Sin is Sin is Sin is Sin

Who Told Us That We Could Assign Degrees to Infractions of God’s Law?

Society assigns gradations to criminal behavior, and that is probably the source of feelings and beliefs of many in the “household of faith” which likewise assign degrees of seriousness to sin. Legaldictionary.net explains that many states subdivide felony and misdemeanor criminal violations into one of four degrees: first degree through fourth degree. Some in the church also think that they can prioritize violations of God’s laws.

Taking the Lord’s name in vain seems far less serious than bearing false witness. While, for another believer, a moderate case of coveting their neighbor’s stuff is certainly more of a “cupcake” sin than committing adultery. And, violation of the “Remember the Sabbath day…” commandment is not something to lose sleep over like committing murder would be. In other words, it’s not unusual to hear God’s people downplay their commission of “minor violations” of God’s law. They think they are minor. And, they do this even as they rail against the perceived, or exposed, sinful behavior of others.

Calling People Out

For example, when did same sex relationships become heaven’s “public sin number one?” No, this is not a back-door attempt to justify a lifestyle that some find a viable alternative, and others view as abhorrent. Nor, is it a diatribe against the LGBTQ community. What it is, is an effort to understand by whose authority we apply degrees of seriousness to violations of God’s revealed will and His holy law. Furthermore, just how do we discern heaven’s acceptability of one sin over another, when both are sins?

Nothing in Scripture places those involved in gay/lesbian/bi relationships at the apex in our world of sin. Now, the Bible does reference the enemies of God’s Kingdom in several places. For example, Matthew 13’s parable of the sower, tells of tares being sown among the wheat. Verse 39 tells us, “the enemy who has sowed them (the tares) is the devil.” Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 15:26 “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” And, James 4:4 admonishes that “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Curiously, even if we wanted to proclaim members of the gay community enemies of the church, that pesky Matthew 5:43 reminds us that we are to love our enemies. So, we’re still not safe. God calls for us to love, even as we love our neighbors and ourselves.

Each Will Account for Their Sins

Let’s be clear on this fact, with God, sin is sin. Romans 14:12 says, each of us will have to give a personal account for our actions—good and bad—to God. One reminder, in 2 Corinthians 5:10, is that we must all come before the throne of Christ to account for what we’ve done, to reap what we’ve sown. And, the counsel of Ecclesiastes 12:14 keeps it real: even the “secret” things will be brought into judgment. To ensure that we understand for whom these passages apply, Paul wrote in Romans 2:11, 12: “For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law…”

Yes, there are revisionists, who attempt to assuage any guilt felt by those in same-sex relationships by declaring the Bible is empty of any condemnation for homosexual deeds. However, that is wishful thinking. Does the Bible declare homosexuality a sin? Yes. But, it also declares fornication a sin. Not surprisingly, adultery is also a sin. In fact, the Bible declares that any sexual intimacy outside of the sacredness of marriage (based on God’s original design: one man, one woman) is a sin.

This begs the question, why are we not so quick to condemn our family members, friends, and co-workers who we suspect, or know, to be engaged in relationships of intimacy outside of marriage? Victory over all forms of sexual improprieties is available through Jesus.

God’s Word contains abundant evidence. The Old Testament offers Genesis chapter 19, along with Leviticus chapters 18 and 20. While, in the New Testament, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and 1 Timothy 1:9, 10 all provide clarity on where God stands with sexual sins. However, please note, at no time does God suggest that He has no love for those engaged in sexual sins. His love for us is evident in that “…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Called to Befriend, Not Condemn

So, what is our obligation? God declares in Ezekiel chapter three that He has placed us as watchmen, and watchwomen, upon the walls to warn those in sin. The Great Commission contains our marching orders, “Go, therefore, and teach…” In Luke chapter 14, Jesus instructs that we are to go into the highways and byways, compelling them to join us at Prince Immanuel’s table. Lastly, Paul’s admonition of Galatians 5:6 is that nothing else matters except faith that works by love. We are called, not to condemn, but to befriend for Jesus, in love.

 

 


This article is part of our 2019 May / June Issue
Subscribe –>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…......…………………………………………………………………




Promise Power

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, January 16, 2017

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 01.16.2017” on Spreaker.

“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?” (Ecclesiastes 5:4–6).

God knows us! This should go without saying, but it bears repeating. God knows us.

For whatever reasons, we often have high hopes and lofty intentions. We often also make bold declarations regarding our lives. “I will lose 20 pounds this year. I will stop smoking. I will begin to return a faithful tithe and generous offering. I will stop eating late at night.” We are accustomed to vowing to do all manner of things. And unfortunately, we are also accustomed to breaking our vows.

