In the last two posts, WHY CAN’T WE BE APATHETIC ABOUT SIN? — PART 1 and WHY CAN’T WE BE APATHETIC ABOUT SIN? — PART 2, we considered the pointlessness of ignoring sin and hoping that sinners will be reasonable about their sin. They won’t. If we were reasonable about sin, we would not sin. We would allow reason to dissuade us from sinning.
The comments that followed those two posts were for the most part favorable, but a few complained about a lack of scriptural support. Supposedly, in order to say something is wrong according to the Bible, we must find what Jesus said that exactly fits the sin. Fortunately, that is not the way it works, and we have scriptural support for that.
Note that just like those last two posts, the subject here is at the intersection of sin and politics.
Summarizing The Bible
Consider how Jesus answered a question.
Mark 12:28-31 New King James Version (NKJV)
28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
- Jesus summarized the Old Testament with two commands. Effectively, if what we do shows a proper love for God and neighbor, we obey the Old Testament, and we do not sin. Otherwise…..
- When Jesus answered the scribe, to give His answer He referenced the Old Testament (see Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18). That should give us more respect for the Old Testament. Since Jesus did not discard the Old Testament, we cannot ignore it and still be His disciples. Thus, what constitutes a sin includes more than just what Jesus said. We can rightfully consider what the entire Bible says.
Jesus’ summation of the Bible helps us to solve a difficult problem. How do we put our Christian beliefs into practice? We begin by loving God and neighbor.
His Law In Our Minds And Written Upon Our Hearts
Jeremiah prophesied a day when He would put His Law into our minds and write it upon our hearts..
Jeremiah 31:31-34 New King James Version (NKJV)
31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Hebrews 8:7-13 and Hebrews 10:15-17 affirms we are seeing the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy. How is what Jeremiah prophesied being put into practice? Through the Holy Spirit? Jesus described what would happen.
John 16:5-15 New King James Version (NKJV)
5 “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.
So it is that Acts2 describes the Day of Pentecost and the day Holy Spirit began ministering to the disciples of Jesus Christ.
Questions — What Does This Mean In Practice?
What follows are some questions I have considered.
What is a sin? When we do something God does not want us to do, we sin. Unfortunately, we cannot agree who rightfully speaks for God. Some of us don’t even believe in God. Thus, we must each individually make our own determination and then vote according to our conscience. How well have we each been doing that? Isn’t the increasing depravity of our society the best answer to that question?
Does the presence of the Holy Spirit relieve us our responsibility to study the Bible? No. In fact, the Holy Spirit helps us to better understand the Bible. The Bible is where most of us must begin.
Can we call something a sin and be wrong? Yes. We remain human. The Holy Spirit does not possess us; the Holy Spirit guides us. Our decisions remain our own. Therefore, we can still choose to decide wrongly. We can even call something right and be wrong. For example, many justify government-run health, education, and welfare programs as examples of Christian charity. The Bible, however, makes charity an individual, not a government responsibility. Thus, we can rightly be suspicious of the motives of those who call for government-run charity. We must consider what distinguishes such charity from using the power of government to steal.
Don’t we judge others when we call what they do wrong? Not necessarily. There is a distinct difference between hating sin and hating sinners. We must remember we all sin. We all need other people to hold us accountable for our words and deeds.
How will we know when we are right? Because we do not have perfect knowledge, when we assert that others have sinned, we must do so humbly. We must be reluctant to make the charge. We must question our own motives and be prepared to discuss the merits of the issue with people we trust. We must remember we are merely fruit inspectors; we must first inspect our own fruit.
Luke 6:43-45 New King James Version (NKJV)
43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.