Do they sound solid when you thump ‘em?

We can picture the common media depiction of the person shopping for fruit at the market, and attempting to determine which one to buy. Either by rapping it, or shaking, or squeezing. As if there some way, other than looks, by which a person can tell if fruit is more ripe.

When a person becomes a Christian they do not receive a special tattoo, or secret decoder ring, or any other observable effect by which we can observe and exclaim, “That person must be a Christian, because they can perform the secret hand-shake.” Human believers look exactly like human non-believers. Christians, of course, would explain that the difference is in a person’s soul—something that cannot be perceived by our five senses.

But does the Bible teach that the change in the spiritual entity has a necessary effect on the physical person in that we can obtain the ability, just by observation, to determine which persons are Christians?

I was informed elsewhere, as I was commenting on Christians, that I was “looking at the wrong Christians.” My first thought was, “What Christians am I supposed to be looking at? How do I know which group is the incorrect one to watch, and which one is the appropriate one?”

Without going through an in-depth study of the salvation process, the base requirement is to believe that Christ was raised from the dead and confess that Jesus is Lord. (Rom. 10:8-11) Belief generates results. It manifests itself in action.

If I shout, “FIRE!” in a movie theater, those that believe my simple statement react. While the belief may be unfounded (there may not be a fire) there is no difference in the depth of the belief, nor the person’s reaction. Fire or not, if a patron is convinced there is one, they will necessarily respond to it.

However, if I shout “Fire!” and people lazily turn their heads, shrug and go back to munching popcorn, a strong case could be made, that they do not believe me, just by their reaction. Would anyone seriously claim, “Oh, they truly believed you in their heart a fire was happening in that theater, but because they are human, reacted like most humans do in movie theaters and kept watching the movie”?

James is transparent that Christian belief will necessarily result in a demonstration of activity. The famous “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:14-18

Paul is clear that prior to becoming a Christian, a person would act in one fashion, and afterwards, as a manifestation of that belief, a person would act otherwise. As a child, in Sunday School we were taught the fruits of the spirit:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Gal. 5:22-23

Paul goes on to indicate that those who are identified with Christ (i.e. Christians) have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Immediately prior to providing us with the fruit of the Spirit, in verses 19-21, Paul has contrasted with the works of the flesh, being adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like.

It is obvious. “Here are the works of the Flesh. Here are the works of the Spirit. You are now in the Spirit. You have killed the desires of the Flesh.” Gal. 6:7-8. In case the point is not patently clear, Paul reiterates that those who practice the works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God.

While the Bible is indistinct as to the exact meaning of the Kingdom of God, I doubt anyone will claim that a Christian is a Christian and NOT inheriting the Kingdom of God.

Paul develops a penchant for lists.

In Romans 1 he indicates that certain persons know there is a God, but worship the creature rather than the creator. That God will give them over to a debased mind, to do those things that are not fitting. Again, he trots out the traditional laundry list of items: sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, and unmerciful. (Rom. 1:28-31)

I am not the only person to notice Paul making these distinctions. The author of Colossians, in replicating Paul’s style also trots out a list of their own. Again, we read what a person did before Christianity is different than what a person does after. Col. 3:8-10 The author provides the now-familiar list: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, covetousness, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language and lying. (Col. 3:5-9) And reproduces the good list: tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another. (Col. 3:12-13)

Following the traditional formula, the author of Ephesians, likewise, indicates recognizable change upon this change in the soul (Eph. 4:22) and likewise replicates the customary list. Bad: Lying, unresolved anger, stealing, corrupt language, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, malice, filthiness, foolish talking, coarse jesting, fornicating, uncleanliness and covetousness. (Eph. 4:25-5:5) Good: kind, tender-hearted, forgiving, loving, goodness, righteousness and truth. (Eph. 4:32-5:9)

Even the author of 1 Timothy has to get into the act, and points out how Paul was only a blasphemer, persecutor and insolent before he believed. (I Tim. 1:13) And, of course, out comes our faithful list, although he does seem to kick it up a notch: murderers of fathers, murderers of mothers, manslayers, fornicators, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. (I Timothy 1:9-10)

All right. I get it. I get it, I get it, I get it. (They seem to like to repeat, so perhaps I must as well.) Before: you do bad things. After: you do good things. This should be an evident change. Something that I see a person acting a certain way, I can confidently place them in either the “Before” picture or the “After” picture.

But is that what we see?

“Lying” seems to consistently appear. Rev. 21:8 states that anyone who lies will not enter Heaven. It is on every list except Galatians. Plain as the nose on your face—lying is in the “Before” picture.

Houston—we have a problem. Christians lie. Lotsa Christians lie. If I am looking at the wrong Christians, can someone point me out to a Christian that does not lie? Ever? Is there a person, believer or not, that will dare comment that they have not lied in the year 2006? One?

Yet I thought “lying” was on the “Before” list? What went wrong? How can an “After” do a “Before”? Now, I can already envision fingers poised over keyboards, itching to type that these lists do not say a person in an “After” will never commit a “Before.” I am sure pages are being turned to 1 John 1:8 which states that even believers will continue to sin, and (in supreme irony) if they claim they do not sin, they are liars. Which is a sin. Worse, a sin of the “Before” kind.

O.K. Let’s assume I am being too literalistic and legalistic by demanding a bright-line division in the “Befores” and the “Afters.” That there is some wiggle room that allows an “After” to commit a “Before.”

Then explain the purposes of the list. Why do the authors continue to state that prior, these things are done, and those that practice them are not in the kingdom of heaven? After they are not. “Ah,” you may say, “The key word is ‘practice.’ It is not a sin of one occasion, but a perpetual lifestyle.”

Sorry, lived too long. Have you lied in 2006? 2005? 2004? Do I need to go back? Have you been lewd (whatever that means) in 2006? 2005? 2004? What about strife, dissension, selfish ambition. Not a selfish act in 2006? 2005? 2004? No pride?

What I see, in humanity as a whole, are occasions of lying, strife, pride, and selfish ambition. According to the list, all you “Afters” aren’t allowed any of that. I see it on repeated occasions. If that ain’t “practice” I do not know what is.

And if these become guidelines; suggestions, then we have taken all the teeth out of their purpose in the first place. Who couldn’t figure out that murdering and lying is bad, and treating others with respect is good? Knock me over with a feather that someone comes up with that! Thank goodness the authors of the New Testament came along, because without them, no society had EVER been able to quite manufacture the concept that stealing might be a bad thing to do, and charity might be a good thing to do.

Imagine if you and your friends were creating a list of morals. Is it any surprise that much of those list(s) would conform on items such as murder, stealing and lying, with an occasional offshoot of perjury or clamor? And if the same group put together a good list, that it would include love and mercy?

What makes the Bible even remotely unique in that the authors of the various books could do so likewise? If we are to hold the Bible as the only communication from God, should we treat it differently, or the same? Should these lists, unlike any other set of lists ever created, actually have some teeth in them? That when it says, only “Befores” do these items, it means only “Befores.” Or are Christians going to tell me that these lists, like every other moral list ever given, are guidelines, suggestions, in that humans should do more “Afters” and less “Befores”?

I am genuinely curious—what makes these lists unique to Christianity? If they are not, then why should I consider the God of Christianity unique?

Further, these verses claim that because they are Christians their actions have changed. In every person that claims being a Christian, at the least we should see a vast difference (if not a complete elimination) between the occurrences of “Before” and “After.”

It may be pointed out that there certainly are a number of Christians that committed heinous “Befores” and upon converting, stopped. Became “Afters.” It may be pointed out that THESE are the Christians I should be looking at.

However, in any division of society, we find people a certain percentage of people who commit more “Befores” a certain percentage who commit more “Afters” and a great many who commit a spattering of each. We can divide it up by religion, race, culture, country or even hair-color. I could say that some red-heads commit more “Afters” and therefore red-headism is a life-changing event, as long as we look at only those certain red-heads.

I am told that the God of Christianity is the only correct one. Hence unique. I am informed that belief in that God will result in life-changing events. But what I see is humans. Humans that, regardless of belief or non-belief in any particular god, acting in a similar fashion. Nothing unique about it at all.

Even Christ indicated there should be difference in belief. He noted that non-believers can love those that love them. Luke 6:32 What is the credit or surprise in that? You want to see something different? What to see something “Christian”? Love your enemies. Now THAT is something that would make Christianity stand out, right? Luke 6:35.

Unfortunately, just like any other religion, race or creed, we find some humans that are able to love their enemies, and some that are not. Some claim to be Christians, some are red-heads. There is no divine spark, no noticeable difference in Christians that makes other religions stand aside and say, “Nope. We don’t love our enemies. Only Christians do that. Nope. We lie. Only Christians don’t lie.”

What I seem to be told is that I have shouted “FIRE” and all the Christians really, truly believe me, but just like the rest of the humans in the theater, some leave, and some stay. In trying to look at the “right” Christians, I catch quite a few non-Christians in my gaze.

On a personal note, if these lists are to be indicators of a soul-change, they have no depth with me. I recognize within myself the same actions, the same temptations, the same internal strife dealing with these items as before. I have never murdered. Not “Before” not “After” and not “After-After.” I have pride. “Before” “After” and “After-After.” Now I may be informed that means I was never a Christian in the first place. Equally, it could mean I am still a Christian.

Or most likely, it means I am human. A list which is neither surprising nor unique, does not demonstrate belief.

And, for those concerned, this is an academic discussion, so any responses that disagree with my position, I will not consider “dissension, strife, or contention.” Just in case you fear the temptation of committing a “Before.” *smile*


John W. Loftus said...

If Christians are the only people in the world who claim that God the Holy Spirit takes us "residence" inside them, and that he helps them behave, then why is there no real difference between the behavior of Christians and non-Christians? You'd think with such a claimed difference there would be a big difference in how they behave. But we don't see it.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi John,

If someone professes to be a Christian there must be a "before" and "after" in regard to their behavior (both inwardly and outwardly). Christians still and always will until death have remaining sin. However, no Christian has reigning sin (that is, a Christian is not controlled ultimately by his sin, he will repent and not live in it.) A Christian has to confess his sins on a daily basis. If a person lies, steals, murders, etc. without confession of the sin to God and repentence (turning away from sin, forsaking it), along with a renewed desire to obey God and be holy, then that person is not a Christian. Many unbelievers lie with no problem. If they do feel remorse, they may even admit to lying, but remorse is not repentence. There is no turning away from lying, nor turning unto God. You are familiar with the Scriptures and have even recapped some of the arguments about this issue from a Christian's position, so I won't reiterate all the arguments. I must say that when I was unconverted and I met some of the people from my church for the first time (while at college), I saw the difference between them and my unconverted friends right away. Not just because they were "nice", and didn't swear every 5th word, or because they didn't consume a large quantity of beer in one sitting (I'm not condemning beer, just the immoderate use of it!), but because they were genuinely kind and gracious. They were transparent, they recognized that they were sinners in need of God's grace. They weren't duplicitous. This made a deep impression upon me, and I know these people very well now since we've all been a part of the same church for over 12 years. So, it wasn't a mistaken impression. I know what I just shared with you is on a personal experiential level, but it's true nonetheless. Back to the example with lying. Have I lied in 2004, 2005, 2006? Yes, I have. Am I a liar though? No, I don't live in a pattern of lying. I think you know the difference. Before I was a Christian, I would have no problem lying to you if it was to my advantage. I did it all the time. After God convicted me of my sin, my conscience began to really smite me when I lied, and I couldn't live in a lie any longer. That's real, John. We can exchange apologetic positions all day long, but that's real. I could make the same case with any sin. Now, I'm not just basing my faith in God upon those experiences alone, but I am saying that those experiences testify to the truth of Scripture. Whatever any professing Christian does, good or bad, the truth of Scripture doesn't change. There are real living examples of genuine Christians in the world. Thanks for your consideration...

Callen Damornen said...

I always find it mildly annoying when people are in business and as part of their image they say they are a Christian business man or woman -- as if putting in Christian along with business somehow makes them above the standards of all other business people.

What is even more annoying are those who do business with these Christian business people and get bent out of shape because they were short-changed, ripped off, fallen for false advertisment, or all out rude service then whine because they chose to do business with that person because of their Christian status.

If there is ever a regulatory body that says if you use the label Christian to imply you have strong Christian ethics, then you have to answer to the regulators if you do not live up to the standards and must leave off the Christian from your business profile...then it might be a logical factor to take that label into consideration when you do business with them.

As there is no regulatory board to verify those who make such claims, to do business with a person solely on those grounds is foolish.

The same goes for voting time. You cannot deny it happening, but in some of the most conservative and/or evangelical churches they will either outright tell you who to vote for or imply the correct choice because that person is a true Christian. They said it before for G W Bush. If ever there was a phony, that would be it.

Christians are people. People make mistakes and have different views on moral values, even in the same religious sects.

One's spiritual life has little to do with their public life...except if you wanted to follow the examples of the hated Pharisees who would parade their faith around in public, saying loud prayers and drawing as much attention to themselves as possible...something Jesus condemned, BTW.

Perhaps there was more than one side of the story with the Christians being fed to the lions. I am not saying Christians ought to be fed to the lions, but perhaps the ones that were got too in your face with the local Romans and as it was their empire were not going to put up with people trying to change their government system which was working quite fine before the Christians took it over.

Not everyone believes in the Christian "standard of ethics" and think it shows quite a nerve on your part if you flaunt yourself as such as if it somehow makes you any better than the rest. Show me an honest Christian and an honest non-Christian person who have shown a long track record of being kind, loving, hard working, and so forth, and I will show you a person I will tend to trust more than one brandishing a phony title that means nothing.

Official Site Of Callen Damornen

paul said...


Hey, you should have at least pointed out that when it was said you were "looking at the wrong Christians" it was said tongue-in-cheek! :)

On the above theme, it's good reading to wander over to DagoodS own blog and read his piece "God is Busy. Please call back." It's a particularly poignant article discussing, among other things, homosexuals who try to become straight because of their Christian faith (for all the obvious reasons). This is only one example of people who sincerely want to become as the bible dictates, yet discover (often after many years), that God must be to busy.

