Our entire social system is changing. The past is now old-fashioned — out-of-date! New moral standards prevail. Sin is "in." Everybody sins! And why not? What IS so bad about sin?
Sin. It used to be a bad word. People once tried to avoid it. But today — well, "get with it, baby," times have changed. "Sin? Great! That means fun. Where do I find it? I hope I can get there quick. How much will it cost? I hope I can afford a lot of it," seems to be the common response.
The Paradox of Sin
Sin is a paradox. The word itself is thought to be an antique remnant of the pseudo-sanctimonious emotionalism so characteristic of "primitive" religions. Yet all the while sin makes people miserable, disrupts families, shatters communities, paralyzes cities, wrecks nations and threatens the very survival of mankind. Sin is real. It exists. It exacts its toll. People don't have to "believe in" sin to be hurt by it. A baby bird doesn't have to "believe in" the law of gravity to be injured when it falls out of a tree. What is sin? As with everything else, human beings go to equally absurd extremes in trying to neatly categorize it into their own mental filing systems. On the one hand, today's "intellectually liberated elite" think that previous generations were superstitiously fooled into taking sin too seriously. "That old-fashioned make-believe God was unfair in hating sin. He took all the fun out of life just to make men bend and obey Him. Why He was nothing more than a sadistic drill sergeant who enjoyed whipping green recruits into line." On the other hand, religionists of this world exult in spewing out vicious invective about their mixed-up conception of sin. They gloat in painting a terrifying picture with their pronouncements on "sinners." But do people stop sinning? No. Religion, to most people, is out of touch with reality. And in this case "most people" are right! We've all heard about sin. But "sin" evokes a different reaction in every human being. Some recoil in self-righteous horror. Some shake their heads in utter condemnation of the sins of others. Some smack their lips in the eager anticipation of personally getting involved in sin themselves. Some think it's all a big joke. Some relegate sin to an archaic moral system with a papier-maché God and super-strict laws. And some simply couldn't care less. Everybody has his own opinion — and you have yours. But what good are "opinions"? We want TRUTH. So what's the truth about sin? You should know.
We don't believe in boring people with fuzzy philosophies and vague generalities. We don't use "scare tactics" either. In plain point of fact, we don't obey the dictates of this world. We seek the Way of Truth — we teach the Way of God. Therefore, we're not going to shout, rant and rave about sin. And we are surely not going to harangue you with the shrill proclamations of bloodthirsty tormenters and their typical dire predictions of eternal damnation in an ever-burning hellfire for sinners. What are we going to do? Be down-to-earth — literally. Deal with practical living — the day-in-day-out life experience of you, your family, your nation and your world. So what about sin? What does it have to do with real life? How does it concern you? Is sin so bad?
Why are we so interested in sin? Because we care about you. We want you to enjoy a scintillating life, brimming with success and overflowing with happiness. We want you to look forward to getting up each morning — as crazy as that may sound now. Why are we so interested in making your life throb with excitement? Because the Eternal God of Heaven and Earth has created you to live an abundant (John 10:10) and prosperous life (III John 2). And He's our Boss, our Lord! He's running this Work! What He wants, we do. And He wants you to live a joyous life — now, today, in this physical life. So it's our responsibility to show you how. Look at the lives of God's most holy men of old — Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel. Their day-to-day activities sparkled with variety, challenge and enthusiasm. They all loved life. They were all fiercely determined men. They all understood ultimate Truth. They all occupied prestigious positions on earth. They were all famous. They all wielded governmental authority. They all enjoyed the pinnacle of physical comforts — and yes, the peak of the pleasant use of their senses also. And they all obeyed God's Law —they all strove to avoid sin. Here were Godly men — living life to the full. We have all been conditioned to associate Godliness with weak meekness and failure, obedience with boredom, and righteousness with abstinence. You can be absolutely certain that neither Abraham nor Moses nor Joseph nor David nor Daniel would have been considered "religious" by this world's "holier than thou," hypocritically pious, mealymouthed standards of "Godliness." Incredibly ironic as it may sound, this world's soft, effeminate caricature of true religion is part and parcel of the same sin-laden system which produces prostitution, drug addiction and murder. Sin ruins the abundant life. That's why God requires that we tell you about it. Because when you avoid sin, your life undergoes a dramatic transformation. You become a man (or a woman) of God — with all the blessings of a prince (or a princess). Sin holds you back. Sin destroys, sin discourages, sin creates misery, sin breaks up families, sin ruins a person's position, sin decreases financial rewards, sin makes people sick, sin makes people hate life, sin cuts life short. Your God hates sin because your God fervently wants the very best life for you.
