Questions and Answers about Personal Sin

 

Contents:

Repentance and Restitution

Sin―Reverse Modesty/Arrogance

Mental Fornication/Adultery

What to Do About Illicit Relationships

Homosexuality

Practicing Homosexual

Judging

Blasphemy

Defiling God's Temple

 

Repentance and Restitution

Question: What does the Bible say about repentance? How evil can a man be and still receive the Lord's Grace? Is that man required to make restitution for his past sins while he is still alive? How does a man like this wrestle with the guilt of formerly being a truly evil person?

Answer: These are vital concepts to the Christian—and to all who want to be right with God. They are broad subjects that have been the basis for thousands of books and journal articles. And yet they are so simple that even a child can understand them.

Repentance

Repentance is absolutely necessary for salvation. We are saved by faith in Christ, but unless we are willing to repent our faith is not genuine.

Acts 3:19 (NIV) "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,"

Repentance is the sum of several attitudes:

1. We realize that we've sinned.

2. We realize that our sins were responsible in the death of Jesus because if we—and all other sinners—had not sinned, He would not have had to die.

3. We realize that when we sin we cause pain in Jesus' heart, because when we sin we effectively tell Him that we don't really care for the sacrifice He gave for our salvation.

4. We want to stop sinning so we can stop hurting Jesus.

5. We believe that Jesus can and will give us His salvation.

Psa 51:17 (NIV) "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

That's repentance.

We know that complete restoration to the Kingdom of God requires faith in the fact that Jesus can save us from our sins. This reality comes to us via the grace of God—His willingness to save us in spite of the terrible things we've done. No matter how evil we are or have been, God is willing to give us His grace to cover all our sins if we come to Him in repentance. And grace comes to us by faith in Christ's sacrifice.

Eph 2:8, 9 (NIV) "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast."

To receive God's grace requires three other steps beyond repentance. I've also broken them down to make them easier to grasp.

Confession of sin

1. Since we realize that our sins have had a part in crucifying Jesus, we want to get rid of them.

2. So we confess—to God, not to any man—that we are sinners, and ask God for forgiveness.

1 John 1:9 (NIV) "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

3. Our confession should also include requesting forgiveness for specific sins which we have done—at least those that we remember. (God doesn't want us to wallow around in our sinful life of the past trying to dig up old sins that we've done so we can confess them. This activity will take our spiritual eyes off Jesus and cause us to look at ourselves. It will destroy all the benefits of repentance.)

4. Then we must believe that He has forgiven our sins. (God said He would forgive us; we believe He has forgiven us; and at that moment forgiveness becomes a fact)

5. We need never confess those sins again, for God has forgiven them.

They're gone!

Restitution

God's grace has saved us because we have repented and confessed our sins to Him—accepting Christ as our personal Savior. But God knows that if we don't take care of past business we'll only carry the baggage around and it will destroy our relationship with Him. That's why He expects us to restore those things we have taken—things, reputation (by gossip, etc.), or our own health due to neglect or intemperance—insofar as it lies in our power to do so.

Ezek 33:14, 15 (KJV) "Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die."

Ezekiel gives us the act of robbery as one example of restitution; but, of course, the principle applies to most situations.

I stole a guitar from a man when I was about 14. I took it out of his house, thinking that he had deserted it as all of his neighbors had done to theirs (Urban Development!). A couple of days later I saw the man with a trailer backed up to his front door, loading it with things that were in the house. I was frightened and ran. Twenty-five years later I felt guilty about it and tried to find him. I had moved away, so I asked a friend if they would be so kind as to find a record of his name and his whereabouts. After so long a time it was doubtful—and in the end it proved impossible. I then had to accept God's forgiveness as final.

Another time (when I was younger yet) I was guilty of shop-lifting. Feeling remorse, I went to the store owner and offered to pay for the item I'd taken. He accepted the money and forgave me for the incident.

There are many ways to make restitution, but we must be willing to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in the matter. He will show us what is right, and He is the only Counselor that we can fully trust.

