Forgiveness & Sin

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Joshuastone7, Mar 15, 2024.

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    Timothy Kline

    Timothy Kline Member

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    Good morning, @Joshuastone7,

    We might be approaching an impasse in our present understandings here, but I'll offer a brief follow-up:

    I quoted your reference to Mark 7:21-23, and want to quote the parallel from the Matthean gospel account-- although I may have already cited this above in one of my posts:

    But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. —Matthew 15:18-19 Berean Standard Bible

    The key point I would like to circle back here is the plainly-stated "come from the heart" and "out of the heart come" because these capture the essence of what I keep hoping I am conveying.

    Is the source of "evil thoughts" external? Are murderous thoughts external? Adultery, external? Even "theft," on its face would seem to some to be an external influence-- yet Jesus plainly states— and repeats himself for emphasis!— that these sins come out from our heart. The synoptic Markan gospel notes that all these evil things proceed from within.

    When did David sin with Bathsheba? According to Jesus, looking at a woman with lust in the heart is sin (Matthew 5:28). If I accept Jesus's statement at face value, David sinned with Bathsheba long before he opened the door to indulge in some copulation time with Uriah's wife. Sin was not outside the door, waiting to devour David; he went through the door with sin already in his heart.

    I see little reason to conclude that Cain's situation was in some way different. In this same light, I see the door as simply opportunity to act upon what was already in Cain's heart. Jehovah tells Cain that if he goes through the door— when opportunity presents itself— what was in Cain's heart will have gained mastery over Cain.

    The account even goes on to note:

    Then Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. —Genesis 4:8 Berean Standard Bible

    What motivated Cain to say to Abel, "Let us go out to the field"? The "evil thoughts" and "murder" which was already in Cain's heart.

    In all fairness, I cannot understand this to be that Cain did not sin until he "rose up against his brother Abel and killed him." Rather, the sin which was already in Cain's heart won mastery over him, and carried out its desire by slaying his own brother. . . in the same way David's sinful desire won mastery over him.

    The door was merely opportunity.

    Finally, I want to note a distinctive difference between the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ: the Law of Moses identified sin externally... whereas Jesus repeatedly identified sin as internal. As I presently understand matters, this is because under the Law of Moses, one went up to the Temple of Jehovah— whereas under the Law of Christ, we become the temple of Jehovah, in which His spirit comes to dwell.

    The emphasis on control of one's self is throughout the writings of the new Covenant between God and Man. Self-control. Locking that self down is essential, given our having become a living Temple for Jehovah's spirit.

    Anyhoo...

    Submitted for perusal and consideration,
    Timothy
    A believer.
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    Perhaps, brother...

    I do get a lot out of our differences of opinions. These discussions allow me to delve into these subjects further than I usually would alone. I also gain perspectives from you that I may not have previously considered. I value our discourse.

    So, with this in mind, let's see if I can further mold my presentation. I do not intend to change your mind; instead, I wish to adjust my mentality further, for only I can affect my intent.

    Thank you for sharing your perspective, brother. I completely understand your position and how you have reached it.

    As I consider our discussion, I lean toward the understanding that Jesus did not intend to say that thought could be a sin that would fall in line with judgment. As you noted, the Hebrews had no understanding of thought as sin. Sin was an external affirmation. And when our Lord added the caveat of not looking at a woman, it seems he was emphasizing the notion of protecting our thought processes that lead to sin rather than stating thoughts were convictable sins.

    I'm curious if you have considered Scripture's explanation of judging. It seems to me humanity is judged based on deeds.

    "’I the LORD have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity, nor will I relent. You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign LORD.’" Eze 24:14

    "And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done." Rev 20:13

    I guess I am looking at this subject as a judge might. (1 Cor 6:2) If I had to judge a married man who looked at another woman, I would have to determine things like intent, emotions, and feelings. Being a student of psychology, I know these are all subjective. I would have to decide, for them, their intentions. And as we have observed through behavioral psychology, this is not tenable. Even throughout all human history, courts are based on actions, not feelings.

    As you know, a litany of sins will keep one from the kingdom of God. This matter is very weighty for future human judges.

    I want to clarify again; however, we must follow our Lord's direction to master and remove all evil thoughts. For out of our hearts come all of our evils. We will most likely seek out what we concentrate on, hence our Lord's words. But, again, I'm thinking of this from the side of a judge. How far does that rabbit hole go? Is it the length of time, quality, or quantity of someone's thoughts that make them a sin?

    The idea that sin begins in us and then escapes from our hearts into the physical world isn't entirely convincing.

    Firstly, I still see God's words to Cain as pre-sin. Even though his thoughts were evil, sin had not yet entered the scene, and its desire was toward Cain if and only if he did not change his demeanor.

    Secondly, the Hebrews understood sin as actions. It wasn't till our Lord gave further direction that there was ever a consideration of thought as sin. And I'm not so sure His statement, "already has committed adultery in his heart," is meant to say such thoughts fall under the final judgment and His sacrifice for sin. From my current understanding, it is by deeds we are judged.

    Thirdly, I have this impossible paradox going around and around in thoughts as sin. If all evils come from the heart, but all those evils are physical, how can physical things come from the heart? Murders, theft, and the like are physical things in the world; they cannot come from the heart. They must be manifested in the real world. If a married man's thoughts fall under Christ's sacrifice, we must include all thoughts. If someone thinks about hurting someone, if someone thinks about stealing something, etc, all thoughts would be judged accordingly as if they were manifested in the real world.

    And this takes me back to the Two Sons and the Samaritan parables. It is my current understanding that the Two Sons parable describes God's rule. These two were not judged based on their intent or heart condition; their judgment was based on their actions alone. Jesus made this very clear. The same is said of the Samaritan.

    This is just my current perspective. I appreciate the opportunity to consider this subject again this evening, brother.

    Joshua
     
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    Timothy Kline

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    Isn't it possible that this isn't a topic that has a right/wrong understanding when one gets down to it. Both perspectives speak true, from where I'm following and participating in this board topic. I appreciate that our Bible can speak to us in faceted ways, and in my experience it speaks to us as it needs to.

    Here's an example:

    In my life, my heart has proven plenty treacherous, and there is always a door there for one to step through, if one is so inclined. My heart has proven so inclined. And subsequently, it mastered me— that me I wish I was, but clearly am not.

    I have no expectation of seeing whatever comes after this, knowing my heart as I do. I harbor a great deal more than my mouth births, although there have been plenty of times when I have heard my mother start coming out. And that's just ONE matter.

    I've been married three times, and that treacherous heart never went away. I was an adulterer in each marriages. Oh, I could wax poetic about the excuses my treacherous heart spewed, but I knew better each time. I knew exactly where Jehovah God stood on this, and yet there I was. Three adulterous relationships.

    My heart is the issue. That stuff is coming from my inner man, Adamic nature— whatever term for it is the flavor of the week.

    Nobody pushed me through the doors I have walked through, brother.

    Nobody.

    So, when I speak on this topic as I do, and cite the passages I do— it's because that is how the scriptures speak to me on this.

    A man condemned by a God Who sees my inner man.

    On the other hand, my wife is the saint in this marriage, not I. Sure, she's got issues, struggles. She's not perfect, either— and I find my self letting her know that a whole lot more than I wish I did. Ugh!

