Posts Tagged ‘Gospel’

If you have been wondering how and why the church today has become so weak and ineffective, all you have to do is look at what they’ve done over the years.

Churches have repeated the motto: “Every is welcome here.”  This may sound harsh and intolerant, but everyone is NOT welcome into churches! The enemy is very subtle and very seldom plans a direct attack. Like a frog that is slowly boiled in water, he will start so slow so that most will never sense what he’s trying to do until it’s too late.

At first the church welcomed unbelievers into their worship services with open arms. Then in order to make them feel even more welcomed, they allowed them to be part of the congregation by allowing them to join the choir or work in the church nursery. Then they allowed them to teach a Sunday school class. And before you know it, they‘re preaching their unbiblical and humanistic views from the pulpit! 

Haggai dealt with the same problem in his day. This is how he handled it: He asked a priest, “If a man carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and it touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food, does that item become holy?’” “No,” replied the priests. So Haggai asked, “If one who is defiled by contact with a corpse touches any of these, does it become defiled?” “Yes, it becomes defiled,” the priests answered. Then Haggai replied, “So it is with this people and this nation before Me, declares the LORD, and so it is with every work of their hands; whatever they offer there is defiled.” (Haggai 2:12-14)

I’m not suggesting that we post guards at the church doors and check people for their salvation. But I am suggesting that we become more discerning on who we invite to worship with us. 

Many have told me that they invite unsaved friends and loved ones to join them at church so they can hear the gospel. Then they need to repent of their laziness and share the gospel with them theirself as Jesus commanded! There is not one place in Scripture where we are commanded to invite unbelievers into a congregation so that they can hear the word of God.

Go ahead and check. I’ll wait.

If you wash your hair, shower and put on deodorant, and then hug a skunk, will the skunk begin to smell good, or will you become stinky? If you are in good health and visit a contagious friend in the hospital, will your good health make your sick friend well, or will his contagious disease make you sick? It is the same with sin. As the apostle Paul wrote: Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33—Taken from Deuteronomy 7:25)

This has been proven true time and time again when our teenagers get “mixed up in the wrong crowd” and get into trouble.

It would do us well to remember Psalm 106: 32-43: “…but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs. They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them…So the anger of the LORD burned against His people, and He abhorred His own inheritance. He delivered them into the hand of the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them.”

The attitude of most church goers has gotten so bad that it’s hard to tell the difference between those who CLAIM to be believers in Jesus and those who refuse to even acknowledge that God exists! 

So many Christians talk about how we are living in the last days before Jesus returns, but we need to remind each other that judgment will begin in the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17) So let us pray for God’s people to repent and return to God, seek His face and obey His word. 

To obey is better than sacrifice

I don’t need your money

I want your life

And I hear you say that I’m coming back soon

But you act like I’ll never return

I realize that this may offend some, but I must speak God’s truth rather than continue to promote traditions and myths.

 I am continually amazed at how Christians who claim that God, who loves everyone, believe that this same God will condemn the unrighteous to an eternity of torment in a burning hell.

And why these same Christians become so upset when you show them in Scripture that God will only condemn the unrighteous to the “Second Death”—Never to exist again. Is it any wonder that unbelievers resist and reject anything that these Christians tell them about their “loving God”? 

So if a forever burning hell does not exist, just where did this belief come from?

To understand the source of the idea that people are tortured in an ever-burning hell, we have to go outside the Scriptures. That should send up a red flag for anyone who regards the Bible as his or her only truth and source of belief.

“People are deterred from evil courses when, either through descriptions or through typical representations of objects unseen, they learn of divine punishments, terrors, and threats….There is need of religious fear also, and this cannot be aroused without myths and marvels.” —First-century Greek philosopher, Strabo  

Plato (ca. 428–347 B.C.E.) became a key figure in the development of this idea. His name appears frequently in the writings of Augustine, who noted that the Greek scholar had “perfected philosophy” and that he “is justly preferred to all the other philosophers of the Gentiles.” (City of God 8.4) 

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which describes Augustine as a “Christian Neoplatonist,” remarks: “One of the decisive developments in the western philosophical tradition was the eventually widespread merging of the Greek philosophical tradition and the Judeo-Christian religious and scriptural traditions. Augustine is one of the main figures through and by whom this merging was accomplished.” 

