>The nature of sin

10:46 PM

>I've been thinking a lot about the story of Adam and Eve and the Isrealites in the Old Testament. So far, this is what I'm thinking...

God didn't want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree because he knew they were "good" in their natural state. God has the spiritual awareness to understand sin on a level that is unattainable for man. Their first sin was not so much in the act of disobeying God (remember, God gave us free will - it really would not make sense for use of that free will to be a sin in itself) as much as it was in the act of going against their nature just to see what would happen, i.e., the sin was against their selves in that it would hurt their well being, the same as a child that eats too many cookies despite their parent's instruction not to is sinning against their self by injuring their health, not against the parent by going against the parent's wishes. When they ate that fruit, it opened up a conscience, an ability to determine what was good and bad for themselves. However, with this ability did not come the level of spiritual awareness that is required to use it successfully. Adam and Eve determined for themselves without any confirmation or help from God that it was a sin to be clothed. They felt shame for the first time and covered their selves. Another explanation for this act could be that they determined they sinned by disobeying God and the shame drove them to cover their selves, but this is unlikely as the Bible specifically states that they "realized" they were naked and only after this did they cloth their selves.

This would also explain why God started off on a legalistic system with the Isrealites. He probably realized this would not work but wanted these people to realize it for their selves. So the Isrealites strove to please God and earn worth in His eyes since they had inherited Adam and Eve's imperfection of wanting to determine their own worth through works. God went along with this view point and punished them when they failed to meet up to these standards because that is what they expected Him to do in order for their consciences to be put at ease (and also probably to show them that even though they thought they wanted this it was not the way). After enough time had passed and it had been well shown that there was no way they would be able to live up to legalistic standards, Christ came, offering a new path in which man's imperfect existence was taken in consideration as long as man was willing to strive to accept that God loves him just the way he is and wants him to be healthy and happy in his natural state, mistakes and all. It's God's place to worry about whether something is a sin or not. It's our place to simply be aware that we are in a sinful state and we do not have the spiritual awareness to fully realize what sin constitutes... so we should leave it to God.

In other words, Adam and Eve sinned by trying to take God's place as Judge. With the Isrealites God took his place as Judge again but allowed human's understanding of sin to govern His hand in punishment just so we could realize what a mistake it was in the first place. And when the right time came, He came down to earth to show us the right way and give us the gift of grace which takes in to account our sinful nature and inability to fully keep to the right way even when we are already on it.

I don't know how accurate this kind of explanation is, but it does seem to make sense at the time being, especially when you take in to consideration that the definition of sin itself is "estrangement from God".

I do seem to at least be on the right track, though:

Carl Menninger of the Menninger clinic wrote this: "In all of the laments and reproaches made by our seers and prophets, one misses any mention of 'sin,' a word which used to be a veritable watchword of prophets. It was a word, once in everybody's mind, now rarely, if ever, heard. "Does that mean that no sin is involved in all our troubles? Is no one any longer guilty of anything? "Guilty, perhaps, of a sin that could be repented and repaired and atoned for? Is it only that someone may be stupid or sick or criminal or recovering or asleep? "Wrong things are being done," he writes "we know. Tares are being sewn in the wheat field at night. "But is no one responsible? Is no one answerable for these acts? "Anxiety and depression we all acknowledge, and even vague guilt feelings. But has no one committed any sins? Where, indeed, did sin go? What became of it?" End quote. By the way, that's in a book he wrote called "Whatever Became of Sin?"

And, of course, there's just no interest in the public forum talking about sin today. I mean that is absolutely archaic. Sinful nature? To say that people are corrupt at birth? To say they inherited a wicked nature from their parents because they were all genetically, as it were, in Adam?  They were all there and sinned in Adam in his loins, and everything that came out of that cursed man and that cursed woman bears that curse? Unacceptable. To say people are all born with an evil bent; that they are all born with a desire to violate the law of God and to dethrone God and replace him with themselves? To say they are incapable of doing anything good? To say that they are rotten to the very core, that everything about them -- everything they think, everything they say and everything they do -- is only evil continually? To say their heart is deceitful and desperately wicked? Frankly, folks, that is just not acceptable in the public forum. Our culture has really declared war not only on sin, because they don't want anything defined as sin. Everything is just a lifestyle choice. Nothing is a sin. So our culture has declared war on sin and, consequently, declared war on guilt. The very idea of guilt is considered medieval, obsolete and certainly unhealthful. (John F. MacArthur, Jr.)

I disagree that without guilt one cannot repent, but other than that, this person seems to be saying pretty much the same thing. I should probably elaborate on what I mean by guilt not being necessary for repentance. The thing is, when people feel guilty, it's because they feel like they have sinned. And then they are spurred to try to change their sinful state or they give up trying and live with the guilt. They completely miss the factor that only God can change them and on top of that only God can determine whether or not they have sinned in the first place. Guilt is a result of the struggle to govern and judge one's self rather than leaving it up to God.

This is really not a new thought. Psychologists have found that we are happiest and healthiest (healthy in terms of good works such as taking care of ourselves and doing what we can for others) when we aren't eaten up with guilt. It has been acknowledged that our minds cannot function properly without the sense of a Higher Power that loves us as we are and forgives us. It has also been acknowledged that we have a conscientiousness that is separate from our inner self and outer self - it's called the super ego, and it is what determines the higher standards we try to live up to. When the super ego is filled up with legalistic definitions of what is right and wrong, we experience guilt when we are unable to fulfill those definitions and if it continues will be driven to the point where we completely give up trying to fulfill the super ego's expectations (thus is born the drug addict, the alcoholic, the dependent, the thief, etc.). The whole problem in this equation is that the super ego is our means of judging ourselves. Now, we can try to live up to our super ego's expectations and punish ourselves with guilt when ever we fail, or we can turn it over to God and say, "You know what? I know this super ego of mine pushes me to take your place as Judge and gets in the way of me knowing you. From now on, when my super ego starts complaining, I'm going to make the conscientious effort to turn to you instead and trust that you love me as I am and you will correct me if I am wrong."

Mind you, this is a little twist to standard psychology. Standard psychology teaches that we can do all of this by our self, that there is no sin to think about in the first place, that we can get rid of all our fears. The thing is... it's a lot like the concept of God without God. There's buzz words like Higher Power acknowledging that we need to feel God's presence in our lives but somehow we are supposed to accomplish this without actually acknowledging we need God, just acknowledging that we have this random weird needs that we can take care of ourselves by pretending to be God without belief in God or by immersing ourselves in any belief system. However, I can't see how just any belief system would fulfill those needs. Christianity is the only belief system that I know of that speaks of a God who wants to fulfill those needs. Other belief systems teach that we have to do something to make (the) God(s) happy enough to fulfill us, or that He (or they) doesn't really care, or that we are just not evolved enough in our natural state to realize those needs ourselves, etc. As far as I know, none of them talk about a Higher Power that loves you just as you are and freely forgives you for every sin you can or cannot imagine if you simply ask for it.

I could talk some more about this and how it applies to Christ's crucifixion, but I'm out of time for right now. Maybe tomorrow I will write about this some more. It's an intriguing enough concept to keep writing about.

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