By T. Doy Moyer
While on the radio in Louisiana, there was a show on before me run by some Baptist organization that played pop-rock songs ones that supposedly had “decent” lyrics expressing some truth. One of these songs had, as its chorus, “I’m only human, born to make mistakes.” I suppose, due to the nature of the program, that this song was played in support of the Calvinist concept that a man is born depraved and sins because of this “inherited depravity.” Why do we sin? Calvinism answers, Because we’re only human. . .” In other words, we can’t help it; we were born this way.
While most members of the Lord’s church would reject Calvinism, we still hear smatterings of this kind of concept: that we sin because we’re only human. It’s as if we are excused for our actions because, after all, we’re only human, and it’s not our fault that we were born this way.
Well then, whose fault is it? Since we are not responsible for making ourselves, that only leaves one alter-native: God. God created us; he made us human. He created us in his own image and gave us bodies in which to live while on this earth. So, while it is true that we are “only human,” does it then follow that this is the reason why we sin?
If we sin because we are “only human,” I wonder if the angels that sinned (2 Pet. 2:4) could say, “we’re only angels.” Perhaps some of them might argue that they have a “sinful angel nature” and could not help it. Ridiculous? No more than humans saying that we sin because we’re “only human.” The fact that the angels could sin shows that sin is not limited to the human flesh. No, there has to be another reason.
To suggest that we sin because we are “only human” is to accuse God of making us sin. We are saying, in essence, it is God’s fault for making us this way. Whether those who use this phrase mean to convey this thought or not, they ought to be more careful and think through what they say.
Why do we sin? Very simply, we sin because we choose to. Sin is a result of making the wrong choice, not having no choice. God created us with free will. We are not a bunch of robots programmed to behave a certain predetermined way whether we want to or not. We are creatures of choice with the ability to decide the way we will go. Humans were created this way; angels were created this way. Thus, humans sin for the same reason that angels do: they choose to. If it is not by choice, then God, not man is to blame for sin.
There has been a lot of talk as to whether or not man “has to sin.” No, man does not “have to.” Man is not made with a built in mechanism that says, “It is time for your daily sin. You must do it.” Again, man does not have to sin any more than angels do; which brings the responsibility for sin right back into the lap of each individual.
Though man is not born with a “sinful nature,” the Bible declares, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). No mere man can claim sinlessness (1 Jn. 1:8). This does not mean God makes us do it and we are not responsible; it simply means that all who are “only human” have sinned. The question that the Bible addresses has to do with taking care of that sin. The answer, of course, is Jesus Christ his death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3,4) which in turn gives man hope of eternal life if he will, by his own choice, obey the Lord (Heb. 5:9).
God has given us the ability to deal with temptation as it comes upon us. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you Are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13; see also Jas. 1:12). Does this promise sound as though we can be excused because we are “only human”? I think not. To say such a thing is to question the very faithfulness of God.
There is no doubt that we are venerable to weakness and sin. If we will trust in God and submit fully to him, we can overcome sin and have the victory God promised to those who love him (1 Cor. 15:57; 1 Jn. 5:4). Let’s be careful.
He didn’t, so I observed that his dog Feller was like some of our members who only attend services on Sunday morning and don’t return for evening and Wednesday night services.
Known By Your Friends and Enemies
Jesus said, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Lk. 6:26). Based on this teaching, we observe that God fearing people will be hated by false teachers and that false teachers will commend one another. In application of this please consider the following statements taken from News & Notes (March 1993), the publication of Olan Hicks. Olan Hicks has made the teaching of false doctrine on divorce and remarriage his primary mission. He travels back and forth across the country to spread his false doctrines, has written several book and tracts full of his erroneous doctrines.
Olan Hicks knows who the enemies of his false teachings are. Writing in this latest issue, he spoke of attending the Abilene Christian University lectureships. He mentioned that some “antis” came by saying,
This year I was twice accosted by unreasoning radicals from that camp who showed up breathing fire within a few minutes of each other. The first was Elmer Moore, who moderated for Royce Bell in our debate 6 or 7 years ago at Reno. The second was a man I had not met but he knew of my work. In fact he “knew” some things about it that are not even true. In both cases I ended up having to ask them to leave just to move on in the interest of the peace.
The so-called “anti” group has some good men whom I love and respect. But radicals seem to have taken over that segment. In my experience with them it appears they have adopted some kind of an interpretive system which they see as absolute and infallible. Apparently it is a system which justifies disregarding explicit scriptures that disagree with their position. I think it has something to do with a notion that “implications” are more authoritative than express Bible statements. I encountered this in the debates with J.T. Smith.
There were others among us whom Hicks holds in high esteem. He continued:
One of the “reasonable men” I referred to on page 2 is Jerry Bassett of Eugene, Oregon. He has been opposing the same radicals I have on this subject, twice in public debates. His approach to it is a little different to mine but it is an interesting study and our conclusions are very similar. In fact we have exchanged some debate charts. (Would the exchanging of debate charts but bidding Hicks God speed?, mw)
The same issue mentioned that Hicks enjoyed his association with Dusty and Betty Owens from Temple Terrace and Art and Alice Ann Thompson, both men known to readers of Charles Holt’s paper, The Examiner. John wrote, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 Jn.9-11). Hicks recognized that brother Owens and brother Thompson bid him God speed in the teaching of his false doctrines.
Back in the February 1991 issue of his paper, Olan Hicks wrote about Homer Hailey’s new book:
Homer Hailev’s new book The Divorced and Remarried Who Would Come to God.” also discusses the question only in reference to alien sinners who obey the Gospel. He does a good job proving that the cleansing blood of Jesus is adequate to remove this sin and the person has a completely new start. But the very same arguments that prove that also prove precisely the same thing for the sinning Christian who returns to God in real repentance.
Jerry Bassett’s new book takes a similar approach, affirming positively the cleansing and new start for the penitent alien but of the penitent Christian who committed this sin he says he is not sure but feels we should leave his judgment to the Lord. When the question is pressed, as it is bound to be, I do not believe that either brother Hailey or brother Bassett will refuse to recognize that their proof is as applicable to the Christian who commits this sin and then repents as it is to the alien who commits it and then repents.
Despite these statements from Olan Hicks, who correctly assesses the position of these brethren, some brethren and magazines among us are still on public record as advocating that we should extend the hands of fellowship to men such as brother Hailey, reserving their strongest words of condemnation for those who exposed the false teaching of brethren such as Hicks, Hailey, and Bassett. We can learn a lot from brethren’s recommendations!
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 9, p. 1
May 6, 1993