Even Paul laments that "that which I would do, that do I not, and that which I would not do, that do I do...wretched man that I am, who shall free me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 7. The bible gives us these lists, but apparently, because of the law of sin, one has to wait for Jesus to free them. If He doesn't free you before you die...well hell.

Rich said...

Seems to me that the point to both these entries is to say, Hey Christions we can't tell you from us heathens! I have to say I agree with you still on this dagoods, let your light shine I believe is the reference. I also would say that we are expected to be perfect, Be thou therefore perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect. Not be as good as you can and it'll be good enough, but be perfect. Actions, you ms tlive the gospel to the finest detail. Just because no one does this also doesn't mean that the Christian God is non exsistant. I think you are right to expect us to act differently but at the same time you have developed a set of morals that also encompass many things that are Christian and live true to those, this from your commments here and I have no reason to say that this is not the case. Wether you be a believer or not does not change the truth. Believer or not you can live by the qualities that are the "After" ones mentioned. The gospel of Christ boils down to you must have faith in God and because of that faith you will recognize you sins and repent of them daily and try to not make the same mistakes. Live so that the Holy Spirit can be you constant companion as he won't reside in an unclean person. I would say then that you've found a chritian if you see those qualities.

John W. Loftus said...

The fact that Christians don't behave as Christians means that it doesn't matter one bit if they claim to have a universal objective and absolute moral standard to live by. Such a standard means nothing if they don't behave any better than non-Christians do. We're all in the same boat.

DagoodS said...


Even said tongue-in-cheek, it was a good question. Besides, I had this blog entry bubbling in my mind already. That question was just a catalyst.

However, you mention that we are not free of committing these acts in these lists. Then what are the lists for?

Shining and Burning Light,

If a Christian is not controlled by their sin, why do they still sin? You are a Christian. You desire to never sin again, I presume. If you could control your ability to sin, you never would again.

Either you are choosing to deliberately sin, or you do not have control over sin. In point of fact, the only reason that a Christian may sin less, is that they are concentrating on it. The same way a person who is dieting is very cognizant of every calorie that goes in their mouth, a Christian by being habitually reminded of it at church, is more cognizant of it. It has nothing to do with control, as Christians have the same urges, and the same inability to keep from sinning as non-believers.

A Christian has to confess his sins on a daily basis.

Have I lied in 2004, 2005, 2006? Yes, I have. Am I a liar though? No, I don't live in a pattern of lying. What is a “practice” (not “pattern”) of lying? Once a week? Once a month? Once a day? You indicate that a Christian has to confess sins on a daily basis. While it may not be lying, I doubt anyone goes by three days without lying. Anyone. Regardless, sinning on a daily basis certainly sounds like “practice” to me.

If sinning every day is not “practice”—what is?

Many unbelievers lie with no problem *shrug* Many people that claim to be believers do, as well. Many non-believers DO have a problem, and DO have remorse. If they can exhibit a “After” effect, what is so remarkable about a Christian doing so as well?

Shining and Burning Light, While I appreciate your personal examples, there are personal examples on all sides of the Fence. Ghandi probably beats both of us, yet did not need Christianity in any way to exhibit “After.” As I said in my entry, there are many Christians that DO exhibit “After.” The problem is that there are many that do not. There are many non-believers that equally exhibit “After.”

Are you indicating that the methodology we must use to determine the validity of these verses is by example? How many counter-examples would you state makes the verses invalid?

You say those experiences testify to the truth of the Bible. The problem is that I only need one to make the Bible false. You could provide me with 100’s of examples that conform to the “Before” and “After” as stated. I only need one that indicates that, at least on one occasion, the Bible is not true. If the Bible is only partially true, does this qualify as unique? Divine? “Close enough”?

Methodology by “example” is dangerous ground.

Shining and Burning Light said...


What about what I said above? Are you saying that because Christians are not perfect then it doesn't matter if they claim to have a universal objective and absolute moral standard? Or are you saying that because Christians don't live any differently than unbelievers it doesn't matter? The fact is that Christians are a people that are changed from within by God. So if one is a Christian, he does live differently than unbelievers. It seems like you are refusing to acknowledge that anyone is truly a Christian, as outlined in Scripture. That is wrong, John, but even if it were so it wouldn't change the universal objective and absolute moral standard set by God, and by which He will judge the world. In fact it illustrates that God is holy and righteous, and that man is fallen and sinful. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23)...

DagoodS said...

rich, so if I read you right (and I am neither looking to put words in your mouth, nor creating a strawman, so please correct me) you are stating that pragmatically, there is no difference between being a Christian and a non-Christian.

This leaves me with two questions:

1) If we Christianity is pragmatically as viable as non-belief, or other theistic belief, what alternative method would we use to determine viability of a theistic belief?

2) If the Bible indicates there is a pragmatic difference, yet reality tells us otherwise, are you saying that the Bible is incorrect? If not, how do you get around the apparent indication that the Bible DOES teach a pragmatic difference should be evident in Christians. 1 John 2:3-5 says Christians should Know who other Christians are by virtue of their keeping God’s commandments. A pragmatic difference.

If even Christians can’t tell who Christians are by their actions, how can I?

paul said...


" mention that we are not free of committing these acts on these lists. So what are the lists for?"

Good question. Actually, Romans that I quoted above says both. i.e., the portion I quoted earlier says because of the "law of sin" (7:24) [we] do not do as we would. But I think you find the ticket here in vs.20. "Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it,but is sin living in me that does it." Did Flip Wilson write this!?! Yet back in chpt.6 vs. 18 we are told "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." So it's a wee bit confusing. "Your free, not, free, not." Okay your free and it isn't you sinning it's sin in you that's sinning. Sooo, you will still get to heaven, but the sin in you won't make it? Hmmmm.

Early Christians made the switch from "old testament" to "new testament" partly by arguing that the list of laws couldn't be kept. They state that the very existance of those laws was to underline the sinnfulness of man and his need for a savior. It seems to me that in saying that, they kind of set a trap for themselves, because, so far we haven't seen Christians pulling off these lists either...guess they're just not "walking by the Spirit."

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi DagoodS,

You know what, I thought John posted this one and I just realized it was you and John just added some comments. Woops...

A Christian is not controlled by sin. A Christian is one who struggles against sin, by God's grace through His Spirit dwelling within them. Our redemption will not be fully accomplished until that time we are received into glory (either through death or the Lord's return) and we will be sinless then. In this life, we seek to mortify our sins and have no peace with them. That is a marked difference from unbelievers, who have no sorrow over their sin or the fact that they have sinned against a holy God. Anyone can try to walk a straighter line and be a better person, but that is not the issue. Christians have the ability to refrain from sin because of a conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit and God's enabling grace, but we are still sinners and we stumble and fall. That is a lot different than living in sin. The fact is an unbeliever can not show an "After" effect, regardless of an attempted moral reformation, because a person has to be converted to have the right motives (the glory of God) in his obedience, and love for God is necessary. The unbeliever may want to stop doing bad things because it hurts him or his family, but they do nothing out of love for God. The questions is, what is the motive for a person's morality? If a supposed Christian doesn't exhibit the "After" effects, then you may conclude they are not a Christian.

And I am not suggesting that the methodology we use to determine the validity of these verses is by example. I would never suggest that. I am pointing out that there are people who are really Christians and who produce the fruits of conversion. Christian conversion is a real thing, and cannot be attributed correctly to "people just trying to do better"...

Bullfrog said...

Jesus put it simplest:

John 13:34-35;
34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
(from New International Version)

Everything God commands is in a spirit of love. The only love I knew before was love for self, the love given me by Christ is sacrificial.

Friend said...

There comes a time when some of you just have to admit this one thing: It is easier to not believe in God. Some people use non-belief as a crutch. No God, no consequences. I'll just follow society and let them make up the laws, etc., then I can blame them if it all goes wrong. See? Easier.

DagoodS said...

paul, your last paragraph in your comment was extremely astute and very accurate. I wish I had said it. Much of Paul’s confusion in Romans was his attempt to both do away with the law, yet maintain a set of principles to live by.

One of the reliefs of deconverting was no longer struggling to maintain consistency with Paul. On an unrelated sidenote, have you read his illustration of marriage in Rom. 7:1-6? First he says the wife is no longer bound to the husband, but is free because the husband died. Then he attempts to compare this to Christianity. He analogizes Christians who died to the law. Sooooo…the law is free because we died? Then he mentions Christ dying. So we are no longer bound to Christ, and free to do what we want, because Christ died? Reading those passages and trying to figure out who died, and who is free would give one a headache!

Shining and Burning Light,

I appreciate the string of Christian platitudes. And at first blush they seem like stalwart sayings. But upon unpacking and dissecting them, they become contradictory, confusing and crumble like dust.

You start out, again by stating: “A Christian is not controlled by sin.” It sounds good, but upon review, falls apart. Sin must exact at least some measure of control over a Christian.

You do not desire to sin. You actively do not want to sin. You do everything within your capability to not sin. You do not have the ability to not sin. You sin.

If you do everything possible to not sin, and still do so, it is exerting some control over your life. You cannot get around it. And, if this same control is exerted on the non-believer, then there is no pragmatic difference between the two.

You say that non-believers have no sorrow over their sin. There are three distinct and ruinous problems with this statement:

1) You cannot prove it. Are you seriously claiming that in all of history, in all the non-believers, and all their sins there has never once been one non-believer who has not had sorrow over what the Bible would term as a sin? Not one? A very difficult prospect to prove.

2) You forget your audience. If you are attempting to compel me to Christianity (and I am not saying you are, but just in case….) to tell me I have no sorrow over my sin, when I say I have, is terming me a liar, and is not persuasive. It is a difficult thing to call another a liar, and then attempt to reason with them. (Don’t bother me any, so no worries, mate!)

3) Most important, this is a typical tactic of a Christian. Re-read the verses. Re-read my blog entry. The verses are not talking about sorrow over sin. Paul, and the other authors, do not list a number of sins, and then say, “But because you walk in the spirit, you sorrow over them, unlike those heathens.” Not at all! The verses make a sharp distinction—the believer does not do the sins. I would agree the believer should have no sorrow over the sin, because the sin would never be committed according to these verses.

It is troubling that Christians rely more on bulletin points, and sermon niceties, rather than what their own Bible says. Unfortunately for them, an occasional debunker actually comes along and reads the thing! It says, Shining and Burning Light, that the actions are not DONE. Absolutely, positively, conclusively not that they are done, but sorrowed over.

Which should I believe? Your inspired Bible that says they are not done, or your unproven assertion that it really means they are sorrowed over?

Anyone can try to walk a straighter line and be a better person, but that is not the issue.

No, my dear friend, that is EXACTLY the issue. (I get to say that. It’s my blog entry. Ah, the power! Bwa ha ha ha ha.) Seriously, the point is that if anyone can try and walk a straighter line, and be a better person, why do I need Christ? What difference does it make whether I am a Christian or not? The change from “Before” to “After” is by my effort, my trying, my conscious attempt. Whether I ascribe that to God, or me, or transcendental meditation, the results, what we see, all look the same.

Are you claiming that Christian results are unique? Than claiming that anyone can be a better person through their efforts makes Christianity anything but unique.

Christians have the ability to refrain from sin because of a conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit and God's enabling grace, but we are still sinners and we stumble and fall.

See, this is one of those Christian platitudes that, at first glance, seems important, but upon inspection falls apart. Do you realize that in the same sentence you said, “Christians have the ability to refrain from sin….but we are still sinners and we stumble and fall.” Which is it? Do you have the complete ability to refrain from sin or not?

If you have the complete ability, than you have contradicted yourself, by stating that you still sin. Unless you have the ability, but not the desire. In which case you do not have the control. (Can’t control your desire) Either way, it is a contradiction.

If you only have a partial ability, then this introduces the same problem I have produced. Further, if only a partial, then you have continual NON-ability to stop sinning. (Hope you followed the double negative, there.) Which means (uh oh) a practice of sinning. Sin most certain would reign over you, you can’t stop it.

It all sounds so good, but in review, becomes confusing and contradictory. Shining and Burning Light—can you stop sinning? If “No” then you are just like the rest of us. And fail to meet the set of criteria set by the lists of Paul and the other authors.

You then go into “motive.” Same problem as before. Do the verses say the “motive” is the determining factor? Or do they say that the non-believer does acts, regardless of motive, and those walking in the spirit do not?

“Love for God.” Do you lie? Do you love God? Can I presume by your inability to stop lying that you do not love God?

“Loving God” is meaningless, as these verses list certain actions. By using this method, we would have to say that anyone who does not love your particular God commits murder. Are there that many murderers, or that many lovers of God?

I am glad you realized that experiences and examples are rotten methodologies. I already stated, and readily am convinced that many people that term themselves as Christian are performing “After.” But so are non-believing red-heads. Should I dye my hair or convert?

Christian conversion is a real thing, and cannot be attributed correctly to "people just trying to do better"... So you are not trying to do better? Why not?

DagoodS said...


I deliberately avoided John 13:34-35. My entry was long enough without getting into the contradiction. But since you brought it up….

Jesus says in John 13 that the whole world will know that they are his disciples because they will love one another. It is pointed out as a distinctive mark of being Jesus’ disciples. Something, apparently, that humans will note as remarkable.

This verse makes it obvious that the author of this passage had not read either Matthew or Luke. In Luke 6, Jesus talks about what little credit it is for those who only love others who love them. Even sinners do that! This is replicated in Matt. 6:46. (If you hold to “Q” there is no surprise, as this is part of Q1.)

So, in Matthew, (Sermon on the Mount) Jesus says, “Hey it is no big deal if you love those who love you.” In Luke 6 (Sermon on the Plain, if you do not hold to “Q”) on another occasion, Jesus says, “Hey, it is no big deal if you love those who love you.”

Then, in John 13, AFTER making these statements (twice, if you don’t like “Q”) Jesus says, “Wanna know how people will find you remarkable? You love the other, who loves you.”

