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Archive for April, 2017

And it is always better to fall into the hands of the Lord than into those of people, for his mercy is great. For when God condemns us, he at the same time offers his forgiving love in Christ, but when people condemn people, they frequently cast them out and make them the object of scorn. When God condemns us, he has this judgment brought to us by people—prophets and apostles and ministers—who do not elevate themselves to a level high above us but include themselves with us in a common confession of guilt. By contrast, philosophers and moralists, in despising people, usually forget that they themselves are human.

Source: Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3, Chapter 2 (pp. 124-125)

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Original pollution is a punishment for original guilt. … Scripture frequently speaks along those lines and regards consequent sins as punishment for previous sins (2 Sam. 12: 11-12; 1 Kings 11:11-31; 22:30fF.; Isa. 6:9-10; 7:17; 105-7; 14B; Jer. 50:6-8; Rom. 1:24-28; 2 Thess. 2:11-12; etc.). Also human sins are subject to God’s government; the laws and ordinances that apply to the life of sin have been laid down and are being maintained by him. And to that category of laws belongs also this one: "The curse of an evil deed is above all that it must continually give birth to evil." The nature of sin is such that it progressively renders sinners more foolish and hard, entangles them ever more firmly in its snares, and propels them ever more rapidly down a slippery slope toward the abyss. It is true that sin, viewed by itself, can never be a punishment for sin, for the two are essentially different and opposed to each other. Sin arises from the will, and people undergo punishment against their will. Sin is a violation of the law; punishment an act of upholding the law. God is the author of punishment, not of sin. Still, a subsequent sin may be called a punishment for a prior sin, since it distances the sinner even further away from God, makes him more wretched, and abandons him co all sorts of covetousness and passion, dread and remorse.

According to this law, in the case of Adam and all his descendants, a sinful state followed the sinful deed. The picture Pelagians have of this is that an act of the will, whatever it is, has absolutely no consequences. The will that did wrong the one moment can, a moment later, if it so pleases, again do good. In this view, the will never has a fixed nature, a determinate character, and never attains one; it is and remains neutral, indifferent, without any inner bias, always situated between opposites and focusing, with incalculable caprice, now in one and now in another direction. But such a view is contradicted from all directions. In the case Of Adam and Eve, When they violated God’s command, an enormous moral change occurred. Shame and dread before God took possession of them. Serenity, peace, and innocence were gone; they hid from God in the trees of the garden and blamed each other. Cain committed fratricide. And soon the Lord saw that the wickedness of humans was great on the earth, and all the imaginations of the thoughts of their heart were evil from their youth. In Adam’s trespass an appalling degeneration of the human race had its inception. We are here confronting a horrible reality whose explanation escapes us. How can it be that one single sin had such dreadful consequences and brought about such a radical reversal in the nature of humans?

Generally speaking, we can begin by saying that frequently in life the relation between an act and its consequences seems to us to be totally disproportionate. One hour of thoughtlessness can produce a lifetime of tears. A small error, a single misstep can radically change the direction of the lives of numerous people. Seemingly insignificant incidents have an aftermath that lasts for generations. Our happiness or unhappiness often hangs by the thread of a single "chance" event. Adam’s one trespass brought about an overall change in the thoughts, attitudes, and inclinations of his whole nature. Experience teaches us, after all, that no matter what people do, the act to some degree boomerangs on them and leaves tracks on their character. At bottom nothing is indifferent, and nothing passes us by without a trace. Every act of the will, arising as it does from antecedent impulses and desires, has a retroactive impact on it and reinforces it. In that way every sin can become a habit, a tendentious pattern, a passion that controls a person like a tyrant. Humans are changeable, extraordinarily moldable, and pliable. They adapt themselves to all occasions; they accommodate themselves to every kind of environment; they get used to everything and orient themselves to all fashions. Those who commit sins become the servants of sin. A crime, a lie, a theft, a murder never vanishes with the moment in which it has been committed. In a similar way but on a much larger scale, the disobedience of Adam changed his entire nature.

Source: Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3, Chapter 2 (pp. 106-1078)

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