    From where, then can I feel the audacity to say that I'm okay with the reality I won't be there in whatever comes after this, but I will still do whatever is in my power and authority to see that she gets as far as she can toward whatever comes after this... paradise earth, heaven... no matter which it turns out to be, when one remains in the presence of Jehovah, right?

    In spite of my self.

    In spite of my self, the words on the pages of the Bible speak to me as they do.

    I'm not ever going to claim that I have the right of anything. I only have what my Creator has given me to understand. It has been promised, has it not, that Jehovah would become all things to all men.

    The scriptures and passages that come to our respective minds as we've moved through this discussion are the ones that sound a bell in our respective hearts and life, and subsequently we respond from the perspectives that we've exchanged during the course of said discussion.

    In my case, the Bible comes at my self, the inner man I don't show anyone else— God's made it clear time and again, that He sees what's in there.

    And He makes sure that I see it, too.

    I'm a man condemned by the words that come at my self from the pages of the Bible and yet I can't turn away from those pages. They shine some pretty bright light on those dark places of the inner man I contend with.

    Knowing the man I am, yeahhhh ...

    I'm not the easiest man to live with by any stretch of the imagination, the adulterous relationships aside. But my wife endures me.

    But I'll still spend my last breath pushing my wife forward. In spite of that self that makes its grand appearances, further condemning me alongside the stuff that doesn't get to go through a door... but never really goes away, either.

    So why do I persist in belief, in digging deeper into the very volume that will only further condemn my self?

    I'm either insane, or a masochist... and probably both. LOL

    On the other hand, it makes sense that your own current perspective on this is going to be impressed by the scriptures and passages that speak to you in your own walk as a believer, shine light on those matters God's drawing to your attention.

    The true interpretation, the mistaken one? I'm just not convinced that standard applies here. What are your thoughts?

    —Timothy
    A believer.
     
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    Timothy Kline

    Timothy Kline Member

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    I cannot and try not to speak to Jesus' intentions since we only have what was inspired to be written for our instruction by Jehovah, so I cannot address your assertion that "Jesus did not intend to say..."

    One's thoughts can be sin. I know this from personal, living experience. When our thoughts are not aligned with Jehovah's Will, rather than our own baleful will, we are sinning. We are missing the mark.

    Under the Law of Moses, one was judged if they externalized their will's inclination.

    Under the Law of Christ, one is judged and stricken in their God-given conscience... the conscience that strives with our natural, in-born conscience and its inclination toward the flesh. Not in carrying out Jehovah's will, but self will. The expression "grieve the Spirit" is one term that describes this, which, ultimately leads to Hebrews 6:4-6. 2 Peter 2:20-22 weighs in on this, as well, noting that the condition is worse than before they even knew about God, the Promise, and all the rest.

    Under the Law of Moses, God's Laws were written on scrolls.

    Under the Law of Christ, God's Laws are written on our heart.

    At least, that's where I am in my walk as a believer.

    I agree with you insofar as protecting our thought processes. I hope my explanation (above) elaborates on why I would still disagree with you that, as a rule, thought processes cannot be convictable sins; but summarily, if self will is not in harmony with Jehovah's Will, then it "has missed the mark," that is, it is sin by its very nature. Since we all have a hungry little self within us, we all sin in thought and deed. (Romans 3:23) Jesus is the only Man that demonstrated perfect subjection to the Will of Jehovah. Yet even he experienced the conflict between self will and obedience to the Will of Jehovah. (Luke 22:42). Of course, an angel was dispatched to strengthen Jesus at that point, because things were about to go from bad to worse, and yet this visit was enough to see Jesus through to the final words, "It is done."

    Dare we claim such faithfulness in its perfection, either in deed or thought?

    And our God-given conscience convicts us in sin, does it not? We feel the same shame Adam and Eve experienced, and our first inclination is to cover ourselves, and then to hide or to withdraw from Jehovah.

    The shame... the guilt we feel is itself judgment for self will, in my opinion. The only question remaining at that point is whether we repent (God IS merciful, after all), taking such thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5b) or go on to become the hardened sinner of 2 Peter 2:20-22, knowing full well that God is NOT to be mocked. Sentencing is carried out based on our answer to that conviction.

    Do not be deceived: God is not to be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return. The one who sows to please his flesh {self will}, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit {Jehovah's Will}, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. —Galatians 6:7-8 Berean Standard Bible​

    Neither Adam nor Eve pleaded "guilty" at their sentencing. Alibis, excuses, that's all they offered. The classic he-said, she-said story, with no personal ownership to be found anywhere. How, then, are we to plead when we stand condemned in our heart's missing of the mark, or self will, called out by the God-given conscience imparted to us from the Father?

    Externally speaking, society has its laws, of course, that are meant to provide the appearance of civility apart from God, and those caught transgressing said laws is punished by said laws. But that's all it can do. For all the empty speech of rehabilitating a criminal, a society set apart from God cannot change the heart of those inclined to self will.

    God's Law goes beyond outward compliance, the appearance of civility. It changes and molds hearts of living men and women. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) In diametrical opposition to self will, we are moved to do unto others out of the same Love imparted to us when we awaken as believers in a world of walking dead.

    "The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” —1 Samuel 16:7b New International Version

    ...so that he may turn our hearts toward him {inclination, thoughts), so that we may live life his way {actions}... —1 Kings 8:58 International Standard Version​

    Submitted for perusal and consideration,
    Timothy
    A believer.
     
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    Timothy Kline

    Timothy Kline Member

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    Why must they be manifested in the real world, when God looks at the heart? It's this lack of that particular insight into an accused person's heart that leaves the judicial system-- at least in this country... kinda sorta-- left to judge a matter on the merits of facts in evidence. Yet even here, facts can be skewed every which way and are subjective and/or interpretive. I agree completely in that judges rely on the facts in evidence, on what they can see with their eyes. The same is true of each of us because that is the summation of our existence: five senses by which to take in the world and each other.

    Man can try to take murder out of a society by forbidding it through law, with subsequent consequences for those not only arrested, but convicted and sentenced.

    On the other hand, Jehovah offers to take murder out of our heart, because therein lies the problem.

    Along with this, let me offer an additional observation:

    How did all things come into existence, if not first conceived in thought by Jehovah, and then wrought into existence?

    Too, a murderer first conceives in thought, and then brings that thought into existence.

    It's an act of creation, only it's the creation of evil. And the same can be said of the other manifestations of sin mentioned. Sure, you can stop a murderer from committing additional acts of murder by locking them up, but you can't take the murderer out of them, and that is what's needed to eliminate murder, theft, etc. Of course, that goes back to an earlier point in this discussion, where I explained that I see that lion being on the inside of the door, eager to get loose and wreak havoc, and the necessity for us to master that animal lest it get loose and wreak havoc.

    I think this also goes back to what I was saying in the previous post, because there is first conviction (we feel shame, guilty in that conviction of our God-given conscience-- or, conversely, we ignore that God-given conscience) and then either repentance or condemnation, and its manifestation thereof. Mastery over the heart; or, conversely, "follow your heart" as the world touts.

    So, yes, we come into conviction when our mastery over something in our heart isn't what it ought to be. But conviction is not synonymous with judgment, as I presently understand it. Judgment is what takes place in relation to our response to what it is that we stand convicted in.