In the case of adultery, there can be no real restitution. If both partners are unmarried then, if possible, a marriage should be arranged. If one person is married, every effort should be made to prevent revealing it to the wronged spouse. There is no point in wounding an innocent party. This can only lead to further complications that often destroy all future happiness for everyone involved (including children, and close relatives). Only the Divine Counselor can guide us in these circumstances.

If a murder has been done, there is no way to restore the life. However, many who have been guilty of this sin have felt it necessary to make restitution to the state, and have turned themselves in. Only the Holy Spirit can give the correct solution to this situation.

Grace

When we believe that God loves us and we repent of our sins, confess them and, insofar as possible, make restitution for them; then we accept the fact that God has forgiven us and has covered our sinful life with His grace. "Then, sinful as our lives may have been, for Christ's sake we are accounted righteous and stand before God as though we had never sinned!"*

Great news, isn't it?! In fact, some have made an acronym of grace in this manner: GRACE=God's Riches At Christ's Expense.

I will be praying for you as you sort through your situation. Remember, repentance and confession arise from faith that Christ is our Savior. Both must come before we seek in any way to make restitution. After we have repented and in faith confessed our sins—believing that God has forgiven them, then restitution—instead of being fearful—can take on a whole different color. What we once dreaded can become a joyful carrying out of God's will. And any pain that may come as a result of that which makes restitution necessary, can be done with the full realization that God smiles upon His child. He will send His angels to brighten our lives and give us strength to bear up under whatever penalty may come. And He will grant rich blessings in this life, and through Christ, a life in God's Holy City for all ages to come.

*Steps to Christ, by Ellen White, p. 62.

(Steps to Christ, and other books by Ellen White, can be read online at nisbett.com/reference/ )

 

Sin—Reverse Modesty/Arrogance

Question: If God wants to do something good for me, or give me a gift and I refuse to accept it because I don't think I'm worthy, isn't this "reverse modesty" sinful? And if it is sinful, what type of sin would it be? Arrogance? Pride? Or both?
Answer: Sin separates us from God.

Isa 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

It really doesn't matter what it is that causes the separation, it is sin. Paul gives us a further understanding of sin.

Rom 14:23 . . . everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Faith is the key. Our relationship with God is based on faith—trust. Without faith there is no relationship, and without a relationship with God our lives are lived in sin.

Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

The apostle John would agree. In fact he tells us what the basis of sin is:

1 John 3:4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

Lawlessness in an attitude of rebellion that causes a person to disdain the law of God and thus despise God Himself. Actually the law describes the kind of God we worship and when we fail to mold our lives after its precepts we are trampling on the very character of God. Talk about arrogance!

Psa 51:4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

Jesus came to take away our sins and to win us by His love and acceptance so that He might forgive us and restore us to Himself. When we accept Jesus as Christ our Savior we no longer have to worry about sin, because Jesus takes it away. His blood covers all the sins of the past and His perfect life can be extended to us by the Holy Spirit so as to restore our lives to the perfection God planned for man in the beginning. Paul describes this experience and how it affects us.

Rom 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Here's a quote from a devotional book entitled Steps to Christ* by Ellen White. I believe it sums up in a beautiful way the point I'm making.

"The condition of eternal life is now just what it always has been—just what it was in Paradise before the fall of our first parents—perfect obedience to the law of God, perfect righteousness. If eternal life were granted on any condition short of this, then the happiness of the whole universe would be imperiled. The way would be open for sin, with all its train of woe and misery, to be immortalized.

"It was possible for Adam, before the fall, to form a righteous character by obedience to God's law. But he failed to do this, and because of his sin our natures are fallen and we cannot make ourselves righteous. Since we are sinful, unholy, we cannot perfectly obey the holy law. We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God. But Christ has made a way of escape for us. He lived on earth amid trials and temptations such as we have to meet. He lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness. If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ's character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned.

"More than this, Christ changes the heart. He abides in your heart by faith. You are to maintain this connection with Christ by faith and the continual surrender of your will to Him; and so long as you do this, He will work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure." p. 62

To turn from this infinite opportunity is arrogance at it's worst. I suggest that you would have a much more meaningful relationship with God if you forget about arrogance, etc., and spend your time thinking about Jesus and what He has done for you and what He stands ready to give you—eternal life at His second coming.

