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This is by a special guest writer and good friend:

 The Knowledge of Good and Evil

I was inspired by a friend this morning, preaching about the nature of good and evil and how it relates to us in terms of “the Gospel” and every day life.

A couple of things that I have been struggling to express for a long time fell into place for me.

The problem all began back in “the garden” (I don’t care whether it was a story or a fact – doesn’t change anything) when Adam and Steve, I mean Eve, ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (cue dramatic music).

Basically, they wanted to know the nature of everything in terms of two defined moral and ethical standards, standards they could describe in black and white – standards that required no decisions based on relationship, empathy, love or passion.

Just Good or Evil.

They walked away from relationship, and this is the whole basis of human thinking ever since. We are obsessed with defining everything in terms of good – evil, moral – immoral, ethical – unethical, ad infinitum…

So the greatest challenge to christians is the whole concept that Jesus completely did away with anything to do with that Tree. He didn’t come to help us make better decisions about good and evil, right and wrong. He didn’t come to give us the strength to choose good and right. He didn’t come to give us the power to resist evil and bad things. He didn’t even come to help us sort out our problems.

He came to rip out the tree by its roots!

EVERYTHING Jesus did was to reveal/point us to our unity with God (that was established before the foundation of the world…) – i.e. relationship! There is no more right or wrong, good or bad – there is only relationship with God. Relationship with LOVE himself (I only use the masculine pronoun because english doesn’t have a non-gendered personal pronoun).

I will never get anywhere if I keep thinking about how sinful I am, how much wrong and bad I do, how bad everyone is, how right or wrong/good or evil the world is etc. That thinking is anti-christ. It is negating everything God did in his Jesus manifestation.

Yes, I know, the first thing that pops into my head is “what about the wrong/bad/evil things that people do – that I do?” But let’s stop for a minute, and look at this. Everything is lawful/permissible but not everything is a great idea. Some things have crappy, and even horrific consequences. But the good news is that doesn’t affect our union with God in the slightest – not one little iddy bit. So He’s cool with whatever, but we do stuff that doesn’t help ourselves or others – its not “beneficial”. In other words, its not love – it doesn’t come from (yes you guessed it) relationship!

So now what? Be responsible for the mess you make, in the full knowledge that you and those affected by those non-beneficial actions are actually completely loved and also free from the nasty tree. If I don’t forgive myself, I’m saying I’m more important than God, I have greater power and authority, because he GOT RID OF THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL. He doesn’t even judge me, because he doesn’t see us in that light.

I make bad decisions because my mind IS BEING RENEWED to realise my unconditional love union with him.

This is not making light of the messes and damage we do through stupid actions. It is the only solution!

Here’s my idea of how things work (very simplistic, cos if kids don’t get it, it must be wrong).

  1. No good or evil – just love union with God
  2. I can make decisions/actions that do not benefit me or someone else
  3. I take the most loving actions that reflect my union with God to reconcile those affected and fix the mess
  4. I love those affected by the decision – including myself – and move on, refusing to be judged further on the matter by anyone – including myself. 
  5. All my actions are to be governed by love relationship, NOT by right or wrong, good or evil.
This may sound petty or stupid and just ignoring huge amounts of “reality”. But its the only way forward. I am no longer to think in terms of sin. God doesn’t, so its the height of pride and arrogance for me to think that way. In fact its denying everything God established “before the foundations of the world” for us to live in unity with him and everyone else.
My un-renewed mind still wants “good and evil” because it gives me the power to judge and condemn, myself and everyone else. But Jesus grabs us by the hand, pulls us into the arms of God and only ever tells us about how much we are loved. That alone bring us to repentance, and repentance just simply and purely means changing our mind – that’s it, no guilt and remorse, shame or self flagellation, just changing our mind about being separated from God in any way.
I am whole, loved and complete. I’m still being renewed to this fact, but that does not change anything. Jesus restored us to relationship – end of story. I will not hold anyone in judgement, and I will not allow other’s judgments to affect me. 
The more I awake to my intimate union with God, the more I will be love, with no thought of good or evil.
This is true freedom. A license to sin? Sorry, I don’t know what sin is any more.

