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The religious instinct---or sense of moral obligation to a higher power---has been springing up spontaneously in the hearts of mankind in every age and among all nations. And since nature prompts him to do so, it's perfectly reasonable that man should worship something. Intuitively, man "looks up" for help. We're surrounded by powerful influences and potent energies, and our ignorance distracts and bewilders us. Conscious of its weakness, and instinctively believing in something it can't see, the soul looks upward for relief and strength. Earthly objects don't satisfy the longing soul. Physical wants may be satisfied; abstract philosophy may satisfy the mind; but the soul, living in a higher sphere or plane, still longs for something that's eternal. Emotions and satisfactions that spring from the earth are true to their sphere, but aren't lasting. The soul was made to live in a higher world, and looking down from that higher plane, is disgusted with what the world has to offer. Earthly love and passion may grow cold in life, and will end in death. The soul longs for eternal sunshine, and blissful environment that never changes. Bound up in a human body that's dragging it downward and hushing its longing for freedom, the soul, knowing well the purpose for which it was made, cries out in destress, "Where's my hope?" David answered: "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God."
Literature and art offer much to man in the way of developing the mind; but pure religion brings out the best there is in him, and develops the finer instincts of the soul. Mankind advances only as he looks upward and away from self and material objects. The more he thinks of God, the wider becomes his range of vision. The capacity of the soul can be expanded by daily intercourse with God, and thought of eternity. Eternal life can't come from, nor be maintained by, things of earth. The soul knows full well that what it longs for is an uninterrupted correspondence with an environment that won't pass away.
Wrong Trend of Modern Theology...
The trend of modern theology points man away from God by attempting to undermine his faith in the Bible. It denies the fact of miracles, and it at one time divides, and another time ignores the Deity. To ignore the fact of miracles on the one hand, and to give credence to fate on the other hand, as modern theology does at times, is inconsistent with Christianity. The Bible's plain and comprehensible, and needs no man's defence. Its brilliant light is shining over a thousand hills, and in a million hearts, God sits upon the throne above "fate" and "chance."
Wrong Conceptions of God...
Thousands of souls are perplexed today relative to the character of God and the subject of sin. Two extremes have been taken, namely, one laying emphasis upon God's love being so great that he'll wink at, or overlook, anything wrong that men may do; and the other that he sits upon his throne watching every move of the human race, ready to mete out vengence upon every one who might make a mistake or side-step from the path of duty and virtue. One position gives license to almost any carnal act; while the other robs God of all love, and almost precludes the fact that men can be really saved from their evil doings, and the power of sin be so completely broken that men can be masters instead of slaves.
The Results of Choice...
It's a fact that there's only one moral road in the spiritual universe, and that all the world of mankind are, by choice, traveling in one direction or the other. The door of choice opens before each individual, and he can choose whichever direction he desires to go. If he wills, he can choose the upward path; and then, by maintaining his integrity to God, every day's work will add to his moral worth, and thus his footsteps become surer, his pathway brighter, and his courage stronger, until at last he rises above the clouds of earth and enters "the eternal city". If he chooses the pathway leading downward, every day's action, by the law of accumulation, adds to his load of sorrow, his pathway becomes more slippery and perilous as it descends, and at last he passes over the line of mercy and is lost to God, hope, and the pure in heart forever.
"There's a line by us unseen,
Which crosses every path;
The hidden boundary-line between
God's patience and His wrath."
Ignorance Concerning Sin...
The words of Jesus, the Master-Teacher, uttered while he traveled the flinty hills of Galilee, are still ringing through the ages: "Ye shall die in your sins, whither I go ye CANNOT come." Again and again he taught his disciples that nothing unclean, deceitful, or unholy could enter that heavenly country he was going to prepare for those who were willing to follow his steps. He made a distinct line between the moral and the immoral, between those "who serve God, and those who serve him not."
Many times we've heard those who profess to be Christians pray as follows, "Lord forgive us our many sins," etc. In a popular religious hymn we find these words, "Forgive the secret sins we do not know." We often hear testimonies to the effect that the testifier's not sure whether he's saved or not. We've heard intelligent people testify that they were saved many weeks or months before they knew it, or became aware of the fact. A fundamental mistake has been made womewhere in our religious teaching, for the Bible speaks in positive terms that "he that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life," and that God will "give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins." The whole tenor of Scripture is to the effect that the day we call upon God, he'll answer us, and if we seek him with our whole heart we'll find him. If we allow the premise that one could be saved six months and not know it, by the same logic we could deduct that we might lose it six months and not be aware of the fact, which is as ridiculour as it is unscriptural.
