|Sin and causing no harm|
Preface/Context:- (Exo 20:2 NKJV) "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
The Holman dictionary defines a Traditional definition of Sin as “actions by which humans rebel against God, miss His purpose for their life, and surrender to the power of evil rather than to God”. Does this definition apply for Christians? Should we use the OT basis of the law (Deut 6:24-25) to determine whether our actions are against God? We often lived as if we were still under the dispensation of the Law vary of whether we have committed any sin. Biblical Christianity offers a life that is beyond such sin consciousness and instead being conscious of the God’s Love, Grace and compassion centered on Jesus Christ. We are to live on the basis that we have been forgiven, sanctified, and Holy Spirit Filled to do great works to continue on the Ministry of Christ on earth until we meet up with Him again when He comes back displaying the fruit of the Spirit rather than causing harm. Against such there is no law (Gal 5:23).
Traditionally, there has been a strong focus on sin and the Law especially when it relates to others. A majority of Christians have strong views against Homosexuality because they deemed it to be a sin against the Mosaic law (Lev 18:22) even when we do not follow these archaic laws such as not eating unclean foods (Lev 11:4) nor do we apply the correct context of idol worship of fertility gods where straight men had sex with both man and women as part of their worship of these gods. The core of these laws, the Ten Commandments (Exo 20:3-7) also fail to mention Homosexuality contrary to our preoccupation because these laws talk about idol worship and not same sex orientation which we have spin it to be. We have often misuse the bible to impose our own definition of sin or interpret out of the context to suit our agenda. The harm caused by conservative Christians in the name of religion has been so great and against the Golden rule (Mat 12:30-31) that some have redefined sin as an action that causes harm to ourselves, to others, or to creation. There is a call to live a life with humility understanding that we are sinners, one way or another. These should set the boundaries of our faith walk lest we err in our interpretation of the bible of God’s will.
We often forget Mat 12:29, the preface to the Golden rule, states that the "The Lord is one", highlighting that Jewish God is "One", and not the multiple gods and idols that the Jews had worshipped. He is the "One" God that is God Almightly apart from the rest. The definition of biblical sin is only meaningful in relation to God’s righteousness and how we have fallen compared to this high standard. The Jews crucified Jesus because He claimed that He was God, the "I am", "the One".
Doing good, not causing harm, is good but perhaps only an outward religious behavior rather than the result of an inward change. We may keep all the fine laws in Singapore, but once we step into Malaysia, we may go astray without the strict policing and fines. Similarly, the Ten Commandments are useful to judge sin , but it does not change us to be more inwardly righteous (Rom 9:31). The law leads us to the conclusion that we are hopeless sinners needing grace (Rom 5:20). Biblical Christianity offers us redemption in Christ and a way of life far better than the limited revelation in the OT based on the Law (Rom 10:4). Abraham was considered righteous apart from the law by Faith in the promises of God (Rom 4:3). The Law came in (Rom 5:13), when Humankind contended with God that they are well able to follow God’s rules. They failed miserably. Their most religious teachers of the Law committed the greatest sin of killing their Messiah. They accused their God of breaking their laws. Hence, the conservative religious approach does not change us from within. It just proves that we are unrepentant sinners needing an external Savior.
Jesus didn’t come to condemn us as sinners not highlight that we are obviously sinners (John 3:17,18), He came to show us the way to live, in Spirit and in Truth (John 14:6), for He is the Way to the Father (John 14:7). The truth is knowing that our relationship with God is not by the good works, or the yearly sacrifice to God, but comes when we received the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ (Rom 5:21). No longer shall we go to the mountain of God to sacrifice the lamb to be Holy and Righteous before God according to the Law, for Jesus is now our Righteousness (Heb 10:1-9). We are no longer bounded by our attempt to follow the law and sin sacrifice for our failure. Our faith walk is not dictated by avoiding sin or causing no harm, but by moving by the Spirit of God to do good works according to His will and purpose. We lived then not by the law, a fixed set of rules and regulations of what not to do, but we live by moving and following God’s will which depends on a relationship and a new heart (Ezek 36:26-27) that is soft to hear and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We will naturally follow the commandments of God according to His will.
