Vol. 5, No. 7
Priscilla's Page *Editor's Note*
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What is sin? Sin is to pass beyond the limits set by God, to miss the mark, to cross a boundary, to be guilty of hostility toward God. "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4, NKJV). Lawlessness is the deliberate defiance of the known will of God. Sin is the rejection of the law, or will of God, and the substitution of the will of self. "To him that knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).
In Matthew 14:1-12, we have the account of the murder of John the Baptist. Why was he murdered? John had spoken out against the sin of adultery.
"For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. For John had said it is not lawful for you to have her" (vs. 3-4).
Do folks become our enemies because we tell them the truth? Paul asked the church that question in Galatians 4:16.
John had definitely become Herod's enemy when he told him the truth. When Herod's birthday was celebrated, he told the daughter of Herodias that she could have whatever she asked because she had danced before them and pleased them. Her mother took advantage of the opportunity, and told her to ask for John's head on a platter, and John was beheaded in prison.
John the Baptist had a clear understanding of his God and he was not concerned with marketing strategies, being user friendly, being politically correct or culturally diverse. He did not have any thoughts running through his mind like, (to borrow a phrase from one of our preachers in the brotherhood), "I really do want to tell Herod about this adulterous situation he's in, how do I make this sound like good news? Maybe I'll tell him about alternative lifestyles." John spoke out against sin with boldness, conviction and without hesitation!
Jesus had the same "problem" that John had -- the whole time he was here. Somebody was always trying to tell him how he had offended the elders, scribes and Pharisees when he spoke out against sin. In Matthew chapter 23, he takes the hide off these very folks as he spoke very directly to them about their pride, their arrogance, their self-righteousness, their hypocrisy, their being judgmental and their legalistic attitude toward others. After calling them serpents and a brood of vipers, he asked them this most penetrating question:"How can you escape the condemnation of hell?" Is that direct enough? Our Lord always spoke out against sin with boldness, conviction and without hesitation!
In Galatians 1:11-21, Paul withstands Peter "to his face for he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision." The Bible says, "And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy." Then Paul said, "But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, if you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?" Do we have that kind of spiritual backbone -- to withstand a brother or sister to his or her face? Paul faced Peter, Barnabas and the rest of the Jews because they all were playing the hypocrite. This definition is not in Webster, but it surely fits this situation; a hypocrite is a person pretending to be something that he has no intentions of ever becoming! Paul spoke out against sin with boldness, conviction and without hesitation!
We, as faithful followers of Christ, must speak out against sin that has begun to manifest itself in the church in ways now that were the exceptions in years gone by. In some parts of the country and in some congregations, virtually anything, everything and everybody is tolerated. Following are a few examples of this ungodly behavior of people in the world that some members of the church have begun to embrace.
Living Together -- People in the world say, "Our relationship is purely platonic." "I'm just trying to pay my rent." Where in the Bible does it say that it's all right to live with somebody for these two so-called reasons or a thousand others just like them? What has happened when these so-called platonic relationships end up producing babies? The Bible says, "Marriage is honorable among all and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4).
Having Babies Out of Wedlock -- People in the world say, "It's all right to have a baby if you want to have a baby, and you can afford to have a baby, you don't need to get married if you don't want to." Where is the scriptural reference for that? The Bible says, "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body" (1 Corinthians 6:18).
Lying and Cursing -- People in the world say, "It all depends on the situation you are in." Where is the biblical validation for that? The Bible says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but only what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29). What would happen in the church if everybody started obeying that command?
Stealing and Cheating -- People in the world say, "It's all right to cheat on your income taxes, the government takes too much of my money anyway." People in the world say, "It's all right to come to work late and leave early, and fix your time sheet to show that you worked an 8-hour day -- you are not getting paid enough anyway!" What version of the Bible are we reading that allows that? The Bible says, "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need" (Ephesians 4:28). Our service on the job is "not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men" (Ephesians 6:6).
Indecent Dress -- People in the world say, "It looks good, it's comfortable, I like it, it was on sale and I couldn't pass it up, I know it's too small, but I will lose the extra pounds," and on and on we go! What interpretation of Scripture is that? The biggest lies told are the ones that we tell ourselves. Self-deception is the worst kind of deception because nobody can tell us anything! Immodesty is anything that unduly reveals the figure of the wearer -- if it's too tight, too short, too low cut, too high cut or too thin, the Word of Christ is not dwelling in that woman richly! The Bible says, "In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works" (1 Timothy 2:9-10).
These and hundreds of other worldly practices are a violation of the will of God for our lives because the church is the bride of Christ. We need to understand that we can either accept or reject God's Word on these subjects or any others that Scripture addresses, but there is no changing of that Word. Sin that we thought was supposed to have been a delightful servant turns out to be a horrifying master! How is it that we understand Acts 2:38 as an imperative command, but somehow, some of these other scriptural references do not carry as much authority? When we say, "I know that's what God's Word says, but don't you think..." When we say "I know what God's word says," we are exactly where God wants us to be, everything from "but don't you think...," takes us away from God's will for our lives!
Have we been born of God? If we have, then this is the promise: "We know that whoever is born of God does not sin, but he who has been born of God guards himself and the wicked one does not touch him" (1 John. 5:18).