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IN TOUCH WITH GOD    by Edward Heppenstall

Christian Obedience JULY 4


Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 1 John 3:4.

The law of God is called the moral law because it sets forth certain fundamental principles that distinguish between right and wrong. For any thought, desire, or conduct to be called sinful requires that moral issues be involved.

I have a tract entitled "One Hundred Sins of Which God's People Are Now Guilty." Why the writer arrived at one hundred and no more or less, is hard to tell. I am not at all sure that all the items mentioned can be classed as sins. The tract includes a multiplication of requirements and an appeal to all kinds of rules and regulations.

We should distinguish between rules and principles. Rules change, and vary in different parts of the world, in different countries and situations. Principles never change. They are eternally binding.

It is possible so to stress obedience to rules as to divert attention from the grosser sins: anger, jealousy, hatred, hostility, lust, idleness, malice, backbiting, and every shade of illicit pride. By accentuating the external "sins" we do not have, we may take an easy attitude towards the inner sins we do have. When every infraction of a rule is treated as a serious violation of a principle, religion increasingly creates guilt, anxiety, and condemnation. People cannot live with that, not for long. The cold morality of rules tends to become undiscriminating and heartless. We tend to become suspicious of people and neglect our responsibility as loving Christians.

A religion that condemns its members to a perpetual spring cleaning and continued guilt feelings is futile. When love to God rules, there is little need for continual purgation as a separate process.

No peril is greater than the substitution of external acts for the sincere commitment of the heart. It is much easier to give lip service to the rules than it is to commit ourselves to the living Christ. The sins of the spirit in Christ's judgment are the skeletons in the closet, the "dead men's bones." By the Spirit we delight in the law of God.

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