Josiah Audette

"Aware of the past, curious about the future, ready to argue the present." Tocqueville

Tag: Sin

Unmortified Sin

Mortification of Sin in Believers

Sin is any want of conformity to or transgression of the law of God. 

Solemn Sins Don’t Make a Sinless Saint

There was a small, seaside village where lived two sailors. While they were both out at sea a frightful hour arose with the heavens turned as black as hell, clouds disgorging as would a mountain cascade, and surging wave began. At the moment the first wave spewed its harrowing expanse over the first sailor his vessel became overset and descended into the fathomless depths of the shadows. Whereas the other sailor pressed on as the wind assailed his masts, the sharp mist pierced his eyes, and the sea continually swallowed his vessel only to vomit it out again until the storm had finally passed. Which sailor knows more about the sea? As the proverb says, “Smooth Seas Don’t Make a Skilled Sailor.” Somehow Christians miss the picture when it comes to sin. We think the person who knows the most about sin is the person who has sinned the most, not the least. This is why we who with conservative upbringings often regard our testimonies as inferior to the testimonies of those who come out of ill-bred backgrounds. Not so. Contrarily, the one Person who knows the most about sin, its efficacy, its reality, its temptation, its nature, its deceit, its prevalence is the one Person who never sinned. Christ. Even in our own experience with temptation, it never gets easier. It is like the pain of an insatiable appetite which increases moment by moment until it is fed. It is like the irritation of an itchiness that perpetually festers and hankers to the point of shrouding all other bodily sensation until it is scraped. In one sense Christ was tempted like as we are, yet in another sense he wasn’t. The compulsion of Christ’s temptation surpassed that which has ever been known to human experience, because he never gave in. He entered into temptation, but temptation never entered into him. We think we know so much about sin and its effects, but we know so little because we know so little of Christ. So if you want to learn about sin and how to mortify it do not look to another sinner. Do not look to your own sin. Look to Christ. “Solemn Sins Don’t Make a Sinless Saint.”

The Breeder is Inbred.

“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” There is a point of time in Christian experience when we all come to the same discovery as the Apostle Paul and echo with Job, “Behold, I am vile.” These declarations are not intellectual conclusions. Paul says, “I found.” Job says, “Behold.” Their discovery was unexpected. They learned by experience that they are vile and as Isaiah wail in shock, “Woe is me! for I am undone.” Herein is the difference between knowing the law of sin and experiencing the power of this law. Paul is not reading an electrical schematic here, he is grasping the hot wire. Believers likewise experience the power and efficacy of indwelling sin. Evil is present with you. Yes, through regeneration by the Holy Spirit you now have an ordinary, constant prevailing will of doing good, but it does not go unchecked by the force of indwelling sin to the contrary. This evil within you is not just dormant and abiding, but furthermore active. It is always seducing, tempting, and deceiving you. Sin conceives and brings forth death and this breeder of every evil is inbred first in you. Consequently sin is either killing you or you are killing it. There goes not a moment where sin foils or is foiled, conquers or is conquered, prevails or is prevailed on. John Owen writes, “Sin will be always acting, if we be not always mortifying.” This is the daily business of every believer. There is no compromise, no truce, no agreement between the flesh of your old man in you by natural generation of your first father Adam and the Spirit of God in you by supernatural regeneration of your second Adam. Hence Christ exhorts, “What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” Few things in war are more dangerous than a traitor within the gates. Its been said that Napoleon once confessed that he would rather face 10,000 well trained, well commanded soldiers than one Calvinist who thought he was in the will of God. Similarly, the one thing more dangerous to the state of your soul than 10,000 demons in hell is one unmortified instrument of unrighteousness in you.  The old man within you is more dangerous than ten thousand demons without. Ambrose Bierce then rightly defines “Alone” as “In bad company.” You are in bad company “So I say unto all, Watch.” Be killing sin or sin will be killing you. “Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who does not kill sin in his way takes no steps towards his journey’s end. He who finds not opposition form it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it.” John Owen.

