save us, according to this theology. This is theology is therefore wrong.
> >We are saved by grace, and by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ.
> >What we do in the body after salvation is the result of it, and it is not
> >some optional program. It is the real evidence of salvation.
> >Blessings,
> >Karl Wagner
>Grace by faith produces works, doesn't? It is this theology's critics
>you're quoting, about deserving to be saved. To deserve salvation one must
>perform meritorious righteousness. Works of faith are not meritorious.

You are right. It is vital to understand that by "works"
Paul never refers to obedience but to a disobedience
which masquerades as obedience by attempts to produce
righteousness by means of righteous actions. Sin lies
not in the act but in the motive behind it. And no
human effort can transform self-centered and largely
hidden motives. That can only result as we choose to
die to self and surrender our minds to the direction
of the Holy Spirit.

>For us to follow Christ in character building is not about getting
>ourselves to heaven but about whether God's grace is able to do that in us
>when we say please. What God is after with us is Christian character: he
>wants to put his character and image back into us - can we disagree,
>should we say no thank you?
You state an important truth that is seldom clearly
discerned. The development of character is not to
get "ourselves to heaven." It is, indeed about
glorifying God and choosing to live in and by Him--
thus agreeing with "the good pleasure of His will"
"that we should be holy and without blame before
Him in love" (Eph 1:5, 4).

May God give us the unselfishness and humility
to continue to seek unity of understanding and
thus to fulfill the prayer of Christ that we
be one "in Him" (Jn 17:21-23).

Indeed, this is the great test of the maturity
of our submission to the Spirit in dying to the
authority of the flesh.

A. Leroy Moore

>My last question there is predicated by the ability of the gospel power to
>achieve it: which is where this discussion started...and we appear on this
>forum to be reaching agreement that the gospel has that power.
>God bless, Colin Heesom