Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What is Sin?

I was asked "What is Sin?" Over the past year I have studied extensively what sin is. I have looked into the Hebrew & Greek meanings, & I have looked at every context where the words sin, sinner, & transgression appear in the New Testament. Here is my partially off the cuff answer.

#1 In the old covenant sin was breaking the laws that God gave.
Romans 5:13 says, "Sin is not charged when there is no law" & Romans 4:15 says, "Where there is no law there is no transgression/sin." Jesus ended the law at the cross (Colossians 2:14, Ephesians 2:15). God no longer charges anyone with sin (2 Corinthians 5:19). This type of charged or imputed sin is gone. Christ took sin away, along with the law, when He died on the cross.

#2 Sin is a condition that causes unloving actions.
The condition of sin exists in the spirit for non-Christians, their spirit is dead (separated from knowing God). For Christians God has made their spirit alive and it no longer has the condition of sin. The born again spirit of a Christian does not have the sin condition (1 John 3:9,5:18). The condition of sin remains for all mankind in the flesh (physical body & mind) therefore Christians can still behave unlovingly (Romans 7:17). Christians know God and have the option to "live by the spirit" by "putting their mind on the spirit." Doing so becomes easier if you allow God to "renew your mind" with His love and His truth.

#3 Sin is an unloving action
This sin is partially dependent upon who is counting. God will never charge Christians with sin because He identifies them by the spirit and not by the flesh. Scripture uses the term sin to refer to something harmful we do to another human being, a Christian can sin against another person (only through the flesh) but cannot sin against God alone. Sinning against (harming) another Christian is considered as acting unlovingly toward Jesus (1 Corinthians 8:12, Acts 9:4).

Non-Christians aren't charged with sin by God in this life but He "stores up wrath" for them based on their actions if they ultimately reject Jesus. He releases this wrath at judgment.

You can count sins against yourself or others (James 4:12,17) but doing so doesn't cause God to count sins, it only affects how we live and treat others. Christians do not need to count their own sins or be conscious of "is this sin or is that sin?" (Hebrews 10:1-2). They also don't need to count sin against other people. God does not do this and they should follow His example for the benefit of everyone.

Summary of What Sin is Today
  • For everyone sin is a condition in the body and mind which causes unloving actions.
  • For non-Christians sin is a spiritual condition that prevents them from having a relationship with God. It is easily cured by trusting in Jesus.
  • For the Christian sin does not exist apart from the body & mind. God never charges them with it & their spirit cannot produce it because it is born in pure holiness in the likeness of God (Ephesians 4:24).
  • For everyone sin is an optional label you can put on unloving actions to hold those actions against yourself or others. Sin is an unnecessary label for actions unless:
    1. You are recognizing what Jesus took for you on the cross.
    2. You are pointing a non-Christian to the fact that they have the spiritual condition of sin so they will come to trust Jesus for the cure.
    3. You are trying to make a Christian aware of their harmful behavior towards other people so that they will walk by the spirit and not by the flesh.

The Sins of the World Taken Away & The Wrath of God

Sins Taken Away
Behold Jesus, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! (John 1:29)

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says, "God gave us the good work of reconciliation. This work is to tell people that 'God was in Christ on the cross reconciling the world to Himself and He is not charging anyone with sin because of it.' He has given us this message of reconciliation. We beg you on behalf of Christ, 'Be reconciled to God.'" The message of reconciliation is for everyone. God has reconciled all people to Himself, however this scripture makes it clear that people must be reconciled to God. Mutual reconciliation is required for salvation.

This begs the question, "Why do people need to be reconciled to God if their sins are taken away and God is not charging (imputing) them with sin?" Sin is not the primary issue of salvation, relationship is. Jesus said "eternal life is knowing the Father and the Son whom He sent" (John 17:3). Before the cross sin was a barrier to knowing God and entering into a relationship with Him. Reconciled means God repaired His relationship with mankind & that He is making relationship with Himself fully available to all. God did everything He could to make mutual reconciliation possible. Our only part is to be reconciled to Him, which is to simply trust Jesus. People do not need to "turn from sin," as is falsely taught, to be saved. Sin is taken away. There is nothing to turn from. How can God require you to turn from something that is not there?

