Chapter 6 beginning
reminder: DM is the author of the book i am responding to, Dennis McCallum.
FH is Federal Headship
Also that these responses are emails to a person who has a copy of the book, has read it and studied it.
I want to emphasize that although i agree with the thrust of the book, because DM and I see different in FH, and also on whether Christians still have a sin nature, there will be places that stem from these spots that disagreement will arise. In pointing them out, i am not seeking to judge the whole work as wrong or unhelpful to us Christians as we seek to walk in obedience.
That said, let us move to chapter 6: CONSIDERING OURSELVES: THE SPECIFICS.
He begins with Romans 6:11:
Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
And i would like to add verse 6-8:
6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.
DM says we are not actually dead to sin, but that we should consider ourselves as so. His reasoning is that we still are tempted, we still sin, therefore we must still be alive to sin.
But Paul has just told us that we have died to sin, that sin has been rendered powerless, we are no longer slaves to sin, for in death we are freed.
But we still sin, no doubt.
The problem is not in the perception of reality, in which we both agree that we Christians still sin, but rather in understanding why we still sin. He says it is because we still have a sin nature. I say it is because we have a mind which has learned to deal with life in sinful ways, and can be transformed into one that increasingly is conformed to obedience in Christ. The major difference is one of WHAT we now are. I say our problem is in our understanding, while he says it is in our nature, which I would take that to include our understanding as well. In my position, our minds need to play ‘catch up’ with WHO and WHAT we are: the children of God. We are no longer children of Adam or children of wrath or children of sin, but truly and wholly children of the Most High God.
To illustrate his confusion, let me quote from his 3rd paragraph in chapter 6, where he is speaking of the verse Romans 6;11:
“But the verse doesn’t teach that we are dead. We are obviously not dead. The real point of the verse is not just that we are dead to sin but that we are alive to God!
“”The real point is not just that we are dead to sin…” So are we dead to sin or not? Does the verse [in context] terach that we are dead to sin, or not? If we have a sin nature, how can we be dead to sin?
Let me try to illustrate. Let us say you are a NFL player traded from one team to another. You learned the plays on the first team, and know them by heart. You practiced them, performed them in games, studied them, dreamed them while asleep. But now you are on a new team, with similar but new plays, new ways of understanding the basics of terminology. You have to unlearn what is ingrained in you, and learn over the old with the new. You don’t want to be going right when you should be going left.
You are a Christian, you have switched sides. The way you dealt with life in the past needs to change. Instead of dealing with situations like before, you need to learn to deal with them in God’s way, through faith and trust in Him, and maybe not faith and trust in yourself, or your family or your job, or whatever. And in learning these new ways, you will be conforming unto Jesus. You need, when you think and decide, to consider the old ways as no longer binding, no longer necessary, you need no longer deal with your problem like you did in the past. One who drank to escape, no longer should seek solace in the bottle.
The rest of this opening section is spot on.
RELATING OUR CONSIDERING TO PROBLEMS WITH SIN
In the first three of four paragraphs of this section, I have no quarrels with DM. In fact I think what he says here makes a stronger case for what I am saying than for us Christians still having a sin nature. That a sinful life as a way of life is an incongruity to those who are alive in Christ Jesus makes more sense if at our core we do not have a sinful nature, but rather that we have a new nature after God. And walking in sin “creates a tension between what we are and what we are doing.”
Huh? What we are, according to DM, is a person whose ID has changed, but whose sin nature remains: we are God;s children with a sin nature! Now this mixing up of what and who is common in FH people. It can’t really be avoided because you can’t change an ID w/o changing a nature or vice versa. So God can’t just declare us sinful in Adam w/o also creating us sinful in Adam by His declaration. But that would mean we are depraved because God created us depraved. God doesn’t create us fallen. Likewise once depraved, we stay depraved unless and until we are reborn from above, and created new in Christ Jesus. One can not have it both ways, either we are new in Christ or we are not. Our ID corresponds to the reality and actuality of what we are. Are we fallen of Adam or raised to new life in Jesus?
So I agree that sin creates in those reborn from above a tension between WHAT we are and what we are doing. Not only is there a ‘natural’ tension between opposite poles but God as our Father and Jesus as our Shepherd and the Spirit as our Guide have the responsibility to use that tension to convict us of sin and to show us again the love of God as demonstrated to us by the cross to draw us anew to obedience. I will ever continue to stand on this truth: that God is so awesome and wonderful, His love so fulfilling, and His judgments so terrifying that all who encounter Him want Him and surrender to Him, again and again, and again, et cetera and etc.
Which leads me to the final paragraph in this section.
What are we? Are we new creatures in Christ, born from above, with new natures and a new identity? or is our new identity in name only, but by nature we remain the same as before? I hope and pray you wrestle with these truths and turn from words that are lies.
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Are these last words true for you?
CAN sin be master over you?
Are you under law?
Have you died with Christ?
Or could it be that those who fail do so because they do not have faith, are not baptized into the Body, are not dead to sin, are still under the law and therefore whose lives will be marked by either fakery or a falling away? In other words though they have assumed the ID of a Christian, they have not the new birth, the inner life of a child of God, the union with Christ and His body on a spiritual level, and therefore do not have the power to overcome sin in their lives. Having still a sin nature, they have the form [or ID] of godliness but sin still reigns over them?
More on chapter 6 later…