Volume. XX, No. 51
Sunday, 18 June 2006

From the pastors heart: Sin and modern man

Sin is not a pleasant subject to talk about.  However, it is inevitable for the believers of God to talk about it.  The foremost subject we find in the Bible is God’s redeeming love.  If He has redeemed His people, then from what did he redeem them?  2 Corinthians 5:21 says that God made His Son to be sin for us.  Jesus said that He came to the world to call sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:13).  After all, Jesus is the Saviour of the world (John 4:42).  Without talking about sin, there is no way for us to understand who Jesus is and what He has done for mankind.  The main reason why this subject is not so well received even amongst Christian churches is because too many churches and their theologies have regarded their God as an extravagant lover.  They have an idea of God as friend, rather than Master and Lord.  Such loose view of God has changed the notion of sin in the minds of people.  As a result, people are looking for some excuses or scapegoat for their sin and guilt.  Let me give you a few examples.

Jeff Reid said in his article, “The DNA-ing of America,” in Utne Reader (September-October, 1995, pp. 26-27) as follows: “The whole culture is metaphorically awash in genes, which are depicted as pervasive and powerful agents central to understanding both everyday behaviour and the secret of life.  Foraging through countless specialty periodicals and mass culture sources, [one uncovers] references to selfish genes, celebrity genes, depression genes.  Everything but the kitchen sick genes.”  If you are wrong, then blame your wrong-genes!  Renee Mirkes aptly depicted the whole aspects of thoughts in very clear manner in her article, “Programmed by Our Genes?” in Ethics and Medics 16, no. 16 (1991, p. 1): “It is illogical within this view of human behaviour to require personal responsibility for the moral quality of one’s actions; moral accountability makes sense only if actions [proceed] from a free agent.”  If we have to blame our misplaced evil genes for wrongs, then for whom did Jesus die?  We may laugh at such biological determinism as we have observed.  However, it is not just a laughable thought, but also a fearful idea.  If we follow such logic, then it will lead us to think that science will have to decide everything for us, and science will be our god.  C. Ray Jeffrey, a criminologist at Florida State University, said, “Science must tell us what individuals will or will not become criminals . . . and what law enforcement strategies will or will not work” (Cited in W. Wayte Gibbs, “Seeking the Criminal Element,” Scientific American 272, no. 3, 1995, pp. 100-107).  By accepting such views, we are denying that we are moral beings.  If crimes are committed because of genes or the serotonin levels of the brain, then there is no more need of punishment, but treatment.  If we will see such day when people use sociological and biological answers to the problems of sin, then man is not a free being any more, and man is not better than animals.  Surely, some people think they are wise, but they are very foolish and degrade the human race to an animal race. 

C. S. Lewis said about our attitude toward sinners in Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1960, p. 108), “as we feel about ourselves-to wish that he were not bad, to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured: in fact, to wish his good.  That is what is meant in the Bible by loving him: wishing his good, not feeling fond of him nor saying he is nice when he is not.”  If we compare it with a common saying, “hate the sin while loving the sinner,” we’ll find a huge difference in between.  We must notice a sense of intolerance from Lewis’s words.  We may wish that sinners were not bad, but in reality, they are bad.  Therefore, telling them the truth is love, and they must know that they are bad.
John Attarian said in “In dispraise of Tolerance, Sensitivity and Compassion,” in The Social Critic (spring 1998, pp. 14-23), “[A society] cannot function well, cannot survive, and cannot protect the innocent . . . from harm and evil, without a large measure of intolerance.  Yes, in tolerance-of theft, burglary, cruelty, classroom hooliganism, disrespect for parental authority, and violent crime of all sorts; of substance abuse, infidelity, illegitimacy, perversion, pornography, rape and child molestation; of fraud, envy, coveteousness, and knavery; of sloth, mediocrity, incompetence, maleducation, improvidence, irresponsibility and fecklessness.  A society tolerant of those things would soon find itself in serious trouble, even facing dissolution, and many people in that society would be in peril of their lives.”  Every society must deal with wrongs because not everybody is right.  Therefore, when we talk about biblical morality, we are not imposing our morality on others, but God has given it to us for our happiness. 