 

Mental Fornication/Adultery

Question: How can we keep from mental fornication/adultery?

Answer: "Fornication" and "Adultery" are synonyms that roughly describe illicit sexual liaisons. Any sexual act that takes place outside of the husband/wife marriage relationship breaks the seventh commandment and puts us out of harmony with God. This area of God/man/woman relationships has been a real problem with a lot of Christians—women as well as men.
God has given us a promise—in fact three promises—that give us help and hope in the area of keeping from sinning:

1 Cor 10:13 "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Look at these three promises: 1. The Devil can never tempt you with a sin that he has never used on anybody else. Others have had similar temptations. 2. God will not let Satan force you to sin; he cannot push you beyond what you can resist (through God's strength). 3. God will provide you a way out so you can keep from sinning. Memorize this Bible verse. Recite it whenever you feel that the temptation is greater than you can bear. You might also want to memorize

James 4:7 "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

Notice that the Lord's half-brother James does not say that we should resist the devil by ourselves. He says "Submit yourselves, then, to God." When we have submitted to God, then it is God who works through us and in His strength we can resist the devil (the temptations the devil brings to us.).

Counsel: I would suggest that you read the book of St. John in the Scriptures. Pay careful attention to what Jesus says and does. Ask yourself as you read: "How would I react to what He said or what He did?" "On which side would I be—the side of the Pharisees or the side of Jesus?" Be honest. As you read you will discover (particularly in chapters 14, 15, and 16) what Jesus said about receiving answers to prayer. And you'll discover what it means to be saved from sin.

What to Do About Illicit Relationships

Question: I've been unfaithful to my fiancé and am seeing other women. They look so beautiful and I want to kiss them. What should I do?

Answer: When we read the 10 commandments we find that the seventh one says: "Thou shalt not commit adultery." "Adultery" in the Bible includes all forms of sexual activity outside marriage.

Jesus said in the sermon on the mount:

Matthew 5:27, 28 "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."

This does not mean that we cannot look at women or admire their beauty. But it does rule out mentally disrobing them or viewing or reading pornography.

A relationship with a fiancé that is right means that you keep yourself true to her and stay away from other women. If you cannot be true to her before marriage then you will not be true to her after you are married. And that will only cause pain to yourself and to your fiancé/wife.

I know you can find many examples in the Bible where good men had several wives. God never intended it to be that way. In the beginning God said:

Genesis 2:24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

You'll notice that "wife" is singular. And this is emphasized by the statement that "they shall be one flesh." There is no room for polygamy here. And that would apply to bachelorhood as well as to a married man or woman. One man, one woman.

What about telling your girl about your lusting after other girls and dancing with them and kissing them? That's of course up to you.

However you need to take several things into account here: Why would you want to tell her? Is it because of some guilty feeling in your heart that drives you to break this bad news? Or do you think it is necessary to air all your dirty linen so she knows just what kind of, can I say, scoundrel you are?

What will this knowledge do to her and to your relationship with her? Will it make her happy she is going with you and make her trust you and love you more? I don't think so. It will drive a "dagger" into her heart. She will be deeply hurt and that may turn into hatred toward you. Is that what you're trying to do? Do you want to hurt her and break up the relationship? I don't think so.

Of course if she or her friends know what you've been doing behind her back, then you'd better confess so she knows that you know she knows and that you're repentant about it. This may carry some weight and could "patch up" your relationship.

Christ tells us that we are to love our neighbors, and that would certainly include your fiancé. If you truly love her I would counsel you to stop having anything to do with other girls. If she doesn't already know about your affairs then I would counsel you not to tell her about it. Ask for God's forgiveness, believe that He forgives you, and then put it out of your mind. Bury it. Don't ever mention it. If you are true only to her, then marry her and live your life with her only, until either of you die. The past should stay past and only be brought to mind for the purpose of learning from it and reminding you that you need Christ's grace to never do it again.

 

Homosexuality

1. Is being a gay or homosexuals and lesbian a sin for the Lord?
2. In what verse/s of the bible can we read about the homosexuals and lesbians?

