A New (old) Way of Viewing
Sin and Sinful Acts
EVERY CHRISTIAN READER should know the teachings of the Holy Scriptures enough to realize that you and I are sinners on the same plane with any other sinner that has graced (or better, disgraced) this earth with his or her presence. I have given abundant scriptural references to establish the truth of this evaluation. On the other hand, you have also read enough scriptures in context which tell that each of you is considered by God the Father to be sinless in His eyes because you and I are now reckoned to be "in Christ."
That's right. The Father acknowledges each of us as sinless. This is accounted to us NOT because of what we have done or not done, but because of who we are. We are now accepted in God's sight as His very own Sons and Daughters and we are as sinless (in God's record books) as is Christ himself. Indeed, all the sinlessness that we possess is put to our account because we are "in Christ" and He has paid all the penalties that our sins would naturally bring upon us-both here and now, as well as before the Judgment Seat of God after the resurrection. This is the simple teaching of the Holy Scriptures that we have reviewed up to now.
There is a further profound illustration that vindicates this unblemished standing that we all have with the Father by our being "in Christ." You will recall consistent usage by Paul in the Books of Romans, Corinthians and Galatians, that we Christians are no longer under the Law. We are now prepared to see exactly what that phrase means, how it is to be applied in our daily lives and to know even better what is our standing with God the Father, Christ Jesus, our relationship with other members of the Ekklesia and the rest of the world. It is a principle of how we should properly view sin and sinful acts and how to evaluate properly just what constitutes right behavior and conduct that we should be showing to all with whom we come in contact.
The simple truth is, the apostle Paul plainly stated in four distinct places, and backed up in a score of others, that we adult Christians who are mature in Christ have no written laws over us of any kind. Yes, you read me correctly. When Paul many times stated in the Books of Romans, Corinthians and Galatians that we are "no longer under the Law," he meant it with utmost vigor and belief. Once you firmly realize and believe this fact, you are better able to appraise what you should be doing in this life in matters of behavior and conduct in every situation or circumstance that you can imagine. It gives you a method and an assurance of how to immediately evaluate any state or condition in which you find yourself and also to be assured that your actions will be correct (and if not correct, that they will not harm you in the slightest as far as your salvation is concerned). This is one principle that you and I should treasure with all our hearts and to thank God for the assurance that it gives to each of us.
Remember what the apostle John informed us. He said that even though we were in fact sinners like the rest of mankind (1 John 1 :8), we are nonetheless in the eyes of the Father sinless people. This means we are reckoned continuously free of sin no matter what sins there are in the world, or what specific sins we have or do commit. John said:
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed [God's sperm] remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
1 John 3:9
Of course, I could give you a hundred verses of Scripture that tell us not to sin and that we can be chastised by God for doing wrong (and I have given many in this book). Still, the fact remains that as a "born again Christian", 1 in God's eyes you are a mature child of God. You do not have to wait until the resurrection from the dead to be called "born again." But, as you are indeed "born again," then you are acknowledged by God the Father to be in a sinless state.
Now, what has this to do with the phrase of NOT being "under the Law"? It simply means that we are no longer "under the Law" in the sight of God. The written Law is no longer the standard by which God judges a person's conduct or for us indeed, to judge whether a person is sinning or not. The standard is no longer the written codes of Law found in the Holy Scriptures that God has given to various people to observe. And this means ALL laws. It means the codes of Law written for Israelites to keep (or what to avoid) and other codes of Law that were written for various Gentile nations to observe (or what to avoid). Formerly, under the Old Covenant, if anyone would break any written law-no matter how small or large, no matter how important or insignificant the law might be, whether the law was physical or spiritual-then that person would be reckoned a sinner (1 John 3:4).
Even more than that, if a person did not exercise faith, that was also a sin because there are written laws demanding faith with works of the Law. 2 Respect of persons is also sin (James 2:9), in fact, James stated that respect of persons was a distinct violation of the royal Law of God (James 2:8-9). All unrighteousness is also sin (1 John 5: 17).
