The segment is not meant to condemn anyone. Jesus has already forgiven our sins and we have ‘full assurance of (our) faith’ (Heb 10:22) when we confess Jesus as Lord and Savior (Rom 10:9).
Nonetheless, going forward, we are not to sin anymore.
Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to ‘Go (and from now on), sin no more.’ But if we don’t understand what sin is, how can we achieve Jesus’ counsel? How do we repent from that we don’t know?
NB: Forgiveness of sins is important but God requires us to repent from dead works (Heb 6:1).
The Bible tells us where we are out of bounds. Like an umpire who cries, ‘Out!’ or ‘Safe!’ the Bible declares to us what’s sinful, and what God wants for our life.
The Project Team aims to help us understand what these sins are. It has identified 154 different sin-types as found within the New Testament, with each supported by its accompanying Biblical verse(s). From the experience of the Apostle Peter’s vision in Acts 10:9-16, it implies that some sins in the Old Testament may not carry the same weight in the New Testament.
The 154 sin-types are by no means exhaustive even as we allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate areas that we need to repent from. Repentance, nonetheless, is a constant action.
Rev 3:19 says, ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.’
Below are some common struggles of Christians:
- Can Christians drink alcohol? Should Christians go to alcohol-related parties?
- Is suicide a sin?
- Is sex permitted with someone of the same gender?
- Are Christians allowed to take revenge?
- Are there sins that God will never forgive?
One thing we do know, among the New Testament sins, breaking of the Sabbath is not a sin. Jesus listed thirteen sins in Mark 7:21-22 but did not mention breaking the Sabbath. Neither did Paul (Rom 1:29-32, Gal 5:19-21, 1 Tim 1:9-10, 2 Tim 3:1-4) nor John (Rev 21:8, Rev 22:15) – This paragraph is contributed by Margie Littell of Tennessee 27 Jun 2020.
S1 - Being evil minded
Romans 1:28-31; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; 3 John 11; 1 Corinthians 13:5
‘Abstain from every form of evil’
What is evil?
In a general definition, it is the absence of good. Yet, it is more than that. To the world, it is associated with an act that is malicious. But is that how Christians would describe ‘evil’?
Inanimate objects like a table or a tree cannot be evil. The same maybe said of animals. For example, we cannot expect to place a sheep into a lion’s den without the former being eaten up by the latter; it is in the lions’ DNA to do what lions do.
But we, human beings, can be described as ‘evil’ because there is the critical element of ‘intent’ (some might called it ‘motivation’) behind what we do.
Matt Slick of CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) said – “If a person’s break someone’s arm to save his life, then that is not considered evil. However, if a person breaks someone’s arm in order to watch him suffer, then that is evil as it violates a Christian commandment which is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:39).”
Rom 1:19-20 (NLT) says,
‘They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Throughout everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So, they have no excuse for not knowing God.’
Within all human beings, we have an internal thermostat that enables us to distinguish between right and wrong as well as good and evil. Hence, almost all societies have documented standards identifying and punishing ‘evil’ behaviors although those standards may vary and, over time, change.
To a Christian, sin means missing the mark or not doing that which we are supposed to do in accordance to God’s commands. Abraham Lincoln, the great American President, said,
‘But for it (the Bible), we could not know right from wrong.’
For Christians, the universal standards of right and wrong, and good and evil, have been explicitly established within the Bible (God’s Word).
Here is the question – To Christians, is sin the same as evil?
For example, lying is a sin but if there is no malicious intent, is that still evil?
The original Greek word for ‘evil’ is poneros and it is the same as evil, bad, wicked, malicious, and even slothful (or lazy). A servant who failed to use the talent allocated to him was also called ‘evil’ (poneros) by the Lord (Matthew 25:26). It is the same with someone who is lazy. For more information on the former, please go to S81, Fail to use our gifts.
God’s concept of evil seems to encompass more than what the world understands ‘evil’ to be, that is, beyond ‘malicious intent’; it, in fact, implies all sin-types.
Within this Project, we will attempt to unpack these sin-types as found in the New Testament.
Abstain from every form of evil.
Feedback from EL incorporated
S2 - Being wicked
Romans 1:28-31; Mark 7:21; Titus 3:3
Romans 1:29 reads,
“They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice.”
It separates the word ‘evil’ with ‘wickedness’. ‘Wickedness’ is defined as the ‘quality of being evil or morally wrong’ or ‘the extent of being bad’. The word, ‘wretched’ is also associated with ‘wickedness’.
The original Greek word is adikia which can be translated as unrighteousness and/ or injustice. ‘Unrighteousness’ includes how we deceived others for our own gain, treachery, or even a judge who practices injustice. It can also be rewards that we received from doing wrong.
Yet, the two terms, ‘evilness’ and ‘wickedness’, seem to be used interchangeably.
S3 - Worship the devil
Devil worshipper – Revelation 9:20 talks about the last days and how the unrepented ‘continues to worship demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that can neither see nor hear nor walk!’
The devil is after our worship. In the Temptation of Jesus, the devil (or Satan) was prepared to offer him all the kingdoms of the world as long as Jesus would ‘fall down and worship him.’ (Matthew 4:9)
We know that since the days of the early church, idol worship is widespread. For example, in the Book of Acts, while Paul was in Ephesus, a silversmith, Demetrius, a maker of the silver shrines of Diana, instigated a riot in order to protect his own livelihood (Acts 19:21-35).
Currently, there are Satanic temples across the USA and they have even progressed and started a number of After School Satan Clubs (ASSC) in some primary schools.
There are of course many people who worship idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood. Some are in awe of magnificent man-made creations, like the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, built some 1,500 years ago. Others, like the Hindus, turn their attention to old trees, equating them as gods.
Does the modern-day environment include other forms of devil worship?
S4 - Not seeking after God (neglecting God)
No one understands; no one seeks God.
It is a sad truth but many people simply do not seek for God; God is not on their agenda.
Human societies purposely write God away by endorsing evolution. And it has nothing to do with a person’s intellectual level. In fact, in some communities, belief in God may even be considered a mental illness; we know, for example, that a few communist countries do actually incarcerate their God-fearing citizens.
It does not help that progressively, most public schools across the world are teaching evolution as ‘truth’. The mainstream media (MSM) castigate and mock anyone who vaguely mentions God.
Is it that difficult to believe in God? The Bible says in Psalms 19:1,
‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.’
The way our individual DNA reveals a higher creative power – for example, every cell of our bodies exists with a very detailed instruction code much like a miniature computer program. Our DNA is really a full instruction manual.
Dr Ben Carson, renowned pediatric neurosurgeon and a member of the distinguished US National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine as well as currently the US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said,
‘I think it takes a lot more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in God.’
God promises in Jeremiah 29:13 that everyone who ‘seek me (will) find me when you seek me with all your heart.’
Ultimately, we have very little excuses. People will rather busy themselves in regard to day-to-day activities rather than to ask the confronting question of whether God exists.
People make choices and some are hellbent not to seek God.
S5 - Hate God
Romans 1:30 describes a group of people who are ‘haters of God’.
Do you know of anyone who just loath God? Do you know a person who brazenly shakes his/ her fists at God?
The late brilliant theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, seemed to be one such person. At 21, Hawking was diagnosed with an early-onset, slow-progressing form of motor-neurone disease that gradually, over many years, paralyzed him. He eventually passed away at 76. He might have hated God because of his debilitating sickness (it was never mentioned).
The late Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing after a bout of illness at the age of 19 months, and who died at 87, chose a different path, and used her disabilities as a platform to ‘decrease the sorrows of thy children, and increase their advantages and joys.’ She remained steadfast to her beliefs in God and even said, ‘I thank God for my handicaps, for through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.’
Hatred, like anything else, is a choice.
S6 - Claim to be God
“For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’ and they will lead many astray.”
It takes someone with a lot of evilness and godlessness to claim to be the Christ. But we can think of many throughout the centuries and they have misled throngs of people through their charisma, teachings and religious systems. Sometimes, it might involve wars as conquered people are coerced into embracing this ‘new’ religion.
There are, obviously, not many people who dare to claim that they are God. The late C S Lewis, a brilliant Oxford professor, put it best when he said that a man who claimed to be God is either a liar, a lunatic or the real thing.
How do the various religious leaders of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism stand up to their claims?
S7 - Blaspheme God's name(s)
Matthew 15:19; Revelation 16:9; Mark 7:21;
‘And they cursed the name of God’ Revelation 16:9.
What does it mean to ‘curse the name of God’? How often do people swear using the name ‘Jesus Christ’? Would that be the same as ‘cursing the name of God’?
Godless people will not think twice about using that name because Jesus meant nothing to them. Within our societies, unfortunately, adults and movies are modeling such behavior as acceptable to their children.
Amazingly, among ‘great’ religious leaders, it is usually the name of Jesus that is invoked as a swear word. Does it therefore not beg the obvious question, ‘Why is that so?’
It is a sin to use the name of Jesus carelessly as a swear word.
S8 - Possess an unteachable spirit
‘Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
Godlessness may also take the form of a spirit that refuses to be teachable. The Pharisees, although they were teachers of the law, could not see the obvious that was in front of them; a man born blind was miraculously healed by Jesus on the Sabbath. Instead, the Pharisees chose not to acknowledge the miracle but to attack Jesus because he had healed on the Sabbath.
It led to Jesus saying to the Pharisees in John 9:39,
“For judgement I came into this world, that those who do not see (the commoners) may see, and those who see (the Pharisees) may become blind.”
The Pharisees had become unteachable. Do we see us doing the same?
Also, see S138, Blaspheme against the Holy Spirit.
S9 - Worship idols
Galatians 5:20; 1 Peter 4:3; 1 Corinthians 10:14; Colossians 2:18; Romans 1:23; 2 Timothy 4:3; Revelation 9:20
‘Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry’.
Idolatry is godlessness. Idolatry relates to ‘idol’ – ‘idol’ being an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. Idolatry is, thus, the worship of an image of someone the person considered to be equated with God.
Idolatry takes many forms beyond S3 – Worship the devil. Someone may choose to worship another person because the other person is a famous movie star or a football player. For example, at the height of his career, David Beckham, the England football captain, was depicted as a Hindu god. See here.
We can also worship consumerism, the activity of buying and accumulating goods for the sheer joy of doing so. Others might turn towards a certain brand of cars. It starts becoming an idol when all we can think of is that person or item and when we are prepared to spend a substantial amount of money on that thing; money is usually a good indicator.
Idolatry can take the form of our own created ‘god’, of what we feel God ought to be.
2 Timothy 4:3 (NLT) says,
‘For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires …’
We create God in our own image as against God creating us in his own image (Genesis 1:27).
For Chinese, worshiping their ancestors maybe construed as idolatry. Chinese often worships by lighting three joss sticks in the courtyard and then placing them into a sand-filled container. It is the Taoist’s belief that the smoke from the lighted joss sticks helps waft prayers towards their deities or ancestors. Kowtows (low bows) is another form of worship, usually carried out to Chinese deities or their ancestors. For more information on Chinese worship, please go HERE.
There is a substantial difference between honoring an ancestor and worshiping one.
Idolatry for Christians often begins as innocent activities.
S10 - Practice deceitfulness
John 8:44; Romans 1:29; Titus 1:10; 1 Peter 2:1; Revelation 22:15
Titus 1:10 calls such people ‘deceivers’. Who is a deceiver? It refers to someone who mislead others by a false appearance of statement. Or someone who leads others to believe something that is not true.
D93 describes Satan as the father of lies.
John 8:44 says, Satan ‘is a liar and the father of lies’.
Lying and deception are similar although outright lying is probably more obvious than deception. To deceive, one has to give the appearance of truth through scheming; hence, the issue of half-truths (Half-truths are far more dangerous than outright lies).
A deceitful person is a godless person who mixes half-truths in order to gain your trust before taking advantage of you.
Interestingly, Islam accepts the practices of deception if it suits them. For more information on ‘tawriya‘ or ‘taqiyya‘, click here.
Dangerously, it also happens within the context of the church and many will be deceived. Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:13-21 to expect ‘false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing’ and so did the Apostle Peter. 2 Peter 2:1-3 reads,
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
S11 - Practice sorcery and witchcraft, including fortune-telling, mediums, and psychics
Galatians 5:20; Revelation 21:8
Revelation 21:8 says,
‘But to the cowardly and unbelieving … and sorcerers …. Their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.’
Sorcery is the use of black magic or witchcraft. Almost immediately after ex-President Trump took office in January 2017, a group of witches gathered and performed a mass spell designed to ‘bind him so that his malignant works may fail utterly’. The Facebook group attracted more than 10,500 likes and coined the hashtag #magicresistance.
Horoscope, foretelling and mediums are the same as ‘sorcery’. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 (NLT) says,
‘Do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the LORD your God will drive them out ahead of you.’
Sorcery and the practice of witchcraft are real and they represent godlessness.
Another aspect of sorcery, far less mentioned and taught in churches, is that the original Greek word is ‘pharmakos‘ from which our modern word, ‘pharmacy’, comes from. Strong concordance defines it as follows:
‘phármakos – properly, a sorcerer; used of people using drugs and “religious incantations” to drug people into living by their illusions – like having magical (supernatural) powers to manipulate God into giving them more temporal possessions’
While medication represents a big part of the doctor’s suite of intervention to arrest sickness, can it also be turned into a form ‘like having magical (supernatural) powers to manipulate God into giving them more temporal possessions’?
Please see S155, Involve in sorceries (Obsess with taking drugs [legal and illegal]) for more information.
S12 - Steal from others
Mark 7:21; John 12:6; 1 Corinthians 6:10; Ephesians 4:28
Ephesians 4:28 says,
‘Let the thief no longer steal but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.’
Theft which is the action of stealing, taking from others with the intention of depriving the rightful owner, is a sin. We will discuss forms of stealing later on.
S13 - Invent evil things (evil protagonist)
Romans 1:30 describes these people as ‘inventors of evil or evil things’. There are many innovators but there are some who invent ‘evil things’. What would come under this category’? Consider these examples:
- Margaret Sanger who pioneered the forerunner of Planned Parenthood Federation. She helped to bring about abortion. Is abortion is sin? If a fetus is in distress before birth, the newspapers would report that the mother would like to keep the baby. But if it is referred to for abortion, a more impersonal term, ‘fetus’, is used. According to World Health Organization (WHO), every year in the world (accurate as of 2019), there are approximately 40 to 50 million abortions. As a matter of comparison, in 2017, the population of Spain and California were 46.57 million and 39.54 million respectively.
- Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner who propagated and advanced pornography to the masses,
- Inventors of religions and cult groups that mislead thousands if not millions of people to worship idols and go after false gods,
- The invention of sarin gas as a killing tool.
The love of money and our creative minds often entice people to create ‘evil things’.
What other inventions can you deem as being ‘evil’?
S14 - Teach a false gospel
Matthew 7:15-20; Galatians 1:6-9; Galatians 5:20; 1 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 Peter 2:1-22;
2 Peter 2:1 says,
‘But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.’
Galatians 5:20 used the word, ‘heresies’ – The Greek word is hairesis or a self-chosen opinion or a separate religious sect.
The Apostle Peter wrote this letter to churches across ‘Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia’ (1 Peter 1:1). These places are located in modern Turkey which is now an Islamic nation.
Such cults might use a different book from the Bible or an additional book of instructions. Or they may ‘forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods’ (1 Timothy 4:3).
In Matthew 7:15-19, Jesus taught us to ‘recognize them by their fruits.’
What does a ‘true’ gospel look like?
While Hebrews 6:1-2 provides us the fundamental teachings of what it means to be a Christian, the basic Christian doctrines are as follows:
- The central theme of the gospel is that we are all sinners and require God to save us and forgive our sins. We can receive that forgiveness through faith in Jesus alone, and not in accordance to our good deeds (Romans 3:23, Ephesians 2:8),
- Jesus, by dying on the cross, became our substitutional sacrifice for sins; he took on himself the guilt and necessary punishment for our sins (Galatians 3:13, 1 Peter 2:24),
- In addition to putting our faith in Christ alone, believers must also repent, or turn away, from their sins (Acts 2:38),
- Jesus’ resurrection is a precursor to what we can expect in the future for ourselves (1 Corinthians 15:20),
- The Bible is the word of God and believers must live by what is written in it (John 14:15),
- Following our conversion, believers must share the gospel and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).
Manipulation of the masses through the use of false religions has been an age-old weapon among a few evil people whether it is because of money and greed or just wrongful zeal. Unfortunately, it does even happen within the guise of the church.
Of course, it is a grave sin to teach and perpetual a false gospel.
S15 - Run after money (lovers of money)
Matthew 6:24; Mark 4:19; Luke 8:14; Luke 16:14; 1 Timothy 6:10; 2 Timothy 3:2; Jude 11
1 Timothy 6:10 says,
‘For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.’
It is through this craving that some have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
‘Love of money’ is a ‘disease’ that infects many of us, whether the person is a minister of the word or a homeless man. Luke 16:14 calls out the Pharisees as being ‘lovers of money’ and Mark 3:19 calls it out as being ‘the deceitfulness of riches.’
We can tell where our priorities lie by observing how we respond to money situations. Do our actions follow the money even though they do not seem like the right things to do? Can a judge, for example, be bought to look ‘the other way’?
Someone said that money is an amplifier – it makes us more of what we already are. If we are generous, more money will make us more generous. If we worry, with more money, we will worry more. And if we are arrogant, having more money will make us even more arrogant.
1 Timothy 6:10 tells us that even believers can be caught out with this love. Jesus told us that we either love God or mammon – Matthew 6:24. It seems like there is no in-between.
Money by itself is not ‘evil’ but it is the ‘love of money’ that is sin.
S16 - Accumulate wealth as an end goal
Luke 12:21 calls out a rich fool ‘who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.’
This sin is targeted at the rich, and not necessarily famous, believers.