    :: We feel bad after we've spoke harshly to our marriage mate, for example, because all day long, that God-given conscience said a few things to us about what we said to our spouse that morning. In our heart, we didn't mean to... but it came out, all the same, because the problem is our heart, at least our self's heart. We are left to make amends as is within our ability and we strive to better master that lion, lest it come out for a repeat performance.

    As for judgment, it will result in either restoration, or in the condemnation of us. The issue has been presented to us through our God-given conscience-- so we cannot plead ignorance at that point. We stand convicted on this, how do we plead? Do we, like Adam and Eve, fail to take ownership, or do we beg Jehovah to search and examine our heart and consider and weigh what is there before passing sentence?

    Alright, alright, enough of walls of text from me. Over to you now.

    Submitted for your perusal and consideration,
    Timothy,
    A believer.
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    Greetings, brother...

    Perhaps. If a judgment came down to an even split among judges, I suppose one's intent could be considered. But I see this not having any significant part in the Judgment of humanity. Just as in the Two-Sons parable, one could have evil intent and not act on it and be considered more righteous than the one with good intent who did not act out good through actions.

    I see no conflict with evil actions coming from the heart yet being judged only through actions. I can choose to act out the desires of my imperfect inward self or fight them. Regardless, this will not change the fact that the evils of this world will continue to be presented within our hearts and minds. (Jms 1:14)

    This is a prevalent approach to Scripture. I could be mischaracterizing your approach here, and if I am, please forgive my presumptuousness. Many people view God's words through their perspective rather than perception. I prefer to focus on God's mind from His perspective rather than perceiving His Word through my perspective.

    The heart is treacherous and leads us to bias. The search for truth is the denial of self.

    IMO, of course...

    This seems to be the crux of our discussions. What we understand is up to our Creator. If we seek His direction, it is by His Will that we do this or do that. If we stay the course, He will bring the finale of all matters.

    I would only add one thing, brother. We certainly wouldn't want to put ourselves in a position of judge over our Lord. Like you, I have no expectations for future salvation, yet I serve Him because He deserves my devotion, regardless of my past. I serve Him now simply because I should have been doing it all along. I stand for truth, honor, and righteousness.

    Therefore, this means I leave all judging into His hands, regardless of who the judged one is.

    I do have a contradictory perspective on this matter, brother. I work tirelessly at removing all personal perspective of the text. I know that my intent is the enemy of truth. I have continually worked toward separating myself from interpretation to understand the Word of God as He intends to present it to us. I do not wish to have any notions of understanding or perceiving Scripture through my own life experiences.

    I can understand why you feel that way. I attempt to understand our Lord's intentions. I want to know His exact thought process and meaning. When I completely remove myself from the equation, I am left with only His true meaning. This is the ultimate goal anyway.

    I used to have an idea of what Scripture was saying and then attempted to prove it. This taught me that that approach was fruitless. Instead, I learned to enjoy when I was wrong, hence being one step closer to truth. This process has taken great fortitude and humility over the years.

    I have no preconceptions going into a subject these days, as I let Him speak for Himself.

    Again, I attempt to remove my own experiences from understanding God's Word.

    "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" Jer 17:9

    I tend to see these statements as metaphors for how we should mold our thinking processes.

    Let's revisit Paul's words here;

    "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus." Rom 2:14-16

    Our Lord judges humanity by deeds. Those without law do or don't do righteously based on their consciences of right and wrong. The internal person only matters regarding what manifests in the real world. We are ultimately judged through actions, not thoughts.

    In my humble opinion, of course.

    Maybe we need to define sin. I see it as a single entity, while I get the impression you see it as a matter of degree.

    Take, for example, two individuals who both equally know the good news. If one were a murderer, while the other a drunkard, they would both have the same discipline, yet the same advantage if repentant. Therefore, all sin is equal except the one: blaspheming against God's Spirit.

    I can already feel your objection...lol I wouldn't mind digging into this further, it seems a natural extension of our discussion here.

    One, however, can't just assume that hearts can sin simply because our Lord looks at them. The intent of these scriptures is toward action. Hence, 1 Kings 8:58 states the intent is to turn hearts to Him. It isn't enough to have faith, brother.

    "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." Jms 2:14-17

    The heart is irrelevant without the works. This is the story of the Good Samaritan and the Two-Sons. The heart only matters as it pertains to manifestations in the real world, hence why love is not a feeling but an action. In the same way, the internal self is irrelevant as it pertains to actions.

    Read this scripture. Is it saying Abraham's faith through internal feelings was what was accounted as righteous, or is it intending to say that Abraham's actions showed his faith?

    "For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Rom 4:3

    Abraham was counted as righteous through his actions, not by his internal feelings, thoughts, or beliefs. Abraham could have believed God could raise Issac but refused to sacrifice him. His actions proved his internal heart condition.

    Sin can occur at the last second, even though one never intends to sin. The opposite of this is that one could intend to sin and, at the last minute, decide not to. Who is more righteous, brother? This is the Two-Son parable.

    Just because God looks into our hearts does not mean our hearts can sin. He knows what motivates us, whether we are repentant, and our intentions.

    And I think that's the way it should be. In my opinion, God's Word teaches us this is also how He will judge. I do not read God saying He judges based on intent but actions and deeds only.

    Everything comes from the heart, good and bad. Cain could have avoided sin had he changed his thought process. Eve could have avoided sin had she refused to eat of the tree after considering its beauty.

    At least, this is what I read from God's Word. Intent is irrelevant to actions. Faith without works is dead. You can't just be regretful in your heart and keep sinning. You must show by your actions you are repentant. So, how much does the heart matter? It only matters to the point that our heart condition affects our actions.

    Some have also thought of murder and did not act. There is a difference. What mattered more? Mankind makes a distinction, yet God doesn't? Just because someone's heart intends or does not intend to do something doesn't mean we are judged based on intentions. It simply means we have intentions. Nothing more...

    I can't say it enough, but The Good Samaritan and the Two-Sons tells us exactly how God judges. Intention is irrelevant. We cannot read more into other scriptures to say what is not there. When you take God's words about reading hearts and say that means our hearts can sin, you are applying more than what is there.

    IMO, of course...

    Sin desired to come toward Cain to gain mastery over him, not for Cain to gain mastery over sin. If we bridle our minds and bodies, we do not need to master sin, for it will not be in our hearts because we don't let it in.

    "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." Rom 6:14

    According to Scripture, sin will gain mastery over us if we don't gain mastery over our own hearts and minds. We do not gain mastery over sin; we keep it out. Sin desires to come into us.

    If that were the case, then good intent and faith would be all one would need. If you are convicted before the action, you are also excused without works.

    All that matters to me is the truth. I don't care what I think and feel. I don't think my intent matters. I don't think it matters if I sinned when I did not intend to, brother. I don't want to use my intentions as an excuse.

    I can only answer to what I believe God intends to teach us through His Word.

    "And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done." Rev 20:13

    Pheww! Okay, I gotta go. Please excuse any presumptuousness. I wish to remove all such attitudes from myself, if God Wills.

    Joshua
     
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    Timothy Kline

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    I'm still re-reading your response, but this especially caught my attention.

