The Great Controversy and the sin of Unbelief

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In order to have victory over sin, we must properly define sin. I believe the sin defined in John 16:9 is the cause of the sin in 1 John 3:4. Thus we must deal with the sin of unbelief in John 16:9 as our primary definition of sin.

As we take a look at this week’s SS lesson on victory over sin, I have a question.  For years we as Adventists have used 1 John 3:4 as our primary definition of sin which is transgression of the law. How would things change if John 16:9 was the primary definition of sin, which is unbelief?

With 1 John 3:4 as the primary definition we have God kicking Adam and Eve out of the garden and giving them death because they ate one piece of fruit they were told not to.  That is not unbiblical but it is only half the picture of the story and more importantly half the picture of God’s character. With John 16:9 as our primary definition of sin we have Adam and Eve placing their trust in Satan’s lies and not believing in God’s word. Thus they themselves turn their backs on God and forfeit their home through unbelief in breaking their relationship with God in lieu of the really cool serpent and fancy lies.

With 1 John 3:4 as the primary definition of sin we struggle with John 3:16 and wonder where works come in.  With John 16:9 as our primary definition we see that God gave His son to die for us and show us the truth about God’s love. Thus as we believe in Him, we now turn our backs on Satan’s lies, our relationship is restored and we have the eternal life that was originally granted in the Garden of Eden. We are now free to obey God, and the secondary definition of sin in 1 John 3:4 is fulfilled because we now trust God and therefore we trust His commandments.

Paul’s book of Hebrews is on the sanctuary and even the cleansing of the sanctuary.  In Hebrews 10:26 Paul writes, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” Now if we use 1 John 3:4 as the primary definition of sin we have people going to hell because they made one mistake after knowing the truth. It is important to note that the entire book of Hebrews is explaining why Jesus has not returned yet and what He is doing in the sanctuary before His return. Paul admonishes the early believers not to give up their faith and stop assembling together, Christ will return. So I am sure the primary definition of sin in Hebrews 10:26 is the sin of unbelief. Paul is not saying that if you break the law after knowing the truth there is no more forgiveness. He is saying that if we sin in not believing in Jesus as the Son of God there will be no other sacrifice or Savior.

Now as we look at the cleansing of the Sanctuary in Daniel 8:14, we see that while God can and does give complete victory over the sin defined in 1 John 3:4, that still is not the main focus or goal of the cleansing of the sanctuary. “Our characters are not to be weighed by smooth words and fair speeches manufactured for set times and occasions; but by the spirit and trend of the whole life.” Review and Herald August 16, 1892. “The character is revealed, not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds, but by the tendency of the habitual words and acts.“ {Steps to Christ 57.2}  If we take John 16:9 as the primary definition of sin in the cleansing of the sanctuary it changes things.  In the cleansing of the Sanctuary our minds and hearts (where the real sanctuary is) are cleansed from the lies mankind started believing in the Garden of Eden. We see the true character of God revealed on the Cross and we believe in Him. When our minds are cleansed of Satan’s lies we can make intelligent choices and choose the One who has already accepted and chosen us all along.

This changes how we look at a popular passage in the Spirit of Prophecy. “Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”  {Christ Object Lessons 69.1}  Traditionally  we have taken this passage to mean that once we get our act together and show the world God’s Word can perfectly be obeyed without making one single mistake, then God will come back to take us home. It is true by God’s grace we can have complete victory over every single sin. However that is not what the great controversy is all about. The great question in the great controversy is whether God is love or not. When God’s church perfectly reflects the character of God’s love, then the world can make an intelligent decision as to if they will believe in God’s love or not.  God does not want us to be perfect so we can go to heaven. He wants to perfect our love so that we give Him proper representation in the judgment, where His character is on trial. When the church perfectly appreciates God’s love then the chasm that we ourselves created by believing Satan’s lies will be healed.

I believe that if we keep 1 John 3:4 as our primary definition of sin then we will always be legalists and never be able to deal with the sin problem defined in John  16:9. I believe if we use John 16:9 as the primary definition of sin, we lose the legalism, grasp the big picture of what sin really is and what the great controversy is all about, and we allow grace to do its work in healing the sin problem defined in both John 16:9 and 1 John 3:4.

I will be the first to tell you that this is a huge topic and I don’t pretend to know it all or have all the answers. Please comment and let me know why you agree or why you disagree. Thank you! You can leave a comment below on this blog or contact me privately at laypastor@TampaAdventist.net

John 9:Skeptics Come and go

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In John 9 I read about a blind man that Jesus heals so that he can see. The Pharisees, then want to accuse Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. At the same time though, they are insinuating that the man was never blind and therefore Jesus did not really heal him. A lot of people think  if Jesus were here today we would have all the evidence we need, but skepticism reigns in every age, even while Jesus walked the earth. So it is today. Years ago, in the church I was attending at the time, an older lady was diagnosed with breast cancer. The church prayed, and later the doctors said the cancer had disappeared! While many praised the Lord for healing the lady, a few others openly said she must have never had cancer in the first place, and must have been misdiagnosed. The same thing happened when Jesus healed the blind man. The Pharisees took it upon themselves to see if he was really the blind man or someone else, or if he was ever really blind in the first place.

