For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.’ And He said to them, ‘All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.
“And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.
First, I would like to define what sin is. There are sins defined by God and there are sins defined by man. The word sin, ‘αμαρτία (hamartia)’ in ancient Greek, means to ‘miss the mark.’ In other words, it is to do something wrong. It is a sin to disobey God’s orders. Let’s initially observe the human viewpoint of sin.
What is sin?
It is to disobey God’s orders.
We recognize sin according to and through our consciences. However, the human standard of it varies according to one’s social background, mental state, given circumstances and conscience.
Thus, the definition of sin varies among different individuals. The same action may or may not be considered sinful depending on each person’s own standards. That is why God has given us 613 articles of the Law to be used as the absolute standard of sin.
The diagram below illustrates the sins of humankind.
morality and social norms
National law, civil law
We should never set the standards of sin upon our own consciences based on social norms.
The sins of our consciences are not in accord with what God has defined as sin. Therefore, we should not listen to our consciences, but rather base the standards of sin on God’s commandments.
Each of us has our own idea of what sin is. Some consider it to be their shortcomings while others deem it to be based on distorted behavior.
For example, in Korea, people cover their parents’ graves with grass and take it upon themselves to care for them until they die. But in one of the primitive tribes in Papua New Guinea, they honor their dead parents by feasting on the body with family members. (I’m not sure if they cook the carcass before eating it.) I believe they want to prevent the body from being eaten by worms. These customs illustrate that the human concept of sin widely varies.
A virtuous deed in one society may be considered barbaric in another society. However, the Bible tells us that it is a sin to disobey God’s orders. “‘For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.’ And He said to them, ‘All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition’” (Mark 7:8-9). Our physical appearances are of no importance to God because He looks into the core of our hearts.
One’s Own Criterion Is a Sin before God
What’s the most serious sin?
It’s to disregard the Word of God.
To fail to live by His will is a sin before God. It is the same as not believing in His Word. God said that it was a sin to live as the Pharisees, who rejected God’s commandments and put more importance on their own traditional teachings. Jesus considered the Pharisees to be hypocrites.
“Which God do you believe in? Do you really revere and exalt Me? You boast about My name, but do you really honor Me?” People only look at outer appearances and disregard His Word. The most serious sin is to disregard His Word. Are you aware of this?
The lawless deeds that originated from our weaknesses are mere iniquities. The mistakes we make and the wrongs we commit due to our imperfections are not fundamental sins, but faults. God distinguishes sins from iniquities. Those who disregard His Word are sinners, even if they have no faults. They are great sinners before God. That is why Jesus scolded the Pharisees.
In the Pentateuch, from Genesis to Deuteronomy, there are commandments that tell us what to do and what not to do. They are the Word of God, His commandments. We may not be able to keep them 100%, but we should recognize them as His commandments. He has given them to us from the beginning and we must accept them as God’s Word.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Then He said, “Let there be light; and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). He created everything. Afterwards, He established the Law.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, 14). How, then, does God show Himself to us? He shows Himself through His commandments because God is the Word and the Spirit. Therefore, what do we call the Bible? We call it the Word of God.
It is said here, “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men.” There are 613 articles in His Law. Do this but don’t do that, honor your parents...etc. In Leviticus, it states how men and women should act and what to do when a domestic animal falls into a ditch...etc. There are 613 such articles in His Law.
Since they are not the words of humans, we should think about them again and again. Though we are unable to keep all of His Law, we should at least acknowledge them and obey God.
Is there a single passage in God’s Word that is not right? The Pharisees laid aside the commandments of God and held the traditions of men over His commandments. The words of their elders carried more weight than the words of God. When Jesus was on earth, this was what He witnessed, and what pained Him the most was that people ignored God’s Word.
God has given the 613 articles of the Law to make us realize our sins and to show that He is the Truth, our holy God. Since we are all sinners before Him, we should live by faith and believe in Jesus, who was sent to us from God because of His love for us.
People who lay aside His Word and do not believe in it are sinners. Those who are unable to keep His Word are also sinners, but laying aside His Word is a more serious sin. Those who commit such a severe sin will end up in hell. Not believing in His Word is the gravest sin before Him.
The Reason Why God Gave Us the Law
Why did God give us the Law?
To make us realize our sins and the punishment for them
What was the reason that God gave us the Law? It was to make us realize our sins and return to Him. He gave us the 613 articles of the Law so that we could recognize our sins and be redeemed through Jesus Christ. That’s why God gave us the Law.
Romans 3:20 states, “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” Therefore, we know that God’s reason for giving us the Law was not to force us to live by it.
Then, what is the knowledge we gain from the Law? It is that we are too weak to completely obey the Law in its entirety and that we are grave sinners before Him. What do we realize from the 613 articles of His Law? We realize our shortcomings and inability to live by His Law. We recognize that we, the creations of God, are impotent beings, as well as grave sinners before Him. We should all end up in hell according to His Law.