    First, would you walk me through how you reason that "intent is irrelevant to actions" yet have emphasized your personal attempts to try to ascertain Jehovah's intent through the inspired writings that compose our Gentile Christian Bible so as to understand the relevant actions (consequences, blessings, et al)?

    You'll get no dispute from me that faith compels the outworking of said faith. Can't be helped, can't be resisted.

    I'm also in agreement that one "can't just be regretful" in one's heart and keep right on sinning. It would mean they don't regret it, as much as one claimed regret. Repentance has "turn around" built right into the recipe of faith.

    You went on to write, "You must show by your actions you are repentant," and it's here that our understandings diverge, because one's actions are in no way a reliable indicator of what lies in Man's heart.

    I mean, I agree with you that faith compels one into the fruitage commensurate with faith's yearning. You know it, I know it. And we know others who know this, because it is proven truth in our own lives. It's why-- as much as I hate people-- I keep being drawn into jobs where I have them smack-dab in my face and ringing in my ear for a good part of my waking day, serving their needs. And I'm always going above and beyond for them, much to my self's chagrin. I do enjoy helping people (if only so they'll go away. lol)

    Seriously, though, I can't help but help people who cross my path. I'm just not claiming the credit for being the source of that tenderness and compassion. I don't even like people!

    Maybe I'm expressing mere opinion here, but I see actions as a horrible indicator of what is producing the actions others witness. People are very adept at hiding who they are behind actions shown in public, and actions in private. And every day, people watch actors on their cellphones, computers, and TVs whose actions in no way are a reflection of what is in their heart.

    We're corporeal beings, and limited to our five senses of experiencing our lives. We cannot ascertain intention in others, as a result of this. And if not for the Bible and our getting raised to life from the spiritually dead, we'd have no way of ascertaining intention in our own self.

    I'll repeat for emphasis: I don't see you as incorrect in pointing out that a person who is repentant would be moved to actions commensurate with this. I'm only noting that one's actions are not a reliable and trustworthy gauge of one's repentance, faith, or anything. At least as far as our ability to judge. We cannot read anyone else's heart, so it seems reasonable to conclude that we can be deceived by actions, and attribute them to something that is not so.

    Submitted for perusal and consideration,
    Timothy
    A believer.
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    Greetings, brother.

    I contend that intent is irrelevant regarding sin and our eventual Judgment. In The Two Sons and The Samaritan, all that mattered were their actions, not intentions.

    When I say I am trying to understand Jehovah's intentions, I mean His actions, not His internal thoughts. Communication is an action. When words are spoken, we must understand the truth of those actions. God's Word is like physics or math; there is only one correct answer.

    When someone speaks to me, I don't care if they intend to hurt my feelings—that is irrelevant; I only care about exactly what they do. No one can make me feel anything; only I can choose to feel the way I do. I do not care about others' intentions; I only care about what they say/do.

    It's my job to care for others' feelings through my actions. When everyone in the family thinks of the others first instead of themselves, everyone will have what they need. This is the message of the Word.

    As an imperfect human, my view isn't how I would prefer to be judged. I would prefer my intent to be taken into account. When I had sinned, I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have if I hadn't had a consciousness of sin. I regretted sin but continued doing it. However, again, I read in God's Word my intention is irrelevant. Only my actions matter. We are judged on actions alone. Whenever our heart is mentioned in the Word, God only speaks about changing our thinking so we don't act wickedly.

    Actions and deeds are the focus of sin and judgment.

    "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it." Jms 2:10

    Whether we meant to not sin, chose to sin, or any other irrelevant excuse, all that matters is you did sin. You are judged based on your actions. All of the faith in the world will not save you without the actions. (Jms 2:17)

    "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Cor 6:9,10

    All of those are actions. Nowhere in there does it say if you think about sexual immorality but choose not to do it, you will not inherit God's kingdom. Again, I'm not saying it's okay; we are specifically told not to. Doing so leads to sin mastering us.

    "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions" Rom 6:12

    If you commit adultery and are repentant, the only way to show you are repentant is not to do it again. Hence, if we keep sinning, there will no longer be a sacrifice for sin. (Heb 10:6)

    The heart is deceitful. Just because you regret sinning now doesn't mean you won't sin tomorrow. The heart is in no way a measure of your repentance. Only your actions will show your repentance by either doing good or evil. Your intentions are irrelevant. Jesus is just saying you better change your thinking so you don't sin.

    If you continue to sin, you will not be in the kingdom of God.

    According to God's Word, you will not be in His kingdom if;

    You regret sin but keep doing it.
    You don't want to sin but, do it anyway.
    You intended to do good, but you sinned instead.

    According to God's Word, you will be in the kingdom of God if;

    You regret it and stop sinning.
    You had wanted to sin but decided not to out of faith.
    You say you are not going to serve God, then do so anyway.

    I'm not going to punish my son for saying he's not going to do something I told him to do—I'm going to punish him for not doing it. His intentions are irrelevant. At his age, he is just expressing his desire to have more autonomy, so his intentions are understood by me, but they are irrelevant to his taking the actions I expect from him.

    The heart is deceptive, brother. Don't believe the heart; only actions matter. That's what God's Word says;

    "The heart is deceitful above all things,, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jer 17:9,10

    Adam and Eve were judged based on their actions, not their feelings. The same was true of Cain, Moses, David, Nebbi, etc. Your intent will be irrelevant to future human judges. Your internal feelings and thoughts won't matter. Scripture tells us works are all that matter regarding our Judgment and the entering into God's kingdom.

    Can a husband beat a wife every day and then apologize and tell her that's not how he truly is and that he regrets it? His heart and internal feelings are irrelevant to his actions. This is all of life...

    In my reading of God's Word and life experience.

    I would disagree with this, brother. How many countless people believe you can have faith and still act in any way you wish? Countless people think that we are saved by faith alone.

    And as it is, I hold the exact opposite view...lol I see actions as the only indicator of our heart. Our actions are the only thing that shows the world and God our repentance. Our intent is irrelevant. Why we did or did not do something is irrelevant; only the fact that we did or didn't do it matters to humans and God alike. Whether you intend to do something or not is meaningless.

    I don't believe people can hide who they are. You might think people can hide their true feelings, but to me, their true feelings are irrelevant. I only take people for their actions, so no one can hide who they are with me. People are who they show me through their actions. I don't believe someone who says they did not intend to do this or that. If that were the case, they would not have done it. I don't care what their intentions are; I only care about their actions.

    This is the story of The Samaritan. I don't care how anyone feels about me, and I don't care how I feel about them. All that matters is how they treat me, and how I treat them. Love is an action. When everyone shows love to others through actions, then love exists. This is literally what Jehovah and Jesus did in this world. And this is what they expect from us.

    We either think of ourselves first or others first. People can't hide their true intent because I only see their actions. Their intent is shown through their actions. Their explanation of their intent is irrelevant. And I believe this is how God sees it as well, according to Scripture.

    Look, it's like this: I can do for my enemy, right? I don't see our Lord's words, "love your neighbor," as a command to have some internal feelings about my neighbor. I understand His words as meaning actions. He explained this over and over. You do for others first. It has nothing to do with your internal feelings. They are meaningless...

    Other people's intentions are irrelevant, just as ours are irrelevant. The only thing that matters is actions.

