We have all heard that Sin is bad. Sin is evil. Sin is despicable and odious and must be avoided at all costs. But I think we have misjudged Sin. I think we’ve given it a bad rap. Today, I want to show you that Sin deserves its day in court. I want you to learn the inalienable rights… of Sin.
Yes, that’s right; Sin itself has rights. The right to face its accusers in court. The right to a trial by a jury of its peers. The right to be considered innocent until PROVEN guilty. In essence, the right to JUSTICE.
Today, I want to restore the rights that have been taken away from my client, Sin, and get YOU to give him a chance.
This question came up because for many years now I’ve been saying that if something even MIGHT be wrong, you MUST stop it immediately – for if your heart condemns you, and you do it anyway, it BECOMES sin to you, whether it actually IS or not!
Mind you, I wasn’t wrong; that was and remains to be the only way to build TRUE POWERFUL FAITH; but there was an unforeseen side-affect of this understanding. As I pursued this practice of stopping those things which even might be wrong, I realized that I was finding things that MIGHT be wrong – that, after appropriate deliberation, I determined I had no way of PROVING were wrong. And yet still they were troubling to me. In most cases I simply avoided the issue – it was sometimes expensive or inconvenient, but that could not compare with the comfort of a clean conscience or the faith which that bestows.
But as I found a longer and longer list of such things, I began to wonder if I had the complete picture on this subject; and as more time went by, I realized I didn’t. Finally, I connected the concept to meat offered to idols, and then it began to become clear.
Let’s pretend that you had spent your life not eating meats offered to idols. Eating this meat would trouble your conscience tremendously. And Paul made it clear that eating this meat, if it troubled your conscience, was a sin (Romans 14:23) And yet Paul ALSO made it clear that “the idol was nothing” (1 Corinthians 8:4), and so offering meat to an idol, or a tree, or for that matter a lump of cow manure, couldn’t affect that meat one bit.
But there was ANOTHER point which Paul made, and that was that these people who didn’t fully understand that – or rather, who weren’t “fully persuaded” (Romans 14:5) of that – were WEAK in the faith. And obviously, to be weak in the faith means there is room to grow. And growing would involve learning that the idol is nothing. And that would in turn involve one day eating that first bite of idol-defiled steak. Now still pretending that this person is you, put yourself in that moment, surrounded by a room full of your friends who bring this huge juicy steak before you, and tell you that it’s offered to idols. You decide that the idol is nothing. You open your mouth to take a bite…
Put yourself there, in that very moment. Will there be NO doubt that you might be wrong? Can there be 100% certainty that this is what God wants you to do? Can you ever be FULLY PERSUADED of ANYTHING, as long as you only see “through a glass darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12)?
And the morning after, will not your conscience be checking up on you, saying “well, you could have just had the potato and skipped the meat. You didn’t HAVE to eat the meat.” And hassling and disturbing you perhaps for days or weeks, or until you revert to your old ways of not eating meats offered to idols.
If you’ve been around the truth for long, and tried at all to cleanse your conscience and have true faith, you should be able to identify with this situation. So WHAT DO YOU DO? HOW can you take that first bite without doubt?
This of course is only an example. This could apply to anything from using money with a (tremendously pagan) all-seeing eye on the back of it, to using the name “Jupiter” (the name of a pagan god we were told not to name) to describe the fifth planet, to using the word “consider” (Latin for “with the planets”, a reference to consulting astrological charts and “considering” your course of action), all the way down to sitting with gentiles while you eat or not having your child circumcised.
And if we are walking as we should, endeavoring to put evil out of our lives, we will run into thousands of questions like these, and yet avoiding these questions by simply running away from anything where there is a possibility of error is not the answer either.
Because not doing something that God didn’t tell you not to do is ALSO bad – simply because it gives you a false idea of who God is. If your idea of God wouldn’t let you eat meat at all, because of the voices of the little anchovies crying in His ears as you munch away, then you have a WRONG idea of who God is! And that will DIRECTLY and NEGATIVELY impact your relationship with Him!
And so as I said, simply avoiding things that might be wrong isn’t the answer. Because that isn’t what we were put on earth to learn to do. We were put here to learn to judge right and wrong. And we can’t do that if we are constantly running from a decision we’re scared to make.
Don’t misunderstand, it is VITAL that you stop whatever it is you are doing the INSTANT you have a twinge of conscience. Otherwise you are not walking in faith. But once you HAVE stopped, because of that twinge of conscience which may well be from the spirit of God living in you, you must JUDGE that act.