The Bonds without Bounds

Unmortified sin aims always at the utmost and outermost. Owen observes, “Every time it rises put to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every coats desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head… it is like the grace that is never satisfied.” When you swallow one mouthful into excess it aims to make you an bulimic glutton. When you perform just one task in a lethargic manner it would make you an unresponsive sloth. When you quaff one sip beyond propriety it seeks to make you an insatiable drunkard. When you countenance one flirtation it seeks to make you an unreserved whoremonger. So have no toleration for sin because it has no toleration for you. Have no mercy upon it or it shall have no mercy upon you. There are no bounds to the bonds sin would have on you. “So I say unto all, Watch.”

The Irrational is Smart

Sin is totally irrational. Sin is suicidal because it kills you. “If ye live after the flesh ye shall die.” Sin is cosmic treason because it foists itself against God. Although it be incomparably irrational, unmortified sin is smart in deluding, deceiving, and disillusioning the hearts of men. Here are the 7 deadly progressions of unmortified sin.

  1. Unmortified sin will weaken the soul by depleting its vigour. “It was weak through the flesh” the Apostle writes.
  2. Unmortified sin redirects the affections towards its own ends as desirable thus exiling the excellencies of God for the soul’s communion. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one , and despise the other.” Sin is a surrogate pleasure.
  3. Unmortified sin will rob the soul of its comfort and peace. “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.” By rule of reference, unmortified sin is not life and peace.
  4. Unmortified sin consumes the mind. Owen illustrates the thoughts of our mind as being the purveyors or delivery service carrying objects to satisfy our soul’s affections. If our affections thus have been reconstituted by unmortified sin, consequently our imaginations will be darkened and now begin to generate defiled provisions to satisfy the lusts of our sinful soul. The knowledge which has been bestowed upon as the image bearers of God has been dethroned.
  5. Unmortified sin hinders our duty before God as we labour and contrive to provide for our sensual, vain imaginations when we ought to be engaged in the worship of God.
  6. Unmortified sin desensitizes us. The frequency and habit of the lusts which unmortified sin is generating in our affections and imaginations tend to interrupt any moment, dispel any notion, or mute any consideration to hinder its reign of death. This process is characterized by an inveterate hardening where with each new temptation our lusts receive a fresh vigour, violence, and vitiated expression which before was not capable.
  7. Unmortified sin is an incubator of death. This engrossment of debauched affections, this defilement of the imaginations renders the Christian to have no great fear of God’s chastisement, no bitterness as they daily digest sin, no beleaguering guilt of sin, but only slight and transient thoughts of their lusts. So they are not easily disquieted by sin, not especially sensitive to sin, nor altogether considerate of sin. Secretly their indulgent heart countenances a particular lust, reserves judgment upon it, and applies instead mercy to it. We say with Naaman, “The Lord pardon thy servant in this thing.”

If any of these irrationalities have outsmarted you dear Christian; awake, “You are fast asleep in a storm of anger round about you.” “So I say unto all, Watch.”

How Not to Mortify Sin

If the Holy Spirit has spoken over the noisome chatter of your defiled imaginations so that you now have a mind to mortify your sins. Mortification is not to utterly terminate sin, this is the aim but in this life cannot be accomplished. If now you make cry out with Paul, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” consider first what mortification does not consist of.

