Category Archives: Covenant and Law

Was There a Creation Covenant?

Peter Ditzel

Was there a Creation Covenant? Closeup showing God's and Adam's hands from Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo.
Did God need to make a covenant with Adam at Creation? Does the biblical evidence show that He did? Closeup from Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo. Photo image by janeb13 from Pixabay

Did God make a Creation Covenant with Adam? Reformed or Covenant theologians have for centuries taught that He did. More recently, some New Covenant theologians have also said that God made a covenant with Adam at Creation. Everyone agrees that the Bible doesn’t explicitly state that God made a Creation Covenant. Theologians who teach a Creation Covenant, then, have the burden to present compelling, biblical evidence to support it. If, however, we find that they’re merely asserting what they haven’t proven, then they have diverged from sound biblical exegesis into the labyrinth of personal interpretation. Therein lies the danger. If we allow that kind of thinking to go unchecked, we open the door to a Pandora’s box of subjectivism and relativism. So, let’s look at the evidence from the Bible. Was there a Creation Covenant?

Read more… →

Did John Teach Sinless Perfectionism? Part 1

Peter Ditzel

Did John Teach Sinless Perfectionism? A statue of John Wesley holding a Bible posed as if addressing an audience. By Paul Raphael Montford, in Melbourne.
John Wesley taught that Christians can progress to a state of entire sanctification or sinless perfection. Is this what the apostle John was teaching in such statements as, “whoever is born of God doesn’t sin”?
Statue of John Wesley by Paul Raphael Montford, in Melbourne. Photo by Adam Carr in the Public Domain, December 2005.

Did John teach sinless perfectionism? Did he, by saying such things as, “whoever is born of God doesn’t sin” (1 John 5:18) assert what centuries later came to be called entire sanctification or Wesleyan perfectionism? According to this doctrine, Christians can attain a state of perfection in this life in which they completely defeat sin. Alternatively, other Bible teachers interpret John as merely saying that Christians no longer sin as a way of life or don’t sin willfully. Who’s right? Well, John, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was right. And, maybe he wasn’t teaching either one of these things.

Read more… →

Why Did Paul Call Himself the Chief of Sinners?

Peter Ditzel

Painting of the apostle Paul sitting and holding his head in his left hand, with a pensive look. The Apostle Paul, c. 1657, by Rembrandt van Rijn. Why Did Paul Call Himself the Chief of Sinners?
Why did Paul say that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief”? Was he fretting that he was still a sinner?
The Apostle Paul, c. 1657, by Rembrandt van Rijn.

In “Did Paul Teach That Believers Still Sin?” I show from Paul’s own writing that he taught that believers don’t still sin. Yet, in referring to himself, Paul called himself the chief of sinners. Did Paul consider himself an exception to the rule? Did he have a psychological problem with self-esteem? Why did Paul call himself the chief of sinners?

Read more… →

Did Paul Teach That Believers Still Sin?

Peter Ditzel

Painting of Paul sitting and writing at a desk. Saint Paul Writing His Epistles (c. 1618-20). Attributed to Valentin de Boulogne  (1591–1632). Did Paul teach that believers still sin?
One view of Paul’s teaching holds that Paul taught Christians can still sin, must struggle against it, confess it to be forgiven, and must not use grace as a cloak for sin. Another view says Paul taught that believers, who are not under law but under grace, cannot sin. Which is right?
Saint Paul Writing His Epistles (c. 1618-20). Attributed to Valentin de Boulogne (1591–1632)

When was the last time you referred to yourself as a sinner, thought of something you did as a sin, or confessed a sin? Chances are, it wasn’t too long ago. That’s because it’s commonplace for believers to think of themselves as both saints and sinners. But is this biblical? Are believers sinners? It’s a question that relates to the heart of the very Gospel itself. Let’s try to answer the question from the letters of Paul. Did Paul teach that believers still sin?

Read more… →

Who Is the Man in Romans 7? | Part 2

The man in Romans 7 also said, "Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!"
The man of Romans 7 sees the victory through Christ. Yet, he ends by saying, “So then with the mind, I myself serve God’s law, but with the flesh, the sin’s law” (verse 25b). How odd!
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Peter Ditzel

In Part 1, I covered Paul’s purpose in writing Romans, who his audience was, the historical context, and the textual context of Romans 7. In this final part, I will directly answer the question, “Who is the man of Romans 7?” I will also show you why learning the lesson of the man of Romans 7 is immensely important for Christians today.

Read more… →

Who Is the Man in Romans 7? | Part 1

The man in Romans 7 says, "I was alive apart from the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died" (verse 9). Picture credit: Monk Contemplating a Skull, Thomas Couture, Oil on Canvas, c. 1875
Who was once alive apart from the law, died when the commandment came, and was delivered by Jesus Christ?

Peter Ditzel

Who is the man in Romans 7? This is a continuing controversy among Christians and a question I am often asked. Usually, I’m asked whether I think the man is Paul before or after his conversion. I find it impossible to directly or quickly answer because it is the wrong question. But who is this man whom Paul refers to as “I,” and who seems to believe the Gospel while, at the same time, he struggles with the law and sin?

The only way to properly understand the answer to this question is to understand Paul’s purpose in writing Romans, the historical context of Paul’s letter to the Romans, and the textual context of Romans 7. I hope you’ll find this study as interesting as I do. I also hope you’ll see how relevant the lesson we will learn is to our spiritual lives today. For, while the man of Romans 7 is quite historical, his “ghost” still haunts us.

Read more… →

God’s Wrath: Objections Answered

The Last Judgment by John Martin, 1853
Painter John Martin’s depiction of The Last Judgment is fanciful. Nevertheless, the Bible does tell us of a time of judgment followed by eternal life with God for some and wrath for others.

Peter Ditzel

In “God’s Wrath, Part 1” and “God’s Wrath, Part 2”, I showed proof from Scripture that God is loving and wrathful in both the Old and the New Testaments. In this article, I’d like to answer objections to the idea of God’s wrath.

Read more… →

Is the Old Testament Wrong?

by Peter Ditzel

A picture of a woman tearing at her Bible with the overlaid words, Should we rip the Old Testament out of our Bibles?
If the Old Testament tells us “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” and Jesus says, “But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil,” does that mean the Old Testament is wrong? If Christians are under the New Covenant and not the Old, does that mean that we should rip the Old Testament out of our Bibles?

I want to warn you against neo-Marcionism. Some preachers and writers either now promote or are just on the verge of blindly rushing into this dangerous belief. Around the middle of the second century AD, Marcion of Sinope began spreading his belief system that came to be known as Marcionism. One of his central teachings was the claim that the God of the Old Testament couldn’t be the God of the New Testament. The God of the New Testament sent His Son Jesus to be our Savior. The Old Testament God was a legalistic God of retribution. Marcion’s solution to this seeming contradiction was to reject the Old Testament from the Christian canon.