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The Loss of Liberty

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
July 30, 2020 12:01 am

The Loss of Liberty

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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July 30, 2020 12:01 am

We have free will in the sense that we can make choices according to our desires. The problem, according to Scripture, is that our desires are only wicked continually. Today, R.C. Sproul helps us to arrive at a biblical definition of free will.

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Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg

How can God hold us responsible for being a sinner when it's our nature to sin, isn't that the dilemma here we have God holding people morally accountable to a standard of righteousness. They cannot possibly attain or achieve.

And it seems at first blush to be manifestly unfair to keep going.

An ongoing debate how deep is man's depravity and how free is or will unfortunately some of the most respected theologians and church history. The importance of this debate today on Renewing Your Mind will consider their arguments as we returned to Dr. RC's ProSeries willing to believe in our session today were going to give our attention now to the sinking of St. Augustine with respect to this question of the relationship between Original Sin and our free will. Now in church history, it's generally conceded that Augustine was the greatest theologian of the first millennium of church history, if not of all time.

And because his thinking on this question of free will and Original Sin was so important and profound in the early church and because it established the basic direction of the thinking of the church for centuries to come.

I've decided to give two lectures to an exposition of Augustine's thoughts on these matters. In our last session we looked at Pelagius and his negative response against Augustine and what is known as the system of Pelagianism. It's also been observed painting with broad strokes that the three major theological systems that have competed with each other over the course of church history are those systems called Pelagianism Augustinian is him and semi-Pelagianism.

Some have renamed that send my Augustinian estimate is much as it represents a middle ground between Pelagius, and Augustine now. Later on we will look specifically at the system of thought called semi-Pelagianism but since it arose after Augustine's controversy with Pelagius will look at it in that chronological order for now were going to look at the work of a really yes, Augustine who, in addition to being the great theologian was also the Bishop of hippo in north Africa. He was the founder of the famous concept that was renewed during the Reformation called Sola Grazie that salvation is by grace alone.

Remember that for Pelagius. Grace facilitates a person's quest for righteousness but was not deemed to be necessary for Augustine, grace is not only necessary, but it is solely as a result of the operation of God's grace within us that we can ever be set free from our fallen condition and our bondage to sin no Augustine was concerned about the question of free will and he made a very important distinction that I thinks necessary for us to understand to grasp his line of thought, and that was the distinction he made between the concept of Liberian art victory in and Libertas the Wardle barium arbitration means source translated by the words free will and the word Libertas is translated by the English word liberty. No Augustine's point in his distinction was this, that after the fall man still had free will, what he lost in the fall was his liberty only take a few moments to explain that in a little bit more detail we can make an analogy between the faculties of thought and that of willing, we know that man was created as a rational creature with the mind and ability to think. He also was made a volitional preacher with a faculty that we call the will. He had the power of making choices now at the fall.

According to Augustine and the Scriptures. The whole of man's nature was affected something significant was lost by the fall. When Paul speaks about the mind. For example, in the New Testament. He talks about that way in which the human mind has become darkened and in theological terms. We speak of what is called the noetic effects of sin is called noetic because it comes from the Greek word noose, which is the Greek word for mind and so the noetic effect of sin simply refers to the effects of sin on our mind. Paul uses words like our thinking has been darkened or clouded and that means that our powers of acute cogitation have been affected by the influences of our fall. We know that our bodies suffer certain weaknesses as a result of the fall are subject now to disease and to death but also the mind has been weakened. We don't think as sharply or as clearly as we used to be able to do in addition to that the mind has been influenced by bias we see how when we are prejudice that sometimes our bias or our inclinations cloud our thinking to the effect that we don't see clearly the issues as we ought to see them because we have allowed ourselves to be captured by a certain bias or prejudice, but I'm using this simply by way of illustration that we realize that the mind has been weakened by the fall to such a degree that Paul says the natural mind is at enmity with God, and by nature, man cannot know God in a salvific way because of this darkness that has enshrouded his thinking, but this does not mean that in the fall, man lost his mind. We still have the ability to think we can still reason we can still add to and to come up with for it may be more difficult. We may make more mistakes mathematically than we would've had we not fallen but nevertheless the faculty of thought remains intact even though it has been negatively and adversely affected by sin now in a like and similar manner. What Augustine is getting at here is that even though the fall has done serious damage to our volition to our choices to our decision-making capability.

