Whatever Became of Sin? The Theory of Devolution

Whatever Became of Sin? The Theory of Devolution

Michelangelo’s breathtaking painting in the Sustine Chapel.

via Whatever Became of Sin? The Theory of Devolution.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” and when He was done “it was very good.” It wasn’t much longer and Adam, our late great grandfather, sinned – a prideful rebellion against God – and humanity began its steady spiral downward.

Or did it? Maybe we’ve been lied to and the story needs rewriting.

In the beginning there was the expanse. In the middle of the expanse, for no apparent reason and for no apparent explanation there happened a bang. A very big BANG. Over 1,000,000,000s of years, by pure chance, the nothing, which had now become something, became alive. A few more 1,000,000,000s of years later and the alive became furry and even later grew arms and legs, had children, named them Jack and Jill and moved to the suburbs.

There was no law, or rule, or standard with which to measure Jack and Jill’s goodness, or badness, yet the daddy furball, with arms and legs, knew there was something amiss with Jack and Jill, something broken, but what was it?

The Theory of Devolution

Mr Furball reckoned we’re just highly developed Amoebae and as such we have an ‘animal within’. Our ‘moral consciousness’ is a fortunate side effect of evolutionary progress. We needed to co-exist in social contexts in order to survive and so the need for ‘social order’ gradually developed. ‘Sin’, if it can even be called that, is a result of an individual stepping outside the ‘social order’. It happens when an individual’s primal ‘animal within’ bubbles to the surface; and who can blame us, we’re really just furballs in suits. The cure then, to any ‘social disorder’, is merely more evolutionary progress. Another 1,000,000,000 years or so and we’ll be perfect.

The Philosophy of Denial

Mr Furball gave it a little more thought. After a while he realized he was nothing more than flesh and bones and so he denied that sin was ever part of Jack and Jill in the first place. When they were born they were blank slates just waiting to be written on. That they were now bent out of shape wasn’t their fault, it was as a result of the ‘social context’ that they found themselves in. Our personalities and our problems are learnt from our environment. The cure then, to any ‘social disorder’, is merely more education. Jack and Jill need face time with a shrink and in no time they’ll be just dandy.

The Doctrine of Depravity

But furball got it wrong. Sin isn’t an ‘animal instinct’ it’s a ‘willful choice’; it’s not a ‘social context’ it’s a ‘depraved condition’ and no amount of time or education is ever going to fix us.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” and when He was done “it was very good.” It wasn’t much longer and Adam, our late great grandfather, sinned – a prideful rebellion against God – and humanity began its steady spiral downward.

Our sin is a very real very evident condition that presents itself in every man who has ever lived. It is what separates us from God, because He is holy; and it’s inevitably why He damns us, because He is just.

Karl Menninger, who wrote the book ‘Whatever Became of Sin?’ in 1973 penned, “The very word, ‘sin,’ which seems to have disappeared, was once a proud word. It was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word. But the word went away. It has almost disappeared – the word, along with the notion. Why? Doesn’t anyone sin anymore? Doesn’t anyone believe in sin?”

“While you may ignore the ravages of sin in your life, sin mocks you, the devolved theorist and denying thinker alike. While sin is vile venom, a cure has been provided: the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”


The Doings of the Holy Spirit (Part 6)

<— Click here for Part 5 Click here for Part 7 —>

My testimony is closely tied to a sermon preached about the stoning of Stephen. Rembrandt’s Stoning of Saint Stephen cuts me to the bone. The face right above Stephen could very well be Rembrandt’s first self-portrait. Click image to enlarge.

The post includes a little detail regarding the current working of the Holy Spirit; what He does. This list is not exhaustive but indicative and continues from where the previous posts left off.