What Is Sin?
The world defines sin as anything "fun." As usual that's precisely the opposite from the Truth. God defines sin as that which will wreck man's opportunity to enjoy life. God defines sin as the transgression of His Law I John 3:4). God's Law is not a strict collection of do's and don'ts expressly designed to throttle, inhibit and frustrate man! Most people have been trained to categorically equate obeying God's Law with walking a slippery tightrope suspended over burning coals. This is wholly untrue. The English word "law" as used in the Bible, has unfortunately come to mean a cold edict which demands instant obedience, and an impersonal dictate which exacts a severe penalty. Nothing could be further from the Truth. The Hebrew word "torah" — from which "law" is derived — has a much wider and extraordinarily more compassionate meaning. It literally means a "course of instruction" or an "order of teaching." In other words, God's Law is the "course of instruction" which the Eternal has developed for the purpose of instructing man in the way to a zestfully thrilling existence. God's Law can be likened to a "lesson plan" or "curriculum" which a teacher prepares to enumerate and set forth the most effective methods and procedures to teach his students algebra, history, Spanish, etc. In the same manner, the Law of God is an "order (or a system) of teaching" through which our Creator enumerates and sets forth the most effective methods and procedures to teach His students — all mankind — how to live a thoroughly rewarding life. God's "course of instruction" (Law) is based on the two foundational concepts of love toward God and love toward neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40). These are expanded into the Ten Commandments. Next are the statutes and judgments. Finally all the Biblical examples amplify the expanding scope of God's "order of teaching" (Law). Naturally, all of this is magnified and clarified by the pure revelation of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 42:21 and Matt. 5:17). Obedience to God's Law produces the abundant life. Sin is the breaking of God's Law. Therefore Sin destroys the abundant life. No one likes to be hurt! This is the modern criterion for morals today. "If it hurts me, I'm against it." Fine. We agree — if it hurts you we're against it too. That's why we're against sin. Because sin packs a devastating wallop. Sin will fill your life with pain, disease, discouragement and despondency. All of your troubles have been caused by the breaking of God's "course of instruction" for human behavior. All your troubles have been caused by sin. We accept the modern criterion for morals. "If it hurts me, I'm against it." Does sin hurt? Is it really as destructive and damaging to mankind as God claims? Is sin really bad for a wow-religious person? Let's find out.
