The Reality of Sin
Sin is real, an offense against God. God nonetheless pardons sin. Such pardon does not come unless man does something: repents with fasting, rends his heart, and quits sinning. The Eternal saves us FROM our sins, not IN our sins. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is designed to teach us to recognize and to put out sin. Putting out leavening and leavened products is a physical act we do in order to show our resolve to put sin out of our lives.
In the Old Testament, there are several Hebrew terms for sin:
(1) Pesha, Strong's #6588, means rebellion. It is the attitude of mind in which a man sets himself up as the sole judge of his actions, recognizing neither God nor His law. Pesha signifies the refusal of man to consider himself accountable to God for his actions. An example of pesha is the trespass of Joseph's brothers in selling him into slavery, Genesis 50:17.
(2) Avon, #5771, comes from a root meaning "to be twisted," or "to be crooked" (compare our word, "a crook"). This refers to a man who departs from the course of good, starts out right but throws everything away in an act of folly. An example is David's iniquity in the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah, Psalms 51.
(3) Het, or hattath, #2399 and #2403, comes from a root meaning "to miss," used, for instance, when an archer fails to hit the target. Het denotes lack of character or staying power. It can also mean unwitting sin, and the careless driver, slack teacher, over-indulgent or neglectful parent, and thoughtless son, are all guilty of het. The Old Testament sin offerings were for this type of sin.
The first step toward eradicating sin is repentance. Teshubah, the Hebrew word for repentance, means "turning back." It involves (1) contrition for the sin committed and (2) firm resolve not to repeat it.
Before we can repent, we must know what sin is. Sin is the transgression of the Law, I John 3:4. By the Law is the knowledge of sin, Romans 3:20. We must study to know the Law in order to recognize sin, to know what it is. Few so-called Bible believers of today really study the Law to apply it in their lives. (Write for our book, Biblical Law.)
Is Sin Only For Other People?
Mankind does not like to come to grips with his own sin. This humorous story illustrates the point:
When a rural preacher returned after visiting a distant city, a parishioner met him at the train station. "How are things out our way, John?" the preacher asked. "Sad, sir. A cyclone came and wiped out my house." "Dear, dear," cried the preacher. "Well, I'm not surprised. You remember I warned you about the way you had been living. Punishment for sin is inevitable. Disasters never come without due cause." "It also destroyed your house, sir," said John. "It did?" The preacher was horrified. "Ah, me, the ways of the Lord are past human understanding."
Sin applies to each and every one of us.
Bible Examples of Sin
Someday, all of the Bible characters will be resurrected. They will discover to their chagrin that their sins have been published for all the world to read, examples for all mankind. Let's look at the Bible examples of sin. Then we will look at modern day sins of ourselves. We should study sins of others not to judge or condemn, but to learn the lessons, I Corinthians 10:4, so as to be able better to look at our own sins. The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, Jeremiah 17:9. Let's stop kidding ourselves and realize that the great examples of sin are lessons of what we have likewise done and will continue to do, without God's help.
Old Testament Sinners
Adam and Eve rebelled directly against their Creator. Eve was deceived, but Adam knew better, I Timothy 2:14. He meekly followed his wife and gave in to the path of least resistance. All sins of mankind that followed Adam's sin have followed a similar pattern.
Cain was jealous of and murdered his brother Abel. He held back his tithes from the Almighty. He married outside the prescribed racial bounds and became an outcast, Genesis 4.
Abram lied about Sarai being his sister when she was his wife. He feared for his life. They did this twice, Genesis 12:10-20, and chapter 20. Later, Sarah and Abraham lacked faith in God's promise to give them a son in their old age and tried to work it out through a "surrogate mother" Hagar. This was the sin of adultery, a great wrong, Genesis 16:1-5.
Moses struck the rock when the Eternal had told him to speak and water would flow from the rock. As a result, in spite of his previous faithfulness, Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, Numbers 20:2-12. What a lesson for us today! All previous righteousness is forgotten in the day we sin, Ezekiel 18:4, 20-32. We must be steadfast in the faith, never crookedly departing from the narrow way.
The judge and priest Eli is a prime example of a poor father. His sons committed brazen sins but he did nothing to stop them. Eli fell under a severe indictment by God for his evil ways. The Eternal gave the sentence to Eli's young apprentice Samuel, I Samuel 2:12-17, 22-25, 3:11-13. It is amazing that Samuel turned around and did much the same thing, failing to raise obedient sons. This was the excuse Israel used to demand a king, I Samuel 8:1-7. More wickedness on top of evil.