Excuse me? Didn’t Jesus just get done telling the crowds (twice) that even sinners can do that?

“Loving others that love you” is something that Jesus says is a “Before” and that is the reason I decided to not include it in this entry. And still must mention it in the comments, anyway.

As to your life experience, I ask you the same question. Are you proposing we use life experiences as the methodology by which we determine validity? Because more people have had life experiences that are NOT Christian, and by this methodology, Christianity loses by default.

While I am always interested in people’s stories, I find they cannot consistently hold to them as a method by which we determine what is most probably true.


While you point does not address much in blog entry, I will respond. Let you in a secret, it IS easier to believe there is no God. How does this help your position?

It is easier to believe there is gravity, as compared to not. It is easier to believer fire is hot as compared to not. It is easier to believe the earth orbits the sun, that material is made up of atoms and molecules, that humans desire comfort, and people can lie.

If we are going to use “it is easier” as our methodology to determine truth, God loses horribly. Pick a theism. Any theism. More people have found it “easier” to believe that such a theism is inaccurate. More people have been atheistic towards that theism than not.

“No God, no consequences”???? Have you never heard of civil law? Have you never heard of “what goes around, comes around?” It is odd—if I am impolite to others, they are impolite to me. I don’t like people being impolite to me, so I am not impolite to others. (Or at least I try not to be. Sometimes I fail.) I see consequences without a God, in human interaction, all the time.

“Let society make the laws…” actually, I am fairly active in making the laws. The last thing I would leave it up to is society, if I had my choice! :-)

I hope you stick around, interact, and learn how inaccurate your perception is of our values and ideas.

Dennis said...


My apologies for jumping into this discussion late.

Then, in John 13, AFTER making these statements (twice, if you don’t like “Q”) Jesus says, “Wanna know how people will find you remarkable? You love the other, who loves you.”

John 13:34-35 reads: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

How can you possible interpret this to be "Love those who love you". That would be a conditional love and I see nothing in the passage that suggests a conditional love.

Rich said...

Let me try it this way DagoodS. Well first in a sense you are seeing it correct that we aren't able to see a difference between believer and non-believer in our everyday life, you are correct in stating this. Second we should see that difference as you also pointed out. As far as saying the bible is wrong, no I'm not. I am saying that it is not followed. There are those who you can look at and say they are christian for the very lists you point out, I live by some. I have also had dealings with known christians who have fallen way short of honest. The big point I am making here is that regaurdless of how people choose to live, truth stays the same. Even if you don't like things on the list that doesn't change their validity. There are mistranslations in the bible but there are plenty of truths there that have to be followed.
Mormons Don't drink alcohol and I heard a pretty good joke that applies to this discussion. "Why do you always take 2 mormons fishing with you? because if you take one he will drink all your beer." More on that health code Mormons call the word of wisdom is that it says no coffee, because of the caffine, yet many will drink Coke or other caffinated drinks. Now the leaders have said we should refrain from these sodas with caffine but its not in the word of wisdom.
In the end what I am saying is that you have to search out the truth. People will always choose good and bad things, and christians should be the light of the world and live so that you want to learn more about them. That this doesn't happen is a tragedy and I would hope it gets rectified. I would hope that if you ever met me you would think I was christian by how I act.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi DagoodS,

Sorry for the delayed response, I was away for a few days...

Sin is a part of the Christian's life because we are still sinners. Are you saying that in order to be a Christian, based on your understanding of the verses, that one must refrain from those sins perfectly? Surely you know that you cannot take a verse or group of verses from Scripture in isolation from the rest of the Bible. You must intrepret Scripture with Scripture, this is known as the "analogy of the faith". It is clear elsewhere, such as 1 Jn. 1:8-10, that Christians sin. That the struggle with sin is a life long struggle. The apostle Paul recognizes this tension in the Christian life in Romans 7 that you referred to earlier. There are some aspects of our salvation that we have right now (justification, a new heart, indwelling of the Holy Spirit), and some that we do not have yet (total deliverance from sin, glorification, resurrection). That is the already/not yet aspect of the kingdom of God. It is here right now, and it is coming in the future. Christian perfectionism is a false doctrine, and that is what you seem to be suggesting here.

No unbeliever in history has had what the Bible defines as sorrow for sin. If they had a genuine biblical sorrow over their sins, they would repent of it and run to Christ in faith as their Savior from sin. Feeling guilty or bad over a sin is nothing. Sin has reference to a holy God. How can an atheist feel sorrow for sin when he recognizes no God or objective moral standard? Sure, he may feel bad or guilty, but so what? It is what he does with his guilt that matters, does he recognize that he has sinned against the one true and living God of heaven and earth? And does he repent and ask this God for forgiveness through His Son? If not, no biblical sorrow over sin. I wasn't saying there was no sorrow at all, but that sorrow is due to either the result of his sin, or the smiting of his conscience. A Christian's sorrow includes those, but its' primary source is the realization that we have sinned against God. Also, I'm not calling you a liar, nor am I implying that. I'm not insulting you, believe me, I don't follow that tract. I've already answered your third point above. You're pulling those verses out of the greater context of the Bible and asserting that Christians don't do those sins listed in the verses you cited. You're refuting an unbiblical position.

Why do you need Christ? Because even if you were perfectly holy for the rest of your life (which is impossible for anyone, even Ghandi) you still have past sins you have committed against God, and God's justice demands that those sins be punished. You know the gospel, so I won't restate it here. If your question is if you're a good person, why do I need Christ to be good? The fact is that no one is good in God's sight (Rom. 3:23). Outward morality is not good enough. You're comparing your morality with that of other men, but God looks at the heart. Christian results are unique because the believer obeys from the heart, non-believing red-heads may show themselves to be outwardly moral people but they're still lost and under the wrath of God. So the answer to your last question is...convert. I'm sure it wasn't a serious question, but that's the answer. The thrust of your whole post is based on a misunderstanding of Scripture. You could pull just about anything out of its' biblical context and try to use it to refute Christianity. Here, let me help you. God commands that Christians be holy even as He is holy. Are there any Christians out there as Holy as God is? Nope, I guess Christianity is just a theoretical thing that has no real presence in the world. However, Christians have an imputed righteousness from One that is perfectly holy, the Lord Jesus Christ. If we abide in Him, if we are "in Christ", God sees us through Him. There are answers to your objections and misunderstandings, I hope you will give a careful consideration of them. Peace...

paul said...

Thanks for the complement. That means something to me coming from you. I usually find your writing on a subject to be exhaustive so that I can do little more than affirm.

I find reading most of Romans, heck, reading the whole bible can result in a headache. Especially when I was trying to make it cohese.

Re Romans 7:1-6.
Funny how it switches from "men who know the law" to a law that applies to "women." Men could get a "letter of devorcement" while women could only hope for a scarlet letter. Maybe it fits though, since the church is the bride of Christ?

We were, apparently, married to the law, then died to it through "the body of Christ." So we no longer belong to the law but to "Him who was raised from the dead" (vs.4). So far, that seems to work. Where it breaks down, for me anyway, is the why part: "So we might bear fruit to God." We are back again to the law vs. the new lists you cite.

We supposedly "died to what once bound that we serve in the [new way] of the Spirit and not the [old way] of the written code." Really? So why then the new lists? For that matter, why the "new" testament or the "old" testament? Since that same "Spirit" removes the need that any man should teach us. (Jn.14:26, IJn. 2:27)

Oddly, we only died to the good stuff (i.e.,the Law of God). Now, as a Christian, one can claim to be "the prisoner of Christ," where "sin is not your master" because one is not under the law (Rom.6:14) and be "the prisoner to the law of sin" (Rom.7:23) simultaneously!

At best this sounds like MPS (multiple personality syndrome) to me. This also may be the solution on the final judgement day, a plea of insanity.

DagoodS said...

Dennis, no apology necessary. Better late than never.

The catch of John 13—who does Jesus say they are to love? “One another.” One disciple to another. John 13 has no requirement to love the non-believer. John 13 certainly has no requirement of loving one’s enemy, either.

Neither Luke 6, nor Matthew 6 is talking about conditional love. The verses are recognizing our natural tendency to gravitate towards those that exhibit love toward us, and retreat from those that show enmity towards us.

It is not a matter of ”IF you show love to me, THEN I will show love to you,” but rather, “Because you showed love to me, I will return the favor.” And then they reciprocate as well.

John paints the picture of exactly what we see today—Christians giving to Christian charities, buying cars from Christian business, helping out other Christians.

Unfortunately, this is not the picture Jesus painted in the Sermon on the Mount/Plain.

Seriously, do you find it that remarkable that Christians love each other? “Birds of a feather flock together” sort of thing.

Can you say that Christ was saying, in John 13, they were to love non-believers or enemies?

Or is it more likely that John, with all of the book’s unique sayings not replicated in the synoptics, introduces a conflicting story about what Jesus was supposed to have said?

paul said...


"If we abide in Him, if we are "in Christ," God sees us through Him."

That sounds pretty good, but that's not all the bible says.

"No one who abides in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devils work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of eht devil are. Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. IJn.3:7-10.

Dennis said...


There is no contradiction between Luke 6, Matthew 5, and John 13. How can a reasonable person suggest there is a contradiction when they were clearly stated at different locations? Is there a contradiction between each teaching? How does "love your enemies" conflict with "love one another"?

You still have not offered any support for your interpretation of John 13 saying that we should "loves those who love us first". Where does John 13 suggest that we should only love those who love us first?

How does giving to Christian charities conflict with "loving your enemy"? Do you think Matthew 5 and Luke 6 say it's wrong for me to love my family since I haven't made them my enemies yet?

Your views are so out of line with reason I don't know where to begin in framing an argument. I have reread your post several times thinking I must be misunderstanding your views but it seems pretty clear this is what you are saying.

DagoodS said...


I didn’t say that John 13 says one should ONLY love those that love you. (emphasis yours) Never said it. Never meant to imply it.

Let’s take it back to my question. WHO is Jesus saying the Disciples are to love in John 13? (Now this time it IS my emphasis?) Is it the non-believer? Is it an enemy?

You haven’t answered that question, but it is quite, quite clear that Jesus says the distinguishing mark of the Disciples is that the “love one another.” Not that they love the non-believer, not that they love their enemy. Love each other.

So (taking the traditional names) Peter loves John. John Loves Peter. Nathaniel also loves Peter. Who also loves Nathaniel. John loves Nathaniel, and Nathaniel loves John.

John 13 has a great big love-fest in which Jesus says, “They will know you are my disciples because you love each other.”

The problem is that in Luke 6 and Matthew 6, Jesus notes that people who love those that love them are not remarkable. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that you? For even sinners love those who love them.” Lk. 6:32 (Please note, neither Luke 6, nor Matthew 6, nor John 13 have a conditional precedent to loving. None of them do.)

In Luke 6, Jesus says, “What’s the big deal if John loves Peter and Peter loves John? Even sinners do that.” And Heck, everybody is a sinner right? But in John 13, Jesus says, “Want to show the world how you are distinguished as my disciples? Love each other.” Ahem. The disciples, acting like what Jesus previously said were sinners, makes them stick out….how?

Shining and Burning Light,

paul stole my thunder with 1 John 3:6. However, since it was written by the same author as 1 John 1:8, and I assume that the author was not trying to contradict themselves, there must be some alignment.

What, unfortunately, is open to a variety of interpretations.

However, you again provide Christian statements that are confusing at best, contradictory at worst.

Sin is a part of the Christian's life because we are still sinners.

Are you now agreeing that there IS a degree of control that sin still exerts over a Christian? Before you said that a Christian has the ability to refrain from sin, now you seem to be saying they don’t.

That was what I thought.

Christian perfectionism is a false doctrine, and that is what you seem to be suggesting here.

Color me confused. I presented a number of lists in the Bible. It is quite clear that the Bible indicates a difference in the “Before” and “After.” I questioned whether that difference is a reality.

In defense that it is, you indicated that Christians are not controlled by sin, and that Christians have the ability to refrain from sin. Those are your words, not mine. I questioned the validity of that, and now you seem aghast that someone would claim…well…that Christians can abstain from sin.

Yeah, me, too. That is why I was questioning you on it. It appears your first line of defense is inadequate.

No unbeliever in history has had what the Bible defines as sorrow for sin. If they had a genuine biblical sorrow over their sins, they would repent of it and run to Christ in faith as their Savior from sin.

Uh, do you see how those two sentences contradict each other? On their own, they may stand, but together they fall. If no unbeliever in history has had sorrow for sin, and sorrow for sin is what brings one to repentance and salvation (2 Cor. 7:9-10) therefore no unbeliever has ever been brought to salvation.

Are you saying no unbeliever has ever been saved in history?

I wasn't saying there was no sorrow at all, but that sorrow is due to either the result of his sin, or the smiting of his conscience.

You weren’t saying “there was no sorrow at all”? Do you read your previous comments? I actually look back and see what people say, to see if they can stay consistent. If you look back and read, you will see where you clearly state:

That is a marked difference from unbelievers, who have no sorrow over their sin or the fact that they have sinned against a holy God. (emphasis added)

You stated we have “no” as in “no” sorrow, NOR the fact we sinned against a holy God. Now you are changing your tune, upon review.

But more importantly, I was not focusing on the salvation process, but rather the after affects. The lists indicate that “Before” Christians do these things, “After” they do not. if you want to say it is because of “sorrow” of because of a “change of heart” or because of a new direction, that is fine. I am looking to see whether they actually do these things or not.

The fact that you are waffling a bit and saying the verses are not talking about “doing” but rather “motive” or “sorrow” is revealing. If you thought it was about “doing” then you would be responding in that fashion. The fact that you are not, but would prefer we talk about motive or sorrow is indicative that you do not think you can prevail on “doing” so you change the topic to what you think you can being “sorrow” and “motive.”

I am sorry, Shining and Burning Light, but if you addressed my third point above, I must have missed it. And I do re-read these comments carefully (as you can see.)

