1 Jan 1999

Sin of unbelief?

Submitted by theshovel
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This is my input in an ongoing discussion regarding the so-called sin of unbelief

Hey, I have a thought concerning the discussion about sin and belief. No doubt there is a connection and I sure wouldn't deny that at all. I remember how easy and convenient the definition that sin is unbelief was, for I used to hold to it. It helped me answer a lot of questions about grace vs law. But it used to disturb me that the main verse that supported the idea that sin IS unbelief doesn't even speak of the "sin of unbelief"! Check it out. It's the same verse already mentioned, but I'm gonna quote more of the passage

And He, when He comes will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment;
concerning sin, BECAUSE they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, BECAUSE I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; and concerning judgment, BECAUSE the ruler of this world has been judged. John 16:8-11

However you read it, it must stay consistent. I can remember having tried over and over again to fit in the concept that it was the "sin of unbelief" because it is what I had heard ... and it made so much sense. But it doesn't fit. Notice how the three phrases are answering the WHY of each thing the world is to be convicted (convinced) of.

  • Concerning SIN. Why? Because they do not believe in Me.
  • Concerning righteousness. Why? Because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me.
  • Concerning judgment. Why? Because the ruler of this world has been judged.

I used to say to myself, But Professor so-and-so teaches the sin of unbelief! My attempt did not help me. :) I realized that it made no difference what anybody said about it. Sigh.

Once again, the connection between sin and unbelief is a strong one ... and important to realize. I think the problem with the definition is found when we consider this simple concept: Are we still sinners?

And this brings me around to what had been originally asked about:

No one who is born of God [practices] sin, because His seed abides in him; and he CANNOT sin, BECAUSE HE IS BORN OF GOD. 1 John 3:9

(By the way, the word "practices" is not in the Greek ... it was added to help ... supposedly).

Yes, I know EXACTLY where your thoughts are taking you. Some of those thoughts have already been expressed in some of the posts. Believe me, I've been out to the barn and back again a million times over. And I'm not trying to put anybody down, either, okay? :)

Here's the interesting thing about how John wrote his letter: Those who DENY their sin (or sins) do not have the truth or the word in them; only those who say the same (confess) about their sins are forgiven. Then he went on to tell them that they had no sin, nor were they ABLE to sin because they were born of God. John is full of seeming contradictions. I love it, though it used to bug the heck out of me :)! Hold on to BOTH thoughts and you will discover that there is no contradiction. The only place it leaves you is in the realm of the miraculous! The only option is in the life that is BORN OF GOD! My brothers and sisters -- know who you are! :)

Jim, I'm not really sure what you were saying :-0?? You have to spell everything out for me. Don't leave anything to my imagination, because I'm not sure I have one.lol L

Much of what I had to share about the sin of unbelief was written to get under your skin (in a good way) and to stir up thought. Most of the things I understand about this life of Christ have come through much time and consideration. There were little nuggets of ideas that had to sit for a while as many preconceived ideas grunted and strained over obvious things that just didn't fit. What I'm saying in this specific concept of John 16:9 is simply: if Jesus meant sin of unbelief then why didn't He say "sin of unbelief"? And if He didn't mean that, then what DID He mean? Actually, what He meant was very obvious: The Spirit's presence in the world would result in conviction regarding sin. And why is that so? Because they do NOT believe in Christ.

A couple of thoughts about conviction. It is NOT the Holy Spirit's PURPOSE, it is the RESULT OF HIS PRESENCE. The disciples would have instantly realized that it was EXACTLY the same thing that happened by the presence of Jesus among the world. They had watched it happen time and time again. But Jesus was NOT sent for the PURPOSE of condemning the world, but of its saving. The PURPOSE of the Spirit was His relation to those in whom He would be living and not His affects on those who didn't believe. The second thought is that conviction is something that happens WITHIN the unbelieving world. The word convict is defined in Vine's dictionary as:

to convict, confute, refute, usually with the suggestion of putting the convicted person to shame.