And this will annoy a LOT of people.


How to be accused of embracing too much grace in a few paragraphs:

We are forgiven, for all time, if we are in Christ, right? So, what happens when we go out and sin?

Answer this: How can we “go out and sin” if we are dead to not only sin, but also to the law by which sin is known? Romans, especially chapter six, along with Hebrews, makes is clear that we are dead to sin. So what then is this sinning that people are afraid will happen if we are under grace?

Romans 6:7 For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men].  (Amplified Version)

Romans 6:17 But thank God, though you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient with all your heart to the standard of teaching in which you were instructed and to which you were committed.

18And having been set free from sin, you have become the servants of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in thought, purpose, and action). (Amplified Version)

Also: 2 Corinthians 5:19 -It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor). (Amplified Version)

We are set free from sin, and we are taught this by the apostle explaining grace to us. Grace itself teaches up godliness, which looks much like the fruit of the spirit. Grace also teaches us to avoid ungodliness, which looks a lot like the works of the flesh.

The difference is that there was no law against the fruit of the spirit. It is based on love, and does no harm, but instead seeks to build up, care for, and bless others. The works of the flesh, while some can be good and loving, are mostly selfish, often harming, abusing, and destroying. The law was against that.

We no longer do the works of the flesh if we are in the spirit, and we are in the spirit if we are His. The fleshly old nature is reckoned as dead. So we come back to the original thought – we are dead to sin. We are no longer taught by law, but by grace.

If we, or others we see, seem to be sinning, we are usually confusing the works of the flesh with sin. Sin was taken away by Jesus. (2 Cor 5:19, see above) If it was not, then He didn’t do what He was sent to do, which was to take away the sins of the world. (John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming to him and said, Look! There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! ~ Amp. V.)

A note about the Greek word translated as “sin” (hamartia) – it just means to miss the mark, to err, to stray from the path, and not share in the prize. It’s an archery term. It does not mean to do something bad or evil.

The translators used a word, sin, that implies guilt, when no guilt is implied by the original Greek word. The only guilt involved was Adam’s. And later, there was guilt incurred from transgressing the Mosaic law – which was dealt with by the sacrifices.

Gentiles never were given the Jewish law in the first place. Between Adam and the law, sin was not counted against any.  Then Jesus established the New Covenant, the old was done away with it’s laws and ordinances. It is finished. It is over. We are back to not having our failings counted against us.  

That leaves us with going out and sinning – and what that is. To me it is obvious that no one really sins, for without the law, we can not know sin. Even sinners don’t sin…. now there’s a paradox for you.

We who have been given grace will be led and taught by it. We cannot sin because we are dead to both it and the law. (Sadly even Gentiles now have to deal with the law, because it is taught by nearly every preacher in the world – but know this: where Moses is read, the veil remains.)

Jesus died to fulfill the law, and in so doing he has rescued the entire human race from Adam’s sin and the penalty of death it brought. He did it by coming in frail (“sinful”) flesh. Meaning He did it as a flesh and blood man, prone to error and failure and straying. Yet He fulfilled it all without ever missing the mark.

IT IS FINISHED. Sin/error is not counted against us, just as it was not counted against any before the law came. Jesus reconciled the world to God. In Him a person can have life, if they believe, in the here and now. This is the good news.

And, as John says in 1 John 2:1, if any stray or err, we have a comforter with the Father, Jesus, the anointed and just. Not if any transgress, but if any mess up. There is nothing to transgress. But we can make mistakes in our walk. He will comfort us and lead us into the right way by His grace.

Sin has been “put back” onto the world by the teaching of the church. This is a travesty. I personally believe we should stop using the word sin, and start using the true meaning, which is to miss or err, or fail, and not share the prize. But that’s just me. Do what you want on this one.

