Second, this view gives does not rightly explain some of the works of the flesh.
Paul in Galatians 5 speaks of idolatry, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, and envy. These things are not just part of physical body but stem from our heart and mind. But this really does not answer the question. Where does evil then come from in a Christian?
I would say it comes from the heart, and Leiter would say the flesh. But we are again back at our starting point, the definition of flesh. Flesh does not just mean our physical substance but can also be a nature term. Therefore if one sees the flexibility with which Paul uses the term flesh, then the heart is still where this evil comes from. Paul describes it as our flesh, even our fleshly desires, which are opposed to the Spirit. There is more that could be said on this point, but in summary, I think Leiter has wrongly defined the flesh by externalizing it in every occurrence and separating it from who we are in a way the Scriptures do not.
If this piece is pulled, then the whole edifice needs re-working. For Leiter poses a slightly over-realized anthropology in regards to our new nature. This point must be nuanced for what he affirms is not wrong, it is how he affirms it, and what he denies. He is right to point to verses that suggest this is a done deal. The Christian is really and genuinely a new person. But if my understanding flesh is correct then it is more complex than this. The flesh is crucified, but we still struggle against it.
We are new, but sinful desires still overtake us. Whether it is best to describe this as the old man as alive or not can be debated. Therefore to say that Christians are no longer evil but good should give us pause. Historically the dominant view has been opposed to what Leiter is writing. Calvin agreed, as did Augustine.
And although it can be a helpful corrective, it does not take a wide view of the Scriptures. Consider the situations Paul is writing to. The saints in the Corinth are suing one another, arguing, having sex with the temple prostitutes, and living ascetic lives contrary to scripture. The Galatians are on the verge of abandoning the Gospel. The Thessalonians are waiting for the coming of the Lord and not working. These saints are really new but they still struggle mightily with sin. Additionally it should give us pause because it does not do justice to most Christian experience.
Throughout history Christians have fallen in various ways. Leiter does not deny this, but is he explaining our experience adequately? Finally, this emphasis could lead to a devaluing of the cross although it does not have to. Grace compels people. With the former advice, struggling sensitive Christians could start to convince themselves that they are not believers at all.
Ironically, the reaction to defeatist Christianity could produce defeatist Christianity. Admittedly, Leiter never advocates any of this, never devalues the cross, and that is not his intention. However when analyzing a work we must be attuned to unintended consequences and implications that may follow.
Leiter challenged me when I read the book. I too noticed how little the NT speaks of the old man. He is right that the emphasis is on our new identity in Christ. But I think he has misunderstood the flesh, and consequently has presented a reality within our hearts that is too neat, and not as complex as the Scriptures convey. This book has been helpful to many Christians and I do not want to take that away from them. But there are edges in the book that need the smoothing of Scripture.
Louw and E.
Posts Twitter Facebook. I found this very helpful.
Justification and Regeneration (Expanded Edition) [Charles Leiter] on Amazon. com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. What's new: The author has added a. What does the Bible mean when it says that Christians have died to sin? What are justification and regeneration? How is it possible for a just God to justify the.
I too would gladly hand it out another person. Your review was helpful in helping me see why I did have some reservations. I would give this book out to someone wanting to understand justification and regeration. You and I have talked on these issues at length, so no need to rehash them here. The only thing that I would add, which you certainly know, is that while Paul emphasizes our new identity in Christ, he often does this by calling us to remember our old state so Eph 2.
In other words, his emphasis is not a call to forget but to be mindful from where God has redeemed us in Christ. The wonder of the new birth underscored by such a remembrance. By grace, we are able to will what God has revealed to be His will—something we were not able or willing to do prior to the onset of this regenerating grace.
I rejoice in God and am thankful to Him for you, your family, and your labors in the vineyard of the Lord Jesus,. Hey, brother.
The tendency to over-realize the new man can strongly influence Christian disciplines. I share that to simply personalize my comments. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on advocacy. What correlation would you see between here and 1 John ?
I see a concurrent advocacy on the behalf of believers who are then encouraged to abide verb meno I think in Christ 1 John even if they do sin. How do you handle the tension there in light of this critique? Repent and believe. Put off the old self and put on the new.
I am not entirely sure what you are getting at but it does relate in the sense that when we do sin we run to Christ. Thank you for taking the time to think and write on this brother. Good question. I am not entirely how Leiter would respond but I see where you are aiming. Are we repenting for our flesh, our external body? Thanks, Patrick. I agre with much of what you have said. Many others besides Douglas Moo and Charles Leiter agree with my assessment.
IF faith itself is not a gift, then you are saying that it is not Christ that makes us to differ from others, but our will. Hendryx, I have a few very relevent comments. If I have died to sin, why am I still affected by it? This is also true of Lydia and all believers. On the first point I shall try to be brief. A reading of the passage plainly shows that the context is "faith". The answers to these and many other questions become clear once we gain a biblical understanding of justification and regeneration.
Certainly, a Christian struggles against the influence of the flesh, but he is no longer ruled by it. But is this the perpetual, long-term state of a Christian? The best analogy I have heard is this. But when God saved me, he transferred me into a new kingdom, with new governing powers. I am no longer under the old powers and they no longer dominate my life. But they still engage in guerrilla warfare against the new government, and I often am caught up in the guerrilla war.
Thanks Andy. And if it is part of a person, and not only external, then things are more complex than Leiter portrays. After service last Sunday, I was introduced to the concepts of this book and some of the further views of NCT.
Today, I received a copy of the book to borrow. After reading it, I arrived at much of the same concern that just finished reading here. I find it troubling to state the flesh is both an aspect of the personality and the unredeemed physical body. Christ teaches this heart is well from which sin, in its various forms, springs.
At that point, at the same second, we believe that the person doing the repenting, is justified, regenerated and adopted into the family of God, and is assured of their salvation through the same work of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit who was just seconds before convicting us of sins now confirms and makes us fully aware that we have become a child of the King.
What does justification mean?
Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. We have been granted a full pardon — did you notice, it does not say, we have been granted a parole? Of course you have to really mean it — then and only then, will God accept our repentance.