It Takes More Than a Clean Slate: 1 Timothy 3:16

by pjamesbeardsley

One of the very common arguments for ‘original sin’ is that without it, it would be possible for men to be blameless in God’s sight without a need to repent or be baptized, and if you’re blameless to God, you’ll go to Heaven. Since the Bible says that those things are necessary, all mankind must somehow be inherently sinful from their creation.

Another silly argument (of which most Calvinist clergy know the problems, but they see no problem trying to trick less knowledgeable people with. Some people would call that ‘lying,’ but I digress) is that if Jesus died for everybody, then everybody must be going to Heaven, otherwise God is unjust: He’d be punishing the same sin twice.

Regardless of whatever other problems (and there are many) exist with such a worldview, a huge one is this: the Bible makes one thing clear in 1 Timothy 3:16 in conjunction with a sinless Christ: it takes more than a clean slate.

16And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Christ in the flesh was justified by the Holy Spirit. Christ committed no sin in spite of the fact that he was tempted in every way we are (Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22). He was blameless by the law. Yet He was justified by the Spirit, not by His lack of sin.

This is of very serious importance. Christ’s lack of sin was His own doing (Hebrews 4:15), yet He was justified by the Holy Spirit. To say that Christ was justified by His lack of sin is to equate Christ’s actions with the Holy Spirit’s, and therefore to tread in Modalist territory.

It takes more than a clean slate to go to Heaven. Thankfully, that’s what being united with Christ, who was justified by the Holy Spirit, provides: a clean slate and more. He’s able to sanctify you wholly and present you to the Father with great joy. The Bible makes clear that’s in addition to being presented blameless in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Jude 24:

23And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

Original sin is not a logical necessity for all mankind to need Christ, and a clean slate is not enough. You need Christ because blameless, even though you won’t reach it anyway, isn’t enough.