Sent: Friday, April 16, 2004 5:17 PM
Subject: "DEAD IN SIN"? [04/16/04]

These are just a few random thoughts on this matter, "off the top of my head," as the saying goes. If the thoughts are not precisely "theologically correct," then we can issue our apologies later.

I think the primary error of the hypers, such as the Hardshells, and hybrid-Calvinists, such as James R. White, is their misuse of the metaphor of "death" in application to the unsaved unbeliever. This abuse is demonstrated in what sometimes passes as "logic," whereby they argue the case for their concept of "pre-faith regeneration."  I don't think I need to use a lot of quotations here to substantiate what they teach about the "dead sinner" and how he is "unable" or "incapable" to do anything pleasing to God.

When we read the Book of John, which was written "that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ," John uses the metaphor of "birth" in regard to one's being saved (John 3:1-7). Now if one were to interpret that metaphor by the same "logic" used by some as to the sinner's being "dead in sins," you might arrive at the monstrosity that there must be a "father" and even a "mother" involved in the new birth, along with a 9-month period of pregnancy.

But as someone (Spurgeon, I think) has said, we should not try to make a parable [or metaphor] "stand on all four legs." What we should do is simply take the obvious truth which is being illustrated and not go "hog wild" in making "applications" of every little detail in the parable.

If we somewhere in Scripture have a "lion" used in reference to Christ, and also somewhere else find that a "lion" is also used of Satan, we need not conclude that Christ and Satan are one and the same person!

If we read where the Pharisees had the devil for their "father," we need not think that Satan had a wicked woman for a wife and actually begat offspring as children!

When Jesus used the bread as a metaphor of His body and the wine as a metaphor or His blood, and talked about "eating" His flesh and drinking His blood to have eternal life, we need not become enthused for the Roman Catholic "mass."

Metaphors and figures of speech were never designed to teach the fabulous doctrinal ideas that some have concluded.

Over the years, as I have heard some of the hyper and hybrid would-be theologs start waxing hot about man's being "dead in sin," I have thought to myself, "Uh-oh, here come's the needle!" They usually have then waxed on to say, "A corpse is so dead that you can take a needle and prick it anywhere, and it won't even feel a thing. So it is with the dead sinner spiritually."

Is that the kind of "dead in sin" we are to understand from the metaphor used by Paul in Ephesians 2:1?  If so, what about the "dead" Christian in Romans 6:7, "he that is dead is freed from sin"? "Reckon yourselves to be dead unto sin"? Does this mean the Christian is insensitive to sin like unto what they say about the sinner's being dead "in sin"?

Does that mean that a Christian is so "dead to sin" that he can't even commit sin, that he even has no "feeling" for anything sinful? He can't even feel any "sinful pleasure"? He is so dead to sin that he can't even be tempted by sin? Surely, that is "pressing" the metaphor a little beyond what the apostle had in mind.

Have you even heard one of our hyper brethren ever talk about how "dead" a Christian is to sin, so that the believer can't even commit a sin or be tempted to sin? They will talk a lot about the "dead" sinner, the dead corpse, how he can't do anything spiritual, can't do anything good, but howcome they never seem to talk the same way about how the "dead" Christian is, and how he can't do anything sinful, and is so dead he can't be tempted, etc.?

The answer is obvious: they impose their doctrinal ideas upon the metaphor rather than looking for the simple thing being illustrated. They impose their presuppositional concept upon the metaphor and manufacture a disfiguration.

As for the matter of a sinner's believing on Christ, he has both the intellectual faculties for believing and the ability to use those capacities to believe; he is simply NOT WILLING to believe. "Whoever will, may come."

When one believes, he has had no new faculty added to his constitution, nor any new ability somehow infused into him. The problem is in the will, and the problem in the will lies in the sinful human nature. Without some interference from the Word and Spirit of God, that old will just doesn't have the "want to" to engage in something pleasing to God like repenting of sin and turning to Christ. That is the sense in which he is "dead" -- the will of his human nature is just dead-set against doing what's right in regard to his sins and his need of Christ.

In John 6:44, where we read that one "cannot come," the "can't" is due to his lack of willingness, not due to lack of "ability," and that lack of willingness is due to the sinful nature. Due to the depravity of his nature, inherited from father Adam, his will is so averse to the things of God that he is compared to the "dead." He does not have a "free will" that is so free that it is free from the influence and domination of the depraved nature.

That's where the freewillers go wrong; they want to have a will so free that the depraved nature has no influence over what one wills when it comes to the things of God. But if they had a will that free, why -- even after they are saved and "dead to sin" -- do they still have trouble being 100% faithful to the things of God and staying out of sin? (Romans 7; 1 John 1). They must be awfully bad to have such a marvelous "free will" and yet use it so irresponsibly!

It's not that man is incapable and incapacitated, but that his nature has been permeated by sin. There is an old saw I learned in high school:

"I could if I would,
But if I wouldn't,
How could I?"

Man's inability lies simply in his unwillingness. "Whosoever will, may come;" "Ye have willed not to come to me," Jesus said, "that ye might have life" (John 5:40). If he were as "dead" as the hypers teach, then he could not even "will" not to come, could he? He would not even have any will at all, if he were a corpse, would he? A corpse cannot exercise its will one way or the other, can it?

One of the major problems of the hyper view is that it makes the depravity of the "dead sinner" stronger than the power of the living, Spirit-blessed Word of God.

But God's Word is stronger than man's "dead in sin" depraved condition. The Word of Christ raised Lazarus from physical death, and the Word of the Gospel blessed by the Holy Spirit can raise the "dead sinner" from his death, or his unwillingness to come to Christ. If the Word says "Come" to the "dead sinner," then it can bring him to "life" just as Christ's word brought Lazarus back from physical death to life.

We don't need to make the "dead sinner" stronger than the Word of God! Jesus said, "The Spirit quickeneth . . . the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are life" (John 6:63). -- Bob L. Ross

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