What if we vow to surrender our lives to God? What if we vow to help somebody who’s going through financial problems? What if we vow to love, honor, and cherish a spouse before God and in the presence of 200 witnesses? How seriously must we take these vows? Further, if we should break our promises, should we backpedal and make excuses? The answer is obvious.

God knows us, and it is, for this reason, He counsels us not to take making promises lightly, especially to Him. Yes, we do sometimes make mistakes or encounter unforeseen circumstances. God is well able to redeem our broken promises. It is, however, imperative that we do not take our promises for a joke, to be broken on a whim.

Ask God to keep His promise to write His laws in your heart so you can keep your promises, and your word can be your bond. God knows us and loves us. Let us show our love to Him in surrender and commitment. Amen.




The Politics of Life-Why You Must Be A Part Of Them

Politics is essential to life, your life. It was a part of your entry into this world and will be a part of your departure if you depart by dying. A birth certificate proves that you were born and a death certificate will prove that you died. Politicians are a part of both processes. And between those two events, birth and death, you will not escape other political processes. These include certification of public and private schools, professional license, housing and building permits and law enforcement as just a few other government and political intrusions into your life. Public and governmental service may be an aspiration of many youth and adults.

Early involvement of many in government has been in the armed services which is non-partisan at the primary or basic level but is certainly a part of the political process as it is under the command of the President of the United States. He appoints and directs the leadership of the Department of Defense. This is true of all federal departments. Governors, mayors, county executives, commissioners, and county supervisors are also politicians with the same control over those levels of government. Politicians can be dirty without all politics being dirty.
Even persons of faith will find it necessary to encounter the political system and can remain clean and uncorrupted if they choose to continue to live a life of integrity, obeying the laws of God and the laws of government.

corruptIt is also clear that no institution or large establishment on Planet Earth is totally free of dirt or corruption. It does appear that politics is getting worse. Diane Rehm, National Public Radio talk-show host, stated when she announced her retirement in December of 2015, that U.S. politics has become bizarre and irrational. This was due to several candidates competing for media coverage by making different and unusual promises or proposals. Quality candidates of integrity should not try to out-stoop each other just because the press hungers for such news. The Federal Election Commission should monitor the claims of those who thrive on double-speak, euphemism, mendacity, ambiguity, equivocation, duplicity, lies, and treachery.

Office holders should not be able to acquire private or unexplainable wealth during their terms in public office. Required justification with the U.S. Attorneys would help keep them honest and promote early retirement to seek wealth elsewhere.

Even non-partisan politics and non-governmental politics appear to have taken a dip below integrity. This includes faith-based organizations of ministry and clergy. These organizations which enjoy tax deductible benefits should be required to police themselves or lose those tax benefits. Various types of immorality should not be tolerated under the concept of “grace”.

Some Christians and others have been questioned as to how they can work in a political system headed by a president who appeared to have positions far different from theirs regarding services for the poor and disadvantaged. The response could be similar to how Joseph of the Bible could have responded working for the Egyptian government, or Daniel for Babylon, or Esther and Mordecai for Persia. God does not require us to work only for those who serve Him or believe as we do. If so, most of His followers would have to remain unemployed, self employed, or employed by religious institutions. Individuals can be agreeable while not agreeing on everything. In modern times today, if we work for government at any level, like all the other employees including the president, we work for the people and are paid with the people’s money. As citizens, we should work to make sure that all employees are representative of all the people and that employees serve the people and the interests of the people.

Our leaders fail us when they tell us that we can work for the lower paying jobs but should not be executives. We should not be willing to serve in the army, risking or giving our lives and not have the right or willingness to serve as Secretary of the Army or Secretary of Defense. Sometimes, it is necessary to enter an organization as “an undercover agent” for the good of all the people. Christians who witness on the job may be seen, in part, as “undercover agents” as they represent their “Master.”

How does one who has the basic qualifications secure one of those executive, highly compensated jobs? Submit an application or resume to the search committee for whomever is entering office or is already in power. For top federal, state, or city office, one can Google governor or presidential search committees or call the local public library for the contact information. Any knowledgeable elected officials can assist. The president nominates and the Senate confirms presidential appointments. I have been fortunate to have been so appointed and confirmed twice. It is an unusual and honorable achievement. To achieve such, It is helpful to have someone who is widely respected or who has a valuable relationship with the president’s team or the search committee to support your interest with a letter of introduction. It is helpful if you are known by an insider or if you know a person of influence in your community to write such.

Some other good tips are (1) Pray, (2) Plan, (3) prepare, (4) Prioritize, and (5) Persevere. Some other successful friend, relative, or teacher can help one expand on those important P’s above to maximize the opportunities for advancing each step from interview to hiring.