It has not destroyed the will man still has the faculty of choosing. We make choices every day, and we exercise our wills. We are choosing volitional agents so insofar as we still have the ability to make choices we still have a will and that will remains free in the sense that the will is not coerced or forced to the decisions that it makes by any external agency or power so Augustine says before the fall man had the ability to make choices according to his own desires. According to his own inclinations and after the fall man still has a will and he still has a free will, in the sense that the will is free from acts eternal coercion now. The very word freedom is sometimes very confusing to us in our own national heritage.

The concept of freedom has been one that has been cherished and we see in our own history.

The Revolutionary war was being a conflict over freedom.

We think of Patrick Henry's give me liberty or give me death and freedom in the 18th century tended to be defined in terms of freedom to do certain thing to do certain things without being hindered by some kind of external authority that would prevent us from doing since FDR's regime during the depression he redefined freedom for us in terms of defining it as freedom from certain things, freedom from fear, freedom from want freedom from starvation and that sort of thing know what we talking about when were saying free. Is it a freedom to do something or is it a freedom from something well for Augustine man's free will still has the ability to make choices according to our desires. However, this free will that he describes here as the will as being free, he says, is nevertheless now in a fallen state of corruption so that though he would use the adjective free to define the human will. He would hasten to add to that, by way of qualification that the fallen creature has a free will. But the problem is that will is now an evil will we still are free to do what we want, but the problem is in the want to that, our desires, according to the Scripture, or only wicked continuously with respect to the things of God.

The idea is that after the fall, man has lost any innate desire to seek after God, or to please God, or to have God in his thinking. This is what the Scriptures call a reprobate mind whereby there is a basic interior hostility towards the pure things of God. That left to ourselves, given our options, we will not choose God because we do not desire him and that's the thing that Augustine is wrestling with in his definitions and his distinction between the Librium arbitration and Libra toss man still has the ability to choose what he wants but since he does not want God in his thinking, or in his life and he has no desire for the things of God. He is spiritually dead.

That what he now lacks is what Augustine calls liberty for him. Liberty is the freedom to do good as well, as to do evil. It is the power morally to embrace the holy things of God but rather, Augustine says that this fall and will is free in the sense that it has the power to do what it wants, but not free, in the sense that it has the power in and of itself to direct or incline its own heart towards the things of God. Now to express the difference in the condition of Adam prior to the fall and man after the fall. I'm going to put a table of Latin terms on the board not to obscure things. But the purpose of using the Latin is to clarify things and will borrow this table from Augustine. Augustine first looked at the state of Adam. Prior to the fall and he said Adam. Before the fall had the pase Jos le Carre and from the word Paul say we get the word possibility or power amp le Carre is the infinitive form of the Latin verb meaning to sin.

If we say that something is in trackable we mean by that that it is without sin, we might talk about peccadilloes peccadilloes are not those little armor clad animals that run around the street at night, but peccadilloes are little sentence in both of those words impeccable and peccadillo come from the same Latin root so the policy le Carre simply means the ability or the power to sin. Adam obviously had the post.

The le Carre and we know that because why because he sinned and what he did was obviously possible. He wouldn't of been able to do it so that prior to the fall man had the pase per car, but he also had the pase non-le Carre, which simply means the power to not sin, he could sin or not sin, depending upon the decision that he made and that was the basic structure of his free will only just interject the comment at this point. This idea that free will means the ability to sin or the ability to not sin. We grant has Augustine granted was the status of Adam.

Prior to the fall. Now Pelagius taught that this twin possibility remained intact after the fall and so for Pelagius, all men of all time have always had both the pase per Kari and the pase non-parkour. The humanist and pagan view of free will that dominates in Western civilization argues the same point that so often when people talk about free will. In our society today what they mean is that I have the equal power to do the good or the evil that I suffer from no pre-inclination or bias to one or the other. Before the fall man has the ability to sin and the ability to not sin. Another two things he does not have.