Here is where a lot of grace people get tripped up – we’ve all heard this:

“Are you a rapist, murderer, fornicator, thief or a liar? Then you need the Old Testament Law to control you, to keep you in check”. (Based on 1 Tim 1:9-10).
They will say that if you have the Holy Spirit you walk in grace – you don’t need a system of rules. And this is true. But then they look at the works/acts of the flesh and start judging by the law, saying that anyone doing those things is sinning unless or until they stop doing whatever it is.

Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In both passages, Paul is talking about the same thing – the works/acts of the flesh. The man who is not Christ’s and does not have the Holy Spirit is doing the works of the flesh. The works of the flesh are characterized by selfishness and doing harm. This is key. Love does not hurt and is not selfish.

Can we sometimes do hurtful things? Yes. We are human. But we are not doing works/acts of the flesh. We cannot. We are walking by the spirit. We don’t move back and forth between spirit and flesh depending on what we do. If we could, Jesus would have died in vain. We are in the kingdom and we are not doing the works/acts of the flesh. Try interchanging “works” and “fruit” as a way of seeing this.

Gal 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won’t fulfill the lust [merely means desire – not something immoral] of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, that you may not do the things that you desire. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

He then goes on to say this:

5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let’s also walk by the Spirit.

We know that Paul plainly states that those who are in Christ walk in the light and the spirit. So, one doesn’t suddenly leave Christ when he commits one of the acts listed as works/acts of the flesh. Why?

I propose that we confuse the works of the flesh with sin, meaning when we see someone doing fleshly things, we see them as sinning. But it is not so. Sin is known by the law – the very law that was meant for those who were not good or right – the law that was the guide to lead them (and specifically the Jews) to Christ.

Well, guess what? Christ came. He fulfilled the law. The law was done away. We only know sin by the law. No knowledge of law, no knowledge of sin. The scriptures say we are dead to the law and dead to sin. We have no knowledge or relation to either, like a dead man. The law has no authority over the dead.

In fact, the law was only for the Jews anyway. Without the law, every person since Adam has conscience, and either uses it to try and do the right things, or ignores it and acts selfishly.

What governs our behavior now, in Christ? The scripture says that grace teaches us godliness. Grace is best defined as the divine influence of God in our hearts. The aspects of grace look a lot like the fruit of the spirit that is produced in our lives. We don’t obey the law to be good. We are good (righteous) because of Christ. Our goodness is His goodness.

So, when we see someone who seems to be still doing the works/acts of the flesh, we have to stop and see that person as one who is free from the law and condemnation. There is none to accuse. Like Jesus, we cannot accuse or condemn. (But don’t confuse civil law with the law of Moses. If any violate a civil law, they will pay its penalty.)

Jesus did away with the Jewish law, took away the sins of the world, and that system is over. Jesus paid the penalty of the Jewish law. He also paid the penalty of death that came on all men through Adam. It is finished. Ungodliness is to continue in the law, and grace teaches us to leave the ungodliness of the law.

Our “morality” is produced by grace. Grace does not prompt any to hurt, or to act selfishly. Love does not act selfishly nor does it hurt. Love is the chief thing. It is fruit of the spirit, and will endure.

If we can’t walk in love, without condemnation (law brings condemnation), we are not operating in grace nor listening to the Holy Spirit. This is what Paul means when he says trying to finish by law means we have fallen from grace. The mindsets that conclude in sin are not coming from grace.

What does it mean to be dead to sin?

Romans 6 (NIV)

Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

 19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!

22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life inChrist Jesus our Lord.

Now, if we are dead to our “human failure to measure up”, we cannot then live as “human failures” (the word translated as sin means missing the mark, failure, frailty). Neither can we decide to do it on purpose. There is no guilt to being human, and in error. Unfortunately the old English word, sin, does have that meaning.

But, you say, sin is sin. If you do it on purposed, you have become a slave to it, like Paul says.

Well, Paul is not saying that. He is showing how we were before Jesus died to sin.

We who believe in Jesus are also dead to sin – because we died with Him. And as He is alive, we are alive in Him.

Now, we are free from sin. If we are dead to it, we have no relation to it, just as a dead man can neither run nor observe a stop sign.

So, what about when we do something we think is bad or wrong?

First of all, we do not know sin except by the law, and we are also dead to it.

