A blog about everything about teaching the Bible. "And still I will show you a more excellent way..." (1 Corinthians 12:31).

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Born Free

Time for a fourth installment in this little series. I started reading Deuteronomy this evening, and verse 39 sparked my interest in writing. The verse reads:
And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it (ESV).
Take note of the heart of the verse: "your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil." 

Deuteronomy is the written record of Moses teaching the grown up versions of those "children" about all God had done for and to Israel and why... Why they were in the wilderness. Why they'd had to grow up in the wilderness. Why their parents had to die in the wilderness. And why they were now being allowed to go in and take it. Moses also told them how God expected them to live in the Promised Land, but that's a subject for another time.

The parents died because they were accountable for their sins stemming from unbelief. Oh, they believed in Yahweh their God alright, but they didn't believe he would do what he had promised. 

The children lived to dwell in that land "flowing with milk and honey," because they weren't accountable for sin--theirs or anybody's, They had "no knowledge of good or evil." I like the way the NLT translates the thought. "I will give the land to your little ones—your innocent children." Yes, God saw those children as innocent. 

This is the same innocence Paul had in mind when he wrote Romans 7:9. "I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died." I also like the way the NLT reads: "At one time I lived without understanding the law...."  Read and consider carefully: Paul was born somewhere in the neighborhood of 1400 years after Moses penned the Law. He never lived when the Law didn't exist, so the only thing he can be talking about is the innocence of his childhood before he was able to understand the Law--when he had "no knowledge of good or evil." He was alive then! But, the false teaching of Original Sin says he was conceived with the stain of Adam's sin--spiritually dead! That's impossible!

Like you and me, Paul was born free. He wasn't stained with anyone's sin until he was stained with his own. 

I recently read a blog post by Jim Denison that refreshed my spirit. I urge you to read it, because on this subject, I think he hit the bull's eye. Here's a quote from Denison's article I want to end this post commenting on:
We all were involved in Adam's sin, and thus receive both the corrupted nature that was his after the fall, and the guilt and condemnation that attach to his sin. With this matter of guilt, however, just as with the imputation of Christ's righteousness, there must be some conscious and voluntary decision on our part. Until this is the case, there is only a conditional imputation of guilt. Thus, there is no condemnation until one reaches the age of responsibility.
I can swallow that as long as "we all" means those of us who have reached the "age of responsibility" and sinned. The idea of the head of a people as their representative who sums up their nature is clearly present in Scripture, and is one reason God sees us who have accepted Jesus' Lordship as sinless and perfect through grace. Jesus represents us and sums us up to God. I can't agree that we've all inherited a "corrupted" nature just from being born, because Jesus was born free from all corruption, and he was born with a human nature just like the rest of us (Hebrews 2:17). There's no doubt we were all born a weak, corruptible nature inherited from Adam. Even Jesus had that temptable nature (Matthew 4).

But, I like the buy-in idea, that "conscious and voluntary decision." That's exactly what Paul means in the so often misunderstood passage of Romans 5:12. Physical death is a by-product of our lost access to the Tree of Life, but doesn't necessarily imply sin or guilt. Spiritual death, however--the loss of one's good standing with God due to sin's stain--is a death no one will experience unless they choose it. To become part of that fallen humanity summed up in Adam's nature one must buy-in, that is make a "conscious and voluntary decision." Unfortunately, all of us who live long enough to reach that "age of responsibility" at some point do buy-in to Adam's sin-slain nature. Thankfully, there remains the Second Adam, and I've bought-in to his nature instead. I chose to. That's nothing to brag about. It've earned nothing. It's more of a confession, appeal, and surrender. It's a gift from God, but he never forced me to take it, and even now he will not force me to keep it. But, I want it. I choose Christ. You can to.

We were born free.

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