Church History: Martin Luther, Part 3

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118 Responses

  1. Jean says:

    Thank you Michael. This is great material!

  2. Michael says:

    Thank you, Jean.
    I’m way off my game right now, but I hope the articles are still useful.

  3. Jean says:


    Your game is good. In fact, I was thinking that sometimes your writing is so prolific, I can’t keep up with all the threads. 🙂

  4. Babylon's Dread says:

    I think you should be given an honorary Lutheran card by our resident representatives

  5. Babylon's Dread says:

    Big debate among grace thinkers is about the matter of identity. Call renewal people a sinner and they will not only wig out they will prove you right by murdering you to prove they are saints.

    Only Saints Dread

  6. Babylon's Dread says:

    Saints of God … never sinners. That is the mantra… we may be able to sin but we are always saints … that is renewal doctrine and we would have it added to the solas

    Saints Alone Dread

  7. Michael says:


    They may want to punch my card after the next article… 🙂

  8. Michael says:


    Positionally saints…practically saints and sinners.
    Over realized eschatology…

  9. Babylon's Dread says:


    We often overcook stuff…

    Chef Dread

  10. Joyce Meyers once commented while being interviewed on Issues etc about the phrase “poor miserable sinner”

    “I am not poor – I am not miserable and i am not a sinner.”

    Ted Haggard being interviewed on the same radio program a couple of years earlier when asked about sinning said that he rarely sinned, and when pressed on the issue confessed that he had not sinned that week at all. When Todd Wilken told Ted that he (Todd) sinned daily, told Todd to “just stop sinning.”

    Blindness rules some movements.

    Its where the proper distinction between law and gospel intersects with being 100% saint and 100% sinner (simultaneously) and the Theology of the cross / theology of glory play out.

  11. Ryan Ashton says:

    Super useful material. I devour this sort of thing. Thanks, Michael.

  12. Jean says:

    I probably don’t understand the doctrine of 100% saint and 100% sinner well enough, but if it means that I am justified 100% by faith in Christ, while I remain a sinner, then I agree. But I don’t understand what is meant by 100% sinner. That seems to imply that there’s nothing good in a Christian. I don’t agree with that.

  13. PP Vet says:

    I am sinner I am saint … ?

    I am loved is enough.

  14. Jean,
    Why isn’t the 100% saint / justified represented as good in the Christian?

  15. Jean says:

    I make sense of the 100% in front of saint in that Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient to justify me. Saint = an adopted child of God. That’s a great gift.

    I don’t understand how the 100% works in front of sinner for the Christian in a way that is helpful or makes sense. Yes I still sin. But sinning is not all I do.

    Do you see my unease?

  16. covered says:

    MLD looks an awful lot like Martin Luther 🙂

  17. “Yes I still sin. But sinning is not all I do.”

    Sinning is who we are in our flesh. I goes back to the questions
    1.) Are you a sinner because you sin? as in if I stop sinning I will no longer be a sinner… or
    2.) Do I sin because I am a sinner? as in, even if I stop the acts of sin, I am still a sinner in my nature.

  18. The 100% sinner teaching has morphed into the dominant miserable sinner theology against which Dallas Willard taught

    “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Paul) Yet the church condones, defends and props up those who live that way. Can that be pleasing to God?

    Useless and unproductive” (Peter) is a miserable unnatural state for a child of God. Is this the best we can do?

    “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we are faking it and do not practice the truth.” (John) As a former faker I now thankfully walk in the light and have fellowship with Him in whom there is no darkness at all.

    Instruction in practical righteousness and how we can become free from the bondage of sin are the most neglected parts of the Gospel.

  19. Jean says:

    MLD, I think you may be pushing the definition of “sinner” a bit too far in so far as we are talking about Christians. Jim makes some good points in #18 (although I haven’t studied his website in any detail). Moreover, the life in the Spirit described by Paul in Romans is more optimistic than the picture of a 100% saint/100% sinner.

    “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Rom 6:12-14)

    “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom 8:12-13)

  20. Well, I am perplexed why people sin if it is not because they are sinners.

    Is it perhaps that you sin less – you started out as 50% good and 50% badband now that you are saved, you are walking in your sanctification and now you are 70 / 30 hoping in the next 10 yrs to work your way up to 80 / 20?

    Did you sin yesterday? I did – I confess that everyday I break all of the 10 commandments.

  21. Jim,
    ““If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we are faking it and do not practice the truth.” (John) As a former faker I now thankfully walk in the light and have fellowship with Him in whom there is no darkness at all. ”

    WOW, no more sin? (that would be time of walking in darkness) tell me how you do it? You are the first non sinner I have met – I may need to change my theology.

  22. Jean says:

    MLD, I try to approach the questions of the role that sin and sanctification play in my life by reference to Scripture and by my obedience to them. Paul anticipated some of the questions you raise and addressed them head on:

    “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom 6:1-2)

  23. But how did Paul describe his life and actual actions as a Christian in the very next chapter? Nowhere in scripture does he say that that lifestyle ended – he only says that the solution for that life is in Christ.

  24. Jean says:


    I am in the camp who believe that Rom 7:14-24 was Paul describing his former life under the Law and speaking to Jewish Christians who were still struggling with the place of the Law in their lives. Notice in verse 14: “I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin”; and in verse 23: “making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.”

    Paul never describes the Christian as held in bondage to sin or a prisoner of the law.

    I do recognize that reasonable Christians differ on the interpretation of Romans 7. Do you represent the Lutheran position? I am also interested in what the Calvinists and EO (and any other expressions represented here) believe regarding Rom 7.

  25. Jean,
    You have the problem in Rom 7 with that pesky present tense.

    “prisoner of the law of sin” I assume you are equating the ‘law of sin’ to THE LAW? This would be error.

  26. Xenia says:

    The EO view is more like we are 100% sinner and it remains to be seen if we are saints.

  27. Bob says:

    “We left Luther standing in condemnation at the Diet of Worms.”

    Of course Luther would condemn a “diet of worms,” I would too!


    Seriously I admire and hold Luther very high for his contribution to humanities knowledge and walk with God. I also might add to the discussion about sin this; It is a part of my walk and interaction with God. How I respond to my sin is a direct reflection of my heart, mind and love for God.