In fact, the law was for the Jews, not the Gentiles. Most believers have never been Jewish. Those who are Jewish are still not under law, because Jesus did away with it, establishing a new covenant.

So, again, how do we know something is bad or wrong? What is the standard? There would seem to be none. We have conscience, but can’t the conscience be seared, and let us do things that are against it?

Grace teaches us godliness. It is our new “conscience”, for it is the influence of God on our hearts.

Now we have the tree of life, which is Jesus, and we have a new kind of guidance system. It does not operate from a list of rules, or what we just feel is good or bad.

Grace operates through the Holy Spirit, in which we walk. We, who are Christ’s, walk in the spirit. He is the new “default” setting. Did you know that the fruit of the spirit looks a lot like the many facets of grace?

Anytime we look at what someone does wrong, we are looking at law.

When we look at law, that is all we see, and it condemns us. It is a downward spiral. We cannot win. However, Jesus has won the battle, and He has lifted us up with Him out of condemnation. We are free!

Look with His eyes, which never condemn and always lift up. He looks at our hearts and works in our hearts. It’s intensely personal and subjectively varied. If you think someone is in “sin”, it is not for you to judge.

If you think you are in “sin” you have forgotten you were forgiven, once and for all time.

For the believer there is no such thing as living in “sin” or continuing in it. You can’t have it both ways. You are either dead to sin or you are not.

And you are dead to sin. You do walk in the spirit.

To repeat, if you judge someone as being in sin, you have just put yourself under the standard of sin and have lost the benefit of grace. Personally, I have tried to drop the word “sin” from my vocabulary, which proves to be difficult. It’s very ingrained into our minds and culture.

Operate out of grace. That is ministering life.

by André van der Merwe on Friday, June 17, 2011 at 7:04am

G265 ἁμάρτημα ham-ar-tee’-ah

From G264; sin (properly abstract): – offence, sin (-ful)


G264 ἁμαρτάνω ham-ar-tan’-o

Perhaps from G1 (as a negative particle) and the base of G3313; properly to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize), that is, (figuratively) to err, especially (morally) to sin: – for your faults, offend, sin, trespass.


Hamartia (missing the mark) is often misinterpreted to mean “breaking the 10 Commandments”. But if this were really the case, what about those people who lived before the law was given to Israel? Because the Bible clearly says that sin was in the world before the law was given:


…for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is the type of Him who was to come. (Rom 5:13-14 MKJV)


This scripture says that death even reigned over those who hadn’t sinned like Adam did. This means that they missed the mark too, even though they hadn’t broken any laws, because remember that the law hadn’t even been given yet.


Doubly Guilty


Mankind was dubbed into a condition of sin through Adam’s disobedience, and was made aware of this sinful condition through the giving of the Old Testament Law:


1)     We were made guilty through the condition of sinfulness, inherited from Adam:

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (Rom 5:18-19 KJVA)


2)     Each and every person who tries to justify themselves before God through trying to obey the law, are made guilty by the law as well:


Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Rom 3:19-20 MKJV, emphasis added)


Missing the Mark?


It’s easy for some to say that we sin when we “miss the mark”. But let’s think about this for a moment: What is the mark? How big is the mark? And how do we miss it?


If “hitting the mark” means that we perfectly obey the requirements of the law, then it gets very interesting, because remember the law didn’t just consist of the 10 Commandments. No, a total of 613 laws and stipulations were given to Israel (from Exodus to Deuteronomy) which they had to obey down to the last letter for as long as they lived. The law was given as a covenant, which means it was a life-long contract. Suddenly the mark becomes a 1mm little pin prick set against a wall about 9,000km away.


Paul the apostle talked about a different kind of righteousness; a way of being able to stand perfectly justified before God apart from trying to obey the Old Testament laws:


But now a righteousness of God has been revealed apart from Law, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets; even the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ, toward all and upon all those who believe. (Rom 3:21-22 MKJV, emphasis added)


The entire New Covenant (after the cross) proclaims a redeeming message of being made perfect through faith in Christ. Through faith we enter into unity with God, receive eternal life, we have all our sins forgiven and we are made completely, 100% righteous… forever. As a mark of our salvation we receive the promise of the Father, the indwelling Holy Spirit.


