All people are born with the natural inclination to sin. Despite what humanism may teach, the nature of mankind is not to do good, but to do evil. We live in an age when the teachings of evolution and humanism have taken away most people’s understanding of sin, and new editions of the dictionary do not even list the word. Let’s see God’s view on the subject.
The scripture gives us three excellent definitions of sin:
We may add that sin is any disobedience of God’s commands under the New Testament. While many people quote the Ten Commandments from the days of Moses as examples of laws that people commonly disobey, Jesus also expects us to be strict with our thoughts. In the sermon on the mount, he quotes several times “Ye have heard that it hath been said, . . . But I say unto you, . . .” Jesus refined several laws of the Old Testament, proclaiming that while the act of adultery itself is sin, even looking with lust after a woman who is not your wife is sin. The only difference between someone who would like to do evil, if he could get away with it, and the person who does do evil, is that one had the opportunity and the other one did not. Murder is still a sin, but under the New Testament, we face judgment for hateful attitudes such as getting angry with people without just cause.
The main problem with sin today is that most people do not recognise it, or even understand what it is because they have no standard of right and wrong. The moral standards of western society once reflected Biblical principles, like the Ten Commandments, but they no longer do so. Western society now excuses many things that the Bible says are worthy of death. People have exchanged God’s absolute truth for a man-made standard that gets lower with each succeeding generation. People therefore have little desire to become truly converted, because they do not see themselves as sinners. If you have no consciousness of your sin and uncleanness, you will have no inclination to get rid of it. But the Bible says that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
The 16th Century English reformer and Bible translator, William Tyndale, said this in A Pathway to the Holy Scripture:
By nature through the fall of Adam we are the children of wrath, heirs of the vengeance of God by birth, yea and from our conception. And we have our fellowship with the damned devils, under the power of darkness and rule of Satan, while we are yet in our mother’s wombs, and though we show not forth the fruits of sin as soon as we are born, yet are we full of the natural poison, whereof all sinful deeds spring … the fall of Adam hath made us heirs of the vengeance and wrath of God and heirs of eternal damnation, and hath brought us into captivity and bondage under the devil. And the devil is our lord and our ruler, our head, our governor, our prince, yea and our god. And our will is locked and knit faster unto the will of the devil than could an hundred thousand chains bind a man unto a post. Unto the devil’s will consent we with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our might, power, strength, will and lusts: so that the law and will of the devil is written as well in our hearts as in our members and we run headlong after the devil with full zeal and the whole swing of all the power we have … With what poison, deadly and venemous hate hateth a man his enemy. With how great malice of mind inwardly do we slay and murder. With what violence and rage, yea and with how fervent lust commit we adultery, fornication and such like uncleanness. With what pleasure and delectation, inwardly, serveth a glutton his belly. With what diligence deceive we. How busily we seek the things of this world.
Whatsoever we do, think or imagine, is abominable in the sight of God.
What would Tyndale say of this generation? And what, indeed, does God think of today’s unbelief, pride, selfishness and self-will, which are really the cornerstones of man’s sin?
The second major problem with sin today is that people do not see sin as being a problem, but God does.
God does not accept sin or accept excuses for it: He hates sin and is “angry with the wicked every day”. (Psalm 7:11) God judged the people of this world for their sin once before in the days of Noah, when he destroyed the whole world with a flood, and the Bible says that He will destroy this world with eternal fire. In that day every person who has ever been born will stand before God and be judged according to how they lived their life.
The Bible says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20), and “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23). It says that Christ will one day judge this world and everyone in it, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” (II Corinthians 5:10-11)
The third major problem with sin today is that God commands us to repent of (turn away from) our sin, but most people do not see repentance as necessary. There was a 400 year gap between the last prophet of the Old Testament and the arrival of John the Baptist, who heralded the coming of Christ the Messiah. The first message John the Baptist brought was – REPENT! (Matthew 3:2) From the beginning of his earthly ministry, Jesus commanded people to “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17), and “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) The apostles Peter and Paul preached repentance: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19) “God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30)
Those who choose to obey Christ and follow Him, do not continue living a life of sin, as the apostle John explains: “Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not” … and “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” (I John 3: 6,9), and “Whosoever is born of God sinneth not”. (1 John 5:18) In the end, however, it is not what people think about repentance that counts, but what God thinks, and God demands that we stop doing what is wrong and do whatever is good and right. For example, “Let him that stole steal no more.” (Ephesians 4:28). This is true repentance.