  1. Mortification of sin consists not in spiritual disciplines. Often we subordinate the Holy Spirit and subrogate spiritual disciplines with him to perform the work and play his role in the duty of mortification. Spiritual disciplines, fasting, praying, meditation, silence, solitude, and such things are insufficient things in and of themselves to mortify your sin. Those who employ such means are always mortifying but never come to any measurable mortification. They may come to a sudden and fearful realization of their frightful state in unmortified sin and instantly pledge themselves to God in new rituals, disciplines, and duties yet never to experience mortification. John Owen reminds us, “Duties are excellent food for an healthy soul; they are no physic for a sick soul. He that turns his meat into his medicine must expect no great operation. Spiritually sick men cannot sweat out their distemper with working. But this is the way of men who deceive their own souls.”
  2. Mortification of sin consists not in a quiet, sedate nature. Ambrose Bierce humoursly defines, “Abstainer” as “A weak person who yield to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure. A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.” Impairing your body and weakening your temperament is not a good thing in itself and no mortification consists therein. A man may have a lean body and still have an unquiet soul. Impeding your personality, temperament, and disposition does not necessarily mean you are improving it. Such persons have no understanding of indwelling sin. They see their bodies which are created in the image of God but imagine them to be the incarnation of sin. So they set out to impair, weaken, abstain and suppress their human flesh. But even if they were to peel every strip of skin from their bodies still they would not have mortified sin. For while unmortified sin may subsist their appetites and affections they do not consist in them. Outward weakening and impairing “Are to be looked on only as ways whereby the Spirit may, and sometimes does, put forth strength for the accomplishment of his own work.”
  3. Mortification of sin consists not in the diversion of sin. Capping a frequent sin only to have it vent itself elsewhere is not mortifying its multiplying. You may alter your temperament, vocation, relations, and designs only to change your master but be a servant still.
  4. Mortification of sin consists not in just occasional victories. Yea, this is often merely an illusion of mortification when in reality your unmortified sin is just playing dead. Suppose you quaff back drink in a uncontrolled carousal to the point of intoxicated unconsciousness. As you spent the next days recovering you would have no care for liquor. It would be foolish to confuse this effect as mortification. Your sin isn’t mortified its malignant. Similarly you may encounter some egregious sin and in a fit of fervour set out against it. Consequently your sin quiets itself for a season until your busying is over and the inquest past. Your sin isn’t mortified its malingered. The mother of death is playing dead. “So I say unto all, Watch.”

Mortify & Master

Owen writes, “All other ways of mortification are vain, all helps leave us helpless; it must be done by the Spirit.” This is the task of every Christian. The vigour, peace, and comfort of the soul, the thoughts of our mind, the duties from our God, and our life in Him depends upon this constant warfare. To neglect the mortification of sin is to neglect the Holy Spirit who was given us for the task. Only the Holy Spirit is both sufficient and efficient for the work of mortification.

  1. This work of mortification consists in the habitual weakening of sin. All means of grace, all spiritual disciplines are subordinate to Him in this effort. How are we to mortify sin? By the Spirit. How does the Spirit mortify sin? By increasing in us the fruits which are contrary to the lusts of the flesh. “For I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” By weakening the root of sin. “If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” By applying the work of Christ to the sinner so we can commune with him. “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” But if the Holy Spirit does the mortifying why are we exhorted to mortify? Because “we live in the Spirit” and “also walk in the Spirit.” We do not act against the Spirit nor does he act without us.
  2. Mortification of sin consists in fighting and contending against sin. “To load it daily with all the things which… are previous, killing, and destructive to ti is the height of this contest. Such a one never thinks his lust is dead because it is quiet, but labours still to give it new wounds, new blows every day.” John Owen
  3. Mortification of sin consists in frequent success. Habitual, consistent, steady weakening is the true mark of mortification. It searches out the root and proceeds to beat it down.
  4. Mortification of sin consists in universal obedience. The war against unmortified sin is a universal one effected by a declaration of universal obedience. Let not a man think if he regards iniquity in his heart that he shall ever arrive at mortification of an indwelling sin. You will only love God so much as you first hate sin. If you reserve judgment and instead apply mercy to an unmortified sin you evidence that you contend against sin merely because it disquiets you. Consequently if it did not trouble you, you would not be troubled. If it did not disquiet you, you would not be disquieted. If it did not hurt you, you would not hurt it. Owen states, “Let not any man think to do his own work that will not do God’s. God’s work consists in universal obedience.” So if you will do anything you must do everything. It is not the mortification of sins, rather it is the mortification of sin, universally and unreservedly. It will cost you everything, but it would cost even more to fail in paying such a price.

