Monday, May 05, 2008

The Black Dog White Dog Theory Disproved

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This week's audio message:

The Black Dog White Dog Theory Disproved

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Garrett said...


I'm surprised to hear that you understand Romans 7 to be talking about a regenerate man, in light of what you say in the remainder of your program. Are you really wanting to say that the born again Christian, as a new creation in Christ with a new nature, is in fact "sold into bondage to sin" (7:14)?

By the way, did I ever get around to sending you a copy of the book Justification & Regeneration by Charles Leiter? I thought I did, but can't remember for sure. Anyhow, he has an appendix in there dealing with Romans 7 that I would love to hear your thoughts on. If you don't have the book, you can read the appendix here.

Blessing brother,


Terry Rayburn said...

Hi Garrett,

Yes, you did send me Charles' book, and though I read it then and enjoyed it greatly, time contraints kept me from doing a thorough review of it. Not to mention, it contains enough food for thought to keep one busy in the Scriptures "Bereanizing" (often the sign of a good book).

1. As to Romans 7, I humbly admit that vs. 14 is problematic, but not NEARLY as problematic as, for example, vss. 21 and 22:

...the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.

No unregenerate person could possible "will to do good" (Romans 3 clearly dispells that), nor would they "delight in the law of God".

2. We have to ask ourselves the question, "Does a believer have the ABILITY to not walk "according to the Spirit?"

I think the biblical answer is clearly "yes", else we would not be instructed to "walk according to the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16,25).

3. And when we are not walking according to the Spirit, even if for a brief moment, hour, day, etc., we give opening to something still dwelling in our members...sin.

And Paul makes it clear that sin is IN us but it is NOT us. It dwells in our members, this "body of death" (Rom. 7:24).

I think "the flesh" is much more physical than most people think. Even our physical brains, wherein are chemical pathways of worldliness and sin habits, are part of our physical bodies. And sin dwells therein.

4. I don't think these things can be really understood apart from a trichotomous view of man (body, soul, and spirit).

Our SPIRIT, or nature is born again, a new creation, "perfected" (Heb. 10:14), loving God and delighting in His laws, hating sin. This SPIRIT is the "essence" of our being, the "real" us, loosely speaking.

Our SOUL (mind, emotion, will) is not born again. Our minds still need to be renewed, day by day, through the Word and Holy Spirit. Though "perfected" in spirit, we are "being sanctified" in soul (Heb. 10:14).

Our BODY (Lord have mercy!), is the repository of sin. I'm not saying the body is evil, but it contains evil. Paul makes this clear in Rom. 7:17, " is no longer I who do it [sin] but sin that dwells in me."

5. An unbeliever couldn't say "it is no longer I who do it [sin], because it IS they who do it.

And so Paul doesn't say in Rom. 7:18 "I know that in me nothing good dwells." No, he rather says, "I know that in me (that is, in my FLESH [think "body", "members"]) nothing good dwells."

6. So Paul asks the question, not "what" will deliver me?, but "Who" will deliver me? (7:24). And the answer is the very Life of Christ, living through us as we walk by the Spirit (and thereby don't fulfill the lust of the flesh - Gal. 5:16).

7. By the way, when we "walk by the [Holy] Spirit", we also walk by OUR spirit, that part of us which has been renewed, and which is "one spirit" with Him (1 Cor. 6:13).

8. I find it a little humorous that brother Charles, after his lengthy attempt to make Romans 7 about an unbeliever, closes by admitting that Christians in fact "experience" Romans 7 commonly.

Thanks so much for writing, Garrett.


Terry Rayburn said...


Sorry, I forgot to swing back around to the "problematic" Rom. 7:14, "sold in bondage to sin".

What I meant to conclude is that this is a reference to the believer who is not walking by the Spirit at a given moment, and thereby is portrayed by what Paul describes in Rom. 6:15, 16:

"Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, yo are that one's slaves whom you obey...?"

