Sin

What is sin?

The answer can be varied depending on who is asked.

Mostly, what I was taught to believe is that sin is breaking a list of rules that God has established. Again, that list can vary.

When we get down to it, it seems we uphold the Ten Commandments as the basis of our sin dichotomy. However, if we go down that list, we quickly see that much of Western Christianity is not holding up those rules, especially when we look at Jesus’ definition of righteousness by law such as Matt 5. Another example: the Sabbath is from Friday at sundown until Saturday evening. If we aren’t remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy, we’re already breaking one of the rules. And if we break one, we break them all.

In this, we get a rather subjective list that is easily open to interpretation based on other parts of the Bible. We toss aside or change/justify what we don’t care to uphold and weaponize the rest in an attempt to beat others into submission to our standards. If we take a step back and look at this process, it’s all just comparative righteousness. We have a scale by which we weight our righteousness against others’. This is also known as self-righteousness and is prevalent in the institution we call “church” today.

So if the list is so undefinable, what is sin? If we don’t know what sin is–if there is no list that won’t contain holes—how do we avoid it? Is this even the appropriate question we should ask? Perhaps what we’ve been asking is the wrong starting point.

So let’s look at “original sin.” What was Adam and Eve’s sin? Looking at Genesis 3, it seems they wanted to know what good and evil was by their definition instead of trusting in God. This is how the serpent deceived—trust in self instead of God. Again, righteousness by human means instead of relationship with Father.

Perhaps this is the root of all sin—our trust that our way is right because of our insistence that it is, even when we state the Bible backs our conclusion. This same methodology was used all throughout the Old Testament, yet, we see constant failure by man to avoid the sin condition. Interestingly enough, it seems that even if we’re “right” about our statements, we can still be in sin because of our self-righteous attitude about it.

So far it doesn’t seem quite clear what sin is and how we avoid it.

How I’ve come to see it is, sin is anything that separates us from being in relationship with Father. Jesus came to end that separation:

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”—Mark 1:15.

In effect, it seems Jesus was trying to get people to stop attempting a relationship with Father by rules.

If fear separates us from God, it is sin—even fear of hell.

If we believe that our rule-following justifies us, we no longer trust in Jesus as bridging that separation, or if we add addendum to Jesus’ completed work, we in turn nullify the effect of his accomplishment in our personal life.

If we try to force mandates, accountability, obligation, etc…on others, we are only propping up man made agenda and become separated from Father.

If we use intimidation, fear, guilt, shame, etc…to try to force others into a “love” relationship (what sense does that make?) we are separated from a relationship with Father.

If we’re trying to summon the Holy Spirit into our meetings by long-winded/extravagant prayer, rituals, speeches, music, etc…we deny that the Holy Spirit has been given to live in us and in turn are separated from Father.

If we trust in politics, power, finances, military might, etc…we in turn are separated from Father.

If we refuse to engage others because we consider ourselves “right” and consider them as “wrong,” we are separated from Father.

If we insist that our behavior justifies us/causes God to act—negatively or positively, we in turn are separate from Father. Example: I’m a good person so why is God punishing me with this?

None of this is Father separating us from him, but, like Adam and Eve, it is our insistence that our ways are right, and we remove ourselves from relationship with Father. Thereby, we justify ourselves because of our doings and not the completed work of Jesus. We trust in our own knowledge of good and evil and not in Life itself, which is Jesus.

In conclusion, my view of sin is anything that inhibits our relationship with Father—whether we label these things as secular or sacred. In addition, what inhibits my relationship may not inhibit another’s. Attempting to force a standardized list of religious mandates and obligations can in turn separate us from relationship with Father because of our insistence in our own righteousness by what we achieve. Jesus never forced—he invited any who would come, into a relationship with Father. This, too, is our calling as Christians—not obligation, fear, shame, hatred, accountability, religion, manipulation, mandates, etc….but just a simple invitation for others to come to know our Father through Jesus and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
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Death as we know it

This is another concept that was laid on my heart to delve deeper into. As mentioned previously, I tend to have a view of certain concepts within my own mind that wouldn’t make much sense in a discussion, based mainly on the way certain words have been used traditionally. The word “death” has taken on a different meaning as I’ve been drawn closer to Father.

A Brief Recap
As mentioned before, the original Hebrew concept of death/the grave was Sheol, a place where everyone’s spirit ended up—good, bad or indifferent. I believe this to be an important concept to keep in mind when reading through the writings from a culture that was still heavily vested in this idea.

