Something Wrong Within Us

I read an article by Kelly M. Kapic titled, “simul iustus et peccator” (“at once justified and sinner”) which, among other things, addressed the sorry condition of the human heart. Dr. Kapic wrote,

“Something is wrong not simply ‘out there’ but within us. Jeremiah probed the human heart and soberly declared, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?’ (Jer 17:9). Similarly, the apostle James did not blame God for our temptations or sin…(James 1:14).”

Continuing to discuss the problem of the ongoing struggle with sin experienced even in the lives of those who are dedicated to Christ, Dr. Kapic wrote,

“Our problem is not just that we sin every now and then; our problem is that we are soaked in sin, are born into it, and are never completely free from its presence this side of glory. Augustine made this point by stringing together just a sampling of biblical texts…[Ps. 51:5; see Job 14:4; Prov. 20:9; Rom. 5:12; James 3:2]

“The problem of sin is deep and personal. We have each done things we regret, things we feel bad about… But what can be even more disturbing is to begin to see the dark hand of sin shot through all of our internal world. In the quiet, in the dark, we begin to wonder about ourselves.

“Working with college students, I sometimes watch them see the depth of their own sin for the first time, and in many cases it frightens them. They would all confess they are sinners if asked, but in truth, most of them view themselves as basically good. Then something happens. They begin to learn the complexity of their own hearts… At some point it hits them — there is something terribly wrong, something bent about their hearts. They often become paralyzed as they begin to see that even their purest love grows out of mixed motives and darkened desires. It seems better to ignore this reality, to never see it. But is it?…

“Something is wrong, not just in this world, but within us. Sin has affected not just our wills but our minds, our emotions, even our bodies. But paradoxically, only when we see our slavery to sin can we celebrate our liberty in Christ.”

These are weighty ideas to contemplate. It’s no fun to probe into the dark corners of one’s heart. Yet in God’s wisdom He has so decreed that we must come face to face with our depravity and, in so doing, throw ourselves on His abundant mercy to receive pardon and eternal life.

Not two hours after reading Dr. Kapic’s article I was directed to a video for youth produced by the LDS Church titled “Our True Identity.” In this video LDS Apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf says that many of the problems we have in this life can be solved by understanding who we really are. After relating the story of The Ugly Duckling, Mr. Uchtdorf says,

“You are no ordinary beings. You are glorious and eternal. I plead with you—just look into the water and see your true reflection. It is my prayer and blessing that when you look at your reflection, you will be able to see beyond imperfections and self-doubts and recognize who you truly are: glorious sons and daughters of Almighty God.”

In the original fireside address from which this video was made, Mr. Uchtdorf included, “…you have seen your true reflection in the water and you have felt the eternal glory of that divine spirit within you.” He might also have included (but he didn’t) the LDS teachings that we are all “gods in embryo” and that “the Lord created [us] for the purpose of becoming Gods like Himself” (Achieving a Celestial Marriage Manual, 130; Spencer W. Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, 286; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:93).

I understand that, in his fireside remarks, Mr. Uchtdorf was trying to help kids with their self-esteem. He was trying to help them find value in living at a stage of life that can be so tremendously difficult. I find no fault in that. But I was struck by the stark contrast between what I read from Dr. Kapic and what I heard from Mr. Uchtdorf.

Historic (biblical) Christianity focuses on the greatness of God and the deep need we sinful creatures have for a Savior. Mormonism focuses on the greatness of humankind and the potential of what we can achieve through our hard work. Both faiths call people to take an honest look at who we are, suggesting that this self-examination will draw us to lives of hope and happiness. But one says the reflection we see will be frightening, revealing a deceitful heart in each one of us, leading to a turning away from self-aggrandizement and a turning to submission to and reliance on God. The other says the reflection will be a grand thing to behold; if we will but close our eyes to imperfections, the reflection will reveal a developing swan (a God in embryo), leading to a new determination to be proven worthy of, and eventual attainment of, exaltation to Godhood.

Could the messages of these two faiths be any more disparate?

Dr. Kapic, espousing a biblical perspective, wrote,

“In the end, it is only when we humbly, and with unflinching honesty, come to recognize the true nature of sin that we can finally look, in awe and wonder, at the cross. ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom. 6:23). Augustine concluded that our view of sin is not just a discussion about human nature, but ultimately it is a discussion about Jesus Christ and His death. …not only are we saved by grace, but we remain dependent on grace for our whole lives. On the one hand, yes, there is our sin. But on the other, we behold the great, loving, and all-sufficient work of Christ. And that changes everything.”

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Nature of Man, Truth, Honesty, Prayer, and Inquiry. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Something Wrong Within Us

  1. setfree says:

    Terrific work Sharon. I’ll be the first to say – trying to obtain “self-esteem” never did anything for me but to push me further and further into despair.