When we realize our sins and the inability to live by His Law, then what do we do? Do we try to become complete beings? No. We must admit that we are sinners, believe in Jesus, be redeemed through His salvation of the water and the Spirit and thank Him.
The reason He gave us the Law was to make us acknowledge our sins and know the punishments for those sins. Hence, we would recognize the impossibility of being saved from hell without Jesus. If we believe in Jesus as our Savior, we will be redeemed. He gave us the Law to lead us to the Savior Jesus.
God created the Law to make us realize how completely sinful we are and to save our souls from such sin. He gave us the Law and sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to save us by taking all our sins through His baptism. Believing in Him can save us.
We are hopeless sinners who must believe in Jesus to be freed from sin, become His children and return all the glory to God.
We should understand, think and judge through His Word because everything originates from Him. We must also comprehend the truth of redemption through His Word. This is the right and true faith.
What’s in the Heart of a Human Being?
What should we do before God?
We should admit our sins and ask God to save us.
Faith should start with God’s Word and we should believe in Him through His Word. If not, we will fall into error. That would be the wrong and untrue faith.
When the Pharisees and the scribes saw Jesus’ disciples eating bread with dirty hands, they couldn’t have reproved them if they had looked at it from the viewpoint of God’s Word. The Word tells us that whatever enters a person from the outside cannot defile him/her because it goes through the stomach and exits the body, not affecting the heart.
As it is said in Mark 7:20-23, “And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.’” Jesus said that people are sinners because they are born with sin.
Do you understand what this means? We are born as sinners because we are all Adam’s descendants. But we cannot see the truth because we neither accept nor believe in all of His Words. Then, what is inside a human heart?
The above passage states, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.” All kinds of evils come out of people’s hearts and defile them.
It is recorded in Psalms, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalms 8:3-4)
Why does God Himself visit us? He visits us because He loves us, created us and took pity on us sinners. He blotted out all our sins and made us His people. “O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Heavens!” (Psalm 8:1) King David sang this Psalm in the Old Testament when he realized that God would become the Savior of sinners.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul repeated the same psalm. It is such an amazing thing that we, God’s creations, can become the children of the Creator. It is done only through His compassion for us. This is the love of God.
We should recognize that trying to completely live by the Law of God is an audacious challenge to Him. It is also an arrogant orientation that comes out of our ignorance. It is not right to live outside His love while struggling to keep the Law for oneself and praying desperately for such a life. It is God’s will that we should realize ourselves as sinners under the Law and believe in the redemption of the water and the blood of Jesus.
His Word is written in Mark 7:20-23, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
Jesus said that what comes out of a human being, the sins within, defiles him/her. Even the unclean food that God gives cannot defile us. All creations are clean, but only the things that come out of human beings, that is, the sins, defile us. We are all born descendants of Adam. So, with what are we born? We are born with twelve kinds of sins. Is this not right?
Then, can we live without committing sins? We will continue to sin for we are born with sin. Can we stop sinning just because we know the Law? Can we live by the commandments? No.
The more we try to live by the Law, the harder it becomes. We should realize our limitations and give up our past orientations. Then, with humble minds, we can accept the baptism and blood of Jesus, which save us.
All 613 articles of the Law are good and just. But people are sinners from the time they are conceived in their mothers’ wombs. When we realize that the Law of God is right, but that we are born as sinners who can never become righteous by ourselves, we come to realize that we need the merciful compassion of God and the redemption of Jesus in the gospel of the water, the blood and the Spirit. When we realize our limitations—that we cannot become righteous by ourselves and we will go to hell for our sins—we cannot but rely on the redemption of Jesus.
We can be delivered. We should know that we are unable to be right or good before God by ourselves. Therefore, we should admit before God that we are sinners who are destined to hell and we can pray for His compassion, “God, please save me from my sins and take pity on me.” Then, God will surely meet us in His Word. In this way, we can be delivered.
Let’s see the prayer of David. “That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge” (Psalms 51:4).
David knew that he was a mass of sin that was evil enough to be thrown into hell, but he admitted before God, “Lord, if You call me a sinner, I am a sinner. If You call me righteous, I am righteous. If You save me, I will be saved; and if You send me to hell, I will end up in hell.”
This is the correct faith and the way to be saved. This is how we should be if we hope to believe in the redemption of Jesus.
We Should Know Exactly What Our Sins Are
Since we are all descendants of Adam, we all have lusts in our hearts. However, what does God tell us? He tells us not to commit adultery even though we have adultery in our hearts. We have murder in our hearts, but what does God tell us? He tells us not to kill. We all defy our parents in our hearts, but He tells us to honor them. We should realize that His Word is right and good, but we all have sin in our hearts.
Is this correct or not? It is absolutely correct. Therefore, what must we do before God? We have to admit that we all are masses of sin and hopeless sinners. It is not right to think that we were righteous yesterday because we did not sin yesterday, but are sinners today because we have committed sins today. We are born as sinners. Whatever we do, we will still be sinners. This is why we should be redeemed through faith in the baptism of Jesus.