All of us needs money to survive; it is the currency of our society. But some sees money as an end to itself. Accumulation becomes a sport. The Bible calls these people as those who ‘lay up treasures on earth’.
We have, for example, read about how some political leaders have generated so much obscene wealth but yet continue to do so. The late Robert Mugabe, the previous strongman of Zimbabwe, for example, had been reported to possess more than £ one billion and he was then already 95 years old; incidentally, he died a short while later. In such an impoverished country as Zimbabwe, his youngest son posted on Instagram a photograph of his $60,000 watch which was doused with champagne from a bottle of Armand de Brignac gold champagne, reportedly retailing at $400 a bottle. Why did you think Mugabe has chosen to accumulate?
But it is not just political leaders. Many sufficiently well off people suffer from the disease of wealth accumulation and neglect to ask God what he would like them to do with what they already have.
The issue with wealth is that we can never take it with us when we die.
S17 - Spend wastefully and carelessly (bad stewardship)
Matthew 14:20; John 6:12; 1 Corinthians 4:2
Matthew 14:20 says,
‘And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.’
Jesus had just finished feeding the five thousand. But the Bible also recorded this mundane event of clearing and cleaning up. Was Jesus an environmentalist or was he emphasizing the importance of not wasting?
There were other incidents when he miraculously turned a few fishes and loaves of bread into much food in order to feed his traveling congregation.
In John 6, Jesus turned five barley loaves and two fishes into enough food to feed more than five thousand people. Again, he got his disciples to ‘gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted’ (John 6:12). They collected twelve baskets of fragments.
Consistently, Jesus taught us the importance of good stewardship. In the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30), Jesus praised the servant who traded his talents to gain more talents. And in Luke 16:10, Jesus said that he who was faithful in a very little, could also be faithful in much. In fact, he concluded in Luke 16:12, ‘If you have not been faithful with the belongings of another, who will give you belongings of your own?’
Jesus detested waste. As believers, we have to learn how not to be wasteful – with our time, money and energy.
S18 - Accept bribes
Luke 3:13 says,
‘Collect no more than you are authorized to do.’
This came from John the Baptist. He emphasized that it was critical that if we were custodian of money or related, we were not to be corrupt. During those days, the soldiers could have collected more money and pocketed the difference.
Another important consideration is the perversion of justice. Proverbs 17:23 says, ‘The wicked accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice.’
We can always rationalize and adjust accordingly to justify a bribe. Whichever way we look at it, corruption is a sin.
Please see S15 – Run after money (lovers of money)
NB: This is not to say that believers cannot give gifts. In fact, it is encouraged. Proverbs 18:16 says,
‘Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people.’
Similarly, in Proverbs 17:6, it reads, ‘A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it; wherever he turns he prospers’. The word ‘bribe’ here is the Hebrew word shochad and may be translated as a ‘present’.
S19 - Swindle money from others
1 Corinthians 6:10 uses the term ‘swindlers’. The Greek word is ‘harpages’, like a robber or an extortioner. Here again, we are referring to a person who collects (or cheats) money that is not his, as an illegal activity.
The Apostle Paul made it clear that it is a sin.
NB: If you have been engaged in swindling someone else’s money, consider the experience of Zacchaeus who professed that he would make more than a full restitution to those he had abused while in his office as a Roman tax collector.
S20 - Fail to provide for the family
1 Timothy 5:8 says,
‘If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.’
Those are quite heavy words. It is even more problematic as people in some countries choose not to work and rely on the government for welfare grants. It is equally tragic when certain man impregnates a woman and then moves away without supporting her or acknowledging the child as his own, leaving her and the child to be cared for by the state.
Choosing not to provide for one’s own household is a major sin, enough for Paul to say that this person is ‘worse than an unbeliever.’.
S21 - Profit from preaching the Gospel
Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:17; Luke 16:14; John 2:14-16; James 3:1
Luke 16:14 says,
‘The Pharisees who were lovers of money.’
Surprisingly, it is not that difficult to accumulate money through sharing the word of God if one is charismatic and speaks messages that appeal to the audience.
2 Timothy 4:3 highlights that ‘the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.’
Inherent within us is a yearning to be spoken to and preachers can use that to their advantage. Many pastors may start off with the best of intentions but money is a great tempter, and there is a lot of money to be made in religions, and ‘speaking to their customers’.
In the US, for example, religious organizations are given tax exemptions. Churches are considered to be public charities under Section 501(c)(3). As such, they are generally exempt from federal, state, local income and property taxes.
On top of that, megachurch preachers can also make money from selling books and audio messages since they already have a receptive audience.
Of course, the question to ask is, what and how should these preachers be rewarded? Jesus had this to say in regard to preachers who benefit financially from the preaching of his words,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations but you have made it a den of robbers’ (Mark 11:17).
Matthew 6:24 says, ‘No man can serve two masters: either he will hate the one and love the other ….. You cannot serve God and money.’
It is a sin that all preachers of the word must be careful of. As shepherds, their responsibilities are greater as James 3:1 says,
‘Not many of you should become teachers for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.’
Just like the Prophet Micaiah when addressing Kings Jehoshaphat and Ahab in the battle against Ramoth-gilead, a preacher must stay focus and speak only what the Lord wants him to speak (2 Chronicles 18:13) and it may not necessarily be a word of encouragement (2 Chronicles 18:12).
See also at B371 – Keep an eye out for false teachers.
Having said this, in order to get a balanced perspective, read also B65, Honor church elders
S22 - Profit from leading a group of believers
2 Peter 2:15 reads,
‘…. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing.’ Jude 11 talks about the people abandoning themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error.
Who is Balaam and what did he do?
Balaam was a non-Israelite and a special prophet of God; in fact, God spoke to Balaam directly.
He must had been a very reliable prophet because Balak, king of Moab, approached him with money to curse Israel when they were advancing toward Moab. Balaam did not manage to pronounce his curses because God prevented him from doing so. But he provided the key to the Moabites to weaken Israel in the sight of God; he suggested to Israel’s enemy to use women and sex to compromise their strengths (Number 31:16).
Here, it shows that even a very credible man of God can cave in to money. It is a warning to God’s servants to serve God rather than mammon (or money).
The problem lies with the fact that we don’t even know our own heart – Proverbs 16:2 says,
‘All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes but the Lord weighs the spirit.’
Pastors are really under-shepherds of our great Shepherd. Their leadership is critical because it directly impacts the state of the people and the church.
Bad-shepherding can ruin a people and potentially a nation; we have read a few of these cases with men of God who had gone awry. Elements of bad shepherding can be found in Matthew 23:13-36 when Jesus described the Pharisees of his days.
If we are unsure of our hearts, shall we not remind ourselves on the importance of contentment like the Apostle Paul?
‘Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.’ (Phippians 4:11-13)
‘Keep your life free from love of money and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ (Hebrews 13:5).
Hence, will it be wise to err on the cautious side?
S23 - Profit from selling things relating to the Gospel
Mark 11:17; John 2:14-16; Acts 19:23
‘In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”’
Outside the temple, people were taking advantage and doing business transactions. As a result, people forgot their real reason for being at the temple.
Again, there is lots of money in religion. It could be a gold ornamental cross, a special piece of ‘blessed handkerchief’ or a USB containing the teachings of the speaker. The key point: Does it distract a believer from worshiping God?
Is the church the same as the temple? Many churches also set up auxiliary businesses like cafes, child-care centres, and potentially counselling services. These are profit centres. How would Jesus react to our current business model for our modern church? There are some churches that divide their operations into different entities with the business arm under a different name run by a dedicated CEO.
It is a sin when the business becomes a distraction because the deceitfulness of riches creep in without us realizing it. It is a warning to church leaders.
S24 - Become a burden to the congregation
A leader should never be a burden to the congregation that they are serving. Paul was very careful not to be a burden to the church of Corinth when he was there. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:9,
‘I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.’
In Acts 18:3, it was mentioned that Paul supported himself by making tents while living and preaching in Corinth.
A leader who burdens a group of his/ her members is no Christian leader at all.
S25 - Choke by the worries and cares of the world
Luke 8:14 talks about the ‘cares of this world’. In this case, it speaks about a believer who is so concerned about the world that the person stops being effective. The believer, for example, may drop out of church, or prayer meeting or simply not been involved in fellowship with other believers.
‘Worries and cares of the world’ is a legitimate concern. It is considered ‘sinful’ because it can lead to ‘unfruitfulness’; we become ineffective and stuck in the rout of life. ‘Worries and cares’ also represents a lack of faith in God to look after our well being.
All of us have to learn to walk in faith and trust the Lord.
S26 - Engage in busyness
Jesus was in town. While Mary ‘sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching’, ‘Martha was distracted from much serving.’ She went on and complained to Jesus about Mary’s irresponsibility of not serving.
But Jesus replied,
‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things but one thing is necessary, Mary has chosen the good portion which will not be taken away from her.’ (Luke 10:38-42)
Our lives revolve around ‘task’ (or work) and ‘relationship’. Mary had chosen relationship and spent time with Jesus while Martha went about doing her tasks. Jesus indicated that relationship was what he sought.
There is nothing wrong with ‘doing work’ but if it distracts us from having a ‘relationship’ with the person of Christ (or a spouse or other close friends), then it is necessary for us to evaluate our priorities.
In the Old Testament, Isaiah 40:31 says, ‘They who WAIT in the Lord will have new strength.’
Again, in Psalm 25:4-5, David explained,
‘Show me your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; all day long I WAIT for you.’
Can you see David’s priorities?
Our priorities are to know God at a personal level, seek his will and fulfil his calling. Busyness may appear ‘logical’ even as it was to Martha but for its own sake, it is a misdemeanor and can be a dangerous idol.
S27 - Act recklessly and impulsively
2 Timothy 3:2-5 highlighted a number of sins that would show up in the last days.
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
The Greek word for ‘reckless’ is propeteis and is translated as ‘falling forward’, ‘headlong’, ‘headstrong’. Based on Strong’s concordance, it is used to describe impulsiveness or a rash behavior.
The Apostle Peter is often considered ‘reckless’; he had often spoken before he had time to think through all those consequences.
Like the time when he saw Jesus walking on the sea and said, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water’ (Matthew 14:28). Or the time just before Jesus’ crucifixion when he told Jesus that he would never deny him (Matthew 26:69-75).
We all come with different personality types. Some of us tend to speak before engaging our brains. But beyond mere speeches, there maybe other situations when a person who cannot contain his/ her anger may act recklessly that could result in serious repercussions, even to the extent of killing another human being.
Impulsiveness is a sin because it means we do not think about the consequences before we act and we lack self-control.
S28 - Desire (Covet) for other things
‘And the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word and it proves unfruitful.’ – Mark 4:20
Covetousness is a sin. It is part of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:17).
What is the ‘desires (greed) for other things’? It is a desire for things that one does not possess. Exodus 20:17 gives some examples – neighbor’s wife, manservant, maidservant, ox, donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
This desire ‘chokes the word’, or the word of God. It hinders God’s ability to speak audibly with us. For more details in regard to the ‘word of God’, please refer to B244 to B252 under ‘Actions/ Decision Making’.
Meanwhile, almost centenarian billionaire Charles Munger, the Vice-Chairman of Bethshire Hathaway, the American holding company that serves as an investment vehicle of Warren Buffett, rated ‘envy’ as being the worst of sins. He said,
“It is the nature of our species that we look around us at other people and are envious of them if they have more than we do. That envy has always been a big problem.”
His solution? Avoid envy ‘because, someone will always be getting richer than you.’
Munger had also laid down seven rules for a happy life. For more information, please click here.
S29 - Get drunk (or listen to/ play 'bad' music)
Galatians 5:21; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:10; ;Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3
The Bible never says don’t drink. Drinking alcohol is not a sin. See also B310, Drink wine but do not get drunk. In Jesus’ first recorded miracle, he turned water into wine at a wedding (John 2:6-11).
It was a lot of good wine – six water pots of stone.
Based on commentaries found in www.biblehub.com, each pot is approximately 20 gallons or around 76 liters. Hence, six pots would hold 456 liters of wine. In our current context, a bottle of wine is around 750 milliliters. Effectively, 456 liters would give us 608 bottles of good quality of wine.
How many wedding guests do you think they had? 600? That would be quite a few? A bottle per guest? If that was the case, then it would still be a lot of wine for each guest.
Romans 13:13 says that believers should walk properly …. And ‘not in orgies and drunkenness’. Orgies and drunkenness seem to be related.
The problem is not drinking but one of drunkenness, and of drinking alcohol without discipline. Drunkenness can often lead to debauchery and other kinds of unbecoming and evil behaviors including recklessness, and rape. See also S30, Organize Revelries.
Listening and playing music almost fall into the same category. There are certain forms of music that will be bad for our souls – like those that promote violence, drug use, sex, profanities, or even suicide. Music affects us subliminally through the melody, imagery and language found in the lyrics. While music in general is fine, if it causes damage to our souls, we have to move away from it.
Ephesians 5:18 says,
‘Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life.’
Anything that ‘will ruin your life’ is bad news.
In addition, Romans 14:20 also says,
‘Do not for the sake of food, destroy the work of God …. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.’
As mature Christians, we have to be mindful of the possibility in causing a brother/ sister to stumble because of our drinking, music or lifestyle.
S30 - Organize revelries (drinking parties)
Galatians 5:21; 1 Peter 4:3; 1 Corinthians 6:10
1 Peter 4:3 talks about ‘orgies, drinking parties’. It is drinking parties that we are focusing here. Drinking parties unfortunately often lead to other more sinful opportunities, including sexual orgies and the likes. The Greek word is ‘potos’ or ‘drinking bout’ or ‘carousing’.
Peter highlighted that believers should not to be engaged in a lifestyle of debauchery.
S31 - Murder (Are abortion and euthanasia considered 'murder'?)
Romans 1:29; 1 Timothy 1:9; Mark 7:21; Romans 3:15; Revelation 21:8
This is a straightforward sin. Even the world recognizes it.
But what is murder? According to the dictionary, murder is ‘the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.’ Then, what about abortion and euthanasia which in some countries have become ‘lawful’?
When does life begin? It is a sensitive subject since it involves two persons – the mother and the unborn baby.
- Is the mother the ‘owner’ of her body (the baby being part of her body) or a ‘conduit’ for the baby (the creation of which requires an input of a sperm from a man)?
- Is the baby a ‘person’ but one that is waiting to complete his/ her journey before being introduced into the world or is s/he simply a blob of tissue or a clump of unrecognizable cells belonging solely to the woman involved?
- Even though abortion might be lawful but is it ethically classified as ‘murder’?
Here is what we know about abortion from a psychological viewpoint: It is often a very traumatic event for a woman.
According to a counselor of thirty-five years (Janice Sergison), ‘there is much more trauma post-abortion than an unwanted pregnancy or adoption.’
Jesus said, ‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.’ (Matthew 18:5-6).
Jesus loved little children and he was very protective of them. How would Jesus had viewed a pre-born baby? Would he love them just as much? Readers might want to note his serious tone for calling out someone who intentionally harm a little one that it was ‘better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.’
It is very SERIOUS.
Similarly, what about euthanasia, the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering, including mental suffering? Is it ‘legalized’ murder for the person assisting the euthanasia process or suicide for the person requesting for it (For suicide, for more information, please refer to S49, Contemplate Suicide)? Will euthanasia make ‘murderers’ out of clinicians whose primary role should be to ‘do no harm’ to those under their care?
And will euthanasia weaken a society’s respect for the sanctity of life as some lives (those who are disabled or sick) are considered less valuable than others? In addition, will voluntary euthanasia lead to involuntary euthanasia and the acceptance of legally ending the lives of people who are perceived to be less desirable?
In the book of Job, when he was in great distress and pain, his wife suggested to him ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!’
Job’s wife was telling him to euthanize himself in order to escape the pain of his life. But Job replied ‘Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?’ (Job 2:9-10). Faith and trust in God prevented him from taking his own life (suicide).
In 1 Samuel 31:4, Saul did euthanized himself in the mist of a losing battle – he told his armor-bearer, ‘Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.’ His armor-bearer refused to do so and Saul fell upon his own sword. Yet, we know that Saul is an example of a bad king and whose actions were rather dodgy.
The devil indeed has come to ‘steal, kill, and destroy’ (John 10:10). But, praise God, Jesus had come to heal, forgive, and restore.
If you have been in such situation before, whether you have euthanized someone or aborted a baby, we suggest that you seek out godly counsel to prevent the devil from having a foothold on your life.
If you have been in a bad space before, God still forgives. If He can forgive Paul who endorsed the stoning of Stephen (the first martyr of the church) to death, surely He will forgive you (Acts 7:58). His words are gentile and he would have said, ‘Go and sin no more.’
S32 - Get angry
Matthew 5:22 says,
‘But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.’ The Greek word is ‘orgizo’, or ‘to make angry’.
Anger hurts relationships and can often lead to other sins, like murder on the extreme. Anger can result in unforgiveness for both parties.
Ephesians 4:26 says, ‘Be angry but do not sin.’ It implies that anger is sin but yet there is an anger that do sin not. Anger gives ‘opportunity to the devil’.
Also look at S106, Anger and Rage which explains how Christians should respond to riots and civil unrest.
S33 - Be brutal/ cruel
Cruelty – 2 Timothy 3:3 calls out ‘brutality’. The Greek word is ‘anemeros’ – ‘not tame’ or ‘savage’; brutality to others and even to animals.
In Romans 1:31, we find parallel translations with these words – ‘heartless’, ‘merciless’, and ‘ruthless’.
Relating to animals, please see B147 – Love our animals.
S34 - Malicious
S35 - Hate peace
S36 - Practice human trafficking (slavery)
This is mentioned in 1 Tim 1:10. The word is andrapodistes in Greek and it means ‘slave dealers’ or ‘someone who forcibly enslaves, a kidnapper’. It is not a slave owner per se but a person that kidnaps and makes slaves of other people.
We may think that it cannot be happening in the 21st Century but modern-day slave traders continue to exist especially in places like Libya and even Europe.
