Dr. C. S. Lovett’s
MARANATHA FAMILY NEWSLETTER
HAVE YOU EVER HAD AN UNGODLY THOUGHT?
Who would put those two things together like that? Only the Lord. It is an ingenious program, one that is amazing to watch once you understand how your two natures work to help you grow as a Christian. Without those two natures, you could not mature in Christ. I am thrilled when a godly and scholarly minister takes up the subject of the believers' two natures and explains how one or the other is always in control. Because of this, SIN is normal. Does that shock you? You can see it in your own life, once you know what to look for.
God is the One who equips Christians with two natures. Your old nature is the result of being born into the world. You will have it all your earthly life. Your new nature is the result of being born into the family of God. Satan has complete and free access to your old nature and the Holy Spirit has the same access to your new nature.
I have a lot of respect for my readers. Sometimes they are way ahead of me when I make such statements. They even know the passages I have in mind as I set forth the ideas the Holy Spirit imparts. As I say that, my King James Bible is open to First John. On the left-hand page, verse 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
What a fabulous offer! God is faithful to cleanse us from every bit of evil if we confess our sins. Should any Christian have trouble confessing to God Who sees our hearts and knows us better than we know ourselves? The Lord Jesus taught that we need cleansing from daily defilement and this passage refers to God's willingness to cleanse us. If we ever get the idea that we don't sin, the previous verse 1:8 takes care of that, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." And what is worse the next verse says, "We make Him a liar" (1:10).
Then I looked across the page and First John 3:9 leaped out at me, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed (Jesus) remaineth in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God."
Wow! This verse says those born of God can't sin. And since you cannot be a Christian without being born of God, it is a direct statement that CHRISTIANS CANNOT SIN! This is astonishing! One verse says flat out that we are sinners. The other says we can't sin. And both of them are practically on the same page, in the same book, by the same author.
IS THIS A CONTRADICTION?
It's clear what the newer editions have done with the Greek word for "commit." They've changed it to read "practice sin" or "continue in sin." Every Christian I know continues to sin. I certainly do. I need to ask the Lord for forgiveness every day, and so do you.
Translators cringe at the thought of making the text read: Christians "do not commit sin." They can't bring themselves to say that, for directly across the page it says, we do sin. Normally I use the NIV translation, but this time I was using the King James. I grew up (spiritually) with the King James Bible and love the power of its English.
The explanation doesn't lie in finding a way around the Greek text or altering the truth to make it fit our theology. The answer lies in making our theology fit God's word. The fact is, the new man or NEW NATURE DOESN’T SIN. Christians have two natures, one evil and one holy. Paul refers to them as the "sinful nature" and the "godly nature;" the "old man" and the "new man;" the "spiritual man" and the "carnal man;" the "carnal nature" and the "spiritual nature;" but they all are referring to the same two natures.
The King James is not wrong. It's right on. The Revised English Bible remains loyal to the Greek text in making verse 9 read: "No child of God commits sin, because the divine seed remains in him, indeed because he is God's child he cannot sin." So where is the contradiction?
THERE IS NO CONTRADICTION
Each of the two verses is referring to a different nature. 1 John 1:9 is referring to the old nature and 1 John 3:9 is referring to the new nature. Only the new nature is born of God. THAT'S WHY IT CAN'T SIN. It is God's own righteousness. The old nature is born of the flesh and sins continually. The answer lies in the fact that believers have TWO NATURES.
When you're born to your mother, you enter the world equipped with the only nature she can give you. That's why we all start with a sinful nature. This is the only way any nature can be acquired—by birth. Then when we take Jesus as our Savior and are born again, the second birth gives us the nature of our heavenly parent―God. No one can have a new nature until he is born again. The new nature is holy and cannot sin.
This truth unlocks three mysteries:
1. Mysteries about the Word. For example Gal. 5:17-21, where Paul lists all kinds of sins that Christians commit, then says those who do such things can't go to heaven. What's the mystery? We all do some of those things at different times.
2. Mysteries about Jesus. How can He be God and man at the same time?
3. Mysteries about yourself. How can someone who loves Jesus as much as you do, have such terrible thoughts at times or say things you shouldn't, or do things you know are wrong, even if it's just a little gossip or cheating on your taxes? Without a working knowledge of your two natures, these things will always remain a mystery.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS TO US?
There's no argument as to which is the greatest Bible truth ― salvation through faith in our Lord Jesus. And that is where most preaching is concentrated today. But if we keep the emphasis always on salvation, how will Christians grow? For believers, growth is urgent. It surely won't please God to have heaven loaded with spiritual infants. We've got to produce mature sons and daughters. This #2 truth of the Bible can lead them to maturity; the #1 truth can lead them only to salvation.
Beyond what I've said in this article, there's another reason why this truth is critical. The knowledge of your old nature and how it works helps in defeating Satan. The devil is at home in the OLD NATURE, moving in and out as he pleases. From there he launches his attacks against you. If you want to be an overcomer and please God with what you DO, SAY, and THINK, you must understand your old nature and how Satan uses it against you. Without that understanding, there's no way you can be an overcomer.
I saw why the Spirit lead me to First John and the King James Version. He wanted to confront me with what seemed like a contradiction, so He could direct me to the explanation. Since I shared this insight with you, it is my hope that as you study your Bible and these verses, you'll be thanking God for the insights you pick up for unlocking the mystery of why godly Christians often have. . .
C. S. Lovett
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