But do we fully understand the law that governs us in God's Church - how to define sin?
The Catholics understand. But do we? Twenty years of painstaking revision by human minds have resulted in a new code of universal law to govern all Roman Catholics. The code was officially issued at Rome by Pope John Paul II on Jan. 25, 1983.
Now see how this concerns us in God's Church.
What is sin?
This brings up the question: Just what is SIN? How does GOD define it?
Some have viewed it, in the conduct of their own lives, by reasoning, If a certain act or custom is not specifically forbidden by a specific ‘Thou shalt not' in the Bible, then isn't it OK?
This new code of universal law to guide all Roman Catholics helps illustrate the TRUTH of how GOD's Church regulates the conduct of its members - of what is GOOD and what is EVIL. FEW SEEM TO UNDERSTAND.
The very first created man faced this question.
Before him were the two trees - two choices to rule his life and that of the world that was founded in him. Adam made his choice.
God had forbidden him to take to himself the knowledge of good and evil - that is, to decide for himself what is the way of righteousness, and what is sin.
His wife, Eve, had wandered a distance away and encountered Satan. He deceived her into believing the forbidden fruit was good and desirable.
Eve thereupon started the ERA movement (Eve Rules Adam), and led her docile husband into deliberate disobedience to God. She took of the forbidden fruit and gave to Adam. They took to themselves the knowledge of what is right and what is sin.
Not physically discerned
But good and evil is SPIRITUAL knowledge - not material or physical. Man was created with mind power to acquire material knowledge - how to work with MATTER. But good and evil is spiritual knowledge - how to have a relationship with GOD, and with the minds of other people.
Knowing good from evil has nothing to do with building a house or a machine, but having a relationship with God and other people. Not even the princes, the leaders of this world, know how properly to relate with God or other people (I Cor. 2:8).
We gain knowledge through the eye, ear or senses of feel, taste and smell. But eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the mind of man this SPIRITUAL knowledge (verse 9).
Only GOD alone can reveal this spiritual knowledge, through His Holy Spirit in us.
The Holy Spirit in us opens the human mind to comprehend - to understand - spiritual knowledge as GOD reveals it.
The tree of LIFE was symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Had Adam chosen that instead of the forbidden fruit, eternal LIFE would have been imparted to him by the very LIFE-imparting Spirit of God. This Spirit would have imparted also the MIND of God - an understanding mind capable of comprehending spiritual knowledge when God revealed it.
Satan injects selfishness
The human MIND baffles modern science. The most highly educated cannot understand it.
God reveals in His Word that human mind is brain PLUS human spirit. But this human spirit with which each human is born is not HOLY Spirit - the Spirit from the mind of GOD. The human spirit imparts the power of physical intellect.
Let me explain. Animals have brains, even as do humans. But animal brain, even equal in quality with human brain, contains no spirit.
A cow, for example, has the senses of sight, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting. Yet a cow cannot have KNOWLEDGE of chemistry, physics, astronomy. A cow cannot think, reason, make decisions based on knowledge and judgment. A cow does not possess the faculties of ATTITUDE - attitudes of love, hate, cooperation, generosity, selfishness, competition and scheming to outwit other cows.
The human spirit added to human brain imparts power to KNOW, to THINK and REASON, to LOVE, LIKE or dislike, of purpose and will.
When Satan deceived mother Eve, and she and Adam obeyed Satan, disobeying God, SOMETHING HAPPENED TO THEIR MINDS. The ATTITUDE of SELF-CENTEREDNESS, hostility, competition, jealousy, envy, self-esteem and vanity entered them.
But how, then, did this vain and hostile attitude enter all mankind after them?
Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2). He surcharges the air with this vain and hostile attitude.
Just as sounds, words and pictures are transmitted through the air into television sets, so Satan transmits evil ATTITUDES through the air.
These negative attitudes enter the minds of babies during the first months of human life. A child under 1 year already has an attitude of selfishness, rebellion, hostility against authority.
God's Spirit Imparts spiritual understanding
When Adam made his decision, God CLOSED OFF the Holy Spirit from humanity UNTIL the coming of Christ, the second Adam, to pay the death penalty incurred by all humans by their sins. Thus, it was only through Christ that the human death penalty could be removed from humans. This penalty incurred by SIN had separated every sinner from access to God and His Holy Spirit.
But by the death of Christ, upon repentance and faith, a human now can be reconciled to God, who has eternal LIFE to give. This opens up to repentant sinners access to God and His Holy Spirit.
The Spirit-begotten child of God has direct contact with God. Through Christ as the Word and Spokesman of God, God may now reveal SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE, and through the Holy Spirit in the Spirit-begotten Christian, he can UNDERSTAND spiritual knowledge.
But there are in the world millions of professing Christians who never fully surrendered to God, never fully believed Christ - believed what He says through the Bible. They are like those who believed ON Christ, but did not believe Christ (John 8:30-45).
THEY PROFESS to be Christians, but do not have the Holy Spirit. They are not LED BY the Spirit of God (see Romans 8:14) and therefore are NOT truly begotten sons of God, nor do they rightly UNDERSTAND the Bible - which is what Christ SAYS - for it is the Word of God in writing as Christ is the Word in person.