S37 - Fail to do good (sin of omission) - MAJOR SIN
This is a sin of omission – that is, failing to do good. We tend to focus on sins of ‘commission’ – the wrong we do.
Matt 25:42 makes it explicit,
‘For I was hungry and you gave me no food. I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
To be a Christian is to be practical in doing good works. Jesus made it known that ‘if you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
In Matt 22:12, a man was put out of a wedding because he had no wedding garment. In Matt 25:25-28, a servant who buried his talent in the ground instead of using it was branded as ‘wicked and slothful’. Again, in Mark 11:20-24, a barren fig tree that failed to produce fruit was cursed and died.
James 4:17 says –
So whoever knows the right thing to do (the good they ought to do) and fails to do it, for him it is sin.’
Hence, in many Western nations that have a Christian heritage, the culture of helping others is fused into the psyche of their people. Doing good works was how William Booth started the Salvation Army, which to these days is still acknowledged as a great charitable organization.
In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan. The good Samaritan had just assisted a total stranger he met along the road who was beaten by robbers. At the end of the parable, Jesus asked the enquirer who demonstrated love like a good neighbor to the injured man. The answer became obvious and Jesus counselled the enquirer to ‘go and do likewise.’
To be a Christian and not participate in good works is oxymoronic and a grave sin no doubt, serious enough for Jesus to say, ‘Depart from me you cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt 25:41).
Our good works begin with our neighbors. Jesus related to the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37. Out of the three individuals who could have helped the man that was left for dead, two of them (and these were religious Jews too) decided to PASS HIM BY ON THE OTHER SIDE. It took a Samaritan ((a race which is hugely despised by the Jews. For more information, please click HERE), to rise above hatred, bigotry and prejudices and instead chose mercy and compassion to assist the badly injured man and ‘bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.’
Proverbs 3:27 says,
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
James 4:17 makes it explicit that ‘passing him by on the other side’ is not an option.
Now, when we have a chance to do good, let us do it.
S38 - Practice a form of godliness but denying the power of Christ (Hypocritical)
It refers really to religions of all sorts, including churches. It is where the religious institution gives the appearance of being able to know God but in reality is just a facade. It may involve the pomp of the priestly garment, the decorum of the ceremonies and even design of the fine building. They may even implement ‘moral’ policing, whether in a church setting or otherwise.
But it is religion without a relationship with God. These institutions may even explicitly deny that God ever has any power at all. It is hypocrisy.
S39 - Preach something but act otherwise (hypocrisy)
Matt 23:3; Luke 13:15-17; 1 Peter 2:1
In Matt 23:3, Jesus when referring to the Pharisees and the Sadducees described them as those who ‘preach but do not practice.’ In fact, Matt 23 provides us a blueprint of false religious and political leaders, including Christian ones.
‘They make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues (religious institutions) and greetings in the marketplaces, and being called rabbi (or Reverend or Dr) by others.’ (Matt 23:5-7).
S40 - Policing outward behaviors (religiosity)
Mark 3:2-4; Luke 6:7-9; Luke 14:1; Rom 2:19-24
Hypocrisy – Religiosity – Luke 6:7 reads,
‘And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him.’
Religiosity causes people to behave like that.
Religiosity makes people feel condemn and unworthy. The Pharisees were always watching Jesus – what he did and who he met – despite the fact that Jesus was doing good stuff – like healing the sick, casting out the demonic and raising the dead. Religiosity forgets that believers are just sinners saved by grace.
Jesus hated a religious spirit and called the Pharisees ‘blind guides’ and ‘blind fools’ (Matt 23: 16-17). It is a grave sin because these (i.e. the Pharisees and Sadducees) were the only people that Jesus rebuked harshly;
NB: Amazingly, Jesus did not even say bad things about the Roman soldiers.
It is worthwhile for us to take note.
S41 - Outward pretense without practicing the key elements of being a Christian (justice/ mercy/ faith)
Mark 3:2-4; Luke 6:7-9; Luke 14:1
Hypocrisy – Outward Pretense – Matt 23:23,
‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, and mercy and faithfulness.’
This is the hypocrisy of ‘practice’ (doing good works before men so as to be seen by them). The Pharisees were careful to practice their outward demonstration of their religious duties but they neglected matters of the heart.
In another passage found in Matt 6:5, Jesus mentioned about the Pharisees who ‘love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others’ – outward pretense.
Believers, here, only practice an outward form of Christianity without an inward change of heart. How many people would hide behind a veneer of religiosity without an inner change of heart?
On a side note, when considering ‘justice, mercy, and faithfulness’ , amazingly justice and mercy are in almost diametrically opposing camps.
Nonetheless, in the death of Jesus, we see the reconciliation of these two elements –
- Justice required that a punishment be meted out because we are all guilty of sins in front of the Father, but
- Mercy stepped in in the form of Jesus Christ who became our sacrifice to pay for price of our sins.
S42 - Outward dressing to show spirituality without an inward change of heart
Matt 23:5-10; Mark 12:38-39; Luke 20:46-47
Mark 12:38 says,
‘Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplace.’ In addition, these scribes also love their titles and how they are addressed.
Jesus hated hypocrisy and it comes in various forms.
S43 - Bound believers by getting them to adhere to non-scriptural practices
Matt 23:15 says,
‘When he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourself.’
Col 2:18-23 talks about some believers who insisted on the practice of pious self-denial as well as the worship of angels, both of which are non-scriptural. Paul explained,
‘These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.’
The Bible does list down some guidelines on dos and don’ts but there are some churches that go beyond even what is written in the Bible. There are churches that define how one should dress when coming to church. Another might suggest who one should marry and yet others might encourage people not to get married at all. As discussed by Paul to the Colossians, both pious self-denial and worship of angels are not of the Bible.
Col 2:23 (NLT),
‘These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide NO HELP in conquering a person’s evil desires.’
The purpose of this project is to provide clarity for believers regarding what are defined as sins within the context of the New Testament.
S44 - Bound by the rigidness relating to the letter of the law rather than the spirit of it
Hypocrisy – Rigidness – Luke 13:15-17 reads, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?’
The Pharisees became so blinded by the letter of the law to the point of forgetting the elements of mercy. They would rather consider healing on a Sabbath to be a sin than the fact that healing had taken place. They treated the adherence of the Sabbath as sacrosanct and forgot the aspects of grace and mercy.
When believers become legalistic, like which Biblical translation is the only one to use, then we are in danger of becoming Pharisees of our days.
See also S153 – Show more compassion for an animal than a fellow human being.
S45 - Love to judge others without looking at ourselves
Hypocrisy – Judgmental – Luke 6:42 says,
‘How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.’
There is a danger that among ‘older’ Christians (that is, Christians who have been walking in the faith for quite a while), some may end up becoming critical of other Christians or Christian leaders.
To remain malleable, let Christians pray -> for ourselves – to remain humble and teachable by the Lord, pray for for our leaders – to be bold and unashamed of the Gospel of Christ, and pray for the well-being of our enemies. In addition, do not neglect to do good.
Believers have to beware of judging other believers without being hypocrites. It is easy to judge other believers.
S46 - Steal from widows' households (those disadvantaged) - Hypocrisy of Stealing
In John 12:6, it explains how because Judas Iscariot held the money bag (he was the group’s treasurer), he was also ‘helping himself to what was put into it.’ In other words, criminal breach of trust.
Matt 23:14 reads, ‘Woe to you for you devour widows’ houses’. It was taking advantage and stealing from the helpless. There are always evil people who take advantage of those who are vulnerable, even possibly through legal means.
Stealing is a sin. In the same way, stealing stuff from things that we have been entrusted with is a sin.
S47 - Show partiality
James 2:9 says, ‘But if you show partiality, you are committing sin.’
In James 2, the Apostle James was talking about partiality within a church context. V2 reads,
‘For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing ….’
James made it explicit that to showing partiality, whether it is wealth or other things, is unacceptable and a sin.
What about racism? Is racism a sin? Racism is defined as ‘a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.’
Racial discrimination, a demonstration of partiality, is an outworking of this belief.
For more information about racism, please go to our blog as found here.
S48 - Enjoy excessive eating (obesity), and drug use. Neglect exercising
Our body is the temple of God. We are responsible for its upkeep. Hence, if we eat excessively to the point of gluttony or we take drugs that are detrimental to our bodies, we are, in effect, destroying God’s temple. Our body is ‘holy’.
It is the same if we neglect our bodies through inactivity and laziness.
See also S79, Hedonism for more information.
S49 - Contemplate suicide, euthanasia or self-harm
This is an often asked question and it is never easy to provide an answer.
There are six incidents of suicide mentioned in the Bible and it does not answer the question whether it is the right thing to do. Here are the incidents:
- Abimelech (Judg. 9:54),
- Samson (Judg. 16:28–30),
- Saul (1 Sam. 31:4),
- Ahithophel (2 Sam. 17:23),
- Zimri (1 Kings 16:18), and of course,
- Judas Iscariot (Matt. 27:5).
Saul’s case sounded like one of ‘terminal illness’ since he was already critically wounded and had no way of escaping from his enemies.
Then, we have the experience of Job. We know from the Bible that Job lost everything – his wealth, his children, and finally his health. It reached a time when even his wife turned against him [Please do not accuse his wife as being weak. Consider what she had lost as well] and told him to ‘curse God and die’ (Job 2:9). Quite simply, curse God and commit suicide.
How did Job react? He said in Job 2:10 –
‘You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive disaster?’
And it concluded that throughout this period, Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2:11).
Other than Job, probably the most tragic character in the Old Testament was King Zedekiah, the last king of Judah. Zedekiah tried to escape in the middle of the night despite being forewarned by the Prophet Jeremiah not to do so. He was captured but what happened after that was something even harder than death itself – Jer 39:6-7 says,
‘The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah at Riblah before his eyes, and the king of Babylon slaughtered all the nobles of Judah. He put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains to take him to Babylon.’
They gouged out his eyes after they killed his sons in front of him. That would be the last thing he remembered before becoming blind. He would remain in prison until his death although in 2 Kings 25:27-30 and Jer 52:31-34, it mentioned that King Evil-Merodach, the successor of Nebuchadnezzar, ‘spoke kindly’ to Zedekiah and gave him a seat of honor at his table as well as a daily allowance. That took place thirty-seven years after his deportation but could you imagine what went through his mind throughout the entire period and more? Nonetheless, he did not chose the option of suicide.
Then, there is an argument that one should not commit murder, suicide being self-murder no doubt, as it is one of the ten commandments of God (Exodus 20:13). But King David did endorse the murder of Uriah (2 Sam 11:14) and yet he was ranked as a man after God’s heart (1 Sam 13:14, Acts 13:22). His killings nonetheless had consequences so much so that he was not allowed to build a Temple for God (1 Chron 28:3).
It is not a straightforward case. Here are the critical verses to draw principles by:
- Matt 22:39 says, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. It implies that we need to also love ourselves.
- 1 Cor 3:16-17 says, ‘Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy and you are that temple’.
- Matt 24:16 says, ‘Flee to the mountains’. When confronted with an enemy, Christians are not to be passive but to run as proposed by Jesus.
- Luke 22:43 says, ‘And there appeared to him an angel from heaven strengthening him.’ Christians are not to be stoic. Jesus was never stoic, surrounding himself with his disciples and sharing about his very personal thoughts, including his crucifixion. Stoicism is about self-pride, self-determination, and self-resolution.
Here are the key principles for people contemplating self-harm:
- We are the temple of God,
- We should love ourselves (NB: Not overindulge),
- God holds a strong opinion for someone who destroys himself/ herself,
- Both Job and King Zedekiah, despite their dire circumstances, chose not to kill themselves,
- If we can find a way out of a problematic situation, we must take active steps,
- If we have problems, we must seek out close friends for help and support. Jesus was never stoic and he sought and surrounded himself with his disciples even at his most trying time in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:36-38).
Nonetheless, based on these guiding principles, we believe that suicide is a sin although it does not appear to be an unpardonable one (Please see the section on ‘Unpardonable Sins’ for more information).
Moreover, Samson was even ranked as a great man of faith in Heb 11:32. Another biblical hero, David, for example, committed murder and was still considered a man after God’s heart although he did suffer earthly consequences.
Having said that, we acknowledge mental illness and depression are real events that should be tackled. And that with modern medical advancement, sick people with poor quality of life can still be kept alive when it was not possible in previous generations.
With the implementation of legalized euthanasia in some countries, there are now professionals hired to promote the benefits of euthanasia among those who are ‘critically’ ill (‘Critical’ being a definition of the law). These vulnerable people may not agree to be euthanized but under the pressure of advocates, social norms, and potentially even their own family members, they may succumb to their wishes.
The concept of suicide (and murder) has thus been muddied by the enemy. There is, therefore, no perfect answer to this subject although basic principles must apply.
S146 - Choose not to work/ Not to use our talents - slothful and lazy
Proverbs consistently highlighted the importance to work hard and not be lazy. Prov 6:6, for example, says,
‘Go to the ant, O sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise.’
Rom 12:11 (NLT) says, ‘Never be lazy, but work hard ….’ while 2 Thes 3:10 says, ‘….. If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.’
Genesis 2:15 says,
‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep (maintain) it.’
God classes slothfulness or laziness as ‘evil’ in Matt 25:26 when a servant failed to use the talent allocated to him; ‘failure to use one’s talent for the Lord’ is rated as ‘laziness’. Jesus said that this servant would end up in ‘the outer darkness’ where there will be ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Quite very serious stuff).
‘Laziness’ can occur to anyone of us, even ministers of the word. It happens easiest when we lack accountability and structure as these two ‘systemic’ elements motivate us to produce results.
Laziness can happen to believers – slothful in praying and studying of the Scripture. Even pew warmers may be defined as ‘slothful’ – people who sit in the pews, are nice to everyone, do no harm to anyone and put some money into the collection plate. Jesus, in addressing the Church of Laodicea, said, ‘Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth’ – Rev 3:16.
In a 2015 Psychology Today article by Neel Burton, he said:
“Many ‘lazy’ people are not intrinsically lazy, but are so because they have not found what they want to do, or because, for one reason or another, they are not doing it. To make matters worse, the job that pays their bills and fills their best hours may have become so abstract and specialized that they can no longer fully grasp its purpose or product, and, by extension, their part in improving other peoples’ lives. A builder can look with aching satisfaction upon the houses that he has built, and a doctor can take pride and joy in the restored health and gratitude of his patients, but an assistant deputy financial controller in a large corporation cannot be at all certain of the effect or end-product of his labor. So why should he bother?’
When we lose our own purpose to achieve something, when we lack a belief in what God wants us to do (or the situation has become so hopeless that we feel we cannot do anything about it) and we are happy with our status quo, then we stop trying and let the ‘why bother’ syndrome takes over.
‘Laziness’ has nothing to do with employment for even an employed person can be lazy. For those who have too many hours in their hands because they are either unemployed (or seeking employment) or have retired, consider opportunities to do voluntary work.
Slothfulness (laziness) is sin.
S147 - Eat blood or meat with blood (probably not a sin - best avoided - Read on)
Acts 15:21 says,
‘But should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.’
In Acts 15 however, when the disciples met together to decide on whether circumcision should be included for a Gentile, instead of adding rules, they simplified them to just four basic ‘not-to’ – abstain from eating food offered to idols, not to eat food with blood in it or had been strangled, and do not practice sexual immorality (Acts 15:20). Effectively, believers are not to eat food with blood on it or even to eat blood on its own.
The Hebrew Bible (or our Old Testament) specifies a lot of things that Jews should not eat. But in the New Testament, God seemed to have endorsed all food as seen in Acts 10 when the Apostle Peter was told to eat some of the animals that were forbidden under Jewish law. Nonetheless, Acts 15 clarifies that some things were not to be eaten even by believers.
The first time blood was prohibited from being eaten/ drunk came in Gen 9:2-4 when God told Noah not to eat meat that had its lifeblood still in it. It was reinforced in the Law of Moses in Lev 17:14 when it explained, ‘For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life.’ Deut 12:16 reiterated, ‘Only you shall not eat the blood, you shall pour it out on the earth like water.’ That is, we are to drain the slaughtered animal off its blood.
The Apostle Paul, however, said in Col 2:16,
‘Therefore, let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink’,
clarifying that since the New Testament, Christ has freed us from the Law as seen in Gal 5:1,
‘For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a YOKE OF SLAVERY.’
Certain cultures continue to eat food with blood, e.g. blood pudding, blood sausage.
Some Christians also do not consider eating blood or food with blood as sin based on Col 2:16. They argued that it was more to placate the Jewish Christians of that era. We would rather not state it one way or the other but place this as a borderline element best to be avoided.
NB: If you have eaten a ‘bloody’ steak, you might want to note that the red liquid is not blood. The red hue is actually a protein called myoglobin which helps muscle tissue store oxygen. It is the iron in myoglobin that makes it red. Myoglobin is not blood.
S148 - Eat meat that has been strangled (probably not a sin - best avoided - Read on)
Acts 15:21 says,
‘But should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.’
Meat that has been strangled has not been properly drained of its blood since an animal’s blood does not simply pour itself out.
Hence, the same logic applies as in S147, Eat blood or meat with blood.
Again, this is a borderline element which we feel that it is best to be avoided if you are aware that the meat that you are having, comes from an animal that has been strangled.
S149 - Eat food offered to idols (not a sin - read on)
Acts 15:21 says,
‘But should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.’
One struggle with the early church was the widespread practice of idolatry. Hence, food offered to idols was common.
1 Cor 10:28 says that it is perfectly fine to eat any food except when someone says to you, ‘This has been offered in sacrifice.’ The Apostle Paul explained that it was more for ‘the sake of the one who informed you and for the sake of (his) conscience.’
Here is a summary:
- There is nothing wrong with eating meat offered to an idol. The meat by itself is not defiled.
