By: Joe Butta and Steve Daskal
CHRISTIAN MESSIANIC ANALYSIS AND APOLOGETICS
In the previous post the following comments were made concerning Biblical Christianity: “The latter [Christianity] emphasizes loving God with all one’s heart, mind, and strength, and loving others as one loves oneself. The latter [also] emphasizes confession, repentance, and acceptance of divine forgiveness. Sin, as understood in Biblical Christianity, is the fallen spiritual nature that we have inherited from our first earthly parents, Adam and Eve. Unlike secular humanists and Islamists, who see humankind as basically good but corruptible, the faith that Jesus inspired and is taught in the Bible insists that we have all sinned and this is due to the sin nature that we inherited.
Biblical Christianity is not a faith based on strict adherence to Mosaic law. It is based instead upon a unique relationship between the omnipotent, eternal Creator God and His people, through whom He would redeem all of mankind from sin. God instituted the Torah through Moses to give the new nation of Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a standard for living that, if followed, would set them apart from the ruthless, fatalistic, idol-worshipers around them and thereby enable them to be a holy nation — holiness in Hebrew meaning “set apart.”
The Christian understanding of sin is something deeper than bad behavior or even “bad thoughts.” Sin is a fundamental problem, a change in the very nature of mankind from what God created into something separated from God. What caused that separation — what was that sin? PRIDE. The desire of a creature [whether human or angelic] to be omnipotent and omniscient LIKE God, instead of being sustained in LOVE of God and trusting in His provision. This is the sin that led to Lucifer [a.k.a. Satan, the Adversary], once the highest of angels, being cast out of heaven [Isaiah 14:12, Luke 10:18]. All of the other evil thoughts and deeds of which we are all painfully aware, whether in our own hearts or in the behavior of others, are a manifestation of pride, either on its own or twisting and corrupting something positive.
For example, let’s consider some of the Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17].
> The 1st & 2nd Commandments forbid having, making, or worshipping other gods. People don’t like having an omnipotent, omniscient God because they cannot manipulate, negotiate with, or hide from Him. They prefer gods they make in their own image, that they can deal with the way they would deal with a human ruler, and who cannot know their thoughts or deeds done in secret. This is the result of an aspect of pride that leads a person to think they are better able to provide and choose for themselves [and others] than God.
> The 3rd Commandment forbids using God’s Name in vain, whether making oaths in His Name or cursing others. This is the result of a sort of pride, similar to that involved in violating the 1st Commandment, wanting to have a god that gives a person power and good fortune, but is not omnipotent or omniscient but can be negotiated with or manipulated.
> The 4th Commandment requires keeping the Sabbath holy. God made this provision for the benefit of His people, that they would have a day of rest to spend time in prayer with Him, studying His Word, and enjoying their families, rather than constantly working to make themselves [or their masters] wealthier. Pride leads people to count on their own provision [or that of more powerful people], to think they know best how to manage their time and resources, instead of relying upon God’s gracious provision. Pride leads people to value independence, when they should be valuing dependence upon God.
> Pride also leads people to resist or reject the 5th Commandment [honor your parents, implicitly above one’s self]; the 6th Commandment to not murder [thinking one’s own desires or reputation more important than the life of another]; the 7th Commandment to not commit adultery [putting one’s own lusts above the integrity of another person’s virginity or marriage]; the 8th Commandment to not steal [thinking one’s own desires outweigh the rights of another]; the 9th Commandment to not give false testimony [to put one’s own interests ahead of those of another, even at risk of their life, and ahead of the community interest in justice]; and the 10th Commandment to not covet the spouse or property of another [thinking oneself more worthy of them than their rightful holder].
Ultimately, sin is about rebellion against God’s sovereign authority as Creator and king, insisting on being in charge of one’s own destiny and resenting anyone, even a perfectly good and loving God, making decisions that affect individuals. It is a lack of love and trust in His provision, His wisdom, His care. It grieves God when His creatures respond to Him in this way.