One of the key tenets of Neoplatonic thought adopted by Augustine was that humans possess natural immortality of the soul. This was a critical step in his developing the idea that unbelievers could be made to endure eternal torment in hell.

What does the Bible teach?

Pagan cultures and philosophies have contributed greatly to modern concepts of hell. But what does the Bible itself say on the subject? In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word often translated as “hell” is Sheol, though it actually means “the grave.” The Greek word, “Hades” means the same thing as the Hebrew word, Sheol—The grave.

In the New Testament, we find that the the word most often used for hell by Christians is Gehenna, referring to the Gehenna Valley, or the Valley of Hinnom. Just outside the walls of Jerusalem. In Jesus’ day it was where the local population dumped and burned trash.  

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says that the Gehenna Valley “acquired a bad reputation because sacrifices were offered in it to Moloch in the days of Ahaz and Manasseh. (kings of Judah) The Valley of Hinnom came to be equated with the hell of the last judgment in apocalyptic literature.” In extra-biblical Jewish writings from the second century B.C.  the name Gehinnom thus came to be used for the eschatological fire of hell. In the first century A.D. the term was further extended to cover the place where the ungodly were punished, but this was not so in the teachings of Jesus or the Early Church. 

According to Jeremiah 7, the Israelite inhabitants of the region had erected idols in the temple of God, and in the adjacent valley they had set up altars to these false gods. They had even burned their children on these altars to appease their pagan gods. 

In Jeremiah 19:4–7, the prophet offers this message from God: “‘Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built high places to Baal to burn their sons in fire as burnt offerings to Baal, . . . therefore, behold, days are coming, declares the Jehovah, when this place shall no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.” 

This is how Gehenna was known in Jeremiah’s day. In the New Testament, the word Gehenna is generally used in references to the final destruction of evildoers. Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”(Gehenna) (Matthew 10:28) 

In other words, people can kill you, but they can kill only the body. Don’t fear them; fear the One who can put an end to you forever. 

Many Christians today might ask, But what about Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:41? “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’”? And what about Mark 9:47-48? “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” 

In both cases the eternal fire is used in order to prevent them from wreaking any more havoc on the rest of God’s creation. But the “eternal fire” of hell has been misunderstood by the majority of people for many centuries. Note that “everlasting fire” (Matt 25:41) and “eternal fire” (Jude 7) are from the same original words. It is not the fire itself but its effects that are everlasting as in Jude 7: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” 

Of course, Sodom and Gomorrah are not still burning yet they “are set forth for an example” of the results of a sinful course.

And the “worm does not die” in Mark 9:47-48 is referring to maggots. Maggots do not die. They later turn into flies and make more maggots. And the Lake of Fire will not be quenched, but it will eventually burn itself out—Just as a campfire or a charcoal grill will eventually burn itself out. 

The apostle Peter writes: ”And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly;” (2 Pet 2:6) 

The wicked will be burned completely, not burning forever in an eternal fire. “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Mal 4:3) It is the destruction, not the process that is forever.

The Bible is very clear about what happens to the unrighteous after the resurrection:

“When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever!” (Psalms 92:7)

“Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the Lord, O my soul. Praise ye the Lord.” (Psalms 104:35)

“A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found.” (Psalm 37:10)

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) *Perish, not tormented forever in a burning hell. 

“But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.” (Psalms 37:20)

And Psalm 59:12-13 says, “By the sins of their mouths and the words of their lips, let them be trapped in their pride, in the curses and lies they utter. Consume them in wrath; consume them till they are no more, so it may be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob. Selah” 

There are many more Scripture verses that reveal the truth about God’s loving judgments. And the Bible is always clear when you allow it to explain itself.

