Greeting again friends!
As we enter the season when we commemorate the death of the Savior of the world, it is appropriate to talk about the most misunderstood and legalistic word in religion: sin! It is because of sin that God sent His Son to die as the only worthy and final answer and propitiation for it. Sin began in the very beginning when Adam was driven out of Eden because of it. It has been the scourge of the earth, and the cause of so much agony and suffering, and its ultimate ‘reward’ –death! (Rom.6:23) Let me share a perspective of sin with you that will unwrap all the legalistic trappings we have been fed time and again.
Jesus’ Passion in Golgotha (Wiki Commons)
Religion has made a gigantic football match out of sin, with sin as the ball, in a field of legalistic proponents. They have placed an unsustainable burden on man, akin to the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matt.23:13-15,4,11-12)
This is what ReligionFacts tell us about Jewish religious observances, “In addition to the 613 mitzvot (commandments), Jewish law incorporates a large body of rabbinical rules and laws. These are considered just as binding as the mitzvot, although the punishments for violating them are less severe. Another difference is that it is possible, though unlikely, for the rabbinical laws to be changed, but no rabbi can change the Torah mitzvot.” (http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/practices.htm) So the Jews have all these commandments, rules, and regulations to obey – not to mention the Ten Commandments. Most Christian churches, when you analyze their beliefs, teach their followers how to manage sin, just as the mitzvot does for the Jews. On one hand, they offer Christ as Savior, on the other they put people back on themselves by teaching them how to cope with sin in their lives. You can’t do both, it’s one or the other. The reason you came to Christ is because you can’t save yourself. Sin can’t be managed – it has to be put to death, which Christ did on the Cross!
Paul affirmed this when he said, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Col.2:13-15)
Crucifixion of Jesus (Wiki Commons)
Fresh Perspective – Sin & Uprightness Are “Conditions”
This passage shows us that sin is a condition, not some specific wrongdoing. Paul refers to sin as the “law of sin” (Rom. 5:10-17; 8:2b). Likewise, salvation is a condition, not some specific right-doing. Paul calls this “the law of the Spirit” (Rom.8:2a). James says this condition is the “royal law of Love” (James 2:8 emphasis added). The Holy Spirit is the personified Love of God that covers us: “God has poured out his Love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 5:5). Paul further elaborates this blessed state we have in Christ, “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ and walk according to the Spirit (saved condition). For the law of the Spirit of life (Love), has made me free from the law of sin and death (sin condition)” (Rom. 1:1-2 emphasis added).
God’s Love is His only law. When a person is conditioned to sin, as man is in his fallen state under the influence of the devil, it is the condition that’s the trigger for wrongdoing. Paul also calls this condition “the power of the air.” The believer, who I refer to as the Bula man-river* in my book, lives life in the flow of God by the power of the Spirit – who is the condition of Love and uprightness in man. God and sin cannot coexist side by side. All darkness flees before the brilliance of God’s holy Love. The legalist would have us obey all the rules while living in the sin condition. It is self-defeating and self-deflating. The unbeliever lives in the condition of sin in the ‘solitary life’ of the devil, while the believer lives in the condition of the Spirit’s Love in the Triune Life of God. Obedience is the result of living in the Spirit’s condition, not because we can do it. Legalistic obedience arising from our attempt to manage sin because we think it’s our part, will not save us. Proper and willing obedience is the natural outgrowth of the Love condition we have in Christ.
The Devil Is the Enabling Condition for Fear and Sin
Sin is a condition created by the devil to perpetuate his reign in this world. Hence, the people who live in the sin condition are always thinking how to manage sin. It can’t be done, that’s the purpose of Calvary – to defeat sin once for all.
Jesus Is the Enabling Condition for Love and Uprightness
When you change the condition of how life is lived, the person’s life changes along with it. Let me present an analogy, which hopefully clarifies this point. Think of our vast ocean and all the marine life that populates it. The ocean is the enabling condition that supports all forms of marine life – no other life form can exist in it. The condition is what spawns the kind of life which that specific condition will support. A monkey or a zebra cannot live in the ocean because they require a different condition to survive. They survive above water, not underwater. In like fashion, the ocean is the condition of God’s Triune energy and Love in Christ. All rivers find their way to the ocean in the condition where all Bula man-rivers* now live. The oceanic condition of God’s Triune Love and dynamism is what generates continuous forgiveness, right thinking and living. That is what Jesus died to bring us – the condition of righteousness we continuously have in Him.