True Ethics of Moral Action...
Every idea has an impulsive element. The child sees a green apple, or the moon, and wants it; it acts regardless of digestibility or distance. We see the same impulsive element in grown people. Peter, for example, when he jumped into the Sea of Galilee. We educate our children to wait and reason before they act, for intelligent action's always based upon intelligent thinking. There are three kinds of acts, namely, moral non-moral, and immoral. 1. Moral acts---acts in harmony with the laws of society, of conscience, and the Word of God. 2. Non-moral---not involving principles of right and wrong; requiring no action of the will, involuntary. 3. Immoral---acts out of harmony with the laws of society or standards of moral actions.
Volitional Acts...
Motive marks the dividing line between moral and immoral action in spiritual matters; for sin---transgression of God's law---in its entirety doesn't consist alone in ourward acts, but in the heart's giving consent "to do" or "not to do". An act of which the Lord takes notice must be the result of knowledge. During the Old Testament dispensation there were sins of ignorance, much like there are today in statutory law; but that's not true with respect to the gospel. Proof: "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (Jas. 4:17). "Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth" (John 9:41). Paul, when relating his former condition, said: "For I was alive without the law once [when he was an innocent child]: but when the commandment came [when he had learned right from wrong], sin revived, and I died" (Rom. 7:9). "For where no law is, there is no transgression" (4:15). "I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet" (7:7).
To commit sin, then, we must knowingly, voluntarily, do what the Bible forbids, or positively refuse or omit to do that which it commands or enjoins. Many an honest soul has stumbled over 1 Cor. 13:5, which states that those who are filled with the love of God "thinketh no evil," etc. Thoughts come into our mind from various sources, namely, from the Lord, from the devil, from passion, from the creative or reflective power of the brain, from what we see, hear, smell, or taste. These thoughts, until we give consent to them by our will...For example: The devil might have pushed Christ off the pinnacle of the temple, but that would have accomplished nothing; so he tempted Chrsit to act voluntarily, which Christ positively refused to do. The Bible states that Christ was tempted in all points like as we are, yet was without sin, i.e. he never yielded.
"Yield not to temptation,
For yielding is sin."
The motive behind the act defines and determines the innocence or the guilt.
Steps to the Committing of Sin...
1. Temptation.---Every person is tempted when allured to do what he knows to be wrong, and he's enticed when the matter in question seems to be desirable to perform.
2. Choice.---Events make neither heroes nor cowards---they simply reveal them; similarly, temptation makes neither sinners nor saints---it simply reveals them. We choose to do, whether good or bad. Choice, the second step in the committing of sin, then leads to the third step.
3. Action.---In reality, sin is committed when the choice to do wrong is made. Action is but the sin made visible, it's that which reveals our sin to man and effects transgression against society as well as against God.
The Number of Sins that Make a Sinner...
In 1 John 3:4, we read, "Sin is the transgression of the law." Transgression is a compound word, and the prefix "trans," meaning: across, over, is in common usage. We find its proper meaning in such words as transpose, translate, transparent, transmigrate, transatlantic. The Bible forbids certain acts, and he who deliberately disobeys is called a transgressor, i. e., one who crosses over upon forbidden ground. "Judas by transgression fell" (Acts 1:25).
Many are deceived concerning the effects of one sin. People have been taught to believe that one sin is not very dangerous, and that all commit sin occasionally. We musn't forget that the Christian life consists in a relationship or an attitude for Christ, and that a sinful life also is an attitude against Christ. The number of sins committed won't decide our eternal destiny, but we'll be judged by principles and attitudes rather than by external acts. Suppose a man murders one man, another murders ten men, and a third murders twenty men. All are caught and condemned to death. They won't hang the man twenty times who killed twenty men, nor the man who killed ten men, ten times, but they'll hang all of them once, because they were all murderers. How many spots of leprosy would one need to have to be a leper? How many sins would one need to commit to be a sinner? What's the Bible say about one sin? "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all" (Jas. 2:10). It's the principle of sin that's wrong, for one sin contains the seeds of all other sins; hence, "Transgressors shall be destroyed together," and, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die."
No one is absolutely safe until he's saved, not only from the outward practice of sin, but also from the love of it. Jesus Christ has appeared in the end of the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, and it's appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them who look for him will he appear a second time, without a sin offering. On that day he'll lay aside his mediatorial robes for those of judgment, and the sheep and the goats will take their proper places, the balance of life will be struck, and each will go to his eternal reward. That'll be the last act in the great drama of life. Let's each ask ourselves...on which side will I stand? [ The End ]



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