So what is wrong with believing in and teaching that there is a forever burning hell reserved for the unsaved if some are saved and come to serve God because of it? Because God has not called us to frighten sinners into repentance. And if a person is only following God out of fear, their faith and love for God is not real. They are only using God as a fire escape. And what trauma this will cause them when a loved one dies without Jesus, and they believe that God condemned them to an eternity in a forever burning hell? How then, can you profess to be a follower of Jesus and “love your neighbor as yourself” and yet refuse to speak the truth? 

Many are wondering why the world has become so ugly and hate filled—even by those who claim to be God’s people. The Bible gives us a very direct answer:

“Where there is no prophetic vision or divine guidance, the people cast off restraint. But blessed is he who obeys God’s law.” (Proverbs 29:18)

What is this prophetic vision or divine guidance? It is “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.” (Col. 1:26) If a people do not hear and obey God’s Word, then we can only expect society to break down—even within local churches. 

We see it within our own government officials and throughout the world. With the next presidential election coming up this year we hear all kinds of promises from the candidates: Immigration reform, equality for women, ending sex trafficking, Medicare for all, free college education, higher minimum wage, and taxing the wealthy to pay for it all. 

But do you know what won’t be mentioned in any of the speeches? Human rights for children, how to prevent sexual abuse of children and how to protect children from pedophiles living in their own homes or employed at their schools and daycares.

It was recently reported that at least 56 Nebraska educators were linked to sexual misconduct since 2014! Fifty six! And that’s only the ones who were reported! 

At least 74 students or recent high school graduates were victimized. In some cases, the abuse occurred years before the perpetrators were caught!  

  • In return for pictures of a 14-year-old student’s naked breasts, a Norfolk student teacher bumped the girl’s grade from a 79 to a 95. (He was only sentenced to six months in jail)
  • A Loup City teacher set up a camera in a locker room to spy on high school girls changing their clothes. 
  • An Omaha middle school math teacher groomed and then sexually assaulted a female student in his classroom during lunch.

A national expert said less than 10% of abused students tell somebody about the abuse because of fear, guilt or a misguided desire to protect the educator.

(read more at https://www.omaha.com/news/plus/i-m-really-disgusted-to-see-that-number-nebraska-educators/article_3fd2f36a-d6d2-59ae-baab-74fbb029f90c.html)

While many will be outraged by this, (and rightly so) they may be ringing their hands and asking, “How could this happen?” The truth is the reason there is so much immorality today is because God’s Word is not obeyed. And God’s way is perfect. (Psalm 18:30) But the real danger lies in defiling a holy God by transgressing His boundaries. Our God is a God of justice, and “the ways of man are before the eyes of the Jehovah, and all his ways He observes.” (Proverbs 5:21)

Stories of racism and anti-semitism has been in all of the news outlets lately. I just want to say that I love the people of Israel. But I also love the people of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia—Just as much as I love the mixed people living in the United States. The problem is not the people, but the political and military leaders of these people. 

It is time that the God fearing people in the world today put away their hate, repent, turn back to God and pray for our enemies. Remember: 

“You are far across the ocean in a war that’s your own—And while you’re winning theirs, you’re gonna lose the one at home—Do you really think the only way to bring about the peace—Is to sacrifice your children and kill all your enemies?” — Great American Novel by Larry Norman

 

 

Hanukkah and Christmas are similar in the fact that they both promote false narratives and traditions of men.

The Hanukkah story essentially describes a culture war—Us against them, rather than us against the Greeks and Syrians.The Hellenists were the Jews who had assimilated into the Greek culture, adopted some of the Greek ways of life and incorporated them into the Jewish culture. The group led by the Maccabees resisted any outside influences and not only purged the Greeks, but even their own countrymen. Similar to those in the United States today where much of the population is involved in some sort of culture war and promoting false narratives.