    It was not until I let go of trying to see myself as wonderful that I was able to see myself TRULY. And then, of course, it was so AWESOME to realize that it was ok, that God knew who and what I was, and had offered a life-line.

    It’s not until I threw away my grandiose visions of and for myself that I was able to heal, and start becoming a better person. I needed to know that I really was JUNK – and find out that I was FORGIVEN – so I could let go of all the denial and things I had hidden and come to the GREAT PHYSICIAN for hope and help…

  2. setfree says:

    You know, in Mormonism, there is a standard –
    Thou shalt be perfect!

    And then there is the advice “Be perfect!”

    In Christianity, there is a standard – Thou shalt be perfect!

    and then there is the advice “Get Jesus”

    The Mormon advice is not helpful, because it does not provide the solution but only exacerbates the problem.

    The Christian advice is helpful, because it acknowledges the true problem, and gives the real solution.

  3. iamse7en says:

    Historic (biblical) Christianity focuses on the greatness of God and the deep need we sinful creatures have for a Savior. Mormonism focuses on the greatness of humankind and the potential of what we can achieve through our hard work.

    Mormonism also focuses on the greatness of God. We teach that his glory, power, and redemption extends to worlds without number. Worlds without number He has created, and the inhabitants thereof can taste of the redeeming power of grace. There is no end to his work or his glory. Your statement infers that we do not focus on the greatness of God. Theologically, that’s an absurd observation.

    Your statement on what Mormonism focuses on also mischaracterizes our faith and doctrine. The only reason we may achieve greatness and our potential is BECAUSE we are sons/daughters of God, and He extends His mercy to us. Staying virtuous, benevolent, and true IS hard work, but it is not the hard work that allows us to become like God, it is His mercy. You are purposefully ignoring our teachings on grace and mercy – you know what we teach – but you say only, “what we can achieve through our hard work.” That is a big mischaracterization of our faith and doctrine.

  4. jackg says:

    iamse7en,

    I find it a bit humorous that you speak out of both sides of your mouth: God is all powerful, but not powerful enough to save me without our help. You mention mercy without really truly knowing what it’s all about. You see, the Mormon version of mercy is this: Jesus’ work to save us brings us to the place where we can begin our work of becoming gods. That’s not mercy. In fact, the entire premise is heresy.

    You have believed the lie that we are born sons and daughters of God, which isn’t congruent with biblical teaching. We become sons and daughters of God when we believe in Jesus Christ. Prior to accepting Christ, we are creatures; after accepting Christ, we become children. This is why Jesus was so emphatic in teaching us that we need a second birth. Our first birth, the one you think brought us into the world with Divine Nature, actually brought us into the world with sin nature, a proclivity to sin and not a propensity for God-likeness. That first birth put us on the road to death. The second birth (and I hope you can see we are not talking about baptism) is being born of the Spirit. This birth leads to life. Our natural bent for sin changes, and we are filled with the desire (through Spirit-indwellment) to obey God. Our relationship changes from that of creature to child. We then enter the road of sanctification, which is God’s work of restoring us to the original “imago dei” that Adam and Eve shared. This same image is God’s holiness and rooted in His character. This is all in the Bible, 7. It’s all pretty rudimentary. It really is. The stuff you believe was made up by a false prophet, 7.

    The charge that we misrepresent your faith is a tired one. I just pray you can see what you have to do to defend the teachings of false prophets. The synchretism is evident, and it leaves Mormons in the very uncomfortable position of trying to defend heretical teachings.

    Praying for your salvation…

  5. falcon says:

    I don’t know how we could possibly misrepresent Mormonism. It’s all pretty simple.
    jackg I’ll let you grade me since you were once a TBM.
    1. Mormons believe in a two track system of salvation.
    2. One track is a universal salvation extended to everyone regardless of how they’ve lived their lives. In-other-words, the only question is the “level” of heaven, so-to-speak. Even born again Christians who aren’t Mormons get a pretty good level of reward. But no deity status.
    3. For Mormons, they get the opportunity to progress to becoming gods based on how well they do the Mormon program. Things get a little fuzzy for me here with the idea of “after all you can do.” Jesus, as I understand it, covers the difference in the performance gap between what the individual Mormon actually achieves and the standard required to be a god.
    3. Now my understanding is that there are something like three rings in the Celestial kingdom. The inner ring is the top god spot. Now Joseph Smith taught that in order to achieve this inner circle of achievement, a Mormon male must practice polygamy. So this would seem to rule out any Mormon male currently living to getting into the inner circle.
    4. Now, I’ve heard, that some people can do the “work” necessary to become a god after death. I don’t know much about this but I’m guessing that it all connects to the idea of progression.
    So this is what the whole program is based on, that is, becoming a god. It’s all a lie so it doesn’t really matter much in the discussion because Mormons are talking about something entirely different than Christians. In our discussions on these matters in the past, it seems that the Mormons who post here aren’t really too sure how the whole thing works, but they seem to like it!

