In case you have read the “Backtracking my Journey” series you might remember that I talked about having to start from scratch. I had to quash all I learned, invalidate everything I thought I knew, as I realized, everything I thought was truth was contaminated and polluted.
I have blindly and unknowingly embraced values and ideas that are common in our Christian culture but are antithetical to the gospel He taught. I needed to revisit the words of Jesus, to listen to them, to believe them, and to try the best I could to obey them. I realized I needed to return with urgency to a biblical gospel, because the cost of not doing so would be catastrophic.
I don’t think it is presumptuous to assume, that we all have at one point fallen away from the righteousness and holiness of truth, and I firmly believe that if we sincerely humble ourselves to be renewed in the spirit of our mind, that in exchange He will reveal himself in a way, that the world just simply cannot fathom.
It became clear to me, that there was no way around, to invalidate everything I thought I knew and being skeptical in anything that I earlier blindly embraced. I questioned the fact that in most of today’s denominations the key issues of what Jesus came for, where either downright toned down or not even considered being important. The issue of sin, the issue of rebellion, willfulness, are chains entangling all our lives, and are woven so into our fabric of our life’s, that we in ourselves, 1) are not even aware of it, 2) are never being able to untangle ourselves, even if we knew we were bound and chained.
The only way we could possibly get untangled is with the help from something exterior.
I got reminded of a dream that I had, when I was young, searching for truth in everything under the sun, philosophies, Zen Buddhism, various interpretations of Hinduism, and if that is not enough even a tailor made truth interpretation, (remember 35+ years ago) catering to the christian world, which today would be called The Law Of Attraction. Now, I can truly say, that the barrage of altered wisdom, which flooded my mind, had not effecting me, as somehow God knew me and had his hand over me. There just was an inner, unexplainable reluctance in sensing something did not feel right.
Remember, I was searching for truth, and was deeply involved and occupied with all kinds of philosophical and religious learning’s.
The dream was a display of a huge kind of compound surrounded with high walls, with the only real opening seeing the clouds and sun by day, and the stars and the moon by night. In today’s metaphorical sense you could compare it perhaps with a massive shopping complex that has everything you can imagine, (where I live we have many Mega cathedrals of those, metaphor might not be applicable to you) with an opening only to the sky. Life within these walls resembled everything that is going on in all spheres of life. With whatever routine we occupy our life with, working, sports, and all kind of pleasures and leisure’s that dictate our daily routines. Life seemed to be good and everyone was happy and chasing their dreams. I was searching and did start seeing things with different eyes. I wanted to know what was beyond those walls. I started making sincere efforts in somehow getting to the top of the wall, but somehow I realized ones I was trying, that I was constrained, I was not able to ever get up this wall. In further examination I found that we all were trapped in this huge kind of compound, born into this environment without ever knowing anything else. At one point I was sitting in a quiet area next to the wall, and was desperately looking for answers. All of a sudden something struck my shoulder, a kind of robe, or something, as I was looking up someone up on the wall offering me to pull me out of this enclosure to freedom if I wanted to. In that dream I took the rope and someone pulled me up, as I reached the top of the wall, I was stunned, a whole unknown, new dimension opened up to me, which was so beautiful and spectacular, and which I had no clue about, it existed. The first question that entered my thoughts was why no one ever told me this. That was kind of the dream.
I later learned that what I dreamt was a scenario we all face in this world. In short, we are too often, unbeknownst to ourselves, bound by the confines that surround us.
Within these limitations, we seem to be free and can engage in anything our hearts desire, but I was searching for truth, and in stepping out of this life routine I started to realize, that something is wrong with how we observe, recognize and live in this world. It felt as something or someone is withholding something from me that I should really know about. I felt some dominant elements manipulate the way I am supposed to be engaging in my life. As long as I continued in my daily routines and habits, life was taking its course, and I never even had a suspicion something might be wrong. Kind of something is manipulative holding me back from the best, or keeping me occupied with self, so I don’t even have time to find out, or somehow there is something, that has an interest for me not knowing the truth I meant to know, for whatever reason. What might it be? I sometimes thought that we are really taught to engage and being mesmerized in something 24/7, so we would not have any time to even think about more significant things in life.
We should consider these implications and should wander, what in the world is going on? The major point, to summarize this dream, is that I was offered an escape route, and I would have the choice to choose, to hold on to this rope or not to hold on. There was a simple choice to be made, which did not consider any social standing, philosophical knowledge, and any competence or wisdom that governed the surrounded compound in its highest hierarchies. There was nothing to argue or debate about, just the choice to choose between two options.
I was mentioning in the beginning there are two dominant factors which would have to be clearly understood concerning sin 1) not being aware of the state we are in, 2) never being able to untangle ourselves even if we knew we were bound and chained. But why is that so? That is a good question.