    As I quoted in my previous post, without the Law, the Gentiles are judged based on their own understanding of right and wrong—but only through their actions.

    Usually, we must intend to do something before doing it, but that is not always the case. We can intend to do good and not do it or intend to do wrong yet do good. According to what I read in God's Word, our intentions are irrelevant to our actions.

    By the way, this has been abundantly evident throughout my life experiences, my studies in psychology, and, ultimately, God's Word.

    I know you empathize with this: I grew up with parents who used their intent to justify their actions. I do not except their excuses.

    I would say one's actions are the only reliable source of one's repentance and faith, and the internal heart is irrelevant.

    It's interesting that the two of us can believe in the same God and have such diverging understandings of sin and forgiveness. Not that that matters because if it weren't for divergent views, I wouldn't be where I am now. I've come to understand the importance of our differing views.

    All love...

    Joshua

    Ps: I need to add that I am approaching this subject as if we are speaking of one's who already know what sin is. If one was new to the Good News but acted in a way contrary to life out of ignorance, their limited knowledge must be taken into account. Yet still, intent would play no part. Their lack of knowledge completely removes any question of intent.
     
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    Timothy Kline

    Timothy Kline Member

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    I can agree with this insofar as the Law of Moses, but not necessarily under the Law of Christ-- presumably the Law under which a believer lives since the first century.

    There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that run swiftly to evil, a false witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up discord among brothers. – Proverbs 6:16-19 BSB​

    Devising wicked schemes certainly does not require carrying them out, but Jehovah hates this, all the same. If Jehovah hates it, it's sin.

    Their feet run to evil; they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are sinful thoughts; ruin and destruction lie in their wake. – Isaiah 59:7 BSB​

    Thoughts are identified as sin / sinful.

    With deceit in his heart he devises evil; he continually sows discord. – Proverbs 6:14 BSB​

    Again, the devising of evil has its start in one's heart.

    They conceive trouble and give birth to evil; their womb is pregnant with deceit." – Job 15:35 BSB​

    Logically, one cannot give birth to evil if one is not already pregnant with sin.

    Previously quoted, but cited again for emphasis here:

    The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart; I examine the mind to reward a man according to his way, by what his deeds deserve. – Jeremiah 17:9-10​

    If one's thoughts, inclinations, or intentions are irrelevant, then why consider them? Why examine the mind, when it's one's actions that set judgment, or at a minimum mitigate said judgment?

    For nothing is hidden which will not become manifest, nor secret which shall not be known and come to light. – Luke 8:17 BLB​

    If one's thoughts, inclinations, or intentions are irrelevant, then why will these be made manifest, known, come to light?

    These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted – Jude 1:12 ESV​

    "Hidden reefs" sounds like these ones are masking their thoughts, inclinations, or intentions with actions that only appear to be godly to [us].

    To go along with this:

    Though his hatred is concealed by deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. – Proverbs 26:26 BSB​

    So do not be afraid of them. For there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, and nothing hidden that will not be made known. – Matthew 10:26 BSB​

    on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Christ Jesus, as proclaimed by my gospel. – Romans 2:16 BSB​

    Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. – 1 Corinthians 4:5 BSB​

    And while this isn't the last reference I can provide, it's certainly apropos:

    Who can discern his own errors? Cleanse me from my hidden faults. – Psalm 19:12 BSB​

    If we're to be judged on our actions, and not on our thoughts, inclinations, and intentions, then it makes no sense to request that we be cleansed from something for which we could not and will never be judged for, unless we act upon them.

    So this is the principle I have discovered: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law. But I see another law at work in my body, warring against the law of my mind and holding me captive to the law of sin that dwells within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I serve the law of God, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.--Romans 7:21-25 BSB​

    Submitted for perusal and consideration,
    Timothy,
    A believer.
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    Greetings, brother.

    This is a very complex subject, given we are talking about the judging of conscious beings. Maybe we should be speaking to case scenarios. Because I don't believe everyone who exists will be judged based on the same criteria.

    "But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." Luk 12:48

    "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." Jms 3:1

    So, everyone will be judged based on their knowledge of Truth. Given that, let's explore this further.

    Let's see if there is a place where we could meet in the middle.

    -------

    Let's start with what I believe we both agree on. The OT scriptures you quoted all refer to the Israelites at the time. These would have been all those with direct knowledge of the Law. We can look to the religious leaders of Jesus' day to see the attitudes God rejected.

    "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Luk 46:47

    Now, these fall under the category of should have known better. Their displays are manifestations of their heart conditions. When God speaks of their heart conditions, it always refers to their actions.

    "Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand." Mch 2:1

    "With deceit in his heart he devises evil; he continually sows discord." Prov 6:14

    "a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil," Prov 6:18

    "who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually." Psm 140:2

    "Do they not go astray who devise evil? Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness." Prov 14:22

    You have to put all Scripture together, brother. You can't say the Trinity is true because Jesus said He and His Father are one. In the same light, this subject must be understood as a Scriptural whole, not just one or two scriptures here and there.

    We both agree that actions come from the heart—good and evil. The Bible (as a whole, not a singular scripture) only discusses matters devised in the heart because what we concentrate on leads to the actions contemplated. Those who formulate evil thoughts will act them out. And those who devise good thoughts will likewise act them out.

    Unless I'm mistaken, you are suggesting a scenario where one would plot evil thoughts in his heart but not act them out and would still be judged as a sinner based on those unrealized evil thoughts. You also have to ask yourself: Can one devise only good thoughts but never act them out and still be saved? Remember, faith without works is dead. (Jms 2:26)

    I would say that a scenario where one would devise evil in his heart yet not act it out would be improbable. But, it might come up, so let's say it did for discussion's sake. I would ask how the rest of such a person's life played out. It's more likely that such a person would demonstrate a high-minded evil nature in all aspects of life. It would manifest in the real world. He's not following the command to relieve his mind from evil thoughts, which would translate to how he spoke to others, treated others, and acted in the real world. All of which are actions. Yet, I can't even think of a scenario where one would be utterly pious on the outside yet only evil on the inside. Even the religious leaders of Jesus' day showed their heart condition through their actions. They suppressed the people while making their own lives easier, not unlike the leaders of the Watchtower today. They may outwardly display piousness, but their actions are evil. These are the hidden things God is speaking about that will be uncovered. They are only hidden from those whom they fool. Their evil isn't hidden from us; we see it.

    This is the same way Jesus comes unknown. He doesn't come as a thief to those watching, such as the wise virgins, but only to those not watching. In like manner, the hidden secrets of evil are only hidden to those unaware.

    Now, let's flip the coin here. Let's take Peter as an example. He devised evil in his mind before he cut that soldier's ear off. He also devised evil in his mind when denying Jesus three times. He also devised evil when telling Jesus He would not suffer the things He was destined to complete. Would judges consider his devising of thoughts before his actions or the actions themselves? Let's say Peter never acted on these thoughts and never cut off that guy's ear, never denied Jesus, and never tried to circumvent God's plans. Would judges rule his thoughts as sins deserving of judgment?

    You also must look at those with a pious heart who do not act according to their devising of good. People will have all kinds of good intentions in their hearts. They will plan to give to the poor, help others, study God's Word, and the like, but never follow through. According to Scripture, these people will not inherit God's kingdom. So why aren't their good thought and intentions counted as righteousness?