- The Lord provides everything for our enjoyment – 1 Tim 6:17
- However, it is wise to avoid it if we are brought to the awareness that the food has been offered to idols. It is more to protect the conscience of the other person.
Is it a sin? Probably not but it would be sensible to avoid food offered to idols if you are made aware of it.
S150 - Withhold the rightful salary of an employee
Luke 10:7; Col 4:1; 1 Tim 5:18; James 5:4:
Jesus made it clear that all workers should be paid. In Luke 10:7, he appointed seventy-two disciples and sent them two-by-two to go ahead of him to various towns. Jesus then told them to remain in any household that welcomed their presence as ‘the laborer deserves his wages.’ Jesus never shortchanged even a church worker.
Col 4:1 says, ‘Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven’ and 1 Tim 5:18, ‘The Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”‘
James 5:4 explains the rationale, ‘Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. ‘
It concurs with the Old Testament Deut 24:15, ‘You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the LORD, and you be guilty of sin.’
Withholding the rightful salary of an employee is not just a present-day occurrence but has been going on for the years. Some employers take advantage of their employees in order to improve their own cash flow or simply for the purpose of fraud.
Christian employers should never practice such behavior. It is a sin.
S151 - Marry a non-believer (possibly not a sin but ....)
2 Cor 6:14-15 reads, ‘Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial (or the devil)? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?’
A yoke is a wooden bar that links two oxen together so that they can pull as one. An ‘unequally yoked’ situation is when we have one stronger ox and another weaker one, or matching a taller ox with a shorter one. Clearly, in either case, the law of the lowest denominator comes into play and it becomes difficult to pull the load as one. Worse, the two oxen could be at loggerheads with each other and then it could be a disaster.
The words in 2 Cor 6:15 are even strong, equating ‘unbelievers’ as ‘the devil’. Most believers consider this verse to point towards a marriage between a believer and a non-believer. It might point to more than a marital situation but marital situations are obviously the most critical.
In the Old Testament and in Genesis, Abraham made it clear that his son, Isaac, was only to marry a wife from his relatives. In Gen 24:3, he told his servant that he was ‘not to take a wife for (his) son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom (he) dwell.’ The same thing took place with Isaac’s son, Jacob, who went back to his own relatives to find a bribe (Gen 29).
Moses was explicit in Deut 7:3-4 when he said, ‘You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons.’ And in the next verse, it explains why: ‘For they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you and he would destroy you quickly.’
One of the saddest narratives involved Solomon, the wisest and richest of all the kings of Israel and the son of David. He married many women; 1 Kings 11:3 said that he had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines. And in 1 Kings 11:4, it reports that ‘when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David, his father.’
Our spouse can make or break us. Additionally, there is the issue of having children together. The critical element lies in the differing values which go to the heart of living lives together and bringing up children. Whose values should we follow?
In the Islamic faith for example, if a believer marries a spouse who is a Muslim, then s/he has to become a Muslim. Even if that is avoidable, their children are automatically classed as Muslims. For them and possibly the ‘unbelieving’ spouse, it is almost impossible to renounce the Islamic faith as to do so would be considered an apostasy punishable by the death penalty.
A friendship can be for a moment but a marital relationship, whether it produces children or not, is meant to be for a life-time. We are free to make choices in life but we are not free from the consequences of those choices.
A simple advice is simply do not get romantically involved with an unbeliever.
See also B129 – Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
S152 - Become apathetic
James 4:17 (GNT) – ‘If we do not do the good we know we should do, we are guilty of sin.’
‘Apathy’ is described as a ‘lack of interest or energy’ and shows that the person is unwilling to take action.’ It may also be defined as a ‘lack of feeling or emotion – impassiveness.’
It is not just a matter of not doing good works but knowingly choosing not to do so.
Luke 12:47 describes a situation when a servant knew the will of the Master and yet chose not to follow his instructions. In fact, the Lord attributed this non-action at the same level of an unbeliever. In Luke 12:46, Jesus said, that ‘He (The Lord) will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with unbelievers.’
Please read S139, Continue sinning deliberately and willfully even after knowing Jesus.
James made it explicit that apathy is a sin.
S153 - Show more compassion for an animal than a fellow human being
In Matt 12:10-14, Jesus was healing someone who had withered hand. But the Pharisees questioned him as to why he was healing on the Sabbath. Jesus’ response was cutting when he asked, ‘What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out?’
In Luke 14:1-5, instead of a sheep, Jesus used the example of an ox when he said, ‘Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?’
In other words, the Pharisees showed more concern and compassion for an animal (or a family member) than another fellow human being in the same scenario.
Will we be in danger when we feel a greater sense to protect and care for a pet or an animal rather than to fight for the lives of a defenseless unborn human pre-baby?
Please also see
- S44, Bound by the rigidness relating to the letter of the law rather than the spirit of it, and
- B147, Love our animals.
S155 - Involve in sorceries (Obsess with taking drugs [legal and illegal])
Revelation 9:20-21; Revelation 18:23; Revelation 21:8
In Revelation, the Bible speaks about a time when mankind gets heavily indulgent in a variety of sins, including ‘sorceries’. Revelation 18:23 says that Babylon were deceiving all nations by her sorcery.
We tend to associate ‘sorceries’ with black magic or witchcraft. But here an interesting fact that I learned:
The word for “sorcery” in Greek is Pharmakeia or Pharmakois from which we get our English word “pharmaceuticals.”
When it comes to prescribed (legal) drugs, more and more people are coming onto them. Drugs are given not only for physical illnesses but for mental issues, like depression or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). More and more people are signing up to these prescribed drugs on the suggestion of their medical doctors.
According to an article in 2016, about 20% of the North American population was on some form of psychiatric drugs for either depression, ADHD, anxiety, schizophrenia, phobias, impulse-control disorder, or bi-polar disorder. North Americans had become obsessed with ‘mood stabilizers’ to the tune of $25 billion per year. See LINK.
Mental illnesses, which are often diagnosed not so much with a clinical equipment like X-ray or MRI scan but through psychological questionnaires and observations carried out by highly qualified medical practitioners.
Psychiatrists who are qualified medical doctors, administer such medication on the assumption that a patient’s mental instability is the result of a biochemical imbalance in the brain, not a result of a person’s past traumatic experiences. This is something which even some doctors, including world renowned Dr. Peter Breggin, often recognized as ‘the conscience of psychiatry’, had disputed. See LINK.
The problem with such prescribed drugs is that once a person begins taking them, s/he will find it almost impossible to wean oneself off it. It is literally a life sentence on drugs.
With the aggressive push of pharmaceutical companies to market its products (and the endorsement of their major shareholders), it is unsurprising therefore that we are creating a population that is becoming more obsessed with drugs than ever.
Now, on top of just prescribed drugs, countries are authorizing growers to harvest medicinal cannabis which can of course also be used for recreational purposes. Some countries have gone beyond – Thailand for example had legalized marijuana although smoking continues to be discouraged.
The world, and that includes some Christians, has become obsessed with Pharmakeia, just as the Bible prophesied.
Drug-takers are beholden to their masters in a way that it is almost impossible for them to get out of this predicament. It is a snare for catching unsuspecting people.
Sorcery is sin.
S50 - Unbelief
Matt 13:58; Heb 3:12-19; Jude 5
‘And he did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.’
Jesus came into his hometown of Bethlehem but could not do many mighty works there because these people saw him as the son of Joseph and did not accorded him the status of the Son of God. Unbelief limited Jesus’ ability to perform miracles.
Heb 3:19 says,
‘So we see that they were unable to enter (their rest) because of unbelief.’
The children of Israel that came out of Egypt bar two (Joshua and Caleb) were unable to enter the Promised Land because of their unbelief. Unbelief is an obstacle preventing the release of God’s power. Believe in God, on the other hand, is equated with ‘righteousness’ (James 2:23).
Unbelief limits God’s ability to operate and flow. Unbelief, not trusting God, is a major sin.
S51 - Unforgiveness
Unforgiveness – Mark 11:26 reads,
‘Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trepasses.’
Unforgiveness is a major sin because Jesus made it clear that if we don’t forgive others, our Father in heaven might not forgive us. Regardless of whatever has had happened to us in the past, our mandate is to forgive.
The reason why we forgive is because we have been forgiven. Almost all of us will fall back into sin on occasions. Yet, when we return and repent before God, he forgives us, not once but over and over again. In Matt 18:22 (NLT), Jesus exclaimed that forgiveness is given ‘not seven times but seventy times seven.’ If God can forgive us each time we sin, then we should also forgive others.
In war situations, some of the atrocities are beyond description. Yet, God’s mandate for us is to forgive because it is a forceful emotional release mechanism for us personally. Truly, there is power in forgiveness and it is within our prerogative to do so.
Do not harbor unforgiveness as it is a grave sin. Choose to forgive because we have been forgiven.
S52 - Unholy
2 Tim 3:2 says that ‘unholy’ is a sin. The Greek word for unholy is anosioi or ‘profane’. It is the same as ungodly, godless, blasphemous or irreverent.
It is an absence of a fear of God. These people choose to be their own men without a need for God.
See also S59, Self-Dependency/ Pride (I don’t need God; I am my god).
S53 - Unloving
In 1 Cor 13:1, Paul said that without love, we are but a ‘noisy gong or a clanging cymbal’. As believers, our lives must be guided by love. Jesus was guided by love to give up his life in order to save ours.
By highlighting the element of ‘love’ in 1 Cor 13, it shows that it is possible for ‘believers’ to do things without love. That is a sure sign of danger because love must always be guiding our behavior.
There is no such thing as an unloving Christian.
S54 - Unmerciful (Lack Compassion)
Matt 12:11; Matt 18:21-35; Luke 14:5; Romans 1:31
The word used for ‘unmerciful’ is aneleemonas in Greek as found in Rom 1:31. It is also the same as ‘without natural affection’ or ‘without compassion’.
Jesus related the story of the Sabbath and asked,
‘Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath Day, will not immediately pull him out?’ (Luke 14:5).
He asked this question because the Pharisees were upset that he healed a man who had dropsy.
When we could have taken on and done something good but chose not to do so, then our heart might be in the wrong place. You will notice repeatedly in the Bible that Jesus did miracles out of compassion. His heart could be moved and so must ours. God could forgive our sins via Jesus because he chose mercy rather than judgement. Hence, we must forgive others who might have harmed us.
In Matt 25:35-46, Jesus spoke about the righteous and the wicked. Matt 25:42-44, he described the acts of the wicked as follows:
‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’’
Being unmerciful (or lacking compassion) is a grave sin.
How do we react to those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and in prison?
S55 - Unbelieving
The criteria for being saved or ‘having everlasting life’ as defined in the all-time favorite John 3:16 is ‘believing in the Lord Jesus’. The Greek word is pisteuo and is the same as ‘having faith in’ or ‘putting our trust in’.
If we are given opportunities to accept Jesus and repent of our sins but do not do so, it could lead ultimately to a hardness of heart. Please see S144, Continue in non-repentance through the rejection of Jesus for more information.
S56 - Untrustworthy
The Greek word for ‘untrustworthy’ as found in Rom 1:31 is asunthetos or ‘untrue to an agreement’ or ‘treacherous’. The Bible does not uphold deception as a means of getting things done. It is an abomination. The devil, whom the Bible identifies as the father of lies (John 8:44), is also called the deceiver of the whole world (Rev 12:9).
Deception, lies, and untrustworthiness are the linchpin of the devil. Believers who practice these behaviors are committing serious sins.
See also S10, Godlessness – Deceitfulness.
S57 - Heartless
The Greek word for ‘heartless’ as found in Rom 1:31 is astorgos or ‘unloving’, ‘devoid of affection’.
In other words, a person who cannot feel.
Jesus expressed his emotions while on earth constantly. For example, the shortest verse in the Bible in John 11:35 when Jesus visited Lazarus’ tomb was,
God created us as human beings with a heart. It is a sin and possibly the first sign of someone with a ‘hardness of heart’.
S58 - Hardness of heart 1
Mark 3:5; John 11:48; John 12:37-40; Heb 3:7-11; Heb 4:7
What is hardness of heart?
The word ‘hardness’ as found in Mark 3:5 and spoken by Jesus referred to the Greek word, porosis or obtuseness or ‘not sensitive’. This reference was made after Jesus healed on a Sabbath but the Pharisees, instead of praising him, accused him of going against the law relating to the Sabbath.
‘Hardness of heart’ is a serious condition. It resulted in the children of Israel not being able to enter the Promised Land as found in Heb 3 and 4. Hence, there were three invitations in these two chapters from the Holy Spirit, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion’ (Heb 3:8, Heb 3:15, Heb 4:7).
To know God and hear him, our hearts have to be soft in order to receive instructions. Hardness of heart is when we choose our will over that directed by the Holy Spirit continuously.
And if it is often enough, it reaches a stage as described later in S144 – Hardness of heart 2.
Hardness of heart is a sin and can lead to the ineffectiveness and possible downfall of believers. It also leads to the final destruction of non-believers.
Keep a soft heart and always be open to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
S59 - Self dependency/ Pride (I don't need God; I'm my god)
Rom 12:3; 2 Tim 3:2; 1 John 2:16; James 4:6; Rev 3:17;
1 John 2:16 calls them the ‘pride of life’ or those who take ‘pride in their achievements and possessions.’ 2 Tim 3:2 calls it ‘proud’, the Greek word being huperephanos or arrogant and disdainful.
God says, he ‘opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ James 4:6.
Pride (I don’t need God; I’m my god) was what resulted in the fall of Satan. He reached a state whereby he exclaimed,
“I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
Satan wanted to be God (Isa 14:14). We are made in the image of God and we have a will. Hence, we can decide that ‘we are gods’.
There is no such thing as ‘self-made person.’ Even a person who works hard and who has the ability to reach where he or she is today still has to depend on many factors which are beyond his/ her control; for example, like the country, time, and place that the person is born in.
This person is ‘rich in spirit’ and cannot see his/ her need for God. It is the opposite of what Jesus shared at the Beatitudes – ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt 5:3).
Our failure to acknowledge God in our endeavors – our sense of ‘self dependency’ , our ‘self reliance’ without God and our pride – is a sin.
S60 - Disobedience to authorities (including governments)
In highly democratic nations like the USA or even Hongkong, we see a high degree of disobedience to the authorities, be they law enforcement officers or even the President. The word, ‘obedience’, in Greek is peitharcheo or ‘obey one in authority, confirm to advice’ as found in Titus 3:1.
Civil disobedience seems to be the byword because in some quarters, it is the squeaky wheel that gets the attention. Hence, civil disobedience is encouraged.
But should Christians participate in civil disobedience, especially those involving clashes with the police? Does Jesus support violent protest?
Interestingly, when Jesus was betrayed at the Garden of Gethsemane, he chose non-violence and submission to the governing authority.
When Simon Peter drew his sword out and cut off the right ear of the High Priest’s servant (John 18:10), Jesus intervened and explained, ‘Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels.’ (Matt 26:53).
In 1 Peter 2:19-20, the Apostle Peter said to the disciples who were still slaves,
‘Do what they tell you – not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment.’
Peter never advocated violence but rather for believers to choose the path of patient endurance.
Civil disobedience with violence, in general, is a sin. Please see B107 to B116 – Relationship with Government for a more in-depth presentation.
S61 - Disobedience to parents
Rom 1:30 mentions specifically about children being ‘disobey to their parents’. So does 2 Tim 3:2. The Greek word is apeithes or ‘outward disobedience demonstrating an outward spiritual rebellion.’
Parents are placed there to discipline and bring up their children. No parent is perfect since parenting is not an easy job and does not come with an operating manual. Generally, God expects children to obey their parents.
Prov 19:26 says that,
‘He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother is a son who brings shame and reproach.’
In the Old Testament, it says that
‘a stubborn and rebellious son (or daughter’ who does not take to discipline by his/ her parents is deserving of death by stoning (Deut 21:18-21).
Of course, we do not apply the same law in the New Testament anymore but it does highlight the seriousness of a child who is disobedient to his/ her parent.
S62 - Reject authority and rebel
Jude 6, 8, 11, Gal 5:20; 2 Peter 2:10
Jude 11 speaks about ‘Korah’s rebellion’. Korah rebelled against Moses despite the fact that God spoke directly to Moses. As recorded in Num 16, Korah challenged Moses and asked, ‘Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’ The Lord destroyed not only Korah but his entire household.
The Lord hates rebellion. It was Satan who rejected authority and rebelled against God.
Rebellion is a sin because it is about rejecting authority, especially God appointed ones.
See B107 and B108, Relationship with Government for more information relating to when Christians might disagree with the ruling government.
S63 - Reject will of God
‘But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves,’ – Luke 7:30.
Then Luke 12:47 explains,
‘And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.’
God’s will is obvious when we read his word because there are certain ‘expected things’ for Christians to follow. Yet, other times, God may reveal his specific will to us. John 14:15 says,
‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.’
It is a sin to reject the purpose of God in our lives. See also Christian behaviors.
S64 - Reject Jesus
Matt 8:34; Mark 5:17; Luke 9:5; Luke 12:10; John 12:48; 2 John 7,
In Matt 8, Jesus had just healed two men with demons. Yet, the entire town did not appreciate it and ‘begged him to leave their region’ (Matt 8:34). Here, we see that an entire town rejected Jesus, not just an individual. And the repercussions are great.
Jesus always offers us choices; rejection of Jesus is the same as ‘unbelieving’ in S55, Unbelieving, and is a grave sin.
S65 - Prefer status quo and lukewarmness rather than seek out the manifestation of God's presence
Luke 8:37; Luke 10:31-32; Rev 3:15-16
In Luke 8:26-37, Jesus had just healed a man from demonic possession. But in the process, he sent these demons into a herd of pigs.
Mark 5:12 specifically mentioned that there were around two thousand pigs. So, it was a very large herd even by our today’s standard. The pigs ‘rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea’ (Mark 5:13).
