I know that the issue of "indwelling sin" has had a bit of discussion on various blogs recently and I think this is very positive. For too long now the evangelical world has perhaps taken the traditional view - "that's what we have always believed". But revelation is progressive and we must be open to the fact that God may be slowly unravelling mysteries to us that our fore-fathers didn't or wouldn't receive. I have been collating some Rob Rufus quotes recently for a new project I am working on with some other friends and was struck by a logical argument that Rob made. Many Scriptures have been thrown around - some defending the fact that we still as Christians have "indwelling sin" and some against. But this logical argument is interesting.
Before I quote it, here's a brief summary of some of the various discussions that have been going on.
1. Ryan Rufus (Rob's son) has provided a valuable resource in an online book called: "Do Christians Have A Sinful Nature?". He argues quite persuasively that we do not.
2. The blog that is examining the untold stories of SGM has posted an interesting blog called; "Sinner? Listen up!". She makes the point that many within SGM speak of being "the worst of sinners" or the "chief of sinners". C J Mahaney's new PA is an example of this (check his sidebar on his blog) - "Who am I? My name is Tony Reinke but call me “chief of sinners". Yet the question is asked if the person saying that was sitting in the same room as their child's murderer would they still say that? It poses some interesting concepts.
3. Jesse Phillips from the USA did a job at examining both sides of the issues while holding to the traditional SGM position. His post was called; "Do Christians have Indwelling Sin?".
4. Finally my dear friend Julie from Canada probably wrote the best summary of where I am theologically called; "The Doctrine of Indwelling Sin". She concludes her arguments strongly and persuasively;
"What I'm trying to say is that I believe the doctrine of indwelling sin is actually legalism dressed up as pious and humble sounding doctrine. I believe it is very deceptive and will lead to spiritual ruin".
So with those few links provided, here is Rob's logical take on the argument (from the 2nd main session of the Glory and Grace Conference);
"If you are in first Adam, then you cannot "backslide" out of his fallen state through good works. Just so if you are in last Adam you cannot "backslide" out through unrighteous acts"
Does that make sense? We all as good evangelicals would agree that Adam's fall had consequences for the whole race. Adam fell and there is absolutely nothing that we - his descendents can do about it other than "the only way" through the Cross. Non-Christians can spend their entire lives doing good works but they cannot get out of the fact they are fallen in Adam's race.
Well if that is true then suppose they do give their lives to Christ and are regenerated totally and utterly by His once-for-all sacrifice on the Cross. Is the last Adam's once-for-all act on Calvary somehow weaker than the first Adam's taking of the apple from the tree? I can hear the shudders of outrage from those who champion the Cross. Of course it isn't. Why then are we so reluctant to truly investigate the true characteristics of the "Cross-centred Life"?!
When Christ shouted; "It is finished!" - was it in His mind that all who believed in Him by faith would be condemned to a life of legalism trying to mortify the sin He had just triumped over at the Cross "trampling on principalities and powers" through "spiritual disciplines"? I read a charismatic book recently that I enjoyed when the writer argued persuasively that actually rather than calling them "spiritual disciplines" we should call them "spiritual privilidges"!
Rather than trying to take away from the Cross, I want to argue again for a "Gospel of Words AND power". Nothing less will do. Leonard Ravenhill called the Cross;
"This, I say, was the most momentous moment in history. Hell had feared this moment for centuries, for millenniums!".
Why did Hell fear this moment so much? Because Ravenhill says;
"It is finished. What was finished? The tyranny of the devil. I don't think the church has wakened up to that yet, but it is finished. It is so. I believe that when Jesus cried with a loud voice it echoed down every corridor in hell. IT IS FINISHED!! I can almost hear the demons in hell say, "What? He's broken our power." "You mean that Satan doesn't have...?" "No, no, no. Satan is bound. And not only that, death has lost it's sting." "What?" "Yes, death has lost it's sting. And more than that... 'The vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus his pardon receives".
The Church needs to wake up! It is finished! We need to wake up from the nightmare dream that we are condemned to a life of struggle and strife attempting through "spiritual disciplines" to kill something within us that is desperate to sin. In one fell swoop when Jesus Christ entered our lives by the power of the Holy Spirit we were changed, we are being changed and we will be changed. But the essence of glory is within us now! The Bible says we are seated and reigning with Christ NOW! And we have every right to begin to act and move with authority. When temptation arrives attempting to steal our joy - we have the right from heaven to speak with the authority of heaven and say "Get behind me Satan - it is written ...".
Satan is bound! Hell has lost it's power! Death has lost it's sting! It is time for the Church to begin to truly believe in a "Gospel of Words and Power". Words - yes. But power - something we can SEE and HEAR.
To make anything less the "compass" of our gospel will condemn us to a miserable existance where we wait anxiously for our "escape" to heaven where it will all be over. That was never Jesus Christ's final instruction - to wait for heaven! His final instructions to His church was to go and bring heaven to earth in the authority that He had been given after He rose again from the dead.