Non Posse Non Peccare.
(I cannot not sin)
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," (Heb 12:1 AV)
aymon de albatrus
The first thing to investigate is the nature of sin, in particular from where sin comes form, or indeed what is sin.
What is sin?
In this modern age the concept of sin is hardly known, even in many churches, this is because the notion of God is hardly believed and also the prevalent thought of the importance of man in the scheme of things precludes any such possibility. Besides if God were to exist He would be such a nice fellow to not contradict man, let alone condemn him for anything, rebellious man states. Unbelievers say:"But I do not believe in God so this is not applicable to me" what a shallow statement, God is the Creator of all that exists, even unbelievers and they too are under Godís Law, whether they accept it or not.
Deluded man so believes, but Scripture quite clearly negates this notion and tells us what sin is:
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." (1Jo 3:4) There so plainly stated "sin is the transgression of the Law" and the Law is that set of ordinances and commands the God has imposed on his creation.
Now we know what sin is, but who has sinned? Also on this, Scripture leaves us in no doubts: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Rom 3:23)
There so plainly stated again "all have sinned" ALL means that nobody is excluded.
To that we must also add the penalty of sin: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom 6:23) Plainly stated "the wages of sin is death".
So, in a nutshell, this is the progression of sin: God has imposed on us His Just Law, whosoever goes against this Law commits sin (ALL of us do), receiving the just deserve thereof, i. e. death.
From Where does Sin comes from?"He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning." 1 John 3:8 so sin was first found in Satan as stated in Eze 28:15,16 it says, "You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you. 16 By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones."
Scripture gives inkling when sin first appeared in the creation of God: The Bible teaches us
The origin of sin is a problem that has occupied theologians in all ages, without any resolution, notwithstanding many of their highfaluting theories. Their main argument is: "God did not create Sin, God created everything good; He is not the Author of sin. Moral beings were without sin when created. Satan was created a sinless and perfect being."
Well, OK, but from whence does sin come from then? The facts of the matter are that nobody knows, indeed all of our knowledge comes from God, if He does not reveal, then we will never know.
However we can reason a little logically and consider that since God created all things, there in nothing created that God did not give life to it, NOTHING in Godís creation can occur without God giving conscious energy to it to exists, this clearly means that if He gives that life force He must also will it to be so. If something were to enter into Godís creation outside Himself, then God will come short of His major attributes; Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence, and thus He would not be God anymore, by definition.
Have a look at this interesting passage: "19 And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. 20 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. 21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. 22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so. 23 Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee." (1Ki 22:19-23)
Now if someone were to send an emissary to lie to someone else so to convince this latter one to do an action that will cause his death, would not a modern court condemn the original instigator?
Then consider this: "See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand." (Deu 32:39 AV) Would not a modern court condemn someone that kills and wounds? Yes it would. But here we are not talking of men but of God and He is ABOVE the Law and laws, indeed God does kill every body. This is the point that is very often rejected, indeed not even considered that the LAW was imposed by God on men and NOT on Himself for He is The Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of ALL. Plainly by definition, God cannot be "sinful" because that concept cannot possibly be applied to Him, for sin is the transgression of the Law that does not apply to Him.
The truth of the matter is that no human does know where sin comes from and will never know if God does not reveal, but logic tells us that it cannot be outside the affairs of God otherwise God would not be the Almighty Sovereign God, by definition. We must be content with what Scripture tells us: "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." (Deu 29:29) Anything outside that is of the devil.
What rights has God to impose the concept of sin on us?
HE HAS EVERY POSSIBLE RIGHT.
Every unbeliever says, indeed even many believer these days: "We know of sin only because God decided to impose on us the Law, a good God would not do that, I do not want this Law, for it is set up for me to fail and be condemned for this Law infringes on my free will and doesnít not let me do what I really want to do." A survey was carried out with many university professors that were reported to believe in the religion of Evolution, when confronted many confessed not to really believe in it but they must carry on the pretence of it, for the acceptance of God would limit their sexual life inclinations, they said. This position is very common in our days.
Well then, what right Has God to impose His Law on human beings?? Simply, He has the right of creation, and maintenance and possession. We are in existence only because He willed us into being and also He keeps us in life: "For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring." (Act 17:28) We are totally His and He can dispose of us as He pleases: "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" (Dan 4:35)
So, those who inveigh against Godís impositions are rebels without a cause deserving every bit of Hell they get.
Why we sin?
The oft-mentioned excuse: "the devil made me do it" certainly cannot be used here. We sin wilfully and often we even enjoy it.