Saul claimed to be following the Eternal when he held back some of the animals of a city he conquered to give as a sacrifice to the Eternal. God had told him to wipe everything out down to the last beast. To obey is better than sacrifice, and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, I Samuel 15:1-23. How often do people claim obedience when in fact they are directly rebelling against the plain commands of the Creator!
David couldn't control his lustful desires when he saw Bathsheba bathing. He not only committed adultery with her, but had her husband Uriah killed so that he could marry her, II Samuel 11. David's example of repentance is one of the most beautiful portions of the Holy Scriptures, II Samuel 12, Psalms 51. Great men and women truly repent when shown to be wrong.
Throughout the period Israel left Egypt up to their final captivity (Northern Israel in the 700's BC, Southern Israel in the 500's BC), there is recorded in great detail in Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles the history of their folly of obeying the Eternal for a short while, to immediately lax into idolatry and adultery and as a result reap divine curses and punishments. This time is summarized in Nehemiah 9. Are we any better than they?
King Solomon was the wisest king of Israel. He started out on the right track. But then he disobeyed the Eternal in marrying multiple wives from foreign nations. He allowed them to continue their idolatrous religion, even building pagan temples in Jerusalem, I Kings 11:1-13. Solomon's successor son Rehoboam was a spoiled brat. Rather than listen to the advice of his elders, he tried to exercise his "authority." As a result, the Kingdom of Israel was split and the Northern Ten Tribes broke away with Jeroboam, I Kings 12. Jeroboam's sin of counterfeit religion shows how far people will go to pervert the truth for personal gain. He instituted a counterfeit Feast of Tabernacles in the eighth month with pagan worship in order to keep his subjects from going to Jerusalem to worship, I Kings 12:25-33.
Jezebel and her husband Ahab are the epitome of wicked rulers. They led Northern Israel to sin and perpetuated numerous sins that eventually led to the Assyrian Captivity.
Southern Judah was no better. Except for a few exceptions such as Hezekiah and Josiah, kings of Judah followed a similar path of idolatry and wickedness. After the Babylonian Captivity, some Jews under Ezra and Nehemiah returned to rebuild Jerusalem. Nehemiah stood up against the sins of usury, intermarriage with heathen and Sabbath breaking, Ezra 9, and Nehemiah 10:28-31, 13:15-28.
Sin in the New Testament
In the several hundred years between Ezra and Jesus Christ, the Jews became deeply influenced by Greek thought. Judaism became a religion significantly different than taught by the Bible. The Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes were three of the main Jewish sects. The Pharisees tied down the Law of God with so many minute restrictions as to make it unrecognizable. The Sadducees had many doctrinal heresies, even claiming there was no resurrection. The Essenes lived in desert communes and deviated from the Sacred Calendar in that their holy days were determined by a solar calendar rather than the Eternal's lunar-solar calendar. The Savior warned us to beware of the "leaven" of the Pharisees, which is false doctrine, Matthew 16:6, 12.
Matthew 23is a severe indictment against the false piety of the Pharisees that we need to apply to ourselves today. See also Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:6-9, 13.
Judas Iscariot may be the prime example of sin in the Bible. Bible commentators have speculated that Judas really had good intentions when he told Jesus' whereabouts to the High Priest. They feel that Judas wanted Jesus to force His hand and declare himself the King of Israel with power. When Jesus meekly submitted to His execution, Judas saw He was condemned and hung himself. Regardless of the motivation of Judas, money was a factor in his actions. For thirty pieces of silver he conspired to betray the Savior. Suicide is a grievous sin committed by one who condemns himself.
And so it is today that money is a root of all evil and suicide is becoming prevalent, even among our youth. Life is precious and to be productive for the Eternal, who will forgive even the blackest sin upon genuine repentance. Life is more than money. Life is a training ground for preparation to become immortal spirit beings in God's kingdom. Can we learn the lessons of Judas Iscariot and not repeat his vile sins?