  6. grindael says:

    I offer this by Tal Bachman, and ask all how the Mormon Church can come to grips with the premise of his post. It relates because the center of the Mormon program of self-aggrandizement: the Temple Ritual, and the money spent building these Temples, is at the core of what Mr. Bachman is getting at here. Something is terribly wrong here, and it troubles me deeply.

    http://www.mormoncurtain.com/topic_talbachman_section1.html#pub_1787669458

  7. falcon says:

    Having been raised Catholic and a product of their elementary school education program, I really don’t have any problem accepting the fact that I’m by nature a sinner. The apostle Paul was pretty clear in writing about our imputed sin nature as the result of the fall and Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin to reconcile us with God.
    Now what drove me out of the Catholic faith and religion in general was the impression I had that God didn’t really like me much and was kind of like a form of law enforcement officer serving in the capacity of judge, jury and executioner. There wasn’t a whole lot of long term relief from the guilt and shame of being a sinner.
    It took me several years to circle back and begin to consider that maybe there was a God and maybe He wasn’t as represented by the faith I grew-up in at least as far as the angry God who would take great pleasure in punishing me for my sins.
    I still retain the belief that I am by nature a sinner (as the Bible teaches) but now I have a different view of who God is and how He sees me based on my faith in Christ.
    Well, Mormonism isn’t Christianity. It’s not even any where in the realm of the Christian faith. So I don’t have any arguments with Mormons except for the fact that they misrepresent themselves as “restored” Christianity. Mormonism isn’t of course. Now Mormons have a problem because they’re “prophets” are all over the board with rampant “revelations” that do little to clear up the Mormon program but it doesn’t really matter much because none of it’s true anyway.

  8. aowyn9 says:

    I wondering if any Mormons out there can help me understand their doctrine of grace better. The official teaching of the Church says that grace refers primarily to enabling power and spiritual healing offered through the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. My question is, where is the idea of grace being unmerited favor? Is this something that is there, but just not discussed that much? Or, is the former definition all there is?

  9. jeffrey b says:

    Its funny that this has become a topic today. I was just browsing radio stations on my way to work this morning and I came across a Christian station that had some gentlemen (no idea who he was) quoting someone, saying (and I’m paraphrasing) “The best thing that could be done for us is to have all our deepest darkest secrets and sin broadcast to the entire world on the nightly news, because we wouldn’t be able to hide anymore and the only one we could run to is Jesus Christ.

    The guy was basically saying to be open and honest with yourself, and if it takes telling someone of your un-righteousness, it will cause us to cling onto the only true righteousness that can be found that sustains us eternally, that is Christ.

  10. Jeffrey B,

    I’d agree with that. This is the context in which I see James 5:16

    Therefore confess your sins to each other…

    Frankly, I’d rather confess my achievements and virtues. What a challenge to confess my sins!

  11. falcon says:

    Mormonism is different from Christianity, right? Christianity is pretty easy to define since we have a paper trail of a couple of thousand years with various theologians and “thinkers” giving their impressions and opinions regarding the nature of God, the nature of man, grace and salvation. As Christians, we examine these various opinions and see how the (opinions) line-up with the Word of God.
    In Mormonism, there’s a different approach. Mormons have a man at the head of their church who, we’re told, gets direct revelation from the Mormon god and then tells the faithful what the Mormon god has told him. Mormon doctrine is based pretty much on the thoughts that come rolling through the mind of their prophet as he contemplates various matters. Mormons would hold that this is a superior religion because of this prophet getting direct messages from the Mormon god.
    Now I don’t know if the Mormon god has ever revealed to one of the Mormon prophets exactly how much a Mormon has to do to in the area of being sinless and perfect in order to become a god. Maybe Mormons just assume they are pretty much sinless because they are going to become gods. After all, a sinless person couldn’t become a god, could he? It’s probably a matter of “fake it until you make it” in Mormonism. I understand that there’s a lot of pressure on Mormons to project the right image and conform to the group norms of Mormon society. One of the characteristics of a repressive society is that everything has to look good on the outside regardless of what’s really happening on the inside.

