A Study of Theology II – Part 4
1 Peter 3:19-20
A Study of Theology II Part 3 (Dr. Thomas Figart)
Even before creation, the Three Persons of the Godhead established what is designated as “the eternal purpose” of God. This included the possibility of sin as well as the remedy for sin.
A Study of Theology II Part 4
Dr. Thomas Figart
Hamartiology: The Study of Sin
The Origin of Sin
Even before creation, the Three Persons of the Godhead established what is designated as “the eternal purpose” of God (Ephesians 3:11). This included the possibility of sin as well as the remedy for sin (1 Peter 3:19-20; Revelation 13:8). Angels were created as holy, and dwelt with God in the glories of heaven. In the discussion of Angelology, it was discovered that sin originated in heaven in the heart of Lucifer (who became Satan) soon after he was created (John 8:44; Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-19).
We know how he rebelled against God; it was through prideful exercise of his will, because of his “beauty” (Ezekiel 28:17). We do not know just why he sinned. Indeed, God Himself said of Lucifer: “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (Ezekiel 28:15).
God’s grace could not be demonstrated until there were sinful creatures who needed grace. God could have prevented sin, but then angels and mankind would have been mere automatons with no wills. Would that have constituted a perfect creation? Further, how could God’s attribute of grace ever be expressed? How could there be a Lamb of God who was “foreordained from before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20)?
The Temptation and Fall of Adam and Eve
- True temptation includes three things
- The real Issue: Obedience or disobedience (Genesis 2:16-17).
God gave Adam and Eve responsibility to rule over the creation, to keep and cultivate the Garden of Eden, to multiply in number and fill the earth, Genesis 1:28-2:20. Yet, he was not to partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. for God would discipline him.
- Man had freedom to act, because he was a real person, with intellect, sensibility and will. Satan knew this, because he also sinned against the will of God; cf. Isaiah 14:14: “I will be like the Most High.” Thus, Satan used this same temptation with Adam and Eve: “God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
- Man knew of the consequences before he sinned (Genesis 3:3); “In the day that thou eatest thereof, ye shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17.
The serpent was the most “subtle” of all beasts. Apparently, Satan used the serpent and spoke through it. Before God pronounced the curse on the serpent, it was no doubt a beautiful four-legged creature (Genesis 3:14).
Results of the Fall of Man
This included immediate spiritual death and subjection to physical death. Apparently, if they had not sinned, they could have “lived forever” (Genesis 3:22), since “the tree of life” was not forbidden until they sinned. Eve was cursed with pain in childbirth, and Adam was cursed with hard work in producing food.
As already mentioned, the sin nature was transmitted directly to Adam and Eve, and through Adam to the human race as an inherited sin nature. Romans 5:12; “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned.”
Romans 5:18-19: “By the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation… by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners….”
1 Timothy 2:14: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived, was in the transgression.” Adam saw what Eve had done before he sinned, so he was not deceived; he sinned deliberately. Since Adam was the head of the human race, he is responsible. Thus it is in 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all died,” not in Eve.
This leads to the question, “Did man become totally depraved? Just what should be included in a definition of Total Depravity?” Reformed Theology declares that total depravity includes a totally corrupt sinful nature, to the extent that man has lost the free will to believe in Christ and must be born again before he is able to believe in Christ.
Ephesians 2:8-9 is often used in an attempt to prove their point: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—Not of works, lest any man should boast.” The strict Calvinist says that the gift of God refers to faith, and not to the word “saved” thus insisting that the unsaved person must be regenerated before he has the ability to exercise faith. Yet, as it has been pointed out, the Greek word touto (that) not of yourselves, is a neuter word, while the words “faith” (pistis) and “grace” (charis) are both feminine words, not referring to the divine act of saving, which is not of yourselves, but it (salvation) is the gift of God. This same Apostle Paul wrote Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, lour Lord.”