If you would be so kind, can you point out, again, where in these verses the authors say the difference is that believers have sorrow over these sins, not that the no longer commit these sins? Thanks.

You say believers “obey from the heart.” What does that mean? How is “heart-obeying” different than “head-obeying”? And why does “heart-obeying” trump “head-obeying”?

I understand you are being poetic, but you are indicating that the Bible indicates a difference. If I do not lie because of “head-obeying” but YOU do not lie because of “heart-obeying” why is your obedience better than mine? Isn’t the fact that I am condemned make any sin I do or do not commit irrelevant?

The point, still, is that “heart-obeying” is supposed to be evident. And even you seem to veer away from that, and would rather talk about non-evident items, such as “sorrow” and “motive.”

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi Paul,

Quoting the Bible doesn't refute the Bible. You have to interpret the Scripture you quoted with other Scriptures, 1 Jn. 1:8-10 for example. The Bible isn't saying one thing and then saying the exact opposite a few verses later. Maybe this is why you discount it as being God's Word. If the inspired apostle says in one verse that we are lying if we say we have no sin and the truth is not in us if we say so, then in another place says that no one who abides in Him keeps on sinning, what must we conclude if we are to correctly interpret the Bible? 1) That Christians have remaining sin, therefore sin is still a reality in the Christian life and 2) that being the case Christians cannot "keep on sinning" while claiming to know Christ. That means practicing sin without repenting and seeking forgiveness with God through Christ. That doesn't mean sinless perfection. And when I say repentence, I'm not talking about empty lip service with full intention of heart to sin again in the future. That is presumption, not repentence. I'm talking about a turning away from the sin and turning unto Christ. What if a Christian lies, then repents, then lies again. Back to Christ he goes. That is a lot different than living in a sin without confession, without conviction, and without apprehending the gravity of having sinned against a holy God. Understanding this is crucial...

DagoodS said...

rich, if you will indulge me with an analogy. It may not be perfect, but I hope you can understand what I am questioning.

My wife loves to buy these you-put-it-together projects of shelves and tables and dressers and whatever. I have gotten pretty good at reading the instructions.

Occasionally I have come across an instruction that says “Slot A goes into Part B.” And, as I look at it, it makes no sense. Slot A just does not look like it could ever go into Part B. I fiddle and turn and re-inspect.

Sometimes, it clicks and I realize what the instruction means. Lo and behold, Slot A DID go into part B. I just wasn’t reading it right, or it was not explained in a way that I understood. But also, sometimes, it turns out the instructions are wrong. After putting it together, I realize that Slot A had never intended to be, nor does it even reach Part B, and there was an error. Either it was instructions for something else similar, or a human error.

In the same way, I am looking at the Bible to see if it is pragmatically correct. Not exactly as an instruction book, per se, but as a book that people inform me makes truth claims, and I look at those truth claims to see if they hold water.

In a most simplistic way, either the humans that wrote it got it wrong, or Slot A really does go into Part B, and I am missing it.

Just like those instructions, “truth is truth.” As I said, on first blush they did not seem true, but after inspection, I realized their accuracy. My first assessment they were wrong did not affect the reality that they are true.

When I am asking these questions, I am, partly asking, “Can someone else show me how Slot A fits into Part B?”

Yet what I hear is that, No, we cannot use this as a way to determine the validity of Christianity. That some Christians follow it, some don’t. Every Christian assures me that Slot A must fit into Part B, because the instructions say so, yet many Christians reluctantly agree with me, that no matter how we twist and bend and push, on many occasions Slot A simply does not fit in Part B.

Now this does not mean, necessarily, that the Bible is untrue. But it leaves me with the question—when can I accept these instructions and when can I not? If, you agree with me on my project that Slot A does not fit Part B, why should I hold these instructions as valid elsewhere?

Or do I presume that the instructions have errors, like human projects do?

The question I had was, if pragmatically the Bible does not work, EVEN IF TRUE, does that make its divinity MORE probable, or less?

Dennis said...

Please note, neither Luke 6, nor Matthew 6, nor John 13 have a conditional precedent to loving. None of them do.

I am glad that you agree that in Luke 6/Matthew 5 and John 13 Jesus is stating that we should love our enemies and each other unconditionally. Jesus contrasted this type of love with what sinners do, and this is conditional love for those who love them first. There is no contradiction. Jesus had a remarkable unconditional love for his disciples and in John 13 he uses the love he showed them as the model for the love they should show each other. If you don't think Jesus modeled a remarkable love for his disciples, just say so and I will back that up with examples.

DagoodS said...

Dennis, I am saying that the love exhibited by sinners, as Jesus was stating in Matthew 5 and Luke 6, was also not conditional. We love those that love us. What is remarkable about that, whether we love them first, second, conditionally or non-conditionally?

Let me as for a third time: WHO is Jesus saying the Disciples are to love in John 13? Is it the non-believer? Is it the enemy?

If they are loving each other, Jesus has already said that this is unremarkable, because even sinners do that. Why would the Disciples stick out?

Let’s take it a step further. In John 13:34 Jesus says, “love one another, as I have loved you…” (emphasis added.) How does Jesus love them?

He goes on to say that he is preparing mansions for them. John 14:2-4. He says if they love Him, they will keep his commandments. (John 14:6)

Jesus goes on to say that whoever loves the father, Jesus will love. (John 14:21) If you are claiming that Matthew 5 and Luke 6 are conditional loves, than equally (since it is the same language) you must be claiming that this is conditional love as well.

Following this, if the Disciples are to love as Jesus loves, and Jesus only loves those that love him, Jesus has already indicated that even sinners do that. What is it to Jesus’ credit if he only loves those that love him?

Dennis, can you provide a methodology by which we can claim that in Matthew 5 and Luke 6, Jesus was stating that sinners only love on the condition that others love them first? It is not there. Worse, whatever methodology we come up with, when applied to John 13 & 14, would come out with the same result that Jesus only loves those on the condition of others loving him first. Which means, by the Disciples doing the same love, they are not remarkable in the least. According to the Jesus of Luke and Matthew.

WHO was Jesus saying the Disciples were to love in John 13? Does it include the non-believer? Does it include the enemy?

Dennis said...


I have to disagree with you. The unremarkable love that Jesus says is common among sinners is a conditional love. The condition being that they personally benefit in one way or another or receive love in return.

Luke 6:32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them." See the condition? Loving those who love you.
Matthew 5:46-27 "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" Once again the condition is that even tax collectors love those who love them in return.

When Jesus told his disciples to love one another, he put no conditions on it and used the unconditional love he had for them as a model. Are you tell me that if John decided not to show love to Peter, then Peter would be free from the John 13:34 commandment? Clearly Jesus was telling them to love one another unconditionally.

Who was Jesus referring to when he told the disciples to "love one another"? At a minimum he was referring the group of disciples that were with him minus Judas since he had already left the room. Probably also included Judas (Jesus continue to show love to Judas even as he was being betrayed). Possibly anybody the disciples came in contact with. I don't know if studying the original Greek for this passage will clarify it. Why does this matter to you? If your contradiction hangs on this point, then your entire argument is weak since there is no way to know for certain who Jesus was referring to when he said "love one another".

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi DagoodS,

The distinction I was trying to make (and apparently failing to make) is that there is a difference between worldy sorrow (just feeling bad because I did something wrong, or that I hurt someone else because of what I did) and godly sorrow (conviction and grief of my guilt for having sinned against God Himself). Therefore, no unbeleiver has experienced a godly and biblical sorrow over his sin. If he had, he would no longer be an unbeliever, because you have to be a believer to have a godly sorrow. The Bible itself makes a distinction between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow, see 2 Cor. 7:10.

Motive and action are connected. Sometimes a Christian has the motive to do good (he wants to keep his heart pure, for example), but then the temptation comes up at the next traffic light with a barely dressed attractive female on a billboard advertisement. He knows he should divert his eyes, but doesn't. He sins in his heart and his conscience accuses him of it. He confesses his sin to God and resolves by His grace to turn away from that sin. Next time, he takes a different route to avoid that billboard. He has the motive, and he does the action necessary to avoid the sin. The unbeliever doesn't have the motive (he has no reason to avoid lust, it's OK with him, after all it's just looking and not touching, his wife won't mind and there's no God anyway) and he sees no reason to avoid the occasion of the sin, in fact he likes it. As I said before, you are pulling your verses out from their greater Biblical context and asserting Christians must never commit the sins listed in the verses you cited. You do not understand how a Christian cannot be controlled by sin and yet still sin. You do not seem to see the distinction between living in sin, and falling into sin. The difference between heart obeying and head obeying is that you may understand in your brain that it's wrong to steal, so you generally try not to because of the social embarassment and trouble it would cause you, but if you could get away with it you'd steal whatever you could get your hands on. So in your heart you're a thief (or whatever example we may use), but outwardly you're a swell guy. Before God you're condemned as a thief because what you are in your heart is what you really are, regardless of outward appearances. If however, you know in your brain that it's wrong to steal, and you are smitten of conscience even if you contemplate stealing something, you are not a thief. Does that mean if a Christian steals he is a thief and not a Christian? Not if he repents, but if he goes on stealing without confession and repentence he is showing himself not to be a Christian, but a thief. Do you not see this?

So, to recap...

1) You can't isolate a verse or group of verses from the rest of the Bible, and hope to understand them correctly.

2)Since you are doing this you are asserting the Bible is saying that Christians don't commit the sins listed in the verses you quoted.

3) You are incorrect in doing this and your interpretation of said verses is in error because of it.

Christians will not be sinless until heaven, that is the teaching of Scripture. Christians will struggle against sin in this life, but not be ruled by it. That is the teaching of the whole counsel of God. Thanks for your kind consideration and for letting me post at length. I appreciate it...

paul said...



Okay, I'm trying to understand some of what you are saying. I'm going back to DagoodS original theme, "Do they sound solid when you thump em." aka how can one tell a Christian from everyone else?

Not to be trite, but what you say is beginning to sound like "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." It seems that you believe that the only one who can spot a Christian is God, because only God can see the heart? That statements like " this shall all men know that you are my disciples..." cannot work because no one can really tell who's acting and who's real. Who can say who's head sorry and who's heart sorry?

A Christian is truly sorry to have sinned against God, but then does the same thing again. By the way, it also seems scriptural to practice sin ("seven times seventy" sounds like practice to me). This "sorrow" doesn't seem to distinguish him/her as being any freer to not sin. Just forgiven. Christians seem not to chose to sin, but rather fall into it.

Maybe for a Christian it's not practicing sin to repeat it because the slate is washed clean every time they confess, so this cannot be a "practiced" sin since there is no record to indicate repetition?

To me "interpreting scripture with scripture" can become a way of saying "if this one doesn't fit, I can find another that does." There's also the problem that the original readers of this stuff had individual letters, not the canon of the "new testament." How did they figure it out before it was put together in a package?

DagoodS said...


I kinda guessed you disagree with me. *smile*

Really, what I am looking for was some way in which we can determine that the “loving” as discussed that sinners do in Luke 6 and Matt. 5 is conditional, whereas the “loving” as discussed by what Jesus, the Father and the disciples do in John 13-14 is non-conditional, since the language is the same.

I grant you it is convenient for your argument to make such a claim, but convenience alone is not a proper methodology.

Look at what “conditional” means. IF I do “A” THEN you will do “B.” Yes, it is very possible that a sinner would say, IF you love me, THEN I will love you back. That creates a condition, being a requirement that the other person loves the sinner first. However that most definitely is not the language used in either Matthew or Luke.

A sinner could love another, and they love them back, withOUT having love be a prior condition. They could do so, simply because they want to. In other words, no prior “IF,” but rather a genuine response.

Further, I could impose, by your own methodology, that Jesus says “IF you love me, THEN I will love you back.” Face it, in your worldview, I don’t love Jesus, so therefore he is going to torture me for billions of years. That sounds remarkably like conditional love. Sounds exactly like what we are talking about in John 13-14.

We know who he is talking to. “they will know YOU are my Disciples..” my emphasis. He is talking to his Disciples. You state, “Possibly anyone they come in contact with…” Is that what it says? If it does not, can we use the methodology of “it is possible…” and insert whatever is convenient for our argument?

Would you accept this methodology from me? If I claimed Jesus said in Matthew 6 and Luke 6, “Even sinners can love enemies on occasion, you have to do it all the time…” is a possible statement, would you accept that claim? If you won’t accept that methodology from me, why should I accept it from you?

No, I am not saying that if Peter stopped loving John, he would be free from John 13. Are you saying that no sinner, EVER loved another sinner until that other sinner loved them first? EVER? That would mean there would never be any love initiated between sinners, since it would be a perpetual game of “No, you go first.”

Sinners, non-sinners, believers, non-believers, redheads and brunettes all commit conditional love and non-conditional love on occasions. We are no different.

Contradiction? Not at all. Just one of numerous indications that the author of John had a much different picture of Christ as compared to the synoptics. This not surprising. It is partly WHY the Synoptics are called the Synoptics, and do not include John. They (including Matthew and Luke) give one point of view and John gives another. This one just happens to focus on the difference regarding their view of “love.”

If Jesus had already instructed the Disciples (twice) to love their enemies, why would it be a “new commandment” that they should love each other? They had heard the story of the Good Samaritan, and Jesus “springs” on them (the shock!) they should love each other? They had heard Jesus argue with the lawyer about the greatest commandment and loving one’s neighbor, and Jesus startles them with the fact they should Love one another?

Funny that in all the sayings of John, prior to John 13, Jesus is never recorded as telling the crowd that they should love each other. Almost as if he never said it in the Sermon on the Mount (Plain). And in the upper room, in the quiet, Jesus pops out with, “Here’s a newbie—Love one another.”

Contradiction? Just one more demonstration of how different communities viewed the life and times of Jesus, and how unlikely it was that the authors of the Gospels actually traveled with Jesus, but rather recorded what they thought he said. Not surprising at all that one set would record numerous sayings about love that don’t seem to align with another.