Many years ago, when I was attending the Seminary, I discovered that a very close relative of mine had turned to homosexuality. I was devastated. The Bible is quite clear about what God thinks of those who practice this.

1 Cor 6:9, 10 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

The word of God classifies homosexual offenders as in the same category as thieves, drunkards, and idolaters. So what about my relative? Would he be lost because he's a homosexual?

At the time I was taking a class in foreign missions. Of course this included missions in our country too. We were required to write a thesis on some related subject. I explained my predicament to my professor, and asked if I could research and write about homosexuals (I include lesbians, as that's merely a name to refer to female homosexuals). He gave me the green light, so for an entire quarter I delved into the subject and sought an answer to my question: "Is There Hope for the Homosexual?"

Briefly, the results of my study found several things:

All the references in Scripture that refer to God's displeasure toward homosexuals describe their homosexual actions e.g. "homosexual offenders" in our text above. So it is the practice of homosexuality that God condemns, not the fact that a person is a homosexual.

God also condemns the practice of sex outside of the marriage of one man and one woman for heterosexuals.

Both heterosexual and homosexual are included in the 7th commandment: Exo 20:14 "You shall not commit adultery.

I found that there is hope for homosexuals.

1 Cor 6:11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Some of the Corinthians had evidently been homosexual offenders, but God had forgiven them and given them victory over their passions.

So I found that there is no difference between those who practice sex outside of the marriage between one man and one woman, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual. But God has given both the opportunity to gain victory over their passions through Jesus. Not that the homosexual Christian will be required to get married to one of the opposite sex. God does not require that. But He calls for both unmarried heterosexual and homosexual to maintain strict chastity. This is made possible through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Practicing Homosexuals

Question: Why are you "soft" on the homosexual, and hit hard on "practicing" homosexuals? By definition, a homosexual is "one who is or that which practices homosexuality; or has a homosexual orientation." Gentlemen, one cannot be a homosexual and not "practice" being one.

Answer: Current dictionaries and source books do not necessarily reflect the language and thought of biblical times. So, we have to be sure that our definition of "homosexual" is in accordance with that of the Bible.

The Bible deals with practical things, things that we do and say. And the homosexual act is included in the 7th commandment:

Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

The commandment deals with the act, rather than the sexual orientation of the person who commits the act. I know that Jesus expanded our thinking to include the lustful desire to commit the act were it possible to do so. That's covered by the 10th commandment:

Exo 20:17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

To covet a "neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant" or anyone else, for that matter, is to lust after that person to the point that you would commit the act were it possible to do so and get away with it. The fact that the opportunity may not arise does not lesson the breaking of this commandment.

I am by orientation a heterosexual. I have been married to the same woman for 42 years, and love her so much that I wouldn't think of committing adultery with another woman, no matter how desirable she might be. However, if I should dwell on such things that are deemed pornography to the point where it becomes an obsession, I might very well be led to commit adultery. This actually happened to a close friend's first husband and it ended their, otherwise, ideal marriage.

Grace

The Bible tells us that we are saved by the grace of Christ and that we receive this grace by faith.

Eph 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Paul makes it plain that salvation comes by grace through faith. But you'll notice that this leads to good works. The homosexual who has been practicing this sin can receive grace by faith and do good works. This would include stopping the committing of homosexual acts.

However, we cannot expect that the homosexual will become a heterosexual when he is saved from his sin. We cannot expect that he will immediately have a normal desire for the opposite sex. Some do. But most don't.

Every Christian has a secret sin of one kind or another in their lives. They have sinful desires that tug at their spiritual coat sleeves, begging them to commit that sin. Many heterosexuals of both sexes are filled with a desire almost akin to lust for the opposite sex.

But as long as we are in Christ, He will empower us to keep the "dirty dog" penned up so that it doesn't bite our soul. This applies to any sin, regardless whether it be in thought, word, or deed.

Gossip is a sin, and the gossiper will be lost unless he/she gains victory over this sin. The Bible condemns those who commit such crimes as tale-bearing. But many a gossiper finds grace to keep from practicing their sin.