Although the New Testament records that Jesus was at the temple during the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22-23) I don’t believe he was there lighting  a nine branched menorah and playing Dreidel. 

The real story of Hanukkah begins with a revolt, for reasons that would resonate to this day—gross inequality, immoral ideology and religious coercion. The truth is, is that Hanukkah originally had nothing to do with a miraculous oil supply or playing Dreidel, any more than the birth of Jesus originally had anything to do with decorating trees and houses, Mistletoe, caroling or exchanging gifts. 

I see nothing wrong with family traditions as long as they don’t take away from God’s truth of  the Bible. 

Since the Bible teaches that we are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit, (1 Corinthians 3:16) perhaps we should consider rededicating ourselves to God, just as the Jews rededicated God’s temple. 

For more information see:

https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/the-astonishing-real-story-of-hanukkah-1.5296084

https://www.livescience.com/61073-hanukkah-history-traditions.html

Churches today, just as Israel of old, has forgotten God and replaced Him with our own golden calves of psychology, secularism, traditions of men and political bias—and we have reaped the rewards of our actions: Divisions, discord among believers, sexual perversion and worst of all, sexual abuse of children committed by the very ones who are supposed to protect them—from law enforcement to foster care to clergy in the Catholic and Protestant churches!   

It is a sad day indeed when the world tells the church that it needs to repent…And they’re right!  Hear what God says:

“As surely as I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did as you and your daughters have done. Now this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and complacent; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:48-50)

Notice that there is no mention of homosexuality. 

The real sin of Sodom was complacency and refusal to help the needy. And the church today continues on as if nothing is wrong—Much like the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:17—“You say, I am rich; I have grown wealthy and need nothing not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”

The church today has spent so much time judging others that we cannot see our own sin. (Matthew 7:3) Here Jesus is speaking of judging rashly, or passing judgment upon someone on outward appearance alone. We must judge ourselves and our own actions, but not make our word a law to everyone else.

The apostle Paul addresses this when he writes: “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. I was not including the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a verbal abuser, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business of mine is it to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” (1 Corinthians 5: 9-12) 

Many have chastised me for speaking out against sin in the church—criticizing me as being self-righteous or legalistic. But I am only trying to warn God’s people of the path of destruction they are traveling on. Many Christians believe that just because they repeated a “sinner’s prayer” and “accepted Jesus as their Savior” that they’re okay with God and they don’t have to do anything else because Jesus cleansed them of their sins, now and in the future.

But listen to what the prophet Jeremiah said to those with that same attitude in his day:

“For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, ‘I will not serve.’ Yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore. Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine? Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD. How can you say, ‘I am not unclean, I have not gone after the Baals’? Look at your way in the valley; know what you have done—a restless young camel running here and there, a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust? None who seek her need weary themselves; in her month they will find her.” (Jeremiah 2: 20-25) 

The apostle Paul speaks of the same type of Christians in the Corinthian church: “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly—as infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for solid food. In fact, you are still not ready, for you are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and dissension among you, are you not worldly? Are you not walking in the way of man?” (1 Corinthians 3: 1-3) 

But there is yet hope for us all who are called by His name:

“If I close the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send a plague among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7: 13-14) 

Our land will not be healed by any political leader or policy. It will only be healed when God’s people, who are called by His name, humble themselves with repentant hearts, pray and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways. Only THEN will our land be healed.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best of the land. But if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 1: 18-20) 

Today is the day for repenting. Let us not wait until we are on the precipice of destruction before we cry out to God, like ancient Israel did. “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as you did in the rebellion…See to it, brothers, that none of you has a wicked heart of unbelief that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3: 12-15) 

This is my prayer for the Church today.

Many Christians today have been taught, and believe that since we are now under grace, they are no longer obligated to obey God’s laws or observe His holy feast days and Sabbaths. They are also taught that as humans it is impossible for us to obey God’s laws at all. 

