17.7.08

I've had a very interesting question from someone about what Jesus viewed as sinful behaviour. This is the answer I've given which I'm posting here.




Hi Anon
Very interesting and possibly a slightly loaded question. What is Jesus' view of what is sinful behaviour?

I think that it is sometimes the case that people separate Jesus and His will from that of His heavenly father and the will that we are introduced to in His Word. I say introduced to because that is how it somehow feels; our grasp is tentative and it is with much prayer that we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in our understanding of that will through the Bible because the Bible is such a difficult text.

If my theology was based simply on the words that Jesus spoke, as I think it once was, I don't think I would be going through these explorations. I find it a lot easier to understand Jesus than I do Paul in his epistles or indeed God in the salvation narratives of the Old Testament. I think, for me personally, I have come to believe that the will of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one, otherwise I don't believe the creed I speak, about a triune God, and I very much do, and this amazing relationship between three entitites all of one mind yet separate function is at the core of my faith. Therein, whatever God has to say about sin through His word must be Jesus' thoughts too. Jesus is God' word made flesh, as John has us understand, particularly. Of course, it isn't even that simple, the laws in Leviticus are not the laws of the New Testament but this is because they were very much about having people conform to the 'letter of the law' and when that is the case people, being sinful, are always going to find loop-holes so that they can sit outside of that law. Jesus came to fulfill the law but not to abolish it and so by this, as Jeremiah and Ezekiel explain, the law is written on our hearts instead.

The law is actually freeing because if we all kept it, well, I guess we would be living in heaven already as regards our interactions with each other, with only death and disease left to finish us off on this planet.

Now, possibly you're hinting at the idea that perhaps you feel Jesus had other things to say about Human sexuality than God, considering you have posted your response here. I think ultimately, Jesus' thoughts are also those of Paul and God on these things but I so know what I think you might be getting at. Expressing the sexual self outside of the traditional framework of marriage, if it is about love and putting the needs of the other person before your own; about expressions of deep love for another person etc it is difficult to see how it could be regarded as sinful and yet because God wants the best for us and this is the only reason for his laws and the fact that sin doesn't = BAD deeds but sin= deeds that do not follow what God wills, then I think God, giving us the gift of delight in our own and each other's physicality within the context of a loving marriage, where it also works to bring forth children conforms to His will and to Jesus' will.

It would appear to me that the alternative is to remain celibate - no mean feat I know. Jesus etc talk of this ability as being a gift conferred on some by God, other people are encouraged to marry so that they do not fall into sin.

So in answer to your question - you need to understand that Jesus' opinions for me on sin, are those in God's Word which the Holy Spirit helps me to understand and that I define sin not as something naughty or bad but just any deed that doesn't align itself with what would be God's will, so Jesus view of sinful behaviour would be those acts that do not bring glory to God or that do not put your neighbour before yourself. These are the things that Jesus would say constitute sinful behaviour and it is with regret, I hasten to add, because it is a reflection on human depravity, that these sins are too numerous to explore in turn.

By the way, although my argument has made for a very depressing one, the good news is that Jesus died for us to make atonement for these sins, that we could never work hard enough to come into God's presence by ourselves and we are so fortunate that Jesus, in dying for us has dressed us each in his cloak of righteousness so that when God looks at us he sees us as perfect. We are justified by our faith in Jesus and once we realise this, that we have been given this amazing gift, we can't help but want to please the wonder who has done this for us and so begins the process of sanctification as we repent, secure in the knowledge that are forgiven.

This is my take on things in this season of my Christianity. I hope I have answered your question.

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