In the days of the preaching of the Apostle Paul, there were many gainsayers and false teachers. In fact, this is the theme of his writings. See the following scriptures: I Corinthians 1:10,13, 3:3, 5:11-13, 15:34, 16:9; II Corinthians 2:17, 4:2-4, 11:1-31, 12:20-21; Galatians 1:6-10, 2:4, 3:1, 4:17, 5:7-12, 6:12; Ephesians 4:14, 5:6-7,11; Philippians 1:15, 3:18-19; Colossians 2:8, 18-23; I Thessalonians 2:1-6, 14-18, 5:6-7, 14; II Thessalonians 2:1-12, 3:6,14-15; I Timothy 1:3-7, 19-20, 4:1-3, 5:19-20, 6:3-5, 10, 20-21; II Timothy 1:15, 2:16-18, 23, 4:3-4, 14-16; Titus 1:9-16, 3:10-11; Hebrews 2:1, 3:12, 4:2, 6:4-6, 10:23-29, 12:15, 13:9.
The apostles Peter, John and Jude repeat the same theme, warning us not to fall away from the truth: II Peter chapter 2, 3:16-18; I John 2:2, 9, 11, 18-26, 3:6-8, 4:1-6; II John 7-11; III John 9-10; Jude 3-4, 12, 16-19.
It would be far better for someone to never mention the Bible rather than to pervert and twist it. When you get right down to the basics, most false religious teaching stems from the love of money and lust of the flesh, particularly sexual lusts. It is no different today than it was in the days of the early New Testament church.
The Messages to the Seven Churches, found in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 lays bare the sins of the true Church of God down through the ages. Each message applies to people then, but also applies to us today. Ephesus left her first love. The zeal of the early church was quickly lost. Have we lost our first love for the truth? Thyatira allowed her children to be educated by the great whore, the Roman Catholic Church. You can't serve two masters. You must stand up to evil no matter what the cost of persecution. Sardis almost died out. And Laodicea is lazy and lukewarm, not filled with the zeal for the truth. Laodicea graphically depicts the church in our age. More on this later.
Sin in the Future
While some historians exaggerate the World War II "Holocaust" of five or six million Jews killed by Nazi Germany (even if these figures are accurate, the Russian and Chinese Communists murdered many more of their own subjects) there is a coming Great Tribulation that will make Auschwitz look like a Sunday picnic. It will be a last great attempt of Satan the Devil to destroy mankind. So wicked will mankind become that even when the Almighty sends Seven Last Plagues of punishment for their sins, many will shake their fists and blaspheme the Creator, Revelation 16:21. Even though the Bible records heinous sins down through the ages, "you ain't seen nothing yet!"
An End of Sin
There will be an end of sin. That is the good news of the Bible. Daniel 9:24, Revelation 21, 22. We are looking forward to that day of peace and rest, the millennial Sabbath, and the New Heavens and New Earth wherein dwells righteousness.
Modern Day Sins
Until the Millennium, there is much work to do. Each one of us must strive, with the help of God's Holy Spirit, to put sin out of our lives. Putting sin out is the theme of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Instead of looking at the sins of the present evil world, such as murder, theft, adultery, idolatry and materialism, we need to take a critical look at the sins of the group of believers who claim to be following the Bible.
The "Church of God" is a term I use to refer to those who keep Saturday as the Sabbath and who historically stem from the Church of God, Seventh Day. This includes the various Seventh Day Churches of God, Worldwide Church of God and its spin-offs, the various Sacred Name (Assembly of Yahweh) groups, and in addition, sister groups such as Seventh Day Baptists.
What are the sins of the modern Church of God? I have grouped our sins under seven major areas. These are the sins and weaknesses that affect us, me too.
(1) Idolizing Organizations and Ministers
(2) Stealing God's Tithes Both Ways
(3) Rejecting Bible Principles on Health and Healing
(4) Heretical Beliefs
(5) Watering Down Sabbath and Holy Days
(6) Rejecting, or Not Rejecting, Fellowship
(7) Perverting and/or Neglecting Marriage and Family
Let us examine these seven characteristic sins of our age.
(1) Idolizing Organizationsand Ministers
Worship of an organization and/or a leading minister is a common sin of today's Sabbath keepers. Many feel that the "one true church" is limited to their organization, and that their minister is God's servant and can do no wrong. Of particular danger is the fact that many of these people have left other "corrupt" Sabbath-keeping organizations which they feel have been duped into blindly following. However, they turn around and blindly follow another organization, failing to see the sins and shortcomings of its leadership, and doctrinal departures.
Organizations are not wrong in themselves. Neither is it wrong for a minister to exert strong leadership. But when a minister or organization claim "we are the only ones," and spurn questioning of their conduct by the membership, then we should get off the bandwagon. In all too many cases, the ordinary church membership lets the minister do all the thinking. They feel, wrongly, that their only responsibility is to "pay and pray." This is idolatry, just as sure as bowing down before a graven image is idolatry.
