The booklet is non-denominational. It simply represents one person's honest attempt to eke out the original meaning of the Word of God on a variety of subjects, some seldom discussed. My opinions are clearly noted. It is impossible to write such a booklet as this without being controversial or possibly upsetting to some. My conscience is clear concerning my research and conclusions, but if this book would cause you to stumble in your faith, simply do not read it. I pray now that our God will continue to reveal Himself through His Word by any means He chooses, even if it is not through my work.
What Is Sin?
Sin is not merely an act. It is a condition of the soul. "If we understand what is good, but we do not do it, we sin." In the beginning, the Word was spoken directly to humans from the mouth of God. Then God used prophets to relay His commands and messages to man. Now the Bible contains the words that judge man's sins. Sin comes in many different forms. We can sin against God. "Sin is disobedience to the gospel and the breaking of God’s Law." "Sin is taking deliberate pleasure in unrighteousness, rather than the light of Christ." We can sin against others. We are instructed by Christ to love our neighbors as ourselves, and even our enemies, yet many of us rarely do so. The apostle John wrote, "Whoever says he lives in the Light but hates his fellow Christian, is in darkness even till now." We can also sin against ourselves. "Flee from all sexual impurity in thought, word or deed. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body."
Furthermore, Paul wrote, “Whatever is not done according to the principle of faith by which we were saved is sin." James tells us how sin rises in a believer’s life: “…God does not tempt us. We allow ourselves to be seduced by our own desires, lusts and passions. They are evil because they are of our sinful nature and not of God. These desires give birth to sinful thoughts, then sinful actions, which eventually lead to the death of the soul."
God's Law Throughout History
From the beginning, God's grace has been offered to humankind for any who accept it through faith. God's primary law has always been for His human creation to trust and rely on Him as their Source for all things. However, the ways in which He has required humans to prove that faith have varied. For example, Adam and Eve were not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. Simple obedience to God's Word was to be their immortality. Noah and his family were saved by their trust in and obedience to the command of God. Likewise, it was faith that caused God to declare Abraham righteous, his faith being proved by his obedience to God’s commands. Not only would his trust in God bring him eternal life, but it would also bring life to any who believed in his seed, Jesus. If Abraham had not believed God’s promises, God would literally have had to rethink His entire salvation plan! But He knew what Abraham was going to do all along. For a time, God allowed Abraham, Isaac and Joseph to continue observing the moral codes of the Babylonian land from which they came. All the while, He was instilling His Law in their hearts.
Later, God chose Israel to be His holy nation and gave to Moses their Law. It contained many ordinances, judgments and statutes for Israel to live by, yet none could be saved by it. Rather, it was specifically given by God as a constant reminder of how lost man is without Him. It was God’s hope that the Israelites would see the futility of trying to achieve salvation through the Law and, instead, humbly come to Him to be their Savior. God would have gladly abolished the Law then if only Israel would have turned to Him in true faith. During that time, He gave Israel the Ten Commandments. This was a specific list of requirements the Israelites had to fulfill in order for God to honor His covenant with Abraham concerning entry into and possession of their promised land.
With the advent of Jesus' teachings, crucifixion and resurrection, the Mosaic Law of burdensome, impossible works was abolished, and now any who rely on and trust in Jesus as their Savior will have their sins erased and receive the promise of eternal life. Adherence to Jesus' teachings serves as our new proof of faith. Throughout His ministry, Jesus set forth several dictates of spiritual conduct, but they can be summarized as follows:
* We must love God with all our heart, soul and mind (passion, being and thoughts).
* We must have active compassion toward the needy.
* We must love our brothers and sisters in Christ as He loves us.
* We must love our enemies and those who would do us harm.
When pressed to recite the most important of the Ten Commandments, Jesus was concise. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and you shall love your neighbor (needy, brethren, enemy) as yourself." This is referred to as the Royal Law. Both Paul and James summarized it further, "The law is fulfilled in one saying, 'You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself." Of course, this assumes that we love others with a God-enabled love, as a result of our love for God.23 Thus we are essentially satisfying all Ten Commandments. So we see that the Ten Commandments were not abolished with the Mosaic Law. Rather, they were incorporated into Jesus' teachings, which, of course, also came from the Father. Under Christ's law of grace, the reward of keeping these commandments has been extended to all believers to receive possession of a heavenly promised land.
I know for certain there are many in churches that proclaim “Love, love ,love”, and they may, in fact, appear to be loving people. But they do not have, or are not exercising the true, divinely given agape love only God can give. Their love for the things the world has to offer outweighs their love for Christ. They are not compassionate toward the needy. They are vengeful toward their enemies. And sadly, even they will have to answer for these sins before the mighty throne of Christ.
Again, I pray we do our part in our salvation process by proactively working with the Holy Spirit so God can perfect the good work He began in us. Amen.