Sin is a state, a state of the heart (Prov 20:9). Jesus did not define sin as outward action alone, for the Pharisees who were so certain of their compliance hence righteousness, Jesus extended it to inward thoughts and intentions which are unseen. Ie God looks at our heart, our motives and desires. We can cause harm not because we act it out, but because we thought of it. True righteousness therefore talks of a change of heart and a natural motivation to follow God and cause no harm, rather than an outward action governed by fixed laws. Jesus was condemning the Pharisees that their heart before God was unrighteous despite their outward action being possibly compliant to the Law. In other words, good and righteous works comes from a good heart, and one cannot become righteous simply by doing good or not harming others. This is outward behavior modification rather than inward character. God looks at the heart of the matter.
The bible addresses the question of sin in Genesis. It defines sin is as a state rather than an action. Sin did not enter the world through man’s rebellion in eating the forbidden fruit, it was already there in the Garden of Eden, in Satan who tried to tempt man. By eating the fruit, the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, mankind lost their innocence and the status of mankind changed to having a sin conscience, They now had a conscience of who they were – naked, ie they became self conscious and self focused. They had in their heart, a new conscience to dictate what is “good” or “evil”, yet this new conscience cannot be appeased and they needed to do good works to cover the knowledge of the evil that they see within. Therefore, Sin is firstly a state and a condition rather than the outward action of sinning.
The Biblical solution is not behavioral modification or trying to do more good works, but to “eat” of Jesus, to partake His flesh and blood, hence taking upon His sinless nature. Therefore, we are a new creation in Christ, our sins forgiven, yesterday, today and tomorrow. We are saved, not because we do not sin but because we are in the state of being ‘forgiven”. We now have a status far higher than that of Adam and Eve at the Garden of Eden. Prior to the fall, we had a relationship with God as His created being, but in Christ, we have child of God, part of the family ie Christ redemption not only bridge the impaired relationship between God and Man, but we now have a new inheritance to live in God’s heavenly abode when previously we only had the earthly garden of Eden. It is a change of heart, and not a physical change or a change of sexual orientation. We will still be gay or straight.
The strong views by Christians against Homosexuality is because of fear that Gays would reconstruct the entire bench mark of what is considered a sin, for the Jesus’ offer is just too simple, and God’s grace, mercy and compassion just too simple to be accepted by faith in Christ’ death and resurrection apart from any good works. It is just too simple, too good to be true, with our sin conscience, the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil in our hearts, demanding that we too do something good to atone for the knowledge of evil within our hearts. Jesus effectively made the consequence of sin of no effect, such that our way of living is not be focusing on not sinning and doing good and causing no harm, but that we are a New Creation, whose focus is no more sin consciences but in following the Spirit of God.
The Jews crucified Jesus, for He claimed to be God incarnate. His death and resurrection was more that sufficient payment to atone for our sins because He was a righteous God. Therefore, when we accept His death and resurrection for Us, we take on the state of righteousness. When Christians live their lives on the basis on obedience to the law, we are actually centering our lives upon over selves and not God. We become gods, and that to me is the picture of Sin. There is a real need for the church to be forgiven, To live by faith in the Grace of Christ Jesus rather than to be so focus on the law epitomized by our anti-gay crusade.
When we cause harm, to spill innocent blood of the gay community for now over a thousand years, we do not display the good fruit of the Spirit (Mat 7:18-21) but rather the bad fruit of the law minded carnal heart. Surely, the time has come for a change of heart in the Church of Jesus Christ. How do we live our life then? As a New Creation in Christ, with Him being our Righteousness, and living by the Spirit of God, to do His will and extend the Ministry of Christ whilst He was here on earth. We are to live with an ever presence consciousness of His Love, Grace and Compassion instead of being conscious of sin or of the law. Christ death and resurrection, becomes our motivation, and power to change with the Holy Spirit now indwelling within us to be our present guide and helper. The mantra of causing of no harm, and the Golden Rule of Love becomes the legal boundaries of our actions lest we somehow fall back to a sinful lifestyle to fall into sin consciousness and religious legalism.