God, recognizing that mankind, being imperfect but self-aware, would be infinitely susceptible to the sin of pride, planned from the beginning to make provision for overcoming it. He intended from the very beginning to establish the Law [Torah], and to send godly but fallible human judges, prophets, and kings to try to encourage His chosen people, set apart to Himself, to live in a way that would in turn be an example to the rest of mankind. He also knew that mankind would not be able to remain loving and faithful to Him, despite all of these guides and reminders, and even repeated chastisements to remind His people of His power to correct them. So God, as part of His perfect plan for Creation, intended for God the Father to send His own Son, to earth, to create the ultimate remedy for sin and pride —He being the perfect sacrifice to atone for sin.
The people of Israel could not keep the Law, because their natures, like those of all mankind since the Fall and expulsion from Eden, were sinful. Jesus came and lived the Law to perfection by putting love and compassion into practice. He alone could achieve purity in thought as well as in deed, completely adhering to the Law, even as He Himself expressed it’s essence: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ … And … ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” [Matt 22:37-40]
Jesus laid out a clear path to salvation for the lost sheep of the children of Israel. They were to have faith in Him, confessing their sin [acknowledging it before God], repenting of their sin [desiring sincerely to break away from sin and live by faith in obedience to God], and accepting through His death on the cross redemption from their sin [see Ephesians 2:1-10 & Romans 6:23]. Later after His death and resurrection, Paul and the other Apostles brought this message first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles.
Just prior to the beginning of Messiah Jesus’ ministry, John the Baptist urged people to repent for the forgiveness of sins [Matt 3, Luke 3]. John was the last Biblical prophet [Matt 3:3, 11:9]. He was essentially a bridge between the prophets of the Tenakh [Old Testament] era and the ministry of Christ and His Apostles that begins the church age. He understood the sin condition that all have inherited. He wanted us to realize that we are not good or holy. Our first step towards God is to confess that we are sinners; the second is to repent of our sin and ask for His forgiveness and cleansing. John the Baptist also told them that “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” [Luke 3:16].
In John chapter 3 Jesus reemphasized that baptism must not just be of water but also of the spirit for one to enter the Kingdom of God. Believing in God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is necessary to gain everlasting life. This is possible because Jesus has the power to forgive our sins but first we must acknowledge that we are sinners. [Mark 2:1-17, Luke 5:17-31]
We are to be thankful for what we have and as we forgive others so we will also be forgiven. In appreciation we are to be sowing the seed of His word. Some won’t understand it, others will abandon it when trouble comes and still others will love this sinful world more. As for the one who hears and understands they will also sow the word to others who need to hear it.
When we come into a relationship with the Lord of the Bible our attitude will eventually change. Galatians 6:14 “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Again in Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
When we place Jesus on the throne of our lives then the following attributes begin to increase in our lives. Galatians 5:22-24 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
True Christians are loving, have inner peace, work for peace, bear hardship with patience not complaining, and are good to other people despite our situation. Biblical Christians are faithful to God and everyone in our lives. Biblical Christians strive to speak to others with tact and gain control over our emotions and urges, but only as the Lord renews us with His Spirit. Individual sins don’t condemn us, what condemns us is our unwillingness to see ourselves as God sees us, imperfect sinners in need of a savior.
Sin is serious business. Sin is inherent in our nature — it is not just a matter of lack of discipline, nor does “the devil make us do it.” It is an outgrowth of original sin — the pride that urges us to seek to be like God rather than to love God. Individual sins occur when one has not been reconciled to God through His Son Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, or when the believer in Christ fails to remain focused on God. Jesus allowed Himself to become sin and died the worst of deaths to give us a path to eternal life when we accept what He did for us as a cleansing of our iniquity. To see ourselves as anything but sinners in need of a Savior invites wrongdoing. As long as we have a breath we have time to turn to the God that gave His all for us. We can do this by giving our all for Him simply by accepting His free, unmerited gift of grace that leads to eternal life and frees us from condemnation. The cause of sin is pride. The result of sin is spiritual death. The remedy to sin is accepting the love of God as made tangible in the miraculous birth, perfect life, sacrificial death, and resurrection to eternal life in the presence of the Father of Jesus Christ.