Sunday, July 29, 2012

What is sin?

Is it simply an action that is forbidden which makes it a "sin," or is it the motives behind the action?
           In the “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus starts to show a different ethical insight that most of those who worshiped Yahweh did not hold.  Jesus preaches more about purpose and the “whys” of many other teachings. He offers up the reason why you should not swear on earth and states that at the “heart” of an oath is agreeing to something and that by adding all this extra collateral, you are admitting that your word is as good as the “evil one’s” word. He talks about how if salt and light do not fulfill their purpose then what good are they? He clarifies that our purpose is to do good deeds so that those who see them may glorify God, for the work He has done in and through us. He also talks about that if you do something good for another in order to be looked well upon by people then that is all you are going to get as a reward. Your motivation was selfish and therefore your “good” deed was not so good.

            I contend the same would be true for “sin.” Sin by its very nature is a self-focused desire brought into fruition. If the motivation behind an act is not sinful (self-motivated) then is the act in of itself sin? No. Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians would seem to back up this statement in regards to meat sacrificed to pagan gods. This may seem like I am trying to turn everything grey, or to make excuses in order to condone certain actions. I will say that there are actions, which cannot be non-selfish, and therefore, those actions will always be sinful. Jesus brings up murder as an example. People can use an excuse to argue their “basic goodness” by stating they have never hurt someone else. Jesus, contends that if you call someone a dumb sheep (a crossbreed sheep, but statement is much like our use of the alternate word for donkey) or a fool that you are guilty of the same sin as murder (hate and selfish desire to consider your life better and more important than another’s life).

            Those who want a checklist of sins, to abide by are not living in grace through the power and presence of the Soul of God. Instead, the checklist folks are living by law and through their own prideful power to adhere to the list. We need a much more reflective view of “sin” to be able to understand who Jesus wants us to be and not what Jesus wants us to do. The distinction is in the motive. Are our actions being governed by a list of not-to’s in which we are concerned about making sure “I” am a good person (in which self is the focus)? Alternatively, are our actions being governed by a sense of loving others and devotion to showing God glory? When Jesus told the woman caught in adultery “go sin no more,” he was not saying go now and stop doing what you have been doing; instead he was saying go on and stop focusing on your life as if it is what is important. He gave her an example of what it is to give grace to others, and wanted her to live her life likewise. 

Go, be self-focused no more!