“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom 8:14)

A parent lovingly guides a child, it’s a characteristic of sonship, and as God’s children we are led by the Spirit. Jesus promised the disciples, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth….” (Jn 16:13)


“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God….” (Rom 8:16)

“How do I know that I know that I’m saved?” Objectively the answer includes: A growing love for God (Lk 10:27 – 28), genuine repentance from sin (1 Jn 1:8 – 10) and consistently living in obedience to God’s Word (1 Jn 2:3 – 5). It is however the blessed assurance of the Holy Spirit’s testimony within our lives which lends eternal authority to our external profession.


“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom 8:26)

Our ability to appropriately pray to God is blocked by our “infirmities”. To this end the Holy Spirit “helps” us, meaning that He “puts His hand to the work in cooperation with us.” (Parry 1912:120)

<— Click here for Part 5 Click here for Part 7 —>

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Part 3)

<— Click here for Part 2 Click here for Part 4 —>

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is, “…that work whereby the Spirit of God places the believer into union with Christ and into union with other believers in the body of Christ at the moment of salvation.” (Gotquestions 2010)

Inaugurated in the New Testament, on the day of Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:5) is an exclusive ministry in this Dispensation. The Apostle Peter confirmed this while recalling the installation of the early church, “…the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning….” (Acts 11:15)

In the context of Paul’s words to the Ephesians (Eph 4:3 – 6) it is our Baptism, along with our shared faith, Lord and God, which encourage us to maintain the bonds of Christian unity. It is also that which unites us to His body (Eph 4:1 – 6), the church, and because once joined to the body a believer cannot be detached (Jn 6:39) it follows that baptism is a once off event.

If sin is the cause of man’s calamity then the baptism of the Holy Spirit is our boon as it represents the liberation from the power of sin in our lives (Rom 1 – 11).

<— Click here for Part 2 Click here for Part 4 —>

The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Part 2)

<— Click here for Part 1 Click here for Part 3 —>

Located where Residenzplatz flows into Domplatz in Salzburg, Salzburg Cathedral (Domkirche St. Rupert) is renowned for its harmonious Baroque architecture and 4,000-pipe organ. It also contains a medieval font in which Mozart was baptized. The stained glassed central dome contains a detailed depiction of the Holy Spirit as a dove, a very popular characterisation. Click image to enlarge.

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit refers to His unique present ministry of ongoing and permanent habitation within all believers coinciding at the moment of their salvation.

This indwelling affects all who believe without exception. John, commenting on Jesus’ own words, says, “But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive….” (Jn 7:39a)

If the Spirit is present in all who believe what then might the absence of the Spirit indicate? Paul issues this stern warning: the absence of the Spirit indicates a defunct salvation, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom 8:9b)

Sin saps believers of power, but could sin disqualify the presence of the Spirit? Paul spent a great deal of time in the first epistle to the Corinthians dealing with the sins of believers (1 Cor 5:5; 1 Cor 6:7). Yet his exhortation to them to stop sinning is based on the premise of the permanence of the, “Holy Ghost which is in you….” (1 Cor 6:19b)

“…He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;” (Jn 14:16) What blessed assurance it is that the comforter is freely and eternally bestowed.

More how and what tomorrow.

<— Click here for Part 1 Click here for Part 3 —>

Addressing Leadership Pitfalls in Africa (Correcting)

<— Click here for Part 3 Click here for Part 5 —>

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness” (Gal 6:1)

Want to hear the verse in context? Galatians 6:1
What is this about?

Address Leadership Pitfalls in Africa Correcting Galatians 6:1

It’s the elephant in the room that no one any longer wants to talk about: The church is as characterised by sin as the world is and no one’s doing anything about it. Click image to enlarge.

At some stage in the last few decades the church in South Africa made peace with sin. Oh, we’re not given over to complete licentiousness but, like holy hypocrites, we tolerate it in our midst. Our young folk “wobble on the tracks” and we ignore it because “all teenagers go through that phase”. We turn a blind eye to our ladies whose idle chatter amounts to gossip. We’ve ceased to challenge those caught in sexual sin (Gal 5:19), confront those dabbling in spiritualisms (Gal 5:20a), tackle those who engage in all manner of animosities (Gal 5:20b) or face up to the other “such like[s]” described as the fruit of the flesh in Galatians 5.

