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“The knowledge of good and evil seems to be the aim of all ethical reflection. The first task of Christian ethics is to invalidate this knowledge”. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“…but of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat, for in the day that eat of it you shall die.” Genesis 2:16b

In the light of grace, we know the law is the ministration of death. Grace is from the very heart of God to our hearts. It is life. Grace teaches us His ways. We know after the spirit, not the flesh. Our flesh is crucified with Christ.

We are to judge no one after the flesh. When we do, we put ourselves under the same law (standard of right and wrong) we use to judge by. Paul says we fall from grace when we do that (grace becomes ineffective in our hearts).

The world does not operate in grace. The world needs laws and rules. Sometimes the laws need to be changed to line up with what is good and right, and to curb new wrong doing. Laws are civil, not spiritual. It’s best not to be confused on this. We can violate a law, but it is not sin in God’s eyes. Sin is finished.

We can of course offend a fellow human being. That is also called sin in the Bible, but the word does not mean an offense against God, or a transgression of the law. It merely means to err, to stray from the path, to miss the mark. It’s an archery term. There is no guilt in missing. You just don’t get a prize.

Sin itself is a bad word in translation, because it does imply guilt. But we are stuck with it. It’s the word the translators used.

What does it mean to say that unbelief is a sin? Does the Holy Spirit really convict the world of sin? The word translated convict really means to reprove or to show, to convince, or even to prove. What would the Holy Spirit do to show or convince the world of sin? The word, convict, is a legal term. The law is gone, so convicting of sin is not what this is about. You can’t be convicted of violating something that doesn’t exist.

But on the day of Pentecost, Jews were pricked to the heart (there is nothing stated that the Holy Spirit did this) and realized they had not believed their Messiah had come – and many believed at that time. I’d call that a fulfillment of Jesus’ statement. They had missed it, but then some believed. That does not mean the rest of the world is sinning by not believing, especially when they have not even heard and had a chance to believe. The Jews had 3 years at least. And, again, the thing to remember here is that this is fulfilled!

Think about it. Does it sound like Jesus to say that there will be sin remaining after He did what He came to do? Preposterous. Only those who are still hung up on “sin” would say this.

The Holy Spirit came to call to mind what Jesus said. We did not hear Jesus in person, but we have the gospel witness, and the apostles. They heard Him, and knew God had said that Jesus was His beloved Son, and to hear Him.

It is not the job of the Holy Spirit to convict those in the world. It’s His place to show the believer the truths of God. I don’t want to split hairs too finely. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible or wise to try and figure it all out. My point is that we should not make the Holy Spirit into some sort of judge that convicts people by the law that they are not under.

When we, as believers, feel we have missed the target of godliness, it is grace, the divine influence of God in our hearts, which is showing us the truth. It does work by the Holy Spirit, I think, for the work of grace is a lot like the fruit of the spirit. Grace teaches us to leave ungodliness and follow godliness. It’s not done by convicting or by guilt, but by recognition.

In Ezekiel 16:48-50 God compares Jerusalem to Sodom, saying “Sodom never did what you and your daughters have done.… She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me.” God then sent an angel to rain hell fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah.

Jesus says this: Matthew 11:20-24 (RSV):”And you, Caper’na-um, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Sodom was not as bad as Jerusalem and Capernaum. Sodom came to be a metaphor for unrestrained wickedness and sin, but it was actually not the worst city to ever exist. Neither was the sin of Sodom homosexuality. The word itself was not used until the 20th century.

Acts of sexual dominance were a common way in those days of shaming a defeated enemy or foreigners. But God desires that hospitality to be shown to foreigners. He desires that His people treat one another with kindness and love. Love is what drives all the law and the prophets.

The point is that the whole city could not possibly have been homosexual. Preposterous. It was a city, with a population. Men, women, and children. We need to have some sanity in understanding this.

Homosexuality was not really the sin of Sodom, let’s leave that and look at immorality as mentioned in the New Testament. The word translated in some versions as immorality is porneia. If that looks familiar, it’s the root of our word, pornography.

The Greek Lexicon (Thayer & Smith) defines porneia as “illicit sexual intercourse.” The word “licit” is Latin and means permissible by law. So, “illicit” means not permissible by law. Paul said that it had been reported to him that people in the Corinthian church were involved in illegal sexual activity, what was not permissible by law.

1Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.

Some say that it was Jewish law Paul was speaking of here. I don’t think so. Paul preached grace, not law. He was vehemently against the law-keepers (Judaizers). But still he could have been referring to it, to show how horrible their immorality was.

The context however would suggest Corinthian laws were being violated – even though they were very tolerant of most sexual behaviors. Paul often warned the churches to be above reproach, especial in sexual matters and regarding things sacrificed to idols.

To Paul, it was important that the church have a good reputation and not open itself up to charges of immorality. They were misunderstood already among the pagans. Why give their enemies more opportunity to persecute them?

The argument is often made that homosexuals can indeed be saved – but they can no longer indulge in homosexual acts, for that is gross immorality, such as is mentioned in Jude 1:7 ….just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)

The word translated “strange” is actually heteros, meaning “different” or “another”. Actually, the first meaning is “to number” – if that means anything in this context. Sarkos is flesh, meaning human passions. While it could allude to sexual domination, male on male, as was common in those times, it would not include consensual homosexual acts.

Come on. Jesus never mentioned homosexuality at all. If it were so all fired important, why didn’t He say anything? He did not condemn the adulterous woman. He did not condemn the Samaritan woman who was living with a man she wasn’t married to.

Since pagans often accepted and even promoted same-sex behavior, usually in connection with their religious practices, God prohibited it. He was setting the Jews apart – they were not to indulge in anything that the pagans did as part of their religion. And most everything pagans did revolved around their religion.

One of the things that God hates most is idolatry. It destroys. It’s not that God is in need of worship, but that He is good and by looking only to Him, the people would be set apart from that which destroys through ungodliness, fear, hate, condemnation, and death.

God is for us. His Son died for us and rose for us. He is love. He is grace. He has brought us back to Himself and back to relationship. He has brought us to innocence. Why do we persist in dragging ourselves, and others, back into the law that condemns and kills? Did Jesus die for nothing?

Let it go, people. Stop being stingy with the grace God freely gives us. Jesus always draws a large circle and takes us in. So, our calling is to extend the same grace to all. No strings or caveats. There is none to accuse. How can we?

You have no idea how freeing it is to let go and just be Jesus to the world!

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