Dr. C. S. Lovett’s
MARANATHA FAMILY NEWSLETTER
WHY DO CHRISTIANS SIN?
Having the two natures is an exclusive feature of the Christian. In fact, we can say it is because he has two natures that he is a Christian. His maturity in Christ is made possible by the struggle that the possession of two natures brings. Having to choose between right and wrong is an exercise of the soul. Choosing to please Christ instead of self, when various situations arise, is a part of the developmental process that God has designed for His sons and daughters.
We can see how false it is to suggest that we suddenly stop yielding to the old nature the moment we are saved. We are continually having to choose between them, and our own experiences prove to us that too often we elect to please the old man rather than the new. We all find things that belong to the old nature present within our lives. We don’t like to discover them, but they are there, nonetheless. What Christian does not find himself angry at times or jealous. What Christian has not entertained malicious thoughts and even unclean ones. This could never happen were he continually surrendered to the new man.
Think for a moment what it would actually mean were we never to surrender for a single second to the old man. Never again would we sin. We’d be as holy as God in all our thinking and acting. It would mean that we would fully and completely reveal the Lord Jesus. Surrender to the Spirit of Christ continually would bring from us an actual manifestation of God in the midst of our friends. His own nature would be shed about wherever we walked. Our friends and associates would see a complete and accurate revelation of Christ without fault or blemish of any kind. It is obvious that none can make such a claim as that. Paul couldn’t.
Paul, near the end of his ministry, described himself to Timothy as “chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). From prison, he wrote, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect . . . I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet” (Phil. 3:12,13). He is saying, and we paraphrase his words, “I don’t claim to have arrived. I know that I haven’t. But instead, I am willing to forget that mountain of sin behind me and press on to the prize of the high call in Christ. I want to be more like Jesus tomorrow than I am today.” That’s what Paul communicated to his friends in the final days of his life of service. Only Jesus could say, “I do always those things that please my father” (John 8:29). There’s not one of us who can truthfully make such a claim as that, is there? Most everyone will admit that he backslides. But how is that possible if there’s never any surrender to the old nature?
Some groups of sincere Christians have laid emphasis upon certain verses of the Word of God to the neglect of others. Some, through ignorance of the two natures, have taught a “holiness” doctrine of sinless perfection. They teach that a man, once saved, can never sin again—that he is spotless, and sin is an impossibility. These people are not to be condemned. Instead, they are to be congratulated for their dogged faith in God’s Word even though their own lives offer seeming contradiction. Zeal, however, apart from knowledge, usually produces confusion and contradiction in even the most devoted disciples of our Lord. To those suffering under this doctrinal discrepancy, the teaching of the two natures can bring blessed comfort and relief. Many must feel the Spirit’s conviction of sin in their lives. That is His job.
The holiness teaching has its foundation in a golden text, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin: for his seed (God’s seed, Christ) remaineth in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9). Many Christians have read this verse and wondered about it. He reasons, “Why, I’m born of God. How does this apply to me? I know that I sin.” The wonderment is easily understood. We know we sin daily, so how shall we understand this?
When Scripture says, “Whosoever is born of God,” this can only refer to the new man; only he is born of God. The old man is “born of the flesh,” not to God. That old man or old nature was acquired by our first birth. Therefore, the verse is not saying that the Christian doesn’t sin. It is saying that the new man doesn’t sin, that he cannot sin.
The verse adds a further clue, “for his seed remaineth in him.” The Seed is Christ, and Christ dwells in the new man. It is the Spirit of Christ that makes the new man and is manifested through him. It is because the “Spirit of Christ” cannot sin that this verse is so. Because Christ cannot sin, the new man cannot sin. Here we have evidence that our interpretation is correct. Christ abides in the new man and the new man abides in Christ. We can, therefore, accept the holiness teaching as it pertains to the new man, but not to the walk of the believer. He has two natures and manifests them both.