In all these cases, whether a lack of faith, respect of persons or doing unrighteously, the contexts in which the virtues of faith, equality of persons or righteousness are commanded, the violation of them is consistently reckoned as the breaking of the written Law of God and it was SIN in God's eyes. Such was the way under the Old Covenant. But wait! We now arrive at something different, totally different! Note what Paul now teaches.
What we now find in the teachings of the Holy Scriptures for those presently "in Christ," those who are mature Christians, is something very different than being guided by written Laws, even if they are the written Laws of God What we discover is the fact that we are now under UNWRITTEN PRINCIPLES; we are NOT under any written laws whatever, even if those laws are the most sacrosanct of the Laws of God. That's right. We are not under any of them. Let me be plain as the apostle Paul was, if you break any of those laws (name any law you want, even the most holy, righteous, and good), you will no longer be considered a sinner by God the Father or Christ Jesus if you are "in Christ Jesus." What a statement to make! Yes, but it is true in every way.
Let us look at this closely. In a context in which the apostle Paul spoke of the things done by those in the flesh-fornication, idolators, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, the covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners (of such evils the Scriptures have many written Laws that utterly condemn such actions and tell people NOT to observe such deeds )-the apostle gave a very opposite appraisal from what most people would think he would give. [Look at this carefully, because many people find it difficult to believe that Paul would state such a thing. Paul brazenly states in the midst of such evil things,
"All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."
1 Corinthians 6: 12
As clear as anyone could make it (unless people have preconceived ideas that they never look at the context of any given subject because of their prejudices), Paul said that he was at liberty to do any of those evils just mentioned, because "all things are lawful unto me." But he quickly added and thankfully, because this is what he wanted people to understand, "but all things are NOT expedient [beneficial]." The truth was NONE OF THOSE THINGS he just mentioned was expedient [or beneficial] and he did not want himself or anyone else to do them. In spite of this fact, in God's eyes (now that we are NOT under the Law since we are no longer reckoned to be sinners), even those evil actions have to be reckoned as lawful to do. This is simply because Christians are no longer under any law, though no mature Christian should ever do terrible things that our society and common sense show are evil.
It is a matter of looking at our legal position that we have in Christ. Though none of us should do the evil things Paul mentioned above, we are still not sinners in God's eyes no matter what we do because all of us are "in Christ" and reckoned to be sin free. We will always be accounted sin free because our standard of conduct or behavior is no longer governed by the written Law with which God judges us when we come before His Judgment Seat. We are no longer gauged or monitored by God via the former standard known as the written Law, not even by the written laws God gave to Israel in the Old Covenant period. That is what the apostle Paul stated and that is precisely what he meant. This is a brand new way of viewing what is proper to do and what is not proper, what is sin in God's eyes for the Christian and what is not sin for the Christian. Hold on to these teachings of Paul and John, because I am not through yet.
Look at 1 Corinthians 10:23. In a context in which Paul speaks of offering sacrifices to idols and to demons, what foods are clean and unclean, and in his discourse on the evils of outright idolatry, notice what Paul interjects (in the middle of his context of those evil things) to show that he and other mature Christians are free to do as they wish, he states,
"All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."
1 Corinthians 10:23
Paul stated again with the same words he used four chapters earlier in First Corinthians. And again, he places his freedom that he has from laws in a context of speaking about some of the most heinous debaucheries that one can imagine-in matters dealing with outright idolatry and even demon worship!
Brethren and friends, this was the teaching of the apostle Paul (and I believe it to be the holy doctrine of no less than God the Father and Christ Jesus). I want you to recognize that it is not I, Ernest L. Martin, who said such a thing (at least four different times). It is the apostle Paul stating that this freedom he had (and all mature Christians) to do as he (or they) please in the performance of his (or their) living experience in Christ.