Don’t let skeptics discourage you from believing the Word of God. There have been skeptics in every age. Skeptics come and go, but God’s Word endures from age to age.

John 3; God’s Cure for Unbelief

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

John  3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 

 3:15    That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 

 3:16    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

 3:17    For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 

 Eve sinned when she stopped believing in God’s love, and started believing Satan’s lie, that the forbidden fruit would give her a better life than what God had offered her. The root of sin is doubting God’s love. When we sin, we are saying, “I do not believe God loves me.” When we sin, we reject God who is life and we choose death. See Proverbs 8:36

In the desert the children of Israel, complained about God, strongly hinting that He must not care for them. God left as He does not stay where He is not wanted. In leaving, God opened the way for snakes to come into the camp. He did not send them in so much as He was just no longer there to keep them out. This opened their eyes to God’s love and they said they were sorry. Sorry for doubting God’s love. Moses made a brass serpent so that anyone who had been bitten could look and live.

So today, when we have been bitten by the lie of that old serpent the devil, saying God does not really love us, we can look to the cross. There we see a God who loved us so much that He died for us. Satan’s lie is exposed. We no longer believe in Satan. We believe that God really does love us. We reject Satan’s lie and we reject death. Eternal life is restored the moment we believe God loves us.

When we choose to believe Satan’s lies about God’s character, we reject God and choose death as an escape from the presence of God. When Satan’s lies are all exposed at the cross, we believe in God’s love and eternal life is restored. As we continue to believe that God really loves us, we continue to obey Him.

Eve rejected eternal life the moment she stopped believing God really loved her. Eternal life is restored the moment we believe in His love. At the cross we see that love.

Matthew 11; Hope For Those Who Doubt

After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.

 2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

 4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

 7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

   “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
   who will prepare your way before you.’[c]

   11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist.. Matthew 11:1-11 NIV

Here is hope for all of us. If John the Baptist had doubts, no wonder we have doubts too. However Jesus still affirmed the ministry of John the Baptist even though he was weak and doubted. What a wonderful Savior we have!

Read more on John the Baptist in Matthew 11 here.

Redemption in Romans, Lesson 9

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This week’s SS lesson takes a look at freedom in Christ. To me, real freedom begins when we break free from Satan’s lies. Jesus says in John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The truth is about God’s love. Jesus is the truth. Jesus equals God. God equals love, therefore the Truth must equal love as well. So we see that Truth is much deeper than setting the world straight about what day is Holy or what foods should not be eaten. The truth Jesus speaks of is His love and character.

Satan appeared as a serpent and told Eve she just had to try this forbidden fruit in order to experience a higher quality of life. The serpent insinuated that God did not want her to have a quality life. By taking the fruit, Eve was putting her faith in the serpent. Eve’s sin was unbelief  in God’s love. When we sin, we do not doubt God’s power. we doubt His love. When this sin occurred, God did not leave Adam and Eve. God stayed right where He was, but Adam and Eve ran from Him. Sin does not separate God from us. It separates us from God.  Notice whenever Jesus was in the presence of a demoniac , Jesus was not repulsed or tormented by the presence of the demoniac but rather the demoniac was tormented by the presence of Jesus.

Even after Adam and Eve separated themselves from God He still had a plan. He would show His love by dying for them! In 1 John 1:29 John says to Behold the Lamb. By beholding we become changed. What changes is our attitude about God’s love. We behold a God who loves us so much He would die forever in order to save us. Save us from what? The lies of Satan that bring death. You see when we buy Satan’s lies and put our faith in him, we reject Jesus who is the life and we choose death. When we behold the Lamb, our attitude about His character changes and we believe in Him again. When we believe in God and His love, all the damage caused by Adam and Eve are reversed. When we believe God really loves us, we no longer choose to perish and we accept back the eternal life that God had wanted us to have all along. See John 3:16.  (Isaiah 28:15 & 18 refer to an agreement the sinner has made with death and hell. In this chapter the Messiah breaks not the agreement He had made for the destruction of the sinner, but rather the agreement the sinner had made with death. Verse 15 also implies that the covenant was made when the sinner trusted in lies.)

God the Father did not need to see His Son die in order to forgive us as much as we needed to see His Son die in order to repent of our attitude about Him and His love! When we see the truth about God’s love we can experience freedom from Satan’s lies. We will no longer bind ourselves to other god’s, buying the lie that they will make us happy. We will no longer buy Satan’s lies that we need to steal , lie, or covet to get what others have to be happy. We are freed from the lie that immoral sex brings fulfillment. Remember, the serpent did not make Eve doubt God’s power. He made her doubt God’s love.  When the Son sets you free from Satan’s lies and false accusations about God not being a God of love, and you see the truth about His love, you shall be free indeed!