    Do I harden and find justification for sin or do I cry out and turn to the One who is my advocate?

    Michael thanks for the thread!

  28. Jim says:

    Saint and sinner is as plain as the nose on your face. The “I sin every once in a while” crowd are self deceived.

    I see myself as a saint, as my identity is in Jesus, and God has chosen to see me in Jesus. This is my primary self identification.

    I see myself as a sinner because of Scripture and current reality.

    There are no shrugged shoulders, thinking, “hey, we all sin, no worries”, nor is there disrepair, believing I’m not a saint because I sin.

  29. Jean says:

    MLD, I don’t have a problem with the present tense. We disagree with who the “I” is in the context of Paul’s letter. Here is the most succinct exposition of the issue that I’m aware of:

    “While many might take great comfort in a Christian reading of Rom 7:7-25, furnishing proof that even the Apostle Paul struggled with sin in his Christian life, providing hope and succour for the rest of us in our struggle against the flesh – and it’s a position supported by scholars no less than Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Dunn, and Cranfield – yet the basis for such a reading is really quite flimsy. Paul is not talking about Christians in this section since the statement “I am of the flesh, sold under sin” (Rom 7:14) conflicts with what he says about Christians in Romans 6 where he declared that they have been freed from sin (Rom 6:6-7, 17-18, 22). The speaker struggles to obey the law (Rom 7:22, 25), whereas Christians are free from the law (Rom 6:14-15; 7:6). And if this is a Christian being spoken about, then goodness me, where is the Holy Spirit? Surely the transforming work of the Holy Spirit should get a word in somewhere here, but it doesn’t! We have to wait until Rom 8:1-17 to hear about the Holy Spirit, and there we are informed that the Spirit “has set youfree from the law of sin and death” (8:2), the requirements of the law are fulfilled by those who “walk … according to the Spirit” (8:4), “by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the” (8:13), and “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves” (8:15). In other words, reading Rom 6:1-7:6 and Rom 8:1-17, which bracket Rom 7:7-25, shows that those who are in Christ Jesus and who share in the Spirit, have been saved from the horrible things spoken about in Rom 7:7-25. So the “I” of Rom 7:7-25 cannot be a Christian if Christ has delivered us from slavery to sin, if believers are under grace not law, and if the Holy Spirit enables believers to fulfil the just requirements of the law. Yes, there is an on-going struggle with the flesh for Christians (see Rom 8:1-13; 13:14; 1 Cor 3:1; Gal 5:13, 16-17, 19), however, that is not the point here: it is instead a redemptive-historical argument about the law’s goodness and its limitations in God’s plan.” Robert C. Bird

    If this summary is not persuasive to you, then we will have to agree to disagree on this one. Cool?

  30. Jean says:

    Jim, well said!

  31. Jean,
    Let me just end with this question from your quoted passage above – I never get an answer.

    “… conflicts with what he says about Christians in Romans 6 where he declared that they have been freed from sin”

    If we are freed from sin and we are no longer sinners by nature, why do we sin?

  32. May I recommend this book?

    Dr Middendorf was a member of my class for a couple of years – this book is from his doctoral thesis

  33. Jean says:

    I added the book to my wish list. I will respond to your question at #31 after I do some work this morning 🙂

    In the mean time, I don’t want to hog the blog again, so hopefully some other people will weigh in. (beats politics!)

  34. I can’t get past some of the things that Robert Bird says in his statement.

    “shows that those who are in Christ Jesus and who share in the Spirit, have been saved from the horrible things spoken about in Rom 7:7-25 ”

    OK, so if a Christian ever goes through a time of trying to live right and fails (the description of whoever in Rom 7) then what is that person’s status? Has he moved back into non Christian status? I feel that description quite often – I don’t want to lose my temper, but at the first opportunity I do – o wretched man that I am.

    The way I read Bird – a Christian cannot be in this situation and so must now be a non Christian.

    And I am losing my temper this morning. Today is the first day my wife and I have taken off work this whole year – aside from weekends and holidays. We told everyone for a month we are off today. Both of us by 7:30 are having our phones and texts ringing off the hook from people at work – I have called back and yelled at 2 people already asking them “which part of I am off today don’t you understand?”

    I didn’t want to sin, but I did….o wretched man that I am.

  35. Jean,
    Watch out in that book – he footnotes in German and Latin. 🙂 I don’t know about others, but I read all footnotes in a book. 🙂

  36. MLD @ 21: MLD: Paul in Romans 6-8, is describing the condition and the solution for those who continue in sin. Those who continue in sin become a slave to sin and suffer a Romans 7 experience including enslavement to sin, death in their Christian walk and a complete lack of joy. Such was Paul’s state during his early life as a believer. It is also what John described as walking in darkness and what Jesus was referring to when he described the seeds growing in the midst of the thorns.

    Mature Christians who make much noise about their sins without proclaiming freedom from enslavement to sin create confusion in the minds of those who are in trouble. It suggests a gospel without the power to transform. Every day I pray “forgive me my sins” and his faithfulness in doing that is a big part of the joy that I have in the new life he has given me.

  37. Jim,
    “Every day I pray “forgive me my sins” and his faithfulness in doing that is a big part of the joy that I have in the new life he has given me. ”

    I am glad to hear that ‘everyday’ you sin.

    I too confess my sin daily, and on Sunday morning I do so as my whole faith community confesses that as individuals and as a group we have sinned and failed God. – but why do you think that admitting that you sin daily hurts or troubles other believers – I find people like Joyce Meyers who declare they are not sinners to be the ones who hurt the faith.

    And I will ask you – if the gospel has that power to transform (your statement above) – why do you still sin? (you said you sin daily) Do you resist the transforming power of the gospel? if you do, why don’t you stop resisting?

  38. Jim says:


    Words have meaning. “Death in their Christian walk” is a meaningless, dangerous phrase.

  39. Jim VS (I need to distinguish between the Jims.)

    I reread and came to another question. You said “Romans 6-8, is describing the condition and the solution for those who continue in sin.” Since you identify those who continue to sin, are you saying that there are those who do not sin?

    If there are not those who do not sin, then Paul’s description is of the Christian.