He does not have the non-Jos le Carre want to confuse anybody here but now this is simply the ability to sin with the negative put in front of it, which means then ability to sin. Obviously, since Adam had the ability to sin, we can say that he at the same time have the ability to sin and not have the ability to sin, but the inability to sin is something that you would ascribe to God. God cannot sin, not because he lacks the physical power to carry out the action. If he so desired to sin, but because his desires are only inclined towards perfect righteousness of all time. He lacks the motive ever to sin.

Likewise, we look forward to that state in heaven right now if were Christians, we still can sin how we know that because we still do sin, but our hope is that in heaven when we have been glorified and our sanctification has been made complete that sin will be no more. It will not become a virtual impossibility because of the redemption of our lives so that we will be better off in heaven than Adam was in paradise because Adam still had the pase per car.

But the distinction in this table that has provoked the greatest amount of controversy, and trouble in the debate over free will is this next category which is called the non-Jos non-le Carre may be a little confusing because here the Latin is using the double negative, which is no no in English expressions but I use the Latin because I think it's easier to follow. In this regard, the nonpar Satan on per Kari means it is not possible to not sin, it is impossible for a person in this condition to live without sin, and this specifically is the way Augustine describes the moral condition of original sin that as a result of the fall we have lost our original righteousness we have lost our innocence and we have been so plunged into moral corruption that now it is impossible for us to live a sinless life, we hear the popular axioms are already past human is human to forgive is divine and even the most optimistic humanists will agree that nobody is perfect and when we make that stipulation that no one is perfect. The question is begged by the stipulation is why. Why do we have some examples of people out there who have lived lives that are flawless and sinless. Well Augustine this and is because of our nature as fallen human beings that we are no longer able to live without sin course this spring soon on a collision course with Pelagius because Pelagius argued that not only is it possible still for people to live perfectly righteous lives. But in fact some of them have indeed achieved that and continue to achieve perfection.

Not so in the view of Augustine.

This is his description of the state of original sin that we are left with Wolf. I can use a more modern theological term, the state of moral inability with which me that by our own power. We do not have the moral strength to incline toward turn ourselves to the things of God reset again.

Moral inability means I do not have the power to choose God by myself because I have no desire to choose God by myself and without the desire or the inclination. I will never choose that which I do not want or do not desire no. Obviously, the immediate question that is raised as it was raised by Pelagius is no way, if I am born in the state where I cannot but sin.

How can God hold me responsible for being a sinner, when in fact it is my nature to sin is and that the dilemma here we have God holding people morally accountable to a standard of righteousness.

They cannot possibly attain or achieve. And it seems at first blush to be manifestly unfair and is Pelagius believed an insult to the justice of God Augustine as the Scriptures clearly declare said that this fallen condition that yields this tendency toward sin is already a punishment for sin. The reason why Adam fell into that state and all of his ancestors fell into that state was because Adam served as our representative. The head of the whole human race so that his probation that he failed as the Bible tells us through one man sin, death came into the world and sin then passed on to all generations.

When Adam fell the human race fell with him. As a result of God's judgment on the race of creatures despised his before global work in greater detail at Augustine's views in our next session we hear a common criticism leveled against reformed theology. Many say it teaches that man has no free will, but as we heard today from Dr. RC Sproul, that's a false accusation, but the definition of free will matters will hear more tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind as we continue Dr. Spruill series willing to believe in 12 lessons.

He looks at the views of some of the key figures in church history.

Men like Luther, Calvin, Pelagius and Arminius helping us understand that some assumptions are free will actually undermine the gospel, you can request the three DVD set of the series. When you give a gift online and Renewing Your or when you call us. Our number is 800-435-4343 in one of my first touch points to leader ministries was in a Sunday school class XXX years ago. I remember they they wielded a big TV monitor and VHS machine and reviewed one of Dr. Spruill's teaching series. It had a profound impact on me at and I say that because you may want to use the series in a similar setting.

Each lesson is about 23 minutes, leaving you plenty of time for discussion in the title of the series is willing to believe Ben will send it to you for your gift of any amount or number again is 800-435-4343 in our web address is Renewing Your tomorrow will return to the series and will consider a couple of questions we choose God or does he choose us to see why, thank you for writing for Renewing Your Mind

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