But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. (Rom 8:9 MKJV)


The Sin of Unbelief


Although God has already forgiven the sins of the entire world and extended His Grace towards all men, not everybody chooses to receive this offer of peace. If it were somebody’s birthday and their friend arrived at their door with a gift, the birthday person still has to make a choice to open the door and take the gift. The gift becomes useless if the gift bearer is left standing outside the door.


The only choice that can nullify the redemption of the cross in a person’s life, is choosing not to believe in Jesus. The Bible is clear that it’s only through faith that a person becomes born again:


Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. (1 John 5:1a MKJV, emphasis added)


For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 MKJV, emphasis added)



Because if you confess the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. (Rom 10:9 MKJV, emphasis added)


Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:1 MKJV, emphasis added)


The Sin of Trying to Live According to the Law


The Law isn’t based on faith. It promises life only to people who obey its commands. (Gal 3:12 CEV)

For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Rom 14:23b ESV)


The Old Testament Law is not based on faith, because it didn’t take any faith for a person to know that they were wrong when they transgressed one of the commands. But it does take faith for us to still believe we are the righteousness of God, even when we just messed up!


When we combine Gal 3:12a with Rom 14:23b it says this:


“Living according to the Old Testament Law is sin.”


Bottom line.

Is the saying, that we should love the sinner but hate their sin, scriptural?

Do you know who said it? It was Mahatma Gandhi. Does that make it wrong? Not really, unless you think it was God who said it. Gandhi also said he loved our Christ but not our Christians. Hard to argue with that!

In my Christian life, which covers about 36 years, I have seen divorce viewed as the “unforgiveable sin”, then homosexuality, with abortion thrown in for good measure. Of course, the “unforgiveable” sin is none of these.

How did Jesus deal with “sinners”?

Luke 18:9-14: (Easy To Read Version)9 There were some people that thought that they were very good. These people acted like they were better than other people. Jesus used this story to teach them: 10 “One time there was a Pharisee and a tax collector. One day they both went to the temple to pray. 11 The Pharisee stood alone, away from the tax collector. When the Pharisee prayed, he said, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not as bad as other people. I am not like men that steal, cheat, or do the sin of adultery. I thank you that I am better than this tax collector. 12 {I am good;} I fast twice a week, and I give one-tenth of everything I earn!’

13 “The tax collector stood alone too. But when he prayed, he would not even look up to heaven. The tax collector felt very humble before God. He said, ‘O God, have mercy on me. I am a *sinner!’ 14 I tell you, when this man finished his prayer and went home, he was right with God. But the Pharisee, who felt that he was better than other people, was not right with God. Every person that makes himself important will be made humble. But the person that makes himself humble will be made important.” *(the word translated “sinner” can also mean tax collector.)

Well, seems like Jesus was a bit harder on the Pharisee than on the tax collector. He said the tax collector was justified. Maybe it’s not the actions, but the attitude of repentance that justifies….do you think?

39 The Pharisee that asked Jesus to come to his house saw this. He thought to himself, “If this man (Jesus) were a prophet, he would know that the woman who is touching him is a sinner!”……  47 I tell you that her many sins are forgiven. This is clear, because she showed great love. But the person that feels only a little need to be forgiven will feel only a little love when he is forgiven.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The people sitting at the table began to think to themselves, “Who does this man (Jesus) think he is? How can he forgive sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Because you believed, you are saved {from your sins}. Go in peace.”

Jesus did not accuse the woman taken in adultery. He did not judge the woman at the well who had been married a few times and was not married to the man she was living with.

If this is Jesus’ example, who are we to judge a “sinner”? Who are we to say we love someone but hate what they are doing? It all seems to be one and the same to Jesus. It is western, classical, thought that separates who we are and what we do. Jesus saw people as an integrated whole, and treated them as such.

