The Victorious Christian Life

A Lesson Series for the Earnest Christian

© 2002 by Thomas W. Finley, 2013 Revised Edition

Lesson One: View of the Unbeliever

The first view we need to clearly see is the picture of a person who has not yet believed in Christ. This is a person still “in Adam.” This is the unregenerate person. The “old man” of Romans 6:6 is who we were in our unregenerate state.

Men outside of Christ are inherently sinful. Sin is embedded in their nature and they commit sins because of this sinful element within them. What is sin? The common Greek word for sin is hamartia (Strong’s #266), which means “missing the mark.” When an archer aims for the target’s bulls-eye and misses, he misses the mark. Christ, as God in the flesh, was without sin in His human living (Heb. 4:15). This helps us see “the bulls-eye” – Christ Himself. When Christ is seen in the living of a human, He is especially seen in His unique moral character. Not only was Christ’s character perfect, but He also perfectly followed God’s will for each step of His life (Jn. 6:38; Phil. 2:8). By this we can see that sin is anything in a person’s life that does not conform to Christ, particularly His moral character and His obedience to the will of God.

Sin can be in the form of an act, a disposition, or a state of man. When we consider an act of sin it seems that sin can include any meditation of the heart, any attitude, or any action that does not conform to God’s character or God’s will. Let’s clarify “meditation of the heart” – an inner, unseen sin. For the believer (or unbeliever), a sudden thought, even a very evil thought, is not in itself sin. It may come to our minds by way of our old sinful nature, or spiritual forces allied with the devil. Yet, it is only as we accept that invitation to sinful thinking and dwell upon it, relishing it and giving way to it, that sin is brought forth in God’s eyes (Jas. 1:13-15). The involuntary thought is not sin, but the voluntary meditation upon that thought at some point becomes a sin.

Below are two basic characteristics of a person who is an unbeliever:

All humans are born with a sinful disposition. Human nature, in its broadest sense, means that unique set of attributes which makes man a distinct creature. For example, the sum total of a human being’s attributes clearly distinguishes human nature from the elephant, which has its own unique set of attributes. Adam was not created sinful, but through disobedience to God sin entered the world and affected the entire human race (Rom. 5:12, 19). Now, all humans have an embedded sinful disposition. They retain a distinctly human nature, but an additional corrupting factor has come in. This sinful disposition is passed on from generation to generation of humans by birth.

This sinful disposition has two fundamental and related characteristics: 1) It is at enmity with God – it resists God and His will (Rom. 5:10; 8:7); 2) It is unholy, unlike the moral character of God (Rom. 3:23; 1 Pet. 1:14, 15).

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Ps. 51:5)

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23)

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12)

“For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” (Rom. 5:19)

All unbelievers are slaves of sin. Not all men (unbelievers) commit the same sins, or are equally sinful. Yet, it is a key concept that fallen man is indeed a slave of sin and is strongly bound in a master/slave relationship to indwelling sin. An unregenerate person is held utterly captive to the mastery of his sinful disposition and cannot escape its controlling power.

“But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.” (Rom. 6:17)

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 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. 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.” (Eph. 2:1-3)

In the verses just above we see that the unbeliever indulges, or yields to, the lusts of the flesh. The “desires of the flesh” here refers to the desires of the fallen sinful nature within man, which includes corrupt desires of the body, the soul and the spirit. Thus the unbeliever’s life is controlled by the sinful nature.

Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13, NASB)