It is important to our understanding and growth in the body of our Lord, Yahoshua the Messiah, that we comprehend what his Apostle is telling us in 1Peter4: 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? In verse18) And "If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?" RSV
When we have been given God's Holy Spirit and placed into the Temple of God with the Messiah, we have been given much, and much will be required of us (see Luke 12:48, Matt. 25:14-30). If the righteous man is scarcely saved as the Apostle Peter states, it is because the righteous man understands that he too is a sinner, and when he is made aware of his sins through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, he repents.
The Apostle John elaborates: "If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1John1:6-10) RSV
Individuals placed in the Temple of God who walk in the light are those who understand that they are sinners. It is by our repentance from sinning and through the shed blood of the Messiah that cleanses us, sanctifies or atones us, so that we may receive forgiveness by the Grace of God. Often times we sin unintentionally, or through being deceived by our own human nature, or by being unaware or ignorant that we are sinning. The words of David, a man after God's own heart are: "But who can discern his errors? Clear thou me from hidden faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord , my rock and my redeemer. (Ps 19:12-14) RSV
Can any member of the body of Christ in the Temple of God stand before God and say they have not sinned this last year after partaking in the Lord's Supper? Can any human in God's Temple stand before God and say they know every aspect of His Law perfectly and have obeyed it perfectly and have not sinned, and have kept perfectly the Sabbaths, New Moons, and Holy Days? I think not.
The Apostle John continues: "My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." (2Jn. 2:1-2)
The time is now that God is dealing with and judging His Temple, spiritual Israel. Soon the nations will be brought into judgment and dealt with through the Messiah. Eventually every knee will bend before him and he will re-establish God's Law. The sinning nations will be dealt with by the Messiah.
What is the Bible definition of sin? The most common definition cited by the Sabbatarian Churches of God is in 1John3:4 Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. RSV
Are there other definitions of sin defined in the Scriptures? Yes, there are other Scriptures. The following are some Scriptures that shed additional light on sin:
17) Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. RSV
22) The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God; happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves. 23) But he who has doubts is condemned, if he eats, because he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. RSV
8) If you really fulfill the royal law, according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well. 9) But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10) For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. RSV
Who among us can say that they always do what is right, or always act from faith, or always love their neighbors (or more importantly, love the brethren as Christ loves us-John 15:12), or never show partiality or respect of persons?
Those of us who have been in the Sabbatarian Churches of God or any of its offshoot for any length of time come to realize that some of the major sins of the COG are self-righteousness and respect of persons. These are sins most difficult to see within ourselves and most difficult to overcome because of their hideous nature. But the truth of the matter about these sins is that we all are guilty of committing them to some extent. We must through the Spirit and Grace of God root them out if we are to be in the First Resurrection. God is not a respecter of persons and He will not tolerate it among His Temple.
How is it possible to root out these sins? First of all we must ask God to show us our secret faults as David did in Psalm 19.
The Messiah gives us a very poignant parable: "He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14) RSV
We must do as the Messiah tells us to do: "And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matt 6:16-24) RSV
You will notice that the Messiah does not say IF you fast, but states WHEN you fast. The indication here is that we should be fasting to draw close to God and to humble ourselves before Him. He will show us our secret faults if we acknowledge with a sincere heart our weaknesses and our sins. We must have our house in order before we can be right examples to others.
God tells us through His prophet Isaiah:
Isaiah 58: 1 Shout the message! Don't hold back. Say to my people Israel: You've sinned! You've turned
against the Lord. 2) Day after day, you worship him and seem eager to learn his teachings. You act like a nation that wants to do right by obeying his laws. You ask him about justice, and say you enjoy
worshiping the Lord. 3) You wonder why the Lord pays no attention when you go without eating
and act humble. But on those same days that you give up eating, you think only of yourselves and abuse your workers. 4) You even get angry and ready to fight. No wonder God won't listen to your prayers! 5) Do you think the Lord wants you to give up eating and to act as humble as a bent-over bush? Or to dress in sackcloth and sit in ashes? Is this really what he wants on a day of worship?
6) I'll tell you what it really means to worship the Lord. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused! 7) Share your food with everyone who is hungry; share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don't turn away your relatives.
8) Then your light will shine like the dawning sun, and you will quickly be healed. Your honesty will protect you as you advance, and the glory of the Lord will defend you from behind. 9) When you beg the Lord for help, he will answer, "Here I am!" Don't mistreat others or falsely accuse them or say something cruel. 10) Give your food to the hungry and care for the homeless. Then your light will shine in the dark; your darkest hour will be like the noonday sun. 11) The Lord will always guide you and provide good things to eat when you are in the desert. He will make you healthy. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water or like a stream that never runs dry. 12) You will rebuild those houses left in ruins for years; you will be known as a builder and repairer of city walls and streets. 13) But first, you must start respecting the Sabbath as a joyful day of worship. You must stop doing and saying whatever you please on this special day. 14) Then you will truly enjoy knowing the Lord. He will let you rule from the highest mountains and bless you with the land of your ancestor Jacob. The Lord has spoken! (Contemporary English Version)
The prophet's words speak loud and clear and need no interpretation or explanation.
For further study see the study papers, Repentance and Baptism, (No. 052), and Respect of Persons, (No. 221)(and others) at http://www.ccg.org/_scripts/english/C1a.asp.
Coordinator Southern California