Charge & Commission

  1. Examine yourself for the seven deadly delusions of unmortified sin. 
  2. Provoke your senses with a clear awareness of the guilt of unmortified sin. Say not with Naaman, “The Lord pardon thy servant in this thing.” Consider that your sin is especially grievous and aggravating before God. That your unmortified sins have inconceivably more guilt  than those who have not been bestowed with countless means of grace, upheld by the mercies of God, and experienced relief and deliverance from the hand of God which you have. “God sees a great deal of evil in the working of lust in their hearts, yea, and more than in the open, notorious acts of wicked men.” Do not belittle the guilt of your cosmic treason. Load your conscience with the guilt of sin.
  3. Imbue your faculties with a clear apprehension of the danger of unmortified sin. The danger of inveterate hardening. The danger of a delusional mind and defiled imaginations. The danger of temporal correction. Is it a little thing that God should bring weakness to your body, ruin to your estate, suffering to your family, reproach to your name?
  4. Incite your consciousness with a clear empathy that unmortified sin grieves the Holy Spirit. We have harboured those enemies He was meant to destroy in our hearts with Him. Be ashamed that your temple is kept defiled.
  5. Instil your your considerations with a clear perception that the Lord Jesus Christ is wounded afresh by it. “Seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
  6. Do not declare peace to your soul before God declares it. A false peace will not abide, but only create an environment for sin to once again fester. Wait upon God to speak peace to your soul.
  7. Declare Total War & Total Obedience. Be watchful for sin is watching you. Be killing sin or sin will be killing you. Be foiled by sin or foil sin. Be conquered or conquer. “So I say unto all, Watch.”

If you feel the guilt, danger, and evil of unmortified sin accept the call to worship. Say not you are to sinful to worship. It would be like saying your to dirty to have a bath, to hungry to eat, or to tired to rest. Come to Christ.

On The Origin of Sin: By Means of Natural Selection

Origin of Sin

Question 13: Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?

Answer: Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

“Nothing is so easy to denounce, nothing is so difficult to understand.” Augustine.


Original Righteousness

Before we can address the doctrine of Original Sin we ought address first the much neglected doctrine of Original Righteousness. Namely, that period in Scripture and history where man was created and living in righteousness, knowledge, and holiness in the image of God. In the prose of Milton,

“Of living creatures new to sight and strange…

The image of their glorious Maker shone,

Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure.”

Here was the life of our representative heads in the Garden of Eden under the Covenant of Life. The estate wherein they were created was that of original righteousness. God created Adam and Eve, “very good.” C.S. Lewis observes, “God created all things without exception good, and because they are good, ‘No nature (i.e. no positive reality) is bad and the word Bad denotes merely privation of good,’…. What we call bad things are good things perverted.” Lewis goes on to say, “From this doctrine of good and evil it follows that good can exist without evil, but not evil without good.” Adam’s original existence was that of the former, good without evil. While Adam was created perfect, his perfection and the benefits of his perfection were not yet guaranteed. Hence, “God entered into the Covenant of Life with him, upon the condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience.” In Milton’s fictive reflection of Eve speaking to Adam,

Needs must the power that made us, and for us this ample world

Be infinitely good, and of his good

As liberal and free as infinite,

That raised us from the dust and placed us here,

In all this happiness, who at his hand

Have nothing meretied, nor can perform

Aught whereof he hath need, he who requires

From us no other service than to keep

This one, this easy charge, of all the trees

In Paradise that bear delicious fruit

So various, not to taste that only Tree of Knowledge planted by the Tree of Life,

So near grows death to life, whatever death is,

Some dreadful thing no doubt, for well thou now’t

God hath pronounced it death to taste that Tree,

The only sign of our obedience left

Among so many signs of power and rule”