    This is why I keep bringing up The Good Samaritan and the Two Sons. If one is aware of what God requires, then intent is nothing without works. And if faith is nothing without works, then evil is nothing without works.

    Satan hadn't entered Judas until he was about to sin, even though he had been devising his evil plan up until that day.

    I'm trying hard to find a way to justify both of our views of sin, but I still can't come to that conclusion. I believe God's Word (as a whole) only speaks about our heart conditions to keep sin outside the door. And this seems to be the difference between us. I read God was telling Cain sin was outside the door, and its desire was to come into him (Hebrew: 413. el - toward, into) in order to gain mastery over him, while you see sin as already within Cain before he acted and wanting to get out. I believe Scripture is quite clear on this, brother: Sin is outside of us, trying to get in. (Rom 6:12, Luk 22:3, Gen 4)

    Joshua
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." Jms 1:14,15

    I'm just adding this scripture, which indicates that sin only comes when manifested and that the desire is not yet a sin.

    This, however, does not remove the command to bridal our thoughts.

    Joshua

    I also present that the very scriptures you have quoted say we are judged by our deeds alone. The discussion of the heart is only in conjunction with those deeds.

    "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart; I examine the mind to reward a man according to his way, by what his deeds deserve. –" Jeremiah 17:9-10

    His "way" are his deeds...
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    Greetings, brother.

    I thought I would touch base again on Jms 1:15.

    "Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin."

    Unless I'm mistaken, you are reading this scripture as saying desire is what is conceived and is the birthed sin in the heart at the moment it became desired.

    This would mean you read this scripture: "Desire became desire when it was desire."

    Desire cannot conceive itself. The text uses the context of childbirth. Desire must come first; it conceives, and then it gives birth. These must be three separate instances within the metaphor. The birth of sin can only occur after conception.

    This text cannot state that desire exists, conceives, and gives birth all at the exact moment in our minds. Desire cannot give birth to itself. They are all different entities in the story. The progression of the text demands that the context be that each part of the story must follow the next in a sequential sequence. They cannot all be the same entity.

    This means that sin does not occur at the moment of desire. Desire comes from the heart and, when conceived by action, gives birth to sin; hence, we are judged by deeds.

    All love...

    Joshua
     
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    Timothy Kline

    Timothy Kline Member

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    Let me cite the context for a point of reference:

    When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when by his own evil desires he is lured away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. —James 1:13-16 BSB​

    Here's how I understand this...

    "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone." —James 1:13-14 BSB

    For me, brother, this goes back to the very beginning, when Adam whines that it was God who tempted him [by giving Eve to Adam in the first place, after all]:

    And the man answered, “The woman whom You gave me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” —Genesis 3:12 BSB

    Of course, we know that while Eve was deceived, Adam was not, a point that the apostle James makes later in his letter:

    "Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do, yet fails to do it, is guilty of sin." James 4:17 BSB

    Adam knew the right thing to do, failed to do it, and became guilty of sin, whereas Eve was deceived [now there's a discussion, too]. That suggests to me that she was not guilty of sin in the same manner as Adam.

    Maybe I better explain myself:

    I see Adam's trespass as against Jehovah God; Eve's trespass was against her husband, Adam, who had taught her what Jehovah told him (with an added prohibition inserted by Adam, not to even touch it). (Compares Genesis 2:17 with Genesis 3:3 -- and yes, I am familiar with the complaint that Adam can't eat something without first touching it, but one can touch something without eating it, and the inspired writing does make the distinction when recording Eve's recitation of the restriction set upon her by her husband, and subsequently, Jehovah God Who had given Adam authority over her (even being the one who named her! I mean, she didn't show up and say hey, my name's Eve-- what's yours?).

    For this reason, the marital relationship would become a striving between husbands and wives, even on down to our day as a wife subjects herself to her husband [and, markedly, is saved through childbirth (Cf 1 Timothy 2:15)]. husbands would come to dominate their marriage-- maybe because he found himself suddenly going from having every tree of the garden to eat and enjoy-- save the one-- to being evicted out into the wilderness, where all he has to look forward to is turning the soil for sustenance until he returns to that soil.

    And I'm reasonably sure Adam never let it go with Eve after it all went down in Eden, how she was to blame-- rather than owning his part. I am aware of no writing-- canonical, pseudo-canonical, or apocryphal-- recording that Adam repented or even regretted his decision.

    I gotta move on, lol...

    But each one is tempted when by his own evil desires he is lured away and enticed. -- James 1:14 BSB

    The heart of Man is the problem, start to finish, and this entire exercise in futility called Life is so we can get it through our thick skulls. Our heart, that self that we contend with far more often than not, has its own inclinations, designs, and agendas.

    Yes, there is a bevy of scriptures addressing the matter of sin outside of ourselves, actions carried out by that heart we vie with in the renewal of our mind (Romans 12:2)

    "...his own evil desires..." is pretty specific. This isn't talking about the passing glance at a woman, for example, as we first catch our self in action and then avert our gaze, taking charge of the situation. At least not to me this doesn't appear to be conveying that. Every man knows the difference between a passing, inadvertent glance, and a lingering gaze of inappropriate appreciation, and you will not be able to convince me otherwise.

    And moreso a man raised from the walking dead that surround us in our lives.

    If a man knows, and proceeds, then it's sin.

    "lured away and enticed" can only happen if one takes their eye off Jehovah God-- or off Jesus as our Exemplar.

    Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin... --James 1:15a BSB​

    Look at anything long enough and it'll become desirable, no question for me here, either.

    When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom... —Genesis 3:6a BSB​

    She hadn't even touched it yet, yet we see the progressing of error (sin). It's conceived now, gestating away rapidly now. . . until... birth:

    she took the fruit and ate it. — Genesis 3:6b BSB​

    It's no different for us, as their descendants:

    People's desires make them give in to immoral ways, filthy thoughts, and shameful deeds. They worship idols, practice witchcraft, hate others, and are hard to get along with. People become jealous, angry, and selfish. They not only argue and cause trouble, but they are envious. They get drunk, carry on at wild parties, and do other evil things as well. I told you before, and I am telling you again: No one who does these things will share in the blessings of God's kingdom. —Galatians 5:19-21 CEV​

    Can't remain pregnant with desire forever. It's eventually going to overpower that Man being renewed daily within us, (2 Corinthians 4:16) and wrest the day from us, effecting its own birth.

    At that point, there is only one inevitable result:

    and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. —James 1:15 BSB​

    The Man of dust will one day return to it, and that self right along with it. The Man of God, on the other hand, endures forever. This principle is as true of the flesh as it is of us who have been raised from the walking dead surrounding us in our daily lives and then return to the vomit from which we had our head pulled up from by Jehovah God, return to dead works... works befitting someone who's dead.

    The Apostle James goes on to warn his audience:

    Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. —James 1:16 BSB

    Deceived how? I'd say by that treacherous heart, that self in each of us. It knows its time is short, and it's desperate to the point where we can't even know it apart from the light the Bible shines on it, that we might then see and understand.

    I've run out of time again, so will stop there.

    Submitted for perusal and consideration,
    Timothy
    A believer.
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    Greetings, brother.

    Can you clarify this for emphasis? You believe the conception is the birth, right? Meaning the birth of sin occurs at its conception?