But why would God command His people to obey His laws if He knew that it was impossible for them to obey them? He wouldn’t. Not anymore than a loving father would demand his child to perform tasks that he knew was impossible for him to complete.

Neither Jesus nor any of the apostles had a problem with God’s laws. Paul wrote that his gospel of grace upholds and establishes the law. “Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.” (Rom. 3:31 NLT)

And remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:17 and19: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” 

Has everything been accomplished? No. If it were, we would be living on the New Earth with Jesus and all of the saints with our glorified bodies. 

Jesus continues to give us a warning in verses 19 and 20: “So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” 

Our attitude towards God’s laws is a litmus test of our relationship with God. So the problem is not with God’s laws, the real problem is with us. “So indeed, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Romans 7:12)

In the sixth chapter the apostle points out the absolute necessity of holy living, in the words: “Let not therefore sin reign in your mortal body that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness, unto God…What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that when you offer yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey, whether you are slaves to sin leading to death, or to obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6: 11-18)

There is a deep issue here. In Scripture, the person who understands grace loves God’s laws. One of the most absurd of all modern fallacies is to teach that “we cannot keep God’s commandments.” Yet, believe it or not, many pastors are actually teaching this to their congregations.

So let us see what God says about it and what Jesus taught. By studying Scripture we find that God spoke in no uncertain terms about the importance of keeping His commandments. And yet modern churches today have not only rejected God’s laws concerning His holy feast days, but they have replaced them with man-made holidays that are based in paganism and call them holy days.

Many in the church refer to the Mosaic Laws and biblical feast days as for “Jews only” and Gentiles are not obligated to observe them. So let us see whether God really meant that only the Jews should keep His commandments and holy feast days.

What we have to understand is that when God gave His commandments to the Hebrews, it was a mixed multitude of people—tribes of Judah (the Jews), as well as other non-Jewish tribes of Israel—including some Egyptians who left with them. (See Exodus 12:37, 38) In other words, all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews. But God gave His laws to ALL of the multitude; Jews and non Jews alike. AND God expected them to obey them throughout all their generations.  (See Exodus 12:17; 24; Leviticus 23:41) God was even more specific when it is stated throughout the Torah (The first five books of the Old testament) that these commandments are God’s laws and God’s feasts. Never does it state or even allude to that God’s commandments are for Jews only.

When my children were young they obeyed all of my rules: Don’t play in the street, be nice to each other, respect your elders, brush your teeth, say your prayers, obey your teachers, etc. They didn’t obey me because they thought that I would love them more if they obeyed, or that I would love them less is they didn’t. But BECAUSE they loved me, they obeyed my rules. 

We should not obey God’s commandments because we think He will love us more if we obey or that He will love us less if we disobey. But BECAUSE we love Him we obey His commandments. 

This is not about salvation or legalism or being more righteous. It’s about loving God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind.

“By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments.” (1 John 2:3) 

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome…” (1 John 5:3)

“And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the very commandment you have heard from the beginning, that you must walk in love.” (2 John 1:6) 

There has been a dangerous shift in God’s Church recently that should disturb anyone who profess to be Christians. Those who have believed and followed the teachings of the Bible for years are now refusing to acknowledge sin. 

In fact, I have witnessed many who actually support those who are living a sinful lifestyle—and even question if their actions are sinful even at all! And these are not new converts who are ignorant of the Scriptures. They are people who have lived godly lives for years—and even taught others the Bible truths that they now claim are not relevant anymore! 

Words we hear a lot of Christians use these days is tolerance and love. They are both good words, but we have applied them too often, where they don’t belong. What has been the result? Murders and violence plaguing our schools and cities, physical, emotional and sexual abuse of millions of children, corruption in businesses and politics, human trafficking and genocide. 