Instead of thanking Jesus and being awed by the supernatural, the people of the town came out and ‘begged him to leave their region’ (Matt 8:34). Based on what we read, we can suspect that the people were frightened by the supernatural or they chose corporate economic stability rather than the healing of that individual. Or simply they wanted things to be status quo.
Would the term ‘lukewarm’ described them as found in Rev 3:16?
The same might be said of the priest and the Levite who avoided walking toward the beaten up fellow Jews in the story of the Good Samaritan. Instead, they ‘passed him by on the other side’ (Luke 10:31-32); they were indifferent to the needs of their fellow man.
Lukewarmness, apathy or indifference is a serious sin that affects a lot of us. The Lord reprimanded the church in Laodicea for being ‘lukewarm and (being) neither hot nor cold.’ (Rev 3:16).
S66 - Become an antichrist (someone who opposes Jesus Christ)
Obviously, choosing to become an antichrist or even just adopting the values of an antichrist is a sin. The Greek word is ‘antichristos’ and it means choosing to become an enemy of the Messiah.
S67 - Reject the voice of God
Matt 7:24-27; Heb 3:7-8; Heb 4:1-3; Heb 12:25
Hearing God’s voice is a critical component of being a believer. God speaks to us through his word (both logos and rhema); please see also B249 – Decision making/ Holy Spirit.
Jesus met a man who declared himself to be perfect, having followed the law to the letter. Then, Jesus challenged him,
‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me’ – Matt 19:22.
It was simply too hard for the man. He walked away very sad. The man had fulfilled all the logos but what was missing was obeying the specific word of Jesus to him (the rhema word).
Heb 3:7-8 says,
‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness.’
The children of Israel did not enter into the rest of God (Heb 3:18) because they chose to rebel and disobey God (Heb 3:16).
Matt 7:26 calls out such a person who hears the words of God and not do them as a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
The most critical element in rejecting the voice of God is to reject Jesus as Lord and Savior.
To disobey God’s voice when we hear/ read it is an obvious sin.
S68 - Do not possess the fear of God
No fear of God – Rom 3:18, unrighteous people have ‘no fear of God before their eyes.’ The word, ‘fear’, is the Greek word phobos or reverence or respect.
If one does not believe in God then one will not necessarily fear God. If there is no God, then there is nothing to worry about regarding afterlife accountability.
But Christians believe in God and a rightful and reverential fear of God prevents us from doing anything foolish.
S69 - Possess a fear of men
John 9:22 says,
‘His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews (Pharisees and Sadducees) had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue (their religious institution).’
A man, born blind since birth, had been healed by Jesus on a Sabbath. The Jews were upset. They brought his parents and wanted to know whether that was their son. His parents felt intimidated by them and chose to answer vaguely.
The word, ‘fear’ in Greek is ‘afraid’ or phobeo. It is translated as ‘am afraid’ or ‘terrified’.
Some people might not fear God but many people do fear men. What they do or not do is influenced by how others react. The common term is ‘social norm’; psychologists, sociologists and behavioral scientists acknowledge that social norm is powerful.
The parents in this case feared the Jews (Pharisees and Sadducees); religious leaders have a stronghold on people as the latter sees them as a representative of God. And if these leaders do not approve, does it mean that God might not approve too?
The parents’ actions were influenced by men rather than God. Our actions can too.
In our politically correct world, being a Christian is no more easy. There are the elements of homophobia, as well as Islamophobia. To mention any of these groups in a bad light in social media might invite an avalanche of negative publicity from our friends, colleagues, and relatives, not forgetting the possibility of the mainstream media. Even churches avoid these subjects altogether, leaving a congregation that is confused and without knowledge.
The fear of men stamps from our need for acceptance, recognition, our fear of criticism as well as humiliation. Soon to come, the fear of men might well hit our pockets too, e.g. jobs and contracts.
How many of our decisions and actions are guided by the ‘fear of men’ and not God? The Apostle Peter when threatened with prison told the court officials, said, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’
‘Fear of men’ is sin.
S70 - Love the recognition and praises of man over God's
John 12:43, ‘For they (Pharisees and Sadducees) loved praise from men more than praise from God.’ This is is a parallel to fearing men.
If we choose to do something because it looks good in men’s eyes in order to earn the ‘praises of men’, like giving money to charity because we want to be seen, then it is a sin. That is why Jesus advocated that in such situations, it is good that the ‘left hand does not know what the right hand is doing’ (Matt 6:3).
Instead of avoiding the ‘fear of men’, here we are seeking for the ‘praises of men’. Again, even pastors and politicians do that. Instead of confronting sins, they avoid the word completely. They go soft on negative issues. So do believers.
Jesus promised believers that ‘you will be hated by all for my name’s sake’ (Matt 10:22). Christians do stand for certain absolutes which cannot be compromised. The world will try and alter our behaviors through either fear or praise.
In the Beatitudes, the Lord reminded us with these words, ‘Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil on account of the Son of Man’ (Luke 6:22).
Believers must beware. The world will get more evil and Christians will be asked to adjust their behaviors through the elements of reward and punishment by the world system. Actions taken to compromise our beliefs in God as a result of praises and fear of men are both sins.
S71 - Be a coward
In John 12:42-43, it explains, ‘many even of the authorities (like Nicodemus, they were part of the elites) believed in him but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.’
Cowardice is not something the Lord takes to well. In Rev 21:8, it says, ‘for the cowardly ….. Their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur which is the second death.’
At the same time, believers were commended when they ‘love not their lives even unto death’ (Rev 12:11).
It is easy for the writer to record this when everything is smooth but there is a saying that we will know who the real Christians are ‘when the rubber meets the road’, that is when real suffering begins.
Cowards are abhorrent to God. Cowardice is an action but even before this is manifested there will be signs to show – like those produced earlier when the person loves the praises of men more than God or the fear men more than God. Believers must be aware of such pitfalls.
Cowardice in the face of an impending unfriendly world to being a Christian is a sin. Believers need the wisdom to deduce when to stand up for God without appearing silly and stupid.
Let us be inspired by watching a story of courage – Man in a red bandanna.
See also D70, Jesus was killed for political reasons.
S72 - Approve others who practice sinful acts (especially so for figures like judges and lawyers)
Rom 1:32 says, ‘They not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.’ The New Living Translation says, ‘Worse yet, they encourage others to do them too.’
Sin is not just isolated to our own doing. It can involve us giving approval or encouraging others to do it. Acts 8:1 says, ‘Saul approved the stoning of Stephen.’ We could only suspect that it would be an awkward conversation between Saul (Later, the name was changed to Paul) and Stephen in heaven but thankfully we are all sinners saved by grace. We are pretty certain that Stephen will be the first to welcome Paul into heaven.
Authoritative figures like judges are often put in such predicaments as they have been vested with authority by the state to pass judgments. How can they remain impartial as it might cost them their careers? Pontius Pilate knew it was ‘out of envy that they (the Jewish religious elites) handed Jesus over to him (for judgment)’ (Matt 27:18).
Nevertheless, he sided with the religious elites and the mob and sentenced Jesus to be crucified although he did symbolically washed his hands to declare that ‘he was innocent of this man’s (Jesus’) blood’ (Matt 27:24).
The same thing happened in the case of the Apostle Paul when those in authority, Felix and Festus, chose to pander to the elites rather than make impartial judgments (Acts 24:27, Acts 25:9).
Encouraging others to sin is a sin in itself.
S73 - Betray someone
S74 - Abusive
The Greek word for ‘abusive’ is blasphemos or ‘slanderous’ or ‘blasphemous’. It means speaking evil of someone that is not true. It is an obvious sin.
S75 - Lack of self-control
The Greek word for a lack of self-control is akrates or ‘inclined to excess’ or a lack of self-discipline/ self restraint. As we become mature, we are expected to exercise self-discipline and not engage in a hedonistic lifestyle in ‘excesses’ such as the pleasures of eating, drinking, and sex. A lack of self-control can put us in all sorts of compromised positions.
See also S79 – Hedonism.
A believer must practise self-control.
S76 - Self-righteous and a 'holier-than-you' attitude
Jesus told a story about two persons going up to pray; one a tax collector and the other a Pharisee. The Pharisee was going through his checklist of good behavior and ticked them off, giving himself a high score. The tax collector, on the other hand, felt the burden of his own sins and could only utter a prayer for God to be merciful toward him because he was a sinner. Jesus lauded the tax collector and said,
‘This man (the tax collector) went down to his house justified, rather than the other (the Pharisee). For everyone who exalts himself (that is, being self-righteous) will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted’ (Luke 18:9-14).
God seeks people who acknowledge their sins and request for mercy from God and not one who is self-righteous before him. Rom 3:10 explains the reason because ‘there is none righteous, no, not one’. All of us are sinners and the only difference between believers and non-believers is that believers are saved by the grace of God through Christ Jesus who became our sacrificial lamb.
Religiosity can creep in unknowingly among ‘older’ Christians (Christians who have been in the faith for a while). Some of us whose personality type may be more judgement may gravitate to being more critical of other Christians or Christian leaders. Hence, the Lord instituted certain behaviors to help us be malleable to overcome these shortcomings.
- Here are some of his suggestions:
- Pray for our leaders and enemies (Matt 5:44),
- Look for opportunities to do good to all (Matt 25:35-40),
- Exercise hospitality to strangers (Heb 13:2),
- Show compassion and love before judgement (Matt 9:36).
Beware of our own self-righteousness.
S77 - Ungrateful
In 2 Tim 3:2, the word ‘ungratefulness’ in Greek is acharistos or ‘unthankfulness’. Christians are told to be thankful.
Ph 4:6-7 says,
‘Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’
Some people go through really tough challenges and they end up developing a bitter attitude towards God, people and things in general. God does not pretend that everything is perfect. In fact, God encourages us to vocalize our problems in prayer to him (Phil 4:6-7). He encourages us to wrestle with him in order to know who he is.
The Apostle Paul, who penned 2 Timothy, went through experiences that would have challenged anyone to be grateful. He explained in 2 Cor 11:25-27,
‘Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles; danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger in sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.’
Amazingly, when he came to the end of that long list, he could still conclude,
‘For the sake of Christ, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ (2 Cor 12:10).
Paul remained grateful and motivated.
Being thankful is a big part of being a Christian. An ungrateful attitude shows a lack of trust in God.
S78 - Self-seeking ambition
1 Cor 13:5; 2 Cor 12:20; Ph 2:3; James 3:14;
James 3:14 talks about ‘bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in our hearts’. When Jesus prayed the final time at the Garden of Gethsemane in John 17, Jesus showed that he had the Father’s priority right up front. John 17:6 says,
‘I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world.’ It is always about the Father.
Being ‘Self-Seeking’ is about someone insisting that things should be carried out on his/ her own way (1 Cor 13:5). It is an ‘unwillingness to yield’ (James 3:17). Jesus did not seek his own agenda nor his glory.
‘For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of him that sent me.’
Luke 22:42b reiterates,
‘Not my will but yours be done.’
The struggle that we have, regardless of who we are and what we do, is the issue of our own will; it is never one that is easy to master. Practically every believer suffers from this ‘disease’.
Prov 21:2 says,
‘Every way of a man is right in his own eyes but the Lord weighs the hearts.’
Here lies the problem: We don’t even know our own heart or whether we are ‘self-seeking’.
There are strategies to deal with this but it is not covered within this section.
Being self-seeking is a serious sin because it can bring about ‘evil(ness) and every evil thing’ (James 3:16), especially in a church setting. Regardless of which stage of life we are in, all of us, by the grace of God, have to learn how to master ourselves and our spirit.
S79 - Live a life of pleasure (hedonistic and narcissistic lifestyle)
Mark 4:19; Luke 8:14, 2 Tim 3:2; 1 John 2:16
Luke 8:14 calls it the ‘pleasures of life’, 2 Tim 3:2 addresses it as ‘lovers of self’, and 1 John 2:16 says, ‘desires of the flesh’.
If we are reasonably rich, there are many ways of enjoying the ‘pleasures of life’ and treating our bodies well, including enhancing our bodies, participating in self-gratification, buying really expensive toys or simply enjoying good food.
We need to take good care of our bodies. 1 Cor 3:16 says, we are ‘God’s temple’. Hence, there is logic in making sure that we do not destroy it through poor lifestyle choices.
But excesses can come to all of us. With the money that we earn, we can either do good with others, spoil it on ourselves, or hoard it in a bank. How we use our money would represent a reflection on who we really are (Matt 6:21) – ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’
How do we draw a line?
It is not within this project to place judgment but to provide a reminder that ‘hedonism’ (the pursuit of sensual self-indulgence) and ‘narcissism’ (excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one’s physical appearance) are sins and represent the ‘lust of the flesh’.
S80 - Live life flippantly and carelessly
‘Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.’ (Luke 6:21) and then the Lord also presents a flip-side to this by saying,
‘Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.’
We enjoy a good laugh. That is why comedians are revered. But within that laughter may lie great pains which these comedians hide under the veneer of professionalism. Prov 17:22 says,
‘A joyful heart is good medicine but a broken spirit dries up the bones.’
Laughter is good at various points in time. But weeping also brings us back to what life really is and a reminder that we are but vapor.
S81 - Fail to use our gifts and practice wastefulness (unfruitfulness)
Matt 14:20; Matt 25:26-28; John 6:12; Luke 19:20-23
In Matt 25, Jesus told a story about a man who entrusted some talents to three servants in various amounts. The one that was given five talents made five more. So did the servant who had two talents. But the one who had only one talent chose to hide it and was severely reprimanded by the man.
More than this, the last servant, the one who only had but one talent, was branded as ‘wicked and slothful’ and was ‘cast into the outer darkness in a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matt 25:30).
Jesus hated waste. In John 6:12, after he had miraculously fed the five thousand, he got his disciples to gather up the leftovers which came up to twelve baskets of fragments all ‘so that nothing will be wasted’.
Jesus also hated unfruitfulness. In Mark 11:13, when Jesus could not find anything to eat on a fig tree with leaves, he cursed it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’
Jesus expected us to use our talents for his purpose. Wastefulness, unfruitfulness, and failure to use our talents are grave sins.
S82 - Sow divisions and dissensions among people (propagate disunity)
Mark 3:25; Rom 1:29; Rom 16:17; 1 Cor 1:10; 2 Cor 12:20; Gal 5:20-21; 2 Tim 4:14-15; Titus 3:10; Jude 19
Jesus said, when accused by the scribes that he was part of the demonic outfit,
‘If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand’ (Mark 3:25).
Oneness was VERY significant to him.
Paul said, ‘watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine’ (Rom 16:17). He stressed to the church of Corinth, ‘that there be no divisions among you but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.’
In fact, in Titus 3:10, Paul spelled out the strategy to deal with someone who caused divisions – it was effectively three strikes and you were out.
In 2 Tim 4:14, Paul did mention a coppersmith by the name of Alexander who opposed his message. There will always be people who sow discord and play politics even in a church setup.
After all, even in the presence of God, Lucifer (or Satan) somehow managed to lead a rebellion against God and caused a major division.
Whoever sows divisions and dissensions commits a serious sin.
S83 - Unprepared and sleeping believers
Mark 13:36; Matt 25:1-13; 1 Thes 5:4
Mark 13:36 says, ‘Lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you, I say to all: Stay awake.’ Wow, that is a real warning. S81 focuses on being prepared for the ‘Day of the Lord’.
In Matt 25:1-13, Jesus related the story of the five foolish virgins who were caught without oil when the bridegroom arrived and found it too late to go out and buy their oil. These five foolish virgins were locked out of the wedding because they were unprepared.
Believers have no excuses for being unprepared. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Thes 5:4 that believers are without excuses for ‘that day (the Day of the Lord) to surprise you like a thief.’
A principle that you will discover in the Bible is that our God is a God of no surprises. See also D60, Jesus did not want to surprise his disciples.
We now have the Bible to guide us and in many versions, in Greek and Hebrew, as well as with the different concordances all available on the web. If we read the Word faithfully and open our hearts to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will know God as a person.
This project will provide information so that you can be prepared for the Day of the Lord to guide you with good understanding.
Not being prepared is a sin and may result in great suffering. Believers might even succumb to the deception of the devil for Matt 24:10 says,
‘And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.’
S84 - Lack faith in God and blame God
Rom 14:23; Heb 11:6; James 1:6-7; Jude 5
Jesus always rebuked his disciples when they lacked faith. When Peter began to see the waves around him while he was walking on water, he suddenly lost faith and cried out to Jesus, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him while saying, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ (Matt 14:31). To doubt is to demonstrate a lack of faith.
Paul said in Rom 14:23,
‘Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.’
In other words, if we don’t have faith, we have sin.
Heb 11:6 simply says,
‘For without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.’
It requires faith to believe in God. After all, we see evidence of God’s works but not God physically. That is the initial faith necessary to believe in God. But beyond that, on a day-to-day living, we must still have faith that God will see us through in whatever things that we are doing. If God has told us to act, we must have faith to take that step of action because a lack of faith is sin.
S85 - Acknowledge personal sufficiency to the exclusion of God
Rev 3:17 talks about the church of Laodicea which depended on their ‘richness’. They have reached the stage when they declared,
‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’
The church acknowledged their own self-sufficiency and became lukewarm.
Self-sufficiency, whether in wealth or otherwise, leads to complacency and a rejection of our dependence on God. We forget that even the air that we breathe and the body that we are in are both created by God
Hence, self-sufficiency is a sin – a sin of not needing God.
S86 - Lack the ability to learn and never coming to a knowledge of the truth
1 Cor 8:1 says, ‘This knowledge puffs up.’
The word in Greek is gnosis or knowledge, doctrine or wisdom. It is true that knowledge does puff us up although we also need knowledge to live our lives wisely.
Hence, there is a thin line to ensure that we are knowledgeable while remaining humble. 2 Tim 3:7 talks about a people that ‘were always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.’
There are people that keep going for courses but ‘never arriving at a knowledge of the truth.’ With learning, we also need a time to reflect on it. Please also look at S75, Self-Righteous for more information.