And that act, even if you think it is a SIN, has those INALIENABLE RIGHTS that we discussed at the first. And it must be judged FAIRLY and HONORABLY, without respect to its person, or to God’s. Now why is a given sin bad? Come now, tell me. Why is it bad? Simply because God said so? Well… that’s simply not good enough. Yes, that’s what I said. Accepting something on God’s say-so just doesn’t cut it!
Deuteronomy 1:17 Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
God commanded Moses to command Israel saying that when they had a cause under their judgment, that they were NOT allowed to respect the person involved. In other words, if the mayor of the town and the town drunk are in court against one another, you are not ALLOWED to consider that one is a respectable citizen while one is a drunken old sot, but instead BOTH must be given equal, impartial treatment in court.
The small, as well as the great.
So where is the limit? How great must someone be before you can accept his person? In other words, hypothetically, if God and the town drunk were in a court battle before you, would it be right to take God’s side – JUST BECAUSE HE IS GOD? Would it be right to ignore the side of the drunk, or even to put slightly more weight on God’s word?
We have to be extremely careful here, because we know all too well that we owe God. He has given us many great gifts, has He not?
Deuteronomy 16:19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.
So already your partiality is compromised! You OWE God, and so you are naturally inclined to give HIM the preference in judgment – but if you do that, then you are NOT judging righteous judgment! You are PERVERTING justice, and TWISTING the judicial process based on your affiliations and friends!
And let’s face it, GOD DOESN’T NEED YOU TO DO THAT FOR HIM! Does He? Does He NEED you to respect EVEN HIS person in judgment? Even secretly or subconsciously?
Job 13:3-10 Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God. But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value. O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom. Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips. Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him? WILL YE ACCEPT HIS PERSON? will ye contend for God? Is it good that he should search you out? or as one man mocketh another, do ye so mock him? He will surely reprove you, IF YE DO SECRETLY ACCEPT PERSONS.
God will SURELY reprove you, even if you SECRETLY accept HIS person! If that’s not shocking, what would be??
Deuteronomy 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
A man may not be convicted of sin, ANY sin, or ANY lawbreaking, by the mouth of one witness. It simply couldn’t be done. According to the law, EVEN IF GOD was that one witness, IT DIDN’T MATTER, because you couldn’t RESPECT HIS PERSON!
John 5:31 If I bear witness of myself, my witness IS NOT TRUE.
CHRIST HIMSELF said that if He was the witness of Himself, HIS WITNESS COULDN’T BE TRUSTED! Even CHRIST needed TWO witnesses to be believed!
Verses 32-34 There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.
So He had His own witness, and the witness of John. But, He said, that wasn’t good enough either! Because He didn’t want His claims based on the word of men. So…
Verses 36-37 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
So the Father, and the works which the Father gave Him (the miracles, among other things) bore witness of Him, and those TWO things made TWO witnesses, which plus His own witness and that of John, made His case legally established. But HOW did His Father witness this, since no one has ever seen or heard the Father?
Verses 38-39 And ye have not his [the Father’s] word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and THEY are they which testify of me.
So the Father testified by having Christ write the Old Testament! And so with the testimony of the Old Testament, and Christ, you may believe something to be true – but that is the only way, since Christ said He did not accept the testimony of men! The reason simply being that
1 Corinthians 2:14 … the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
And so in spiritual matters, we cannot take the word of a man for anything; but we must have the two witnesses of Christ and the Father. Since the Father isn’t here, we can read the Bible. But since Christ isn’t here… how can we get His witness on a given subject? Paul tells you two verses later:
1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
So we have the mind of Christ – if the spirit of Christ dwells in us. And if it doesn’t, we’re not Christ’s, and not in His church, and so it’s all academic anyway. So now we know who the two witnesses are. Now it’s time to learn how to use them.
When you are in that imaginary courtroom of your mind, where your thoughts “accuse or else excuse one another” (Romans 2:15), you have an act under suspicion of sin. And this alleged sin is on trial. But you can’t just condemn it because your conscience troubles you! That can be considered “probable cause” for sure, and perhaps grounds for an arrest. But you CANNOT CONVICT IT BASED ON THAT EVIDENCE!
If you are Christ’s, and His spirit lives in you, then His spirit will tell you right and wrong – it is His own conscience living in your mind. But the problem is, you can’t TELL if it’s His spirit or not! People don’t glow a certain color if they have the holy spirit! (Well, Moses did once, but *I* have never met anyone who did). The point is, you are commanded to TRY that spirit!
1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
And for this reason, one witness, no matter HOW NOBLE YOU THINK HIM TO BE, CANNOT BE RELIED UPON TO CONDEMN AN ALLEGED SIN OR SINNER! And so let’s assume the twinge in your conscience is caused by God’s spirit, not by your own conscience or some other spirit. You then must add another witness for the prosecution! And since no man’s witness is acceptable, you must add God the Father! And since He is unavailable, He sends us the Bible as His testimony.