Just like much of the evils in the world, it began oh so subtly. First we invited unsaved people to attend our church services. Not only do we invite them to church, but we go out of our way to make them feel welcome and try not to offend or upset them by calling out their sin. Maybe even go the extra step of making the unbeliever part of your church family by allowing them to work in the nursery or teach a Sunday school class. Then before you know it they’re preaching their lies from the pulpit. 

What’s most concerning is that churches today have altered how they conduct Sunday services and how they market to attract unsaved people to an event they weren’t biblically meant to attend in the first place. The unsaved are not ready to experience what churches are supposed to offer. They’re not ready to hear the truth from God’s Word, the Bible. So churches attempt to accommodate them with worldly influences. Many church services today resemble a rock concert atmosphere more than a place of worship and discipleship. God told Peter, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” But churches today have called clean what God has called unclean! 

In being so tolerant toward sin, churches today have become more like those they once preached against. Remember the words of the apostle Paul: “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good character. Sober up as you ought, and stop sinning; for some of you are ignorant of God. I say this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:33-34)

In some things Jesus was the most tolerant, loving man who ever lived, but by today’s standards, Jesus would be considered one of the most intolerant, narrow-minded and unloving people. Many bring up the fact that Jesus dined with drunkards, prostitutes and other sinful people. But they neglect to acknowledge that he was the most intolerant  and narrow-minded when it came to obeying God.

Jesus was tolerant toward the sinner, but intolerant toward the evil that enslaves the sinner. To the woman caught in the act of adultery He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) He forgave her because he loved her, but he condemned her sin because he loathed it with a holy hatred. As Christians, there are certain things that we should be intolerant about too. Jesus was so intolerant toward sin that he turned over the merchant’s and money changer’s tables in the temple and called out the hypocrisy of the priests. And in the end he sacrificed his own life in order to free us from the power of sin. 

The Hebrew and Greek words translated “sin” throughout the Bible revolve largely around two major concepts. The first is that of transgression. To transgress means “to step across” or “to go beyond a set boundary or limit.” Most of the other words translated “sin” in the Bible involve a second concept, “to miss the mark.” 

Both of these concepts translate the idea of failing to measure up to a standard. Academic and athletic courses and tests are graded or judged according to a minimum standard. If we don’t meet that standard, we fail that test or course. 

This is where the biblical definitions of sin become important, because Scriptures define the boundaries and standards God set for us and on how we are to live our lives. The definitions of sin in the Bible are not simply arbitrary dos and don’ts. Instead, they show us the way God lives and the spiritual principles by which He lives—The same standard of conduct He expects His human creations to live by. 

What, then, are the boundaries and standards God has set for us that define sin? The most basic definition of sin is in 1 John 3:4: “Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Here God defines a boundary for mankind. He says that sin is transgressing His holy, spiritual law (Romans 7:12-14). God’s laws are good. The problem is with us. Breaking that law—crossing that divine boundary, that God has set for us—is sin. 

Just as a good parent shows their love to their children by establishing rules for them, God gave humanity His laws to show us His way of love toward us. Those laws also define how we demonstrate our love to God and our fellowman. (Deuteronomy 30:15-16; Matthew 22:35-40; 1 John 5:3) Sin is in violation of that law of love. God showed us a way to live in peace and harmony with Him and with mankind and defined this way of life by His law. When we violate or transgress that boundary and break God’s law, God defines it as sin. It boils down to whose will is most important in our lives. Is it our will, doing what we want to do? Or is it God’s will, doing what He thinks is most important? 

Revelation chapters 2 & 3 gives us an insight of what Jesus thinks of sin and what happens when God’s people refuse to repent. The question every Christian should ask themselves is, “What church do I belong to?”

The solution for the Church today is simple, but not an easy one. John Bunyan’s classic, “Pilgrim’s Progress” explains the hardships,  trials and temptations the Christian life can be. I have learned that whenever you speak God’s truth to people you will risk being looked at as the enemy. Even from other Christians. But in the end, it will be well worth it.