In fact, believers who have known the faith for a long time are most susceptible to such a sin.
Inability to learn and being puffed up with knowledge are both sins, the latter being a sin of arrogance.
S87 - Being double-minded
1 Cor 10:21; Matt 6:24; James 1:8
Most people like to be in both camps – that of the world and that of the Lord’s. We like to have our cake and eat it too.
Paul reminded all of us that ‘you cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons’ (1 Cor 10:21). It is the same when Jesus mentioned, ‘You cannot serve both God and money’ (Matt 6:24); this is one of the rare times when Jesus demanded an ‘either-or’ response.
James 1:8 explains why because a double-minded man is ‘unstable in all his ways.’ To stay focus, believers have to make a conscious choice of Jesus Christ.
Double-mindedness of believers is a sin. It is dichotomous and believers have to choose one camp.
S88 - Rejoice in unrighteousness and sins
John 3:19; 1 Cor 13:6; 2 Tim 3:3; 1 John 3:4
There are people that ‘rejoice at wrongdoing’ as implied in 1 Cor 13:6. Other versions say, ‘Rejoice about injustice’ (NLT) or ‘takes pleasure in evil’ (Berean).
There are other people who enjoy evilness. They love darkness rather than light (John 3:19). They choose lawlessness rather than obedience.
In this warped world, the word ‘wicked’ has actually taken on a ‘good’ feel about it.
To love evil/ unrighteousness/ injustice is obviously a sin.
S89 - Puff up about (immoral) sin and not mourn
S90 - Hateful and hate one another (including believers)
Titus 3:3; 1 John 2:9-11; 1 John 3:15
Titus 3:3 mentioned about a state before these people became believers; they hated one another. 1 John 2:9 makes it be known that ‘whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.’
In 1 John 3:15, John used a stronger word and said that ‘everyone who hates his brother is a murderer.’
It is not within a Christian to hate someone. We might hate the acts of some people like Jesus chastening the Pharisees and religious people for being bad shepherds. Christians must first and foremost love. We are God’s peacemakers.
Some people may have done evilness to us. Yet, revenge is never a word in the vocabulary of a Christian; ‘Vengeance belongs to God’ (Rom 12:19). Tough as it is, our mandate is still to forgive and love.
To hate someone, whether rightly or wrongly, is to go against the very core teaching of Jesus.
S91 - Commit fraud by withholding salaries and wages of workers
If we are an employer, we should never hold back or delay the wages of a worker – an employee or a contractor. James 5:4 makes it clear that employers are not to keep ‘back by fraud’ as the Lord will deal with those cries.
Accounting practices might teach us to delay payment in order to ease our cash outflow but God’s views of justice are different.
As an employer, if you do hold back pay, then you have committed a sin and God will act.
S92 - Take revenge
Matt 5:38-42; 1 Peter 3:9; Rom 12:17-19;
Rom 12:17-19 says, ‘repay no one evil for evil … and never avenge yourself but leave it to the wrath of God.’
Many movies have revenge as a theme. It is natural for us to seek it out if we feel that we have been wronged. Yet, the Bible teaches us against taking revenge into our own hands but to leave it to God to act on our behalf.
Some of us have had heinous unjustified crimes against us and there is unimaginable anger burning within. Tough as it is, nonetheless, the Bible’s way is still never to seek out revenge but to leave it to God to settle the account. Our role is to forgive.
S93 - Love the world and its things (a worldly Christians)
1 John 2:15 says,
‘Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.’
And then it describes the things of the world as – desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and pride of life.
The word, ‘worldliness’, encompasses the latter three items. The Greek word for ‘worldliness’ is kosmos or ‘worldly affairs’ or ‘adornment’.
Jesus declared in John 18:36,
‘My kingdom is not of this world.’
In the same way, when we became Christians, we changed our citizenship. While we are physically in the world, our values are not of it (John 17:14-15).
The world’s values are aligned to Satan who incidentally is the ruler of this world. See D92 – Satan is the prince of the world. For example, Jesus called Satan ‘the ruler of this world’ (John 14:30).
To love ‘worldliness’ means that we are aligning ourselves to the values of the devil. Hence, it is sin. The various sub-elements have been attended to earlier.
NB: It does not mean that we do not associate with the world. Jesus moved among sinners but never adopted their values. He showed us what it meant regarding being the ‘salt of the earth’ (Matt 5:13).
S94 - Resist the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit speaks to us sometimes through soft prompting. The Holy Spirit is like a dove. If believers resist, the Holy Spirit is gentle and will not push.
When we sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit. And if we choose to continuously ignore the prompting by not taking action, then we resist the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:51 – Stephen called out the Jews for being a stiff-necked people who ‘resist the Holy Spirit’.
It is a serious sin to resist the Holy Spirit. Beyond a certain point of disobedience, it could end up becoming an unpardonable sin. See also S58 – Hardness of Heart 1 and S144 – Hardness of Heart 2.
S95 - Have wrongful zeal
The Pharisees and Sadducees were very passionate people. They were prepared to kill anyone that did not subscribe to their way of thinking; Stephen became their victim. They had wrongful zeal.
Paul said it later in Rom 10:2 that
‘they have a zeal for God but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.’
How many leaders of religions are zealous for their versions of God? How many Christians have been incorrect even in our own version relating to God of the Bible?
Wrongful zeal is a sin. Searching out for the right ‘knowledge’ is vital. Understand, for example, that the God of the Bible has a personality and that He can be known by us. It is sad, and sometimes even tragic, to have wrongful zeal.
S96 - Have a wrong focus
Jesus had just arrived in a village. A woman Martha welcomed him. But she was busy doing the preparation. Instead, Mary, her sister, chose to listen to Jesus’ teaching. When Martha complained, Jesus gently reminded her that ‘Mary has chosen the good portion’ (Luke 10:41).
There is a time to be busy but it is so important to set aside time to be with Jesus and just learn. It is a misdemeanor to be busy and lose focus on what matters.
S97 - Give up in the face of persecution or trial
Jesus explained in the parable of the sower that a seed which grows and has no roots will find that when problems come, it will give up easily. Jesus compared that to a believer ‘who has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away’ (Matt 13:21).
Notice that ‘tribulation or persecution’ is normal. Notice also that it is necessary to test who a believer is. All good things must be able to endure a quality check. It is part and parcel of being a Christian.
The important thing for a Christian is to pass that test of ‘tribulation or persecution’, of never giving up. It is consistent with that which is found in the Old Testament, Job 23:10,
‘When he has tried me, i shall come forth as refined gold.’
It is a sin to give up, or to not being able to endure. The unchanging message is that of perseverance or endurance especially for end-times’ believers.
Matt 24:13 says, ‘But the one who endures to the end will be saved.’
The same is found in Mark 13:13. Christians must endure to the end.
S98 - Lost our first love
In Rev 2:1-5, our Lord praised the church of Ephesus initially that they have ‘endured patiently and bore up for (Jesus’s) name’s sake, and have not grown weary.’ But then he carried on and reprimanded them for abandoning the love they had at first and were told to repent.
What is the sin of ‘losing your first love’? The NLT says, ‘You don’t love me or each other as you did at first’ or as the Contemporary English Version says, ‘You don’t have as much love as you used to.’ Wow.
‘Losing our first love’ or the fervor of that first love is sin. How do we ensure that our love to e.g. our spouse is refreshed continuously? How do we not ‘lose our first love’? Can you see how important it is to make sure that we stay in love within our marriages?
S99 - Jealous and envious
Rom 1:29; 2 Cor 12:20; Gal 5:20; Eph 5:3; James 3:14
The word, ‘envy’ in Greek as found in Romans 1:29 is phthonos and it means someone who has an embittered mind to see another person depress to his own level rather than be satisfied that the other person is better than you.
The Greek word pleonexia or ‘covetousness’ is found in Ephesians 5:3 is about ‘lusting for what others possessed’. Another Greek word, zelos, which means ‘jealousy’ is also included here. The word zelos refers to a burning emotion.
Hebrews 13:5 reads, ‘Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have’ (ESV) which NKJV says, ‘Let your conduct be without covetousness.’ The Greek word is aphilarguros or ‘without love of money’.
Interestingly, multi-billionaire and nonagenarian Charles Munger, business partner of Warren Buffett, said, “It is not greed that drives the world but envy.’ He carried on by saying that it was the human nature to look around and be envious of others.
In fact, he observed, ‘someone will always be getting richer faster than you. This is NO GREAT TRAGEDY.’
In an amazing tone for one so rich, he concluded, ‘In my personal life, I have banished envy and I recommend that banishment to everybody else.’ Whoa! From one of the world’s richest men.
Both envy and jealousy are sins that can overcome us without us being aware. And in the era of social media, this sin of ‘comparing ourselves to others’ has been magnified.
We should check ourselves to make sure that we are not upset when others do better than us. We should not belittle them, not in speech nor in our attitude. Instead we should learn to count our own blessings because it will help us appreciate what God has done within our own lives. If we are disheartened, then we should converse with God in prayers.
Here is a reminder to all of us:
Life is the most difficult examination. Many people fail because they try to copy others, not realizing that everyone has a different question paper.
S100 - Submit to the lusts and desires of our eyes (love for possession of things)
Mark 4:19; Luke 12:15; Romans 1:29; 1 Cor 6:10; 2 Peter 2:14; 1 John 2:16;
This is the submission to the lusts and desires of our eyes as well as the possession of things and is often discussed in the Bible. Materialism existed even then and is a reflection of an attitude. It relates to S99, Jealous and envious.
Luke 12:15 says as in NLT,
‘Beware. Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.’
Luke 12:15 implies the importance of us keeping watch on ourselves. Rom 1:29 and 1 Cor 6:10 call it out as ‘greed’. 1 John 2:16 refers to it as ‘the desires of the eyes’.
You want what the eyes see. Of course, the eyes sometimes want more than just material possession and we will examine that later. But materialism or greed for what our eyes want is a sin. Instead, the Bible suggests to us to live a life of contentment (Heb 13:5, Ph 4:11).
S101 - Take advantage to 'murder' the righteous
James 5:6 says,
‘You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.’
James was referring to rich people of his days who took advantage of their wealth (and position) to condemn some righteous person (possibly someone they don’t like). We know how it is possible that wealthy and powerful people can manipulate the law to their advantage.
This is a sin that the rich and powerful believers must understand. Believers must live upright lives.
S102 - Fail to love others (Gloat over the fall of people we dislike?)
1 Cor 13 –
‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.’ –
Love is everything a Christian ought to be. You cannot call someone an unloving Christian or an unmerciful believer. Compassion is who we are. The commandment given to us is to ‘Love one another just as I have loved you’ (John 13:34).
If we operate without love (a selfless sacrificial love), then as the Apostle Paul explained we have ‘gained nothing’.
Is it a sin not to love? Is it a sin not to be compassionate? 1 Cor 13 shows us that it is a serious sin for Christians not to be compassionate.
Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan is the best illustration of the highest form of love (agape).
In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus told a story of how a (Jewish) man fell into the hands of robbers and was left critically injured on the road. Along came various people who came across him. First, there was a priest but he chose to go to the other side. Then, there was a Levite (another religious fellow) who also went the opposite side. Finally, a Samaritan arrived and ‘he looked at him and had compassion’ (Luke 10:33). The Samaritan took care of him, brought him to an inn, and paid for his care. The Samaritan chose to show compassion.
Here is the clincher:
Samaritans and Jews had always hated each other. For more information about the reason for this hatred, please click HERE.
Prov 24:17 says,
‘Do not rejoice (gloat) when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart rejoice when he stumbles’
And Ezek 18:23 reads,
‘Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?’
Like the Good Samaritan, Christians are to show love. Hence, Christians are not to rejoice when we see the suffering of people whom we may dislike for one reason or another. We are saved to love others. 1 Cor 13:2-9:
If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.’
It finishes with 1 Cor 13:13 –
‘But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is LOVE (agape).’
NB: Agape love is an act of the will, for God loves that which is unlovable and unlovely not because we deserve to be loved but because it is his nature to love.
See also S76 – Self-righteous and a ‘holier-than-you’ attitude, and S88 – Rejoice in unrighteousness and sins.
S103 - Love to shed some blood
A belligerent person is someone who acts in a hostile and aggressive manner with the intention of seeking out a fight.
Rom 3:15-17 describes these people as having
‘feet (that) are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.’
Shedding of blood through any form of punishment, including of course beheading, is acceptable to this person.
Christians are called to be ‘peacemakers’ unless it is a war scenario. Christians are asked to live at peace with everyone as far as possible (Rom 12:18).
S154 - Worry
Matt 6:25, 34; Luke 12:22-34; Ph 4:6-7;
According to researchers, worrying is not necessary a bad thing. Alexander Penney of the Canada Ontario’s Lakehead University led a study and found that people with an ‘analyzing intel’ skill tend to worry almost all the time.
Penney shared that those who worry have these good points:
- Understand the repercussions of their actions,
- Are more attentive to detail, and
- Organize their plans to be more airtight.
But worrying also demonstrates our lack of faith in God. Please see S84, Lack faith in God.
Jesus said in Matt 6:25,
‘Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?’
This is about worrying about the day-to-day things of life to the extent that we are incapacitated to change our daily routine.
Matt 6:33-34 reads,
‘But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’
In Luke 12:23, Jesus explained,
‘For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing’ and then reminded us that believers are to be different.
Luke 12:30-31 says,
‘These things (indeed) dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.’
Phil 4:6 reads,
‘Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.’
The Greek word for ‘worry’ or ‘anxious’ in Matthew and Philippians is merimnao and it means being over-anxious to the extent that it becomes a distraction.
The Greek word found in Luke is meteorizo or in suspension as in ‘suspended in midair’; that is, a person who vacillates between one conviction to another.
When an obviously rich Chinese man was asked why he was still working so aggressively to make more money, he exclaimed, ‘A little bit more is always better than a little bit less.’ But when is enough, therefore, ever be enough? When does faith kick in to trust God for our sufficiency?
As believers, we are not to worry (here, we are not even talking about ‘excessive worry’) or get distracted but to place our trust in God. Worrying shows we lack trust in God to provide.
It does not negate the fact that we still need to organize a detailed, airtight plan because our God is also a God of order.
‘Worrying’ is a sin and shows, on our part, a lack of faith in God.
The solution if we worry?
Through prayers and supplications and placing our requests before God as found in Phil 4:6.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – Phil 4:7
S104 - Fail to keep our word(s) (Not keeping our promises)
Christians are expected to keep our vows. Jesus interpreted the Old Testament verses and concluded as follows:
‘Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’’ (Matt 5:33).
In other words, you shall perform what you have sworn.
But Jesus’ words are more demanding when he said,
‘Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil’ (Matt 5:37).
His standards are higher than that recorded in the Old Testament. Jesus is saying – If you make a promise (even verbal ones), you keep a promise. Believers are to keep our words and it does not matter whether it was made under a vow or not.
Christians who make and break promises have committed a sin, the obvious one being lying.
See also B262 – Make a promise, keep a promise (Let your yes be yes), as well as S10 – Practice deceitfulness. It is an oxymoron to be considered a dishonest Christian. Christians are not promise-breakers.
S105 - Engage in factious, antagonistic, and quarrelsome behavior
Gal 5:20; Rom 13:13; 2 Cor 12:20; 2 Tim 2:23
The word ‘strife’ in Greek found in Rom 13:13 is eris or contention, quarrelsome, or a readiness to quarrel.
Galatians uses the Greek word, hairesis or discord and contention to describe ‘faction’ and eritheia for the word ‘contention’ to describe rivalry, feud and faction.
Obviously, a person who is perpetually quarrelsome, and factious reflects an attitude of envy and divisiveness.
Being consistently factious, antagonistic, and quarrelsome is a sin.
S106 - Incline to outbursts of anger and rage
Gal 5:20; 2 Cor 12:20; Eph 4:31, Col 3:8
While there is a righteous anger described in Eph 4:26, exhibition of anger, in general, is a sin.
Some cultures tend to be louder than others. Hence, when talking about rage and anger, we may also have to take into consideration differences in cultures.
Gal 5:20 calls it ‘outbursts of anger’. Eph 4:31 and Col 3:8 use the combination of ‘wrath and anger’; I guess it means super anger.
These ‘outbursts of anger’ can often lead to other more aggressive behaviors like fights and even murders. The person who commits this sin of anger often regrets after ‘coming right’ but for that moment, the person loses it.
At a corporate level, riots and civil unrest represent ‘outbursts of anger’ which can often lead to property damages, clashes with authority, and even loss of life.
It is not becoming of a Christian to engage in such activities. Read also B112 – Do not be involved in civil unrest.
Rage or ‘outbursts of anger’ is a sin. If we have weaknesses in this area, then we will need to work on strategies to overcome it. Getting assistance from other people might also be useful.
S107 - Gossip
The word, ‘gossips’ is the Greek word psithurismos or ‘whispering’ or secret slandering.
Gossiping causes divisions and is a symptom of discontentment. The Bible has devised methods to arrest gossiping and it requires an offended person to speak directly to the person who is responsible for that discontentment. The process can be found under the ‘Christian Behavior’ segment, B375-B385 (Handling Offences) [NB: The ‘Christian Behavior’ segment will be launched in the next Phase].
Having said that, gossiping or secret slandering is a sin and possibly a major one too.
Division is something that the Lord abhorred.
S108 - Slander
Slander is found in 2 Tim 3:2 and Rom 1:30. The Greek word is katalalos and it means a back-biter or a defamer. The dictionary defines a ‘slanderer’ as someone who makes a malicious, false, and defamatory statement, including verbally, by writing, and via pictures.
To say something which is untrue with the intent to harm is slandering and that is a sin.
S109 - Utter profanities (crude jokes)
What does the Bible say about crude jokes?