And so, still in this courtroom in your mind, with the spirit of God on the stand accusing the defendant, and the Bible accusing the defendant, and taking into account the things which may be said in favor of the accused, the good he produces, the arguments against the arguments of the Bible, finally you find sufficient evidence to satisfy an IMPARTIAL JUDGE, who is not respecting the person of ANY of the witnesses or defendants, that this sin is guilty. The gavel raps, and it is out of your life forever. Barring of course, an appeal if the defense attorney (your desire to do it, in this case) digs up new evidence in favor of the accused.
Now that is the first scenario. The second is a tiny bit more complicated. Let’s say that eating meats offered to idols is on trial, accused of being Sin. And your conscience, since this is what you’ve always done, is accusing the Sin. This is witness number one, which you THINK is the holy spirit.
Witness number two is called to the stand – the Bible. And you will find many things in this witness that might condemn it in the Old Testament, such as eating cakes baked to the Queen of Heaven in Jeremiah, for example. So the prosecution rests.
Then the defense retaliates with a masterful closing statement focusing heavily on the fact that you find in the New Testament Paul, who was undeniably a man of God, said that the idol is nothing, and as long as you realize that the idol is dead and can’t affect the meat at all, it is perfectly permissible – as long as it doesn’t negatively impact your brother’s faith.
You, as judge, retire to deliberate in your spacious and opulent chambers and reach a decision. You return and say that the idol does not exist, and therefore it cannot hurt you, and rap the gavel and declare the defendant not guilty on all counts. And so you go out, and munch away at the meat offered to idols. And if your conscience troubles you, look it in squarely in the eye (metaphorically speaking) and say “the court ruled in favor of the defendant; until you can show some new evidence, the case is closed”, as any good judge would. Is God so petty as to condemn you for following the ruling of a fair trial, based impartially on all the evidence available to you? I think not.
Of course if new evidence comes up, you redo the trial, and move on. This is what we are put here to learn to do! To make RIGHT, FAIR decisions! And to treat ALL causes that come before us – even God and Sin – EQUALLY and HONORABLY!
But there is one last situation which may arise – and this is the one which has disturbed me until now. And that is a trial where there is simply insufficient evidence. Let us say a fly lands in your gallon of honey. Is it wrong to eat the honey after you remove the fly?
The Bible is fairly quiet on the subject. But your conscience may trouble you, if you think about it – after all, the fly probably isn’t clean; and for certain microscopic fly-bits and fly-bacteria and other icky fly-stuff stayed behind. But on the other hand, honey was MADE by bees vomiting up nectar and forming it in their nests into combs and bees were never declared “clean” under the law of God. And yet God clearly says honey is fine to eat.
Then there is the example of a mouse falling in a bucket; the bucket of water is dumped out. But if the mouse falls in a spring, the mouse is removed and the water is clean (Leviticus 11:31-36). If that same reasoning applies to a fly in a bucket, then the entire gallon of honey should be thrown away – right? Of course, that much honey is fairly expensive – but that can’t enter into the judgment process; if it’s the right thing to do, it’s worth whatever cost there is to do it.
On the other hand, Christ said:
Matthew 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
The implication here seems to be that straining out the gnat cleanses the product, but if you do that while swallowing a camel it doesn’t help any. And so all of these arguments are made in the courtroom, and despite the witness of a twinge of conscience, there is simply no evidence found in the Bible to convict this act of Sin. And so the court can only acquit him, until new evidence is found.
If it is innocent, there can be no harm in it; and if it truly is guilty, it will bring forth fruits that, when found, will cause it to be “killed” then. And so Sin must have its day in court. And it must be treated fairly. And you must TRY the spirits – for every spirit that is out there, and EVERY SPIRIT THAT AFFECTS YOU, is not necessarily righteous. And… well,
Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Deuteronomy 17:6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
And yet, despite all this, sometimes you will have a hard case which you simply cannot make heads or tails out of yourself. And what does a good judge do then? What did Moses do?
Deuteronomy 17:8-9 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose; And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment:
And the Levitical priesthood being done away, we now have direct access to the throne of God – so take it to Him in prayer, and if necessary fast about it until the problem makes sense. But the moral is that if Sin is evil, you needn’t lie for God, or give His case special treatment. Sin will be shown for what it is. And if it isn’t sin, then you would be perverting judgment, which God hates. And bottom line…
2 Corinthians 13:1 … In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
And… Sin is innocent until proven guilty.