This is a difficulty that every saint must wrestles with all his life. I am saying "every saint" for unbelievers could not care less even if they have a notion of what sin is. Every saint must be confronted with this conscience pain, we see that even the most devoted servant of Christ, Paul of Tarsus, was lamenting in Romans: "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom 7:24 AV)
The reason as to why we sin is found in the sinful nature we inherited from Adam: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" (Rom 5:12)
Another grand man of God, Augustine of Hippo, in his painful Confessions he laments: "Non Posse Non Peccare" (I am not able not to sin). He has suffered this troublesome situation and proposed 4 states of man possibilities in relation to sin:
able to sin, able not to sin (posse peccare, posse non peccare) the state of man in innocence, before the Fall
not able not to sin (non posse non peccare); the second the state of the natural man after the Fall
able not to sin (posse non peccare) the third the state of the regenerate man
unable to sin (non posse peccare) the fourth the glorified man.
able to sin
able to sin
able to sin
able to not sin
able to not sin
unable to not sin
able to not sin
unable to sin
This of course involves the concept of "free will". Well does man have free will? Men are so rebellious that they will fight till their green tongues fall off, in insisting that they are the Captain of their Souls and that they have absolute free will? But, do They?
What is the meaning of free will to these proponents? That they must be free to do whatever they want without limits. Well that is impossible, if one wants to have sex with the wife next door but if the husband is waiting with the shotgun it cannot be done even if one wants to. And so with practically every situation in life, one is limited or stopped by physical reasons and by circumstances continually, thus in practically every case one is not free to get what he wants, e.g. his freedom is limited in a way or another and not totally free to get what he wants.
In theological terms free will is normally defined as the ability to choose equally between what is good and what is evil without any encumbrances and his will is free because it is not forced or compelled from without.
However, manís will is determined by his own moral inclinations. So ungenerated man cannot be said to be free because he will ALWAYS choose to do what is evil (in Godís eyes), because his motives are never pure, and never to glorify God. He has no other inclination so he cannot ever choose what is good (in Godís eyes) as Scripture states: "10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." (Rom 3:10-12 AV)
Looking at the table above we see that before the Fall, man was able to choose to do either good or evil, his heart, and so his inclination and disposition, being innocent and not tainted by sin. But Adamís state was mutable and when Satan tempted Eve, and then Eve tempted him, he wilfully chose to sin against God by eating the forbidden fruit and so fell from the estate of innocence.
By the completed works of Christ on the cross the elect reborn man has been enabled by the Grace of God to choose good or evil, as in the beginning: "26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Eze 36:26-27)
Whilst in the Glorified state man will always choose to do good because his heartís inclination is always to glorify God; (O LORD, How long? How long?).
So with reference to "free will" as proposed by its proponent we can say that it is false, for man has NEVER total free will, to be sure man has a will but never totally free as intended by them, ONLY God has true free will.
So puny man should answer these simple questions before claiming "Free Will" for himself:
Did you freely choose to be born?
Did you freely choose to be born man or woman?
Did you freely choose in which nation to be born?
Did you freely choose to be born black or white?
Did you freely choose to be intelligent or dumb?
Did you freely choose to be part of your family?
Did you freely choose the life you have?
Did you freely choose to be healthy or sick?
Did you freely choose in which way and when you shall die?
Did you freely choose to be saved? This is a good one for the proponent of free will, but look at these verses:
"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." (Joh 6:44)
"And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father." (Joh 6:65)
Seems that before claiming "free will" for himself man should claim "free rebellion".
With Augustine we agree that:
The children of God are actuated by His Spirit to do whatever is to be done
They are drawn by Him, out of an unwilling state to be made willing
Since the fall it is owing only to the grace of God that man draws near to Him
It is owing only to the same grace that God does not withdraw or recede from him
We know that no good thing which is our own can be found in our will
By the magnitude of the first sin, we lost the freedom of the will to believe in God and live holy lives
Therefore "it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs"ónot because we ought not to will and to run, but because God effects both the willing and the running.
Can we totally stop sinning whilst on this earth?
I must and will confess that so far I have been unable to stop sinning altogether. I will admit that I am well aware of sinning and at times do go on, regardless of the pangs of conscience. My old nature is not completely dead, I fear. "O my Lord, do have pity of this miserable soul."
I have heard claims by men that they are able not to sin, well, my looking into their lives has always disproved that claim and moreover in my over 60 years of life I have never seen a totally sinless man, even in televangelists. I am just wondering what reference they are using to determine their life as sinless. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1Jo 1:8)
I am therefore convinced that it is not likely in this life that anybody can truly be sinless (besides Christ). This does not mean I cease to fight against sin; I do and will continue to do so till my last breath on this earth, for I hate sin, but as Paul said: "18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do." (Rom 7:18-19)
If the devil confronts me with a long list of my sins I will respond: "Yes, it is true they are mine, but you are wrong for the list is longer than that, nevertheless I live by Faith in Him who has crucified my every sin on the cross by His sacrifice and He is continually interceding for me with His Holy blood in front of the Mercy Seat in Heaven".
Therefore I firmly stake my salvation in the finished works of Christ and Him crucified, and testify with a loud voice that God has enable me to confess with my mouth: "9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Rom 10:9-10) AMEN