We are not sinners because of our deeds: such as committing adultery, murder, theft...but we are sinners because we were born as sinners. We were born with twelve kinds of sins and since we are born as sinners in the eyes of God, we can never become good by our own efforts. We can only pretend to be good.
We are born with sinful minds, so how can we be righteous even if we don’t actually commit these sins? We can never be righteous before God by ourselves. If we claim to be righteous, it is hypocrisy. Jesus called the Pharisees and the scribes ‘the hypocritical Pharisees and scribes’ (Matthew 23:23). Humans are born as sinners and they sin before God throughout all their lives.
Anyone claiming that he/she has neither fought nor hit anyone or stolen even a needle from anyone in all his/her life is lying because humans are born as sinners. That person is a liar, a sinner and a hypocrite. This is how God sees him/her.
Everyone is a sinner from his/her birth. Even if you don’t commit a single sinful act, you are destined for hell. Even if you have kept most of the Law and commandments, you are still a sinner destined to go to hell.
Then, what should we do with such destinies? We must ask for God’s compassion and depend on Him to be saved from our sins. If He doesn’t save us, then we will go to hell. That is our destiny.
Only those who accept God’s Word admit that they were indeed sinners. They also know that they become righteous by faith. So, they know that ignoring and laying aside His Word without recognizing it is the most serious sin. Those who accept His Word are righteous, even though they were previously sinners. They were born again of His Word in His grace and are the most blessed.
Those Who Try to Be Redeemed through Their Works Are Still Sinners
Who are still sinners even after their believing in Jesus?
Those who try to be redeemed through their works
Let’s read Galatians 3:10 and 11. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘The Just shall live by faith.’”
It is said, “…everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law is cursed.” Those who think they believe in Jesus, yet try to be justified by their works are cursed. Where are those who try to be justified by their works? They are under the curse of God.
Why did God give us the Law? He gave us the Law so that we may realize our sins (Romans 3:20). He also wanted us to know that we are complete sinners who are destined for hell.
Believe in the baptism of Jesus, the Son of God, and be born again of water and the Spirit. Then, you will be saved from your sins, become righteous, have eternal life and go to heaven. Have faith in your hearts.
The Most Arrogant Sin in the World
What’s the most arrogant sin in the world?
To try to live by the Law
We are blessed by having faith in His blessing. God saves those who have faith in His Word.
But today, among believers, there are many Christians who try to live by His Law. It is commendable that they try to live by the Law, but how is it possible?
We must realize how foolish it is to try to live up to His Law. The more we try, the harder it becomes. He said, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We need to cast off our arrogance in order to be saved.
We Have to Give Up Our Own Standards to Be Saved
What do we have to do to be saved?
We must give up our own standards.
How can a person be saved? It is possible only when he/she recognizes himself/herself to be a sinner. There are many who have not yet been redeemed because they cannot give up their wrong beliefs and efforts.
God says that those who clench onto the Law are cursed. Those who believe that they may gradually become righteous by trying to live up to the Law after believing in Jesus are cursed. They believe in God, but they still think that they have to live according to the Law to be saved.
Dear friends, can we become righteous through our works? We become righteous only by believing in the Word of Jesus; and only then are we redeemed. Only by having faith in the baptism of Jesus, His blood, and His Godhead, are we redeemed.
That is why God has prepared the law of faith for us as a way to become righteous. The redemption of the water and the Spirit does not lie in the works of people, but in the faith in the Word of God. God delivered us through faith and that is how God planned and completed our salvation.
Why were those who believed in Jesus not redeemed? Because they did not accept the word of the redemption of the water and the Spirit. But we, who are as imperfect as they were, have been redeemed through our faiths in the Word of God.
If two people were to work on a grindstone, the one left behind would keep on working, even after the other person is taken up. The one who is left behind represents one who has not yet been redeemed. Why was one taken and the other left behind?
The reason is because one listened and believed in the Word of God, but the other worked hard to keep the Law and was eventually cast down into hell. That person was trying to crawl up to God, but God shook him off, as if he/she were a bug crawling up His leg. If a person tries to crawl up to God by trying to keep the Law, he/she will surely be thrown into hell.
That is why we have to be redeemed by faith in the water and the Spirit.
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them,’” “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Galatians 3:10-11, Romans 1:17).
Not believing in the Word of God is a sin before Him. In addition, it is also a sin to lay aside God’s Word according to one’s own standards. We human beings cannot live by His Law because we are all born as sinners and continue to sin all our lives. We sin a little here, a little there, and everywhere we go. We have to realize that we are of the flesh and cannot help but to sin.
A human being is like a big bucket of manure. If we try to carry it around, it will splatter all along the way. We are like that. We keep spilling sin everywhere we go. Can you picture it?
Would you still pretend that you were holy? If you were clearly aware of yourself, you would give up trying in vain to be holy and believe in the water and the blood of Jesus.
Those who are not yet born again need to cast off their stubbornness and admit that they are grave sinners before God. Then, they must return to His Word and discover how He saved them with the water and the Spirit.