Notice that Paul did not say he approved of those evil actions in which he placed his legal position of freedom that he had in Christ. Not in the least. What he said was that though he was free to do as he pleased (without accountability to God the Father or Christ because we are now "in Christ") and though there was not a single law telling him what he could or could not do (that he could always do as he pleased), he came back strongly by stating that though "all things are lawful," "all things are not expedient" and "all things edify not." He meant: We should do good without laws over us.
Without a doubt, Paul believed that those idolatrous acts were evil for him or anyone else to do. But he said that because such actions did not "edify" the Christian when they were done that they were in no wise "expedient" or "beneficial" to the Christian in his or her life-style. Still, however, Paul admitted that now that he was "in Christ," he was not under the Law (any law) and he could not be held accountable by God even if he did those things.
Now, hold on to this concept for a little while and don't give up on Paul (or me) yet, because there is more to come on this issue. Paul is not through with us yet. He is giving only a legal judgment.
Note what the apostle Paul taught in the Book of Romans regarding the various foods that people ate, those that the Israelites could eat or not eat according to the laws of God in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, compared with the foods of the Gentiles (who would eat anything that moved or grew in the ground if not outwardly poisonous). Paul again wishes to show that he and all mature Christians were not under the Law (any law, including the Law of God given to Israel) in regard to what was pure and clean, and what was not pure and clean to eat or touch. Note what Paul stated. He is using the same expression to show he was NOT under any Law (no matter what it was). Look at Romans 14:20. Again he says "all things" are okay.
[clean]; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence [thinking that it was impure]. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith [to eat or do what you want]? have it to thyself [go ahead and do it] before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth if he eat [who wonders if he is doing right], because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
"All things indeed are pure
If any person thinks something is forbidden because the Law of God informs the Israelites NOT to do this or that, then if the man applies the law to himself, he will be a sinner if he thinks he disobeys that Law of God. But, note that the apostle Paul stated dogmatically in every environment and context of vices and demerits that mankind might judge as wrong. He said that "all things are lawful to me," but went on to say that "all things are [of course] not edifying, beneficial or uplifting" such as idolatry, sexual deviations like homosexuality that God shows distaste for, thievery, extortions, drunkenness, coveting, revelry and abusers with mankind. Paul stayed away from such acts (and recommended we Christians do so) because they were not beneficial. Still, Paul admitted happily and openly that there was not a law of God or man that he (Paul, or any Christian) was subject to that would make him a sinner in the eyes of God if he disobeyed it. This doctrine is not as strange as it first may appear.
It is refreshing to mature Christians that they can now approach all matters of life in a new and satisfying manner, that is, in dealing with any religious, social or civil matters in which one must judge whether an action is sinful or not. This new approach gives a greater confidence and assuredness that our actions are proper and edifying to God, our neighbors and society, and even to ourselves.
The first thing we mature Christians should adopt in the policy of evaluating any action that we do or want to do, is to state that it is not sin in the eyes of God the Father, no matter what that action may be. Yes, we are sinless in the eyes of God and it makes no difference what we do because we are legally "in Christ." Having said that, we must remember (as Paul made clear) that NOT everything in our social and religious systems is edifying, NOT everything in our midst is expedient (or beneficial) and NOT everything we might be permitted to do glorifies Christ and God the Father (1 Corinthians 6:12-13; 10:23-32).
The emphasis for the mature Christian is NOT obedience to written Laws, but to perform the divine principles of conduct found in the fruits of the Holy Spirit. In fact, Paul taught that the Law was not made for a righteous man (1 Timothy 1 :9). It was designed to force people to do good under the threat of punishment if they did not. Yes, Christians should always emphasize our duty and responsibility for proper behavior to all people we come in contact with, or to our societies in general. But what Paul wants us to know is that we mature Christians can (and should) always live within an environment of freedom rather than in a state of constant servitude to written laws that dominate our lives. True, we do not give up duty and responsibility, but we do our duty and obligations to society and religious customs as free men and free women, not dominated and held in captivity by written laws that stand as a blatant witness against us, sternly judging our actions as either good or bad behavior. God has released us from such stringent requirements based on obedience to laws (any laws).