When we say we love the sinner, but hate the sin, we are really judging that person by what he does. It fools no one but the one speaking. That is not love. That is judgment. They don’t mix. Jesus didn’t do it. His harsh words were directed at the hypocritical religious leaders. Mercy triumphs over judgment, love covers a multitude of sins, and where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.

If we don’t get this, we don’t get why Jesus died.

All the emphasis on sin is not productive. It turns away many that need to hear the gospel of grace and freedom, but those who love them and are closed to Jesus because of all the condemnation. And it turns away any number of those you label as sinners. You know, that’s not the way to present Jesus!

The goodness of God leads to repentance.

I personally have stopped debating over things like abortion or homosexuality (but I have only begun to speak out). Jesus didn’t address either one.

Grace alone would compel acceptance without judgment. How do we know sin but by the law? And we are dead to the law.

Will not the God of all the earth do right? Can we stop judging others and just let them be who they are called to be in Christ? If gay Christians, for instance, make you uncomfortable, then just shut the church door. There are churches where the doors are open, without hypocrisy. But don’t patronize people for whom Christ died by saying you love them, and only hate their “sin”.

Don’t tell them you love them, even though they are naughty children. You are telling them they don’t measure up – that they are lacking in some way. It is not true. Besides, we are all naughty children – we shouldn’t throw stones.

We are all accepted in Jesus. None measure up against any standard. In Him we are perfect, but not in any measure we can devise.

Stop trying to free those who are already free.  Such nonsense!

Stop talking grace, and then putting people back under religious rules that you wouldn’t be able to follow yourself, like the Pharisees did.

I understand that this is a hard post to read. I didn’t come to this view overnight. It took a few years of study. To those who vehemently disagree, I say I would have too. I was in that place too,  about 15 years ago. Loving friends and a most loving God have revealed what is hidden to much of the church, and has been for centuries.

But love wins. God has already won it. He will win it for you, too, it you let Him.

Instead of getting disturbed,  go and heal the sick and raise the dead and set the captives free. Show the love of Christ to the world. Let the One who always does right work it out.

Food for thought: ‎”A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. It wasn’t the world being round that agitated people, but that the world wasn’t flat. When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” – Dresden James

If you think this is a lament about the state of the world and/or the church, you are right. But it is not what you may expect. I am not lamenting the usual opinion that winking at sin is the reason the world/church is in such bad shape. Far from it. When a believer thinks in this manner, he has forgotten the message of grace.

The believer in Jesus Christ has no relation to the law and therefore lives apart from sin. (Gal. 2:19 – For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. Rom. 7:6 – But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. Rom. 7:8b ….For without the law sin was dead.)

Shocked? Well, this is the message of grace. What then are we to do? Does what we do matter? How does it matter? And how do we know we have missed the way – can we actually miss the way? Sin means to miss the goal. But God guides us by the Holy Spirit. Is He weak that He can only guide us some of the time? No! He accomplishes His purposes in us. Even when we think we’ve blown it.

Paul writes about our relationship to “sin” in Romans this way:

Rom 6:2 – God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Rom 6:7 – For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Rom 6:11 – Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rom 6:13 – Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

We are to understand that we are living in Jesus, and no longer in unrighteousness.

That’s what it means to “reckon”. When we do something that is not compatible with Christ, we will know, for the Spirit will show us. As we learn to here His voice, we will know, for we have the mind of Christ. There is no condemnation but only grace. Our mistakes are not sins. They are just mistakes. We are sorry for them, but then we go on with Him. That is the true meaning of repentance.

The life in the spirit, that has no relation to the law is a wonderful, glorious life, lived in freedom and grace.

It can be a bit frightening for us, because we are so used to rules. We are not practiced in listening only to the Holy Spirit (who will not lead us against scripture, but often will lead us beyond our understanding of scripture into new understanding – and into things of the spirit which are not written down on pages, for God is still moving and speaking and doing new things. We are to try the spirits, and judge prophecies!)

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

Note that grace teaches us how we should live. The work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts does this. The heart is where the laws of God are written. We don’t read them but instead we know them, for they are spiritually discerned. We walk in them by faith that He is indeed guiding our steps. Grace looks a lot like the fruit of the spirit.

