OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


            Sin is a little word, but it is a huge problem for the entire world.  Some are engaged in it without their knowledge of its evil and of it severe consequences.  Some, on the other hand, blatantly practice it knowing that it is wrong.  Still others are involved in sin believing that what they are doing is not wrong or not really very bad.

            The church has been adversely impacted by the world’s view of sin (See Rom. 12:2).  The lines between sin and holiness are no longer clearly defined.  Many see shades of gray when it comes to sinful things.  Some Christians participate in evil behaviors, justifying their practices, or, simply seeing nothing wrong with them.

            There needs to be a way for us to test our various behaviors to see whether they are sinful or not.  In this article, let’s look at three tests that can be done.  The first test is the WORD TEST.  All sin is the transgression of the Word of God.  “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law:  for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).  God reveals to us what sin is in the pages of His Word.  There are several lists of sin (See Rom. 1:18-32; I Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; I Tim. 3:2-4; Rev. 21:8).  Anything found on these lists is sin.  None of these things should ever be found in the life of God’s children. 

            The Bible also teaches us by principle.  An example of a principle is the Golden Rule.  Jesus said:  “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them:  for this is the law and the prophets” (Matt. 7:12).  This principle comprehends many behaviors and many situations.  Another principle found in God’s Word is the honoring of one’s parents (Eph. 6:1-3).  This is a principle that also has many ramifications (Matt. 15:3-6).

            The Bible is not an encyclopedia of all behaviors that are sinful.  There are some things that God expects us to know are in the “sin” category.  When Paul ended his list of the works of the flesh, he included this category of sin:  “…and such like.”  His list was exhaustive enough that other sins that were similar in nature ought to be easy to detect.  Yes, God’s Word is our first test for sin.  If our words or actions violate Bible teaching, we ought to refrain therefrom.

            A second test for sin is the EXAMPLE OF CHRIST TEST.  Jesus took upon Him the form of a man (John 1:14; Heb. 2:14).  He lived a perfect, sinless life (Heb. 4:15; I Pet. 2:22).  He is our example to follow.  “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:6).  In the last section, we noted that the Bible does not list every sin of man.  However, having Jesus as our example helps us to know whether something is right or wrong.  If we cannot see Jesus engaged in an action, we should not do it either.  Could we see Jesus going to the bar on Friday night having a beer with the boys?  Can we see Jesus walking the road from Jerusalem to Jericho spitting his tobacco filled spit every few steps?  Can we see Jesus dancing a modern dance at the club on Saturday night?  Can we see Jesus having a few puffs from a joint in order to get high?  Most would answer these questions, “No.”  Yet, there are Christians who to these things.  Again, if Jesus would not do them, neither should we.

            The third test of sin involves the PERSONAL EXAMPLE TEST.  When Paul wrote to Timothy, he exhorted him to be an example of the believers.  “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (I Tim. 4:12).  Our lives are to be a pattern for others to follow.  We are to be able to tell others:  “I want you to do exactly what I am doing.”  There are many behaviors that some engage in that they would not encourage others to do.  A father who smokes will tell his children:  “Do not take up the habit of smoking.”  Most dads do not want their five and six year olds chewing and dipping tobacco.  Some will cuss, but if they hear their children or grandchildren cussing, they will rebuke them for their filthy language.  Would we encourage every member of the church to skip Wednesday night Bible study to go hunting?  Would we exhort all members of the church to go out of town on the weekend and fail to go to Bible class and worship services?  We need to ask ourselves:  “Would I encourage others to do what I am doing?”  If I would not want my children or my brethren engaged in the actions I am engaged in, I should refrain from them.

            These are three simple tests for sin.  If it violates the will of God, it is a sin.  If Jesus would not participate in the action, it is a sin.  If I do not want others doing the thing I am doing, it is a sin.  Sadly, we enjoy our sins (Heb. 11:25).  It doesn’t matter whether it passes the tests list above or not, we will continue in them.  Do we think that grace will cover our sinful actions?  Paul answers:  “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid.  How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1-2).  Maybe we believe that God loves us too much to punish us for our sins.  We forget that God is also a holy God.  He cannot tolerate sin in any form.  Of heaven it is said:  “And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie:  but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27).