1 Tim 1:9 uses the word ‘profane’. The wider context is ‘unholy behavior’ and speech is one of that. Eph 5:4 is more plain talking and covers off both ‘foolish talking’ and ‘crude joking’ as sins. The Greek word in Eph for ‘foolish talking’ is morologia.
The NLT describes Eph 5:4 as follows: ‘obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes’. It suggested replacing these conversations with that of ‘thankfulness to God’.
Believers are instructed not to engage in ‘obscene stories, foolish talk (valueless conversations) and coarse jokes.’
S110 - Lie and deceive
1 Tim 1:10; Romans 1:29; Rom 3:13; Eph 4:25; Col 3:9; Rev 21:8
You don’t need to tell a kid to lie. It comes naturally. In fact, you have to teach a kid not to lie. The problem with a lie is that you will always need to create another lie in order to cover up the first lie. And more lies perpetual.
The devil is called the Father of lies in John 8:44 for a reason. The first lie was a half-truth spoken of by the serpent when it tempted Eve to eat of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent deceived Eve when it questioned,
“Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?'” Gen 3:1.
A deception, a half-truth, is more dangerous than an outright lie.
The dictionary defines a lie as a false statement made with the deliberate intent to deceive or an intentional untruth (Note the word, ‘deceive’ or ‘deception’).
There is no rocket science to a lie, even if it is a white lie; a white lie is defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as a small or unimportant matter that someone tells to avoid hurting another person.
Lying has destroyed many friendships and relationships. In Prov 19:22, it says that
‘a poor man is better than a liar.’
Lying belongs to our old nature and it is a sin. See also S10, Deceitfulness.
S111 - Bear false witness and commit perjury
Matt 15:19; Mark 14:56; Eph 4:25; 1 Tim 1:10
False witnesses was brought by Jesus’ enemies to accuse him when he was before the Council. They wanted to seek testimonies that could put him to death (Mark 14:56-59).
Even today, ‘perjury’, the offence of willfully telling an untruth under oath, is considered a major crime. ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness’ is one of the Ten Commandments. It is that serious.
S112 - Grumble , murmur and complain at God
1 Cor 10:10; James 5:9, 1 Peter 4:9; Jude 16;
God hates murmurers; the children of Israel murmured a lot as they left Egypt and moved into the Promised Land. That generation of grumblers were completely destroyed save Caleb and Joshua who chose to take courage in God. See 1 Cor 10:10.
Grumbling, complaining or murmuring is a serious sin; even grumbling at each other. It shows a lack of trust and discontentment toward God. We have to be careful of murmuring and complaining. The Bible recommends that we speak directly with the person involved – Matt 18:15. See the section under Behavior – Handling Offences, B357 to B368.
S113 - Use flattery on other people to get what they want
S114 - Boast and spew arrogance
Jude 16 again calls out the ‘loud-mouthed boasters’. These people are proud and arrogant and want everyone to know how well they are doing. They might use non-verbal cues to display their wealth. Or they might throw names around to demonstrate their importance.
The Lord detests boasters.
S115 - Speak evil with malice
Romans 1:29; Eph 4:31; Col 3:8; James 4:11
Rom 1:29 talks about ‘malice’. Malice is defined as the ‘desire to cause pain, injury or distress to another.’ Both the use of an action or a speech to cause malice is a sin.
Malicious behaviors or speeches usually stamp from underlying issues like jealousy or revenge.
S116 - Carry out empty, foolish and senseless conversations
Mark 7:22; Eph 5:4; Titus 1:10
Foolishness or foolish conversations or empty talkers. Titus 1:10, NLT just calls it ‘useless talk’ or according to NIV, ‘meaningless talk and deception’.
We could assume that those conversations are meant to mislead the other person.
S117 - Speak evil of glorious beings
S118 - Criticize other people who are good and doing good
Jesus was healing people on the Sabbath. He was going about doing good. But the Pharisees were more interested in him abiding by their version of behavior on a Sabbath. Jesus’s reply was, ‘I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?’
Be careful of criticizing someone who is doing good.
As believers, we must not be guided by just the letter of the law.
S119 - Seek to catch other people in their speeches so that they might be able to accuse them
The Pharisees and scribes were always ‘lying in wait for him (Jesus), to catch him in something he might say’ – Luke 11:54.
They were the religious police.
In some Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Malaysia, such practice continues to take place, whereby paid employees, called ‘Morality Police’, are tasked to enforce the Islamic Sharia laws on their fellow Muslims, especially in public places. Some of them even work undercover.
Whether it is practiced by Muslims formally or carried out by religious zealots among Christians, it is not something that Christians should participate in.
But it does not necessarily involve a formal ‘watch’ mechanism. Even as Christians, we might inadvertently practice doing religious policing.
Religious policing, voluntary or otherwise, may be a way of announcing our own self-righteousness. Jesus’s approach to a sinner has always and will always be an encouraging declaration, ‘Go, and sin no more.’
S120 - Utter curses and bitterness
In Rom 3:14, Paul described unrighteous Jews and Greeks with these words, ‘their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’ Almost every parallel translations called it out as ‘curses and bitterness.’
In Greek, the word ‘curse’ is aras or a prayer for evil, as in praying bad things to happen to someone. The word, ‘bitterness’ is pikria or ‘an embittered spirit’.
‘Curses and bitterness’ are probably a reflection of a vengeful and an unforgiving spirit. Our speeches can be powerful. Christians have to learn how to get rid of them before they overpower us.
NB: The one time Jesus did curse, he laid it on a fig tree that had lots of leaves but no figs (Mark 11). As a result, the tree withered from the roots and died.
If you have committed any of these sins but have since repented, please seek godly counsel before approaching any of the victims. There is always a right time to carry out a reconciliation.
Meanwhile, commit your thoughts to the Lord in prayer for the other person’s salvation since your action might have caused significant damage to the other person’s psychological and mental well being. Having said that, the Lord is in the business of healing both parties.
If you are the victim , as a believer, the word from the Bible is to forgive.
In 1994, the country of Rwanda suffered a genocide of unprecedented measure – more than 800,000 Tutsi people were slaughtered by ethnic Hutu extremists. Yet today, more than 25 years later, Rwanda is thriving again. The secret to their turnaround? Forgiveness. This is best summarized by the statement from the Rwanda President, Paul Kagame:
“Someone once asked me why we keep burdening survivors with the responsibility for our healing. It was a painful question, but I realized the answer was obvious. Survivors are the only ones with something left to give: their forgiveness.”
“Forgiveness is powerful because you are in control of your (own) healing rather than relying on the actions of an outside party.” – Tracey Bryan.
Watch this Rwandan’s story of forgiveness and reconciliation.
S121 - Entertain lustful intent when looking at a woman/ man
Matt 5:28 points out that
‘everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’
Jesus’ standard and views on sins are higher than that within the Old Testament.
Jesus had established that having sex with someone in our mind is sin.
Would watching pornography be the same?
If we study the Old Testament, you will realize that many prominent characters had fallen to sexual temptations including Lot, David, and Samson. Hence, we encourage you to also read:
- D115 – Believers are not perfect, and
- D137 – Singleness (Celibacy) is not for everyone,
- B330, Abstain from sexual immorality – strategies on overcoming temptations.
S122 - Commit adultery
Mark 7:21; Gal 5:19, 1 Cor 6:9; Heb 13:4
Adultery is defined as the voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his/ her spouse.
Jesus made it crystal clear that unfaithfulness of a married partner is the only ground for divorce in the New Testament (Matt 19:9).
In the Old Testament, Mal 2:15-16, it says in NLT –
‘So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.’
Unfaithfulness is a serious sin because sex is sacrosanct between a man and his wife. The Old Testament often uses sex as a pictorial means to communicate the message of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God.
Adultery is a serious sin.
S123 - Engage in sex outside marriage
Mark 7:21; 1 Cor 6:9; 2 Cor 12:21; Gal 5:19, Eph 5:3; Heb 13:4; Rev 2:14; Rev 2:20
Heb 13:4 explains,
‘Let marriage be held in honor among all and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexuality immoral and adulterous.’
Sex is between a man and his wife who have entered into holy matrimony (who are married). It is a unique relationship.
NB: Not between a man and his fiancee.
To commit sex outside marriage, the term used is fornication, or sexual intercourse between people not married to each other. The world has made it an acceptable thing between two consenting adults. However, among Christians, the Biblical guideline is clear; it is sin.
Sex is a precious thing as two persons of opposite sex are literally naked before each other. It involves a sacred activity where ‘the two become one’. It is not to be taken lightly because sex is not an add-on benefit between two very good friends.
Nevertheless, in our highly sexualized world with global travel and limited accountability, there are ample temptations and opportunities to have sex. It is, therefore, unsurprising that fornication is widely practiced and taken lightly. That is where the element of self-control will have to be exercised.
From his first century perspective, the Apostle Paul, who was unmarried, understood the issue and offered a practical solution –
‘If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes; let them marry – it is no sin’ (1 Cor 7:36).
We know it is a difficult world we live in now. Hence, if you are tempted, it is better to find a spouse and be married although we are aware that in our present time this is easier said than done.
S124 - Engage in sex with someone who is unclean (e.g. menstruation)
The word used is ‘impurity’ and is associated with open infection or childbirth. In Gal 5:19 and 2 Cor 12:21, it can also be associated with a woman who is menstruating (Lev 15:19-33).
It is a sin to have sex with a wife who is going through her period.
S125 - Engage in obscene or indecent acts
Mark 7:21, Gal 5:19, Rom 13:13, 1 Peter 4:3, and 2 Cor 12:21
Sensuality – the Greek word is aselgeia (conduct shocking to public decency/ wanton violence, lewdness), prostitution (2 Cor 12:21 – the Greek word is porneia or whoredom), orgies, debauchery, lustful pleasure – these are the words found in the verses above.
Lustful pleasures can come in many forms and since the days of Noah, human beings have devised various activities to bring heightened sexual pleasures between partners.
Would masturbation be a sin? Would it be lumped with the above definitions? The Bible did mention ‘wet dreams’ (the ejaculation of semen while asleep) and consider it unclean (Deut 23:10). We accept that masturbation might involve the entertainment of lustful intent found in S121 but would like to emphasize that the Bible is explicitly silent about the practice.
If we study the Old Testament, you will realize that many prominent characters had fallen to sexual temptations including Lot, David, and Samson. Hence, we encourage you to also read:
- D115 – Believers are not perfect, and
- D137 – Singleness (Celibacy) is not for everyone,
- B330, Abstain from sexual immorality – strategies on overcoming temptations.
S126 - Engage in unnatural sex
Romans 1:26-28, 1 Tim 1:10; 1 Cor 6:9; Jude 7
In Romans 1:26-28, the Apostle Paul mentioned about
‘women exchanging their natural relations for those that are contrary to nature … men (also) committing shameless acts with men.’
1 Tim 1:10 and 1 Cor 6:9 then talk about ‘men who practice homosexuality’.
The Greek word for ‘homosexuality’ in both 1 Tim 1:10 and 1 Cor 6:9 is arsenokoites and it means a male engaging in same-gender sexual activity or a sodomite.
Jude 7 meanwhile, repeats the term ‘unnatural desire’.
USLegal.com defines unnatural sex as a US legal term to include oral sex, incest, procreative sex in the wrong position (unsure what this means), sodomy (anal sex), bestiality (sex acts involving animals), and necrophilia (sex acts involving corpses).
The Bible talks about ‘natural relations’ and ‘natural desire’. What is natural sex?
It is as easy as explaining how we fit a plug into an appropriate socket; one does not fit an electrical plug into just any hole but one that allows electricity to be released from it.
In describing homosexual sex for men, the late renowned evangelist Reinhard Bonnke offered this description,
‘Do you fit a petrol pump nozzle into the exhaust pipe of your car?’
But unnatural sex is currently not only practiced between man and man. In our curiosity and quest for better sex, some men have turned to their wives and girlfriends to engage in anal sex; according to Psychology Today published in 2015, as many as 38 percent of men ages 18 to 59 had engaged in anal sex with a female partner.
Our research found that ‘unnatural sex’ can be quite dangerous if a man does not use a condom since it also involves fecal matter and the male sexual organ. As you can imagine, it can be quite grossed.
While the world may support sexual diversity and the perverted practice of sex beyond its natural state, ‘unnatural sex’ and ‘unnatural relations’ are abhorrent to the God of the Bible. Men and women have never been designed by God for such relationships.
See S129, Sexual Immorality of all sorts, for more information.
S127 - Divorce a spouse not on the ground of adultery
Matt 5:32; Matt 19:7-8; Mark 10:11-12; Rom 7:2-3
The New Testament is consistent and it does not matter whether it is found in Matthew, Mark, or Romans. A divorce is only possible due to adultery committed by the other party. If Person X chooses to divorce Person Y not on the ground of adultery, and Person X remarries, then Person X would have committed adultery and it is a sin.
Divorce unfortunately has been taken lightly as societies seem to adopt new non-Biblical values. Even churches have their fair share of divorcees. In any divorce, the family suffers and there will always be a price paid to it. There are no winners that is, unless you are the divorce lawyers. The goal of any Christian counselor is to bring about reconciliation of the couple.
Would a lawyer who specializes in helping people to divorce be classified as an evil protagonist as in S13, Invent evil things?
S128 - Marry a divorced man/ woman not because of sexual immorality
Matt 5:32; Mark 10:11-12; Rom 7:3
If Person Z marries a divorcee who chose to divorce not on the ground of infidelity, then Person Z has committed adultery. Again, verses from the Bible above have made that clear.
Marriage to another person who did not leave because of infidelity is considered an adultery.
S129 - Commit sexual immorality of all sorts
In 1 Cor 5, a man was having an affair with the wife of his father, that is, effectively his step-mother. That is a gross sin.
To understand sexual sins, it might be worthwhile to review the Torah in the Old Testament:
- Do not commit incest (There is a long list found in Lev 18 defining what ‘incest’ is),
- Do not have sex between two men,
- Do not have sex with a beast.
Deuteronomy 22:25-27 specifies the penalty for the man who rapes a betrothed young woman is death while Deuteronomy 22: 29 explains that if a man rapes an unbetrothed (unmarried) young woman, then he is obliged to pay a big fine and marry her.
It was sexual sins that destroyed the earth during the time of Noah. Gen 6:1-8 explains the ‘wickedness of man’ being ‘great’ when it mentions that ‘the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive and they took as their wives any they chose.’
This project does not aim to define who the ‘sons of God’ were but the choice of marriage was considered one of the ‘vile’ abominations, sufficient for God to punish the earth.
In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah found in Gen 18 and 19, men were craving for men for sexual purposes. When two male angels came to rescue Lot in Sodom, Lot invited them into his household. In the middle of the night, the men of Sodom surrounded the house and demanded these men for sex. Instead, in order to protect these angels, Lot sacrificed his two virgin daughters to them (which was by itself a wicked deed). Subsequently, both Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by the Lord supernaturally.
In Jude 1:7 (NLT), the author described the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns as engaging in ‘every kind of sexual perversion.’ The original Greek translation was sarx heteros or ‘flesh/ human nature of a strange/ different kind’.
Any sex, other than that between a man and his wife in its original intention, is sin.
See also S126 – Engage in unnatural sex.
S130 - Take advantage of 'weak' women (opportunistic)
2 Tim 3:6 talks about ‘weak women’ and how some men try to take advantage of these women.
Men profess love to gain sex and women offer sex in the hope of finding love.
It is not exactly like that but the world (even in churches) has many evil men who will take advantage of ‘weaker’ women to gain ‘trophies’. Unfortunately, we have seen such things happening, including date rape, even in a church. These men have become opportunistic.
To men who take advantage of ‘weak women’, this is evilness. Of course, in a time of gender equality, it might work the other way too. Or it might even involved a man with another man.
Whatever it is, to take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable position for one’s own sexual gain, that is vile and evilness.
S131 - Engage in sexual relationships with someone of the same sex
The NLT gave the most explicit description of same sex relationships in Rom 1:26-27. It says about –
‘women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other (Lesbianism). And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men …’
The Bible makes it clear that there are only two genders – male and female (Gen 5:2) and it does not matter whether it is human beings or animals (Gen 6:19).
Jesus endorsed it in Matt 19:5 when he said,
“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female.'”
Same-sex sexual relationship, and we have to clarify that, as two persons of the same sex can have a perfectly normal friendship without sex, is currently a highly divisive issue even in churches. There is much pressure from the left leaning liberal mainstream media (MSM) and Hollywood for churches to conform to their beliefs. Such sexual beliefs are also being taught in schools across the nations and gaining acceptance among the younger generation. Same-sex sexual relationship has become a global movement.
It made even para-church organizations, like World Vision to consider altering its employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage to work in the organization.
We also observed more Christian parents have been told by their younger adult children that the view of a two-gender society will require revision as sexual orientation could be a result of genetics, environment, and even diet.
The younger generation is also seeing more of their secular friends, and even Christians, adopting the same view. Hence, tolerance of ‘same-sex sexual relationship‘ is clouding the minds of our Christian audience, especially those who are younger, who seems more amiable to ‘update’ their values into endorsing this global prevalent movement.
In a 2020 US survey carried out by Lifeway Research among mainline pastors, it found that the views of pastors supporting same-sex marriage had jumped from a third (32 percent) in 2010 to almost half (47 percent).
The study also found that Presbyterian or Reformed (49 percent), Methodist (47 percent), Lutheran (35 percent) and Christian/Church of Christ pastors (20 percent) were more likely to see nothing wrong with same-sex marriage than Baptist (3 percent) or Pentecostal pastors (1 percent).
Same-sex marriage has also been discussed among many liberal biblical scholars. They shared six passages of the Bible that targeted homosexuality as follows:
- The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen 19 where the term ‘sodomy’ became synonymous with male homosexual sex.
- The two laws specified in Lev 18:22, and Lev 20:13 where it clearly states that a male shall not lie (have sex) with another male as with a woman for that would be considered an abomination.