Shining and Burning Light,

I understood your distinction between worldy sorrow and Godly sorrow. I understood 2 Cor. 7:10, and in fact cited it to you. But then you say, “No believer has experienced a Godly sorrow.”

2 Cor. 7:10 disagrees with you. It says that Godly sorrow produces repentance which leads to salvation. If unbelievers cannot have Godly sorrow, are you saying that it is believers that are being led to salvation? Believers that are not saved? Or is it another type of salvation? If so, salvation from what?

I am still looking for an answer to my question—where in these verses does the distinction of motivation and sorrow come in? Take the shortest example, Rev. 21:8:

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Where in there does it say that “those who murder, but have sorrow, GODLY sorrow, over committing such an act, and go out of their way to not do it again, shall not have their part in the lake of fire”?

Where in Galatians 5 does it state, “Hey you still practice those things, but now you have GODLY sorrow over them”?

Where, in Romans 1, does it state that God gives the rejecter over to do the same things the believers do, but not have sorrow over them?

The reality, Shining and Burning light, is what I said in my last post. Even believers can see there is no difference. Hence we get the squirming and twisting to some how shake out that in some way there simply MUST be a difference. So we get things like “motive” and “sorrow.”

Why? Because the actions listed in these verse are observable, but “motive” and “sorrow” (especially Godly sorrow) is non-observable. Yet again, Christianity cannot abide the microscope, so it claims that it is a modification in the intangible.

The only problem remaining is how do we finagle these verses to mean what they don’t say?

That is the question I keep putting on the table, and not getting an answer. Where, in these verses, does it say that the change is one of motive and sorrow, but not of action?

Sometimes a Christian…….snip…….the unbeliever does not have the motive…

Ah, ah, ah. We already agreed that methodology by example is not the proper form. So why go back to it?

Not if he repents, but if he goes on stealing without confession and repentence he is showing himself not to be a Christian, but a thief.

You have defined “repentance” as simply returning to Christ. Lie, turn to Christ. Lie, turn to Christ. Where is the life-change here? Lie 100 times, turn to Christ 100 times.

Frankly, you have reduced Christianity to a perpetual ATM. Low on money? Use the card. Lie? Tell Jesus, and all is clear.

But why stop there? Stealing is acceptable, as long as one turns to Christ? A few murders is O.K., as long as after each one, the person turns to Christ?

Is there no difference, no distinguishing mark of a Christian, other than after they commit some heinous act, they privately tell their internal deity that they are sorry?

You say I have isolated a group of verses and do not understand them. No proof, no demonstration in the verses themselves how I am incorrect. What I say is that you recognize that, on their own, the verses are demonstrably wrong, and the only way around it is to reduce, shrink and water down these verses to the point they loose all their teeth, and become, “O.K, the Christians do the same thing, but they feel really bad about it.”

But you did say something that struck my curiousity:

…but if you could get away with it you'd steal whatever you could get your hands on.

Prove it. This is so demonstrably false. Do you know how many times people have an opportunity to steal and believe they can get away with it? We know of many occasions, because they are caught and do not. But we are also aware of millions of chances in which people genuinely believe they can get away with it, and do not.

Prove that I, as a non-believe would steal whatever I can get my hands on when I think I can get away with it.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi Paul,

Good works are an important part of the Christian life. I don't mean they are meritorious, but they are the necessary fruit of conversion. Statements like " this shall all men know that you are my disciples..." are of course true. The world will know the disciples of Christ by their love for one another, and their good works will shine unto the glory of God. The "after" of conversion will be evident to some degree or another outwardly in each believer. You shall know them by their fruits. My point was that the Bible recognizes that sin is a reality in the life of a Christian and I made the distinction between an outwardly moral unbeliever and an inwardly and outwardly moral believer. As far as head sorry and heart sorry, again, I was using that to help illustrate the distinction. A Christian is both head and heart sorry, as it were, because he recognizes that sin is against a holy God. The unbeliever may stop doing something bad because he understands it's wrong (like adultery), but in his heart he still loves it and will continue in his lust. So, if you're trying to determine if your mailman is a Christian, you'll probably have to get to know him first. There ought to be discernable fruit. DagoodS asserted that, based on the verses he quoted, Christians should be those that never sin. It's not practicing sin to fall into it and repent. It is practicing sin to engage in it, pursue it, love it, and continue in it, even if it ceases outwardly but continues inwardly like adultery.

Interpreting Scripture with Scripture is the biblical method of correctly understanding and applying Scripture. It is self-authenticating. I'm not out fishing for some verse to justify my theology. I'm deriving my theology from the text. The original readers had the OT and the individual letters were circulated among the churches until the NT canon was formed. How did they figure it out before it was put together in a package? The foundations were already laid in the OT, and the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church in a new and significant way.

Good to hear from you Paul...


Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi DagoodS,

The stealing was just an example, I wasn't saying every unbeliever wants to steal everything under the sun if they could get away with it. If I conveyed otherwise, I have corrected that here. As far as the godly sorrow, I am saying that godly sorrow is the fruit of salvation, not the cause of it. There is no believer that is not saved. Sin is never acceptable, but the remedy for sin is to run to Christ. I'm not saying it is all right to sin, if you do you can just stop at the Christian ATM. That is presumption and licensiousness....

paul said...


I'm going to try a different angle here because I feel you've missed the point. Reading back through all the posts on this thread, for me, you have failed to reconcile the original verses that DagoodS layed out. I agree with DagoodS that you only leave them toothless.

I also have noted your apparent belief (encapsulated in your statement "but if you could get away with it, you'd steal whatever you could get your hands on"), that a non-believer is bent on evil.

Here's my angle. If you had met either myself, DagoodS, or any number of other posters on this site awhile back, you would have called us brothers. We would have spoken a simialar language and would have had similar arguments to support our beliefs, and we would all be in a born again condition.

I can only speak for myself here, but, I didn't step away from my Christian faith because I'd rather steal than not. From what you say, a true believer has undergone a change through salvation where that would really be impossible. I might fall into a temporary stealing fit, but would repent and not walk past stores that tempt me in the future. No, quite the opposite, I stepped away because, among other reasons, it didn't work. I found myself no more powerful to accomplish the afore mentioned lists than anyone else. And I think, perhaps, the writers of those lists found the same thing. So we get things like Paul in Romans going back and forth talking about how he wants to keep to the list, but cannot because he's bound to a body of death by the law of sin. Paul says this all present tense, not the past. His only hope is being freed from this body of death by Jesus, which he says one is! "Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans8:2), so chapter 7 shouldn't be happening because one now has a choice. One doesn't fall into "sin", one chooses to "sin." People "sin when they are drawn away by their own desires/lusts." "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. The sinful mind is hostile to God, It does not submit to God's law [like Paul describes himself doing in chpt.7], nor can it do so. Those [when did Paul shift? just a few seconds ago he described himself as one of know 'chief of sinners' again he didn't say that past tense]controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

"You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you." Voila! One can go back and forth all day...Paul certainly did, but here is the solution, one should now be able to get off the roller coaster.

What has happened with myself, and I suspect others, is I said, this doesn't really work. The first part seemed true enough, i.e., "that which I would do, that do I not. that which I would not do, that do I do...", but the part about being free from said "law of sin" and able to get off the roller coaster doesn't pan out, it doesn't work. This does indeed seem like humans grappleing with the age old questions of morality and trying to come up with a method to make "morality" work. At some point you wake up and say, this doesn't work, I'm pretending and calling it faith.

paul said...

a bit more.

I know you kind of qualified that "stealing" was just an example, but the notion of man being bent or inclined towards evil is quite scriptural. The fact is, one can have a "smiting" (if you will) conscience apart from God. One can have such a conscience based on a standard. I have a standard that I shouldn't lie. When I do, my conscience does indeed smite me, and I have been known to admit it (confess), apologize to the person that I lied to and work not to lie....all based on a standard. And you of course know that the standard of not lying predates Judeo-Christian laws. So, I'm not getting stuck on just "stealing" rather the whole notion of standards of morality.

DagoodS said...

Shining and Burning Light,

… I made the distinction between an outwardly moral unbeliever and an inwardly and outwardly moral believer.

Right. But does the Bible make such a distinction in the verses I cited? Or does the Bible indicate that there should be an outwardly distinction, and not just an inwardly one. Curious, again, how Christianity can only affect that which we cannot observe.

You assertion of a distinction does not an argument or proof make. I assert that there is no “inward” distinction. Is that compelling? Do you capitulate to my assertion? Of course not! You would like proof, demonstration, evidence. If you will not accept my bald assertion, why would we accept yours?

I am trying to get you to break out of the repetitive shell of Christian witticisms and actually present some proof of what you are claiming. I can explain…

DagoodS asserted that, based on the verses he quoted, Christians should be those that never sin.

Not exactly. But to explain what I am doing—a little history.

I was a Christian. And as a Christian, when confronted with a question on Spirituality, I went to other Christians. Why go to an unbeliever? Life does not ask death a question. We would not ask a doctor for a plumbing question. If a Christian wants an answer to a Spiritual question, it is only natural to turn to other Christians.

Inadvertently, and unintentionally I insulated myself from obtaining anything but Christian opinions. If such a question as these verses came up, a Christian might very well tell me that the authors were talking of a pattern of practice, or an unrepentant heart, or a failure to recognize it as sin.

I would think, “O.K. I don’t want to sin. I see that I still do. Those verses indicate I should not have this struggle. What the other person says makes sense and conforms to what I am experiencing.” In this, and countless other areas, I would, once again, write it off as something I cannot understand in this life, and go on my merry way.

And then I ran into Skeptics…

See, I hold to the simple premise, “Truth will out.” Since I held (what I thought) was truth, I had little fear in engaging these skeptics. Oh, God may have hardened their hearts, and they may be so spiritually dead that my limited humanity could not break through, but what concern is it to me--because I held truth? I could share, and if they willfully rejected God, that was their problem—not mine.

What I found, was that many skeptics knew the Bible as well as I do, and I could not pass off with a few verses and mumble a Christian cliché to tide over any inherent consistencies. They began to use two words:

“Prove it.”

I held truth. While I may not be able to prove it to their satisfaction, certainly the proof was there. It should at least hold to my satisfaction, since I held truth.

“Prove it.”

Again and again, those two words came out. Instead of making some Christian saying to another Christian, who would nod their head an agree, I need to actually dig deep and present evidence, argument, demonstration as to the validity of some adage. No longer could I make a comment like, “it goes to motivation” I would have to bring forth verses, bring forth proof that these verses ARE talking about motivation and not actions.

That is why I ask these questions. I dare not presume or claim that “Christianity is ___” or “Christianity is not ___.” I understand that it is simple for you. “Christianity” is what you believe, and those that believe otherwise are not Christians.

For me, I deal with people every day that term themselves as “Christian.” Some believe in inerrancy, some do not. Some literalism, some do not. Some believe the Gospels are historically accurate 100%, some believe the Gospels are completely myth. Many believe some percentage in-between. Some question miracles, some question the resurrection.

While for you, those may not be valid questions or claims by a person who is a Christian, for me, I take people where they are, and if they claim to be Christian, who am I to disagree?

Therefore, for me to make the claim “Christians must not sin” would be ridiculous. The only reason that you feel I have made this claim, is that I have responded to YOUR claim that “Christians have the ability to refrain from sinning.” Other persons would disagree. My responding to your claim does not mean I assert it.

Frankly, you have been all over the board in your comments. Christians aren’t controlled by sin, Christians can refrain from sin, Christians can’t help but sin. Unbelievers don’t have sorrow, Unbelievers do have sorrow, but the incorrect sorrow. Unbelievers would steal at any opportunity they could get, you didn’t mean that unbelievers steal at any opportunity they could get.

Back and forth you go.

“Prove it.”

Becomes difficult when a skeptic continues to review what you say, and asks that question over and over. Eventually, the Christian retreats to “I don’t know” or “you must have faith.” Because there is no proof.

Again, (and again and again) where in these verses does it claim that the difference in the “Before” to the “After” is SOLELY internal, and not observable in any fashion? Where is your proof?

(It is to your credit, Shining and Burning Light, that you even engage skeptics. Most Christians will not even respond, such as you have. But now that you are here, grasp the opportunity to learn! If you hold truth, if you have a God, a super-intelligence, on your side—show us! This is an easy question, yet I have had to ask again and again, and your answer continues to modify as we look at what the verses say.)

I wasn't saying every unbeliever wants to steal everything under the sun if they could get away with it.

Back and forth we go. First you say that the difference between head-obedience and heart-obedience is that a head-obeyor will steal anything they think they can get away with.

When I demonstrate forthrightly that simply can’t be true, you now retract this statement. You have now undercut the difference you indicated existed between head-obedience and heart-obedience!

If we don’t steal everything under the sun, and a believer doesn’t steal everything under the sun, what is the difference?

As far as the godly sorrow, I am saying that godly sorrow is the fruit of salvation, not the cause of it.

Prove it. I understand that YOU are saying it. But your Bible, in 2 Cor. 7:10 disagrees with you. Shouldn’t I hold the Bible as more authoritative than you?

If you are saying that the order of 2 Cor. 7:10 is incorrect on its face, I would hope for more than just bare assertion that it is wrong. Show me some other verses. Show me some proof. Demonstrate it.

The remedy for sin is to “run to Christ” Peculiar, that Galatians 5 says the remedy is to walk in the spirit. Then there will not be any sin. 1 John says to follow God’s commandments. Then there will not be any sin. Again, can you provide proof that I should ignore Galatians and 1 John, and accept your word as inspired from God?

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi guys,

I've re-read the post to see if I've gone astray in my attempt to answer you. If my argumentation has been all over the place, that is my fault and I apologize for stumbling over my words. I'll first address Paul since he posted first...