For example, the mature Christian before making a judgment (that some action of yours is right or wrong to do) KNOWS FULL WELL that the murder of a fellow human being is wrong, wrong, wrong and should never be done. Even the very thought of doing such a thing is evil and wrong, and should never be considered as a possible action to take. But, there is more.
Everyone also KNOWS FULL WELL that committing felonies, cheating, perjuries, indecent sexual acts that all society shuns and holds contemptible are equally wrong, wrong, wrong. Indeed, not obeying civil laws (that is, not paying your taxes, or not giving honor to governmental authorities, etc.) is also wrong according to Romans 13: 1-8 (and one should not have to hesitate a moment to come to such a conclusion). Yet God the Father now places your right to freedom to do as you please, before any duty that all of us should do for the betterment of society and the welfare of religious institutions.
This freedom you now have can be expressed by using any legal means you can that society allows to gain your own personal desires or to perpetuate your own welfare. For example, if you think the government is taking too much tax from you, you can use every legal means to reduce your tax burden or get government controls off your back (if you feel they are harmful to you and society). Do these things within the laws of the land in which you live. All societies permit this.
Indeed, our western societies allow us the privilege of using all laws to our personal advantage in civil, political or governmental affairs. All that is required of Christians in these matters is the fact that our efforts to protect or promote others and ourselves should be fair and honest and done within legal bounds established by our legislative bodies. When governments or religious organizations deny basic human rights [like those defined in the United Nations charter containing the Declaration of Human Rights that most modern and civilized people accept as proper], only then should one begin to question any governmental authority (and this includes religious authority) according to the apostle Paul (Romans 13: 1-8).
If the situation in front of you means defying established civil customs, social matters established for the common good, or religious rules and regulations that some believe are from God Himself, you should hesitate a long time and think matters through carefully before making final decisions for your actions. After all, every thing we do, according to Paul, should be for edifying ourselves and others around us, and that means edifying the society in which we live. We should never shirk our duty to be proper and upright citizens of our communities and nations. But in spite of all these statements, it is still a fact that in God's eyes "all things are lawful for us." We are no longer under written laws that define what sin or unrighteousness is. We are under a greater code that Paul called the performing of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Those nine fruits are all unwritten principles, not laws! Our focus should be on the performance of those fruits of the Holy Spirit, not on obedience to written laws!
Let us look at examples of conduct that people who are very religious think all people should observe. What if you are confronted by a situation of a religious nature (or religious commands that some people feel you and I are expected to do)? If that is the case and it does not involve civil laws established by society for having a harmonious relationship with others for the peace, security and well-being of the community and nation, then you can instantly say: "All things are lawful for me." You can immediately go on to state that "I can do as I please, any time I please, and no man or woman, preacher or priest, has any right to tell me what to do." You can do this because you have a freedom in Christ. You are no longer under any laws in the eyes of God.
Of course, Christians should still abide by what Paul said in those matters regarding whether your actions are fully edifying, beneficial and glorifying to Christ. Simply put, in judging any action you might want to take, ask yourself if Christ would approve of your actions, even if what you do is NOT sinning (since you are no longer under any law that defines sin or demands obedience).
Let us see this demonstrated in a practical sense. The Roman and Corinthian Gentiles wondered whether the commands God given to early Israelites applied to them as Gentiles. Do the food laws of the Old Testament have to be kept by Gentiles? Do Gentiles have to keep the Sabbaths and Holy Days of the Israelites? Were the social and religious customs that the Jews adhered to at the time also necessary for Gentiles to obey?