We would certainly agree that the gift of salvation is by grace through faith, but this cannot mean that because mankind has inherited the sin nature, that he has lost one of the three essentials of personality, namely the will, or ability to exercise faith and believe the Gospel. In John 3:18 Jesus told Nicodemus: “He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” We ask the strict Calvinist: “How could a righteous God already condemn an unsaved man for not believing, if he does not have a free will to believe? Further, if regeneration (the new birth) is essential before one is able to believe, this becomes another foolish question: “Why does a born again person have to believe, seeing he is already saved?”
It is true that 1 Corinthians 2:14 says: “But the natural man (the unsaved) receiveth not (the word here is dexetai, “does not welcome”) the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them (the word here is gnonai, “to experience them”) because they are spiritually discerned.” But this does not mean that he has lost the ability to believe. Note what 2 Corinthians 4:4 tells us. If the unsaved cannot believe, then why has “the god of this age (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them that believe not”? The rest of the verse gives the reason Satan does this: “lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Why does Satan find it necessary to blind their minds if they are already unable to believe?
The Unpardonable Sin
This subject arises periodically. The following three examples show clearly that this sin is habitual unbelief in Jesus Christ as the only Savior from sin. If this sin continues to the end of a person’s life, they will go into eternity as unpardoned.
This leads to a related question: Can an unsaved person comprehend the Gospel fully without being regenerated? Three significant Scripture portions using the Greek word epignosis (“full knowledge”) answer this question:
Romans 1:28: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their epignosis (‘full knowledge’) God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things that are not seemly.” Then, immediately following, in verses 29-31, is a list of twenty of the most horrible sins; after which comes verse 32: “Who, fully knowing (epignontes) the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
Hebrews 10:26: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the full knowledge (epignosis) of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” Then, to make sure he is using the term “we” in the general sense of “anyone” he lets us know he is speaking of unbelievers: “But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall destroy the adversaries.”
2 Peter 2:20: “For if after having escaped the pollutions of the world through the full knowledge (epignosei) of the Lord and Savor Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in it, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.” Here again the following verse proves he is speaking about unbelievers since he compares them to dogs and pigs, wallowing in vomit and mire!
The Sin unto Death
Having said this, there is another category of sin which is often misunderstood as unpardonable; the sin unto death: “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death; I do not say that he shall pray for it” (1 John 3:16). What is the “sin unto death?” Unlike the unpardonable sin, the sin unto death refers to physical death, not spiritual death. Several examples of the sin unto physical death are given in Scripture:
King Saul. 1 Chronicles 10:13-14: “So Saul died for his transgressions which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of a woman with a familiar spirit, to enquire of her. And enquired not of the Lord; therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom to David, the son of Jesse.”
Saul not only consulted with a medium; he also forced himself into the duty of the priesthood, by offering a sacrifice, which service was limited to the tribe of Levi, and Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin (1 Samuel 13:10-13).
Ananias and Sapphira. Acts 5:1-10: Summarizing this story, these two believers sold a property and lied about the price, giving only part of it to help the Church. Peter said: “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the price of the land? Thou hast not lied to men, but unto God.” They were not required to give it all; their lying is what caused their deaths. Peter said to Sapphira: “How is it that ye have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?” Both of them were carried out and buried.
Corinthians’ Disorder at the Lord’s Supper. 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Because of their taking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner, Paul writes: “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (referring to physical death; 1 Corinthians 11:29-30).
The Three Imputations
This doctrine not only gives the problem of sin, but it gives the remedy. The word imputation (logizomai) means “to reckon something over to someone.” There are three imputations.
First, the Problem: Adam’s sin has been reckoned over to all of mankind: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
Second, the Solution. All of mankind’s sins have been reckoned to Christ’s death on the Cross. “For he (God) hath made him (Christ) who knew no sin, to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord hath laid (caused to fall) on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
Third, the Grand Finale! The Righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us! God made Christ to be sin for us, “that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
We close this study with 1 Corinthians 1:30-31: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord!”