Christians must be able to make informed moral decisions and to avoid sin.  However, this ability does not come by chance, but by the grace of God and by the knowledge of the Scriptures.  Dorothy Sayer said in Creed or Chaos (1949; reprint, Manchester, N. H.: Sophia Institute Press, 1974, p. 31), “[It is] worse than useless for Christians to talk about the importance of Christian morality, unless they are prepared to take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology.  It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters enormously.  It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling; it is virtually necessary to insist that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the universe.  It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting and complex doctrine, steeped in a drastic and uncompromising realism.”

The problem modern man has is that he does not share the worldview that the Bible provides.  It is because he views everything based on his values.  However, values are not fixed.  Values differ from person to person, and therefore they are subject to individual choice.  Christians’ values are one thing, and bikie gangs’ are another.  Nazis had their own values, and thieves and robbers have theirs, too.  For example, according to one study among adult male criminal offenders, “over 75 percent responded that they would be disappointed if one of their children were to commit a crime” (Donald J. West and David P. Farrington, The Delinquent Way of Life, London: Hienemann Educational, 1977, p. 114; cited in J. Daryl Charles, The Unformed conscience of Evangelicalism, Intervarsity, 2002, p. 84). 

Dennis Prager has identified five rationalizations of modern man to ease his conscience when it comes down to the matters of evil and sin: (1) deny that evil exists, (2) minimize evil, (3) reduce evil to personal opinion, (4) posit moral equivalence, and (5) accuse people of judgmentalism.  Reading through this five points, we cannot but be reminded of Isaiah 5:20, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”  “If there is no God, then morality becomes a state of mind, a personal choice, a feeling or the arrangement of physical matter and molecules.”  If there is no God, then modern man has to be the source and standard of morality.  Therefore, when we come to problems of sin, what really matters is whether we will serve God or ourselves.


Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question No. 50: What is required in the second commandment? The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his word.

Please pray for health & God’s healing: Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, Rev David Koo, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dns Edwin D’Mello & Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Raphael Ng’s father, Winston Selvanayagam, Thomas Tan, & John Tann; Sisters Kimmy Chong, Nary Li, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Aranka Rejtoe, Sally Teng, Susan Veradi, & Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; Auntie Oei, Mrs Sylvia White and others afflicted with viral illness. "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength” (Isaiah 40:29).

Please pray for – a) Cambodia Missions - Rev & Mrs Moses Hahn, Rev & Mrs David Koo, & Preacher Zhang, and ministries (Sihanoukville), Rev & Mrs Stephen Choi & ministry (Phnom Penh), Cambodian pastors & believers; Cambodian Bible students studying at FEBC (S’pore); b) Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam; c) Pastors & believers in India & Pakistan; d) Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim & ministry in S’pore/Malaysia; e) Journey mercies - Ps Ki, Sisters Sooi Chin Gong & Lydia Tan (Adl), & Serene Wong (UK, Europe), and those who are travelling this week; f) Session members - meeting this afternoon; g) High school & university students preparing for mid-year exams; g) Believers suffering persecution in Islamic and Communist countries; h) B-P ministers & Churches all over the world.

Praise and Thank God for – a) BSAG, Joy, Marantha & YAF Bible Study meetings, & Ladies’ Prayer Meeting; b) Journey mercies - Ps Ki (Malaysia/S’pore), Dn Raymond & Mrs Peggy Woo (Perth), Sis Hui Wei Chua’s family (S’pore/Malaysia); & Sis Catherine Teng (China); c) Ministry of Ps Ki in Calvary Jurong B-P Church (S’pore).

Special Item of Prayer: For the LORD to provide $11,935 for Pastor’s car.

RPGs for July-Sept 2006 available on literature table. Donation: $1. Children’s RPGs also available - Please see Sis Purdee Yeo.

Looking Ahead: YAF Retreat at Camp Aldinga, 13-15 July. Camp Theme: “Jesus, Our Ultimate Example”. For more details, please contact YAF committee.

Looking Ahead: Vacation Bible School, 17-21 July. Speaker: Bro Hai Seng Lim. Theme: “Story of Esther”. Missionary Story: “Chariots of Fire”. Helpers needed - please let Dn D’Mello know if available. Meeting for all helpers to be held after the Worship Service, 2 July.

Looking Ahead: Annual Congregational Meeting on Sat, 29 July (date to be confirmed). All members expected to attend. All leaders to submit their annual reports to Dn Edwin D’Mello by 9 July. Requests for funding by various committees, fellowship groups, etc.,  to be submitted to Dn Yaw Chiew for Budget 2006-7 by 2 July.



© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041