Let us look at what Jews living at that time were customarily doing within a Jewish society. The Gentiles wondered if they should adopt the customs of the Jews that they got from God. Alfred Edersheim gives a survey of the Jewish attitude towards the Gentiles in this period. Note his appraisal of the antipathy held between the two parties (the Jews and the Gentiles) in the first century. It will be best to quote him verbatim. It is painful to read, but what Edersheim said was true. 3
"To begin with, every Gentile child, so soon as born, was to be regarded as unclean. Those who actually worshipped mountains, hills, bushes, etc.-in short, gross idolaters-should be cut down with the sword. But as it was impossible to exterminate heathenism, Rabbinic legislation kept certain definite objects in view, which may be thus summarized: To prevent Jews from being inadvertently led into idolatry; to avoid all participation in idolatry, not to do anything which might aid the heathen in their worship, and, beyond all this, not to give pleasure, nor even help, to heathens. The latter involved a most dangerous principle, capable of almost indefinite application by fanaticism. Even the Mishnah goes so far as to forbid aid to a mother in the hour of her need, or nourishment to her babe, in order not to bring up a child for idolatry! But this is not all. Heathens were, indeed, not to be precipitated into danger, but yet not to be delivered from it. Indeed, an isolated teacher ventures even upon this statement: 'The best among the Gentiles kill; the best among serpents, crush its head.' Still more terrible was the fanaticism which directed that heretics, traitors, and those who had left the Jewish faith should be thrown into actual danger, and, if they were in it, all means for their escape removed. No intercourse of any kind was to be had with such-not even to invoke their medical aid in case of danger to life, since it was deemed that he who had to do with heretics was in imminent peril of becoming one himself, and that, if a heretic returned to the true faith, he should die at once-partly, probably, to expiate his guilt, and partly from fear of relapse. ...
In truth, the bitter hatred, which the Jew bore to the Gentile, can only be explained from the estimate entertained of his character. The most vile, and even unnatural, crimes were imputed to them. It was not safe to leave cattle in their charge, to allow their women to nurse infants, or their physicians to attend the sick, nor to walk in their company, without taking precautions against sudden and unprovoked attacks. They should, so far as possible, be altogether avoided, except in cases of necessity or for the sake of business. They and theirs were defiled; their houses unclean, as containing idols or things dedicated to them; their feasts, their joyous occasions, their very contact, was polluted by idolatry; and there was no security, if a heathen were left alone in a room, that he might not, in wantonness or by carelessness, defile the wine or meat on the table, or the oil and wheat in the store. Under such circumstances, therefore, everything must be regarded as having been rendered unclean. Three days before a heathen festival (according to son1e, also three days after) every business transaction with them was prohibited, for fear of giving either help or pleasure. Jews were to avoid passing through a city where there was an idolatrous feast-nay, they were not even to sit down in the shadow of a tree dedicated to idol worship. Its wood was polluted; if used in baking, the bread was unclean; if a shuttle had been made of it, not only was all cloth woven on it forbidden, but if such had been inadvertently mixed with other pieces of cloth, or a garment made from it placed with other garments, the whole became unclean. ... Painful as these details are, they might be multiplied."
How sad the situation was regarding the social system adopted by Jews in the first century. A modified version of this extreme attitude led to hatred and discrimination, and the Roman Gentiles wanted to adopt it. Or, at least, some of the Romans were of the opinion that parts of it should be put into effect because the Law of God said certain things were "unclean."
Paul, however, took a different approach with the Gentiles. He said the first thing you should do when confronted with such rules of society is to say, "All things indeed are pure [clean)" (Romans 14:20). And truthfully, all things are pure, clean and lawful to Paul and all mature Christians. Why? Because "all things are lawful for me" (1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23-32). What the Jews were calling "unclean" and "impure" as they interpreted from the Law of the Old Testament, Paul said were only "unclean" and "impure" to those who esteemed such things to be so. In God's eyes, Paul stated, none of those things were "unclean" that had been defined as "unclean," even if they were defined so within the former Law of God. That's right! This is because we are no longer under the Law of God as a standard of proper behavior. We are to walk in the nine principles of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
This is what Paul was telling the Corinthian Gentiles concerning the freedoms they now had in Christ. The first reaction all of us should have to such things as whether we should eat food and drink governed by religious teachings, keep holy times such as Sabbaths and Holy days, observe rules and regulations on types of clothing to wear, or the amount of clothing one should wear, or what should be done in any and all religious duties, is to say, "All things indeed are pure [clean]" (Romans 14:20) and "all things are lawful for me" (1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23-32). In other words, those things are not what the fruits of the Holy Spirit are all about. In all such things, you can do as you jolly well please and never be held accountable by God for your actions. If you want to do Jewish religious customs, you are no better off with God, or if you do not do them, you are no better off with God.