  40. Jim Vander Spek says:

    Words do have meaning. We dare not ignore what Paul wrote to believers:

    “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”

    “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Sin always carries with it death.

  41. Jim Vander Spek says:

    MLD: If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Perfectionism in this life is not a biblical teaching.

  42. Linda Pappas says:

    Jean @ 25

    This is what I have been sharing with others as well. We, as Christians need to understand that it is a progression that takes place from an unbeliever to a believer empowered by the Holy Spirit to walk now in freedom from sin into walking in obedience, no longer weighed down by that which in our old man would do in the flesh, but now having our hearts made new, able to put away that which held us into bondage due to such beliefs we once held to justify such things, but now can rise up out of the grave, so to speak and walk in him.

    So glad you posted this. Will save and share elsewhere, as I think the content is one of the clearest I have read so far. That is, other than what is clearly written in scripture. If we are to claim the Cross, then we need to get unstuck from giving ourselves excuse to live in chapter 7 and grab ahold of chapter 8 and all the others reference made.

  43. Jim Vander Spek says:

    MLD: Sorry for not reading your comment carefully. I do not identify with those who continue in sin. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

  44. “MLD: If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Perfectionism in this life is not a biblical teaching.”

    So you agree with me – we are all Christians who still sin. Therefore Paul is describing himself and speaking to the Christian in Rom 6-8

  45. JimVS – So if you do not continue in sin, what are you confessing everyday? You said in #36 – “Every day I pray “forgive me my sins”

    It’s almost like you are saying, I am a sinner, but I can’t tell myself that.

  46. Jim Vander Spek says:

    I believe that Paul in Romans 7 was describing what it was like to be an immature and carnal Christian. The other apostles apparently never experienced that and therefore did not write that way about themselves though they saw it in others. Paul wrote Romans 6-8 to show us the way out. I agree with him that we most certainly should not continue in sin. He did that when he was a young Christian. I did as well for a much longer time.

  47. Michael says:


    There is diversity within Calvinism on this issue.
    I side with Calvin and Packer, who believe it speaks of the struggle of the regenerate Paul…and all of us.
    Packer had a great insight into this passage…he says that Paul didn’t struggle because he was such a great sinner….but because he was such a great saint.
    Sinners are numb to sin…they don’t struggle at all.

  48. Jean says:


    Here is my response to your #31,

    I believe the weight of Paul’s letters, and for me the following 2 verses in particular, instruct me regarding my life lived by the Spirit:

    “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18)

    “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:2)

    Therefore, what I believe the NT teaches is that the Christian is not a slave to sin, our transformation into the image of Christ has begun, that transformation will progress if we live by the Spirit, but our transformation will not be completed during this life (hence we continue to sin). However, there is an expectation in Paul’s letters that the Christian will mature in faith, grow into greater Christlikeness, and, as a result, will sin less as he/she matures.

    I believe that this NT teaching is consistent with my experience as a Christian and what I have observed in others.

  49. Jean says:

    Michael #47,
    Fair enough. Perhaps the more important question is (regardless of interpretation of that text): What does one do with the struggle?

  50. Jim Vander Spek says:

    Michael: Truly, there is much disagreement about who “R7 Man” represents. I prefer William R Newell’s interpretation. The problem with the consensus view that Packer and others have come to is that it has acted as a rationale for those who are immature and carnal Christians, giving them reason to stay that way.

  51. Michael says:

    Jean 2 #49…you keep struggling.
    It’s the mark of a Christian.

  52. Michael says:


    That argument at #50 gets nowhere with me.
    The fact that people abuse a text, doesn’t invalidate what the text says.

  53. Jean says:

    Amen Michael! (#51)

  54. Jim says:


    You’re going to face a lot of opposition if you keep posting here. I personally consider your position incorrect and harmful. You attempt to bind men’s conscience to an unbiblical standard. Please stop.

  55. Michael says:


    There are many who share JVS view.
    The best tactic is not to silence it, but to refute it.
    There’s been some good stuff on the thread so far…

  56. Jim says:

    Sorry Michael. It was a selfish request, because I’m about to go off. I’ll take a breath…

  57. Jim Vander Spek says:

    Thanks, Michael. I am interested to know how anything that I have written here would be considered to be unbiblical.

    “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”

    As to Romans 7, it is a challenging passage and my interpretation is not central to my belief that we are able to overcome life-dominating sin. I do not claim that those with other interpretations believe that we are to remain slaves to sin either.

  58. Michael says:


    No need to ever apologize…you are my brother in arms.

  59. Jim says:


    You and I agree that we have been made able to overcome life-dominating sin.

  60. Steve Wright says:

    JVS, from that link (which admittedly I only scanned over) I did read this:

    Feeling as Paul did and being overwhelmed by indwelling sin does not mean that we are unsaved. In fact, the deep internal conflict that Paul describes in chapter 7 seems to be a uniquely Christian experience. Those who are not Christians do not suffer like this

    So how do you not see that statement as compatible to what Packer, Calvin (and many of us here including myself) are saying….Ch 7 is Paul’s life as a Christian, recognizing the depths of his sin in a way he did not (and I would argue could not) before he was saved.

    Like I said, I did not carefully read the whole article, so I don’t know if the author sends a mixed message but that particular quote seems pretty clear and equal to the prevailing view

  61. I have always been of the mind that Paul was describing his own struggle with sin in his own Christian life.
    I always felt that was the most natural reading of that text.
    I know I can relate to his words.

  62. Jim Vander Spek says:

    Steve: In brief, my take on Romans 6-8 is that it answers the opening question, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” I believe that those who “continue in sin” are those who live as carnal Christians, walking according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit.

    Those who hold the consensus view, apparently including Packer, see Paul’s autobiographical section in Romans 7 as describing Paul in a peak spiritual state brutally aware and in anguish over his indwelling, residual sin. In contrast, following Newell, I believe that Paul’s indwelling sin was a life-dominating sin that he allowed in his life while living according to the flesh as a young Christian. His experience of being unable to properly overcome this besetting sin during that time serves as an example of how not to live. Like all who go this route—including me for some time–Paul was miserable.

    Many Christians are living their lives overwhelmed by sin and I believe that the unfortunate consensus interpretation that dominates teaching regarding this passage stops them from understanding and applying the truths that Paul learned and laid out in this passage.