Learn by History
Can history help prove our point? It can — if the sins of past generations terminated in chaos and destruction. Consider the days of Noah. What type of a world was it? It was "normal." That's what Jesus Christ — the very God who spoke to Noah — tells us in Luke 17:27. People acted as if nothing unusual was occurring. "They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage...." On the surface, everything sounds quite placid and tranquil — that is "until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." God destroyed that whole generation! Why? Observe what it really was like back then. "And God saw that the wickedness [sinfulness] of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5). What a prodigious glut of depravity! And more. "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence" (verse 11). What was wrong with Noah's day? It was an era of corruption! What is corruption? It is the perverse use of what God created for the right use. In Noah's time humanity twisted and debased the right use of everything. Sure people ate — but too often, too much, the wrong foods and, incredibly, even each other! They married — but not at the right time, not in the right way, and not to the right person. Every proper human relationship was corrupted. It was a world seething with anarchy. Sin was treated lightly! And as a direct consequence, sin dominated man's actions. Did it hurt? It sure did! It resulted in VIOLENCE! (Gen. 6:11.) Archaeology attests to the unbelievable mound of personal cruelty in the pre-Flood world. The broken skulls and shattered limbs of women and children bear a silent but tragic witness to the merciless mutilation which barbarically blossomed into the worldwide sport. These multitudes of corrupt, violence-ridden, pathetic people had to be mercifully put out of their misery by a compassionate Father who had so lovingly created them. It's interesting that the Hebrew word translated "corrupt" is precisely the same word translated "destroy." In other words, God considers the concepts "corrupt" and "destroy" as one and the same. In English, of course, there is a vast difference between the meanings of "corrupt" and "destroy." This is understandable since in man's hideous world corruption flourishes and the good is destroyed. Not so with God. He equates the concepts "corruption" and "destruction." Why? Because to God, anything corrupt must be destroyed — and anything destroyed had to have been corrupt. The pre-Flood world was indeed corrupt — and so that generation was utterly destroyed. The human beings in the pre-Flood world thought they were "happy." "Things" seemed pretty normal. People enjoyed a measure of pleasure. Good news was mixed with the bad — and daily activities continued just as they always had. This all probably sounds a lot like your life. Our routine concern about family, food, friends and fortune pretty much coincides with Noah's day. Now remember, God asserts that in Noah's time, mankind was uncontrollable, ungovernable with no restraints. Sound familiar? Noah's generation was destined for total self-annihilation. Sound even more familiar? You bet — just like our "bouncy" little world today. A coincidence? Read on. Jesus warned us that history would repeat itself just before His return. "And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man" (Luke 17:26). The pre-Flood society considered sin obsolete — just like our society does today. Yes, sin did hurt mankind during Noah's day — just as it is fomenting and generating the same noxious results in our "modern" day. Does sin hurt you personally? That question affects your entire life. Should you keep from sinning? It's your decision. All we ask is for you to consider the direct physical effects of sin.
Breaking the First Commandment
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). God places enormous importance on this First Commandment. We can read of accounts where Almighty God slew thousands of His chosen people for going after other gods (Josh. 7:1-26). Why did God deal so harshly with His people? Was He jealously obsessed with self-adoration? Was He self-righteously frustrated by watching those puny specks of life called "men" flagrantly flout His magnificent Law? Or, just maybe, could God's anger have been caused by a sincere, loving concern for His creation? We can answer these questions by compiling the factual evidence of exactly what happens when man breaks God's First Commandment. Who really gets hurt? Mankind today is fragmented by the worship of thousands of "major gods" (and millions of "minor gods") scattered throughout the myriad of ritualistic platitudes and sanctimonious charades which have been palmed off as "religious truth" on a gullible world. The more well-known religions — Moslem, Zoroastrian, Shinto, Taoist, Confucian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Christian — are all divided within themselves by splits, offshoots, mixtures, combinations and recombinations. Compounding these difficulties, national and racial characteristics add new flavors to each mongrelized hodgepodge of a religious system. However you'd like to worship whatever kind of a "god" you want, there's some religion made to order. Primitive religions are as numerous and different as individual tribes themselves — worshipping anything from spirits in sticks to relatives in animals. In Hinduism alone, "The Hindu heavens teem with 330 million gods which some Hindus regard as separate deities while others look upon them as infinite aspects of the one Brahmin" (Life, Feb. 7, 1955). Hindu worship comes in many forms: Mind-blanking contemplation, begging priests, extreme self-mutilation (piercing the body with slivers of wood and metal) — take your choice. In so-called "enlightened Christianity," there seems to be more darkness than anywhere else. Ponder the conglomerate of worldly Churchianity — Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox-ism, and Protestantism, with hundreds of its own conflicting denominations and sects. "Don't bother us," many are probably saying. "What's the harm? As long as we all believe in God, what's the difference, why the big fuss? It doesn't hurt anyone!" Oh? It doesn't hurt anyone? Let's see!
