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On Sin


  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





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