  63. JVS,
    What do you do with the present tense.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense for Paul to have said;
    “back when I was a young Christian…”
    “In my past I lived like this…”
    “I used to try to do good, but when I tried, I always did the wrong thing.”

  64. Jim says:

    Although Michael says that many believe it, I’ve never heard this “middle view”, that Paul was referring to his life as a young Christian.

    Malcolm Wild (CC big dog) teaches that these chapters are “parenthetical”, and that Paul could not possibly be referring to believers, and I’m familiar with and adhere to the Packer view.

    I believer that mature, honest believers see themselves in Rms 7. They will only fall into disrepair if they park there, and remove Rms 7 from it’s context. Holy cow, it’s just before Rms 8!

  65. Jim Vander Spek says:

    MLD: Properly read in context, Paul’s way of describing the inner turmoil of a carnal Christian makes perfect sense. If you or any other reader here emails me at, I will send a copy of my book where I do a better job with it. The article linked above has not been updated.

  66. JVS,
    “MLD: Properly read in context,”

    As if I don’t? LOL 🙂

    Look, the Bible is meant to be read and understood … it’s not rocket science. We do not have to fall for “in the original greek” (as if translation committees don’t know what they are doing) or any of the other foils used to misdirect.

    Look, “this is my body”, means “this is my body.”
    “This baptism saves” means “this baptism saves”
    The passages that say that the pastors have authority over the parishioners means the pastors have authority over the parishioners.
    Any of them – Proverbs 2 says the meaning is given

    So, when Paul says “I” and uses a present tense … well, you guessed it – Paul means himself at the time of his writing.

    Have you ever heard the term “pulling the wool over someone’s eyes”??

  67. Jean says:

    #65 JVS,

    I too have never heard this “middle view” of the “carnal Christian.” I think the following verses make it problematic to interpret the “I” as referring to any type of Christian:

    “And I was once alive apart from the law, but with the coming of the commandment sin became alive and I died.” (Rom 7:9-10a)

    If Paul is (as I believe) using himself as the “representative” Israelite for rhetorical purposes, then this text makes sense. Before the Mosaic law was given the Israelite was living because sins were not yet being reckoned (5:13). Paul cannot possibly be using “I” to mean Paul because Paul was not alive before the Mosaic law was given.

    “For we know that the law is spiritual—but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin.” (Rom 7:14)

    “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, and having been freed from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. (I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.) For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness….But now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life.” Rom 6:17-22

    7:14 directly and clearly contradicts 6:17-22 (and other texts). The Chapter 6 verses unambiguously describe the Christian. Therefore, the “I” in 7:14 cannot possibly refer to Paul or any other Christian.

  68. Jean,
    “Therefore, the “I” in 7:14 cannot possibly refer to Paul or any other Christian.”

    Perhaps you can clear up for me this issue about the “I”

    Can you use “I” in a statement that does not mean you? You don’t need to dig into scripture, just make up a sentence using I that is not you – then we will all know what you say Paul meant.

  69. Michael says:

    The “carnal Christian” canard came out of the pietism and Holiness movements and reached it’s zenith with the Keswick movement. The early dispensational and Pentecostal movement in America adopted some of it’s tenets as did Dallas Theological Seminary.
    If you listened to Don McClure at the CCSPC his sermon was very Keswick in nature.
    If you want to make J.I. Packer mad, say Keswick in his presence…he says that these doctrines almost shipwrecked his faith.

  70. Jean says:

    My rules for interpreting scripture are to interpret them in context and to given meaning to all the relevant texts. I have posted twice regarding what “I” means and why “I” means what it means. My #67 in particular convincingly (IMO) rebuts your interpretation of “I”.

    Thus, I would ask you, where is my interpretation in #67 in error?

    One of the biggest problem with parking the Christian in Chapter 7 is that it deprives the gospel of its full power.

  71. Michael says:

    First: Is the “wretched man” really Paul at all?

    That Paul in this paragraph is describing an experience which was, or once had been, his own is the view of nearly all commentators and can hardly, I think, be disputed.

    The suggestion that this passage “does not represent a personal experience at all, but is no more than a secondhand account of the experience of others, or even an imaginative picture of a condition of mind into which men might fall were it not for the grace of God” is, says Kird, “difficult to believe.”‘ It is indeed.

    The idea that Paul, despite his shift from the plural “we,” denoting all Christians, to the first person singular (v. 14, cf. vv. 5-7), is yet describing an experience which, so far as he is concerned, is purely hypothetical and imaginary-the idea, that is, that the emphatic “I” (Eyt, w 14, 17, 24; avT6; Eyw, v. 25) means “not I at all, but you, or somebody else,” and that the spontaneous outcry, “Wretched man that I am! ,” was one that he had never himself uttered-seems altogether too artificial and theatrical to be treated as a serious option.

    It is true that, as is often pointed out, Paul means the whole experience recorded in verses 7-25 to be understood, not as a private peculiarity of his own, but as a typical and representative experience, for he presents it as affording a universally valid disclosure of the relation between the law and sin in human life. His very certainty, however, that this experience is characteristically human makes it apparent that it was an experience from which he himself was not exempt.

    The “wretched man,” then, is Paul in person. But is he the Paul of the past, or the Paul of the present? Is he Paul the Pharisee, representing unconverted religious mankind, mankind in Adam, knowing the law in some form, but without the gospel, and faith, and the Spirit; or is he Paul the Christian, speaking as a representative man in Christ? It is clear that, on the one hand, verses 7-13 of Romans 7 depict Paul before conversion, and, on the other hand, that the whole of Romans 8 is a transcript of the theological consciousness of Paul as a Christian; but to which of these states do the verses between belong?

    J. Packer. Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God (Kindle Locations ). Kindle Edition.

  72. Michael says:

    Here, as we said before, expositors divide. Some hold that the Paul of verses 14-25 is the same unconverted Paul as we meet in verses 7-13, so that this paragraph, of self-analysis is simply a comment on the events which verses 7-13 record.

    On this view, the passage is thrown into the present tense merely for the sake of vividness, although to Paul at the time of writing this experience itself was a thing of the past.