Jesus "took away the sins of THE WORLD" (John 1:29). "Jesus came to earth to take away sins" (1 John 3:5). "Jesus came in the flesh to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26). Notice that the last two talk about how Jesus came in the flesh, past tense, to take away sins and that sin was "put away" by "the sacrifice of Himself." It is obvious by those scriptures when He took away sin. He took away sin at the cross where He sacrificed Himself. Jesus taking away sin is not a future event but a past event. Any other explanation means Jesus did not "take away the sins of THE WORLD" because they still have sin now and they will have it later when they are judged. Thus sin was never at any point taken away for the world.

The world is the world. "God so loved the world" does not mean "God only loved those who would receive His love." No, He loves us all. Likewise He took away the sins of the world all at once on the cross when "God was in Christ" and Jesus "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." I'm not saying people have salvation if they don't receive it. I am saying that God does not impute sin to anyone in this life. He reconciled the world to Himself, meaning He did everything He could do on His part. That was His loving & wise choice so people can have no spiritual barrier in receiving what He offers.

Wrath Now?
Storing Up Wrath
Romans 2:4 says, "the kindness of God leads you to changing your mind (repentance)." God isn't pouring out His wrath on the lost but instead He is pouring out His kindness so that they might change their minds about Him and trust Him. It is those with hard hearts who refuse to change their minds to trust Christ who store up future wrath for themselves (Romans 2:5). People store up wrath for the day of judgement. It does not say God is bringing wrath to them currently. He wants all to come to trust Jesus and He draws them with His grace which is His loving-kindness.

1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 speaks of the Jews who "killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets," who "are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men," who "drove Paul and His co-workers out, preventing them from speaking the gospel to Gentiles." Because of these people's perpetual rejection of Jesus and their opposition to others hearing of the good news about Him the scripture says, "The wrath did come upon them for the end." The wrath is "the wrath to come" earlier spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 1:10. In other words "they stored up wrath for themselves for the day of judgment (the end)." Referring to this approaching future day of wrath Revelation 11:18 says, "The Lord's wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged."

"He who trusts in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not trust the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36). John said this before the cross when mankind was still under the law. God charged people with sin and poured out wrath while the law was in effect. On the cross God abolished the law and reconciled the world to Himself. Alternately the word "abides" is sometimes translated as "waits." Considering that most of the references of God's wrath in the New Testament speaks of "the wrath to come," it can be fair to translate this as "the wrath of God waits on him." Coupling this with what Romans 2 says we can potentially take this to mean that the wrath of God waits, is stored up, for those who reject Jesus.

God's wrath regarding mankind is past tense & future tense. He expressed wrath before the cross, He expressed wrath on the cross, and He will express wrath at the judgment. He stores up wrath for those who have yet to trust Him. In His kindness He attempts to draw people to Himself so they will be spared from the wrath to come. "The Lord is patient, not wishing for anyone to perish but for all to change their minds to trusting Him" (2 Peter 3:9).

Children of Wrath?
The term "children of wrath" in Ephesians 2:3 doesn't mean children of God's wrath. The scripture was talking about how they "indulged in the desires of the flesh and of the mind." In doing those things they produced wrath (anger, destructive & harmful behavior). Ephesians 5:6 & Colossians 3:6 say "the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience." Jesus spoke similarly in John 8:44, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father." Likewise children of wrath/sons of disobedience do the desires of their "father," wrath. They are harmful and destructive, they have no respect for God. Romans 2:8 also talks about those who "obey wrath." His wrath is coming and will arrive at judgment for those who reject Him as Father.

God's Wrath Against The Unrighteousness of Men
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18). Notice this does not say His wrath is against the men but against that which the men produce (ungodliness and unrighteousness). God seeks to deliver the abused and the abusers from harmful actions. Acts 3:26 tells us, "God raised up Jesus and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways." Paul is a perfect example of this, he suppressed the truth but he was rescued from the wrath to come by Jesus (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Summary
"Jesus came in the flesh to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26). Jesus put sin away for everyone. He does not count sins against anyone in this life in order to make relationship with Himself fully available to everyone. Those who trust Jesus have their sin taken away permanently and God will never be angry at them (Isaiah 54:9-10). God will never have anger or wrath towards His children. Those who reject Jesus have God's wrath "stored up for them" & their sins are taken back out at judgment. "Blessed are the people whom the Lord will by no means charge with sin" (Romans 4:8), those people are His beloved children.