  12. falcon says:

    In his book “Beyond Mormonism” the author Jim Spencer (a former Mormon) discusses his personal observations of Mormon life and what he discovered on his journey out of Mormonism. Jim’s observations directly relate to our discussion at hand.
    “Although we prided ourselves in our religious devotion to our families, for example, I had personally witnessed the alienation and emptiness in Mormon family life. I had seen the backward character of the students at Ricks College. For ten years I had tasted the banality and shallow provincialism of the Mormon Church-state. And now, as I opened my eyes and looked objectively at the facts, I was forced to admit that “Happy Valley in the Rockies” was not happy at all. As I listened to men and women sing the praises of Mormonism, I knew the reality behind it: The church failed to produce lasting marriages and healthy homes. Statistics told me that Utah, the great Mormon state of Deseret, had a consistently higher divorce rate than the nation as a whole. It consistently led the national average in the rate of teenage suicide. And, within the citadel of Mormonism, child abuse was rampant. I was later to earn of Utah’s inflated rate of larceny, corporate crime, and sharply rising rate of suicide among women. Also in Utah, twenty percent of all homicide victims were children under the age of fifteen-a rate five times the national average.
    My study, only six months old at the time of the Fast and Testimony Meeting, was bringing me to the brink of despair. As blackness began to enfold my world, I longed for a glimmer of hope.”
    Now this was Jim’s experience of course and the statistics he used were accurate at the time of his awakening regarding Mormonism. The point here is the despair Jim felt regarding the fruitless efforts of a group of religious people to make themselves righteous and perfect on their path to deification. The result is either despair at never measuring up, or pride in thinking that one is sinless and perfect.

  13. falcon says:

    I would guess that there is no monolithic experience within Mormonism but I would think that there is some commonality to the overall impressions a Mormon has that forms the basis for their belief system. There are those of course who really take to Mormonism, enjoy the culture and finding meaning in the expression of their faith within the various rituals and rites.
    However it is interesting to note (as I often do) most people who carry the Mormon label, don’t practice Mormonism. It’s a two-thirds one-third split the former being those who are inactive and the latter those that are active. For those that would be considered active, my guess is that the number who are, what I would label “temple Mormons”, the real hardcore, gonna be a god folks isn’t real high. I have no way to prove this because I don’t have the numbers that would show the number of temple visits and how many folks are making those visits.
    But we do know something about the culture. There’s a lot of pressure on Mormons to live a certain way, at least publicly. This pressure to conform might bring certainty and security to some but for others it might have a stifling smothering effect. One of the things I notice when reading the exit stories of exMormons is that suddenly they find that they have more time and more money. There’s also this feeling of liberation expressed with thinking new thoughts and exploring new intellectual paths.
    I was recently talking with a woman (nonMormon) whose daughter had married a young Mormon man. She said to me, “By current societal norms my son-in-law is a real straight arrow, but within his family he’s considered a black sheep.” He wasn’t involved with the Mormon church and would occasionally drink a beer. Now he’s not on the god track, that’s pretty evident. But it would appear that he is moral and upright.
    But here’s the deal, we can’t save ourselves. Mormonism can’t deliver on its promises to make someone a god. It can’t even provide salvation, no matter how moral someone is. This moral young man of whom I spoke is as lost outside of Mormonism as he was inside Mormonism. Only a proper understanding of who God is and what His plan of salvation entails will bring him eternal life. Being moral is a good thing, but it won’t get anyone saved.

  14. falcon says:

    I would think that Mormon legalism as a route to sinless perfection and deification would produce people who would simply ignore it, become discouraged and defeated, be under constant pressure to perform and always feeling like they are falling short, or become arrogant thinking that their works are going to do the trick for them on the route to becoming a god.
    Jim Spencer relates in his book:
    “…I was negotiating a turn out of Sugar City that I called the Sugar City Curve-an S-shaped curve made up of two ninety-degree turns, a hard right followed by a hard left. It takes about sixty seconds to make the transit. On the Sugar City Curve, the miracle took place.
    I entered the curve a self-centered intellectual failure who, after ten years on a treadmill of religious performance, was about as far from knowing God as I had been when I joined the Mormon Church. I was sick of myself. Sick of religion. Sick of life.
    Since several people had told me that there was such a thing as personal contact with God, or Jesus, or whoever, I longed to make that contact. I thought it must, as (pastor) Mike Shaw had suggested, come through prayer. So as I drove, I prayed.
    ‘God,” I said, ‘where are you? Where am I going? What am I supposed to do?’
    These were simple, direct, heartfelt questions, to which I did not actually expect an answer. To my amazement, i received one, not in an audible voice, but one that was nonetheless real. As a rational person, I knew it was a rational experience. I sensed I was actually communicating with God.”
    Jim’s two way conversation with God went like this.
    “Well, Jim came the response, let’s start at the beginning. The problem is, you are doing things your own way. You say you want to find Me. O.K., here’s how to do it. Turn your life over to Me.”
    “O.K., God,” I said. “You say I’m supposed to what?”
    “Give me your life.”
    “….Do you mean do what those radio evangelists tell you-’give your heart to Jesus’?
    “That’s it…….Son, you have made a complete wreck of your life. You don’t know your right hand from your left. I am offering to take over your life and run it for you. That may or may not include Africa. But let Me tell you this: I love you more than you can possibly understand, and I am very trustworthy.”