(2) Stealing God's Tithes Both Ways
Organization and minister worship (idolatry) naturally lead to stealing of God's tithes both ways. The first way is that tithes are blindly given with no accountability. The minister or organization spends the tithes as they see fit. And they are accountable to no one. Nowhere in the Bible does it show that the first tithe can be used by God's servants as they see fit. Even the Levites could not do this. If they didn't take their turn serving in the Temple, they received no tithes. If they failed to faithfully teach the people God's laws, Leviticus 10:9-11. they were not qualified to receive tithes, no matter if they were a priest of the tribe of Levi. Notice that Elisha received tithes (firstfruits, which are part of the tithing laws), when he was not a Levite, II Kings 4:42. And this was right. Because the first tithe is for the Creator's service, not for the sustenance of a particular class or group of people. Blindly giving tithes to a minister or organization with no accountability is wrong. The giver has a great responsibility to see to it that the tithes are USED for a right purpose. If the tithes are not used for a right purpose, God's tithes are being stolen.
The second way that God's tithes are stolen is the way many ministers and church organizations spend the tithes. Lavish expensive ministerial homes, special "perks" and benefits far above what a normal standard of living requires. Unsound business decisions and wasteful management of resources. Here is a sorry example: One major Sabbath-keeping organization has generally rented meeting halls for Sabbath and Holy Day services. This has been money wasted. With volunteer labor from church brethren, they could have built multipurpose meeting halls at minimal expense. These meeting halls could have been used for religious, social and recreational activities seven days a week, and in some cases even rented out to other businesses and organizations in order to cover the maintenance costs and perhaps be a source of church revenue. Instead, decades of rents have been paid with nothing to show for the expense.
Here is another example: Visiting the brethren is a vital function of the ministry and elders in the church. Yet a major Sabbath-keeping organization we were associated with neglected this vital aspect of service. Our minister's appointment book was empty, yet he received a good salary with excellent benefits. Having had two in-laws in the ministry of that organization, I have confirmation from them as well that the ministry of that organization has lots of free time on their hands, so that they can always play racquetball and golf, but yet do not visit and encourage the brethren. For deceitful workers of iniquity, "tithing pays." They are on the receiving end, and tithing really pays them well. However, in the sight of the Almighty, this is tithe stealing of the worst kind.
Here is how not to steal tithes: Give tithes to those who are preaching and living by the Truth. In a respectful attitude, make sure you get a reasonable accounting of the money you give. Don't be super critical, but if your suggestions are not welcome, or if an open discussion of how to best utilize the available tithes is not allowed, you are putting the tithes in the wrong place. Tithes, like any other asset, are a resource to be used judiciously. Someday both the giver and the recipient of the tithes will have to give an account of how well they have handled the Eternal's tithes. You are entirely wrong if you think that your responsibility is only to pay and that it is the minister's responsibility to spend the tithes as he sees fit. Giving tithes to a corrupt minister or organization is stealing God's tithes.
There is another group of tithe stealers. They have very good intentions, but they are stealing the tithes nevertheless. These are the ones who put their tithes in the bank. They can't find an honest minister who will faithfully proclaim the truth. They won't do anything to promote the faith either. So they bank their tithes in the hopes that someday God will make it evident to them to whom to pay their tithes. Here is the opposite of those who freely pay and demand no accountability. These are the super cautious, fearing to make a mistake. They certainly have noble intentions. However, the truth is not being proclaimed and preserved. People seeking the right way of life are not being fed with spiritual food. And it is the fault of this do nothing crowd. Read Matthew 25 and Luke 19. Those who do not produce anything with what God gives them will lose what they have. Mankind's paper money currency, or even gold, is worthless to the Creator. But character being built, people's lives being changed for the better, that is what the purpose for the first tithes is all about. Someday, this "do nothing" group will have to answer for what they are not doing. Why didn't they produce? A true believer must grow and spread the word to others by example and deed. Wicked men succeed because righteous men do nothing.
(3) Rejecting Bible Principles on Health and Healing
Next, one of the major sins of today's Sabbath keepers is a rejection of Bible principles on health and healing. Many say they believe in divine healing. Many say they follow the Bible on matters of health. But few really perform the work necessary to make this happen. Why do I say work, when healing is clearly a matter of faith? Because by work, faith is made perfect. Without any work, there can be no faith.