I believe Paul is merely pointing out that when we don't walk by the Spirit, we FREE men VOLUNTARILY make ourselves slaves to sin, for that time. We act carnally (fleshly).

We don't PRACTICE unrepentant sin as a lifestyle (1 John 3:9), but we are enslaved by it momentarily as we are deceived by the world, the flesh and the devil. Then we walk not by the Spirit, and our "way of escape" (1 Cor. 10:13) is bypassed.

Hope that helps.

Garrett said...


Thank you for such a thorough reply. I hope to respond within a few days.


Only Look said...

Very balanced bro Terry. This understanding both gives us hope to walk in Him as well as keeps us from being discouraged when we fail.

My soul loves the blues to much; yet my Spirit encourages me in the new man I am in Him and I love to think about the power in Jesus or I would personally be overwhelmed with my melancholic tendencies from the flesh. Praise God thats not really me and it will finally have its complete death at my passing into the blessed heaven of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

One day I kind of fell into a blues slump and started listening to those old tunes I once loved and was feeling very fleshly that day. the old song by Boston called Dont look back came on and when it was over some old sappy Beatles song came on and I changed it and you would not believe what came on immediately when I changed it. "Dont Look Back" by Boston. I thought for a second......? Nagh, well maybe even when I drop into those greiviously fleshly states and my soul starts singing the blues...yet even then the Spirit of God is reaching and saying..."Hey, dont look back, there is nothing there...its an illusion. Look at Me...I am your beloved. Only Look To Christ!

Grace upon grace,


Garrett said...


I realize that a conversation on Rom. 7 could go on forever, so just a few things in reply.

1) It must be kept in mind that Paul is not describing the experience of Joe Lost Man on the streets of America here. He is talking about the experience of a Jew (Paul, or converted Jews in general, I'm not sure...) who "as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless" (Phil. 3:6). Not only that, but the commandment has "come" to this person, and they are under conviction of sin. They are in the process of "hearing and learning from the Father" (Jn. 6:45) at this point. All of these things taken together help to explain, in my mind, some of the more problematic verses, such as 21 & 22. A typical lost man couldn't say those things, as you pointed out. But a Jew, who grew up feeding on the law and who was now in the process of being drawn to the Father, could say such things.

2) It is surely significant that there is no mention of the Spirit at all in 14-25. Would Paul ever describe the Christian's battle with remaining sin (if that is what he is talking about), without reference at all to the Holy Spirit? It seems unthinkable that he would do so.

3) You make it sound as if Rom. 7 is merely a temporary state that a Christian can fall into from time to time. But Paul's language seems much stronger than that, as he is describing a state of inability to ever do good (v. 18), along with a "practicing" of evil (v. 19). Can this really be said of a Christian?

4) I would strongly disagree with your understanding of Rom. 6:15-16. If Paul was merely describing two different states that the Christian can bounce back and forth between, then there is no way he could have written vss. 17-18 and 22, where he describes the definitive break with slavery to sin that is descriptive of every true Christian. What would be the point of telling someone that they have been set free from slavery to sin, if they can fall right back into that slavery at any given moment?

I feel like several of the things you said were excellent points Terry, but that they are things that can be established from other texts besides Romans 7.

Thanks again for your interaction,


Terry Rayburn said...


I think you've pretty much dealt with the texts as best you could, but I'm not sure you've addressed my points regarding them.

For example,

1) I asked "Does a believer have the ABILITY to not walk 'according to the Spirit'?"

If you agree with me the answer is "yes", then what in Rom. 7 would not be the experience of the true believer walking by the flesh?

And why would you speak of it as "bounce back and forth between" as though that were a silly thought, when most honest Christians would readily admit that this characterizes their lives (that's why they "rededicate" all the time)?

On the other hand if you think the answer is "no", that a Christian does NOT have the ability to not walk by the Spirit, I would love to see a verse that indicates this.

