And that is the standard Jesus met and fulfilled. If ceasing to sin was acceptable to God, Jesus would not have had to die. Hey, He could have sinned and then stopped too, and then we could all go home together, right? There would have been no need of atonement, if ceasing to sin was acceptable for justification before God.
Again, God will not accept mixture—your efforts (ceasing to sin, as in original Mormonism, or even “trying” to cease sinning as taught by most Mormons currently) and Jesus’ efforts taken together—as payment for sin, as if Jesus’ blood and righteousness is insufficient by itself to purge our sins. That is an insult—an infinitely deep, infinitely offensive, insult—to God and to Christ’s blood and righteousness. And that is precisely why salvation is by grace and grace alone. “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Rom. 11:6). Salvation is all by grace or all by works. Mixture is unacceptable. But Works won’t work. So it’s all by grace or nothing. Grace alone, or death. Your choice. This should be a no-brainer.
“Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works” (Rom. 4:6). “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:12-14). “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb 1:3).
The problem of sin is not only a matter of breaking a law. That is a very low view of sin. And of course it leads to seeing sin as an easily solvable problem, a simple matter of correction. Stop sinning, problem solved. Why, it would be unfair, and downright mean, for God not to forgive, if we’ve corrected the problem! This is Sin as a pragmatic difficulty.
But this disregards the heinousness of sin. We recognize the principle of heinousness when we make distinctions between sin. We don’t punish people who take a pen home from work, or punch out five or ten minutes early, the way we punish people who embezzle millions of dollars from the company. And we don’t punish even the embezzler the way we do the kidnapper, rapist, or murderer. Now, we have “hate” crimes and laws. Exactly the same actions but punished more severely because someone somewhere judges that the action was done out of personal hatred against the victim due to his class (i.e., race, sexual orientation, etc.). In that case, his crime is seen as more heinous. But in every case, we are still measuring the heinousness of the crime by the amount of injury or pain suffered to the victim, and punishment is supposed to be suited to the crime. This is Sin as a social problem between humans. This is still a low view of sin.
The true measure of sin’s guilt is in the nature of the One sinned against.
Timothy Oliver was raised as a Seventh-Day-Adventist, and in is late teens became an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ--Latter Day Saints (LDS) and a missionary for them. After being confronted with questions during his mission, which he could not answer, he finally was saved by the sovereign grace of God Almighty. He is a friend and consultant to RethinkingAdventism.com and a regular contributor.
Timothy Oliver is currently an active missionary in Malaysia, along with his wife Suzie. If you are interested in supporting them make your check or payment out to:
P.O. Box 305
Santaquin, UT 84665
For more background information and ministry information and ways to support Timothy and Suzie Oliver -- click HERE.
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