Probationary Prohibition

This Covenant of Life was a limited, representative probationary period. An indefinite opportunity was given to innocent Adam to virtuously secure for himself and all his posterity that state of righteous innocence. “Innocence is life untested, but virtue is innocence tested and triumphant” says one reformer. Within this probationary period Adam’s innocence was not guaranteed. Morecraft writes, “A temporary probationary period of testing was accepted by God in place of an everlasting exposure to the possibility of falling into sin under the perpetual demands of God. God limited the probationary testing period for Adam, and in so doing, accepted temporary obedience during that time frame, as equivalent to what Adam’s perpetual innocence would have accomplished.” However God not only graciously limited the time of probation, but also the persons under the probation. “Without the Covenant of Life” says Morecraft, “Wherein Adam stood for all men, representing all who would descend form him in ordinary generation, each individual would have to stand or fall according to his own individual obedience.” Hence the Covenant of Life was an indefinite, representative, probationary period by prohibition upon reward of life or threat of death. A probationary period constitutes four elements. 1. In a probationary period, the status of the probationary persons are not yet confirmed. So while Adam did not have death in him from the Tree of the Knowledge, neither had he yet attained to eternal life through the Tree of Life. 2. In probation, the persons are tested. The test for the Covenant of Life was very clear, a prohibition against eating of the Tree of the Knowledge. 3. In a probationary period the outcome has the status of the probationary persons confirmed. The outcome of obedience in the Adamic Covenant was eternal life from the Tree of Life and of disobedience, death. The fact that Adam (post-fall, post-probation) was denied the Tree of Life indicates that the Tree of Life was in fact the reserved, future award for obedience to the Covenant of Life. 4. Consequently, in a probationary period the testing is for a limited period of time. Albeit indefinite, Adam’s testing was indeed limited otherwise their would have been no mention of a promised reward or threatened punishment indicating finality to the probation.

Free Agency & Moral Ability

“I made him just and right, 

Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.”

Illustrates Milton of God concerning Adam. Scripture is incredibly clear that post-fall, post-probation man is not able not to sin by reason of his sin nature.  In this regard Karl Kraus was correct in stating that “The Devil is wildly optimistic if he thinks he can make human beings worse than they are.”  We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. “Free-Will” for us, the moral ability to select between good and evil, is an empty word. A man cannot prefer against his preference or choose against his choice, and Scripture is clear our only preference is evil and our only choice is sin. This is what we may call “The freedom of slavery.” Not free-will but self-will. As Lorraine Boettner writes, “We deny the existence in man of a power which may act either way, on the logical ground that both virtue and vice cannot come out of the same moral condition of the agent.” Martin Luther wrote, “Free will is an empty term, whose reality is lost. And a lost liberty, according to my grammar, is no liberty at all.” However, if there ever was a man who had free-will, apart from the incarnate God-man, it was Adam. He had no such “freedom of slavery”, no lost liberty, no self-will, no sin nature. To say differently would be to hold God liable as the creator of faultiness, or author of evil. Our representative’s moral ability and free-agency to guarantee his state of righteous innocence was being tested in the probationary period. Unlike us, Adam had both the capacity and ability for either virtue or vice. The power of contrary choice, as the angels before him, and the incarnate Christ after, was his to avail. John Murray notes, “There was no necessity arising from his physical condition, nor from his moral nature, nor from the state of his environment, why he should sin.”


The Origin of Original Sin

Original Sin did not originate in Adam, although it was indeed perpetuated by him.

“He trusted to have equaled the Most High,

If he opposed; and with ambitious aim

Against the throne and monarchy of God

Raised impious war in Heav’n and battle proud

With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power

Hurled headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky

With hideous ruin and combustion down

To bottomless perdition, there to dwell

In adamantine chains and penal fire,

Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms.”

The origin of sin as Milton here portrays, was with Satan. As one theologian writes, “Sin did not break out on earth in the first instance, but in heaven, in the immediate presence of God, and at the foot of his throne. The thought, the wish, the will to resist God arose first in the heart of the angels.” Now sin’s originator, the original sinner, Satan, conspired against God’s creation vowed to his legions,

“To waste his whole creation, or possess

All as our own, and drive as we were driven,

The puny habitants, or if not drive,

Seduce them to our party, that their God

May prove their foe, and with repenting hand

Abolish his own works. This would surpass

Common revenge, and interrupt his joy

In our confusion, and our joy upraise

In his disturbance, when his darling sons

Hurled headlong to partake with us, shall curse

Their frail original, and faded bliss

Faded so soon.” Milton.

Thus arose the originator who would supply the external suggestion of original sin to Adam. Laidlaw writes of original sin in Adam, “It arose with an external suggestion, and upon an external occasion, but it was an inward crisis.” Samuel Rutherford clarifies, “Can Satan force us against our will to sin? A. No, he tempts us and knocks at the door without, but our will and lust opens the door. Satan is the midwife that helps forward the birth but our will and lust is the father and mother to all our sins.” So our parents fell from the estate wherein he was created by sinning against God. “What is the Fall?” asks C.S. Lewis, “The Fall is simply and solely Disobedience – doing what you have been told not to do: and it results from Pride – from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God.”