The same goes for the homosexual. The Bible condemns homosexuality, just as it condemns tale-bearing. But just because a person has a desire to gossip or to commit a homosexual act does not make that person a retrograde—lost forever.

When we discover that one of our Christian friends is committing acts that are condemned in the Bible, instead of condemning them, we need to follow the practice which Christ taught:

Mat 18:15-17 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Pagan or a tax collector. If I read my Bible correctly, Jesus has sent us to those kinds of people with the Gospel that God can save them from their sins. So, the church may have to separate a person from it's fellowship as a member. But even then, God's people have a duty to win them back

So with the homosexual. If we believe a brother or sister in the church who is a homosexual and we know that they are practicing their sin, then it is our Christian duty to go to that person and lovingly seek to help them to stop this behavior. (If you are contacting someone of the same sex as you are, it would be well to take along another person with you for safety's sake.) And it's our Christian duty to continue to work with—not denounce or condemn—that person in Christian love, until they either gain victory, or shut us off.

But to condemn a homosexual to be lost just because he/she has those desires puts us in the place of a judge, and that means we're committing a sin that is just as bad as that of being a homosexual: for being a self-appointed-judge is on a par with the act of homosexuality.

Mat 7:1-2 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

We have to be very careful how we look at, pidgin-hole, and treat people who have spiritual problems. Homosexuality is more complex than just physical desire: it is a spiritual, psychological, and sociological problem as well, and we need to look at the spiritual problem rather than at the physical.

God loves the homosexual just as much as He loves you and me. He wants to save the homosexual just as much as He wants to save you and me. He extends His grace to the homosexual just as He extends His grace to you and me. And the homosexual can accept that grace just as well as we can accept it.

Paul dealt with homosexuality as he preached, baptized, and organized churches in his travels. Homosexuality was widespread in the Roman world. And he speaks of it on a number of occasions. In Romans he condemns the act which was being practiced by the heathen. But in 1 Corinthians he looks at it in a different light. Here, he has a church in which homosexuals are members. Notice what he says to them about their former lives:

1 Cor 6:9-11 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Do you want a prostitute in your church? Of course, as long as he/she is no longer practicing their trade. Jesus had a prostitute in His church—Mary Magdalene. Do you want a swindler in your church? Of course, as long as he/she no long commits the act of swindling—no matter how strong the urge he/she has to commit it.

"Homosexual offenders" are included with these other people. And you'll notice what Paul says about them:

1 Cor 6:11 But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Sexual orientation has nothing whatever to do with whether or not a person will be saved. Acting out that orientation does. And just as we expect unmarried heterosexuals (who may have very strong yearnings toward the opposite sex) to remain chaste in their behavior, just so we must expect the homosexual (who may have very strong yearnings toward the same sex) to remain chaste in their behavior. And as long as they have a saving relationship with Christ, then they will find a place in God's heavenly kingdom.

 

Judging

Question: It says in the gospel not to judge, but in other parts (epistles of Paul) talks about judging. Why is this?

Answer: There are at least two different kinds of judging spoken of in the New Testament.

1. Judging others; passing judgment on them or on their actions; looking down our noses at them. If we do any of these we are taking the place of God who only is the Judge of men's hearts. Here's what both Jesus and Paul say about this kind of judging:

1. Don't judge others

Jesus:

>Mat 7:1-5 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

Paul:

>Rom 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

>Rom 14:10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.

The second kind of judging has to do with discerning the difference between good and evil.

2. Do Judgetell the difference between good and evil

Jesus:

>Luke 12:56, 57 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time? Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?

Paul:

>1 Cor 6:1-5 If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?

>1 Cor 10:15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.

 

Blasphemy

Question: If you have committed blasphemy and then you get saved, can you still go to heaven if you have repented for everything else. Or can you even be saved after you have committed blasphemy.

Answer: I'm not sure why you think you've committed blasphemy. The fact that it's a concern with you is probably an indication that you haven't committed it.

The Bible presents two actions/attitudes, among others, that constitute blasphemy:

For a man to claim to be God:

John 10:33 "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."

