In my last article, I taught that sin is rebellion against God—initially by a spirit and then by humans. We continue to sin against God and people through enlightenment and choice. Before we delve into a sin cure, I need to stress that we’re talking about two categories of sin: the first that separated us from God and created a debt we couldn’t satisfy, and ongoing sins that threaten to keep us from God. Both are settled differently.
The initial human sin. Our Creator promised that One would eventually make things right and offer a way back. We call Him Jesus, and He willingly sacrificed Himself for ALL people (John 3:16 and 12:32; Acts 17:30-31; 1 Timothy 2:3-11 and 4:10; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2-6). This was God’s call and love for us. He then raised Jesus from the dead to give hope to all who would become His. How? By responding in complete devotion (e.g., 1 Peter 1:3-5). The resulting ‘cleansing’ is the ‘bathing’ in Jesus and Peter’s upper room discussion (Greek ‘louo’ in John 13:10—see my article “Been Cleaned, Being Cleaned!”(March 2022)). This and the ongoing category of sin have one thing in common: a relationship with God through devotion and perseverance. Curing persistent sin can be difficult, though, because it requires permanent change.
Ongoing sin. God gives His Spirit to those who are His for guidance and change—transformation (Romans 12:1-2). In our journey forward, we must learn what God desires and do that, what He hates, and DON’T do that! Enlightenment and growth help us to deal with temptations so they don’t turn into sin in the first place.
But when we sin (and we will!), we must repent—change our behavior to enable forgiveness. This is the ‘washing’ in John 13:5-10 (Greek nipto), and it’s necessary to ensure we don’t practice sin! Regardless of the offense, practicing it will earn a spiritual death sentence (e.g., Galatians 5:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Besides enlightenment by the Spirit, avoiding sin, and repentance, there’s another aid in sin cure: other people.
Christians are to assess other Christians’ behavior and help them remain in a relationship with God (1 Corinthians 5:6-13; James 5:19-20; Matthew 18:15-17). Unfortunately, we usually misinterpret Jesus’ “Do not judge” and “first take the log out of your own eye” of Matthew 7:1-5 and, therefore, don’t change our behavior or help others avoid or resolve sin. Yet, we are first to resolve our sinful behavior so that we can help others resolve theirs.
In summary, the debt incurred by the first human rebellion against God was covered by Jesus. He has called, so respond well! Ongoing rebellion (sin) is satisfied through repentance: a change in behavior from a new heart. What’s next? Let’s lighten things up a bit and encourage you diamonds in the making!
Blessings and peace,
Dr. Ron Braley, MDiv, DMin.