The verses DagoodS cited are not toothless because they list the perfect moral standard of the Holy God. Breaking God's commandments results in eternal condemnation. There are the teeth. Hell is the result for breaking God's holy law. If a person sins (and sin is any lack of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God) and they don't turn away from the sin they committed and turn unto Christ (the only One who perfectly obeyed all of God's commandments, the sinless atoning sacrifice for sinners) then that person stands condemned. When a believer runs to Christ, confessing his sin and having faith in the Lord's payment for his sin on the cross, he is forgiven and the sin is remembered no more. (See Ps.103:12, Micah 7:19). If the sin be repeated, confession, repentence, and faith in Christ must be what follows, otherwise the sin is still on record, as it were. Now, there is the dangerous misuse of this truth, known as presumption or licentiousness, where someone thinks they have a free ticket to sin 'cuz they can always turn to Jesus and give a little confession and be on their way. If you confess a sin with full intention of heart to do it again, your confession is false. Someone would be gravely mistaken if they thought that way about confession and repentence.

Granted, if you or DagoodS were to tell me that you're a Christian, I would call you brother. At least until you proved me wrong by either holding to false doctrine (e.g. denying the deity of Christ) or by living in sin (e.g. adultery with no repentence). As far as Christianity not making you any more able to accomplish the aforementioned lists, that is between you and God. I have not found that to be the case with me, and I'm not making light of your personal experience with regard to this. I am very saddened by it for your sake, Paul.

The apostle Paul recognizes the reality of sin and the struggle with sin in this life for the Christian. He even laments the fact that he struggles with sin in Romans 7, as long as we're in the body of this flesh, this fight will continue. If that were not the case, why does the Bible talk about mortifying sin and sanctification? What are we being sanctified from if not sin? There is the already/not yet aspect of our redemption being fully accomplished. In this life the believer has certain aspects of salvation, as I mentioned in a previous post on this thread, but does not enjoy the total benefits of it until heaven. That is why the apostle exclaims, "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" We will be able to obey those lists perfectly when our redemption is fully accomplished, but now we strive against our flesh, the world, and the devil with the help of the Holy Spirit. Is no victory gained over sin in this world? Of course there is. You focus on the Christian's sin, what about his obedience by God's grace?

You may use the example of a roller coaster, but I think a more accurate analogy would be a train. You sometimes get off track, but if you cling to Christ you will get back on track again. As much as I sympathize with your desire to simply be on track, the fact is in this world a Christian will at times get off track when he fails to abide in Christ.

As far as man being inclined toward evil, I realize that not every person is as bad as they could be. I'm not saying that because someone is an unbeliever they're full of lying, stealing, etc. to the nth degree. They may be, they may have a particular tendency to gravitate toward the commission of one particular sin over another. They may also be very decent and moral, but that is because of common grace. If God's restraining hand were not upon the unbeliever (including me before I came to Christ) he or she could descend to any depth if the circumstances were just so. I know this very well about myself. I know that an unbeliever can have a smiting conscience to some degree, but remember that sin is against God, not your particular moral standard. You have one, but breaking that moral standard in your view goes no further than you and perhaps the person you may have "sinned" against. You may apologize to the person you lied to, but you recognize no God of truth that you have offended with your lie. The root problem is with God, and there is no reconciliation with Him without repentence and faith in Christ.


I have no problem with proving what I say and you holding me to my words. I appreciate it actually. And I would never suggest that you believe what I say over Scripture, it is my intention to only speak Scripture, as it were. To be fair though, I don't have the time at the moment to answer your part of this, so I beg your patience until perhaps tomorrow. Please know that I'm not disregarding what you said.....thanks again

Dennis said...

Contradiction? Not at all.

I am glad to see that you are retreating from the opinion you stated last week that John 13 presents a contradiction. Back on July 21st, you said "I deliberately avoided John 13:34-35. My entry was long enough without getting into the contradiction.". I agree with you. The type of love that Jesus modeled and asked his disciples to show one another in John 13 is clearly different than the type love that sinners have for those who love them as Jesus described in Matthew 5 and Luke 6. Not only that, but the time and places between Matthew, Luke, and John were all different. Clearly no contradictions exists.

I am still afraid that you don't really understand what Jesus is saying in John 13. He is saying more than just "love one another". He asks them to love one another as Jesus loved them. We don't see this command anywhere else so it was appropriate to call this a "new command". I see your point about this not being that different than what he already taught but you are getting a little carried away by using this as a springboard to suggest that the author never met Jesus. That position makes no sense in light of John 1:14 "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John provides details about events that only an eyewitness or a liar would provide. For example, John 4:6 tells us the hour of the day that Jesus meet the Samaritan women by the well. Why would someone merely filling in details as they believe happened (as you suggest) insert details like that in this passage and throughout the book? Only a liar or eyewitness would provide that level of detail.

Rich said...

I realize I am behind in commenting here but I have been too busy with work lately.
I am trying to in essence agree with you post here that, on the outside we are all the same and you can't tel by looking at someone if they are christian or not. Also you mention that the bible teaches us that we should be able to, this is also correct. The post since I last was able to read here have gone all over the place and left me confused a little too.
You are right to say that there should be an outward obvious way to determine a follower of Christ. If you have a change of heart that moves you to feel Godly sorrow and have that change of heart that moves you to repent and follow Christ then it should show outwardly so that others could see that you are a follower of Christ. I purposely changed from using Chritian to follower of Christ because I think it is more appropriate here. Just being a Christian doesn't mean you are following Christ, as following Christ is an action not a label.I think the scriptures point this out, Didn't Paul have a pretty outwardly noticable change?
All those after qualities would be what you are stiving to attain. While we may never be perfect we can certainly give it our best. While you can't look at most Chritians and readily tell the differnce there are a few that you can. I also believe, DagoodS, that many non-believers hold qualities and act as followers of Christ. Its about truth/nontruth. Should we love our neighbors? Yes this is a truth and Christ taught it as well as lived it, so if we do the same then we are a follower of Christ. Even if it is not followed by christians it doesn't change that it is truth and nedds to be followed.

"The question I had was, if pragmatically the Bible does not work, EVEN IF TRUE, does that make its divinity MORE probable, or less?"
I don't know that wether the bible working or not makes the divinity more or less vialbe because it is people not following the teachings that your talking about and as I said before truth remains unchanged. Every time you jump out of a tree you will fall to the ground. Spritual truths work the same way, they don't change.
Repentence is not a tricky thing either. Recognize you committed sin, feel sorrow, ask for forgiveness. We all agree to there as I can tell but left out the most important part of repentance, not returning to commit the same sin. If you return to the sin, then you never truly repented as you missed the final most important step. It is well taught that we do our thing and hit the confessinals, wipe the slate clean and go on. This just isn't how it works. You have to make the effort and choice to not return to that same sin. So if someone lies then returns to Christ and then lies again, they lose that prior repentance act. You can't do deathbed repentance or repent constanly of the same sin and expect to recieve forgivness.

DagoodS said...

I apologize, Dennis. I should have made a notation. I thought my quips about “shock” and “gasp” would have made it clear I was being sarcastic when I indicated it was not a Contradiction.

Sigh. Written sarcasm is so lost. While I treasure the internet’s ability to allow us to interact, I am constrained by written word never conveying as accurately our intention. I will try to be more literal. (My fault, not yours.)

Of course it is a contradiction. That is why the Synoptics are lumped together against John. OR, the alternative is that John has a plethora of unique sayings that, for some remarkable unknown reason, Matthew and Luke did not use them, even when it would have been extremely convenient.

Are you saying that no sinner has ever loved another sinner enough to die for them? Ever? I am not saying that the type of love in Matthew 5 and Luke 6 is any different at all from John 13. The difference is in the authors depiction.

I am saying that the author of John 13 felt they were quite clever in coming up with this wonderful principle of love—that being people that actually love each other, not having a clue that Matthew and Luke had already written on this subject, and had remarked the exact opposite—that people loving each other was not remarkable at all.

I get that the time and place were different. If Jesus had repeatedly said that:

1. Sinners love each other
2. You should go beyond that and love your enemies

Why would Jesus retreat back to No. 1, tell them to love each other, and ignore No. 2? Unless (the much more likely prospect) the author had never heard the tales of Jesus talking about No. 2. Which makes John somebody that wasn’t around Jesus when he told the tale of the Good Samaritan.

You introduce a concept that the “as I have loved you” makes this a new command. Let’s follow this, shall we?

Matthew 5

“Even tax collectors love those that love them.” vs. 46
“Go one step further, love your enemies.” Vs. 44
“Be perfect as God is perfect.” Vs. 48

Luke 6

“Even sinners love those that love them.” vs. 32
“Go one step further, love your enemies.” vs. 35
“Even God is kind to evil and unthankful.” vs. 38
“Be merciful as God is merciful.” Vs. 36
“As you judge, condemn or forgive, you will be judged, condemned or forgiven (presumably by God)” vs. 37
“Give and it will be given to you.” Vs. 38

I do not think I am digging too much out of those verses to claim they hold for the premise that we should Love as God loved us. Arguably, you could hold me to the technical statement that we only have to be perfect, merciful, just, forgiving and giving, but not necessarily “love” as God loved us, but I think that is a bigger stretch.

(Although you raise an interesting point that I may have to re-read my Gospels. Do the synoptics REALLY never state that God loves humans? Hmmmm.)

Sitting in that Upper Room the disciples have heard (on more than one occasion, if you hold to literalistic inerrancy) that:

1. Sinners love each other,
2. They are to go beyond that and love their enemies,
3. They are required to emulate God in at least the areas of perfection, merciful, justice, forgiveness and giving.

And Jesus says, “Here is a new one. Love as I have loved.” Come on!

If the disciples were required to love as GOD loved, what would make it “new” for them to love as Jesus loved? If they thought Jesus was God, they would think, “yeah, you already told us this one.” If they thought Jesus was not—well, is Jesus’ ability to love greater than God’s?

This appears to be nothing more than a typical apologetic stretch to somehow compensate for the problem that “love one another” as a new commandment makes no sense in light of someone who traveled around with Jesus.

The timing of the woman at the well.

Lol! Even a literalist is stuck with the fact that the disciple was not an eyewitness to the hour. The Passage says he was not there!

Are you saying that John was creeping in the bushes when Jesus met Nicodemus at night? John 3:2 Or the disciples heard what Jesus said when they were asleep? (Matt. 26:39-40)

There are multiple incidents in the gospels (Matt. 28:11-14) that the disciples were not eyewitnesses. They could only have obtained the information through hearsay. How do we develop a methodology by which we determine what the disciples heard through hearsay, or what they observed? One does not have to be a liar to rely upon someone else who is wrong.

Further, was there significance about the woman at the well at the sixth hour, that makes it no longer a useless detail, but rather a pivotal point?

I recall in my old sermon-attending days how the hour was noted, as midday would be hot, and it is likely that the woman went to get water when she was not likely to encounter other people. So the author, in order to instill a level of shame, specifically noted the time to demonstrate how she was avoiding the crowd.

Part of our problem, Dennis, is without knowing the intended audience, and the specific cultural make-up of the time, we enter dangerous ground by claiming something is “just a detail” whereas for the society of the time, it is a pivotal point.

What if I told you I knew a Haitian that had AIDS? Do you remember when AIDS first started, and people thought the two ways to get it is to either be a Homosexual or Haitian? Turns out, of course, that is not true, but at the time it was significant. I recall, vaguely a comedian giving a routine with the line:

“What is the worst part about AIDS? Convincing your parents you just visited Haiti.”

The point of that awful joke is that at one time, it WAS significant to indicate a Haitian had AIDS, as in it meant the person was not a homosexual. That was not merely an insignificant detail, but would have relevance to its audience. I imagine in 100 years or so, this will long be forgotten.

What, in the gospels, are details that to the audience would give them clues and what are just arbitrary facts of reality? Without any methodology, or any barometer to gauge them by, we are often left guessing. Sorry. Wish there was a cut-and-dried answer, but it doesn’t turn out that way.

I don’t see “level of detail” as much as “lack of information.”

paul said...


Here's the original premise of DagoodS post:

"...does the Bible teach that the change in the spiritual entity has a necessary effect on the physical person in that we can obtain the ability, just by observation, to determine which persons are Christians?" DagoodS then presents lots of scripture to demonstrate that, yeah, the Bible does teach that.

You affirm the quote: "by this shall al men know that you are my disciples..." as "of course true." And add: "the world will know the disciples of Christ by their love for one another, and their good works will shine unto the glory of God."

Now, I don't know how we might pole "the world" to ascertain if this is actually the worlds current understanding of Christianity, but would you consider it very speculative of me to say "no?" As one member of the world, I can say, no I cannot see the difference between good Christians and good non-Christians or bad Christians and bad non-Christians. Which was the original question, based on Bible criteria.
Discussions of confession, heart sorrow, head sorrow, repenting only to have to repent again, and again and again...strike me as equivocation.

I see no real difference (other than semantics) between what you call my "using scripture to refute scripture" and your "using scripture to explain scripture." I think what you're really saying is you believe the Bible has no contradictions, I of course disagree. At this point, the Christian religion looks like a work in progress to me. It certainly is evolving within the Bible, and I don't see that evolution changing after Revelation. It has to evolve to survive. It took a huge leap when "Jesus" took a relatively exclusive religion and started messing with it's foundation...e.e., "you have heard it said 'an eye for an eye' but I say...". Judaism split two thousand years ago, but even the remaining Judaism part evolved, e.e. the discontinuation of the sacrifices.

I believe that the concept of confession of sin for forgiveness was not implemented until later. Did "Jesus" talk about it? I don't think so. "Jesus" changed the law of stoning for adultery to "I don't condemn you, go and sin no more." But no one could keep part "b" so provision had to be made for the ongoing issue of "sin."

I think evangelical Christianity is making a mistake by basing itself on a static canon, when that very canon leaves an out for continued change, i.e. "walking by the spirit."