  15. falcon says:

    cont.
    “Suddenly something snapped within me. Without understanding it, somehow I gave in. I gave up. I believed God was asking me to give Him my life, as if it had some value. I believed God was accepting me. I believed in His power to heal my life. I believed in Him.”
    “I had no idea of the full implications of the talk I had with God that day. It would take weeks for me to recognize the deep significance of those sixty seconds when I said yes to Him on the Sugar City Curve.”
    The first time I read this account (years ago) I made a promise to myself that if ever I had the chance, I would find the Sugar City Curve. Now the chances of that ever happening where about nil. First of all I live in another part of the country far away from where the curve is located. I was never going there. I did have an e mail correspondence with Jim and told him of my desire. He told me that he didn’t even know if the curve was there any longer because a four lane highway had been built and he wasn’t sure how much of the old road was even there any more.
    Due to a really interesting set of circumstances, a few month ago, believe it or not, I found myself in the part of the country where the Sugar City Curve is located. I started out on my quest by driving up the new four lane highway and exited at Sugar City. I drove to the far side of the town and headed north, went a few miles and realized it wasn’t there. So I stopped in the post office and asked the clerk, “I’m looking for a big S-shaped curve that used to be called the Sugar City Curve. Do you know where that might be?” He thought for a moment and said, “Just go down here a couple of blocks and there’s the only left turn lane on the street. Turn there. I think you’ll find it.” I must admit I was really anxious and excited. I found the turn and there it was, this huge S-shaped curve. I got out of my car stood on the side of the road and gave thanks to God for having spoken to Jim Spencer that day and led him to what he’d been looking for, a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ and with it the assurance of eternal life.
    I took some pictures of the curve with my cell phone. I wrote Jim and joked that I thought a small marker should be placed there marking the spot where he had become born again.

  16. jackg says:

    Falcon,

    You did pretty well. Mormons would not refer to it as a two-track system, but that seems to be a good explanation. It’s kind of like being on either the management track or not–one being the “career” path. The thing to remember is that “salvation” is not the management track, while “exaltation” is.

    The celestial kingdom is not viewed in “rings,” but in “levels.” The highest level requires polygamy (because there will be so many more worthy women than worthy men). Even though a practicing SLC Mormon does not practice polygamy, today, he will practice it in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. You see, the world just wasn’t quite ready for it when JS rolled it out; I guess God’s timing was a bit off or something like that.

    Regarding progression, even God is still progressing within the context of Mormonism. So, Mormons have a god who is still not complete. Anyway, vicarious work does count, so Mormons now have the problem of JS getting confused and writing in the BOM that today is the day for men to prepare to meet God (this life). But, wait, maybe that precious truth was taken out of the BOM as well. I know polygamy was. You won’t find polygamy in the BOM. Where’s the evil and wicked men in this scenario???

    I am so relieved that I no longer have to try and defend the heresies of JS. I give God all the praise and glory for bringing me from the darkness to the Light!!

    Blessings…

  17. falcon says:

    jackg,
    I’ve always thought that Mormonism doesn’t even qualify as heresy. It’s a bizarre entanglement of everything and anything that tripped Smith’s trigger. Unfortunately there are folks who will believe anything and everything and find justification for it. For example, the Bible doesn’t support Mormonism so the Bible is incomplete. The BoM doesn’t support Mormonism and it can all be chalked up to just the beginning of the progression into receiving more light. Mormons will sacrifice credulity and their own integrity to hold on to a myth. In their minds the more outlandish something is, the greater their faith and spirituality.
    It’s a bewildering mind-set.

  18. falcon,

    I enjoyed your posts. LOL I’ve got even less chance than you of finding the Sugar City S Bend (but we’ve got some fantastic mountain roads out here that are made for a BMW R1200S), but I’m glad you found it (or something like it).

    jackg wrote

    The celestial kingdom is not viewed in “rings,” but in “levels.”

    I’ve frequently thought of writing a piece along the lines of “Find out all you wanted to know about Mormonism/Gnosticism by playing World of Warcraft”.

    Fundamentally, you enter a fantasy world, do stuff to “level up”, and as you up-level, more of the fantasy world opens up to you (you can’t get into certain dungeons until you’ve achieved the right level).

