February 21, 2020 Brethren Letter

Dear Brethren,

What is the Bible definition of SIN? Does God define sin, or is the definition just one person’s belief over another’s? After all, don’t some people believe that dancing or playing cards is sinful? Others would say those activities aren’t sinful at all.

Early on, as God was preparing him for the ministry, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong was faced with proving the Bible definition of SIN. Here is one of his experiences with this subject…

Once, in Springfield, Oregon, a young man with a Bible in his hand accosted me on the street. An evangelist had come to town and pitched a tent. He brought with him a “gospel team” including some eight young men of college age, who roamed the streets carrying Bibles, stopping people and inviting them to attend the services. One stopped me.

“Well now,” I said, “Does your evangelist teach that Christ saves us from sin?” He assured me he did.

“Well, what I want to know,” I persisted, “is what I have to quit doing — or what I have done that you call ‘sin.’ Just what is ‘sin’?”

“Well,” he answered, “Christ died for our sins.”

“But that doesn’t tell me exactly what I’ve done that Christ had to die for,” I insisted. “What is ‘sin’?”

“Christ died for our sins,” came the reply.

“Yes, I know — you said that before. But what is this thing, ‘sin,’ that He died for? What do I have to quit doing? Can you open that Bible you have, and show me the Bible definition of the word ‘sin’? Is there a place in the Bible where it gives a plain definition — where it says ‘sin is — ‘ and then in plain words tells what it is?”

He called to a second of the young men — then a third, and a fourth. Finally, with a large crowd gathering, they called the evangelist himself. But even he could not — or would not — turn to the Bible answer! One by one, they all slunk away!

Then I took a Bible out of my briefcase, turned to I John 3:4, and read to the crowd: “Sin is the transgression of the law.”

Yes, SIN IS the transgression (or violation) of the law! “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).

What spiritual law is the Bible referring to? Spiritually speaking, it’s GOD’S LAW – the TEN COMMANDMENTS! We can see the context of this law by looking at Romans 7.

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not” known lust, except the law” had said, Thou shalt not covet” (Romans 7:7).

“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Verse 12).

“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin” (Verse 14).

Every human has sinned, (except for Jesus the Christ – I Peter 2:21-22), by violating God’s ROYAL law (James 2:8-12). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). By breaking God’s law, a penalty is incurred! That penalty is DEATH. “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). Those are the “wages” earned for SIN (breaking the commandments of God).

Brethren, verse 23 doesn’t end there, leaving us in a state of hopelessness and despair with no way out of the penalty of DEATH. The verse continues “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Through Christ’s shed blood, our past sins (those repented of), are forgiven … ETERNALLY forgiven! “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission [forgiveness].”

(8) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (10) For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5:8-10).

The first step in God’s Master plan (Passover), has such deep meaning for us. Without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the shedding of His blood, our sins could NEVER have been blotted out. The DEATH penalty would still be in effect! We could never have been reconciled to God. However, through Christ, our past sins (repented of), are FULLY forgiven, and will NEVER be brought up again!

Have a good Sabbath everyone!

Your Brother in Christ,

Gary Liebold

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