Sin. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it as follows: “To depart voluntarily from the path of duty prescribed by God for man; to violate the divine law in any particular, by actual transgression or by the neglect or non-observance of its injunctions; to violate any known rule of duty.”
That definition became very interesting to me as I considered the topic of sin. I appreciate the fact that Mr. Webster included the word “neglect” in his definition–you will see why later. Of course, most of us, when asked to define sin, would turn to 1 John 3:4, “…sin is the transgression of the law.” And this is good, but I wonder, do we really grasp all that this means?
In Luke 10:27, Jesus narrowed the law down into two principles: love God with all the heart, mind and soul, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourself. Why did He use those words? Heart, mind, soul, and strength?
Here’s what I believe after study and reflection:
Loving God with my mind means that my thoughts are centered, not in this world and the things of this world, but on heavenly things.
Loving God with my heart means that, as Colossians 3:2 says, my affections–the things I love and look forward to–are those that pertain to serving God.
Loving God with my strength means that, as Sister White says: “Had the disciples rightly appreciated the exalted character of their Master, they would have considered no sacrifice too costly to offer to the Son of God.” Signs of the Times, October 9, 1879 par. 13. In other words, all of my talents and abilities are consecrated to His service–nothing is held too dear to give to my Lord.
Loving God with my soul means: Since my body and the breath of God make me a living soul, this is all that I am–and all that I am is focused on loving and serving God. I believe this sums up all the other terms. It is an entire consecration to God and to His will for my life–nothing held back!
What about loving my neighbor as myself? Jesus goes on in the passage in Luke to illustrate just what this means in the parable of the good Samaritan. Jesus described a man who had been beaten and robbed and left to die. A priest and a Levite passed by without helping, but the Samaritan stopped to invest himself–at great personal risk and cost–in this man from a foreign land. And I believe in doing so, he kept the WHOLE law, for he certainly loved his neighbor as himself, AND he glorified and lifted up the character of God is his treatment of this man.
So what does this have to do with sin? I looked up the phrase “it is sin” in the EG White index. The following is a sample of what I found. “It is sin”: to indulge appetite, to indulge passion, to read all the books and papers of the day, that separates us from God, that prevents us from loving and glorifying God, that scourged the Lord of Glory, to remain calm and unimpassioned when considering the sufferings of Christ….
Did you catch that last phrase?
Here is is in black and white from 2 Testimonies 212: “Many who profess to be Christians become excited over worldly enterprises, and their interest is awakened for new and exciting amusements, while they are coldhearted, and appear as if frozen, in the cause of God. Here is a theme, poor formalist, which is of sufficient importance to excite you. Eternal interests are here involved. Upon this theme it is sin to be calm and unimpassioned. (WOW!) The scenes of Calvary call for the deepest emotion. Upon this subject you will be excusable if you manifest enthusiasm. That Christ, so excellent, so innocent, should suffer such a painful death, bearing the weight of the sins of the world, our thoughts and imaginations can never fully comprehend. The length, the breadth, the height, the depth, of such amazing love we cannot fathom. The contemplation of the matchless depths of a Saviour’s love should fill the mind, touch and melt the soul, refine and elevate the affections, and completely transform the whole character…”
Now, who among us would really consider it sin – a transgression of the law of God — to be calm and unimpassioned in the consideration of the cost of our salvation to Jesus? Really? And, as Mr. Webster pointed out, even neglect of what we ought to do is sin. But, aren’t we told that we should “spend a thoughtful hour” considering the life of Christ? Desire of Ages 83.
Consider this passage from Education 263: “Those who think of the result of hastening or hindering the gospel think of it in relation to themselves and to the world. Few think of its relation to God. Few give thought (neglect) to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ’s agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God. Every departure from the right, every deed of cruelty, every failure of humanity to reach His ideal, brings grief to Him.”
I believe, if we really think it through, that Jesus is the wounded man in the story of the Samaritan. Which am I? Which are you? The priest? The Levite?…or the one who really loved God and his neighbor? Do we just pause to casually observe the sufferings of Christ, then go about our day? Or do we let it grip our hearts enough to move us to action? Isn’t Jesus crucified afresh by our sin? Hebrews 6:6. What are we doing to alleviate the pain of sin to our Lord? Are we loving Him with all our mind, strength, soul, heart? or as we love ourselves?
Do you see what I see?
Mount of Blessings 9,10 “And as one is drawn to behold Jesus uplifted on the cross, he discerns the sinfulness of humanity. He sees that it is sin ( even a mere neglect to appreciate and strive to alleviate the sufferings of Christ) which scourged and crucified the Lord of glory. He sees that, while he has been loved with unspeakable tenderness, his life has been a continual scene of ingratitude and rebellion. He has forsaken his best Friend and abused heaven’s most precious gift. He has crucified to himself the Son of God afresh and pierced anew that bleeding and stricken heart. He is separated from God by a gulf of sin that is broad and black and deep, and he mourns in brokenness of heart.”
It is sin, friends, to allow Jesus to continue to suffer on in the Most Holy Place without loving Him with heart, mind, strength, and soul and seeking to alleviate His pain.
Oh, that we would fully realize the promise in Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son], and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn.”
Truly, “The mourning here brought to view is true heart sorrow for sin”, and, “they shall be comforted…” Mount of Blessings 9; Matthew 5:4. Let us give thought…