Reason for Our Hope (III)
O. C. Birdwell
Thus far in our study of Reason For Our Hope, we have discussed God's Action in Revelation and Creation, The Person of Christ, and The Work of Christ. But all that has been said in prior lessons and all that was done by God and Christ are to no avail unless one is aware of his personal responsibility to obey. In studying Man's Obedience, we shall consider The Fact and Nature of Sin, The Consequence of Sin, and The Forgiveness of Sin.
The Fact and Nature of Sin
Sin is an unpopular subject; nevertheless, it is a Bible subject. The Bible says, "There is no man that sinneth not" (I Ki. 8:46). Paul said, "For all have sinned, and- fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:22, 23). According to John, "If we say that we have not sinned we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (I Jno. 1:10). The universal extent of sin is set forth in the scriptures and the fact of it can be readily seen if one reads history, current events, and looks around at the present world.
Sin may be placed in two general categories. (1) Negatively, sin is shortcoming. James said, "To him therefore that knoweth to do good and doeth it not to him it is sin" (James 4:17). Other passages also show that failing to do what is commanded is sin. (2) Positively, sin is transgression. John said, "Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness (I Jno. 3:4). The word "lawless" means "without law." To go beyond or act without law from Christ is sin. John further says, "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ hath not God" (2 Jno. 9). What we do in religion has to be of faith or it is sin (Rom. 14:23). And faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10: 17).
The Consequence of Sin
Sin alienates one from God. As has been shown in other lemons, God and Christ have done their part for man. If man is still apart from God it is his own fault. The people of,
Isaiah's day were told, "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear" (Isa. 59:2).
Sin causes bondage to self. Not only does sin estrange man from God, it enslaves him to his own will and way. Sin corrupts the heart and causes perverseness of speech and coarseness of action (Matt. 12: 33, 35). Before their conversion, the Romans were spoken of as being servants of sin (Rom. 6:17).
Sin causes conflict with our fellow man. Envy, strife, and division are caused by carnality (I Cor. 3:1-3). Anywhere one finds these elements he finds sin. It is sad to admit, but so often the condition exists in congregations of Christ.
The Forgiveness of Sin
As suggested in the, first lemon, God has acted in creation and redemption. Christ bore our sins on the cross (I Pet. 2:24). The writer of Hebrews says, "and having been made perfect he (Christ) became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation" (Heb. 5:9). Notice in this passage that a stipulation is given for salvation. Salvation is for "all them that obey him." The required obedience is because of sin, and in order that one might accept Christ as the author of his salvation, and have the promised forgiveness from God.
In securing this forgiveness man must seek after God. Some of the ways in which man is to seek God are as follows: (1) Diligently -- "He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). (2) Honestly -- "And ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). (3) Obediently"If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teaching" (Jno. 7:17). To properly know God's will man must have an obedient attitude of heart.
Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16). Peter preached, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins . . ." (Acts 2:38). When this obedience is rendered, one is added to the church (Acts 2:47). He is born into God's family by a spiritual birth. He then as a child of God can ask forgiveness for .all future sin when there is proper remorse and repentance.
In view of the reality and consequence of sin, man should rejoice because of the promised forgiveness of sin. Why will you not take advantage of what Christ has done for you? By knowing that the commands of the Spirit have been obeyed, one's own spirit can bear witness that he is a child of God (Rom. 8:16). This is indeed a Reason For Our Hope.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 31, pp. 11-12