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FATE IN WORLD RELIGIONS
Fate seems to play a large part in most world religions. Men escape guilt by blaming their sins on anything but themselves. For instance, it is possible for a Hindu to blame Brahma for his evil deed since Brahma is the cause of everything. Or he may blame it on karma, which means that the experiences in this life are the results of the deeds done in a former life. So how can he help what he does?
It is possible for a Moslem to blame his sins on Kismety (my fate). Didn't his god say, "These are for paradise, and I care not, and these are for hell, and I care not"? Where is there room for personal guilt with a god like that?
The Taoist blames the dark and evil in this life on Yin, the negative cause of evil and gloom in this world.
The Animist may blame his evil behavior on the taboos of his tribe or an offended spirit's demands.
It is a sad fact that so-called Christians can excuse their behavior, too. They blame their lack of love, criticism, indifference, or worldliness on the old nature, for want of a better excuse.
BLAME FOR OUR CONSCIOUS SINS: GOD IS THE RULER OF THIS UNIVERSE
We need to know how God has made us and who is to blame for conscious sin. One way to see this clearly is to start with the idea of God as the Ruler of the universe. He rules all created things, the angels and man himself.
How does He rule? He rules the sun, the stars, the earth, and the physical creation by the laws of force. He rules us, who have reason and will, by the laws of choice.
If we take a closer look at these laws, we can see how they differ.
THE LAW OF GRAVITY
One of the laws of force is the law of gravity. In my hand I have a book, which has no power to choose whether it will go up, or go down. It will fall down, because gravity, a law of force, makes it fall.
Flowers, too, are controlled by more subtle laws of force. The petals of a morning glory are shut when it is dark. The petals open when the sun rises. The roots of the plant will reach for moisture. Botanists call these attractions to light and water, tropisms. These are laws of force.
THE LAW OF CHOICE
Besides the laws of force, God has given to man the laws of choice. The Ten Commandments state these laws. We are not forced to keep them or to break them. These laws deal with our love for God and our behavior toward parents and co-workers, between the sexes, and toward the property and rights of others.
If we agree that the laws of force and the laws of choice differ, then we can apply these laws to the attitude we have toward sin.
MUST WE SIN AS LONG AS WE LIVE IN THIS WORLD?
Many people believe that as long as we are in this world, we must sin. They say, "We sin daily in thought, word, and deed." No verse in the Bible says this. But it is considered heresy to believe one can be free from his sins.
If we think that we have to sin and that even the grace of God cannot free us, what does an idea like this mean? It means that sin controls our lives by a law of force (or fate), not by a law of choice. It means that just as the moon orbits the earth, so man is in an orbit of transgression and he cannot get out of this condition.
AGAINST THE FATALISTIC VIEW OF SIN: MAKE A CHOICE
Why do people have such a fatalistic view of sin? I think we all could give some good reasons without being theologians. One reason is that people go through life as the puppets of their feelings and moods. They think that evil thoughts and words and deeds are a "must" because they "feel" that way. Nothing can make life any different, they think.
If this idea is true, then the Bible is wrong. The Bible teaches that everyone is responsible for his acts and attitudes of sin. If we have to live in sin, then we have no right at all to talk about moral law or the laws of choice. We would have to class ourselves with the moon, the plants, and the animals, which are ruled only by laws of force. If this idea is true the Ten Commandments are a farce, and the gospel of Christ's salvation from sin is a big mistake!
The Bible speaks to us as those who are able to turn from sin and turn to God for mercy. Notice how God calls upon man to make a choice:Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him (Isa. 55:7).Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezek. 18:31).Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are, whom ye obey? (Rom. 6:16).Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance (Matt. 3:8).Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke 14:11).
These verses teach us that we can obey or disobey God. Many other verses reiterate that God appeals to our wills, that God intends man to be holy and victorious over temptation and sin.
WHAT MAKES EVERYBODY TO SIN?