The first chapter of First John has the same author as the third chapter. In some Bibles, the first chapter and the third may be compared by glancing across the page. Two significant references seem to stand out in bold contrast. John notes in chapter one, “If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us . . . if we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 18:10). This is a strong indictment of those who profess to have no sin in their lives! On the other hand, the same writer holds that those born of God cannot sin (3:9). What a terrible contradiction would exist were it not for the fact of the believer’s two natures. How precious becomes our doctrine now. It beautifully unfolds the truth of God’s Word.
When John, in his first chapter, speaks of the Christian’s sin, he has reference to the old nature. His words might be put this way, “If we say that we never surrender to the old man, we certainly are deceiving ourselves. We most surely do.” When he says that the one born of God cannot sin, he is obviously referring to the new nature. Here he is saying, “When we are surrendered to the new man we cannot sin, for it is Christ that is doing the work through us.” How simple this is. What at first appears to be a contradiction is easily understood in the light of the believer’s two natures.
Sinless perfection is not found in any life but Jesus’. He alone was sinless and perfect. Sinless perfection belongs to the new nature because it is inherited from Christ by means of the second birth. What an error it is to teach that we never yield to the old nature. The Christian does sin, but he possesses one nature which is sinless. This is what guarantees him of heaven.
Pastors and evangelists have a question they put to the new convert in order to seal to his mind the truth of his newly acquired sonship. They ask, “If your son were involved in a criminal act that sent him to jail for the rest of his life, would he still be your child?” The response comes quickly, “Oh, yes.” They see the truth instantly. Then the pastor points out the fact that what one does is not to be confounded with who one is. Certain acts found in the Christian’s life cannot change the fact that he is “born of God.”
The truth of the two natures has been used to make clear the matter of one’s security in Christ. This is accomplished by an eternal union of the soul with the Spirit of God. This union makes one a son of God by spiritual birth. There is an important distinction between who one is and what he does. Children of God may act like the children of the devil. A good many do. However, this is not so bewildering when we learn that the child of God may manifest either of his two natures. Who one is, that is his sonship in Christ, guarantees him of heaven. What he does, determines his job or reward after he gets there. Many Bible passages, otherwise confusing, become clear when handled in . . .
THE LIGHT OF THIS TRUTH!
C. S. Lovett
SINCE YOU ASKED!!
Question: “I find I cannot thank God for this problem. I love your counsel. But it’s impossible for me to be grateful in this situation. I’m so tired of my blurred vision. I know I could never go through an operation and I’ve told the Lord this. He must heal me. He must deliver me from the problem.”
Answer: God uses problems to draw us closer to Himself. But since we have free wills, it’s easy to want things our way. We even get upset with God and question His goodness. He lets a person stew until she or he realizes it is the attitude that needs healing. People have all sorts of illness due to sinful emotions, worry, resentment, jealousy, critical spirit, etc. Yet these same people want God to heal them, even though they continue to indulge in their destructive feelings.
If you can bring your faith to the place where you can say to him, “Thank You Lord for these cataracts,” that’s the same as saying, “I trust You to know what is best for me.” It’s an act of faith to believe the Lord is in total control and watches over everything that happens to you. Please believe He wants to heal you, but you’ve got to be in the place where He can do it. Until then, His hands are tied.
DEALING WITH THE DEVIL: “This book is always a great read but, unfortunately, is not as read as it should be by not only Christians but by the general populace due to there being an overwhelming belief that Satan doesn't exist. What a shame!” —online review by steffensdaddy
“One of a handful of books that I have found to be life-changing and worth reading. I first read this book [DEALING WITH THE DEVIL] back in the late '60s. It helped me greatly to understand how the devil works in our lives and how to not let him defeat us. I have read it several times and have loaned it to others to read and even recently taught it to a ladies' Sunday School class.” –online review by J. B.
“A spiritual book backed with Scripture that is essential, as the book title says, to deal with the devil. Every believer should read.” –online review by J. K. Jacobs
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