    Thanks

    Joshua
     
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    Timothy Kline

    Timothy Kline Member

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    I can try.

    Let's start with a real-world example: when is a baby a baby? Is it a baby once it has been conceived, or once it's been birthed?

    Using the same reasoning, in light of James 1, when is a sin a sin? Is it a sin once it has been conceived [like a baby], or once it's been birthed [like a baby]?

    To elaborate:

    Having been present for every one of my children's birthings, I can attest that the baby I witnessed being birthed was the same baby I'd seen growing in its womb the previous several months. I will likewise attest that I did not see that baby until their mother's "baby bump" appeared four or five months into the pregnancy— ultrasound aside. At that point, I could see there was a baby alive and, quite literally, kicking. And I was there for each child's first breath of air, and many more blessings after that— and griefs, of course.

    I can also attest that their conception took place 9 months previous, conceived in the singular desire of two who became one.

    As I presently understand the Apostle James, he is using that process in his God-given insight into sin in the natural Man as a descendant of Adam.

    The remaining question at this point is who are the two who become one?

    I'm presently of the conclusion that the two are self and will.

    And yes, Lucy, there's some 'splainin' to do.

    First: self. Whatever it is, it is aware of its existence, that it is. It has being.

    Second: will. Self not only has awareness of its being, but a capacity to project that awareness to its purpose: determination. Which is to say, self-determination.

    An infant wails for its mother's milk. They have determined that they have a need that needs to be met, and then act upon said determination.

    The infant doesn't understand why it must have the milk-- only that it wants it.

    The world is full of walking dead, separated from their Creator. They don't understand why they must have milk, only that they want it. The desires of their eyes, the determinations of their flesh.

    Self-will, left to its own devices.

    When we're raised to life from the walking dead, we come to understand our self’s will in its separation and then its opposition to Jehovah God. The light comes on, and we begin to see things from God’s perspective, and we are absolutely and utterly shredded by what we see in our self.

    David, in a psalm he composed following his confrontation by Nathan over David’s adultery with Bathsheba, wrote:

    Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. — Psalm 51:5 NIV​

    When the light goes on for us, when we come to life, we come to appreciate how diametrically opposed our self’s will is with our Creator’s Will.

    Everything about our self’s will is about getting and taking, at its most fundamental level. Selfish.

    Everything about our Creator’s Will is about giving and setting aside self for the benefit of others. The expression of Love.

    It’s that whole setting aside of our self’s will, up to and including its determinations, that the spiritual Man we are becoming has to vie with and master, lest it master us, and in the process cost us the Promise.

    We start as spiritual babes, and, ideally, mature from there as believers. It is as though we are born again, if I may use the expression here, when we are raised to life and become believers. Spiritual infants to start, hungry for milk and eventually maturing and going beyond milk when it comes to the Knowledge and Wisdom of our Creator.

    Except that our self doesn’t go anywhere, and it has its own designs.

    It’s when we join our new self with our natural self that problems begin, because as believers, we are become a living temple for which Jehovah’s spirit to reside.

    We align the will of our new self with that of our former self, and start making a baby, conceiving sin in this adulterous relationship.

    Or not. Depends on which determination wins the moment. Thankfully, our Father saw fit to send a Helper. For example, snippits, passages, principles, and Truths from the scriptures come to our minds in our resistance to our former self.

    Or they don’t.

    Comes down to which master we love. The one embodied in our new self following our being raised to life from among the walking dead, or the one that is perishing?

    Ideally, we die to our self and live for Jehovah’s Will. I'll say it again: It’s just that our former self isn’t going to go down without a fight.

    What the observer sees once sin comes through the door (sic cervix or birth canal) already was. Like yeast in dough, it was fermenting. Like a human zygote becomes you or me.

    The expression “throw a pebble into a pond and witness the ripples resulting” comes to mind, as well. Sin only leads to more sin. It multiplies like a plague. And it’s in this sense that I can also consider the Apostle James’ expression “gives birth to sin.” Sin begets more sin.

    Self will cannot be compartmentalized, but it can be controlled. To whit: a man who thinks he can engage in an adulterous relationship and it not affect every other aspect of his external life— not to even address its impact on the living temple we become as believers! —well, he’s a man deceived in his own heart.

    Instead of pummeling that former self’s will, the man gives it a heartfelt hug. And the two become one: the new man Jehovah has been creating within us, and the former man we once had been slave to, with its desires, yens, and fancies--- getting to the very last drop because it can never be satisfied in its separation from the one thing it needs and is missing: the Creator.

    If you’ve made it this far, I hope this all has gone to answer your request for elaboration / clarification.

    But if you prefer a shorter version: As I’m reading scripture, sin is first conceived (the “baby” is brought into existence) and later the baby is birthed. Lust is conceived, adultery takes place. . . two wrongs don’t make a right, but there it is. Rage is born, and murder takes place. Rage is self-will at work within us, murder is self-will’s determination for that rage. Jealousy is born, and rivalries take place. In every case, the source comes from within, with our self’s will.

    The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, and rage; rivalries, divisions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. — Galatians 5:19-21 BSB​

    Can I experience rage and not carry out the impulses of that rage? Certainly! With God’s help, that is-- because clearly my self has other designs. Self-evident, right?

    In not acting on those impulses, have I stopped my self short of actually sinning?

    No.

    That impulse itself is sin because it stands in opposition to Jehovah’s Will, and desires to assert its will over and against Jehovah’s Will to get what it desires and wants and, if possible, get!

    One more way I look at all this is that the Law of Moses shone divine light on the things the natural Man carries out in contradiction to God’s Will… the Law of Christ shines divine light on the why and consequently raises the expectation and responsibility upon us. If successful, we root through our mind and heart, cleaning house and ridding ourselves of every encumbrance keeping us from whole-heartedly serving Jehovah’s Will.

    It’s no longer enough for us not to murder or steal… in our love for our Father, we strive to master the rage, hate, jealousy, or envy that we’re made to see within us in the mirror of God’s written word, as these all fall short (thus constituting sin) of the Will of the Father and lead to murder, theft and other outworkings of our self’s will and desires, with its get-get-get.

    Anyhow, did I sufficiently muddy the waters further?

    Submitted for your perusal and consideration,
    Timothy
    A believer.
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    Greetings, brother...

    I certainly am. I appreciate our discussions.

    I believe we've explored this subject pretty well. You've given me much to consider. I would presume that the case scenario would come into play at the end of the day. Regarding judgment, the criteria used, based on our Creator's moral standards, involve a sliding scale.

    That said, one thing is sure: Our Lord is coming to remove that self-centered attitude introduced in the Garden. It's that attitude of knowing it all already, that narcissistic, looking-out-for-me-first predilection that has degraded all human life. I am so grateful that such attributes will be removed from this universe forever. That motivates me...

    I am grateful you have these discussions with me, brother.