    So Bultmann, for instance, describes the paragraph as “a passage in which Paul depicts the situation of a man under the Torah as it had become clear to a backward look from the standpoint of Christian faith.”2 If this is right, then the wretchedness of the “wretched man” is due to the failure of his religious self-effort. He has sought righteousness by works, and not found it. He feels his impotence, and knows himself to be heading for final ruin. Hence his cry for deliverance. It is the unconverted man’s cry of self-despair, and the gospel grace of 8:1-4 is, on this view, God’s answer to it. Accordingly, the verb to be understood in the elliptical first half of verse 25 (“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord”) will be a verb proclaiming past or present deliverance-something corresponding to rjkeuOepw6E tr in 8:2.

    This view of the passage is probably the one most commonly held today. But there are overwhelming objections to it.

    1. The change from the aorist to the present tense at verse 14 remains unaccounted for. On this view, the change is exceedingly unnatural, occurring as it does in the middle of a passage which, ex hypothesi, is dealing with a single unit of experience, and one, moreover, which is now past and gone. There is nothing comparable in Paul, and the use of the historic present in the gospels to give vividness to narrative does not provide a parallel, for here the narrative part is in the aorist, and what is in the present is not narrative, but generalized explanatory comment. But if, as seems to be the case, there is no recognized linguistic idiom which will account for the change of tense, then it follows that the only natural way for Paul’s readers to interpret the present tenses of verses 14ff. is as having a present reference, and as going on to describe something distinct from the past experience which the previous verses have recalled; and we must suppose that Paul knew this when he wrote them. Are we, then, to accuse Paul of wantonly obscuring his own meaning, and laying himself open to needless misunderstanding, by a change of tense for which there was no reason at all? The view under consideration involves in effect just such an accusation. This, surely, makes it suspect.

    J. Packer. Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God (Kindle Locations ). Kindle Edition.

  73. Michael says:

    2. If verse 25a be held to proclaim present deliverance from the bondage to sin described in verses 15-25, then the inference of verse 25b (“so then I myself with the mind serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin,” as RSV and NASB have it) is prima facie a non sequitur, and a shattering anticlimax into the bargain. Two expedients have been employed to deal with this problem;neither, however, is very convincing. The first is to construe the emphatic w ttio E,yt (“I myself”) as meaning, not “I, even I,” which would be the natural rendering, but “I by myself; I alone, without Christ; I thrown on my own resources” (RSV). Among others Meyer, Denney,’ Dr. C. L. Mitton,4 and Arndt-Gingrich (s.v avioS, 1. f.), take this view. But it is really very doubtful whether autos can bear such a weight of meaning. Arndt-Gingrich gives no parallel (the two passages cited as comparable, Mark 6:31 and Rom. 9:3, are not parallel in meaning at all). Grammatically, the explanation is forced. Moreover, if this had really been Paul’s meaning, it is hard to believe that, after verse 25a, he would not have put the verb in the aorist or imperfect (“I served … ,” “I used to serve …”); he could hardly have been unaware that to return to the present tense would be bewilderingly harsh. It is not clear, therefore, that this explanation can stand. The second expedient is to assume, without the least manuscript evidence, that verse 25b is misplaced, and should follow verse 23 (so Moffatt, Kirk, and C. H. Dodd). But this is a tour de force which must cast doubt upon the theory which makes it necessary.

    J. Packer. Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God (Kindle Locations ). Kindle Edition.

  74. Michael says:

    3. On this view, Paul speaks of a man in Adam as having a natural affinity with the law of God-approving it (v. 16), delighting in it (v. 22), willing to fulfill it (vv. 15, 18-21), and serving it with his vows and in his “inmost self”-literally, “inward man” (v. 22, cf. v. 25). But, elsewhere Paul consistently denies the existence of any such affinity, affirming that the mind and heart of man in Adam is blind, corrupt, lawless, and at enmity with God (cf. Eph. 2:3; 4:17ff.). Indeed, we find a very clear assertion to this effect in the first paragraph of chapter 8 which ASV renders thus: “they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh … the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be” (vv. 5, 7). Unless we are to suppose that Paul had reversed his anthropology within the space of less than ten verses, we are surely forced by this to conclude that in Romans 7:14-25 Paul is not, after all, describing a man in Adam, but a man in Christ.

    J. Packer. Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God (Kindle Locations ). Kindle Edition.

  75. Michael says:

    4. The freedom from sin’s power which Christ bestows in this world is less than the deliverance for which the “wretched man” cries out. For what he desires is deliverance “out of (ex) this body of death,” i.e. this mortal body, which is at present sin’s place of residence (v. 23). But that deliverance will not come until “the mortal puts on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:54): a consummation for which, according to Romans 8:23, those who have the Spirit wait, groaning. And it is surely this groaning, in exact terms, which Romans 7:24 voices. What the “wretched man” is longing for is what 8:23 calls “the redemption of our bodies.” But if this is so, then what he gives thanks for in verse 25a must be the promise that through Christ this blessing will ultimately be his. And if 25a is a thanksgiving, not for a present deliverance from the condition described in verses 15-23, but for a hope of future deliverance from it, then the juxtaposition of verse 25b ceases to present a problem. On this exegesis, verse 25b is neither a non sequitur nor an anticlimax: it is simply a summing-up of the situation thus far described, a state of affairs which will last while mortal life lasts. The man in Christ serves the law of God with his mind, in the sense that he wants and wills to keep it perfectly, but with the flesh he serves the law of sin, as appears from the fact that he never is able to keep the law as perfectly and consistently as he wishes to do. The emphatic a1 do eyai, “I, even I,” expresses Paul’s sense of how painfully paradoxical it is that a Christian man like himself, who desires so heartily to keep God’s law and do only good, should find himself under the constant necessity of breaking the law and doing what in effect is evil. But such is the state of the Christian till his body is redeemed. What has been said in developing these criticisms has already indicated what seems to me to be the more satisfactory view of the passage. The main points in this view are as follows. The paragraph is in the present tense because it describes a present state. It reproduces Paul’s present theological self-knowledge as a Christian: not all of it, but just that part of it which is germane to the subject in hand-namely, the function of the law in giving knowledge of sin. (The other side of Paul’s self-knowledge, that given him by the gospel, is set out in chapter 8.) The thesis of the paragraph, “I am carnal, sold under sin,” is stated categorically and without qualification, but not because this is the whole truth about Paul the Christian, but because it is the only part of the truth about himself that the law can tell him. What the law does for the Christian is to give him knowledge of the sin that still remains in him. When he reviews his life by the light of the law, he always finds that he “finds” and “sees” that sin is still in him, and that he is still to a degree being taken captive by it (vv. 21-23). The wretchedness of the “wretched man” thus springs from the discovery of his continuing sinfulness, and the knowledge that he cannot hope to be rid of indwelling sin, his troublesome inmate, while he remains in the body. He is painfully conscious that for the present his reach exceeds his grasp, and therefore he longs for the eschatological deliverance through which the tension between will and achievement, purpose and performance, plan and action, will be abolished. This interpretation seems to fit the context and details of the passage, and in particular to make sense of verses 24-25, in a way that the commoner interpretation quite fails to do.