The Eternal heals. We believe this firmly and have seen this proven in our lives many times. The firm resolve of faith sometimes wavers. It needs shoring up, continual maintenance. Ministers who set such a horrible example of wantonness in their personal lives cannot help others increase their faith. For example, the current leader of a Sabbath-keeping group is noted for being obese. How can this man who claims to be strictly following the laws of health even profess to be a minister? Obesity is in violation of the basic laws of health and plain Bible teaching, Proverbs 23:20-21, 25:16. Those who have this problem need spiritual and physical help. It is time we quit kidding ourselves. Living by Biblical Laws of health is much more than merely abstaining from unclean foods. It includes proper diet, exercise, sleep and rest, mental attitude and much more.
True believers should be constantly growing in knowledge and practice of good health. Two of the basic ingredients of our diet are bread and water. Does making one's own bread from organic wheat, instead of eating chemically treated white gummy bread from the store sound strange to you? Does obtaining pure water instead of drinking the chlorinated sewage most people drink seem like health food fanaticism to you? Then perhaps you need to really understand the meaning of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, how His body was beaten for our physical iniquities. Such are the sins of today's Church of God that even basic health practices are often treated with contempt. That is why one of the major themes of Giving & Sharing is to encourage people to learn more about and follow the Eternal's laws of natural health.
Living a natural, more healthy life takes WORK. Most people desire to make more money rather than follow the Eternal. The work involved in, for example, baking one's own bread, or in exercising on a regular basis, is just too much effort for them. It is sad that many are busy doing all sorts of physical pleasures, but lazy doing what really benefits their physical lives. Good health is important. Without vibrant health, we cannot effectively serve the Eternal. We need to work to do our part in diet, exercise and good health principles, and then trust and rely on the Creator to do the rest and heal us when and if we get sick.
A great sin of many Sabbath keepers today is a virtual worship of the medical profession, which cannot heal. Only the Almighty can heal.
(4) Heretical Beliefs
A great deal of literature from a multitude of Sabbath-keeping groups comes to us. We constantly get letters from individuals attempting to "convert" us to different religious ideas. Every so often we are surprised and shocked by a "new" (to us) heresy, a strange idea that is patently false yet adamantly held to by the individual proclaiming it. Here are some common heresies of today: Sacred Name exclusivism, rejection of the Hebrew calendar, unscriptural ideas concerning the New Testament Passover, wrong Pentecost dates, and exaggerated and unfounded prophetic claims.
Studying the Hebrew names for the Creator and His son can provide great insights. We can understand God more fully and establish a closer contact with the Father. However, the exclusivism employed by most Sacred Name groups places their concept clearly outside the Bible. In their eyes, I do not have the Holy Spirit because I have not been baptized in the Hebrew name. They cannot agree among themselves the exact pronunciation of the Hebrew names for the Almighty. Worse still, the Sacred Name idea is an axe upon which they continuously grind. Clearly they are striving about words to no profit.
Then there are the "Bible Calendar" proponents. In rejecting the Hebrew Calendar preserved by the Jews, they falsely claim to be following the "Bible Calendar," keeping Holy Days on different dates than we do. There is no Bible Calendar. Again, these heretics go to secular history, rejecting what doesn't fit their preconceived theories, and purporting as fact their particular version of a "self observable calendar." If there were such a thing as a Bible Calendar, supported by honest historical facts, one would think they would all come to the same conclusions and keep the same calendar. Not so. There is a real smorgasbord of "Bible calendars" from which to choose.
Of all the Biblical Feasts and Holy Days, perhaps the Passover has been the most heretically abused of all. Is it on the fourteenth or fifteenth day of the first sacred month? Do we use grape juice, wine, or water? Do we have to wash one another's feet? Should it be called the Lord's Supper, Passover, Memorial Supper, or Love Feast? On and on the conflicting ideas go. Naturally, all proponents of each conflicting position claim scriptural backing for their heresy. The most important evening of the year for the New Testament believer is one on which there is much disagreement among Sabbath keepers. Continually we come across different aberrations of this basic and simple Messianic ordinance. This year we were surprised to learn that one group even believes in keeping the ordinance in the early afternoon! That's the abominable thing about heresies. They never end, bubbling and boiling like a witch's brew.
As for Pentecost, there are three, four or five different dates to "choose" from. At least on this subject, most of the heretics are honest, admitting they count only forty-nine days, when the Bible clearly says to count fifty days.