    Joshua
     
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    Timothy Kline

    Timothy Kline Member

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    As you cited in your opening of the discussion:

    I'll add:

    That servant who knows his master’s will but does not get ready or follow his instructions will be beaten with many blows. But the one who unknowingly does things worthy of punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from him who has been entrusted with much, even more will be demanded. — Luke 12:47-48 BSB

    Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to control his whole body. —James 3:1-2 BSB

    Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. So they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts either accusing or defending them on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Christ Jesus, as proclaimed by my gospel. —Romans 2:14-16 BSB

    I don't know if "sliding scale" is the right word, but it does appear that individuals are judged at least in part on their sense of right and wrong, from that natural law within even the walking dead so societies have laws against murder, etc. Those raised to life from the walking dead and learn Godly principles become accountable for the truths they come to learn. In the Watchtower organization, a new brother or sister is/ was considered "green" or "wet behind the ears" and elders handle transgressions of such ones differently from someone who has been in the organization for some time and knows better.

    If this bears similarity to the pattern set in the Bible, then it is reasonable to believe that people who didn't know better-- while they will be "beaten with a few strokes," stand different for those who know better but went ahead anyhow, and earn "many strokes."

    We still continue to fall short, of course. The disciple Peter walked on water with Jesus in a storm, among other events, and he ran away at Jesus' arrest. Denied even knowing Jesus. Yet Peter was the first disciple Jesus came to, before the Twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:5)

    We all fall short, even though we're believers and know better.

    If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar, and His word is not in us. — 1 John 1:8-10 BSB

    It's when we no longer wish to be restored, or to be empowered to tackle a particular area we fall short of our expectation for ourselves as a new creation, even as the man we were perishes. We go ahead, full steam ahead-- not in ignorance, but knowing full well Jehovah's Word on whatever it is. Willful sin is bad business and will be dealt with accordingly.

    Unintentional stuff, there are still repercussions, consequences. An unintentional harsh word to one's spouse, for example. The words can't be called back, regret or not, and no matter how much regret the speaker may convey. It reveals an aspect of our nature, in any event, that we need to address, an area we're falling short (sinning) in.

    I can already see I'm starting another wall of text here, so I'll wrap it up with a truth I've come to appreciate:

    Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. —1 Peter 4:8 BSB

    Submitted for your perusal and consideration,
    Timothy
    A believer.
     
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    Timothy Kline

    Timothy Kline Member

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    Okay, I'll throw one more scripture on here as a postscript, because it is soooooo apropos:

    I care very little, however, if I am judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not vindicate me. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. — 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 BSB

    --Timothy,
    A believer.
     
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    Timothy Kline

    Timothy Kline Member

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    @PaulAche, if you're still checking in here...

    First, I'd recommend you look over my last 4 or so responses to @Joshuastone7 as we exchanged our present understandings and perspective on sin, and you'll find the framework of this response to your own contribution to the discussion on forgiveness and sin.

    Having said that, and for whatever it might be worth:

    You wrote, "When Satan lied to Eve he committed the first sin."

    Satan didn't lie to Eve. He deceived her, yes. Lied to her, no.

    Semantics? Maybe, but again— I'm noting the distinction for what it's worth.

    Besides, Satan had already conceived sin in his heart as a Seraphim (origin word for our 'serpent') — your citing of Ezekiel 28:13-15 confirms this when the account states of Satan:

    You were faultless in your ways from the day of your being created until unrighteousness was found in you. (verse 15)

    Unrighteousness was already within Satan by the time that conversation between him and Eve took place. His thinking and subsequent aspirations turned inward, centered on his self, and he thought to become something more than Jehovah God, among other things.

    This unrighteousness was sin. Sin— at its ugly core— is a "missing of the mark," presumably the mark being the Law of Christ which Jehovah God writes upon the hearts of His people. It's that mark a farmer looks at as he plows his field to keep the rows straight while furrowing and planting for the harvest. It's the goal line for the racer pressing forward in the race. It's the disciple Peter who walked on water so long as he kept looking at his Master.

    The fruitage that comes from a tree says a lot about whether that tree's got a good, solid heart to it, or a heart that is rotting and needs to be cut down, thrown into the fire. Cut a tree down and those rings tell a person everything that tree has been through. Every hard winter, blight, or period of favor recorded there in the wood, waves flowing out from the center, it's heart.

    Satan didn't need action to establish there was unrighteousness in his heart, considering Jehovah is a God Who can examine hearts. But like all sin, it desires to reproduce. And when it does, the fruitage produced reveals the sin producing the fruitage.

    In Satan's case, it seems that one sin (pride, ego, self-will) produced another sin, and this sin is self-evident in the conversation that takes place between Satan and Eve: deception.

    And Satan's core sin didn't stop producing baby sins there, either. Misery loves company, and sin does, too. The more, the merrier. A third of the angels of heaven joined him, after all.

    You wrote: "Yes, his desire manifested in his heart, but only until it manifests into existence through action is it sin."

    I disagree. A sinful tree comes to produce sinful fruitage; sin itself comes into play before it begins its reproductive process.

    Fruitage is that we might know what God already does, as to a person's heart. (Matthew 7:16)

    "Might," because wicked people can be deceptive, just like Satan. A child molester is very good at producing fruitage that bears the appearance of righteousness, for example. When they are finally discovered for what they are, the people who knew the person are, more often than not, surprised and shocked because they had no idea. And there are no end to other examples where a person has others convinced of something that is not true through fruitage.

    Or, someone looking to get reinstated in the Watchtower organization is another example that could be considered. The elders monitor the individual until they are satisfied that reinstatement is indicated.

    Unfortunately, they can only go by what they see as "fruitage." The person's sincerity is thus tied to fruitage— when the problem may very well be the person's heart. After all, sin by its very nature begins within us. And promulgates from within. A person can say they are sorry, and even fake the sorry by exhibiting things people generally associate with one's being sorry / regretful.

    In any case, sin has its beginning when one takes their eye off Jehovah God and His Ways, when that eye mystically changes to "I" and our fallen self's will takes charge. Not God's will, but mine— in contrast Jesus's "Not my will, but yours" in his moment of personal trial before he would be turned over for slaughter as the Lamb of God.

    It's getting late for me here, so I need to stop there. And maybe you're no longer checking in here anyhow, but I did say that I wanted to come back to some of what you were contributing.

    Submitted for perusal and consideration,
    Timothy,
    A believer.
     
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    Joshuastone7

    Joshuastone7 Administrator Staff Member

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    Greetings, brother.

    I appreciate your sharing this text. In it, I see a broad spectrum of our discussion. He is not vindicated by his clear conscience, just as he is not judged through it as good or evil. Jesus exposed the Pharisees' hidden heart conditions and motives, which were hidden only to the unobservant. To someone like you and me, their pompous arrogance and self-centered presumptuousness would have been evident through their actions.

    We should keep an open view of this matter without taking a dogmatic approach. At least, that's how I am currently approaching it. One could have evil intent and yet act contrary and be found righteous.

    "A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Mth 21:28,29

    It is still my opinion that actions speak louder than words to God. The heart condition comes into play only as it applies to our actions. When you love your enemy, you are showing that through action. How you feel in your heart is irrelevant. I can do for others I have no feelings for, hence the Good Samaritan.

    People who conceive evil in their hearts will act out that evil intent. Our only separation appears in those who intend to do evil but choose not to. In such cases as evil not being acted upon because of morality or the knowledge of faith, it appears that from our Lord's words, they did our Father's Will, while the ones who sinned unintentionally did not. If you say you did not intend to sin but did anyway, you did not do our Father's Will, while the one who planned to sin but did not, did His Will.

    All love...

    Joshua
     

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