Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Sin Which Isn't a Sin

Fascinating article by Jay Adams here

A recent article about 'the sin which isn’t a sin' (Romans 14:23).  About it only being a sin if you think it’s a sin... and do it anyway.  Do it despite your better judgement.  Do it in spite of God.  Even if your judgement is wrong!

An encouragement not to judge by mere appearance but to make your judgement rightly (John 7:24).  To use the Bible as your basis for judgement.  And to diligently search it out if uncertain.
A stern encouragement to judge the body rightly (1 Cor. 11:29) lest the body become weak and sick and possibly die.  A compelling encouragement for many.

Now, does that mean that those who don’t think it’s a sin, whose conscience is actually "seared" (1 Tim. 4:2) are not actually sinning?  Since they do not think it a sin?

Well, I happen to hold the position that ‘no conscience is seared all that much’.  That their heart is darkened and not a black hole.  That their mind is depraved and not deprived.  That they know they are worthy of death (Romans 1:32).

I would maintain that no conscience is completely seared from the guilt of theft… not even Robin Hood’s.
That no conscience is completely seared from the guilt of abortion… as much as it might be condoned by authorities.
That no conscience is completely seared from the guilt of homosexuality… as much as ‘coming out’ might be applauded. 
And that no conscience is completely seared from the transgression of transsexuality [see previous post].  But I am not allowed to speak of that in this province today (discriminatory bill got passed yesterday).

That the conscience is merely seared from semi-sensible remorse.  Seared from reconciling repentance.  Seared but not eradicated.  The ashes of conscience remain.  And the image of God remains in the seared man.  A rather checkered image however.

But what do you do about the uncertain stuff, dear believer?  Stuff that you simply cannot find an answer for?  Well, as Dr. Adams succinctly says, “Put it on hold.”
But hold on lightly, because putting it on "hold" may be a sin as well.  And putting it on “hold” may invoke yet other sins (Lev. 5:17-19).

Let me give you an example.  An example similar to the eating of idol food mentioned of Adam's Romans 14 text.  An example on a topic that Dr. Adams speaks volumes on:

Say your wife leaves you- yet won’t divorce you.  Letting you suffer her wrath.  Putting things on “hold” so to speak.

Perhaps thinking that you were committing adultery on her, or some other novel notion.  And reasonable effort (including your pastor) has been made to disabuse her of such a notion.  And her prolonged separation causes you to commit adultery in your heart for someone else (a sin that she would then be an accomplice to- cf. Matt. 5:32).  Should you withhold financial support from her- to exacerbate the matter? In further effort to resolve this matter?  To try to take things off of “hold” with her?

Again, should you withhold support despite scripture saying that ‘you may not withhold support to your spouse’ (Exodus 21:10)?  And despite scripture saying that your withholding of support to your household makes you “worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8)?

Well, as Adams says elsewhere, withholding such would indeed be a sin- if you were to believe that she was still your spouse.  If you were to believe that she was still of your household.  However, she has already defaulted by withholding conjugal support (a sin).  And has already removed herself (and kids) from your household. 
As Adams repeats in many of his terse books, "Search the scriptures".  And informs us in at least one of his many books, 'There is no scriptural precedent for marital separation.  You are either married or you are not.’

Indeed, she has either left or she hasn’t... for noble or ignoble reasons.  And this situation simply must be taken off “hold”- since separation generally aggravates the situation.   And the statutory twelve month (U.S.) holding period… is far more than enough for cooling off (just ask any woman who’s had to wait nine months).  It's downright chilly.

And Adams admonishment is good, but perhaps not strong enough.  Perhaps he should have said, ‘Put it on hold, but be mindful that you are paying enormous fees for your uncertainty.   To continue with his metaphor, you are paying huge long-distance fees… till you finally get your uncertainty settled with God.’

In closing, getting disagreements settled quickly is good (Matt. 5:24).
And getting a Separation Agreement settled promptly is good.
But getting uncertainty settled with God is better.

Diligently search the scriptures, dear believer…