Related Posts
The Truth About Sin- A brief post that summarizes what I talk about here.
Judgment In Light of Sins Taken Away- Looks specifically at the judgment scene in Revelation 20.
Psalm 5 in the Light of The Messiah- Speaks about the way God looks at the world after the cross

The Truth About Sin

If You, Lord, kept a record of sins, who could stand? (Psalm 130:3)

Jesus came in the flesh to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:26).

God does not count sins against anyone in the world during this age. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

Those who refuse to trust Jesus store up wrath for themselves for the day of judgement in the next age. The sins that Jesus "put away" are returned to them. (Romans 2:5)

Those who trust Jesus enter into an eternal covenant of peace with Him that He made through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:20, Matthew 26:28, Isaiah 54:9-10)

To those who trust Him God says, "I will never remember your sins and lawless deeds" (Hebrews 10:17, 8:12). God takes their sins away forever (Romans 11:27, Psalm 103:12), freeing them from sin (Romans 6:6,7,18,22, 8:2), cleansing and purifying them from their sins forever (Hebrews 1:3, 13:11-12, 1 John 1:7,9).

Blessed is the person whose sin the Lord will never take into account! He will never charge that person with sin! (Romans 4:8)


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What is the correct way to speak against sin?

Disarm the shame it causes by telling of God's love and His removal of sin as an issue between God & men. That is the gospel, and as people walk with our truly loving Father they will become more loving towards others and themselves. God's kindness causes us to change our minds about the way we see things and how we live life (Romans 2:4). God incites the change and we cooperate with Him to bring about the change. Acts 3:26 tells us "God raised up Jesus and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your sinful ways."

Aside from knowing that Jesus took away sin a consciousness of sin doesn't do anyone any good. If you see people being hurt confront the person who is causing the pain (Paul did this a lot in his letters). If the person is hurting himself follow the Spirit's guidance and offer the him help, reasoning with him as to why what he is doing is harmful. Love keeps no record of wrongs. God doesn't count sin against anyone (2 Corinthians 5:19) but He still protects the people He loves. Jesus didn't run through neighborhoods screaming "Stop sinning!" That doesn't work, love works, God is love.

Three of The Most Widespread & Destructive Lies Christians Believe

  • Lie:  Christians have to confess sins to God or they break fellowship with God
    • 1 John 1 wasn't written for Christians. It was an explanation of how to be saved using inclusive language. John starts off this section of scripture saying "Now this is the message we have heard from Jesus and announce to you." The message is about God and how to be saved in verses 5b-10. (For an in-depth explanation see my post Inseparable & Unforsakable, Fellowship Never Broken, See also Forgiven and Loving)
    • Fellowship with God cannot be broken by anything but perception. God counts sins against no one (2 Corinthians 5:19).
  • Lie: The Holy Spirit Convicts Christians of Sin
    • Nowhere does scripture say the Holy Spirit convicts Christians of sin, it says (in John 16) that He convicts those who don't trust Jesus of sin & that He convicts (convinces) saints of their righteousness. Convict and condemn are synonyms, there is no condemnation in Christ.
  • Lie:  We should look at David as an example of how to live the Christian life.
    • David wasn't a Christian. He wasn't born again because of the blood of Jesus. David was a man of faith who trusted God and he will be in heaven. But he didn't have a new born spirit, he didn't have the Holy Spirit living inside of Him, he didn't have the wonderful promises and realities of the new covenant of Christ. We shouldn't take his shame laden psalms and aspire to view things like he did. Christ made a HUGE difference when He died for us. (For more on this see my Psalms in the Light of The Messiah series).
I used to believe all three of these lies. I learned the heart of God & studied the scriptures and found these things to all be false and horribly devaluing of the blood of Christ & of us. We've been sold a pile of lies that empower sin, devalue us, and put conditions on God's love.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why I Will Never Surrender to God

I just don't like it when people use the term "surrender" when talking about God but I keep running into people using it.