    Unlike Mormonism, it doesn’t cost 10% of your income to play, but serious players need to invest considerable free time. Just like Mormonism, the gold, achievements and trinkets that you earn in WoW have absolutely no value outside of the parameters of the game, and the scenery bears no resemblance to any “real” place you can visit.

    Oops, have I just fed the trolls?

  19. falcon says:

    Martin,
    Yes indeed it was the real S-Curve but I was driving a rental car and not a sleek BMW. The rest of the story was that as I was searching for it I called Andy Watson and he told me to stop and ask if anyone know where it was. I actually stopped at the Foodliner first and nobody knew where it was. I then headed to the post office where they guy eyed me quite suspiciously.
    When I found it, I called Andy again and he told me to take the pictures. Being tech challenged I didn’t even know how to take a picture with my cell phone. But I figured it out and then I thought I lost them because I didn’t hit “save”. Anyway when I bought a new cell phone, the sales person “found” them.
    I sent them on to Jim and he used the story and pictures as the main topic of his newsletter. It was really a blessing finding that spot. Don’t ask me why but something in Jim’s story about his journey out of Mormonism really struck a cord with me. I’ve passed the book on and it caused one person to stop the missionary lessons she was going through. Another person ended up buying several copies.
    Jim’s story is very compelling because he was a dedicated Mormon who joined the church with limited knowledge of the history and real doctrine of Mormonism. Leaving Mormonism almost caused him to lose his family, but thankfully God provided and his wife (doing her own study) left also. Jim became a Christian pastor and has a very extensive ministry called Through the Maze. He’s helped countless other Mormons find their way out of Mormonism and into faith in Christ.

  20. falcon says:

    I know it does little if no good to quote the Bible to Mormons when formulating a position concerning the condition of man relative to sin. That’s because the Bible isn’t all that authoritative in the mind of Mormons. One of the Church fathers, when dealing with heretics, said that (heretics) had the uncanny ability to twist Scripture to meet their own needs. That’s why the Church Fathers continually appealed to tradition; that is the legacy of the teachings that were passed down from the apostles.
    None-the-less, here goes.
    The first major question is, where the effects of Adam’s fall merely confined to himself or do the effects manifest themselves in man generally? The liberal position would be that it’s all a myth. The Pelagian position is that God only imputes to man those sins which they personally perform. The Arminian position is that while Adam’s sin weakened the will of his posterity to remain sinless, the possibility of such was not destroyed. The Church Father Augustine taught (Augustinian position) that because of the unity of the human race in Adam, sin was imputed to his posterity. The point being that corrupted nature begets corrupted nature. The Scriptures support this position (Job 14:4, Romans 5:12, Romans 5:18-19) The summary statement might be that God judges all men to be sinners and guilty in Adam. He likewise judges believers to be righteous in Jesus Christ.
    “….I became a wicked, guilty sinner in the Garden of Eden. I turned my back upon fellowship with my holy God. I deliberately corrupted the character of godly holiness which God imparted to His creation. I willfully began to spread corruption through the creation over which God had intended me to rule. I was not there. No, but my representative was there, and he acted as such in my place and I was driven out from the garden and excluded from the tree of life.” (J. Oliver Buswell, A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion).

  21. falcon says:

    When we repent, we are at once and for all time saved from the penalty of sin (past), provided with victory over the power of sin (present), and have a future guarantee of the removal from the presence of sin. So how does God view our sin and is it possible to remain sinless from the time of our conversion.
    In 1 John 1: 8-10 the apostle speaks on the topics of denying the presence of sin, the denial of particular sins, and the denial of personally sinning. Charles Ryrie said: “Being a Christian does not free one from sinning. Of course there are some who teach eradication of the sin nature in this life, but the picture and doctrine of the NT seem to teach otherwise. In fact, John mentions three false claims which people in his day made in this regard…”
    Dr. L.S. Chafer in Systematic Theology wrote: “The responsibility resting upon the unregenerate man who would avail himself of the forgiveness of all trespasses and be saved is expressed the the one all-inclusive word-believe, while the responsibility resting upon the regenerate man who would be forgiven and restored to right relations with God is expressed in the one word-confess……Untold confusion follows when unregenerate men are told to confess as a condition of forgiveness and salvation, which confusion is equaled when a regenerate man is told to believe as a condition of securing a renewal of right relations to God……the unregenerate man has never before been in any favorable relation to God. When, as a part of his salvation, he is forgiven, it is unto a hitherto unexperienced union with God which abides forever; but when the Christian is forgiven it is unto the restoration of communion with God which may be broken again all too soon…..It is evident that the divine forgiveness of the believer is household in its character. It contemplates, not the once-for-all forgiveness which is a part of salvation (Colossians 2:13)) , but the forgiveness of the one who already and permanently is a member of the household and family of God. Vital union with God, which is secured by Christ for the believer, has not been and cannot be broken (Romans 8:1). This renewal is unto fellowship and communion with God. At no point in Christian doctrine is the specific and unique character of the present grace-relationship to God more clearly seen than in household forgiveness.”

