Sometimes I get questioned on why my particular "bug-bears" in theological discussion are as they are. Subjects such as the meaning of the Song of Solomon, biblical manhood and womanhood and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are all guaranteed to get me going! Why so? Because I think each of these subjects have got the potential to cause great harm and damage - or taught rightly great blessing to the body of Christ. Indwelling sin is a more recent topic of discussion mainly since my days within SGM but has become equally important in thinking through.
I'm deeply indebted to Ryan Rufus's book; "Do Christians still have sinful nature?" for helping me to re-think through the correct Biblical perspective on this. It actually DOES matter how we view our new standing and nature in Christ! So I was greatly encouraged to hear Rob himself address the issue while speaking at the Sydney "Glory and Grace Conference". Here's what he had to say;
"Let me deal with this question of whether Christians have a sin nature or not ... I do not believe that Christians have a sin nature anymore. Under first Adam and law, you did. Rob are you saying that a Christian can't sin? You shouldn't even have to ask that question. Of course a a Christian can sin but that is not sin nature.
A sin nature is a nature that hates God and loves sinning and hates anything to do with God. A sin nature loves sinning, desires and wants to sin. We are telling Christians when you are born again and now have a new righteous nature that doesn't want to sin but you have got a sin nature as well and they are fighting each other and the one you feed the most will win the fight.
We don't have a sinning nature! We can sin but we are not under the control of a sinning nature".
I've had some quite recent very helpful dialogue with Janelle Phillips on this (about which we differ a bit in our views!). The key issue of course is that we are all seeking to become as Christ-like as possible and we all have a desire to grow in holiness! However I have been quite surprised at some Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones quotes that show a slight differing from the classic views on holy living that are being circulated at the moment (but at the same time, Dr Lloyd-Jones sounds so similar to Rob Rufus!) For example;
"When we sin, we should not feel that we are back under the wrath of God, but that we have hurt a loving Father. What a difference! "There is no condemnation" but we have wounded and hurt a loving Father. So we go back to Him as the prodigal son did, and find that all is well".
Not the breaking of rules! But the breaking of a heart. What a far greater incentive to not sin. I think Terry Virgo said something similar at the Brighton Leaders Conference in 2005. But the quote that really surprised me was this one;
"No one has ever been cured of immorality by reading books on the control of sex - never has been, never will".
I must admit I never read "Not Even a Hint: Guarding Your Heart Against Lust". I wonder if any who have can vouch that they have made major strides in the battle to get their minds pure. But the overall emphasis of the Rob Rufus quote to me is that we needn't worry that we are "feeding" some sin nature that may grow or get weaker depending on how strictly we adhere to the spiritual disciplines. That was all triumphed over at the Cross! We now stand in resurrection newness of life.
(PS: After this quote Rob went into some quite graphic descriptions of the meaning of circumcision and it's relevance here. If the comments and debate gets too heated - I will post it to make the emphasis a bit clearer! Be warned!).