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi Paul,

Evangelical Christianity comes from a closed canon fixed by God. Since He has said all He is going to say with regard to divine revelation, there is nothing more to add. Jesus didn't mess with the foundation of Judaism, He corrected the misunderstanding of God's Word and taught the people what God meant when He said what He said in the OT. As far as confession of sin and repentence, see the Lord's prayer. And the answer to what DagoodS posted is that you can tell the difference between Christians and unbelievers simply by observing them. You obviously have to get to know people to some degree before discerning where they're coming from. An unbeliever may want to feed the hungry because they sympathize with the plight of the hungry and it makes them feel good to help. A Christian wants to feed the hungry because man is created in the image of God and has a special dignity because of it. Each person is inherently valuable, and love and charity are extended because of the love of God in the heart of a Christian, a desire to do good to all men, and with a view to each person's eternal well-being in the gospel of Jesus Christ. A Christian doesn't have another person's physical well-being in mind only. If the question is, "can you spot a Christian a mile away", the answer is obviously no. But if you get to know a decent moral unbeliever and a tender-hearted Christian you will know the difference. I got into heart issues because there is more going on than outward observation only. I know those are conclusions that you don't accept, you think Christianity evolved, etc. and I know I can't convince you otherwise. Did you express all this to John MacArthur when you went to his church? You were among Christians there Paul, didn't you see a difference even if you were having struggles in your own heart about the faith? I hope you can affirm that you did. May God bless you, my friend...

DagoodS said...

Shining and Burning Light

And the answer to what DagoodS posted is that you can tell the difference between Christians and unbelievers simply by observing them.

Which brings us to the top of the circle. Again.


Observational science would say that we can make the determination based upon a prescribed set of terms. You should be able to say, “A Christian does _______ or does not do _________” whereas an unbeliever is not observed doing (or not doing) those actions.

If it is observable, why have we been dinking around with all this talk of “hearts” and “motivation” and “sorrow”? Your first response should have been, “We can all readily observe this, this and this in a Christian. A non-Christian is observed to not do this, this and this.”

In fact, you even continue to post that the non-believer and believer are observed to do the same action (feed the hungry) and the only difference is non-observable—motivation.

But if you get to know a decent moral unbeliever and a tender-hearted Christian you will know the difference.

Of course there is one readily available difference. What they attribute their actions to. A moral unbeliever attributes their actions out of concern(s) for other humans. A Christian attributes it to performing an act out of obedience to Christ.

The problem is that your Bible says that some things the unbeliever shouldn’t be doing at all, and some things the believer should not be doing at all. Regardless of what it is attributed to.

You have yet to answer the question for the umpteenth time—Where in the verses cited does it indicate that the authors are NOT talking about actions, but rather the motivations and sorrows after committing the actions?

Shining and Burning Light, you continue to toss Christian saws at us, without proof. No verses, no argument, no proof.

We have lived Christianity. We have heard these tritities (new word!) on countless occasions. Some of us have even preached them ourselves. Can you point out something different? Rather than some Christian adage—some demonstration of how we can point at an individual’s actions, just like we are told by your Bible that we should be able to do, and say, “That person is a Christian and this person is not.”

DagoodS said...

Shining and Burning Light

And the answer to what DagoodS posted is that you can tell the difference between Christians and unbelievers simply by observing them.

Which brings us to the top of the circle. Again.


Observational science would say that we can make the determination based upon a prescribed set of terms. You should be able to say, “A Christian does _______ or does not do _________” whereas an unbeliever is not observed doing (or not doing) those actions.

If it is observable, why have we been dinking around with all this talk of “hearts” and “motivation” and “sorrow”? Your first response should have been, “We can all readily observe this, this and this in a Christian. A non-Christian is observed to not do this, this and this.”

In fact, you even continue to post that the non-believer and believer are observed to do the same action (feed the hungry) and the only difference is non-observable—motivation.

But if you get to know a decent moral unbeliever and a tender-hearted Christian you will know the difference.

Of course there is one readily available difference. What they attribute their actions to. A moral unbeliever attributes their actions out of concern(s) for other humans. A Christian attributes it to performing an act out of obedience to Christ.

The problem is that your Bible says that some things the unbeliever shouldn’t be doing at all, and some things the believer should not be doing at all. Regardless of what it is attributed to.

You have yet to answer the question for the umpteenth time—Where in the verses cited does it indicate that the authors are NOT talking about actions, but rather the motivations and sorrows after committing the actions?

Shining and Burning Light, you continue to toss Christian saws at us, without proof. No verses, no argument, no proof.

We have lived Christianity. We have heard these tritities (new word!) on countless occasions. Some of us have even preached them ourselves. Can you point out something different? Rather than some Christian adage—some demonstration of how we can point at an individual’s actions, just like we are told by your Bible that we should be able to do, and say, “That person is a Christian and this person is not.”

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi DagoodS,

To respond to your above comments...

Every action begins with a motive, and we know that there is an outward observance of morality, such as that of the Pharisees. They didn't steal, they didn't commit the physical act of adultery, etc. However, they did covet, they did lust, etc. The spiritual nature of the law proclaimed by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount exposed this. The same is the case with the outwardly moral unbeliever, he may not steal, but covet. He may not commit adultery, but is full of lust. The Christian, however, aims at obedience from the heart. Not only is he not to commit the act of adultery, but he is not to even lust after another woman in his heart. Not only is he not to steal, he is also not to covet. So, if you want to throw out the aspect of the inner man and his motives and just look at the bare outward observance of morality you are taking the same line as the Pharisees. The apostle Paul said, "For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man.." (Rom. 7:22). Paul's prayer for the Christians at Ephesus is that, "He [God] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man. (Eph. 3:16). Peter, with reference to Christian women and their outward appearance, says, "but let it [your adornment]be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God." (1 Pet.3:4) God has His finger on the heart. He doesn't want bare outward obedience, because what you are on the inside is what you are. He doesn't want you taking up space in a pew every Sunday when your heart is on the ball game or the next home improvement project. In regard to your post though, if an unbeliever refrains from stealing and a Christian refrains from stealing--there's no difference because they're both obeying God outwardly. So if this is what you were getting at, I concede your point. But what if the unbeliever wants to steal it, but doesn't. Is he wrong? Is he sinning? The Christian refrains from stealing and doesn't want to because he knows that would be a sin against God. Whose obedience is real? Answer that question....

Dennis said...


Looking at the context of your statement, I can't possibly see how it could be considered sarcasm. Am I also to believe the sarcasm extends into the third sentence starting with "Just one of"?

"Contradiction? Not at all. Just one of numerous indications that the author of John had a much different picture of Christ as compared to the synoptics."

That doesn't bother me that you considered John 13 to be a contradiction on July 21st but not a contradiction on July 26th. What bothers me is that you are now criticizing my view that there is no contradiction here when you clearly agreed with me yesterday. There's no need to try to cover up this small slip. I can see that you spend a lot of time corresponding with a lot of people. It's no big deal that you forgot something you wrote last week.

I disagree with your position that the author of John thought that they were making up a new commandment with "love one another". Surely the author of John understood that this commandment goes back to the Old Testament. What was new (and remarkable) about this commandment was that the disciples were to love each other as Christ had loved them. You are right this this concept could be derived from previous teachings but it was still a new commandment. Maybe I wouldn't have chosen the words Jesus used but this doesn't falsify the passage.

Moving on to our discussion about whether or not the book of John represents eyewitness accounts. I did not intend to mean that the author of John was an eyewitness to each event recorded but only that the writings represented collections of eyewitness accounts. My statement still stands that writings containing the type of details we see in the book of John, such as which side of the Jordan John was baptizing on or that Peter had to put on some clothes before jumping in the water to swim to Jesus, can only originate from an eyewitness account or from a lie. Hearsay can explain how false accounts somehow become misunderstood as truth or how truth can become distorted into a falsehood, but hearsay doesn't create details in a story unless they come from a liar or an eyewitness. Details aren't accidentally added as a story is passed along from person to person.

paul said...

Yep, knew that about the "closed canon" and stated as much. I theorize the charismatic movement, for instance, is a response to the limitations of that closed canon idea, since they believe in prophets who can come up with current revelation...but that's another subject, sorry.

I had thought of the Lords prayer but I think it comes closer to supporting my theory of religious "evolution" than it does your belief in confession.

"Jesus" made a general, conditional request to the "Father" that He "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." I see two differences. One, the specific confession of individual sins that has been discussed here vs. the general forgive me for my trespasses with the condition that I forgive those who trespass against me. Second, the change from just asking God (the "Father") to forgive to include confessing to "one another." That adds some punch. If your only confessing to God, hey, your dignity is preserved. After all, He's invisible and you cannot see His look of shock at what you've done. When you have the rule of confessing to other people, one could see the pressure to be good has modified. Just a theory, not sure it works well yet.

James, later, seems to kick it up a notch when confession of sins is attached to healing. That's pretty significant as long as the healing follows, when it doesn't, one has another problem, one has to fall back on "faith."

Nobody here used the criteria of being able to "spot a Christian a mile away." Remember we were living as part of the Christian community, up close and personal, so my statements are born out of actual experience with myself and others. No, I did not see a difference, even at John MacArthurs church. The whole point of this thread is some of us see,nor have seen, a difference between youuns and usuns, other than belief.


tritities: a three breasted beasty

DagoodS said...

Shining and Burning Light,

The Christian, however, aims at obedience from the heart.

Again, WHERE is that stated in these verses as the difference? The verses clearly state, “Christians don’t do these things.” They do not state at what the Christian “aims” to do or not do.

I ask and ask and ask, yet no response is given.

So, if you want to throw out the aspect of the inner man and his motives and just look at the bare outward observance of morality you are taking the same line as the Pharisees.

I am not sure where that places me on the pecking order. Is being a Pharisee worse or better than being an apostate? Or an unbeliever? I am sorry if verses in your Bible look like Pharisee statements. I keep asking you how you deal with this, and all I get are Christian platitudes.

In just your last answer to me, you indicated that one can tell the difference between a believer and a non-believer, just by observing them. Now you are telling me that observing morality is taking the same line as the Pharisees. Again I remain confused.

First you make a statement, and when I follow up, you indicate that such a statement is like a Pharisee. Aren’t you taking the same line as the Pharisees? Or are you now saying that we cannot observe the difference, in which case the verses are meaningless?

But what if the unbeliever wants to steal it, but doesn't. Is he wrong? Is he sinning? The Christian refrains from stealing and doesn't want to because he knows that would be a sin against God. Whose obedience is real? Answer that question....

One of my favorite lines in life comes from The Thomas Crown Affair in which Pierce Brosnan asks, “Now how can I commit to answering your question, when you cannot seriously commit to answering mine.”

I would prefer you answer the question as to where in these verses it states “motivation” or “sorrow” or “heart-obedience” and not action, before we progress to your questions. In all fairness, I did ask first, and have asked plenty.

But, in politeness, I will respond. You have given us the answer yourself. Your post starts with, “Every action begins with a motive…” If a non-believer does not steal, I presume for a variety of reasons, he did not want to.

We do what we want. Oh, we may all have a fleeting moment of “There is $10 on the ground. What do I do with it?” but that is just temptation. Even Christians have that.

What I follow through with, is doing what I want.


Jesus says that “Love God and Love your neighbor” are the greatest commandment. Is this “new” commandment even greater, the same, or less? Don’t answer, working on the blog entry now. :-)

Do you want to use the methodology of “details cited = eyewitness”? Can we stay consistent in that? (And I recognize that it could mean the author was not an eyewitness, but received the account from an eyewitness. This causes even GREATER problems for you!)

The Gospel of Peter records the name of the Centurion. This detail is not found in the other Gospels. Using this methodology of “details cited = eyewitness account” we determine that the Gospel of Peter is an accurate account.

The Apocalypse of Peter records the direction from which the Glory came in the Transfiguration (East) This is an exceptional level of detail. Using your methodology we determine that the Apocalypse of Peter is an accurate account.

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas records where Jesus obtained the mud from which to make the birds, the specific letters taught him by teachers, and gives fairly detailed accounts of his interactions with playmates. Using your methodology, we can see that this level of detail indicates that these accounts were either recorded by eyewitnesses, or obtained through eyewitnesses.

Or the Infancy Gospel of James that records down to “a sparrow’s nest” rather than a bird’s nest. With this level of detail, can we deduce that it comes from an eyewitness account, and Mary was born from immaculate conception?

Should we go on? Using this method “detail = eyewitnesses” we begin to include all sorts of accounts and stories that I suspect you reject as being accurate. If you do not accept your own methodology, why should I?

Details aren't accidentally added as a story is passed along from person to person.

In my experience, there is no hard and fast rule. Details are added, as the story teller finds necessary, and are removed out of laziness, or modified as needs be. Again, part of our problem, now, is determining what we think are just “details” whereas to the story teller or the audience of the First Century, may be necessary elements.

I am glad that you brought up John’s record of where John the Baptist was baptizing. Don’t you think it odd that John would have recorded where the baptisms were taking place, yet never record Jesus as being baptized?

I would propose that the Gospel of John’s higher Christology found Jesus needing baptism to be embarrassing, and therefore left it out. Do you see how we need to do more than just read the text, but actually delve into the culture, society, times, economics, and mindsets of the authors and their communities? This takes more than just reading, but research as well.

Rich said...

I have to tell you Dagoods, I keep waiting for the answer as well here because it DOES call for action and nothing short of that. It seems like S&BL is maybe one who believes we only have to believe and confess Christs name and we are saved by Grace alone. The Scriptures clearly call for the believer to act. You are right to understand this passage in Romans that way.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi DagoodS,

Here is my answer to your question in my previous post:

In regard to your post though, if an unbeliever refrains from stealing and a Christian refrains from stealing--there's no difference because they're both obeying God outwardly. So if this is what you were getting at, I concede your point.

I was making the further assertion based upon the Bible as a whole, there is the issue of heart obedience as well. I have cited some of those verses in my last response, but if you need anymore I think this one (1 Sam. 16:7b) could not be clearer, "for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

So again, if you want to base what you said on outward appearance only, very well. The Pharisees did this, as long as they didn't steal anything they're all good--no sin. However, they were wrong because God looks further than outward obedience. They thought they could covet.

You stated:

We do what we want.


What I follow through with, is doing what I want.

Do you deny any inward moral struggle? And I'm not talking about a stray $10 bill on the sidewalk. Do you always live up to your moral standard? If not, why not? You always do what you want, right?