For a man to claim to forgive sins:

Luke 5:21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

I doubt that you've committed either of these. So on the witness of these texts, you've not committed blasphemy.

A more serious threat, however, is brought to light in Matt 12:31, 32. In connection with the accusation of the Pharisees that Jesus' miracles were of the devil, Jesus said:

Mat 12:31, 32 And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

The Holy Spirit serves us in many and various ways. He teaches, counsels, comforts, reproves of sin, and draws us to repentance. If we consistently resist the Spirit in any of these areas we soften His voice. That makes it is less likely we'll hear Him when He speaks to us next time. Especially in the area of sin and repentance we should be careful to listen and heed.

These verses describe what we call the "unpardonable sin." "This sin occurs when we persistently reject Christ and deliberately choose options contrary to the principles of His kingdom, when we no longer view sin for what it is, when we mistake darkness for light, when Satan's lies become to us the truth, and when our hearts are so hardened they no longer recognize the need for forgiveness." Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, Feb. 26, 2002

One of the aspects of this subject lies in the way we treat the Holy Spirit.

Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

How can we grieve the Holy Spirit? By refusing to seek forgiveness of sin by the blood of Jesus. The Bible says:

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, and the Bible says that when we confess our sins, God will forgive them. Now what if we refuse to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness? The Holy Spirit will continue to convict us. But if we continually refuse, there may come a time when the Holy Spirit feels He is no longer welcome, and leaves us.

So blasphemy, grieving the Holy Spirit, and the refusal to confess sin are all referring to the same thing: the "unpardonable" sin.

In this scenario, then, any persistence in refusing to confess sin can become blasphemy and grieve away of the Holy Spirit.

The issue is that, if the Holy Spirit has left us, we no longer feel His drawing us toward a holy life. We would no longer be concerned about whether or not we are saved. The very fact that you are concerned about "blasphemy" vs. "being saved" indicates to me that you haven't committed blasphemy. You must not have grieved away the Holy Spirit or committed the unpardonable sin. You still have hope of salvation in the Lord.

"God works by the manifestation of His Spirit to reprove and convict the sinner; and if the Spirit's work is finally rejected, there is no more that God can do for the soul. The last resource of divine mercy has been employed. The transgressor has cut himself off from God, and sin has no remedy to cure itself. There is no reserved power by which God can work to convict and convert the sinner. "Let him alone" (Hosea 4:17) is the divine command. Then "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." Hebrews 10:26, 27 (KJV)." Patriarchs and Prophets, by Ellen White, p. 405

 

Defiling God's Temple

Question: What are some things that can defile God's temple?

Answer:
The Bible speaks a great deal about the temple and how important it is in the worship of God's people. Throughout the Scriptures, Genesis to Revelation, God's temple is holy because it is His dwelling place—and God is holy.

Exo 25:8 Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.

The word "sanctuary" comes from a Hebrew word that means "holy place." The word "sanctify," a derivative of this word, is used all through the Bible to describe things that are holy—have a likeness to God. And throughout Scripture you'll also find that, not only does God have a holy place, He wants to sanctify—make holy—His people.

John 17:17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

Jesus taught that His people would be sanctified through the truth of the word—the Bible. Through studying the Bible we learn about the Word—Jesus Christ Himself. And it is Jesus who makes us holy.

John 1:1-14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. . . . He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The "One and Only Son" (or as the KJV says, the "only Begotten Son"), Jesus, is the Word. But we usually use the term "word" to refer to the the Bible, because it is this holy book that leads us to the Word of God—Jesus Christ Himself.

Eph 5:25-28 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Paul uses the ideal relationship of love between husband and wife as an illustration of the relationship between Christ and His church. It's quite clear here that Christ makes His church holy, and so those who are connected to Christ through His church should be holy as well.

At the last day, just before the coming of Christ, He will declare that those who are holy shall "be holy still."

Rev 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

So the condition of being holy—sanctified—has already taken place before Jesus comes. In fact, when we believe in Jesus and accept Him as our own personal Savior, we become holy at that point in time. And we remain holy as long as we are connected to Jesus.

Please don't misunderstand me in this as it is vitally important: It is Christ who makes us holy, not we ourselves. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves holy.

