When we step outside the zone of God, we are not entering into a zone of neutrality. There is no such thing as that.
I admit when I hear the word sin, punishment is what I immediately imagine. Nobody wants to be punished, right? But after reading this chapter, my confusion to this simple yet hard to define word had gone. In order to receive punishment, one must know what it is that he is being punished for. Because receiving punishment out of nothing is just totally ridiculous, right? And we, as Christians, we receive punishment when we sin as negligence to God. But what is it exactly that we neglect from God? Is it the sin itself or something else? I could create an endless string of argument about this unless I learn to define what sin really is.
Pastor John Bevere opened this topic by sharing his personal story. When he was a kid, he’s being told by his mother that his sister is very sick. His idea of being sick is only confined to the definition of a body temperature above 36 degrees Celsius. But his mother was pertaining to “cancer”. Only then Pastor John was shocked to find out when one time he got home and saw a priest standing beside his parents hearing them tell the news that his sister died already. Now he had a different extreme definition of what being sick is. The point of the matter is that when we are unaware and really do lack understanding of the core definition of “something”, sickness for instance, we won’t be prepared from any of its outcome! And if that comes, we are not excused from pain and regrets.
The answer to my confusion is found in the book of Luke 14:16-17 about the Parable of the Wedding Supper. The context of this verse is about a man (God the father) who instructed his servant (Jesus) to call those who are “invited” to come in because everything is prepared already. Many of those invited – who shall we say had been specially reserved a seat – made many alibis like taking care of the land and the oxen that they bought. The master got mad and told his servant instead to direct his announcement to those who are in the highway. I realized from this passage that Jesus is our spokesman. This means to say that all that is written in the scriptures are approved by God Himself, and we – being commanded to follow – must comply whether the book is written by John, Luke, David, or Solomon alike.
From this I learned that it is not buying a land, or taking care of an oxen that makes them a sinner. It is disobedience. Therefore, the core definition of sin is “not following the words of God”. Anything that falls under it (adultery, fornication, lying) are the results of not following God – we were able to do things that are ungodly and we’re not supposed to do as Christians. When we step outside the zone of God, we are not entering into a zone of neutrality. There is no such thing as that. We are entering instead into the zone of the enemy where all types of sin thrive freely. And yes, Satan loves it when we disobey God, because in that matter we obey him because he is the king in that kingdom.
The question I asked myself next was, “is it a sin if I miss a Sunday service because I have planned a Christmas vacation for me and my family in Palawan”? I told this to my pastor in the Philippines that we won’t be able to attend the Christmas party that the church will hold because we will be out of town. Her reply to me was, “put God first”. I know that having a vacation in Palawan with my family is not a sin, since my family is my ministry as well. But I realized that putting my family first above Jesus is disobeying God, and therefore causes me to sin; because Jesus commanded to put Him first above everything. In order to not commit sin in this case, the only rightful thing I must do is to reschedule the event and stop justifying my act with God as if I will win, right? Anyway there is only one special day in a week where we join our brethren in worshiping God and six vacation days are for ourselves. Nobody has ever won against God and if we do continue to fight for our crooked philosophy, surely we will end up badly wounded.
Honestly, I wouldn’t last a minute reading the next succeeding paragraphs because they were like sharp knives that stab me whenever I fight back and justify myself! I was a Christian for a long time. My family and almost all relatives are Christians already. So there are times I would feel so comfortable judging “other sinners based on my definition” that they are so bad and hopeless. I forgot that we, too, even Christians will be judged. In fact, the weight is more heavier for us because we already know the truth. This is a wake up call for me, that not because I am inside the church and working tirelessly for the ministry that has been entrusted to me doesn’t mean I am not committing a sin! But on a side note, this is just in the context of sin, and not in salvation. Sometimes I obey God when it is convenient for my situation, and lament if I find it hurtful. I don’t want to hear from God that He does not know me when I come knocking in heaven’s door one day.
The parable of a man with two sons also had a big impact on me. The father asked his two sons to work in the field. The first one says “yes”, but did not actually follow. The other one says “no”, but followed afterwards. The morale of this passage is that my verbal affirmation to God’s command doesn’t impress Him. He looks more to actions rather than small talks and promises! Aha! So I came into a conclusion that every moment I disobey God, I commit a sin even if it’s not explicitly written in the bible! Wait, what? Yes! For example, God talked to me in a vision or in a dream and instructed me to stop pursuing my plans. If I still pushed through with what I want rather than what God wants, I would have committed sin! But take note, this is implied to say that you are sure it is God who really talked to you.
One thing that got me off track was when Pastor John stated that “…in essence this love [Agape love] can be found only in those who have received Jesus Christ as their Saviour”. He was pertaining to a passage in Matthew 24:12-13 saying “the love of many will grow cold, but he who endures to the end shall be saved”. My question is that does this mean NOT everyone is loved divinely? God is love, and that His love is divine, right? I thought God loves everybody even those who have not yet accepted Him as Lord and Saviour? But why did Pastor John said that only Phileo (tender affection) love is given to unbelievers? I will leave it to the pastors of the church and wait for the theologically correct response some other time.
Lastly, I came to a realization that confessing our sins is not enough to exempt us from committing a sin. Such a tricky statement. When we confess our sins to God, we are asking for forgiveness and His abundant grace. What keeps us from doing the same mistake again is when we stop obeying God and doing things our own way!
To grab a copy of John Bevere’s book “Under Cover”, click on the link below:
Though this article was published a month ago, I still would like to contribute it to the Conventional Wisdom blog posts to inspire others to be vigilant of our sins and learn how to overcome them.