Okay, here we go. You stated dogmatically:
Believers still wrapped in mortal flesh commit sins. On this, all agree. Mark
My question is: all WHO agree? Have you really thought this through, or are you simply grasping for a disclaimer to help support the ongoing confusion found in trying to curb our rampant sin? Yeah, I hear your objections. Heck, I even taught you some of those objections, remember? :) You know, the truth is I think you really HAVE thought this through, and that you are merely struggling with the life that is within YOU, and not really with me, ya think?
John states that it is those who confess their sins who are forgiven. I'm not only NOT denying that, I see his whole argument built upon this enlightenment and honesty in those who actually call sin for what it is. We have forgotten just how MIRACULOUS it is to actually know what sin is. Do you realize that those who are truly blind have no real concept of sin even though they develop and teach intricate morality systems (many them "Biblical")? Why do we assume that the blind are referring to the same thing we are when we speak of sin?
But John doesn't leave it there, does he? No, for as he develops his thoughts he makes it clear that the forgiven ones are NOT defined by the sins they confess. I think you know what I'm talking about because the middle section of John's letter is generally avoided at all cost by those who have adopted a "grace emphasis" (yeah, you know me well enough to realize that I'm making a distinction by that phrase - more on that later). Your statement leaves no room at all for the profound reality John describes:
No one who is born of God sins, because His seed abides in him; and he CANNOT sin, because he is born of God. 1 John 3:9
Let me ask you: Does this give you confirmation in your view of sin ... or merely more confusion? So, if John is to be used as one of the everybody who agrees on your premise, you must see his points in view this of startling statement. Yes?
Now, Paul also described his fall into sin (through the law, of course) in Romans 7, where he wrote of doing the evil he did not want to do and not doing the good he wanted to do. We might establish your point here with Paul's words, but then what do we do with the fact that Paul comes to the conclusion:
So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. Romans 7:17
But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. Romans 7:20
Was this an attempt to make an excuse for these sins? Not at all, for his whole discussion is one of the most honest displays in naming the sins that were going on inside him during this time. But while he made this huge distinction that it is no longer HE that is doing the sin, you seem to hold to a bottom line that demands we ARE the ones performing the sin.
Are you following me? If we both observe problems in the lives of believers, making it obvious that "sin is in the camp" - or as Paul put it: "if a man is caught in any trespass" - are we to counsel according to the logic of this world (which is a religious logic, to be sure) or does the good news of the finished work of Christ really have any insight into it? I do believe you think it SHOULD, but I also think you wonder how it CAN without being used as an excuse.
I'm telling you, this has everything to do with why it seems as if I leave the gut-level real-life questions hanging ... and why you have such a hard time with the inclusion of sin into your grace equation. You know what always amazes me? As I have addressed this exact issue MANY times (it seems as if it's all I write about) I am repeatedly presented with the exact same objections AS IF I might not have considered them. :) Mark, I'm not saying this in a derogatory manner at all, but instead in wonder and awe at the miraculous nature of the wisdom of God, and the inability of our logical mind to digest it.
Sin is still to be avoided, no? Mark
What kind of a question is that? Paul would say:
HOW shall we who died to sin still live in it? Romans 6:2
He didn't ask his question as if it was a moral issue, but as whether it was even a remote possibility! Don't you see that even your question about avoiding sin is found in the logic that has not passed from death into life? Is it okay to sin? That is the question of those who are dead in their trespasses and sins who are looking for a way to feel okay about what they do!
The fact is that those who are born of God abhor sin. Paul speaks of this reality in saying,
the things of which you are NOW ashamed Romans 6:21
So, why does this not SEEM to be the case in so many Christians? Now, don't rule out the possibility that some of these professing believers may merely be religious, but there is a very real reason why one who is alive in Christ may appear to be anything BUT ashamed of sin. Any guesses? How about our old friend, THE LAW? I'll bet you think I pin too much on the law, huh? :) But consider, it is law that stimulates sin, and sin that takes advantage of the law! What a partnership.