Somebody is sure to think, "That's interesting, but doesn't the Scripture say that all have sinned? What makes everybody sin?"
The Bible paints a blacker picture than that. It says, "the whole world lieth in the evil one" (I John 5:19). It says, "Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Rom. 5;12).
These verses make plain that all of us have entered a world overcome by sin and death, where Satan claims the right to rule. A little baby cannot be blamed for the world it grows up in. The baby is born of the flesh and begins a self-centered life before it can reason or choose. This fact does not condemn the child, but this self-centeredness, together with these forces of evil, causes every man to go astray.
Children do not stay little and innocent. The time comes when a person breaks God's law with his eyes wide open. This is sin and guilt in the Bible sense. "Sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). The man who sins the sin bears the guilt, and "every man shall be put to death for his own sin" (Deut. 24:16).
CAN WE BREAK THE SINFUL HABIT?
Perhaps another question will come up: "Isn't it true that many people have a sinful habit and they can't break the habit themselves?"
The Bible recognizes the power of bad habits. When someone gets too angry, we say, "he flew off the handle" or "he lost his tempter." We mean that his angry feelings got the better of him. There is a pint when we are strong enough to refuse the feelings of temptation. But if we yield to these feelings, sin begins to take control. When we let feelings get strong, they demand expression!
Sin is something like a race riot. The mayor of a city out East said, "A riot is like a fire. A fire generally starts with one small flame. The fire department has to get there quickly enough with sufficient [power to knock that fire out before it gets out of control. If the police could have gotten into some riot area when the riots started with sufficient power to knock them out, I'm sure they would not have spread."
This is true of sin.
DO NOT WAIT UNTIL SIN GETS TOO BIG TO CONTROL
It is easier to knock out a sin when it starts. We should not wait until, like a riot, it gets too big to control.
When a man sees that he is guilty or sees that he is controlled by anger, lust, hate, drugs, liquor, or any other sin, he does need the help of God. No one can forgive his own guilt or lift his own burden. He cannot recharge his own souls with a pure life.
What can he do? He can mean business about repentance, and in his heart turn from sin and admit his guilt to God. Also he can seek help from men who know God.
God is never tardy or slack with His mercy. The guilt and blame is all on the sinner's part, and the blame must be put where it belongs. The mercy belongs to God.
It was the Father who sent the Son to bear our guilt and blame in His body. He died in our place. He was willing to bear the blame for our sins. He did this work of redemption while we made our choices against Him and His law. Herein is love!
When any man is convicted of his guilt and bondage, he can bring this sin to Christ. In Him there is release and freedom.
JESUS AT WORK TO GIVE PEACE AND FREEDOM
A.B. Simpson heard of a woman who ran a house of prostitution. She was sick in her body and hardened by her sin. Simpson went to speak to her some words of warning, mixed with mercy if she would turn to Christ.
The woman seemed beyond hope and she told Simpson so. He made one more attempt by telling her of the lambs that were killed in the Old Testament for the sins of the people. The sinner placed his hands on the lamb and confessed his guilt. Simpson said that Jesus was now the Lamb of God, who by His death, took away the sins of the world. Her sins were taken by Jesus also.
The woman saw what he meant. Simpson said, "Think of a lamb standing by your bed. Move your hand over as if you were putting your hand on the Lamb's head." She did as Simpson said. "Now confess your sins and let Jesus bear them." As she did, a light of hope and release came in her face. God had been waiting. He kept His appointment with her when she came to Him. She found Jesus Christ as her Savior and tasted His power before she died.
Jesus Christ is always at work to give peace and freedom.He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free,
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood availed for me."
Sin is not a misfortune. Sin is a crime. When sin controls a man it may rage like a riot in his soul. But Jesus Christ can rescue all who come to Him. He forgives and cleanses. He fills with His Holy Spirit. He makes a man free to do God's will.
The apostle Paul said it this way: "there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:1,2).
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