Ocean – the “Enabling Condition” for Marine Life
Paul tells us, “Christ is our righteousness” (1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 4:6, 22-25; Phil. 3:9; Ps. 32:2). That’s a statement of condition. It’s the condition of right in contrast to sin. Paul is referring to Jesus as the saving condition for man. In this condition, Jesus does His atoning work, which overrides and covers and makes ineffective the sin condition. If this were not so, then His Messiahship falls short and is inadequate. The believer’s condition is the concealment of his life in Jesus, just as the waters cover a riverbed. You are the riverbed, the “living waters” that cover you is the Holy Spirit. (John 7:37-39) You are the Bula man-river,* who does not exist in the devil’s fear environment and conditioning. Sin has no power over you (Rom. 7:14, 7:14; Col. 3:3-5, 2:10). Our condition was changed when our hearts believed and were “flushed out” in the baptismal waters of faith and the truth it symbolizes in our spiritual death and present life in heaven (Col. 2:12-13).
Does this mean we can do no wrong? Does this give us the license to live in careless abandon? No, our human body still exists in its fallen state with its proclivity to trespass, but we don’t have a rebellious but a compliant heart of Love in the Spirit. (Rom. 7:18-25). Man’s propensity to sin is no excuse to live licentiously, but to enlighten man of his need for a permanent Mediator. So, in truth, there is only one sin, Jesus said, “The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in Me.” (John 16:9, NLT) Jesus cleanses our hearts in the washing of the water of His Word that flows in us. It is a process that will take a lifetime, but in the same process we live in the condition of our true self, the new man, the Bula man-river,* who lives in Jesus in a saved condition (Rom. 7:24-25). If Jesus is sinless, then we are; it’s that simple. John tells us the difference in these two conditions when he says, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63). Our minds must be focused on Christ and His Love, not sin! Jesus is the permanent Savior who has taken care of human sins past, present, and future. If that’s so, then our minds must be completely focused on the good the Spirit is doing in our lives – “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph.2:10)
Ultimate Sin is Disbelief in The Savior God has Gifted to Man
All man’s sin and trespass, past, present, and future, are adjudicated in Jesus’ condition as Savior and Mediator, in His High Priestly role in heaven. The life condition we have in Jesus keeps us right with God (1 Cor. 1:30). This condition is the first of many miracles in man’s life and the birthplace of the miraculous life in the Spirit. Jesus and the Spirit mutually mediate and adjudicate each other in all man’s activity and comprise the condition that sustains the Bula man-river* both in his human body and forever. (Rom. 7:4, 6) This is why the ultimate and only sin is disbelief in Jesus as Savior and Mediator set forth by God for man’s salvation – both physically and spiritually. “The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in Me.” (John 16:9, NLT). God’s Love to free man is wrapped up in His Covenant Promise to save man, which same Covenant is ratified in the blood of His Son, Jesus. (Heb.8:12, 10-11) Paul reiterates this, saying, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Heb.9:18, 22) The New Covenant is conditional upon our receiving Jesus as Savior who shed His blood for our complete forgiveness, and brings us into the condition of righteousness in Christ.
Crucifixion of Jesus (Wiki Commons)
The Gospel is disarmingly simple if we believe it for what it truly says. Its simplicity is intended to bring people from all walks of life to receive it with joy. God desires that “all” enter this condition in His Son and be saved (2 Pet. 3:9). It is when man places his stamp of religiosity upon it that it gets complicated and legalistic, and imagines it is only for selected few who can ‘make it’ by obedience. It’s not about obedience, but Love – Love is the operative word, for “God is Love.” (1 John 4:8) (Read my blog posted 05/11/13 titled, “Bula man-river’s* Answer To Obedience”)
Truly, Calvary calls all to this saved condition we have in Christ. Receive Him, and be saved!
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessing of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you today and give you strength for authentic creative Triune Living as a Bula man-river.*
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kiang (Your Servant in Christ)
*The “Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. Man is the “riverbed” and the Spirit is the “living waters” that cover him and flows to all in his valley (destiny). (John 7:37-39)
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
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