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8.28.2006

Real category mistakes



Regarding the foundational biblical teaching of the four states of man:

1. Man in the state of innocence in the Garden;
2. man in the state of sin and corruption after the Fall;
3. man in the state of being re-born by God's grace; and,
4. man in the state of glorification after death.

Notice how you can see where unbelievers (and confused believers) make all their mistakes. The liberal - Christian or not - thinks man is still in a state of innocence (the 1st state above) and thus that man is inherently good and so on. The atheist often complains to God because man isn't in the 4th state above, of glorification, which happens only after death if one is justified. The atheist says: "Why do we suffer?" for instance, not taking into account the Fall from the 1st state above into the 2nd state.

Everybody wants to avoid the reality of the 2nd state above. Even believers. It's a constant struggle to recognize and accept and just remember that you have an inherently corrupt nature and corrupt heart which convicts you before God no matter what your actions may be (i.e. you're a poisonous snake, and you are convicted for having that poison in you, which is inherently part of your fallen nature, and so you're not convicted for whether you strike with your fangs or not (whether you act good or not).

Believing Christians, otherwise with a sound understanding of the Bible and biblical doctrine, often get messed up regarding the middle two states (the 2nd and 3rd states above). They often argue for things regarding a Christian as if the Christian hadn't yet entered the 3rd state of being re-born (regenerated) by God's grace (effected by the Word and the Spirit). This is where issues of active, progressive sanctification get confused if not just neglected (if not just lost).

Some further notes: antinomians (who say anything goes, or anything is allowed once you're saved, which basically means sex, drugs, and rock and roll, or whatever is currently passing for those things in their era) confuse the 3rd state with the 4th (the 4th state, i.e. glorification when man will no longer be even able to sin). Legalists, on the other hand, who fear so much the power of the 'old man' within (the old corrupt nature of the 2nd state -- which we also constantly struggle with when in the 3rd state until we physically die) that the faith becomes to them a set of restrictive laws, are not clearly seeing the difference between the 2nd and 3rd states and the liberty (and ability) that comes with entering the 3rd state -- liberty and ability to be and to develop as a true Christian (to make war on the flesh, the world, and the devil as a free and bold soldier - or better, knight - of Christ rather than as a fearful, reclusive moralist).

Churches tend to preach by default as if they are addressing '2nd state' audiences. And theologians as well tend to write as if they are addressing a mostly '2nd state' readership. This is a matter of practical necessity for the most part, yet it does add to the confusing of these categories in further, more subtle ways.

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