Click here to see some ways Satan lies about God’s Character and what the truth really is.

Victory Over Sin? What is Sin? Redemption in Romans, Lesson 7

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In order to have victory over sin, we must properly define sin. I believe the sin defined in John 16:9 is the cause of the sin in 1 John 3:4. Thus we must deal with the sin of unbelief in John 16:9 as our primary definition of sin.

As we take a look at this week’s SS lesson on victory over sin, I have a question.  For years we as Adventists have used 1 John 3:4 as our primary definition of sin which is transgression of the law. How would things change if John 16:9 was the primary definition of sin, which is unbelief?

With 1 John 3:4 as the primary definition we have God kicking Adam and Eve out of the garden and giving them death because they ate one piece of fruit they were told not to.  That is not unbiblical but it is only half the picture of the story and more importantly half the picture of God’s character. With John 16:9 as our primary definition of sin we have Adam and Eve placing their trust in Satan’s lies and not believing in God’s word. Thus they themselves turn their backs on God and forfeit their home through unbelief in breaking their relationship with God in lieu of the really cool serpent and fancy lies.

With 1 John 3:4 as the primary definition of sin we struggle with John 3:16 and wonder where works come in.  With John 16:9 as our primary definition we see that God gave His son to die for us and show us the truth about God’s love. Thus as we believe in Him, we now turn our backs on Satan’s lies, our relationship is restored and we have the eternal life that was originally granted in the Garden of Eden. We are now free to obey God, and the secondary definition of sin in 1 John 3:4 is fulfilled because we now trust God and therefore we trust His commandments.

Paul’s book of Hebrews is on the sanctuary and even the cleansing of the sanctuary.  In Hebrews 10:26 Paul writes, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” Now if we use 1 John 3:4 as the primary definition of sin we have people going to hell because they made one mistake after knowing the truth. It is important to note that the entire book of Hebrews is explaining why Jesus has not returned yet and what He is doing in the sanctuary before His return. Paul admonishes the early believers not to give up their faith and stop assembling together, Christ will return. So I am sure the primary definition of sin in Hebrews 10:26 is the sin of unbelief. Paul is not saying that if you break the law after knowing the truth there is no more forgiveness. He is saying that if we sin in not believing in Jesus as the Son of God there will be no other sacrifice or Savior.

Now as we look at the cleansing of the Sanctuary in Daniel 8:14, we see that while God can and does give complete victory over the sin defined in 1 John 3:4, that still is not the main focus or goal of the cleansing of the sanctuary. “Our characters are not to be weighed by smooth words and fair speeches manufactured for set times and occasions; but by the spirit and trend of the whole life.” Review and Herald August 16, 1892. “The character is revealed, not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds, but by the tendency of the habitual words and acts.“ {Steps to Christ 57.2}  If we take John 16:9 as the primary definition of sin in the cleansing of the sanctuary it changes things.  In the cleansing of the Sanctuary our minds and hearts (where the real sanctuary is) are cleansed from the lies mankind started believing in the Garden of Eden. We see the true character of God revealed on the Cross and we believe in Him. When our minds are cleansed of Satan’s lies we can make intelligent choices and choose the One who has already accepted and chosen us all along.

This changes how we look at a popular passage in the Spirit of Prophecy. “Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”  {Christ Object Lessons 69.1}  Traditionally  we have taken this passage to mean that once we get our act together and show the world God’s Word can perfectly be obeyed without making one single mistake, then God will come back to take us home. It is true by God’s grace we can have complete victory over every single sin. However that is not what the great controversy is all about. The great question in the great controversy is whether God is love or not. When God’s church perfectly reflects the character of God’s love, then the world can make an intelligent decision as to if they will believe in God’s love or not.  God does not want us to be perfect so we can go to heaven. He wants to perfect our love so that we give Him proper representation in the judgment, where His character is on trial. When the church perfectly appreciates God’s love then the chasm that we ourselves created by believing Satan’s lies will be healed.

I believe that if we keep 1 John 3:4 as our primary definition of sin then we will always be legalists and never be able to deal with the sin problem defined in John  16:9 or 1 John 3:4. I believe if we use John 16:9 as the primary definition of sin, we lose the legalism, grasp the big picture of what sin really is and what the great controversy is all about, and we allow grace to do its work in healing the sin problem defined in both John 16:9 and 1 John 3:4.

I will be the first to tell you that this is a huge topic and I don’t pretend to know it all or have all the answers. Please comment and let me know why you agree or why you disagree. Thank you! You can leave a comment below on this blog or contact me privately at laypastor@TampaAdventist.net