Deeper
Lately, when I read certain words in our English dialectics, I ask myself whether those words could be referencing the physical, spiritual, or perhaps both. This goes for our English transliterations of sleep, death, grave, or even Hades/hell.

One example, Jesus defeated death by rising from the tomb. The vast majority of Christians know this, yet we still see physical death rampant in our world. If we already have victory over death in Jesus, why do we still die?

Jesus’ physical resurrection was the proof to the Hebrew culture that he had defeated death(Sheol) and the encroaching Greek concept of Hades(hell) (Rev 1:18, 1 Cor 15:55). We have victory over the grave at our physical death. The empty tomb was only the physical evidence to that culture that Sheol and Hades had been conquered—that spiritual death/imprisonment was no longer an issue.

Note that Jesus was already transfigured into a spiritual body at his resurrection. He could make himself unrecognizable to his own followers (Luke 24:15-16) and become intangible/vanish (John 20:19Luke 24:31).

Meaning
So now the question that’s been on my mind lately: What’s the point of an insistence on our physical resurrection?

Considering that Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb was more of a proof in our physical realm, why do we look forward to a day of physical resurrection?

To delve even further into this, Paul goes into a multi-verse explanation of the relation of the physical to the spiritual. He compares the physical body to but a seed that must die in order for our spiritual body to be “birthed” (1 Cor 15:36-37). This could go much deeper but would require a post or so of its’ own. In short, it seems God sows us in this physical realm to grow our spiritual body. When viewed from this perspective, what’s the use of the dead seed shell? We would still fully retain our identity grown from the physical seed into the spiritual body.

Consider this—we already profess that our dead loved ones have a new spiritual body in heaven, now. So, why do we insist that God would ever need to dig up the seed fragment to merge it with our, already cultivated, spiritual body? As Paul states, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Cor 15:50).

The Grave
This brings up an interesting thought. In the passages of 1 Corinthians above, Paul is speaking of the resurrection of the “dead” at Jesus’ Second Coming. Considering this, Paul is stating that their spirits are still locked in the grave/Sheol (1 Cor 15:52) until the last trumpet.

If Paul is right, only those that Jesus took with him at his ascension are in heaven now (Eph 4:8). Everyone else since is still locked in the grave until a future judgmentAll of our claims that our loved ones are in heaven now with Jesus would be wrong in that case.

We can see throughout the Bible, prior to Jesus’ Second Coming, that death is often described as falling asleep (John 11:11-13, Acts 7:60, 1 Cor 15:6, 1 Thes 4:13). This “sleep” would continue until the final trumpet blast. Again, if we are speaking of a future return, it would seem the evidence of the Bible points to the grave still holding dominion of our spirits.

An objection to this may be 2 Cor 5:8. However, this passage isn’t speaking of death, but absence from the body. This only furthers the consideration that no physical resurrection is intended for us as we will have everything and more when our spiritual body is manifested at our physical “passing” (interesting how we lean towards using that word).

A Wide Overview
So where am I going with this?

Daniel speaks of a period of 490 years (I won’t go into all of the specifics in this post). At the 483rd, the Messiah is “cut-off” (Dan 9:25-26). This aligns with the time of Jesus dying, being raised, and ascending. The remaining seven years were “paused.” It would seem that Jesus gave Israel the span of a generation (Matt 24:34, 23:36, 16:27-28) to repent (change their mind) and abandon the Old Covenant for the New Covenant that he had established in his blood (Luke 22:20). Some did, many didn’t. This seemed to be a rather unique time where a choice between two covenants could be made before the old was completely “consummated” (Heb 9:26) at the end of those ages, that is, God’s plan of Jesus’ restoration of all of creation revealed (Col 1:19-20). Those choosing the old would be under the curse because that covenant made no one perfect (Heb 7:19). Comparing Deut 28:15-68 with what transpires in Revelation, we see the payment issued to those insistent on living under the Old Covenant. Then, that kingdom was closed out forever and delivered up to the Father (1 Cor 15:24 – same chapter as above discussing the resurrection and Second Coming). The final 7 years were fulfilled (imo) in the war of 66-73 AD.

During the end of that age, those locked in the grave underwent their spiritual ascension, just as Paul stated. All of the New Testament authors intimated the prevalence of the signs of the Day of the Lord in their generation—the full inception of the spiritual Kingdom that we are free to begin living in now, and the spiritual ascension of those who had been locked in the grave during that interim period.

