Tag Archives: Sin

Letters to the Saints

Can you imagine writing a letter that’s as long as the book of Galatians in the New Testament? What a rarity to receive even a 3 page hand-written letter, much less pages and pages.

But, of course the letters in the New Testament were divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that puts them in a whole different category from casual missives relating recent activities.

Some modern translations or versions of the Bible don’t include the term Epistle or even Letter, but that’s what the following books literally are – letters to the churches in those places:

Paul wrote:

Romans (to the believers in Rome)
I & II Corinthians (to the believers in Corinth)
Galatians (to the believers in Galatia)
Ephesians (to the believers in Ephesus)
Philippians (to the believers in Philippi)
Colossians (to the believers in Colosse)
I & II Thessalonians (to the believers in Thessalonica)
I & II Timothy (to Timothy)
Titus (to Titus)
Philemon (to Philemon)

Unknown Author
Hebrews (to the Hebrews)

James
James (to the 12 tribes scattered abroad)

Peter

I & II Peter (to the believers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia)

John
I, II and III John (only III John is addressed to a specific person or place: Gaius)

Jude
Jude (to the sanctified)

Many Christians have a favorite Bible verse; I would be hard pressed to name a specific verse, although there several passages which are particularly special to me.

But I do have a favorite book in the Bible: the Epistle of James.

James writes in such a clear and straightforward way. Unlike with Paul (sometimes), I don’t have to guess at his meaning.

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” James 1:3

(An unpleasant truth, but true nevertheless.)

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12

Once Joe and I had an odd little conversation with a stranger while we were shopping. She joyfully related that she’d heard a Christian speaker teach that God allows us each one vice. That was a rather stunning statement and utterly false.

Our Heavenly Father is holy and sent his perfect Son as the sacrifice for our sins. No where in scripture is there an excuse for sin. Even one.

James says that we are blessed when we endure temptation, not winked at when we indulge.

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Addiction

Yesterday a good friend of mine and I had an interesting discussion about the nature of addiction. Because of time constraints, we were unable to get very far with it but the subject stayed in my mind and here are some of my thoughts on it.

The current (and I don’t know how long it’s been current, possibly since Freud?) view is that the addict is a victim of various sources: society, poverty, his own brain function, etc. One popular theory is that it’s a disease, therefore a person is helpless. Often this happens because we want to excuse and explain a loved one’s bad choices, or even our own.

What does the Bible say?

From James 1 (Amplified Bible):

12. Blessed (happy, [c]to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.
13. Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one.

14. But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).

15. Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.

16. Do not be misled, my beloved brethren.

Resistance to sin and temptation is rarely taught now, even in church. Now the popular approach is tolerance and non-judgementalism.

Whoa! Wait before reading further! There is no way I’m advocating self-righteousness or condemnation of sinners. I am a sinner saved by grace. As Jesus taught us to pray: forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12) I am in definite need of forgiveness so I must also forgive.

I need mercy, therefore I must be merciful. (Matthew 5:7)

But it is not merciful to pretend that sin is anything other than what it is. Redemption is very, very different from victimization. With redemption there’s a soul cleansing. But redemption had a high price for Jesus and our own forgiveness is conditional upon our acceptance of responsibility for our own actions.

Sin in an unpalatable idea in current theology. Modern society has tried to change the very concept of sin: now it’s making people victims of uncontrollable urges. Psychology has no cure for this, only endless treatment. That is enslavement, not mercy.

I believe that the philosophy that says addiction is due to brain malfunction is saying we are tempted of God. He made us, He made our brains. If the brain makes us sin, then aren’t we saying that it is really God’s fault?

Verse 14 says that we are drawn away by our own lust and enticed.

Temptation comes to every man (also vs. 14), man either gives in or resists.

It sounds compassionate to say that addiction is not the person’s fault, but I believe that it is not compassionate in the end. If we excuse behavior ( or make it no-fault) we are actually condemning people to have to live in it.

We have a choice to either obey God’s laws or not.

God knows that we are all weak and have a sin nature. That is why He sent His Son as a sacrifice for that sin.

1 John 1:8-10 (Amplified Bible)

8. If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts].

9. If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].

10. If we say (claim) we have not sinned, we contradict His Word and make Him out to be false and a liar, and His Word is not in us [the divine message of the Gospel is not in our hearts].

The demise of personal responsibility has resulted in untold pain, agony and tragedy in modern life. Marriages end, probably millions of children grow up without fathers, mothers are selfish and put their themselves before their children, the innocent unborn are sacrificed to the god of convenience, families are destroyed by pornography, alcohol and drugs. And I don’t just mean hard drugs. How many boys and girls live in unstable homes due to marijuana?

How many children have been true victims of their parents’ abusive live-in boyfriends and girlfriends?

Those are just some of the aspects of living in the modern world that have become commonplace and accepted.

And all this because we hold no one to a standard anymore.

I’ve read that the most popularly known Bible verse is no longer John 3:16 (redemption), but is now “Judge not that ye be not judged.” Matthew 7:1

Of course we’re not supposed to judge and condemn our fellow man. But we are supposed to judge conduct.

We have abandoned even judging the simplest matters. I Corinthians 6:2

What results when there are no expectations or even a concept of right and wrong?

‘Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18

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New Beginnings


A new year is like a new day, starting fresh.

A clean sheet with nothing written on it.

A chance to begin again.

My resolve was to use this opportunity. This year was going to be different. I was going to sit down and see how I want my life to change – for the better – and then do what I can do work toward those goals.

That’s a pretty good thing.

The problem is that it’s the same person going forth.

My basic nature hasn’t changed. This was evidenced by my reaction when the radio alarm clock came on this morning and immediately played a sound bite by my least favorite politician.

I said something bad. Real bad.

And immediately asked the Lord to forgive me.

And that’s what is so beautiful about the Salvation that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

We don’t have to wait for January 1 or the next morning or anything else.

Forgiveness and redemption are sweet to the soul.

Yesterday I was given the gift of forgiveness from someone I had wronged a long time ago – over 30 years ago. For years I had lived with the sting. I had asked God to forgive me, and He had. It took years for me to forgive myself. When the loved one and I began talking again a few years ago, I was glad, but words about the past never came up and I was content not to have to talk about it. Right after the event I had written a letter of apology but never knew if it had been accepted. Now I know that it was.

What a relief.

One lesson for me in all this is the reminder of what Jesus tells me about sin and hurt and grudges and unforgiveness.

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Matt. 6:12

But, because I’m in need of forgiveness, I therefore ask Him for a forgiving heart.


I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses.
Isaiah 63:7

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