Category Archives: Sin

Psalm 51:5 Does God Create “In Utero Sinners”?

“Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.” – NRSV

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” – NIV

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.” – NASB, ESV, RSV

What is going on here? The first sounds like Calvinism and the second sounds like it was sexual intercourse that was considered impure.

First, the context. The heading of the psalm tells us this is what David wrote after Nathan rebuked him for his sin with Bathsheba.

Second, the genre – This is poetry and poetry does not always speak literally.

Third, the tone – this is penance rather than doctrine…an expression of an inner turmoil and frustration rather than anthropology (teaching us something about what it means to be human) and ontology (teaching us something about the nature of our existence).

Fourth, context – verse 6 tells us that God is desiring something of us that is incompatible with a literal interpretation of verse 5, while also reminding us that this is both poetic and hyperbolic, “Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in the secret place.” God does not create “In Utero sinners”

So David has been shamed. His sin has been exposed. He has had to come to grips with the seriousness of his transgression and the repercussions  that will follow (including the death of the child Bathsheba is pregnant with). David poetically pours out his heart. In his “dark night of the soul” experience he bemoans the depth and pervasiveness of the sin in his life. Jack Lewis gives a good example of a parallel statement of hyperbole in explaining this verse, “I have never been any good!” (Exegesis of difficult Bible Passages, 41). That is a perfectly understandable statement. That isn’t doctrine. It isn’t intended to be doctrine or theological anthropology. It is a statement of feeling about one’s self that is overwhelming, so overwhelming that the most accurate way to describe the feeling is hyperbole (exaggeration).

This is not a passage that promotes original sin. It is not a passage that teaches us that sex and conception are sinful. Both of those fail to take into account the three pieces of the puzzle that snap together to give us a clear picture of what is being communicated in this verse.

God Doesn’t Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

I hear this from time to time and I see that for some people it is a faith builder while for others it is a faith destroyer. For the faith builder this statement is a reminder that it is all going to be alright because God must certainly think they can handle whatever comes theirContinue Reading

Openness and Honesty are Not Ends unto Themselves

There is an idea that has been floating around out there for a while that says as long as you are honest about your mistakes then everything is good. There has been a premium placed on authenticity and transparency over the last few years that is very healthy in one respect. However, it can veryContinue Reading

Finding Grace in the Sermon on the Mount – Wrong Teaching Does Not Automatically Make One An Eternally Condemned False Teacher

In the previous post, I pointed out a few places where Jesus actually used the word typically translated “grace”. In this post, I want to point out a passage that I have read dozens of times but only recently has it stood out to me in an unexpected way. The verses I am talking aboutContinue Reading

Walking in the Light, the Grace of God and Liberation from the Rat Race of Earning It

I got up early this morning to go on a long run. About 5 miles in I was crossing the street in the dark and tripped over the sidewalk sliding on my hands and knees. Turns out there wasn’t a curb cut there to transition from the street back onto the sidewalk but I couldn’tContinue Reading

Book Review: Jesus is Better Than You Imagined By Jonathan Merritt

One of the things I always try to do when doing a review is to be brutally honest. There is a temptation to be extra kind on reviews because often the books were sent free of charge and, of course, we like people to like us and send us more free stuff and they mightContinue Reading

Dealing With Sin Requires Much More Than Following The Four Steps of Matthew 18

Jesus spent quite a bit of time on how to deal with sin in Matthew 18. The most well known verses in that chapter are 15-20, “If your brother sins, go and point out his fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they willContinue Reading

What Did Jesus Mean When He Talked About Causing “Little ones to Stumble”?

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. ” – LukeContinue Reading

The Power of Narratives: Sin & Old Country Fences

When I was a kid, we had one of those old country fences around our house. You know those fences that have round wooden posts and old wire? We had that fence around our house for years. One day my dad decided the fence along the road needed to go. So we took it downContinue Reading

Do Church-goers Really Get Salvation?

If you were to ask the average church-goer in Churches of Christ what salvation is all about what do you think they would say? Several things come to mind of what the typical response might include: Getting to heaven 5 steps of salvation Having our sins forgiven While all of these things have scriptural meritContinue Reading


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