Website owner: James Miller
What are the things that the Bible regards as sin? Let us list them: adultery fighting hatred fornication rivalry anger homosexuality emulation bitterness lying witchcraft malice stealing sorcery vengefulness blasphemy idolatry spitefulness murder sedition envy extortion heresy jealousy drunkenness hypocrisy covetousness revelling uncleanness lasciviousness avarice unjustness lust dissension dishonesty conceit quarreling selfishness pride strife deceit arrogance Note that many, but not all, of the sins listed above involve actions, conduct, behavior. Examples: adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lying, stealing, blasphemy, murder and many of the others. They represent wrong actions, conduct or behavior. Now note that there is another group of sins that are different: they don't represent wrong actions or conduct but rather wrong feelings. Examples: Anger, hatred, bitterness, malice, envy, jealousy, vengefulness, covetousness, lust, lasciviousness, conceit. This later group contains three subgroups: 1. A group which involves bearing ill-will towards others (represented by such feelings as hatred, anger, bitterness, etc.), 2. A group characterized by illegitimate, or wrong, desires (represented by such feelings as lust, lasciviousness and covetousness). 3. A group characterized by having an unduly high opinion of oneself (represented by pride or conceit). Thus the various sins can be organized into four groups: 1. Wrong actions, conduct or behavior adultery quarreling fornication fighting homosexuality rivalry lying emulation stealing witchcraft blasphemy sorcery murder idolatry extortion sedition drunkenness heresy revelling hypocrisy dissension uncleanness strife unjustness deceit dishonesty 2. Bearing ill-will towards others hatred anger bitterness malice vengefulness spitefulness envy jealousy 3. Illegitimate desires covetousness avarice lasciviousness lust 4. Unduly high opinion of oneself conceit pride arrogance Role of habit in sin. Note that many sins that involve wrong actions or conduct may be habits. And, indeed, many of the sins that represent wrong feelings are also habits --- they are wrong ways of feeling that are habitual. Habit plays an important role in sin. Sins of action or conduct. Note that underlying many of the sins involving action or conduct is wrong feeling. For example: lust underlies the sins of adultery, fornication, and homosexuality; covetousness underlies the sins of stealing and extortion; ill-will usually underlies the sin of murder. Behind most of the sins of all the groups is wrong mentality, wrong outlooks, wrong attitudes, wrong ways of looking at things. What are the positive attributes that are supposed to characterize the spirit of a Christian? Let us list them: kindness gentleness godliness humility goodness righteousness peaceableness patience uprightness purity long-suffering faith honesty temperance meekness sobriety benevolence justness virtue charitableness chastity contentment with little self-control self-denial What are the things that characterize the way of the true Christian, the "path of light", "The Way"? It is the above positive attributes. It is the absence in a person of that group of wrong feelings and wrong actions and behavior called sin and the presence of the above-named positive attributes. These above-named positive attributes tend to all go together, to be an integrated whole, to be "all of the same piece". They tend to reinforce each other and fit together. And the sins listed above all tend to "be of the same piece", an integrated whole, reinforcing each other. And the positive attributes listed above tend to be the opposites of the sins. Let us examine the positive virtues versus the sins: humility, meekness, self-denial --- conceit, pride, rivalry, emulation, envy contentment with little --- covetousness, lusts, stealing, extortion, envy, jealousy lover of peace --- strife, fighting, dissension, quarreling charity towards others --- hatred, malice, spitefulness, vindictiveness, bitterness temperance, sobriety --- drunkenness, revelling purity, chastity --- adultery, fornication, homosexuality honesty, uprightness --- lying, dishonesty, hypocrisy godliness --- blasphemy Question: How can a person who is beset by wrong feelings such as envy, jealousy, malice, hate, etc. change those feelings? How can he get rid of them? Can he do some mental tricks to rid himself of them? Why are they present in him? All people are not beset by these feelings. Why do some people not have them while others have them? The answer is that at the bottom it is all a matter of basic outlooks, values, attitudes and philosophies. It is the basic outlooks that are at the root of the problem. Being humble, content with little, having faith in God, loving peace, loving goodness and virtue, a charitable attitude towards others, represents a set of outlooks, attitudes, values and philosophies under which sin just tends to melt away and disappear. If, in one's love for God, one pursues the above-listed positive attributes the wrong feelings tend to disappear. If one wishes to get rid of his sins the way to do it is not by simply making a resolution to do it (like a New Year's resolution to change). The very first step in changing oneself is to get into a right relationship with God. One must first get to know God on a personal, intimate basis; he must be able to pray to God knowing that God is near to him, loves him, and will help him. The starting point is the quest for God, truth and wisdom. And that quest begins in reading the Bible and quiet reflection. If one possesses the right spirit characterized by the positive virtues one is not likely to be beset by most of the sins involving wrong feelings. Christianity requires self-discipline and self-denial. Note the following scripture: "Exercise yourself to godliness. For bodily exercise profits little; but godliness is profitable unto all things." Tim 4:7,8. The ancient Greeks employed a regimen of exercise to train their bodies. In the above quote Paul is suggesting a regimen of spiritual exercise to train the spirit and mind in the way of godliness in much the same way as one uses physical exercise to train the body. Men can do about what they really want to do. They climb the highest mountains and endure great hardships if they really want to. What is needed is the will, the determination. Men can climb the highest mountain but they are not able to keep from wrong conduct? The problem lies in the "want to". I believe that God is close to those who love him and obey him --- and that he is distant from those who don't love him and don't obey him. To have a friend in God you must obey him. Sin separates one from God. We read in the Bible: "The Lord is far from the wicked: but he hears the prayer of the righteous.", Prov. 15:29, and "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.", 1 Pet. 3:12. So if you want to have God on your side you have to live according to his commandments. Mar 2001 More from SolitaryRoad.com:
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