March 18, 2016 Brethren Letter

Dear Brethren,

In a few weeks we will be observing Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. The evening of April 21st (after sunset) is the date for the Passover observance. April 23-29, are the Days of Unleavened Bread.

In Romans 3:23 we read… “For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” That scripture has applied to EVERY single human being who has ever lived, with the exception of Jesus Christ. He never once sinned! “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:” (I Peter 2:21-22)

What is the Biblical definition of sin? Perhaps some people believe sin is the playing of cards. I had a biology teacher in high school who sincerely believed that playing a card game of any kind was bordering on sin, though she never explained why. I’ll never forget Mr. Armstrong’s story of someone he knew who thought dancing was sinful. I still chuckle when I read his story as written in the Plain Truth, “Personal from the Editor”, April 1962. He wrote…

I knew a man who believed that adultery was the worst of all sins, and dancing the second most evil, because, he claimed, dancing always led to adultery. Asked if he knew this by experience, or if he had any evidence or proof, he was horrified. “A thousand times NO!” he exclaimed emphatically. “I would never go near a dance floor — it’s too evil!

Well, here’s the Biblical definition of sin. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4). SIN IS the breaking of God’s law. Romans Chapter 7 makes this even plainer. “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).

Breaking the commandments of God ALWAYS incurs a penalty! That penalty is death… ETERNAL DEATH. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

To expound a little further on this, Mr. Armstrong wrote in the booklet What is Faith?, the following…

The Law has a penalty — DEATH. It claims the life of the one who transgresses it. The Law has power to take the life of the transgressor. It therefore is more powerful than the sinner — and is OVER the sinner, holding a claim on his life. It is the SINNER who is UNDER the law. But when the sinner REPENTS of his transgression, and accepts the sacrifice of Christ as payment of the penalty of the Law, then he is PARDONED — UNDER GRACE — the Law no longer stands OVER him, claiming his life. Those who are still sinning are still UNDER the Law! And those who, through repentance, obedience and FAITH have turned from disobedience and are, through faith, KEEPING the Law, are the only ones who are UNDER GRACE!

Thankfully, Jesus Christ our Passover was willing to give His life in our stead, to pay the death penalty for us through the shedding of His blood. “…For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:” (I Corinthians 5:7). Mr. Armstrong wrote about Christ’s sacrifice in his booklet Just what do you mean … BORN AGAIN?

In order that man might be reconciled to God, Jesus also came for the express purpose of DEATH, by His shed blood paying for us, in our stead, the death penalty we have incurred as the penalty of sin. In order that we might be given God’s gift of ETERNAL LIFE, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was necessary before we could receive eternal life.

Following Passover are the Days of Unleavened Bread, observed for SEVEN Days. The Days of Unleavened Bread show us that we are to remove sin completely from our lives and replace that sin with the righteousness of God. We remove leavening from our homes and replace that leavening with UNLEAVENED bread. The physical aspects of these days point to the spiritual intent behind them.

We are told in I Corinthians 11:28, to “EXAMINE” ourselves. We should be asking ourselves, “… to what extent is Christ living His life in me?” I Corinthians 5:8 also shows us how to keep these days spiritually. “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

I will be speaking more about Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread in the coming weeks. As we approach the upcoming Passover season, we must remember to EXAMINE ourselves and discover where we are falling short spiritually.

Have a wonderful Sabbath, everyone!

Sincerely, Your Brother in Christ,

Gary Liebold

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