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"Grace: the Sin Question"

"Shamed-based" vs. "Grace-based" Churches. So goes the current controversy. In alarming numbers, people claiming the Name of Christ flock to the teachings of "the serpent" and listen to his lies. They participate in weekly video sessions of non-Christian pied pipers who teach concepts of "shame and dysfunction," and come away feeling like they have just received the most wonderful "Christian" teaching.

These students come away convinced that there is no Original Sin, that sin is something different than what Scripture teaches, that we are OK 'just as we are.' After all, "God don't make no junk."

Their concept of sin (in its very simplest form) is that it origi- nates from lack of parental love that we think we deserve as babies. In trying to fill the void, we do things ("sin") to try to obtain that love. There is dysfunction in the parent/child relationship. Because of the parents' shame, received from their parents, they extend that shame to their children. "You are no good, you can't do anything right, etc."

If we could be released from the influence of our parents at birth, we would grow up in perfection, because, in actuality, we are all GOOD. Ultimately, sin, if it really exists, is the act of "not recognizing how wonderful we actually are." God's "grace" recognizes this goodness within us, and accepts us "just as we are." That's "graaaeeesss."

These concepts of "grace" are used as license (Jude 4) and "for- giveness" for homosexual desires; for basic laziness called "ADS" that allows a person to feel good about themselves even though they won't hold a job and work. Because of "grace" children are not required to learn responsibility and obedience to parents, and can behave like basic hoodlums. And the list goes on. ANYTHING BUT SIN!

SCRIPTURAL TEACHING of sin begins in Genesis 3. The basic ingre- dients of Sin are Lust, Lies, Rebellion, Judgment, Provision.

"You will be LIKE God.." "You will have knowledge that God is 'withholding' from you," purrs the serpent. "God didn't give you enough to be a 'fulfilled' person. You REALLY SHOULD have this. If you have this, you will be a god." The tree was "desirable to make one wise." "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires (lust) and enticed." (Jas 1:14) Satan certainly guides a willing subject, but it is OUR OWN lust which carries sin to fulfillment. We cannot hide behind the adage, "The Devil made me do it."

The "father of lies" goes on, "You will not surely die." He directly contradicts God's promise "You shall surely die." (Gen 2:17) But, again, the door was open for him to do so. Eve had already lied. God had only said, "you shall not eat." Eve added, "nor shall you touch it." So, once God's Word had been perverted/distorted by Eve, Satan easily carried it the next step- total denial.

Eve took the fruit. Adam then also partook. Total rebellion. God had said, "Don't." They said, "We will." And did. "All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way;" (Is 53:6) God promised "You shall surely die." Ezek 18:4 reminds us "The soul who sins shall die." Even though the guilty parties tried to pass the buck down the line, God the Righteous Judge passed judgment according to the individual offense. Death and suffering has been the result throughout history, and the lake of fire is the ultimate reward.(Rev 20:14)

SIN PASSED UPON ALL MEN "..through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned-" (Rom 5:12) "There is none righteous, no, not one;" (Rom 3:10) Completing the all-inclusive, and hereditary nature of sin, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." (Ps 51:5)

How does God view sin? "But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags:" (Is 64:6) "God said, 'You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.'" (Ex 33:20) Man's view of his own sinful state is best described after he sees God in His glory. Isaiah wails "Woe is me, for I am undone." Job repents, "I abhor myself." Gideon fears for his life, "Alas, O Lord God!" John, the one "whom Jesus loved," "Fell at His feet as dead."

GOD'S GRACE can probably best be described by Ezek 16:3-14 in His grace towards Israel. Israel is pictured as a grotesque newborn who has not been nurtured in the birth process...not a pretty sight. "And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood,'Live!' Yes, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!.'" (Ez 16:6)

In God's mercy "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities." (Ps 103:10 "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not." (Lam 3:22)

God's power for the redemptive process is compared by His creative "fingers" and His saving "arm." "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him..." (Ps8:3-4) "The Lord has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." (Is 52:10) God's "arm" was manifested in Jesus Christ as John quotes "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" (Is 53:1)

MAN'S RESPONSE must be... "God be merciful to me, the sinner." (Lk 18:13) "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." (1Tim 2:15) "I am not worthy to be called an apostle...but by the grace of God I am what I am." (1Cor 15:9-10)

THOUGHTS TO PONDER

If you are not a sinner, Christ did not come to save you. YOU HAVE NO PART IN CHRIST! Jesus taught, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." (Lk 5:31-32) To Peter He said, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with me." (Jn 13:8)

The further the depths of sin, the greater is the extent of God's grace. "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven." (Lk 7:47) "Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more." (Rom 5:20) "I was formerly a [rotten sinner]; but I obtained mercy...and the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant." (~1Tim 1:13-14)

Realizing the expanse of God's grace makes me realize HOW SINFUL I am. And, on the flip side, realizing fully my sinfulness and utter worthlessness to God, His grace becomes SO PRECIOUS.

"You were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy. Oh, the depth of the riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and his ways past finding out! For of and through and to Him are all things, to Whom be glory forever. Amen." (~Rom 11:30-36)

Amen.


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