We both love how Matthew has taken the concept of sin and given a breath of fresh air to the topic. You must read this book because in its pages you will finally gain a biblical perspective on sin and what it takes to free yourself from the bonds that so easily entangle!

Gary and Michael Smalley
Smalley Relationship Center
When mental illness afflicts a loved one, how can we understand what is happening and respond appropriately? This biblically-literate and scientifically-informed book offers helpful insight, encouragement, and practical advice. For pastors and for those who hurt for those who hurt, Matthew Stanford offers sensitive and welcome guidance.

David G. Myers, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, Hope College and author of Psychology Through the Eyes of Faith.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Biology is not Destiny

It is clear that the ancient Hebrews and first century Christians were naïve in their understanding of how the brain and nervous system function. However, they were not unaware that this biological system played a significant role in behavior. They understood that disease or injury to the nervous system resulted in dramatic behavioral changes and physical manifestations, many of which are mentioned both in the Biblical text and other ancient writings such as the Talmud (an ancient record of Jewish laws and traditions). It is also clear that the Biblical writers understood that we struggle to control deeply ingrained, biologically related sinful impulses. The scriptures make several references to these inborn sinful patterns and our attempts to bring them under control. Peter suggests that those who indulge in such “fleshly lusts” and “corrupt desires” behave like unreasoning animals driven by instinct (1 Peter 2:11; 2 Peter 2:10-18). Jesus, when challenged by the Pharisees in relation to ceremonial cleanliness and the food laws, taught that defilement comes “from within, out of the heart of men” where sinful thoughts and behaviors originate (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21). John teaches us that the “lust of the flesh” is not of God and should not be pursued (1 John 2:16), while James instructs that the source of temptation is the innate lusts within each of us (James 1:14-15). Paul mentions these same fleshly patterns of lust and desire throughout his epistles (Romans 7:17-18, 23; 1 Corinthians 7:9; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 2:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:5) describing them as overpowering and difficult to control (Romans 7:18-19; Galatians 5:17). However, biology is not destiny. When we fully understand the effects of original sin on our physical bodies it becomes clear that broken biology can never be used as an excuse for sinful behavior. Biblical scholar Dr. Robert Gagnon says it this way, “A biology-equals-morality rationale has no place in a worldview that talks of denying oneself, losing one’s life, taking up one’s cross, dying with Christ, new creation, and living for God.” The fact that we have sinful DNA is simply another example of why we so desperately need a Savior with the power to completely re-create us. We have been made new spiritually (2 Corinthians 5:17), and ultimately, we will be transformed physically (1 Corinthians 15:53; Philippians 3:20-21).

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