Ouch! Remember, this is NOT His purpose, it is what would happen WHEN He came.

Okay, so what does this have to do with anything, huh? :) Well, in context, the biggest proof of our concept of the sin of unbelief doesn't exist. That's kinda like 1 John 1:9 being the main proof of the ritual of confession, huh? My question is WHY DID WE THINK WE NEED THOSE PROOF VERSES IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Have you ever played Pick Up Sticks? That's the game where you have all these straight smooth sticks (usually plastic in the brand name box) and you throw them in a heap and then take out one at a time without disturbing the whole pile. Well, you can remove many pieces without making the rest fall, but all it takes is just ONE to knock the whole thing down. Our proof verses are those sticks that hold the pile together, so that when removed will result in "all fall down"!

I would think that most of you have no problem understanding what I'm saying about John 16:9 (even those without imagination :) , but since there is a concept being supported by an out-of-context interpretation the immediate reaction will logically be confusion. Believe me, I understand that fully. :) I am simple-minded. And if you were to have a face to face conversation with me you would see that blank look on my face each time you lost me! No kidding! This is one of the ways that the freedom of Christ effects me profoundly -- it gives me simplicity. But simplicity looks confusing to me when I am trying to figure it out. That logic is like the pile of Pick Up Sticks where my pile is about to be brought down by the suggestion of simplicity. I have so many piles of those sticks left in my cranium that I find new ones to deal with every day.! :)

Now, I can tell you about the simplicity I've learned in the face of my personal confusion ... and much of it may be the same as yours, but the fact of the matter is that each one of us are finding that the simplicity of Christ shakes the stuff that needs to be shaken. And this is why I leave a lot of things as questions (for they are the same kind of questions all of us have asked) ... because God is faithful to complete what He began in us!

The best thing that happens is when the pile falls down! Now, as long as I think I have to deal with those sticks, I remain confused. I'll probably put them back in the can and try them again another day. Maybe I should just throw them away, huh?

Hope this helps! :) If you have more questions or comments about the sin of unbelief, please let me know.

Love, Jim

New Testament: 

Comments

'I remember how easy and convenient the definition that sin is unbelief was, for I used to hold to it.'

It's not that sin is not in fact unbelief, but rather that they define unbelief according to their mind of sin. In this I think they want to establish an obligation to the consciousness of transgressions, seeking to arrive at a sense of justification for their foolish assumptions about what the reality of grace should look like and to promote themselves for their imagined achievements. Every word seems to always become an opportunity for the flesh  .

Georgi thanks for bringing up this article. As I read it I couldn’t help but be persuaded to think about all the many persuasions of the world and it’s logic thrown into us that seems to be so aimed at not seeing Him in dependence. As we are presured[by the mind of the flesh] to see Him after the natural, we don’t realize that He can be trusted for much of what WE think we need to be doing in the power of the flesh. This reality of trusting Christ and God is what I see in this statement here: “… and much of it may be the same as yours, but the fact of the matter is that each one of us are finding that the simplicity of Christ shakes the stuff that needs to be shaken. And this is why I leave a lot of things as questions (for they are the same kind of questions all of us have asked) … because God is faithful to complete what He began in us!”-Jim Just throwing up here what it stimulated for me. Adam

”..see[ing] Him after the natural, we don't realize that He can be trusted for much of what WE think we need to be doing in the power of the flesh.”

Yes! If he is not to us a framework by which all things can be interpreted and related to in power, then his life is as worthless as the flesh, and his death has accomplished nothing. 

Good comment, Adam. Reminds me of the verse in Hebrews 4:10 ”For the one who entered His rest has himself also rested from his own works as God rested from His works.” The verse testifying that many believers will not enter His rest but many believers will struggle in the flesh. Through the teachings and comments on theshovel this venue serves to help me and others to see and enter into that rest. Much appreciated.

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