    J. Packer. Keep in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God (Kindle Locations ). Kindle Edition.

  76. Michael says:

    Not trying to overwhelm….sometimes it’s better to actually post Packer than to talk about what Packer says… 🙂

  77. The simple fact is, the Christian, you, me – every Christian of all time lives going back and forth between Ch 7 & Ch 8. Why people deny that Christians continue to live in their sin, continue to sin and continue to need Christ and his daily forgiveness is beyond me.

    The idea of “levels” of Christians is anti christian.

    There is no such thing as a Christian who has reached a level and now “lives in the spirit” all the time.

    This is what was so frustrating to Paul – why could he live in the spirit Ch 8 style but then fall back into Ch 7 – this is what he struggled with and why he felt wretched. Some here seem to posit that you go in a linear fashion from Ch 7, like you leave it behind and move into Ch 8 to live in Christian bliss forever – this is erroneous.

  78. Steve Wright says:

    A note of MLD’s post #77. These chapters are still in the doctrinal presentation (which is very linear and progressive in Romans) and I think we err if we push too much application into them.

    Not to say that doctrine exists for doctrine’s sake with no application purpose at all. But Paul is “laying it out” – developing his argument throughout these chapters and it is important to keep that at the forefront

  79. Jean says:

    Michael, thank you for providing Packer’s analysis. Very thought provoking and useful to the discussion.

    “On this view, Paul speaks of a man in Adam as having a natural affinity with the law of God-approving it (v. 16), delighting in it (v. 22), willing to fulfill it (vv. 15, 18-21), and serving it with his vows and in his “inmost self”-literally, “inward man” (v. 22, cf. v. 25). But, elsewhere Paul consistently denies the existence of any such affinity, affirming that the mind and heart of man in Adam is blind, corrupt, lawless, and at enmity with God (cf. Eph. 2:3; 4:17ff.). Indeed, we find a very clear assertion to this effect in the first paragraph of chapter 8 which ASV renders thus: “they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh … the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be” (vv. 5, 7).”

    Would disagreeing with Packer be a fools errand? 🙂

    [If yes, then perhaps I’m a fool] I think Packard may be incorrect in his dismissal of the “man in Adam” argument based on his argument quoted above. While Paul certainly says that man cannot justify himself through obedience to the law and that apart from Christ man is in the grip of the power of sin (which affects his faculties), Paul never says that apart from Christ man is totally without any knowledge of God’s law or any desire to keep God’s law.

    “(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)” (Rom 2:14-15) Paul here is not describing Gentile Christians.

    “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.” (Phil 3:4b-6) Paul here is describing his pre-Christian life.

    So, I think there is room in Paul’s theology for him to see the “man in Adam” or the pre-Christian Paul in Romans Chapter 7.

    I also wish that Packer would have interacted with Chapter 6:15-23, because there is a huge conflict between those verses and Chapter 7 if Paul is describing the life of the Christian.

  80. Jim says:


    Do CC pastors have a united view on Rms 7?

  81. Michael says:


    The ones I know are all over the yard on this…

  82. Michael says:


    Disagreeing with Packer is acceptable….but hell hath no fury like me when the man is insulted.
    I don’t think that will be an issue with you. 🙂

  83. Steve Wright says:

    Jim, I don’t listen to CC pastors so I have no idea…

    That’s not meant as a putdown. (I would like people to listen to me 🙂 )

    But my studies are all exegetical commentaries at this stage…

  84. Jim says:

    Thanks Michael. Malcolm is quite adept at the parenthetical gymnastics, although he never thoroughly explains why Paul seemingly lost his train of thought. It would be funny if I was unaware of the effect it has on people.

  85. Michael says:


    I would rather listen to cats mating than Malcolm Wild preaching.

  86. Jim says:

    LOL! I sat through 7 years of three services a week.

  87. Steve Wright says:

    Jim, keep in mind there is freedom within CC for a pastor to teach or not teach the eternal security of the believer from the moment of salvation….so right there you have a pretty wide difference that affects a lot of Bible interpretation as each one goes book by book.

  88. Jim says:


    Yeah, that’s a pretty big deal, as it speaks to the nature of our salvation. Malcolm would sometimes disagree with Chuck on some minor thing, during one of his, “some people think this means this….” monologs.

  89. Steve Wright says:

    Jim, Chuck used to use John 15 (improperly IMO) all the time on the radio as his prooftext to “eternally secure if you abide in Christ” – which meant just about every day.

    There is no way to teach John 15 (especially a few years ago when I did at our place) and not deal with it heads-on because I knew many in the congregation listened to the radio question/answer show.

    I’ve had other occasions when people would come up to me afterwards and say “CC pastor so and so teaches this on….” – in which case I politely say “CC pastor so and so is wrong”

    Of course, that was in the earlier days…nobody has really done that with me for a few years now. 😉

  90. Jim says:

    In my defense, I was in my 20’s for 5 of those 7 years, and was in a Christian metal band and looked the part. Not too many options at the time. Coffee helped.

  91. Steve Wright says:

    The kenosis passage is another area where some guys, innocently I know, in effect teach heresy in how they explain it…..

  92. Jim says:

    Glad you were polite about it 🙂

  93. Steve Wright says:

    There’s plenty of passages where people can disagree and I try to point those out charitably and then state my position and the reasons for it.

