Sunday, April 27, 2008

What is sin?

It's easy for Christians to tell people, "All have sinned..." but telling someone he is a sinner without telling him what sin is would be like arresting him and not telling him what crime he's committed. Now, I'm not too inclined to go around telling people they are a sinner, but you know... writing this blog the subject's going to come up, so I might as well cover it.

The classic definition (the kind, by the way, that can be used in Sunday School to irritate your teacher) is "a willful transgression against the known will of God."

To begin to understand the "known will of God," a good place to start is the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20:3-17)

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.

    The greatest sin is to love God's creation more than God Himself.

    Jesus stated this commandment in the positive form rather than the negative: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). Of course, to accomplish this successfully, one would have to keep God as the most important thing in their life from the moment of their birth. This in itself puts every one of us in violation of Law and in need of God's grace.

  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    This goes right along with number one; God wants to be the priority in your life. Of course, it turns out that if He's not everything goes down the pooper anyway.

  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

    Have you ever noticed that nobody ever hits their thumb with a hammer and shouts out, "Allah!" or "Buddah!" or any of those other names? That's because those names hold no power whatsoever.

  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

    We all take one day off each week from all of our work to dedicate the day to the Lord, right? Oh.

  5. Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

    Too many fathers reject their role as the spiritual leader in their household. I'm sure this topic alone could develop into more than I can handle.

  6. You shall not murder.

    Jesus said, "You have heard it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." (Matthew 5:21-22) You see, murder starts with unforgiveness. It's pretty condemning if you think about it.

  7. You shall not commit adultery.

    Jesus complicated this one quite a bit. "You have heard it said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27) I don't know...seems like most of us are going to have a problem with that.

  8. You shall not steal.

    How many times do you have to steal before you become a thief? I don't know, but have you ever noticed how quickly pens walk away...?

  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

    Basically, do not lie. How many times do you have to lie to become a liar? How many of us haven't lied even once?

  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

    Coveting is essentially spiritual adultery; it is idolitry. It includes lust, greed, and pride. It is, essentially, putting something else ahead of God.

Well, that's a little heavy. But, fortunately, mercy triumps over justice. We need Christ because we have broken God's law.

Calvin V. Armenius

This may mean nothing to anybody but me.

    Calvin believed:
    Arminians believe:
    Total Depravity
    Man is in bondate to his sinful nature, and is incapable of choosing good over evil.
    Free Will/Human Ability
    Man is not spiritually helpless; man has free will to choose good over evil--he can cooperate with God's Spirit or resist. FAITH is man's contribution to his own salvation.
    Unconditional Election Conditional Election
    Limited Atonement
    Christ's act of salvation is only for the elect, and guarantees their salvation.
    General Atonement
    Christ's act of salvation is for all, but does not guarantee anything; a person must choose to accept it.
    Irresistible Grace The Holy Spirit can be resisted
    Perseverence of the Saints A. Falling from Grace
    B. Eternal Security

The dispute, maybe obviously, comes from the attempt to balance the concepts of the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. While Calvin emphasized the sovereignty of God and Armenius emphasized the free will aspect, both doctrines affirm both concepts. While HYPER-Calvinists do not believe in missions, Calvin himself still believed in obeying the Great Commission.

Just for the record, it's pretty safe to label me an Arminian.

Why I am Not a Roman Catholic

When Constantine became emperor of Rome, he was virtually the emperor of the world. He elected himself the self-styled "protector of the Christian faith." He issued an edict of tolerance for Christianity and gave the church many favors, including money for building and operations. He even gave many of the pagan temples over to be used by the church.

To please the emperor and show him their thanks, the church leaders began to adopt customs that were parallel to the pagan practices. One compromise led to another, and what seemed to be a great blessing became a great curse. These changes continued to be made, long after the fall of the Roman empire. Many changes were introduced that had no scriptural basis but became doctrine in the Roman Catholic church, including:

300 Prayers for the dead
Making the sign of the cross while praying
375 Worship of saints and angels
394 Mass was first instituted
431 Worship of Mary began
500 Priests began to dress differently than laymen
526 Exaggerated and superficial language, manners and customs
593 Doctrine of purgatory introduced
600 Worship services conducted in Latin
Prayers directed to Mary
607 The first pope was installed
709 The practice of kissing the pope's feet began
786 Worship of images and relics
850 Use of "holy water" began
995 Canonization of dead saints
998 Fasting on Fridays and during Lent
1079 Celibacy of the priesthood
1090 Prayer beads introduced
1184 The Inquisition: questioning and imprisoning any that don't agree with their beliefs
1190 Sale of indulgences
1215 Transubstantiation: the belief that the bread and the wine of communion actually become the body and blood of Christ
1229 Laymen are forbidden to read the Bible!
1414 Cup forbidden to laymen
1439 Doctrine of purgatory decreed: a resting place after death until your final destination is determined; people can pray you out of purgatory and into heaven
The doctrine of the seven sacraments affirmed
1508 The Ave Marie approved - Hail Mary
1534 The Jesuit order founded
1545 Tradition is granded equal authority with the Bible
1546 Apocryphal books put into the Bible
1854 Immculate conception of Mary - Mary was decreed free of the original sin by divine grace; Mary was without sin
1865 Infallibility of Errors proclaimed
1870 Infallibility of Pope declared
1930 Public schools condemned
1950 Assumption of Mary - August 15 is observed as the day Mary was taken up to heaven
1965 Mary proclaimed the mother of the church

Even though the Roman Catholic church claims to be the only true church and the original church, it is very evident that they have deviated from the early church in many ways over the past 1700 years and have become more Roman than Christian.