Proof — Personal Ills
Each year hundreds of thousands of once-vibrant human beings choose to terminate their own lives around our "fun-filled" world. People kill themselves. It's called suicide. You don't hear about very many because most are covered up by families anxious to avoid embarrassing questions. Think about it — people kill themselves! That should sound absurd — but it doesn't. We have grown accustomed to suicide. In every country, from every walk of life, from every stratum of society, people decide to end their own existence. Why? The cause is often an emotional ailment: Depression — one of America's deadliest diseases. Depression has goaded over two million Americans just this year to try suicide unsuccessfully. Mental depression presents an ugly picture: The victim feels an overpowering sense of grief. He is so drained and fatigued he can barely move his body. "Dr. Nathan S. Kline, Director of Research at Rockland State Hospital, Orangeburg, N.Y., said recently: 'More SUFFERING HAS RESULTED FROM DEPRESSION THAN FROM ANY OTHER single disease...'" (New York Herald Tribune, Feb. 16, 1965). Why this epidemic of depression? The answer is tragically simple. Man doesn't know why he is here! He doesn't know the purpose of life. And he doesn't seem to care. Human beings are confused. They stumble and bumble their way from one day to the next, going around and around in a never-ending circle, with no understanding and devoid of sense. Life without the knowledge of the True God and His phenomenally exciting Purpose is useless, hopeless, frustrating, transitory, boring, depressing, morbid, and literally invites suicide as a welcome relief. Perhaps this is a picture of your life — a monotonous existence of doubt, insecurity, drudgery and anxiety. You might have wondered what is the problem. The problem is basic: ignorance of God's First Commandment. Here our Creator succintly informs us that our primary and predominant thought — the one overriding goal in our life — must be "Elohim": the God FAMILY. Once we realize that our personal reason for living on earth is to learn about, qualify for, and grow towards Sonship and Rulership in God's Family as a literal God ourselves, then our present physical life will explode with enthusiam and pulsate with purpose.
Result — No Stable Government
By ignoring God's First Commandment, mankind rejected God's government — and so chose to suffer horribly (it hurts) under every weird variety of his own perversely devised governments. Monarchs, czars, dictators, military governors, political rulers, party rulers, class rulers, and even our so-called representative governments all have had weaknesses which have always led to great injustices to the subjugated peoples. And today, the international strain among the 130 or more "independent" nations has brought humanity to the breaking point. Each separate government is divided from every other government by varying degrees of fears, jealousies and distrusts. What will your numerous enemies do? You don't know. Therefore, the strength and energy of your nation must be diverted away from economic and social development and poured into gigantic armament programs. Your enemies see what you are doing and are forced to do the same thing. The result? A spiraling arms race that sooner or later must topple into ravaging warfare. So what's the product of breaking God's First Commandment? International insanity. Hysterical leaders. Frenzied populaces. Worldwide paranoia. And the ultimate end? World suicide — cosmocide! That's why God hates sin! He knows the ultimate end. This is the reason God dealt strongly with the ancient Israelites when they broke His Commandments. God loves His creation and He wants man to understand His purpose in life. God longs for you to be happy (Deuteronomy 5:29).
Breaking the Fifth Commandment
The foundation of any sound society is a stable family. Yet today divorce is rampant. Young people are running amok. The entire family structure is decaying. Why? "Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth" (Eph. 6:2-3). The Apostle Paul made this statement, not merely quoting the basic content of the Fifth Commandment but revealing the natural result if it is obeyed! Today's youth, disgruntled with family life and abhorring their parents, have turned to the streets. Drug addiction, promiscuity, alcoholism, gang criminality, rioting, theft, murder, rape — these have become the spirit of youth today in all too many cases. Because of this debauchery, venereal disease has reached epidemic proportions. Diabetes, heart disease, etc., once reserved for the old, now strikes the young. Youngsters grow old quickly. Many die young! Those who do not pay attention to the Fifth Commandment pay the price — sickness, social unrest, frustration and premature death!