Last, but not least on the top five heresy best seller list is false prophecy. It is impossible to defend Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong's modern day false prophecies. Anyone who has access to older issues of The Plain Truth magazine, or Marion McNair's book, Armstrongism: Religion or Ripoff? has ample proof that many blatant false prophecies have been made. Any student of the history of religion in America in the 1800's knows that there is a continual line of false prophets from Adventist William Miller to Judge Rutherford. With the historical record of failed prophecies by well-meaning Bible preachers before us today, one would think that of all people, Sabbath keepers would avoid sticking their feet in their mouths and repeating such sins of lying prophets.
There they go again!
There are popular Sabbath-keeping groups that almost exclusively proclaim prophecy. When it fails, they go right on and proclaim a revised version of the same untruths. Their followers seem to go right along. Never mind teaching the flock how to walk closer to the Creator in this mad, mad hell-bent world. Forget about husband-wife problems, problems with teenage children and the real life struggles of people striving to put food on their tables. The important thing to these prophetic heretics is the universal price code, and the mark of the beast, 666, the Jubilee cycles, the inner workings of the Illuminati, and whether or not the Temple in Jerusalem will be re-built this year or next. On the other side of the spectrum, many Sabbath keepers are influenced by another prophecy "expert" who claims that almost all Bible prophecy is already fulfilled, and we are now in the Millennium! If this were true, I would feel like jumping off a cliff!
Don't get me wrong, prophecy is an important part of the Bible. None of the wicked will understand, Daniel 12:10, such as the divorced and "remarried" false prophets who are foremost in today's heretical prophetic thrust. But the wise will understand, when it is the Eternal's time to reveal precise, exact, never failing predictions and interpretations of Bible prophecy, Amos 3:7. Because of the gross false prophesying of many Sabbath keepers, I have tended to shy away from a serious study of prophecy in recent years. This is something we must work to avoid. It is important for us to study Bible prophecy, and let the Creator reveal to us its meaning.
There is nothing new under the sun. Sometimes we think we have heard a really new heresy. Later study often proves it is only a rehash of an old idea. Satan the Devil has no original ideas.
(5) Watering Down Sabbathand Holy Days
Certainly Sabbath keepers keep the Sabbath, don't they? Don't many Sabbath-keeping groups also observe the Biblical Holy Days? Not without plenty of sins in this area as well.
The principle of Sabbath-keeping is so wide that our human minds in this life can perhaps only grasp a small part of the totality of this awesomely significant Holy Time. A future study is planned showing our limited understanding of how to keep the Sabbath Holy. The true Sabbath should bring us into the presence of the Heavenly Father. Are we keeping a true sacred Sabbath?
We have observed a general trend of watering down of holy Sabbath observance. As the Sabbath goes, so goes our spiritual life. Don't be like the church deacon we know. He is a natural leader, a kind and friendly man, who with his wife are looked upon as leading members in a very conservative small Sabbath-keeping group. They have been church members for many, many years. Yet when this man's teenage son wanted to go play in a junior league baseball game on the Sabbath, the father drove him there himself. He justified the Sabbath violation by saying that God was teaching his son a lesson by causing him to lose the ball game so that he would come to see that he should be keeping the Sabbath. "But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter . . . ." Exodus 20:10. Most newly baptized converts can see how to simply apply the Sabbath commandment. It seems like the more years one keeps the Sabbath should make one more aware of the spiritual aspects of the Creator's Holy Day. But this is not always the case.
Each Sabbath is like a mini-Feast. On Thursday night and Friday, we scurry around cleaning up the house, making it as spotless and clean as possible for the coming of the Sabbath. A special meal and general merriment create a festive atmosphere. Daddy plays with the children, not having to worry about going back to the grind on the morrow. There is laughter, and sometimes music. We stop from the hectic pace of our daily activities and appreciate each other and life. We think about the Almighty and all of His wonderful blessings. What a marvelous day!
During the time of the disciples, the time of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread was the high point of the spiritual year, the most important and well-attended of the Three Annual Pilgrimage Feasts. Today, in some circles, Passover is an "unpleasant" ritual to get over as quickly as possible. For these who water down the truth, the only "Feast" is Tabernacles in the fall. In their eyes, the Bible spring feast is merely the "Days" of Unleavened Bread. The fall harvest of sumptuous feasts and parties is exaggerated to the point of a worldly vacation. There is something spiritually wrong when the days depicting the Messiah's death for our sins, and our putting sin out of our lives are downgraded to minor importance. Sin takes its toll when we neglect the Feast of Unleavened Bread which is to teach us to put out sin.