When we stop thinking in terms of rules and laws, we find ourselves not judging others in terms of sins either. If we judge others by law it has some uncomfortable implications. But if we do not regard the law, we cannot put restrictions of law on anyone. If we do, we will have put ourselves under law again, and will have fallen from grace (will not have lost our salvation, but will have lost our freedom and life in the spirit).

(Galatians 5:1-4 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.)

We need to go beyond “loving the sinner but hating the sin”, which is a sham and very condescending anyhow. If you hate what someone does, they really won’t feel the love coming from you! When we stop thinking in terms of sins, we will have begun to see the pure love of Christ.

Jesus is the representation of God to us, and He loved those who came to Him, without condemnation. He was the end of the law, by which sin is known. It truly is finished!

If grace does not produce acceptance, we aren’t operating in grace at all.

Grace cannot produce awareness of sins. Awareness of sin, as a transgression, is known from the law and the law is done away in Christ. Awareness of our failings and our weaknesses is not sin. We should not even speak of remaining in sin (Rom. 6:1). How can we? We are dead to it.

We are in relationship with God. Like lovers, we seek to please Him. And for His part, He does not see our failings. He gives us grace, favor, a work in the heart.

So, if we are dead to sin, and it is not charged against us, how can we accuse others of it?

How can we point the finger and refuse to accept any? By grace, we have gained a brother or sister and have not been a stumbling block to them. And we have not fallen from grace back into law.

It is strong grace, from an almighty God! We are to deal with problems with the goal of restoration. For instance, Jesus was not saying to permanently exclude anyone for whom He came to die. Love is to be our aim.

The law is done away, and we have no relationship to it, to obey or disobey. God does not reject any of His children based on what we may think of them or what they do.

We can demand certain behavior, or forbid it, but those efforts will fail. Grace never fails – it is sufficient to keep us from falling back into law. Grace teaches us godliness. The law is not our teacher.

Neither are we taught by stories in Genesis. The Gentiles did not know the stories of the Jewish faith. They believed and received the same grace as the Jewish believers, and that grace taught them,  just as it does us today. We are not to try living by the Old Testament. Period. We live by faith in the Son of God, the grace placed in our hearts.

When we live with sin consciousness, we have forgotten we are forgiven and are not living in knowledge of the grace that has cleansed us (2 Peter 1:9). When we are conscious of sin, we judge others and thereby place ourselves under the same law. This is mixing law and grace. This is being double-minded.

We are called to a ministry of reconciliation – to bring in those who are outside the household of faith. We are also called to be in relationship with God, not to live by an external morality. 

Grace is actually a two-way relationship as we return love for love. We are under the rule of the spirit of life in Christ. Grace and the fruit of the spirit are very much alike, and the love it produces is described in the ‘love’ chapter (1 Corinthians 13).

So, there are none to throw the first stone, and none to accuse, for grace won’t allow it. Grace draws a large circle and takes everyone in. Law draws a small circle and keeps most out.

What about God’s wrath? What about how He hates sin and can’t look on it?  Didn’t God turn His face from the Son on the cross?

This is once again a translation problem. The word, orge, can mean strong/violent desire or passion, ire, anger, indignation, or lastly by implication, punishment. So we have in John 3:36, (The Amplified Bible) And he who believes in (has faith in, clings to, relies on) the Son has (now possesses) eternal life. But whoever disobeys (is unbelieving toward, refuses to trust in, disregards, is not subject to) the Son will never see (experience) life, but [instead] the wrath of God abides on him. [God’s displeasure remains on him; His indignation hangs over him continually.]

The scripture says that any who do not believe are already under the sentence of death/condemnation. Wrath is not the best choice for orge, in light of what we know, which is that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son to save it. It may help to realize that Jesus is the representation of the Father, and that He was never angry at those who were, as is usually translated, “sinners”. He was only angry with hypocrites – pretenders, who said they served God but did not know Him or recognize the Son.

As for saying God can not look at “sin”,  Jesus looked at it all the time.