The mere fact that sin is no longer "master" over us, doesn't mean that we are not capable of being deceived by the world, the flesh and the devil to abandoning the Spirit-walk for a moment, or an hour, or a day, or much longer.

Meanwhile, without understanding the dynamics of Rom. 6, and how to "reckon" and walk, a Christian truly can "bounce back and forth", unfortunately. And THAT is primarily Paul's point in Rom. 7, I believe.

2) You didn't address my point that the one in Rom. 7 is not technically the one sinning, but "sin" which dwells in him.

Do you really think that could be said of an unregenerate one? I think clearly not. It IS that one who is sinning, not just "sin" in him.

3) You didn't address the trichotomous make-up of man (which I acknowledge is another huge can-of-worms discussion).

Because I really don't think Rom. 7 can be understood without that understanding.

Or maybe a better way of saying it is that a true understanding of Rom. 7 will lead clearly to a trichotomous view of man.

Nevertheless, I would be interested in whether you hold the trichotomous view.

4) You "strongly disagree" with my view of Rom. 6:15,16, but you don't address my [implied] point that Paul is clearly talking to believers here, and offering them a reason not to sin just because they have grace forgiveness.

His reason? Because they then *voluntarily* make themselves (who are free) slaves, insofar as they give themselves to sin.

What other possible meaning could this passage have, if Paul is indeed talking to believers?

And if he wasn't talking to believers, it wouldn't make sense to say in verse 15, we are "under grace".

Now, as to your points, as you numbered them:

1) We'll have to agree to disagree that an unregenerate person can "delight in" the law of God, even if a Jew who knows the Law. I think it's a truly "good" thing to delight in God's law, and there is "none that does good" (Rom. 3) apart from a changed heart.

The "law is spiritual" (7:14) and the natural man cannot even understand spiritual things, let alone delight in them.

Even the Pharisee didn't delight in the law, they delighted in their supposed keeping of it, making their pride their delight.

2) I believe the Spirit is not mentioned in these passages because the one spoken of is unfortunatly not availing himself of the Spirit in his walking by the flesh. That's a major part of Paul's point.

Yet Paul doesn't just say, as is often said by Evangelicals who don't understand Rom. 6 co-crucifixion and 2 Cor. 5:17 new creation, that our duty is just to obey God's laws "in the power of the Spirit"

That tacking on of "in the power of the Spirit" is a sad bandaid given by those who often are "bouncing back and forth" themselves, but don't know what else to do.

3) Though the tense of the verbs is indeed "present", which normally might indicate an ongoing "practice", yet the context of Rom. 7, as I would interpret it, makes it a "temporary" ongoing practice.

In English I might say "I'm being a plumber today," as I fix my sink faucet. Present tense, in my case probably ongoing all day :) -- but I'm not really a plumber.

4) You ask, "What would be the point of telling someone that they have been set free from slavery to sin, if they can fall right back into that slavery at any given moment?"

The answer is a) to feed them with the truth that they are indeed free - Rom. 6:14, b) tell them *why* they are free, and how to live free - Rom. 6:6, 11, 14, etc., and c) warn them about how and why they might voluntarily put themselves in the hands of the slavemaster again, unnecessarily.

Thanks for the interacation, Garrett.


Garrett said...


More excellent thoughts to interact with, and I'll try to reply after I give your points the time they deserve to sink in.

By the way, do you use Skype at all? It would be so much better to have a conversation about this, rather than have to type everything out.

Let me know, and thanks again.


Mark D. Vilen said...

I would have to strongly agree with Terry on Romans 7 . . .

Mark Vilen

born4battle said...

Very interesting blog post. I remember something said by Paul Washer (I'm pretty sure) in one of his sermons. As believers we have a NEW nature, not two natures, but that NEW nature inhabits a SIN trained body. (My paraphrase).

Terry Rayburn said...


I like your paraphrase. Thanks.