Friday, May 22, 2009

A smoldering cinder of evil remains

Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559) - John Calvin
Book 3 - How We Receive the Grace of Christ
Chapter 3 - Our Regeneration by Faith: Repentance

Sections 10-15 - Believers experience sanctification, but not sinless perfection in this life
Section 10 - Believers are still sinners
Though free from the bondage of sin, "a smolder cinder of evil" remains.
"In the saints, until they are divested of mortal bodies, there is always sin."

Section 11 - In believers sin has lost its dominion; but it still dwells in them
We are washed from the guilt of our sin - Eph 5:26-27.
Sin no longer reigns in us - Rom 6:6; 8:2.
The traces that remain will not be imputed to us - Rom 7:6.
But they hinder us from loving God wholly - Deut 6:5; Matt 22:37.

Section 12 - What does "natural corruption" mean?
All our faculties are corrupted because of our fall into sin,
not because God made us that way.

Section 13 - Augustine as witness to the sinfulness of believers
Gal 5:17.
Rom 6:12 - "He does not say: 'Let it not be,' but 'Let it not reign.'"

Section 14 - Against the illusion of perfection
Some anabaptists claimed that a total yielding to the Spirit would bring perfection.
"The Spirit is not giddy.... [He] does not stir up man to dissolute and unbridled license."

Section 15 - Repentance according to 2 Cor 7:11
It involves diligence (not to sin again), clearing (asking pardon), indignation (at oneself for the sin), fear (considering what the sin deserves from God), desire and zeal (to do the right thing, instead), vindication (working to set things right).
We must "exercise restraint, lest sorrow engulf us... falling into despair."
Fear leading to humility is always good.
But there is an excessive fear that drives us from Him - Heb 12:3.

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