Such professing Christians are. always trying to water down Christ's teachings. They become LIBERAL, always straying farther and farther from God's TRUTH. They do not hunger for God's righteousness, but only this world's ways.
They know not HOW GOD DEFINES SIN!
Sin is the transgression of the law (I John 3:4). The law of God is a SPIRITUAL, not a physical, law (Rom. 7:14). The natural mind with its one human spirit cannot UNDERSTAND spiritual knowledge - cannot UNDERSTAND what is SIN.
Under the Old Covenant, God gave Israel His spiritual law, the Ten Commandments. But they never could UNDERSTAND that spiritual law, nor obey it IN THE SPIRIT. Some obeyed it to some extent in the letter, but not in the spirit or obvious INTENT of the law.
To understand what I mean, notice II Corinthians 3:6. Paul says we, under the NEW Testament, are ministers, NOT of the strict letter of the law as they were under the Old Testament, but of the SPIRIT. We now have the Holy Spirit by which we may discern the very SPIRIT, or OBVIOUS INTENT, of God's spiritual law, which defines SIN.
Jesus also explained this, in His Sermon on the Mount, speaking to His NEW Testament disciples.
In Old Testament times, by the strictness of the letter, one had not committed adultery except in the physical act. But in the NEW Testament, the SPIRIT or obvious intent of the law is violated when a man even lusts after a woman in his mind by looking at her.
Under the strict, specific letter, one had not murdered until the victim was dead. But he violated the spirit of the law if he even hated his brother in his mind.
How we recognize sin
The early first-century, Ephesian-era Church received its teachings and doctrines from the apostles. The Philadelphia era has been led back on the track of God's TRUTH through Christ's apostle.
WHY do we recognize smoking as sin? Because Christ led His apostle to see it violated the obvious spiritual INTENT and PRINCIPLE of the law.
The law is summed up in one word, LOVE. It is expanded into the two great laws, love to God and love to neighbor. The same principle expands into the TEN Commandments. It is outflowing love.
Smoking does not express love toward either God or neighbor, but lust or self-desire injurious to self.
WHY do people smoke? To follow the world, for injurious self-enjoyment, to be like the world and do as the world does.
Why do women use cosmetics and make up the face? For vanity, or because they follow the world and want the world to think they are one of them, or are afraid of what those of the world (Satan's world) would think of them - to be one of the world or please the world.
It violates the SPIRIT or obvious principle of the spiritual law of God, and IS SIN!
Yet some women professing to be members of God's Church wear makeup when they know they will be seen by the world, yet take it off when coming to Church services. When shopping they are part OF the world and then they pretend to be part of the Church at services, when God's people will not see the colored dirt on their faces.
But GOD sees them both times, and HE through Christ is the JUDGE, and they ARE BEING JUDGED RIGHT NOW! And if they sin willfully!
We must overcome
Now what is the connection between this and the new code of universal law to govern all Catholics? Just this: Two different churches are foretold and pictured in the book of Revelation. One is a great and powerful church - largest religion in the world - the Roman Catholic and her daughter Protestants. The other is the small persecuted Church, GOD'S Church, called by His name.
The new code of universal law to govern Catholics is a very definite trend of liberalism - watering down former codes - in conformity with the liberal trend of the world.
Newsweek magazine headlines it A CATHOLIC BILL OF RIGHTS. The newsmagazine Time headlines it EASING THE RULE OF LAW, with a subhead, The Pope issues a new and more flexible code for Catholics.
The moral and spiritual trend in the world is toward more liberalism - more permissiveness. A well-known leader in one nation is quoted in the press saying the virtual raw pornography X-rated movies should be accepted as part of growing up! - growing up into more immorality, accompanied with escalating crime, violence and satanic UNrighteousness.
Now even the Roman Catholic Church, in order to keep alive in an immoral and unrighteous world, is relaxing and giving people what they like to call their rights.
That same tendency was creeping into GOD'S Church, especially between 1972 and 1978. But in 1979, Christ, through His apostle, recovering from total heart failure, began putting God's Church back on the track.
TIME IS NOW RUNNING OUT ON US! Jesus said, As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be just before the coming of Christ to rule (Luke 17:26). The world before the Flood was rampant with immorality and violence.
But the Word of God says that when Christ comes, His WIFE (this Church) shall have made herself READY spiritually to be changed into holy and righteous IMMORTALITY - that is IMMORTAL - not immoral.
I cannot believe that any man will rise in the air, changed into a God-Being, with a cigarette in his mouth, or a woman with a made-up, painted face. Some few members might think that over, and take a look into God's mirror (see James 1:23-25), seeing the dirt on one's face, and going on even further in sin.
Yes, time is running out on us, brethren. Look into that mirror of God's law, then go to your knees and PRAY for God's forgiveness, mercy and HELP in OVERCOMING. And while you are praying, pray for others in the Church - pray for the whole Church - and please pray for me also, as I pray for YOU!