The word "surrender" is not used once in the New Testament. I've never heard it used positively in the secular world unless evil surrenders to good in a battle. We Christians are not evil! We are the loved, righteous, holy, perfected children of God! The first definition of surrender on Google is "Cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority." We are not at war with God! He is our friend, not our enemy!

Some use the word "surrender" instead of the word "submit" but that still doesn't sit right with me. Look how this phrase changes. "Wives submit to your husbands" turns into "Wives surrender to your husbands." Sounds sick and violent to me. Side note:  The word "submit" in the bible is best translated as cooperate. It does not mean "utterly obey," as so often taught. If it did then "Submit to one another" would be senseless.

The great myth of performance based religion is that we are supposed to give our lives to God but the fact of grace is that God gives His life to us. We live by Him & with Him, not for Him. We always have His power and presence.

I hate that religion turns our loving Father into a competing force who blasts us until we give up. It teaches that God's bullets are conviction. Convict is a synonym for condemn and there is no condemnation in Christ! Scripture never says God will convict His children of sin. It only says He will convince them of righteousness. God will never guilt trip you. Don't feel righteous? It is ungodly for a Christian to feel unrighteous. God never causes you to feel that way. Empathy and compassion are godly, conviction is not.

We are in Christ. In Christ there is no sin (1 John 3:5). Stop identifying yourself by the flesh. Christ didn't bear the guilt of your sin just to have a reason to get revenge on you and make your life miserable by guilt tripping you every day. He took your sin away forever. He won't charge you with it. He doesn't even remember it. You are forgiven forever. You aren't a bag of bones. You are God's everlasting & ever-loved spirit child! God is your Father not your foe. I will never surrender to God because I am on His side & Christ has already won the war.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Holy

God is Holy
Holy means pure, unmixed, or set apart. When speaking of God it refers to His purity, that there is no evil found in Him. It also means God is set apart, not in the physical sense but that He is special & unique, there is no one like Him. God is special, wonderful and to be highly favored. Sometimes holy refers to God's trustworthiness, that He is unmixed with falsehood & deceit. God's "holy name" refers to the pure goodness and trustworthiness of His character. In these meanings we can see how calling God "holy" is a form of praise.

“Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?" (Exodus 15:11)

God Called Things Holy
Many times holy means special to God, something He holds dear or as important. In the old covenant there were many inanimate objects, animals, gatherings, and places that were holy (set apart, special, purified for use). What God considers special is important because He is wise and kind. God set apart certain things and practices as holy in the old covenant because they are symbols of the holy man Jesus the Messiah, His beloved Son.

Jesus is Holy
Holy and Messiah (Christ) are actually similar terms. The Father, David, Peter, Paul, John, & even demons called Jesus "The Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24, Acts 2:27, 1 John 2:20). Messiah literally means "The Anointed One" which is "The Chosen One." He is The Chosen King, The Chosen Priest, The Chosen Spokesman, The Chosen Mediator between God and mankind. Jesus is special & unique. Jesus the Messiah is, in regards to living beings, the "Holy of Holies," "The Most Holy Being."

The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is The Unique Spirit of God, The Pure Spirit of God. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God but He is also the first born among many children, God has many sons and daughters. Likewise The Holy Spirit is the Unique Spirit of God even though all of God's children have holy spirits themselves. We are united with God and one with Him yet, like a married couple, He is still uniquely God and we are still uniquely us.

Saints are The Holy People of God
God calls His children "saints" which simply means "holy people." 2 Thessalonians 1:10 tells us that "God's holy people" are all those who have trusted Him. We are holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12) & He calls us His holy temple (1 Corinthians 3:17). We are God's spiritual children, born by His spirit when we trust Jesus. Our spirit is born holy. We are "created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).