    But sometimes it is possible where a guy is just wrong….

  94. Michael says:


    I don’t regret my time in CC.
    It grounded me enough to go exploring safely.

  95. Jim says:

    I don’t regret most of my time there either. Malcolm faithfully taught through books of the Bible I never would have read on my own. No one else around here was doing verse by verse back then. I introduced a lot of people to CC, and some remain today.

  96. Jim says:

    Mark Balmer, the pharmacist, lay elder who helped found the church that hired Malcolm, is the local CC big cheese now. He does the satellite thing with I think 12,000 people.

  97. Jean says:

    At the end of the day, and regardless of which interpretation of Romans Chapter 7 convinces you, when you’re:

    addicted to drugs or alcohol;
    addicted to pornography;
    ruining your health by over eating;
    abusing your spouse;
    struggling with lust and/or same attraction;
    selfish and greedy; or
    [insert your own sin issue];

    what does Romans 6-8 teach you?

    Is it: I’m a wretch, but God will fix me when I get to heaven?

    Is it: Christ has delivered me from bondage to my sin, so if I don’t have my act together, I may not be a Christian at all (or I’m a lower level Christian)?

    Is it: I’m a new creation in Christ, and God will sanctify me, beginning now and finishing His work when I am delivered from my earthly body?

    Is it: [Insert your own application]

  98. Michael says:


    I would pick C if you’d lettered them 🙂

  99. Steve Wright says:

    One of the things that CC enforced (I know this makes Xenia cringe a little) is that we are capable through the Spirit of interpreting and applying the Bible for ourselves.

    Anyone willing to read a few scholarly exegetical commentaries know that even the smart educated folks disagree – so there is no fear in taking a stand against some “legend” because any stand is going to go against somebody out there. (And that is why we must remember we will stand before Jesus to account for what we have taught God’s people in that sacred position of authority as pastor)

    Having said that, there is a danger in CC of becoming rabbinical, by exalting the old-timers, so that if after wrestling with a passage one comes up with a conclusion (that is in agreement with a large number of Biblical scholars I might add) someone just walks up to the pastor and says “Yeah but Chuck teaches this way. Courson says this in his commentary etc.”

    As if that alone is an argument.

    So that needs to be guarded against. Rabbi Smith or Rabbi Courson (or Rabbi Wright) are not the authority.

    And THAT is why I am so big on education for pastors. It’s one thing to believe that we can determine our understanding and teach and stand on that interpretation even if it goes against one of the celebrities…

    But its another thing to take that liberty and “wing it for Jesus” with no study in the history, the context, the languages, the culture, and the overall teachings of Scripture, as well as teachings of other scholars in the Body of Christ.

  100. Jim says:

    In the spirit of Steve, A & B are JUST WRONG. 🙂

    I’d expand C a bit, as the “wills/whens” are also “has”.

  101. Steve Wright says:

    Also, if I am thinking of a verse in a certain light, and can’t find any confirmation from others, then I assume I am wrong and keep studying. 🙂

  102. Steve Wright says:

    Choice B results in “rededicate-your-life-to-Jesus altar calls” which are quite common but in my opinion the antithesis of the gospel, and thus only lead to continued failure, depression, and guilt.

    That’s why it is one thing to discuss the teaching of this passage on a Christian blog, but whenever those of us who preach are up there, going through Romans, before our congregations, since we can be assured there ARE many going through the various battles Jean describes, it is crucial HOW we teach these passages if we want to edify the flock.

  103. Jean says:

    Steve, a lot of wisdom is flowing out of you today 🙂

  104. “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able for ye are yet carnal” (I Cor 3:1-3)

    Evidently none of you have lived as carnal, immature Christians. I am jealous. Unfortunately, I have. I further believe that Paul, unique among the apostles, also suffered through this when he was a young Christian and that this experience equipped him to help those who are this way. When he described himself as the worst of sinners, I don’t think he was speaking of his behavior at the time he wrote it

    I am dismayed that you, Michael, choose to disparage and dismiss attempts of drawing Christians enslaved to sin out of their carnal state. Perhaps you have found better ways to do this that do not smack of pietism.

    I will carefully consider the thoughtful comments posted here and respond. However, I am being blessed by a relatively rare grandchildren home invasion and choose not to be pulled from it.

  105. “Evidently none of you have lived as carnal, immature Christians.”

    I cover the field – at some moments I am immature, at some I am carnal and at some times I am (and this is a rarely used Lutheran word) victorious.

    JVS, I am jealous of you, that once you became “spiritual” that you have not at times slid back at all but continue in that victorious christian life.

    I just took a break here from my family invasion – 55 relatives – including, like JVS, all my grandkids. 🙂

  106. Michael says:


    Really bad form.
    Really bad.
    You won’t last long on here addressing people like this.

    “Evidently none of you have lived as carnal, immature Christians”.
    Not one person has made that asinine of a statement.
    Most of us, like MLD, cover the field on this issue.

    “I am dismayed that you, Michael, choose to disparage and dismiss attempts of drawing Christians enslaved to sin out of their carnal state.”

    You’ll be really dismayed if you make that sort of assertion again.
    This is a theological argument, based on interpretation of the text.
    I have presented how those who have taught me interpret the text.
    If that’s offensive enough to you to make such a crackpot accusation, then I would suggest that you are being carnal.

    As a matter of fact, your comment was very carnal.

    How do you explain that in light of your spiritual maturity?

  107. Jean says:

    “For though you should in fact be teachers by this time, you need someone to teach you the beginning elements of God’s utterances. You have gone back to needing milk, not solid food. For everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced in the message of righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, whose perceptions are trained by practice to discern both good and evil. Therefore we must progress beyond the elementary instructions about Christ and move on to maturity, not laying this foundation again: repentance from dead works and faith in God, teaching about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” (Heb 5:12-6:2)

    I am not responding here to #104 or #106. I want to reflect on the way the word “milk” appears in the NT as a metaphor for teaching that Christians receive. Both Paul and the author of Hebrews appear to equate “milk” with the basic gospel message. What’s interesting about that is Hebrews actually provides a list of what that author considered spiritual “milk” (see 6:1-2). The only teaching on that list that I don’t think is taught very much any more (and in any event not as a basic teaching in any church I’m aware of) is “laying on of hands.”