All such religious customs and food laws are now irrelevant to the mature Christian. God designed these things for infants in the faith, NOT mature and educated Christians. But, if you wish to do them, go ahead, but don't censure others if they avoid them. You are at liberty to do as you please, but do not chide others if they feel such things are wrong. Paul sums up the matter,
"For the Kingdom of God is not meat [food] and drink; but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat [that is, in regard to food], destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure [clean]; but it is evil for that man who eats with offence [thinking that what he eats is wrong]. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak [he means to make a weak brother just introduced to Christianity even weaker]. Hast thou faith [to eat, drink and do what you want]? Have it [fine, use your privilege] to yourself before God. Happy is he that condelnneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth."
Romans 14: 17-22
You can apply the same wisdom in making a judgment on anything that comes up in your daily life. If you want to see a movie recommended to you by a friend at work and the friend warns you that there may be dirty language or nudity in the film, and such things offend you, you should not go to see it. Still, the first thing a mature Christian says to himself or herself is: "All things indeed are pure [or clean]" or "All things are lawful to me." That movie (even with its off-color parts) is of itself NOT EVIL to you personally, unless you think it is even without seeing it. It is perfectly lawful in God's eyes for you to see it if you wish. If you go to see the movie and find that it is not as beneficial to you as you thought it might be (in the overall sense), then you might not recommend it to others. But in no way have you sinned by seeing it (or seeing it a thousand times).
The fact is, the matter of "sin" and that movie is completely irrelevant to the mature Christian. If you liked and benefited some what from the movie though you would not have used some of the language, or displayed the human body, or showed violence as the film did, you are still no worse for it because you should not be affected by such things. 4 Or, if you find you disapprove totally at what you saw in the movie, you are till no worse off because you simply say that you misjudged the matter and you can go on your way without incrimination in God's eyes. It was not a sin to see it (even a score of times) because "all things are lawful to me."
It is this principle that Paul was teaching to the Roman and the Corinthian Christians. If, on the other hand, you feel that the movie was a completely indecent production without the slightest beneficial content, then it would be wrong for you to see it again or to encourage others to see it. This is what Paul meant in Romans 14:22.
"Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself and God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth."
Paul said that some Christians allow certain things in their lives and other Christians do not permit various things. Paul said to go ahead and do as you please because all things are lawful unto you, but remember, whatsoever is not of faith [or a belief that things are okay] is wrong: "whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). Always seek to glorify Christ in your actions.
This Pauline way to look at sin or sinful acts is plain. It means that all things are indeed lawful to do, but all things are not edifying or beneficial. Go ahead and do as you please, but remember that one must be responsible for his or her actions and that everything a person does should be to glorify God the Father and Christ Jesus and His teachings. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).
There is not the slightest doubt that we should honor and observe all the laws of man within our societies (Romans 13: 1-8), as long as those laws do not go against or conflict with the greater principles God has given us to obey. The apostle Peter and all the apostles with him said, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). I agree 100%. I have long been an active supporter of these verses in the Holy Scriptures and have not the slightest intention of directing any of my readers away from abiding by these plain and simple stipulations that the Word of God demands of us. They are designed to be for our good and to help us to live within an environment that is proper and right. They also show that we ought to have a concern for our neighbor, our community, our state (province), and our national and international laws (and this includes paying taxes). Our wish to be fair and upright in our conduct with those around us should extend outward to include all people in the world community. We ought to be decent and honest with all. We ought to be sincere, honorable, mannerly, helpful, upright and responsible citizens. In all things that we allow ourselves to do, we should certainty be discreet in our conduct and not impose our social and religious beliefs on others who may not share our value systems. This should apply to any person in our societies with whom we come in contact.