(6) Rejecting, or Not Rejecting, Fellowship
"Give US this day OUR daily bread . . . forgive US OUR sins, as WE forgive others" is not poetic rhetoric. The "Lord's Prayer" and many Bible passages show that fellowship, sharing among one another our successes, our failures andour trials, is an essential aspect of Christian life.
Today, however, there are a number of isolated individuals who are spiritual hermits. They spurn Christian fellowship. At a time when communication is necessary to their spiritual survival, they reject contact with brethren who believe the same doctrines they do. Why? The Bible warns us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, Hebrews 10:24-25. Doing so leads to the unpardonable sin, verses 26-27. Turned off by unpleasant contacts and problems, or whatever, some stay by themselves and are headed for spiritual trouble.
Even among those who occasionally fellowship with others, there is a decided lack of enthusiasm for developing close contacts and friendships within the body of believers. It takes work to make spiritual friends, Proverbs 18:24. Many individuals won't write letters to other brethren. They won't call them or go out of their way to visit with them. In the United States, it costs about twenty-five cents to send a first class letter of five pages. American Telephone & Telegraph long distance rates have been reduced. Their "Reach Out America" plan allows a subscriber to telephone anywhere in the USA for one hour a month for the low monthly fee of about nine dollars, during weekends and evenings. Additional hours are billed at similar low rates. What excuse do we have not to have close contact with other brethren?
Rejecting fellowship has another aspect. Ministers, who should be leaders and foremost in initiating fellowship and ministering to the flock, often do not visit the brethren either. Here is a sad example: An upstanding couple stopped attending Sabbath services, without giving any reason. The "minister" said to the rest of the group he didn't know why they weren't at services. The couple's house was near the route of the minister to and from Sabbath services. He never stopped by for a visit to see what the problem was. He never called them. He never wrote them either as far as we know. We visited them and found them to be withdrawing from all fellowship. In a short while, they told us we were not welcome to come by for a Sabbath visit either. These people weren't rejecting the Sabbath. They were rejecting fellowship. The so-called minister didn't care for them at all.
Rejecting fellowship has many other aspects. There are brethren who meet with other believers, yet are critical or uncaring of their brethren. There are believers who meet with others who have beliefs radically different than they do. They realize the need for fellowship, yet vainly attempt to fulfill this requirement by an unscriptural method. You cannot experience true Christian fellowship by meeting with others with whom you have no basis for spiritual fellowship. Can two walk together except they be agreed? Amos 3:3. NO! You cannot truly fellowship unless you meet with others of like mind, II Corinthians 6:14-18, Psalms 133:1-3.
NOT rejecting fellowship when such action is demanded is just as bad, or worse, than rejection of fellowship altogether. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. If the ministry is corrupt, how righteous can the flock be? Improper associations can corrupt the best of us. This is a vital lesson of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
As my father-in-law says in his North Carolina expression, "When we recognize sin, we need to get shut of it!" This means we must get rid of it immediately, put it out right away. Yet many people linger on in doctrinally corrupt organizations, when they know their church is corrupt! May God help us to "get shut" of sin!
(7) Perverting and/or Neglecting Marriage and Family
Marriage and family is the key doctrine of the Bible. In today's Sabbath-keeping groups, this doctrine is horribly perverted. Biblical family and married life is rarely practiced.
Marriage is for life. Churches of God have almost uniformly perverted scriptures such as Genesis 2:24, allowing divorce and remarriage contrary to the Bible. Twisted human reasoning born out of physical lust and perverted minds have come up with all sorts of aberrant ideas supposedly allowing divorce and remarriage, interracial marriage, and even acceptance of homosexuality. We are not talking about Protestants and Catholics. We are talking about avowed Sabbath-keepers.
One man said that "God didn't condemn David for marrying more than one wife. So God allows a man to have more than one wife by divorcing and remarrying." A minister (falsely) claiming to be "conservative" says that "except it be for fornication" in Matthew 19:9 means "except it be for fraud or some other problem." Thousands of Sabbath keepers condemned television evangelist Jim Bakker for his much publicized adultery. Yet these same people are promoting adultery right in the church by accepting false divorce and remarriage teachings.
Let's carry the marriage and family teaching one step further. Suppose we do understand, as the Bible says, that marriage is for life, with no way out of a bound marriage. How loving and caring are we in our marriages and families? Here is where we all fall short. We need to "focus on the family" and "turn our hearts toward home."