Eph 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

The only way we can be saved—sanctified, made holy—is by faith. I repeat: it is Christ who makes us holy, not we ourselves.

 

The Temple

Now what does all this have to do with the temple? Because we are the temple!

1 Cor 6:19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

The sanctuary—temple—that God had His people make for Him in the desert—the tent in which He could dwell—was replaced by a beautiful temple building in the time of Solomon. But that temple was destroyed over 2000 years ago, so it can no longer be thought of as the temple of God. And any building that man makes, be it church or temple, is only a place in which God's people gather to meet with Him.

But, Paul tells us that we are God's temple. If we invite Christ into our lives, His presence in us makes us His temple, and in that way, He makes us holy.

Rev 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Jesus asks us to invite Him in and any place where Jesus dwells is holy: it is His temple.

Now, if we invite Jesus into our lives He makes us holy. We become His temple. So it would naturally follow that if we defile our bodies in any way, then we are defiling God's temple, and God, at the last day, will destroy those who defile His temple.

(KJV) 1 Cor 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

How can we defile God's temple? Any practice that we do which hurts our bodies, or causes them to be illany habit we have that causes disease or premature deathwould be defiling God's temple.

1 Cor 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Since we are God's temples, it is only natural that we will want to fulfill God's will in everything we do. We will want to keep God's ten commandments, and refrain from eating or drinking anything that would bring on disease or premature death.

There are many things in our world today that are not only harmful to the body of the one who partakes of them, but also cause disease and/or sorrow to those around them.

a) Tobacco in all its forms brings on cancer, heart attacks, emphysema—to name only a few. And second hand smoke from cigars and cigarettes, cause disease in those who are near to the one(s) who uses them.

b) The use of illicit drugs, besides breaking the law, also causes disease, and often leads to an early grave.

c) The use of alcohol, even a glass of win or a can of beer, impairs judgment, which can cause the person to do things that are anything but holy. Alcohol is also involved in a large portion of the fatalities on the roads.

11) Prov 20:1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

d) Even such seemingly innocent things as caffeine can be detrimental to our health.

There are other areas in which we can defile our bodies and cause their eventual untimely demise. a) Overeating, or eating an unhealthy diet; b) under-exercise, c) overwork, d) lack of sleep—you could add a long list to these, I'm sure.

But there is one practice about which most people are unaware: The use of unclean flesh food.

I'm a vegetarian by choice, not because it is wrong to eat flesh, but I like animals and don't like the thought of eating them. Of course, we have a record that Jesus ate the flesh of the lamb (during the Passover service) and fish (feeding the five thousand, etc). So the issue is not whether or not to eat the flesh of animals.

But the Bible says that there are certain animals, the flesh of which God told His people not to eat. He calls them "unclean;" we would probably use the word "unhealthy," or "harmful." At any rate, God quite clearly gives us this information:

12) Deut. 14:3-19 Do not eat any detestable thing. These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope and the mountain sheep. You may eat any animal that has a split hoof divided in two and that chews the cud. However, of those that chew the cud or that have a split hoof completely divided you may not eat the camel, the rabbit or the coney. Although they chew the cud, they do not have a split hoof; they are ceremonially unclean for you. The pig is also unclean; although it has a split hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses. Of all the creatures living in the water, you may eat any that has fins and scales. But anything that does not have fins and scales you may not eat; for you it is unclean. You may eat any clean bird. But these you may not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, the black kite, any kind of falcon, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the cormorant, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat. All flying insects that swarm are unclean to you; do not eat them.

Some might say that this is a part of the Jewish laws that came to an end at the cross. Yes, it was part of the Jewish law, and most of the law pointed forward to the cross. But this portion of the law does not point forward to the cross. It has to do with the health of the human body, and all mankind are affected by these things in the same way. These health principles were known as far back as the time of Noah, so it wasn't something that God added at Sinai.

13) Gen 7:1-3 The LORD then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.

There is no longer a physical temple on Mt. Zion. At any rate, the Bible tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. I pray that you will keep your body temple healthy, and from anything that will defile it.