God Alone is Holy?
Revelation 15:4 says, "God alone is holy" but the bible calls other people holy, including all of God's children. How is this possible? One simple word, "in." God's people are "in God" they are "in Christ." Colossians 3:3 says we are "hidden with Christ in God." Jesus' prayer recorded in John 17 came true, we are "one in the Father and the Son," "He is in us and we are in Him." Christ is a body, Jesus is the head of that body, those who trust Him are the rest of that body. Just as my hand is me and a part of me so too are we parts of the body of Christ and we are Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12). We are "one body and one Spirit" with God (Ephesians 4:4).

The Holy Bible
The scriptures are called holy in Romans 1:2. This indicates that they are special, unique, and pure.

God's Holiness and Anger
So many people speak of God's holiness as if it were His reason for offense, anger, and wrath. I've even heard people contrast His holiness with His love! God is love. His holiness is not separate from His love. Holy does not mean 'quick to anger' or 'easily offended' as so many teach.

God is not an immature religious nut who considers himself so "pure" that He gets angry at the sight of something just because He doesn't like it. God is love. Scripture defines love as selfless (1 Corinthians 13:5). God is not irrationally bias towards things. He has reasons. He sees and knows if there is something ultimately harmful in something. He opposes things that will drive people away from Him or make them feel farther from Him than they are. God's holiness does not get offended but His compassion burns to protect those He loves like any good father's would.

Offend means "to cause anger in." While there are times where God gets angry and severe in scripture nowhere does scripture say "God was offended" or that God's holiness was offended. Scripture never uses the word "offended" to describe God at all. It only says that we are the ones who get offended at Him! (See Matthew 13:57 & Mark 6:3) Jesus said, "Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me” (Matthew 11:6, Luke 7:23).

God seeks to protect His holy name (reputation of His purely good character) because anything said against His good character would cause people to not trust Him. Those who don't trust Him cannot experience His love or be aware of His goodness. He seeks to protect His name for our sake. He is "jealous for His holy name" (Ezekiel 39:25) because He is the only true God. Knowing Him is the best thing for everyone. Serving fake gods or living without Him is of no benefit and is in fact the worst thing for anyone.

God, as love, does not take into account wrongs suffered (1 Corinthians 13:5). God does not count sins against anyone (2 Corinthians 5:19). One amazing thing about God's love is that He seeks to save the abused and the abusers. He protects His friends and loves His enemies into friendships. Paul is a perfect example of this. He went from being a murderer of God's people to a lover and helper of God's people. God said in Hosea 11:9, perhaps foreshadowing Jesus who said He did not come to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17),  "I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath."

"Jesus came in the flesh to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26). Jesus put sin away for everyone. He does not count sins against anyone in this life in order to make relationship with Himself fully available to everyone. Those who trust Jesus have their sin taken away permanently and God will never be angry at them (Isaiah 54:9-10). God will never have anger or wrath towards His children. Those who reject Jesus have God's wrath "stored up for them" & their sins are taken back out at judgment. "Blessed are the people whom the Lord will by no means charge with sin" (Romans 4:8), those people are His children, His holy children.

God is so holy that He passes His holiness onto His children. He takes those who were ordinary & filthy and makes them pure & perfect forever (Hebrews 10:14).


Scriptures Showing the Various Meanings of Holy
  • Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy (special/pure) ground” (Exodus 3:5).
    • God's manifested presence is what makes the ground holy.
  • Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy (pure, specially set apart). (Exodus 20:8)
  • “You shall also make a plate of pure gold and shall engrave on it, like the engravings of a seal, ‘ Holy (specially set apart) to the Lord.’ (Exodus 28:36)
  • The Lord spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.’” (Leviticus 10:3)
    • God is special, wonderful and to be highly favored.
  • “You shall not profane (pollute) My holy (pure) name, but I will be sanctified (spoken of as pure) among the sons of Israel; I am the Lord who sanctifies you (sets you apart and purifies) (Leviticus 22:32)
  • Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “ Because you have not trusted Me, to treat Me as holy (special/pure/trustworthy- unmixed with falsehood & deceit) in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (Numbers 20:11-12)
  • For you are a holy (special/set apart) people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
  • There is no one holy (unique) like the Lord (1 Samuel 2:2)
  • For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name (trustworthy character). (Psalm 33:21)