  22. falcon says:

    We can turn again to Scripture for a description of our ultimate and final victory over sin. The NT writers Paul, Peter and John describe for us the ultimate victory over sin.
    These passages can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:25-28; Hebrews 12:22-24; Second Peter 3:7-13; and Revelation 20:11-15.
    Now the cult of Mormonism teaches men that there are millions, perhaps billions of gods, that men can progress to become gods, and that the very nature of men-to-gods is of a progression in knowledge and personal perfection through exemplary behavior i.e. not sinning. There isn’t any commonality between Mormonism and Christianity. The Bible will have little use for the Mormon who is on this personal quest to become a god.
    The Bible is for Christians who believe in One, everlasting, absolutely righteous and holy God who demands sinless perfection in order to enter His presence. Because of His sin nature, man is incapable of achieving this level of holiness and righteousness demanded by God. Knowing this, God sent His only begotten Son that who so ever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. This reconciliation was provided by God because of the hopeless situation man finds himself in. That is, despite the best of intentions, we sin. Through faith in Christ and the finished work of the Cross, the believer comes into right relationship with God and is granted, as a gift, eternal life. We don’t deserve it and we can’t earn it but we can receive it through faith. Having than been reconciled to God in Christ Jesus, we then purpose to live in accordance with the confession of faith we have made. We walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh but when we sin, we confess those sins and the blood of Christ continuously cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
    That is why it is called the Good News.

  23. Olsen Jim says:

    Sharon,

    Could it be possible that there is more than one element in man’s nature? Is it possible that there is an evil nature and potential as well as a good nature and potential?

    LDS certainly believe man has a fallen, lost nature. We recognize the influence of the natural man and its enticing influence, pulling us toward the selfish and carnal interests.

    But we also believe we are created in the “imgage of God” and are His “offspring.” And with that comes the potential for good through the great assistance of Heavenly Father.

    The dual nature of man and the reality of the war between the devilish and godly within each of us isn’t so hard to comprehend, in my opinion.
    Nor does it contradict scripture.

    Fundamental to this duality is the agency given man. We believe the ability to choose is paramount in the Gosepl of Jesus Christ.

  24. jackg says:

    Falcon,

    You have very sound theology. I appreciate what you write. I teach a Bible study series that covers Gen.1:1 to 4:16. It outlines the entire and complete fall of man, which is basically nothing more than broken relationships with God and with each other, and is rooted in not trusting God or loving Him as we should. There’s more to the study than I have room for here, but I believe the study gives us the proper lenses through which we view the rest of the biblical text. We learn about our sin nature and proclivity for sin, as well as about God’s love, patience, mercy, and grace, as He goes about the work of redemption and reconciliation. God’s mercy and grace are clearly evident right from the get-go. You and I both know that we need to realize the truth about our condition to see our need for a God who will die for us in order to meet the demands of justice. We also need to understand what sanctification is all about. It’s a process much like the road of a recovering alcoholic: there might be lapses along the way, but the complete return to the old lifestyle never happens.

    I’m not sure I’m making any sense right now; I’m not even sure why I’ve interjected this into the conversation. I hope you find it germane to the conversation about the condition of man relative to sin. Alas! We can’t all be C.S. Lewis. ;)

    Peace and blessings…

  25. falcon says:

    jackg,
    Excellent post. I got a lot out of it. I like to get your perspective on these matters.
    I have to keep reminding myself of two very important facts. The first one is that (1) I’m not here to debate TBMs because (a)they’re hardcore sold out to a pagan religion that worships and acknowledges foreign gods and (b) debate is fruitless because it’s a matter of cross cultural communication. They often times use similar vocabulary that has a totally different meaning. These folks are oriented towards a religion that promises them they will become gods if they follow a certain prescribed path. (2) I write for the Mormon lurkers; the ones you say are in the “contemplative” stage, to help them on the exit out of the Morg.
    When we look at the present-day condition of man the opinions range from; man is dirt and cannot be saved to man is divine, and need not be saved. The Bible gives us the facts about man. 1 Corinthians 2:14 is a good place to start. Basically it tells us that the natural unsaved man is spiritually depraved. Now this doesn’t mean that the natural man doesn’t have any sense of God or good and evil. Atheists can be moral. Depravity is not saying that an unsaved person cannot admire the noble or perform noble acts. What depravity means is that all sinners are capable of all wicked things. Depravity also teaches that no sinner has the power to please God. Here are some Bible verses that describes the natural man: John 5:42, Romans 7:18, Romans 8:7-8, Ephesians 2:12, Romans 3:10-12, the carnal man 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, and finally the Spirit controlled man 1 Corinthians 2:15. The natural man is a corpse.

