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Letter to the Gracians,

Hi to the family, from Papa and Jesus and me;

I love you all, and we are all one, being bound together by Papa’s love.

I guess some of you are upset because you see some people continuing to live in sin after they were adopted into our family. Consider the following:

To err is human, to forgive divine. Alexander Pope ~ An Essay on Criticism  ~ English poet & satirist (1688 – 1744)

This statement by Pope is closer to the truth than you realize. The word translated “sin”, hamartia, actually means to miss the mark, and fail to share the prize. It means to err, to fail, to be frail. It describes human nature. It does not imply guilt or wrong doing, only messing up, missing it, erring. Sin itself, and old word, is a bad translation of hamartia, for the word implies guilt.

The only guilt that should be associated with sin is when we transgress or break a rule of law – or when we offend another person, breaking social rules. Now, the apostle Paul says that sin is lawlessness. This means that we are bound to break the law because we are bound to miss it, to fail, to err. The Jewish system of sacrifices is how God dealt with transgressions.

Enter Jesus. He came to take away the sins of the world. Either He did this or He did not. I choose to believe He did it. If He did it, then the sins of the world are gone. The law that led the Jews to Christ is also taken away. In Him we are dead to the law and to sin.

We no longer try to be accepted by God when we obey laws. We are accepted when we believe in Jesus. Our life after that is guided by the grace of God in our hearts. Grace teaches us godliness. We have no more relation to the law than a dead man. Can a dead man obey the law? Can a dead man disobey the law?

The apostle Paul asked the Galatians, that once they’d begun in the spirit, how could they possibly try to finish by the law? When we return to the ministration of death, the law, as the standard for behavior, but we put ourselves back under it. He calls this falling from grace. Not losing salvation, but making the grace in our hearts ineffective.

So what about those who seem to be living in continual sin? (I am not talking about civil law here – break that and you pay, just as Jesus paid for the breaking of God’s law by the children of Adam. I am talking about things we call sin.) In fact, the question is really one of knowing what sin is. How do we decide, since the law is done away? What is the standard?

It would seem that actually nobody lives in sin, after the cross. Sin was taken away by Jesus.

We are left with things associated with sin, and that is the works of the flesh. Are they now sins? If they are sins, listed by Paul for our convenience, what are we to do about the fact that Jesus took away the sins of the world? When we say the word, sin, aren’t we introducing the concept of law back into our thinking?

Paul was talking about the works of the flesh as contrasted to the fruit of the spirit. One could even say fruit of the flesh, or works of the spirit. For the natural result of living in the flesh is its fruit. And the work of the spirit is to bring out the grace in our hearts and produce its fruit.

We are spiritual. We are in the spirit. We are not ever in sin. God forbid. How could we be? I believe this is what Paul was saying. It’s not possible for we who are Christ’s to think of ourselves as being in sin. We are to think of ourselves as dead to it and alive to the spirit, because we are. We cannot and do not continue in it.

Saying someone is living in sin, or continuing in it, is not compatible with grace. Again, by thinking in terms of sin, we are trotting out the dead law and using it to measure and judge others, and to gain acceptance with God. This ignores the work of Christ. My, my. Why would anyone do this?

The world will not fall apart if we let grace do its work. Surely we can trust God? Paul says the law is not for the righteous. We are righteous. Do we want to look to the law and be under condemnation again? God forbid, exclaims Paul!

Continuing in a life of sin? No! Not possible under grace. The rule of the spirit of life in Christ is the only true rule.

Not even the new commandment to love God with all our being, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, is one we can obey. We cannot obey that one anymore than we can keep any other one. Jesus didn’t mean that we could. He was showing how it is impossible to please God by keeping laws. He sets the bar higher to show us that we need Him. He loves through us.

Trust God to lead His children, teach His children, and mature His children. We can’t do it, even if we try. Stop judging others. Help them learn to operate out of grace and complete acceptance by God. And do the same yourself. If something is not from God, it will fail. And if you try to make all conform to your idea of godliness, you may be fighting God himself.

Truly, the only reason to interfere is when someone is causing harm to another person. Harm comes from the flesh, is displayed in the works of the flesh, and is rooted in selfishness. It is opposed to love and to grace, and therefore to God.

Love never fails. Above all, love one another, said the apostle John. Love isn’t selfish, isn’t proud, never demands, but serves. Love is the chief thing. If it is love, let it be. Rejoice.

And now in the name of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us,

Love and grace

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Stop listing your “sins”. Please. It is bondage.

It is having your eyes on yourself and not on Jesus. It is exchanging grace for a new set of laws. We only know sin by having laws and rules. Jesus ended the old set of laws, so why do we make new ones out of the things Jesus and the apostles said? They did not mean them as new laws. Really. You can’t mix law and grace, yet we think that is what they tell us to do. Instead, Jesus and the apostles are the very ones who bring us to knowledge of our freedom, and we take what they say and use it to rob us of our new life of faith and grace – our very freedom in Christ.

In other places I have discussed what the word translated as “sin” really means. That it means to miss the mark and fail to share in the prize. It’s comparable to what we today call human nature – as in to err is human and to forgive divine. But God went beyond that and did not merely forgive us. After all, we couldn’t really help being human. What God did in the person of Jesus Christ was to remove our sin. In addition, transgression only applies to those who disobey the law.

Recently I heard a respected pastor and theologian who warned that, since James said to count it all joy, we must do it. If we do not, we are complainers and grumblers, which is sinning just the same as if it were sexual immorality. He was referring to a passage Paul wrote in Romans, listing things God hates. I was so saddened to here him say this, because he was setting up new rules and saying that if we didn’t do the right thing, we would not be told, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” This is appalling, when you think about it. Here is a preacher, who would say he preached grace, but who is causing us to turn from grace if we heed what he is saying on this.

Not! No how, no way. Sorry. Don’t buy it. Guidelines are just that – things that guide us. They are not rules to obey in order to be justified, sanctified, or anything else. We are righteous and holy and sanctified by the one act of Jesus on the cross. We can’t then do anything to keep our salvation or become more holy. Nonsense. We are led by the Holy Spirit who indwells us. We have a book, the Bible, written by inspired men of God to show us God’s ways and acts.

The Bible is not a rule book for us. Christ made an end to the law.

The Holy Spirit who inspired that book is the true guide for us into all that God has for His sons and daughters, just as He was for the early church. Rightly understood, scripture and Spirit will not contradict.

This is what it means to work out our own salvation in fear and trembling. Not in fear of our loving Father, but in the face of people who may not understand what God is saying to us. It can be most intimidating to listen and obey His voice when the voices of the dissenters are roaring all about you.

There are two commandments only – to love God with all that we posses, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. And we can’t even do this. If you know anyone who says can, they are not being truthful!

We just rest in His finished work and in the grace He has given us. There is no condemnation for us in Christ. Stop putting yourself back under it.

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