The Sabbath, Tithing, Fellowship, and all the ways of the Eternal are important. But if we are not practicing the way of love in our families and marriages, we have missed the boat entirely. A loving, growing relationship between husband and wife. Children taught the truth, lovingly tended to by their parents. This is what the Eternal wants for us. Not marrying someone else. Not neglecting the family by business and other pursuits.
This is where I fall down worst of all. I communicate with hundreds of people via correspondence through our Giving & Sharing service. On my job as a computer applications consultant, I am constantly dealing with people in the Company I work for. Yet all to often I don't communicate effectively with my wife and our three children. They only get the "scraps off the table" of my time. This is the most common sin of men today. It is a devastating sin. May the Eternal help us men to repent. We need His help to become the loving husbands and fathers we should be.
Suppose you are divorced and struggling to raise a family alone? Or maybe you have never married and can't seem to find the right mate? Satan is bombarding you with thoughts of discouragement, and in many cases, wrong physical desires. Do not yield to sin. If you are divorced or separated from your true mate, do not yield to sin and remarry (which is adultery). If you are eligible to marry, do not hastily rush into an ill-conceived union. Sexual sins and lusts still plague many Sabbath keepers, both men and women. Many ministers actually promote doctrines which encourage sexual sins. We need to rid our lives of these sins.
The Laodicean Attitude
These seven sins of today's church are all different facets of a certain attitude, or frame of mind. We call it the "Laodicean Attitude." It is a prevalent trend of this age. Each of the seven characteristic sins of the church of this age show a lack of zeal for the truth, the trend to take the easy way out, the path of least resistance. The majority have a "rich and increased with goods" attitude.
In the Messiah's message to the seven churches of Asia Minor, the Church of Laodicea is mentioned last. While these messages are applicable to each and every messianic believer throughout the ages, it is also true that the messages are chronological, cataloging the eras of the history of the true church. The message to Laodicea describes the prevalent condition of the church at the very end time. Those who deny this are ignoring the facts.
The "Laodicean Attitude" is lackadaisical toward sin. Laodiceans do not zealously get the sin out, pictured by the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They aren't blatant sinners, just not concerned about perfection.
Revelation 3:14-19And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Laodiceans are satisfied with the truth they have. They falsely claim to be holding fast to the truth, but have watered down so much truth they once had, yet don't know it.
In an attempt to obtain a more generous severance package, one minister initiated a lawsuit against his parent church from which he was disfellowshipped. When my brother-in-law confronted him for this sin (I Corinthians 6:1-8), the minister angrily retorted, "I have nothing to repent of. The lawyer made me do it!" Laodiceans think they have no sin, nothing to repent of. They are blind to their own sins. Yet they claim to be the only ones having the truth, and that all others are evil.
The Bible further describes Laodiceanism in Colossians 4:12-17. Archippus, a Laodicean minister, was warned to be more diligent in his ministry. Here is a man that typified the Laodicean attitude of laziness. Lazy toward sin, not diligent enough to work on the self to get rid of sin.
Those who escape the "Laodicean Attitude" are those who zealously put sin out.
They don't idolize organizations and ministers. They don't steal tithes nor give tithes to those who do. They are growing in the knowledge of Bible health principles and faith and reliance upon the Almighty to heal. They do not water down the Sabbath and Holy Days. They don't reject fellowship. They encourage and inspire the brethren. As zealous believers, they don't fellowship with corrupt organizations and ministers preaching rank heresy. And they haven't perverted the Bible doctrine of marriage and family. They are growing into a more perfect union with their families and their Creator. Non-Laodiceans see their own sins and zealously repent and get sin out of their lives.
Revelation 14:12, "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
Passover & Feast of Unleavened Bread Part 1
Passover & Feast of Unleavened Bread Part 2
Passover -- 14th or 15th?
Passover, Lord's Supper, or Communion?
Drink the Pure Blood of the Grape
The Order and Meaning of Passover
Instructions for Keeping the New Covenant Passover
Why Do We Take the New Testament Passover?
The New Testament Passover Ceremony
Polluted Bread for Passover?
Recipes for the Days of Unleavened Bread
Let a Man Examine Himself
Observance of the Passover.
Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread Quiz
Main Holy Day Menu
Written by: Richard C. Nickels
Giving & Sharing
PO Box 100
Neck City, MO 64849
United States of America
This material distributed on the Web by the Giving & Sharing site at: http://www.giveshare.org
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