By Keith Sharp
“Sins of Christians are not charged to them as far as their having to die for them is concerned” (Joe T. Odle, Church Member’s Handbook (Baptist), page 18).
“You don’t believe that, do you?! Why, that’s Baptist doctrine, Calvinism!” No, you are right, I don’t believe that. Yes, you’re right, it is Baptist doctrine and Calvinism.
But try this statement on for size.
“Sins of ignorance and human weakness of Christians are not charged to them as far as their having to die for them is concerned.”
Who believes that? Several preachers and members of the Lord’s body around the brotherhood have been defending this doctrine. If you fail to see a difference in principle between it and the aforementioned Baptist doctrine, do not feel lonely. I do not either.
Furthermore, the same arguments which prove the Baptist position false also destroy the modified Calvinism now being pushed by some of the brethren. For example, in Acts 8:5-13 we read of the conversion of Simon the sorcerer. If Mark 16:16 means anything (“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”), Simon was a saved man, for he “believed . . . and . . . was baptized” (Acts 8:13). But, after he had been saved Simon sinned, and, as the result, Peter warned him: “For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:23). .’hat takes care of Baptist doctrine. He was saved, subsequently sinned and, as the result, fell. But it also takes care of the modified Calvinism which would excuse sins “committed in ignorance and human weakness.” About anything one would care to say to excuse a sin could be said of Simon’s sin. He sinned only one time; he was a babe in Christ; he sinned through human weakness rather than high-handed rebellion (cf. Acts 8:18-24). Furthermore, Simon sinned through ignorance, for Peter told him, “thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” (verse 20). Simon did not know God would not allow the sale of that spiritual gift. He actually believed God would allow it. He was ignorant. But he was, nevertheless, “in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.”
“But,” we are informed, “Simon’s heart was ‘not right in the sight of God,’ so he couldn’t have been sinning ignorantly” (cf. verse 21). Please tell me, how could any man commit a sin of any kind, and his heart be entirely right with God “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication3, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). Sin, no matter of what species, springs from the heart of man. If this is not what Jesus is teaching in Matthew 15:19, I am at a total loss to grasp the significance of His words. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). The “world” is sin and its allurements. There are, according to John, only three causes of sin, and all spring from the heart of man. Simply because a man is honestly doing what he thinks is right is no guarantee his heart is right with God. Or, to put it another way, conscience alone is not a safe guide. Ignorance itself is a defect of the heart, “for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth” (John 12:35).
“You mean to say,” comes the objection, “that just one sin committed in ignorance will send a person to Hell?” How many times did Eve have to sin to lose her right to the tree of life? And Eve, unlike Adam, was actually “deceived” by the serpent’s temptation (1 Timothy 2:14). How many times did Simon sin, and that through ignorance, before Peter warned “thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity”? You see, the principle of law is: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). How many times must one sin before he is a sinner? “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), whether of one sin or twenty dozen.
Pray tell, what verse of scripture even so much as hints that God will not charge sins of human weakness and ignorance to the Christian? What makes anyone think that God, like some indulgent father, will just turn His head and look the other way when His children commit sin-sin of any kind? Such a charge is a travesty of the justice and holiness of a righteous God who cannot tolerate the presence of sin. It falls but little short of blasphemy.
Yes, we all sin (I John 1:8-10). But the answer is not in an indulgent Father. The answer is in a mercifulFather, Who will forgive us if we comply with His law of pardon for the Christian. “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (Acts 8:22). “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Do you know of any other answer given in the word of God?
Truth Magazine XIX: 13, pp. 202-203
February 6, 1975