Original Knowledge

The fall from original righteousness was through the original sin of original knowledge.

“Will God incense his ire

For such a petty trespasss, and not praise

Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain

Of death denounced, whatever thing death be,

Deterred not from achieving what might lead

To happier life, knowledge of good and evil;

Of good, how just? Of evil, if what is evil

By real, why not known, since easier shunned;

God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just;

Not just, not God; not feared then, nor obeyed:

Your fear itself of death removes the fear.

Why then was this forbid? Why but to awe,

Why but to keep ye low and ignorant,

His worshipers; he knows that in the day

Ye eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear,

Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then

Opened and cleared, and ye shall be as gods,

Knowing both good and evil as they know.”

Know as they know the knowledge of Good and Evil. The prohibition of the probationary period went far beyond sensual intemperance and mammon appetite. Its grimace was graver than gluttony. It would also be a mistake to say that knowledge was prohibited in the Covenant of Life. Our first parents were indeed created in, “knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.” Their knowledge must have been surpassing for Adam to have the originality of thought and the discernment to give names to the creatures and to manage paradise itself. This quality of knowledge, this pure and vast natural knowledge was not an inducement to the fall. So too ought we not abandon learning, scholarly pursuits, and intellectual cultivation in the work of the dominion mandate. It was not the quantity of Adam’s knowledge (as vast as it was) which induced the fall, but rather the quality of knowledge. Namely, moral knowledge. Francis Bacon writes in his essay on “The Advancement of Learning” , “It was not the pure knowledge of Nature and universality, a knowledge by the light whereof man did give names unto other creatures in Paradise as they were brought before him according unto their properties, which gave the occasion to the fall; but it was the proud knowledge of good and evil, with an intent in man to give law unto himself, and to depend no more upon God’s commandments, which was the form of the temptation.” The limitations of righteous knowledge are therefore threefold as Bacon considers, “1. That we do not so place our felicity in knowledge, as we forget our mortality.” This was the original lie in the original sin of original knowledge. “Ye shall not die.” Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes, “As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? As the fool.” Momento Mori, remember your mortality. Bacon continues, “The second, that we make application of our knowledge, to give ourselves repose and contentment, and not distaste or repining.”  The latter quality of knowledge puffeth-up. It set our first parents at enmity with God and then with themselves. “The third, that we do not presume by the contemplation of Nature to attain to the mysteries of God.” Herein again was the lie of original knowledge. “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Bacon wonderfully summarizes, “Let no man upon a weak conceit of sobriety or an ill-applied moderation think or maintain that a man can search too far, or be too well studies in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works, divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavour an endless progress or proficiency in both; only let men beware that they apply both to charity, and not to swelling; to use, and not to ostentation;” 


Apologetics for Dogmatics

It makes God the author of sin.

Not so.

“And man there placed, with purpose to assay

If him [Satan] by force he can destroy, or worse,

By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert;

For man will hearken to his glozing lies,

And easily transgress the sole command,

Sole pledge of his obedience: so will fall

He and his faithless progeny: whose fault?

Whose but his own? Ingrate, he had of me

All he could have; I made him just and right, Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.”

Again, the fall arose out of external suggestion, upon external situation, but from an inward crisis. Adam was the author of his own sin. “God left him [Adam] to the freedom of his own will, and that freedom he abused. No doubt God could have prevented his fall if he had pleased, by giving such influences of his Spirit as would have been absolutely effectual to hinder it; but this he was under no obligation to do. He did not withdraw from man that ability with which He had furnished him for his duty, nor did He infuse any vicious inclinations into his heart – He only withheld that further grace that would have infallibly prevented his fall.” Robert Shaw. Consequentially, God allowed the fall. We meant it for evil, but God decreed it for good.

“As my eternal purpose hath decreed:

Man shall not quite be lost, but saved who will,

Yet not of will in him, but grace in me

Freely vouchsafed; once more I will renew

His lapsed powers, though forfeit and enthralled

By sin to foul exorbitant desires;

Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand

On even ground against his mortal foe,

By me upheld, that he may know how frail

His fall’n condition is, and to me owe

All his deliv’rance, and to none but me.”