Of course, this does not mean we have to agree with everyone. No two people on earth agree 100% with each other on details to get along harmoniously, we should agree on major points. Even if we disagree with some of the attitudes of certain groups within our environment, we should give them the right to practice what they please as long as their conduct, along with our own behavior, does not impinge on the privacy of others to practice their religious, societal and ethnic beliefs in a context of respect and forbearance with everyone else in the neighborhood. 5 After all, as Paul said, all things are lawful for them to do, as it is for us mature Christians to have the same privileges. We should always be gentlemen and ladies in outward conduct to everyone we come in contact with, whether they are Christians or not.
This attitude of fairness to all is the Christian way of letting people do what they want in the confines of their own homes as long as the peace of others is not impinged. It is also the way of living that most people who love the democratic principles of government wish to be governed. It is what most normal people would feel is the proper way to live and to let live. Such allowance shows not only correct Christian conduct, it is simple common sense that we all should express such behavior. This is what Paul meant when he said that we mature Christians are no longer reckoned by God the Father to be sinners. We are now adult Christians guided by UNWRITTEN laws (the principles found in the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:2, 23) and not by written laws intended for children in the faith. You are now free to do as you like in all matters of life. Always be a gentleman and a proper lady in your conduct before all people with which you come in contact.
Always show people GRACE, just as God and Christ have shown all of us GRACE. It is the one virtue that should always govern our behavior and outward show of love toward God. Grace is the answer. The next chapter will explain.
1 Remember, you are reckoned by God NOW to be "born again" because you drink of the sincere milk of the word (we are reckoned to be outside the womb and drinking mother's milk)-see 1 Peter 1 :23 with 2:2.
2 See Romans 14:23 with James 2: 17-26 where James said that faith without works of the law is as dead as a doornail.
3 Alfred Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (vo1. I, pp. 90-92).
4 We should all recognize that the Bible itself is a very
violent book in its historical and prophetic descriptions. Note the fact that
God killed every man, woman and child (with the exception of Noah and his
family) at the time of the Flood (Genesis 6: 1 to 9:29). The Law of God
commanded Moses and Joshua to kill off all Canaanites, including men, women and
children (in other words, take no prisoners whatever) at the time of the
conquest (see Deuteronomy 20: 1 6; Joshua 10:28-43; 11: I I, 14, 21). Also, the
Book of Revelation that gives the wrath of the Father and Christ Jesus has some
of the most violent and awful descriptions of judgments, mayhem and wide-scale
slaughter that one can read (Revelation 6: 12 onward to the end of the book) and
God would no doubt recommend that small children should not be permitted to read
those passages without adult supervision.
The Song of Songs is one of the most graphic sexual dialogues that can be found in any literature (when translated properly from Hebrew) and it should not be read (or even vividly explained) to young children until they are old enough to profit from the explicit and highly sexual descriptions that God gives. For married adults, there is no piece of literature better to read and to apply in your married life than what we find in the Song of Songs given to us by God.
On the other hand, there are whole sections of the Bible that young children should not read unless adults supervise the reading. Among other things, there is very crass language in parts of the Holy Scriptures (if properly translated), and while this is fine for adults, it is not for young children. Indeed, just as you would not allow young children to see adult films that one might find in some hotel rooms today, you should also prohibit them from reading portions of the Holy Bible that the Gideons placed in that same hotel room. That's right, both biblical illustrations and some films should be censured for certain audiences. God would expect adults to use proper judgment on all these matters. However, before adults can make proper decisions, they should read and apply Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 along with 1 Corinthians 10:31.
5 As stated before, this in no way means that we have to approve of the actions of all people, but rather that we can respect people to do what they feel is right as long as their activities do not make others uncomfortable or fearful because of their outward actions, and especially if they do not disturb the societal tranquility that all of us desire and should have.
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