Note: This is the third installment on this important subject. Please see the previous two bulletins for the other two installments.
We commit sin when we condemn what God has authorized.The Spirit spoke of some that “shall depart from the faith in latter times.” Among their sins would be “forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received” (I Tim. 4:1-4). No man has a right to forbid what God has authorized (I Cor. 9:5). We have those today who teach that the church cannot help anyone who is a sinner from the funds collected on the Lord's day. They teach that we (collectively) cannot “visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction” even though we are taught by James to do that very thing (James 1:27). To condemn what God has authorized, to make laws where God has not made them is as grave a sin as to do what he has specifically forbidden us to do. No man has a right to condemn anything authorized by God.
We commit sin when we fail to respond to human needs. Those on the left side who were condemned to “eternal destruction” were there because they had failed to meet human needs. Jesus said, “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matt. 25:42-46). The same thing seems to be true of the rich man in Luke 16. It is implied there that he failed to meet the needs of the beggar Lazarus. James asks the rhetorical question, “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:15-16). John warns that “who hath this worlds good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God I him?” (I John 3:17). Clearly, to fail to meet human needs is a sin.
We sin when we violate our conscience. Paul told his brethren at Rome, “He that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). Even though one's conscience is not always reliable, as in Saul's case, (Acts 23:1) nevertheless we are not to violate it by doing something that we believe to be sinful. John said, “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God” (I John 3:21). He had just stated in the verse prior to this one, “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” The warning is don't violate your conscience by doing something you believe to be sinful; but before you can totally depend upon your conscience, be sure that it has been taught accurately from God's word. (To be continued.)
Paul M. Wilmoth