When a believer strays from the straight and narrow Godly leaders must intervene for the good of the individual (Mt 18:15 – 20) and righteous testimony of the body. Sin is a gangrenous contaminant; unchecked its corruption multiplies. Paul speaking to this very topic says, “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (1 Cor 5:6). However painful the process might be, correction, and even church discipline, is an act of grace rather than an act of vengeance (1 Cor 5:5).

How uncomfortable it is for one sinner to stand before another, with integrity, and plead them to holiness. For this reason church leaders must be characterised by two indispensible traits: we’re to be exemplifiers of truth (2 Tim 2:21 – 23) and we’re to be pursuers of truth (2 Tim 2:21 – 23). We’re at war with sin. The battle lines are drawn and forces amassed. We’re to fight sin in our lives, our families, our churches and this world. It can no longer be tolerated, stomached or condoned.

<— Click here for Part 3 Click here for Part 5 —>

Was Saved

We too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ. Click image to link to source.

I’m not a very nice person by nature.

As a 20-something-year-old I lived my live preciously how I wanted. I couldn’t have cared two hoots for God, the Bible or any of that Christian mumbo jumbo.

When I came to faith it wasn’t because I was a good person and decided I wanted to be even better. No! When I came to faith it was because I was a wretch who realized I couldn’t be better; I desperately needed a savior.

That startling moment, about 12 years ago, was when I “got saved”.

Listen to the following passage,

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Want to hear the verse in context? Ephesians 2
What is this about?

There is a real sense that all Christians are “saved”. That’s why we ask, “Are you saved?” and look concerned if you answer, “No.” or “I don’t know.” We want to know if you’ve arrived at that place of grace, mercy and love; whether you’ve crossed over from “death” to “life”.

Other verses worth looking up are Romans 8:24, 2 Timothy 1:9 and Titus 3:5.

Piracy, a Christian’s perspective

How piracy, copyright and Christianity relate

Not bound by the usual rules of engagement pirates who flew the Jolly Roger aimed to frighten victims into surrendering without a fight. Author: WarX, edited by Manuel Strehl. License.

Important to Liezl and me is living out our faith before our children in a meaningful way. Something we do is look to Scripture, identify a principal and put it into practise in our daily lives.

A guiding principal, easy enough to identify, is “Do not steal.” Well in all fairness it’s really more of a command isn’t it? As we’ve thought how to live it out we’ve made conscious decisions with respect to piracy laws. For many years we’ve only kept original movies and music in our home.

A short while ago I got a bunch of audio books. I knew they were probably copyrighted but I justified listening to them because I wanted to “try the medium out”, “see if I enjoyed it” and would “buy into it if it was a fit.”

Well 20 hours of listening later I’ve realised I’ve crossed an invisible mark in the ground. I’ve listened to Tolkien’s The Hobbit (DTW, you read this blog?), Pratchett’s Sorcery, Grisham’s The Pelican Brief, Tzu’s The Art of War… and the list goes on.

Definite hypocrisy on my part as this is something I’ve spoken against before to others with a degree of fervor. And here’s the thing, I’d be hard pressed to explain to my kids why it’s not right for them to watch Noddy Goes Bananas but dad can listen to Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

I read Deuteronomy 6 yesterday while thinking of this. Straight after declaring the 10 Commandments to the children of Israel Moses records this:

4 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

“Arrr! Shiver me timbers matey”, what are the guiding principles that you live by (that was my best pirate voice)? This sound a bit Pharisitical to you? Is not copying movies and music and stuff a bit weird for you? How do you live out your faith? Ever read James 2:17? Read My solution to copyright infringement for a follow up to this post.