Thanks for that thoughtful contribution to the discussion, Dimmesdale.
In other words, is Christianity really a strong enough force to prevent men like RZ from falling down and going bad? We all like to pin the blame on the man, as if it is all his own fault. And to some extent it is, in my view. I believe in free will.
However, free will has to be controlled by something greater. It has to be conformed to a larger will/system. And people think that Christianity fits that bill, that Christianity itself is perfect. I don't think so.
I think Christianity is not a good enough cure for sin in other words.
I agree that Christianity is not a good enough cure for sin. However, Jesus is. Now let me unpack that statement:
Before conversion, our spirits are dead in sin (Eph. 2:1). Upon conversion, the Holy Spirit brings our spirits to life (Eph. 2:5). At that point, a transformation should start to occur. We should start to work with the Holy Spirit through a process of sanctification by which we become more and more Christ-like over time, a process that will only be completed in the next life. In the meantime, we will still commit sins. John, writing to followers of Christ, makes this clear in his first letter:
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:9,10)
Jesus says that we are to abide in him as he abides in us (1 John 2:5,6). It is through that constant abiding that we mature and learn to overcome temptation and sin. We are able to do that through the person and power of the Holy Spirit. But it takes constant work as we still have to wrestle with our old sin nature that doesn't automatically disappear at conversion and we have to wrestle with the spiritual forces of darkness that constantly attack us to get us off-track.
So when you say that we have to conform to a larger will/system, I say that will is Christ. He is the one to whom we must submit our own wills. It means becoming a "Romans 12" Christian as follows:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom;. 12:1,2)
That's what the sanctification process is all about -- being transformed by the renewing of our minds, that is, gaining the mind of Christ. That power belongs to Jesus, but it is not forced on us and we can resist and ignore it if we so choose. That's the free will you're talking about. So it isn't that Jesus isn't able to cure sin. He is. It's just that the cure has to be battled out in real life in real time and we are not perfect learners. We make mistakes along the way.
But you are absolutely right that just being immersed in God's Word and knowing what it says and being able to argue for its truth and reliability, etc. is no guarantee that we will become paragons of virtue by any means. Look at the number of atheists who insist they have studied the Bible but still don't believe it's true. I sometimes wonder how a person can do that and manage to miss Jesus, yet some do. But that isn't the fault of God or Scripture. The reason for unbelief lies in the individual. The reason for continuing to sin lies in the individual. God does not force himself and his will on us. He requests our cooperation. If we don't give it, that fault is indeed ours, not his.
Bottom line: Jesus is in no way lacking. But we are.