Conclusion
I know this can go much deeper, but the overall intimation of the Bible, even our own subconscious belief, is that our loved ones, who have gone before us, are already enjoying their spiritual bodies in heaven. If these bodies were cultivated from their physical “seed” in the first place, what point is there to recombine them with a dead and decayed seed fragment in some future age? Just as a butterfly abandons its’ cocoon when it has served the purpose of housing that transformation, so also would we abandon this mortal shell, through physical death. Until then, we have the opportunity to continue in our spiritual transfiguration in this realm.

As always, these are my personal views when considering all of the context of the Bible. This, indeed, can go much deeper, but I tried to hit most of the overarching principles. Feel free to toss all of this aside if it doesn’t work in your personal walk with Jesus.

Life and Death

Yet another day where I have miscellaneous thoughts floating around in my brain. Here’s just one.

I heard a great couple of questions/statements yesterday from “The Shack” author WM Paul Young (Here is the link if you are able to view it).

If God has gone through such great lengths, because of his infinite love for us, to ensure our ability to say “no” to love, life, joy, hope, relationship—what would make us think that suddenly ends, that something changes God’s mind, at death?

I know some of the proof texts for this thinking, but I wanted to delve a little into my thoughts on this. The first is Hebrews 9:27:

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, (NIV).

First, if we only take this verse alone, out of context, we can attempt to skew it into a threat that states—“You’re gonna die and be judged so you better do what we say to avoid torment.” However, there’s a comma at the end of this verse, signaling a continuance. Likewise, “Just as” starts off this statement, denoting something is about to be compared. If we hard stop at the end of the verse, then we can see how easily individual scriptures can be skewed to form doctrines that don’t sync well with other passages. This in turn creates chaos and confusion. Additionally, if we just see the words “face judgment,” we immediately default to our Westernized forms of punishment. Often, when a crime happens, the first reaction we see is a cry for judgment/punishment, under the guise of “justice.” This is a far cry from the grace Jesus showed to us while we were still sinners. Taking this verse alone and out of context, we can make illogical leaps that create just what we see in our world today.

If we look at some surrounding verses, we begin to see the broader picture of what this author was stating. Here’s a more full context of this passage: Hebrews 9:25-28.

We see that Jesus offered himself once for all sin. He took the eternal punishment once and for all for everyone. In context, this verse seems to imply the opposite of what is often implied, that we must continually cleanse ourselves of sin lest we die suddenly and are judged eternally for a minor slip-up or “un-confessed sin.” Is our all-loving Father really that bipolar?

This leads to the second proof text: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,“—Romans 3:23 (NIV)

Again, this verse brings us to a dead stop, quotable sledge hammer that we attempt to pound others into submission with. As with the first proof text, we see a comma at the end of the verse, denoting that their is a continuation. If we take a look at verse 24, we see another comparison: “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” In this, we see more of a complete thought from Paul instead of an out-of-context snippet. All have sinned and all are justified freely by Jesus’ redemptive grace.

We’re taught from infancy that we must submit ourselves to someone else’ insistence of right/wrong with all the sociopolitical bindings and financial implications that entails. Such doctrines of deceit, along with threats of damnation if you bother to research the context and question, have long been the foundation of much of religion.

When we take scripture out of the context of Father’s love and life in Christ, we in turn base all of our decisions on a single instance of time—our death. This causes us to ignore much of life and base all of our decisions on that moment. In turn, without even realizing it, we are controlled by death instead of living life that has been established by Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection.

I was going to write on a couple more topics, but the words flowed freely enough that this post is already long, so I’ll stop here for today. As always, please study these concepts for yourself as pertinent to your personal growth in the Spirit. These are my personal views that have helped me to fall deeper in love with Father as I walk and talk with Jesus.

Mom

Today is my birthday and the first occasion without my mom. She passed away from cancer on Aug 4th. While I miss her annual phone call, I know she is where I have my heart set to be, with our savior Jesus.
The day that she passed, I fully expected to be in a deep depression as soon as she took her last breath. While there were tears at her passing, something unexpected happened. I felt her spirit fully awaken in God’s Kingdom. Now, I feel her more spiritually than I did when she was alive in the flesh. As she told me sometime before, God is with her and we are with God so it’s like she never left. I still long to see her again, but knowing she is with Jesus, I wouldn’t wish her back to this old world even if I could.