C.S. Lewis explained it in a unique way:
“Whatever is not of faith is sin; it is a stream cut off — a stream that cuts itself off from its source and thinks to run on without it.” God is the source. He calls on us to follow Him and to follow in His ways. Yet, we are not perfect, and the major way we demonstrate our imperfection is to stray from God’s ways. We depart from God’s perfect ways in thought, word and deed; by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We do so because we want to be our own gods. We think we know better. We want to be in charge. And whenever we do so, we stray from the truth and from the ways of perfection.”
Here we go, the basic truth of everything we engage in is again a very simple choice. We departed from Gods perfect way, because we THINK we know better. Why is it that wrong choices are sin? Because they are choices where we depart from what God would do, say or think in the same circumstances.
I know people might say, well it might be all right that Adam did what he did, but don’t pull that Adam thing over me. What do I have to do with Adam?
I want to pick up on what C.S. Lewis wrote: a stream that cuts itself off from its source. We are born physically alive but spiritually dead. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). Physical birth provides us with a sinful human nature; spiritual rebirth provides us with a new nature, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
It may not seem fair to be saddled with Adam’s sins, but it’s eminently consistent with other aspects of human propagation. We inherit genetic characteristics such as eye color, to nose and ear shape from our parents, and we also inherit their spiritual characteristics. Parents always pass to their children a legacy … good, bad or some of both. Why should the passing on of spiritual traits be any different from the transmission of physical traits? We may complain about having brown eyes when we wanted blue, but our eye color is simply a matter of genetic information passed on from the parents. In the same way, having a sin nature is a matter of “spiritual genetics passed on to us”; it’s a natural part of life.
Biblical writers did not all conceive of sin in the same way, as evidenced by the variation in vocabulary and accompanying metaphors. Many different Hebrew and Greek words are all rendered sin in our English translations, which naturally makes it difficult to get a grasp of. Here are some literal translations from the Hebrew and Greek, which are used throughout the Bible which imaginably will give a better understanding. Expressions in Hebrew include: chata’ “to miss the mark,” aven “crooked or perverse,” ra’ “evil/violence breaking out,” kibbēs “to wash away sin.” Greek expressions for sin include hamartia “to miss the mark; to err; to offend,” parabasis “trespass; to step across a line,” anomia “lawlessness, wickedness,” adikia “unrighteousness,” akatharsia “uncleanness, impurity,” and finally, apistia “unbelief.”
Jesus was using stories, speaking in parables and metaphors because he knew how the world worked to illustrate and explain a concept for which there was no single term in their own language and no simple, single-faceted description for his immediate audience. In doing so, he was building conceptual metaphors in the minds of the people: sin is weight; sin is uncleanliness; sin is trespass; sin is lawlessness, etc, etc.
Once a metaphor has been established and being understood, additional reasoning and appropriate responses are associated with it. If sin is weight, we must lay it down (at the foot of the cross). If sin is uncleanliness, we look for a way to wash and be clean. If sin is trespass, we do our utmost to obey rules and follow guidelines. If sin is falling short, (or missing the mark), then we have not done enough and we must try harder.
Let me give you one other example of metaphor to explain a point: St. Augustine, ones wrote: “Sin is looking for the right thing in the wrong place.” It appears to be an adaptation of the conceptual metaphor Sin is falling short from the Hebrew chata’ and the Greek hamartia “to miss the mark,” but it is applied to a different kind of activity: Sin is a mistaken search.
I personally like this, because this is what our life precisely represents, “a mistaken search.” “Too often, we say we are defeated by this or that sin. No, we are not defeated. We are simply disobedient and defiant. It might be good if we stop using the terms victory and defeat to describe our progress in holiness. Rather, we should use the terms obedience and disobedience. When I say I am defeated by some sin, I am unconsciously slipping out from under my responsibility. I am saying something outside of me has defeated me. But when I say I am disobedient, that places the responsibility for my sin squarely on me. We may in fact be defeated, but the reason we are defeated is because we have chosen to disobey.
“When one sins, something concrete happens: one’s hands may become stained, one’s back may become burdened, or one may fall into debt. And the verbal expressions that render the idea of forgiveness follow suit: stained hands are cleansed, burdens are lifted, and debts are either paid off or remitted. It is as though a stain, a weight, or bond of indebtedness is created out of nothing when one offends against God.”
But if we are talking about a place to start, then what I often do is start with the nature of idolatry and show how idolatry involves not only loving bad things, but loving good things to the point that they become god for me, because that is betraying God and that is making a false God. That means my heart is following something that should not claim ultimate value. For example, I love to be in nature, I love to eat organic food, I love to exercise. All these are good incentives, but I have to be aware that they do not become God to me, when I get so much into it, that I silences the crucial importance of what we should search for. All the “I love to…” are not the way to find God. They are manual veneers that affect our physical life, and we will miss the mark (sin) if we make them our God and sole priority in our lives.
So, what should we conclude from this? The things we do that violate God’s point of view, His purpose, and His goal for us must define sin.
Grace to you and peace