So if God decreed the Fall as Milton depicts, how then can there can be moral responsibility without free agency?

The decretive will of God which is the cause of the futurition of the Fall is neither its physical cause (infusion of sin in Adam) or its ethical cause (Approval of sin in Adam). Nor because Adam fulfilled the decretive will is he held less guilty as he still violated the preceptive will of God graciously revealed to him. John Piper refers to this most wisely as the two wills of God. Piper writes, “We must certainly distinguish between what God would like to see happen and what he actually does will to happen, and both of these things can be spoken of as God’s will.” The preceptive will of God is “His general intention and longing, not his effective purpose.” The decretive will of God is his inviolable sovereign decree or effective purpose of what will happen. The former is what he would delight in happening. The latter is what he finally decides in happening. The former is what he would want to happen. The latter is what he wills to happen. The two wills of God working together are paradoxical but not contradictory. Furthermore, the Pelagian doctrine that goodness and vice are measured in proportion to the selection  of either being devoid of any influence is fallacious. Calvin deduces, “The goodness of God is so connected with his Godhead that it is not more necessary to be God than to be good; whereas the devil, by his fall, was so estranged from goodness that he can do nothing but evil. 

Should anyone give utterance to the profane jeer that little praise is due to God for a goodness to which he is forced, is it not obvious to every man to reply, “It is owing not to violent impulse, but to his boundless goodness, that he cannot do evil?”

Therefore, if the free will of God in doing good is not impeded, because he necessarily must do good; if the devil, who can do nothing but evil, nevertheless sins voluntarily; can it be said that man sins less voluntarily because he is under a necessity of sinning?”

The voluntary or involuntary nature the natural selection of virtue or vice does not effect the praiseworthiness or blameworthiness of such a choice.


Conclusion

“But to destruction sacred and devote,

He with his whole posterity must die,

Die he or Justice must; unless for him

Some other able, and as willing, pay

The rigid satisfaction, death for death.

Say Heavenly powers, where shall we find such love,

Which of ye will be mortal to redeem

Man’s mortal crime, and just th’ unjust to save,

Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?”

He asked, but all the Heavn’nly choir stood mute,

And silence was in Heav’n: on no man’s behalf

Patron or intercessor none appeared,

Much less that durst upon his own head draw

The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set.

And now without redemption all mankind

Must have been lost, adjudged to death and Hell

By doom severe, had not the Son of God,

In whom the fullness dwells of love divine,

His dearest meditation thus renewed.

“Father, thy word is past, man shall find grace;

And shall grace not find means, that finds her way…

Behold me then, me for him, life for life

I offer, on me let thine anger fall;

Account me man; I for his sake will leave

Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee

Freely put off, and for him lastly die

Well pleased, on me let Death wreck all his rage;

Under his gloomy power I shall not long

Lie vanquished; thou hast giv’n me to possess

Life in myself forever, by thee I live,

Though now to Death I yield, and am his due

All that of me can die, yet that debt paid,

Thou wilt not leave me in the loathsome grave

His prey, nor suffer my unspotted soul

Forever with corruption there to dwell;

But I shall rise victorious, and subdue

My vanquisher, spoiled of his vaunted spoil;

Death his death’s wound shall then receive, and stoop

Inglorious, of his mortal sting disarmed.

I through the ample air in triumph high

Shall lead Hell captive mauler Hell, and show

The powers of darkness bound. Thou at the sight

Pleased, out of Heaven shalt look down and smile,

While by thee raised I ruin all my foes,

Death last, and with his carcass glut the grave:

Then with the multitude of my redeemed

Shall enter Heaven long absent, and return,

Father to see thy face, wherein no cloud

Of anger shall remain, but peace assured,

And reconcilement; wrath shall be no more

Thenceforth, but in thy presence joy entire.”

His words here ended, but his meek aspect

Silent yet spake, and breathed immortal love

To mortal men, above which only shone

Filial obedience: as a sacrifice

Glad to be offered, he attends the will

Of his great Father. Admiration seized

All Heav’n, what this might mean, and whither tend Wondering.”