Warning From Experts
Joseph M. Kennick, past president of the National Conference of Juvenile Agencies, and for over 18 years head of the Long Beach Juvenile Bureau, wrote recently: "Somewhere along the way, as parents and as a nation, we went wrong in the rearing of our children. We are now paying for having produced a generation heavily populated with hostile, rebellious, and lawless youths who have no respect for themselves or for us. "Motorcycle mobs take over entire towns, rioting students bring the activities of great universities to a virtual halt, high school students attack teachers in the classrooms, gangs interfere with policemen who are trying to perform their duty. "Almost 50 percent of the arrests for serious crime involve juveniles. (One of every six American boys under 18 has been taken to Juvenile Court for at least one offense.) The costs of all this soar at a dizzying rate. Loss of life by violence robs us of more and more of our human resources; property losses mount to staggering proportions; state and federal budgets for police and detective facilities have become prohibitive. "In California the Youth Authority's institutions are so crowded that the state may have to start rejecting prisoners." (Oakland Tribune, June 29, 1966 — and it's four years' worse today!) What an incredibly ludicrous situation! It astounds those of us who grew up even in the 1950's. But the prophet Isaiah wouldn't have been surprised. He saw it all — God enabled him to look down the corridors of time to our day and to our peoples. "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths" (Isa. 3:12). God spells it out: The cause of our frustrated, rebellious, destructive youth is flagrant disobedience of the Fifth Commandment. Children dishonor their parents. Father is scornfully disdained. Mother is wantonly disregarded. It's that simple. If even this one commandment were kept, today's youth would experience a life of fulfillment and purpose. Remember, the Fifth Commandment is the first one with promise. What promise? A happier, longer life! (Eph. 6:3.)
Yes, Sin Is Bad
If you insist on sowing the seeds of sin, you will harvest a crop of insecurity, worry, frustration, anxiety, emotional disease and physical sickness. Your mind will be ridden with anguish and your body will be racked with pain. The fruits of sin produce misery, harm, chaos, and finally destruction and death (Rom. 6:23). Personal disintegration! A total breakdown of society! A world cascading toward self-extermination! God's Word cries out, "Sin is a reproach to any people" (Prov. 14:34). Why does God hate sin so intensely? Because it destroys His most majestic creation! You are that creation! God has poured out His love by giving you the chance to share His own breathtaking, God-plane Eternal-life existence. That's what human life is all about. And as a loving Father, God has revealed exactly how we can enjoy such an abundant life — a life to the full, abounding with excitement, drive and happiness — both now and forever. How? God has given us His "course of instruction" — that's what God's Law really means. It's the way to fun and success, fulfillment and purpose. Sin is just the opposite. It's the way to depression and failure. Sin is the transgression of God's Teachings. For your own good, bring your life into harmony with God. Hate sin as He does. Recognize how sin harms people. Deplore it, hate it — flee from it. Obey God's Law — and reap the fruit of contentment now, and life eternal in the wonderful world tomorrow. Read our free, vitally important booklet on The Ten Commandments. It will magnify the benefits of God's Law and explain how you should keep it. Now remember, obedience to God's instructions is much more thrilling than the "don't-do-that-do-this" children's story we are all tired of hearing. God's Law is His comprehensive "order of teaching" for His entire massive Plan. Who's teaching the world about God's Plan? God's Work! Participation in God's Work is a fundamental component in keeping God's Law! That makes sense since outgoing love is the fulfilling of the Law (Rom. 13:10) and the whole purpose of God's Work is to serve and teach all nations by publishing and preaching the Good News of Christ's soon-coming world-ruling Government (Matt. 24:14, Mark 13:10). God's Work seeks to help others — help yourself to this Truth we serve, and help us serve it to others.