The fourth issue with sin is that we need to be made clean from our sin. Repenting of sin is one thing, but we also need cleansing from our sinful nature, and forgiveness for the sins we have already committed. We can never atone for our own sin: we are not good enough. (You can’t make anything clean by wiping it with a dirty rag.) Only the sacrifice of a pure and innocent victim can take away sin, for “without shedding of blood is no remission [of sins]”. (Hebrews 9:22) The Bible says that Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, died in our place, that our sins might be forgiven, and that we might become the sons of God. As Isaiah says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) John the Baptist introduced Jesus with: “Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) The apostle John explained that “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (John 1:11-12) and that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
In order for this forgiveness to be ours, we must believe in Jesus with all of our heart: who He is, what He did, and what He will do for us if we follow Him. To believe is to trust and obey, and that is the attitude of a true believer. When we truly believe we will repent and obey the gospel, and God will grant us forgiveness.
“He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16) Baptism (immersion in water) is an essential part of God’s plan for salvation. Romans chapter six teaches that in baptism we die unto sin, and our old man is crucified with Christ. We are buried under the water “in the likeness of His death”, “that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Then, just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also are raised up in the likeness of his resurrection to walk in newness of life in Him. As we obey this commandment from the heart, He frees us from sin, and gives us His new nature: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” (2 Cor 5:17) As new creatures, with the mind of Christ and the ability to overcome the temptations of Satan, true Christians are free from sin and heirs to God’s promises.
There may be exceptional circumstances where people cannot be baptised, such as the thief on the cross or converts in prison. However, a true convert to Christ will have the heart to obey all His commandments, and if they have not initially been baptised, they will be baptised as God gives the opportunity to do so. (see Acts 19:1-6)
The Christian life is about following Christ. Jesus taught people to forsake their own life and to follow Him instead. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33) This involves putting Christ before our reputation, our family members, and our friends. It involves giving up our own plans, our desires, our possessions, our opinions and our career. It involves giving up our selfishness, our pride and our self-will.
Converts must count the cost of giving up all and forsaking anything that will hinder them in doing the will of God. We give up our own life, and take on the new life that Christ offers us. The apostle Paul’s testimony was: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Instead of pleasing himself, a Christian strives to please God, accepting Him as Father and taking a place as a son who is born “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”. (John 1:13)
In giving up our own life and taking on the new life that Christ offers us, we become born again. The spirit of God comes into our hearts and makes us His sons, changes our lives and makes us new people who now love to please God and do what is right. We become a completely new person. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The normal Christian life for a person who has truly been born again is that he walks each day without sin. “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” (I John 5:18) If sin does arise, it must be confessed, repented of, and forgiven.
A Christian is a person who follows Christ. A big part of following Christ is to do the will of God. In the gospels, Jesus set this example for us on the night before He went to the cross, He said this to His father: “Not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) Paul also stated: “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1,2) Many Christians are confused about finding the will of God on many issues in their lives, because they are trying to be like the people of this world. Yet finding God’s will is not difficult when our thinking has been transformed and moulded by the Bible, and we are willing to submit to the guidance of godly, sacrificial leaders in the Church, who live and teach according to the Word of God.
Sadly, however, judgment day will come as a shock to many professing Christians. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23) There are many who want the benefits of serving God, but they do not really want to obey Him. Self-will has no place in the true Christian life. We must be diligent to see that we keep the faith that has been delivered by the apostles and do not fall into the trap of ‘greasy grace’ that promises salvation without commitment.
For a more detailed study of what we believe about salvation, please visit this site.
All buildings must have a solid foundation, and ours is the written Word of God. After years of study and examining the fruits of the lives of those involved in translating and following the various English translations available, we settled on the Authorised King James Bible as our only text. We have found all others to be inferior in scholarship, spirit and fruits. Our intention has never been to explain what it says to suit ourselves, but to simply read it, and obey it. We have little time to quibble over prophecies or shades of meaning when we are full time just trying to live the practical life we have found in the scriptures.
As for revelations through dreams and visions or people prophesying in tongues, we do not discount these avenues for God to reveal His will, but it must agree with the written word. Any revelation of man that gives direction away from the Word is rejected. One of the amazing things we have found about the scriptures is their timeless relevance to the issues faced by mankind in spite of all the advances of technology. We rarely face problems without some Biblical principle to guide us. Praise God.
Our first recourse when sick is to pray. In time, this may be followed up with professional medical assistance, but the over-riding thought is that we trust God rather than science or drugs, as is says in James 5:5 – “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”
If we are expected to “love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might”, what’s the problem with making a commitment to Him? Our formal commitment for adult members of the community is part of the legal structure of the Community as we need some basis of working together. The signing of charters and contracts has a long history of binding peoples together so they can work in harmony and trust.
Early in our history we settled on a modest dress code in accordance with the Biblical exhortations to avoid vanity. Dress styles for the women have changed over the decades, until we designed our present full length blue dresses in 1989. Since then we have made minor changes to a pattern that is both economical and practical. It was also decided that the men would wear appropriately long clothing so there were not two standards.
The Bible doesn’t say anything about compulsory education, schools or universities, so our principles here are to make education as practical as possible to equip our children, and adults, for the needs of this life. We strive to meet all government regulations regarding schooling and then go the second mile to ensure that our children are given the best possible training in social skills and work ethics.