He ate with “sinners”. Remember, Jesus represents God the Father to us. The idea that God can’t look on “sin” comes from an Old Testament passage that is misunderstood. Isaiah 59:2 is talking about how depraved Israel had become. But their depravity hid His face from them, not the other way around. (The Amplified Bible) But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.

In Habakkuk 1:13, the writer says that since God’s eyes are pure, why is He looking at those who are doing evil? (The Holy Bible, New International Version®) Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

So, doesn’t God punish “sin”? Well, quite frankly, the only scriptures that speak of this are in the Old Testament and refer to things Israel did. The word “punish” does not appear in the King James Version with regard to sin, except in the New Revised Standard Version, and some other less known ones. Since Jesus bore our “sin” and since He did away with the old law by establishing the New Covenant, the evidence says, “No, God does not punish “sin”. He removes it.

Let’s not leave out what Jesus said on the cross. [(King James Version) Matthew 27:46 – And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?]

Jesus is quoting the beginning of Psalm 22. He was weak and dying – but the beginning was all He needed in order to make His point. Also, it was rabbinic tradition to quote one line, when the whole was being referenced – and sometimes the passages that came before as well as after. (Jesus did the same thing when He began His ministry by reading from Isaiah in the temple.) This is a Messianic prophecy by the psalmist, David. Read the entire psalm and you will see that God did not really forsake Jesus on the cross!

God did not forsake His Son!

Jesus was quoting the Psalm with His last remaining strength to confirm that He was Messiah. Those who were there that day would have understood it in this manner. It is we who are confused.

What about the darkness on the earth when Jesus died? Well, consider this. The Greek word translated “glory” is doxa and means an opinion, judgment, or view. The equivalent Hebrew word also indicates honor. Doxa as used in the New Testament also indicates splendor, brightness, majesty, exalted, etc. The idea of glory always being light does not tell the whole story however. Consider this:

Exodus 14:19-20. (KJV) And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.

I think that the world saw only the darkness, but God rose in glory in the Son. He never leaves or forsakes us, and neither did He forsake Jesus. He did not look away, but covered Him. God brooded over Him…….

A further aside is in regard to the Jewish idea the shekinah glory – the visible manifestation of God’s presence. God spoke to them out of the dark cloud. And some believe that the shekinah in the Holy of Holies appeared as a deep darkness. [I Kings 8:12-13 Then Solomon spoke: “The LORD said He would dwell in the dark cloud. I have surely built You an exalted house, And a place for You to dwell in forever.”] This suggests that over the mercy seat, where the presence of God dwelt, it may have been darkness to the eyes of men. Who knows?

Jesus was not made to be sin. He came in hamartia flesh: (The Amplified Bible) Romans 8:3 – For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [ the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [ subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice],

He was actually the sin offering. [2 Corinthians 5:21(The Complete Jewish Bible) God made this sinless man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with him we might fully share in God’s righteousness.”] All transgression of the law was laid on Him, in other words. He carried it, as the last sacrificial lamb. Then, as the scapegoat, He was crucified outside the city/camp, and took both our mess and Israel’s offenses away. Forever. Gone. Finished.

In the song, “In Christ Alone” (2002, Keith Getty) try substituting the word “wrath” with the word “love”.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of LOVE and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save

‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The  LOVE of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live!

It wasn’t hamartia that was nailed to the cross with Jesus. [Colossians 2:14 – Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;] The Greek word for “ordinances” is dogma, and means doctrine, decree, rules and requirements of the law. This is not about missing the mark, but about the end of the old law.

Because we are human, we do hamartia. We cannot keep any law or rule perfectly.  With the law nailed to the cross with Jesus, it is no longer in effect. And actually, the law was for the Jews, not Gentiles – which most believers are.

However there is a sense in which “sin” was nailed to the cross. Jesus came in the flesh, and He was crucified. [(The Darby Translation) Romans 8:3 – For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, having sent his own Son, in likeness of flesh of sin, and for sin, has condemned sin in the flesh,] Jesus died in the flesh. Hamartia is the failure of the flesh. He remedied human failure and we are rescued.


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