    Both Paul and the author of Hebrews expect Christians to be weaned (if I may extend the metaphor). Staying on milk could retard the Christian’s development and usefulness to the Kingdom (Heb 5:2), could make someone susceptible to falling away (6:4), and may perpetuate fleshly influences that the person is expected to grow out of (1 Cor 3:3).

    This issue first clicked for me personally in a small group where we studied Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster. Now, I have begun to treat regularly visiting and participating on this blog (and some others) as part of my spiritual discipline (thank you Michael). Maybe the next book on the subject will include a topic on interactive or social media.

    I imagine that Pastors are very concerned about what is nourishing their flocks and moving all believers to solid food. I wonder what methods Pastors here find most effective.

  108. Jim says:

    For the record, I have found better ways to help those ensnared by besetting sins that do not smack of pietism, and I’m certainly not alone.

  109. “I imagine that Pastors are very concerned about what is nourishing their flocks and moving all believers to solid food.”

    Someone probably needs to explain, without using Bible talk what is “milk” in practical understandable language – how you measure when someone has had enough milk and needs to be moved to “solid food” – but explain what is solid food

    I would prefer if someone just explained clearly without quoting the Bible or quotes of other teachers.

    Milk is X and Z and this is why you should not be in the milk stage if you have been a Christian 6 months

    Solid food is A,B and C and you should ne fully engaged in this after you have been a Christian 6 months

  110. Xenia says:

    I often see pietism mentioned with a negative connotation. I don’t know much about pietism so could someone give an explanation? Thanks.

  111. Steve Wright says:

    MLD, you want us to define words used in the Bible in a specific way, but not to use the Bible when we define them??

    Do you not agree that there are a lot of Christians out there that are ignorant of the Bible’s teachings, though they are trusting in Jesus for salvation. That would seem to be without debate….

  112. Jean says:

    MLD, in #66 you wrote: “Look, the Bible is meant to be read and understood … it’s not rocket science.”

    Yet in your #109 you want someone to explain to you what the Bible says, but without use of the Bible to interpret itself.

    Wouldn’t that risk interpreting the Bible out of context (something you said in your #66 you don’t do)?

    Perhaps you might cut to the chase?

  113. When I wrote “Evidently none of you have lived as carnal, immature Christians. I am jealous,” it was an honest observation and a confession not meant to be snarky in any way. Fortunately, not everyone goes through such a time. Maybe the confusion comes from my not defining what I mean when I write “a carnal, immature Christian.”

    I do not appreciate being lumped in with the Keswick crowd (or remnant) and don’t know where that came from. I do not agree with their view of entire sanctification, a second work after salvation or the “Let Go, Let God” teaching. I admit that this bothers me greatly.

    My position on Romans 6-8 is unfamiliar. It was a mistake to explain or defend it within the confines of these comment boxes. I may have hurt my position more than helping it. As a way to remedy this, I have posted four short chapters from my book for anyone who wants it, where I give it my best shot:

    I apologize for causing offense by the following ugly, admittedly outrageous comment: ““I am dismayed that you, Michael, choose to disparage and dismiss attempts of drawing Christians enslaved to sin out of their carnal state.” If I could, I would delete it and the rest of #104 which was written in a hurry and while distracted.

    Have a blessed Lord’s day!

  114. Steve,
    “Do you not agree that there are a lot of Christians out there that are ignorant of the Bible’s teachings, though they are trusting in Jesus for salvation. That would seem to be without debate….”

    See, you had a good start – in regular language you gave a definition, or drew a word picture. However, you were not clear – its that definition to cover “milk” or “meat”? In America, that person would probably be a milk person … lazy Christian.

    However, what if it were that woman who was held in the Muslim country and if she had only a rudimentary understanding of the scriptures but stood up for her faith greatly as she did? – perhaps she is a meat person.

  115. Jean,
    “Perhaps you might cut to the chase?”

    OK, I was trying to do it for your sake. People who cling to Bible isms like “milk” and “meat” never explain how THEY are using it – they just toss it out to show levels of Christians … even when describing themselves.

    If we want to use them, why don’t we describe those who teach as “meat” and those who don’t teach as “milk”? – Paul seems to go that far.

    OK, I need to go back to bed and sleep so that i am ready to teach in the morning.

  116. Jean says:

    MLD, Michael #52 said that the fact that some people abuse a text doesn’t invalidate the text. I posted #107 to see how people here interpret and use the concepts of “milk”and “solid food” in their own lives or ministries. I think we can learn from the whole counsel of Scripture. Don’t you?

  117. Jean,
    I was responding to your #107 but I thought there should be a definition of terms without using the words we are defining in the definition.

    Look, I have evaluated 100s of employees over the years – never have I measured one in terms of “they are still on milk” in their job or that some have advanced in their job performance now to the level of “meat” or “solid food.”

    So when we evaluate a fellow Christian, I just want to know what we are telling him.

  118. Jean says:

    MLD, thanks. I don’t think the relevant texts are teaching us to “evaluate a fellow Christian” in the sense you describe in #117. That seems to be a caricature of either the text or my post.

    I think the question of “milk” vs. “solid food” may be instructive and have application in two situations:

    1) Problems are occurring within a congregations. Both 1 Cor 3:1-3 and Heb 5:11-6-8 arise in the context of problems within the congregation. In one case, jealousy and dissention; in the other, the risk of falling away. I think authors’ critiques of their congregations could be applied by the pastor to a similar situation happening today.

    2) Taking the metaphor as a model for discipleship. There is the image that discipleship involves growing up. People are welcome to come as they are, but are expected to not stay as they are. In this specific context, catechesis, bible study, small groups, prayer meetings, agape meals, mission trips, local service opportunities, etc. are activities that a church might offer its members in addition to weekly worship. Knowing you MLD, I imagine that your Bible Study is probably Prime Rib with horseradish. And with upmost sincerity, your parishioners are very fortunate to have you serving them.

    I’m not hung up on trying to pigeon hole any specific teaching or activity as “milk” or “solid food” because I’m not interested in ranking fellow believers. A healthy tree will bear fruit. A healthy Christian will bear fruit.

    Can we agree?

    Other thoughts?

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