Was the whole point of your post to say that you can't tell the difference between believers and unbelievers when both are outwardly obeying an objective moral standard? Congratulations on such an astute observation. The problem is that if an unbeliever could somehow perfectly obey God's objective moral standard outwardly (which is impossible, see Rom. 3:23) he would still be condemned because he didn't obey it inwardly. His motivation was wrong, it wasn't to serve, honor, and glorify God. It was to be a nice, amicable person, a good family member, a decent citizen, etc. Not good enough. All our good works are as filthy rags in God's sight (Is. 64:6) without a right motive. That's why I was saying if you get to know a believer and an unbeliever, you will know there is a difference in their obedience because there is a difference between their motives. And I doubt you will find many unbelievers loving their enemies or being quick with forgiveness, but I digress...

If you also mean to assert that Christians will never commit the list of sins quoted, and only perfectly do the good things listed that follow, I guess Christianity is an illusory thing, a vapor that doesn't really exist. There are no perfect Christians in this world. In your understanding are Christians to never sin after conversion? Or maybe only once or twice a day? Why does Christ, while addressing His disciples, say that you are to confess your SINS while addressing the subject of prayer? Why does He command Peter to forgive an offending brother if he sins against him seventy times seven in a day, and the brother returns to him and repents? If you want to chop up the Bible you can come to any errant conclusion you want. Well, I hope I have answered, answered, answered your question :-) Thanks for your cordial responses...

Shining and Burning Light said...


I'm not saying you just have to believe only, you do have to act. The Bible is clear on being doers of the Word, not hearers only. Our faith has to be shown by our works, for faith without works is dead. I can't qualify every statement I make. I'm arguing from one aspect of the truth (the issue of the motive behind the action). That doesn't mean I deny outward obedience because I'm defending inward motivations. My assertion is that Christians do not obey God perfectly because sin is a reality in the Christian life in this world. Otherwise, we would have no need of repentence...

Shining and Burning Light said...

Oh, and we are saved by Grace alone, regardless of our obedience (although obedience is the natural fruit of conversion, so it must be there if our conversion be genuine). Any other doctrine is heresy because that would be adding that which we bring to the work of Christ. Our obedience is the fruit of conversion, not the reason or cause of it.....

Dennis said...


I clearly stated that details point towards an eyewitness account OR a fabrication. I never meant to imply that details = accuracy.

I have replied to your new post and I am done responding here.

DagoodS said...

Shining and Burning Light,

After going back and forth in this comment section on various topics, I went back and re-read my blog entry. I re-read the verses I cited.

Galatians 5:16-24 with emphasis:

“Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. ,,, And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Or Ephesians 4:17-24 :

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,… But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Or Rev. 21:8:

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

And you reply with 1 Sam. 16:7 “God looks on the heart, not the outward appearance.” You retreat BACK to the motivation principle, after having already stated that it was observable. The verses do not indicate motivation. They indicate observable action.

Whether Pharisees indicated that as well is of little concern. Your Bible says it. You seem to be stuck admitting that it is not observable. I am wondering how you deal with that. Inserting “motivation” which is not there does not introduce a beneficial methodology, because equally I can start inserting whatever I want.

Worse, if the only thing that is important is what God sees on the heart, who cares about these lists? God looks at the heart of the liar, not whether they lie or not. Yet there is Rev. 21: 8 staring me in the face…..

By excusing (and that is exactly what it is) these actions on the part of a Christian, you:

1) acknowledge that a Christian is no better than a non-Christian
2) A Christian cannot help doing things any more than a non-Christian
3) This is just rationalization of why a Christian lie is “better” than a non-Christian lie
4) There is no divinity involved here—only humanity

Isaiah 64:6. If your righteous acts are, at best, filthy rags, then what is the difference between a Christians’ and a non-Christians? Are we comparing filth? What is the point of indicating one should exhibit Fruits of the Spirit, if within doing so, at best you are doing filthy rags? Poetry is a rotten place to find doctrine, as you can see.

And I doubt you will find many unbelievers loving their enemies or being quick with forgiveness, but I digress...

I don’t have to find “many.” According to YOUR Bible, which contains verses you have yet to do anything but take all the teeth out of, I shouldn’t find “any.”

I should easily sort out those who “walk by the spirit.” Remember the original comment, long, long ago, said tongue-in-cheek? “You are looking at the wrong Christians.” According to these verses I should easily determine who is a Christian and who is not. Why should I have to go through, according to these verses, a long interview process, observation, and my own internal determination as to what the other person’s motive is?

Shining and Burning Light, a long time ago, in another discussion I made the observation about debating with Christians. I get this same feeling in our conversation.

It is like I am told by the Christian they have the ability to levitate and say, “See, my feet are not touching the ground.” I then point out that their left foot is actually on the ground. They pull up the left foot, quickly put down the right, and say, “See? My left foot is not on the ground. I am levitating.” I then point out how they switched to their right foot.

Now they switch feet again and say, “No it isn’t. See how my right foot is off the ground?” Back and forth we go, from foot to foot, each time the Christian pointing how my last statement (but not the one before, or before, or before) is incorrect and is not contradicting the fact that they are levitating.

In these comments we start off with the unbeliever not having sorrow. Then they do, but not the right kind. Then it is a matter of head obedience vs. heart obedience. Then we switch to motivation. When I keep asking for a part in the verse that refers to motivation, I am told (lo and behold) the effects are observable. When I ask how, I am told they are not. But that the difference is motivation. Which is not observable. Then I am told that I astutely observed we cannot tell the difference between a believer and a non-believer performing a moral action. Then I am told it is motivation.

‘Round and ‘round we go, never quite landing on a determinative spot by which we can say, “That person does ___ and therefore must be a Christian.”


After more than 50 comments, it is obvious that there is no presented response here as to how one can tell the difference in actions, contrary to the verses I cited.

In your understanding are Christians to never sin after conversion? Or maybe only once or twice a day?

My understanding is that Christianity has a great many things that are unexplainable. This is one in which some authors clearly indicate that Christians should be readily observable by actions. As a Christian, I, too, used the convenient “out” of a practice of sinning and that it was a repentant lifestyle.

When attending a Holiness church, the question was raised—“Should we sin less and less?” I was always fascinated by that precept. Should Christians sin less and less? And why do Christians continue to struggle with sinning at all?

Doctrinally, I wrote it down to (yet another) difficult, unexplainable concept. Pragmatically, I kept confessing my sins, and doing my human best to not sin.

Now, I can see that it is solely a human effort, and there is no practical difference between believers and non-believers.

Why does Christ, while addressing His disciples, say that you are to confess your SINS while addressing the subject of prayer? Why does He command Peter to forgive an offending brother if he sins against him seventy times seven in a day, and the brother returns to him and repents?

Good question. Would you call this a “practice” or not? I asked that long ago, and it was left on the table. Is committing the same sin 490 times (you indicated in one day!) a practice?

If Jesus is saying that practicing sin is possible for a believer, what does THAT do with your defense that it is a motivation of not practicing sin.

Here is my solution to the problem:

In the first and second Century, various authors wrote their opinions about God, the relationship of God to humans, and the impact of a person known as Jesus. Because the authors came from various walks of life, and wrote to communities with different needs and concerns, the books varied from book to book about what God was like, and how he/she/it intended to interact with humans.

As humans are wont to do, they began to divide and fight amongst themselves as to which books/opinions were the appropriate ones, and which ones were not. One particular group, what has come to be known as “orthodoxy” picked out a set of books that were both popular, and roughly conformed to their doctrine. Unfortunately, for them, the books were already in production, so the doctrines did not completely align, thus introducing controversies such as this.

I have no problem “aligning” the books of the Bible to conform to one doctrine—they don’t. They were written by different authors, with different intentions, and different opinions as to God. We would expect such a situation to introduce differences that appear contradictory.

Various humans disagreeing on topics is what we have come to see in life—why should it be any surprise that such an event happens when it comes to theism?

Christians perpetual problem is coming up with a solution that presents a better explanation than that by attempting to conform each book, phrase and sentence with another. Leaving us with the ridiculous notions of Judas hanging himself, and then falling in a field where his guts spilled out.

Or verses that indicate we should readily observe a difference, verses that indicate Christians should never sin, and verses that say Christians who claim to never sin are liars. Verses that say not only unbelievers, but liars go to hell, and that Christians shouldn’t lie.

I don’t chop up the Bible—it was made that way. Sorry.

Rich said...

Here's where it always gets confusing and seeming contradictive to me. Mr. Shine, you say that we do need to act and that it is a result of conversion, which I agree with, but then say oh by the way we are saved by grace alone. It doesn't seem very clear to me, Are we saved soley by grace or do we need to act, do, obey,to be saved? It can't be both. While you are converted and it becomes your motive to do good, its those actions that make it possible for God to save us. Even being converted if you fail to act you don't get saved. I don't know if I am explaining the contradiction very well. Your not saved by soley being converted, that is the begining, you must then continually obey. Your last 2 posts contradict each other on this issue.

Shining and Burning Light said...

Hi DagoodS,

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, I did the best I could, thanks for the discussion...


You are saved by grace alone, but if you are saved you show forth the fruits of that salvation by your obedience. The grounds of our justification before God is the work of Christ on the cross. We are saved by faith alone in the work of Christ alone, our good works do nothing to justify us before God (see Romans 4). The showing forth of the reality of our justification is our good works (i.e. showing that our faith is real) See James 2:24. James is not saying there that we are justified by works as he is addressing a form of 1st century easy-believism. There were people teaching that all you have to do is make a mental assent to the facts of the gospel and you are saved, it doesn't matter what you do. Sound familiar? His point was that if you have faith, show that faith by your works. No works, then your faith is not real (dead). The apostle Paul however was addressing the error of the Judaizers, who were saying that you have to have faith in Christ, but also perform the works of the law in order to be justified. Paul was correcting that error by showing that Abraham was proclaimed righteous before God because he believed God and He reckoned it to him as righteousness, without Abraham doing any good work. So the inspired writers are refuting 2 different errors. The biblical doctrine is that we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone, and if we are really saved we will do good works. I hope this helps.....God bless

Rich said...

It really doesn't help because now we have the problem of the judgement day and being judge by our works wether they be good or bad.see eccl. 12:14, matt.16:27, rev.20:12-13. If we our judgeed by our works then our works certainly play into salvation. If what you say is correct then Dagoods is right in his post here and there is no difference between believer and nonbeliever. Also if what youare saying is true then why even have commandments? If we are saved before we do any works, then it is just a God as described by these athiests on this post. God we'll just save who he wants regaurless of any good deed or following commandments. You are already saved before these acts according to what you are saying. Yet there is revelations saying that we are judged by our works out of the book of life. How can these two viewpoints exist together? they are not the same at all, either you are saved without works or you are saved with works. Your talking about the judiazers only sounds exactly like what you are saying to me, thats why it sounds familiar, because it's the same doctrine.

Shining and Burning Light said...


You are not justified by works, I'm just telling you what the Bible says. You are justified by the work of Christ on the cross. If it be that you have faith in that work (faith that "proves true" or is genuine), then you will produce the fruits of obedience to God's commandments (not perfect obedience, but there will be a new principle of life within you). Obedience to the law justifies no one, we are not saved by obedience to God's law. If we could do that we wouldn't need to be saved, and we wouldn't need a Savior. All will be judged by their works, that is true, but Christians have the righteousness of Christ attributed to their account--unbelievers do not. Christians are seen through Christ, and are therefore justified and sinless in Him. Unbelievers have no Savior and will be judged based on their own works in the body. That is what the Bible teaches. If any man is justified before God because of his works, then he has something to boast about before God--as if his salvation was at least in part owed to him or earned by him. That is patently false as no man has any reason to boast before God and has nothing that he has not received. So, to sum up, you are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and if this is true you will do good works. You're confusing the grounds of our justification (the work of Christ) with the fruit of our justification (our good works). I hope this clarifies the matter, if not I would recommend James Buchanan's Justification by Faith....thanks

DavidD said...

What a cobbling together of mixed metaphors went together to make biblical theology.

It's important to remember that from Paul's perspective, everyone's flesh was dying from sin, not just non-Christians. It was the Spirit that had come into him that would give any Christian eternal life, not some later judgment. At the second death, who could say that their sins weren't so bad? Sin had already caused their first death, according to those who knew no other reason for death than sin. So there could be no defense according to works.

It also matters to realize just how extremely dualistic Paul was, befitting someone who grew up seeing clean and unclean as perfectly separate qualities. I would guess he saw the flesh of an unclean animal as something entirely different from the flesh of a clean animal. So someone in the body of Christ was completely different from someone outside. He might have understood the parable of the wheat and the tares about how such things might be uncertain during life, but he would still know they are completely separate. Having the Spirit was essential, Romans 8:9, so no matter how much someone wants to pick out verses and conform to them, if they don't conform to Romans 8:9, they are just trying to perpetrate a fraud pretending to be Christian. Perhaps Paul in the Spirit could have gone into any church and picked out who had the Spirit and who didn't. Perhaps he could go into the most traditional church today, look around, and say, "All these people are going to Hell," simply on the basis of not perceiving the Spirit there.

This is not my theology, but Paul's was that simple. He was too Jewish to say just act out of love. He had to make lists of things that the evil world had that Christians shouldn't have, not as moral instruction, but as an indication of the Spirit. So it can become confusing if you don't recognize the central idea of Romans 8:9 and why Paul says the Spirit brings eternal life. It's not a reward that brings eternal life. It's not some moral threshold to be crossed. It's just the Spirit.

Now the reality that Christians don't behave that well as a group may mean that it's very rare for the Spirit to live within someone these days. It could mean all sorts of things. It's for anyone to face in his or her own mirror, but it's not because Paul was confused in what he believed or where those beliefs came from.

First he was a Jew. Then Jesus came to him, and he received the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit, all apparently synonymous, and eternal life was his. What he preached was all about that. One just has to read it while remembering this.

Rich said...

Why even have a law if it means nothing?