  26. falcon says:

    The book of Romans is a good place to read about the dilemma those of us who are in Christ face when dealing with sin. The apostle Paul knew all too well what the state of the human condition is when he applied the Gospel of Jesus Christ to his own life. Having been radically saved on the road to Damascus and having had the Gospel revealed to him directly from Jesus, Paul knew that in applying the blood of Christ to his sin, he was now free from the penalty of sin which is separation for eternity from God.
    In the first verse of (Romans 7:14) Paul points out the the dichotomy of the spirit and the flesh. He builds the case for his own sinful condition, even after being saved, in Romans 7:15-25. Paul reaches the pinnacle of despair when in Romans 7:24 he cries out “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” He answers his own question in (Romans 7:25-26) when he says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” He concludes with the Good News that we all like to hear in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”
    It would appear that our “flesh” has difficulty catching-up with the reality of the spirit, that is that we’ve been born again, reborn, transformed, changed, justified by faith in Christ. Even though our flesh doesn’t seem to want to cooperate with this new spiritual reality, we are different creatures now that the Holy Spirit has come to dwell within us. The spirit and the flesh are continually in conflict. Confessing our sins doesn’t get us resaved but it restores us to right relationship to God.

  27. falcon says:

    The Book of Romans will make no sense to a Mormon reading it as a Mormon. That’s because Mormonism can’t be shoe-horned into the Gospel of Jesus Christ no matter how hard a Mormon may try (to make it fit). It would be like a group of people trying to play football with the rule book for basketball guiding them. It’s not possible to dribble a football and even if the participants could figure out a way to advance the football using the rules for basketball, when they got to the end of the field, there would be no goal.
    Likewise with Mormons trying to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ as laid out in Romans by Paul.
    Mormons claim a different God, in fact they claim millions and perhaps billions of gods. Their view of the nature of God will not fit into the Biblical narrative in which God is revealed. Mormons don’t know Jesus. They acknowledge someone named Jesus, but the Jesus they claim isn’t the Jesus who died on the cross shedding His blood for mankind. Mormons don’t accept God’s plan of salvation which has us with Him for eternity. Instead they cling to the blasphemous hope that they will morph themselves into deity.
    So Mormonism has created a form of law through which, they believe, men can transform themselves into gods.
    What fools these people are, rejecting God, His Christ, and His plan of salvation for a false hope that will lead to their spiritual destruction.

  28. Brian says:

    Dear Sharon,

    Thanks for your wonderful article. Excellent clarity and well spoken. Thank you.

    I enjoyed Dr. Kapic’s insights in her “At Once Justified and Sinner” article.

    The glorious truth of the Bible is that God declares sinners to be righteous when they believe in Christ.

    Perhaps one reason it is difficult for a legalist (one who is seeking to make themselves righteous by self-merit) to acknowledge their own sinful heart is because they understand very well the concept of judgment. A sinner who is judged is found … innocent? No, is found guilty and condemned. What a heavy burden: to admit to failure and a future ruin. (This is the burden many of us here at this forum felt before we became Christians.)

    Imagine, for a moment, a courtroom. The defendant sits in silence, stoney faced. The jury has just returned to the courthouse. The judge asks if they have reached a verdict. They have. One of its members announces it: guilty on all charges. The defendant knows the prescribed penalty. It is death. The judge orders the guilty one led away. The defendant watches as armed guards enter the courtroom. But they walk by and take away an onlooker. The defendant is free to walk out of the courtroom.

    That is the cross. Is it fair? No. The cross is precious to the Christian beyond measure. For by it God judged and condemned his own Son, having imputed our sins to his account. The Christian has already been judged and found guilty, but in the person of another:

    “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

    There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus:

    “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

    The Christian has eternal life.

  29. jackg says:

    Brian,

    I appreciate your courtroom scenario: that is the only way to understand that we are already guilty and condemned to death, as well as God’s Grace revealed through Jesus Christ on the cross as our substitute. Beautifully expressed!!

    Blessings,
    Jack

  30. falcon wrote

    Yes indeed it was the real S-Curve but I was driving a rental car and not a sleek BMW.

    HA!

    Fooled you!

    Martin 1, falcon 0.

    (Only kidding).

    The Bimmer I was talking about was the 2-wheeled version (better for bends).

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