- The two verses in 1 Cor 6:9-10 and 1 Tim 1:10 where they make clear that homosexuality (and other vices) will not ‘inherit the kingdom’.
- Finally, it included Rom 1:26-27 as highlighted at the start.
These biblical scholars, however, argued that as there were only six verses out of more than 31,000 verses in the Bible speaking out against homosexuality, a mere 0.016% of the text, it was therefore not a significant topic. This was especially so when comparing the homosexual topic against the more than 2,000 verses about money.
Nonetheless, the argument in using the mathematics of 0.016% is unsound when we matched against just two verses in the entire Bible specifically telling us not to take on the mark of the beast either on our right hand or the forehead as it would result in a direct route to hell – Rev 13:17 and Rev 14:9. Using the same logic as those arguing for homosexuality, does it mean that since there are only two verses in the Bible about the mark of the beast, believers are safe to ignore this instruction? For more information about the mark of the beast, please go to S141 – Mark of the Beast.
Franklin Graham also took exception to the concept of same-sex relationship when he quoted Gen 2:24 where it says, ‘Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’ To him, marriage is between a man and a woman. For sticking to his views, Franklin Graham was turned away by several venues in his 2020 eight-city UK crusade.
In the Old Testament, Lev 18, the Lord said to Moses the many misconducts that were associated with the Canaanites and how the children of Israelites were not to participate in them.
These sins were considered the most abominable and they include incest (Lev 18:6-17), adultery (Lev 18:20) bestiality (sex between a human being and an animal, Lev 18:23), and homosexuality (Lev 18:22).
The Lord highlighted the seriousness of them in Lev 18:24-25,
“Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things (including sexual sins), for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.”
In Lev 19:29, the Lord equated sexual sin with wickedness and said that it had a direct bearing on the land.
It was for these reasons that the Lord had to get rid of the Canaanites and Amorites from their land (Gen 15:16).
Sexual sins, especially those involving the same sex, are not to be taken lightly.
Same sex marriage obviously involves unnatural sex as defined in S126 – Unnatural Sex. Hence, please read S131 alongside with S126.
Like the fitting of a pair of male and female connectors in order to receive electricity, men are never designed for men and neither are women designed for women. We are meant to complement each other.
There is nothing wrong with good friendship between two persons of the same sex but if involves sex, then, it is never acceptable and a serious sin.
S132 - Tickle the ears of their listeners
John 6:60; 2 Cor 4:2; 2 Tim 4:3;
2 Tim 4:3 says,
‘For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.’
We are not referring to ‘the people’ here. For that, please see S9, Worship idols. We are talking about ‘teachers’ who suit the passions of their listeners.
The Greek word for ‘itching’ is knetho and it means rub, tickle, scratch, itch. People who want their ears scratched will seek biblical teachers that captivate rather than challenge, entertain rather than enlighten, and tickle rather than toughen.
In the Old Testament, we see Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah, who made himself horns of iron and declared
“Thus says the Lord, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed’ (1 Kings 22:11).
King Ahab sought favorable words rather than a word from the Lord.
And there was Hananiah who contradicted Jeremiah’s counsel to the children of Israel to serve Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. Instead, Hananiah prophesied in the presence of the priests and all the people that
‘within two full years, I (the Lord) will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord’s house’ (Jer 28:3).
In both cases, these comforting prophecies proved to be false; they pandered to the people and the king rather than what the Lord had intended them to be.
People will gravitate towards reassuring words, and words of encouragement. But the harsh reality is sometimes God’s words can be tough, politically incorrect and even ‘insensitive’. It even occurred when Jesus was on the earth. Many of his disciples struggled with his teachings and called them ‘hard’. As a result, ‘many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him’ (John 6:66)
More than one hundred years ago, William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army and an Apostle no doubt, said these words,
‘The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.’
Shepherds of the people must speak the word of the Lord with clarity and not acquiesce to the fear of offending people’s sensibilities. Preachers and pastors must also be careful not to stroke the egos of congregational members in their churches while missing out on their duties as ‘God’s under-shepherds’.
‘You are the sale of the earth but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet’ – Matt 5:13
As shepherds, beware of tickling the ears of our listeners.
S133 - Hold on to the traditions of men (and not God's)
Humans enjoy tradition as it provides stability and normalcy. But following wrong traditions can lead us down the wrong path.
Jesus upheld a few traditions especially the Holy Communion, and Baptism. He also instituted a way in handling offences between believers which will be discussed further in another section. In other parts, the disciples in the Book of Acts created a tradition of church governance consisting of elders and deacons. And the Book of Hebrews encourages Christians to meet together regularly ‘as is the custom’ (Heb 10:25).
As the church is more than two thousand years old, there have been several prominent Christian leaders who have come and gone. They have also led good movements which some of their followers have turned into denominations. Among them are the Methodists, the Pentecostals, and the Brethrens, each with their own flavors which may not be what the Bible endorses. Over time, new leaders emerged within these denominations carrying on these add-on traditions and endorsing them as regular church practice.
In Matt 15:1-9, the Pharisees and scribes observed that his disciples were not washing their hands when they eat, as was ‘the tradition of the elders.’ Jesus was unimpressed and called them out as hypocrites since they had modified the ‘honor your father and your mother’ commandment. If a person declared that an amount, which was to be given to their parents, had been assigned to the treasury of the temple, then, according to their new ruling, it was acceptable; the tradition of men had superseded the commandment of God (Mark 7:8).
- Here are some known church traditions which are not biblical.
Celebrating Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter – Not in the Bible.
- Having Santa Claus and Christmas trees in church – Not in the Bible. In fact, it can result in confusion as to the significance of Christ in Christmas.
- Washing of disciples’ feet over Easter – Not endorsed. Jesus did it but that was that.
- Bearing the crucifix over Easter – Not endorsed.
- Using solely one Bible translation – Translations are translations. There will always be differences and possible errors. Jesus never told us to use just one translation.
- Praying to Mary, mother of Jesus – Not endorsed. Mary is dead. She was a conduit for God to be on earth although she was a most righteous person.
- Removing musical instruments from worship – Not endorsed. The Old Testament’s musical group used instruments extensively.
- Dressing up for church service as a mark of respect – Not endorsed. John the Baptist wore clothing made of camel’s hair together with a leather belt around his waist. He was quite unconventional.
As custodians of the church, these church leaders have to be careful to mix their own traditions with that of the Bible.
- Here are some known church traditions which are not biblical.
S134 - Create rules and traditions beyond the Bible
Matt 15:3-9; Matt 23:16-22; Luke 11:46; Mark 7:8; Col 2:21;
Who creates additional rules in order to give the organisation a unique flavor? Are they not carried out by the leadership team? Hence, leaders have much to answer for.
They define rules that have nothing to do with the Bible. In Col 2:21, Paul said that these people started to define what not to handle, taste, and touch. Paul went on to say, ‘These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.’
Creating such rules is a sin. In fact, these leaders end up becoming like the Pharisees, binding the people with the tradition of men.
S135 - Enforce compliance regarding these behaviors
Matt 12:2, 9; Luke 11:46; John 7:13, 47-49; John 9:22; John 12:42;
Luke 11:46 says, ‘Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.’
These religious people of Pharisees and scribes created fear among the commoners for ‘non-compliance’. There was no social media then but these people became like gods to the general population by placing in them ‘fear’ regarding non-compliance (John 7:13); non-compliance would result in them being excluded from the synagogue (John 12:42), a serious affair. A synagogue was a place of worship, a community center and a place to study.
And, of course, they were also watching Jesus. In Matt 12:2, they confronted Jesus as his disciples were plucking heads of grain and eating them. They were questioning him on why he was healing people even thought it was the Sabbath. And when they could not answer him from Scripture, they ‘conspired against him (on) how to destroy him.’ (Matt 12:14).
The Pharisees and scribes generated fear regarding non-compliance of their defined, non biblical behaviors. That is a sin.
S136 - Worship angels
‘Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels’ (Col 2:18).
Asceticism is defined as ‘pious self-denial’ in NLT, ‘self-abasement’ in the NASV, and ‘voluntary humility’ in KJV. These people worshiped angels.
Does it not sound familiar that even in our days, we have people doing that? If they don’t worship angels, they might worship Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary, despite her godly virtues, was still a human being made in the image of God and whom God used as a conduit so that his son, Jesus, could enter the world.
S137 - Stumble believers (especially little ones) through (constant) wrong teachings and lifestyle
Mark 9:42; Matt 18:6; Rev 2:14; Rev 2:20
Being a Bible teacher is a very serious calling. Jesus said,
‘Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea’ Mark 9:42.
There are many ways for a leader to stumble someone – improper lifestyle of a leader, wrongful teaching, and inaccurate prophecies. Whatever it is, it is a grave sin to stumble believers.
As believers, the gift of discernment is so vital.
The unpardonable or unforgivable sins are the most serious of all sins because God will never forgive anyone if such a sin(s) is committed even if the person seeks repentance.
There are more than one sin that God will not forgive. Hence, it is very important for Christians to pay close attention to them.
S138 - Blaspheme against the Holy Spirit
Matthew 12:31-32; Matt 21:14-15; Mark 3:29;Mark 9:39; Luke 12:10
The verses relating to ‘blaspheming against the Holy Spirit’ are found in all four gospels. It relates to an incident when a group of scribes (senior government officials or the equivalent of ‘smart people’), despite seeing that Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, accused him of being the ‘Beelzebul, the prince of demons’. Jesus then voiced that ‘blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven’ (Matt 12:22-32).
These Pharisees knew their Jewish Bible; they were religious experts. They would have known Isaiah 35:5 that says, ‘the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped.’
To accuse Jesus and call him Beelzebul despite the obvious sign would be tantamount to a conscious choice of belittling and despising God. In the words of a Bible commentator, Henry Alford,
‘it is a state of willful, determined opposition to the present power of the Holy Spirit.’
In our current days, it could be likened to a Christian minister of a denomination who turns to another Christian minister from another church and denounces the latter’s supernatural acts of healing and casting out of demons in Jesus’ name. That would be bordering on ‘blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.’
In Mark 9:39, Jesus said,
‘Do not stop him (who is casting out demons in the name of Jesus), for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.’
S139 - Continue sinning deliberately and willfully even after knowing Jesus (Hardness of Heart 1)
Matt 11:23; Heb 10:26-29, Heb 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:21-22; 1 John 3:6-9
Hebrews 10:26-29 says,
‘For if we go on sinning deliberately (willfully) after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?’
It explains why continuous and deliberate sinning for a Christian can lead to a stage of unpardonable sin. Who is the one with ‘knowledge of the truth’? A Christian no doubt and possibly a ‘seasoned Christian’.
Heb 6:4-6 perhaps gives us the best summary of who this someone is who has ‘crucified again’ the Son of God (Heb 6:6). He is –
- Enlightened (spiritually) – Heb 6:4,
- Have tasted (and experienced) the heavenly gift (Baptism in the Holy Spirit?) – Heb 6:4,
- A partaker (or shared in) of the Holy Spirit (A Christian who knows the works of the Holy Spirit?) – Heb 6:4,
- And have tasted the good word of God (Someone who have tasted and consciously experienced the good word of God? (Amplified Bible)) – Heb 6:5,
- And the powers of the age to come – Heb 6:5
It is a reminder to Christians that the call of Christ is not to carry on our sinful ways going forward.
Heb 3:12b-13 (NLT) says the same –
‘Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.’
In the Old Testament, a similar concept, ‘persistent unfaithfulness’, is found in Ezek 14:13.
Meanwhile, Jesus’ word to all of us has always been the same –
‘Go and sin no more’ (John 8:11).
Jesus’ words were very strong to those cities that witnessed his mighty miraculous words but ‘did not repent’. He called out Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida and said,
‘You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day’ (Matt 11:23).
It is important to note that the verses in Hebrews are directed at Christians who sin willfully, deliberately and continuously, by turning towards evil, and without regard to the precious blood which Jesus had shed for us. It DOES NOT relate to someone who repents, even if it is done repeatedly, because Jesus said that every time we repent, God will forgive, up to seventy times seven (Matt 18:21-22).
1 John 1:6 says,
‘If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.’ Believers cannot walk and live in darkness once we know the truth. And the ‘darkness’ is described as ‘continuing in sin.’
1 John 3:6-9 is quite clear,
‘No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him …. Whoever makes a practice of sinning (NB: ‘practice’ = ‘continuous’ or ‘unrepentant’) is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.’
Such ‘Christians’ end up hardening their hearts and consciences.
Jude 1:5 is a good reminder to us as it links back to the quoted verses from Hebrews –
‘I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.’
S140 - Sell off our birthrights by disassociating with Jesus permanently
Hebrews 12:16-17; 2 Peter 2:20-22; Rev 12:11; Luke 9:26; Luke 12:8-9; Matt 10:32-33; Matt 26:74-75
In Luke 9:26, it talks about a believer who is ‘ashamed of (Jesus) and of his words’ and that ‘the Son of Man (will be) ashamed when he comes in his glory’.
Luke 12:8-9 says,
“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”
Hebrews 12:16b-17 talks about the story of Esau who sold his birthright and
‘after, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected for he found no chance of repent, though he sought it with tears.’
They have ‘crucified him (Jesus) again’ and ‘put him to an open shame’ (Heb 6:6). NB: The Apostle Peter, despite disavowing his friendship with Christ, nonetheless repented.
Who are those who sell off their birthrights? Are these not believers who are prepared to forgo their association with Jesus Christ for some form of worldly benefits like a job, a job promotion, a business opportunity, or even a spouse?
We know for example, that certain Islamic nations offer economic benefits to people to convert to Islam. A Christian who chooses to do so by rejecting Jesus permanently will be likened to someone who sells off his/ her birthright. (PS: Even if the person returns to Christ, just imagine the consequences of such a decision on subsequent generation(s)?)
The Apostle Peter compared them to a dog that returns to his own vomit or a ‘sow having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.’ (2 Peter 2:22)
In 1 John 2:19, the Apostle John explained these people as those who ‘went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out that it might become plain that they all are not of us.’
Or the advice given by the Apostle Paul to Timothy regarding a ‘trustworthy saying’ – ‘If we deny Him, He will also deny us’ (2 Tim 2:12b).
Now, contrast this against those Christians in Rev 12:11, who refused to disavow Jesus but instead chose to give up their lives because
‘they love not their lives even unto death.’
S141 - Take on the mark of the beast (666) on either our right hand or forehead
Rev 13:16-18 reads,
‘It causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave (that is, everyone), to be marked on the right hand or the forehead so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom; let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beat, for it is the number of man and his number is 666.’
What exactly is the mark of the beast?
If we were living two millennium years’ ago, you would be wondering what the Apostle John was thinking about. We now know that the technology is available to have a ‘mark’ and it is done through a microchip. The implantation of microchips began with that of animals since 1996. Lately, human beings have began accepting microchips into the bodies. Sweden is probably one of those in the forefront, with an implanted microchip expected to replace the credit cards. A USA Today 2017 article, Gene Munster, an investor and analyst at Loup Ventures, predicted that by 2067, we will have been desensitized by the social stigma’ and the ‘negative connotation’ of being chipped. It will indeed be the case.
The temptation to adopt an implant will be tremendous and intense since the microchip can do quite a number of amazing things. It can even monitor basic health status of our body by, for example, tracking temperature, sugar-level, as well as the performance of our heart. We suspect that the number of people subscribing voluntarily to this ‘trendy’ phenomenon will grow exponentially over time and quickly too. Both Hollywood and the mainstream media (MSM) will promote a message of ‘progressiveness’ and ‘technological advancement’. When the Antichrist arrives on the world stage, it will become mandatory for everyone to have this implant.
Is the chip the ‘image of the number 666’?
Accompanying the microchip is a need to give each person a universal unique identifier (UUI). That UUI is generated by a numbering technology. It can get quite complicated to explain that technology within this project and hence, we will not be answering these questions.
What about ID2020?
ID2020 is one of Bill Gates’ supported initiatives after he stepped down from the board of Microsoft in March 2020.
The purpose of ID2020 is to provide a digital identity to every person on this earth. According to its manifesto, the ability to prove one’s identity is a fundamental and universal human right as individuals need a way to prove who they are, both in the physical world and online. It is the UUI described above. ID2020 can be seen as yet another progression toward meeting the objective of fulfilling the mark of the beast.
The project team emphasizes that believers should never have anything implanted into either their right hand or forehead that is for the purpose of ‘buying and selling’ (as in Rev 13:17) since Rev 14:9 says,
‘If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.’
Can Christians accept vaccination?
If it is not for the purpose of buying and selling, the Project Team thinks it is fine. Some of us already have implants in our bodies – for example, knee replacement implants, metal cylinder implants in spinal surgery, dental implants. We do not think vaccination is any different. The crutch time comes whether the implant is for the purpose of buying and selling.
Can we accept a computer chip into our body if it is not for the purpose of ‘buying and selling’?
This is debatable. In future, implanted chips (a mark?) maybe useful for monitoring our health remotely and giving health professionals advance notice if our body is unwell; all these can be carried out quite oblivious to us. But if it is for the combined purpose of buying and selling (that is, for trade and commercial reasons), it will be VITAL for believers not to take on the mark (or chip) as we will pay a heavy and eternal price for doing so.
Read also S142, Worship the beast.
S142 - Worship the beast (antichrist) and his image
Rev 14:9 says,
‘If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.’
In addition to taking on the mark, there is the issue of worshiping the beast. Who is the beast? He is described as the antichrist in Revelation. But what about his image? With computer technological advancement, can we imagine what the image might look like?
In the days of King Nebuchadnezzar, he made himself an image that was about thirty meters tall. Daniel 3:5-6 reads,
‘When you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.’
And for that, Daniel’s friends – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – were consigned to be burned in a furnace heated seven times more than the usual (Daniel 3:19-23). Again, for the same reason of choosing not to worship the king, many early Christians were killed during the rule of the Roman emperors.
King Nebuchadnezzar had also provided the antichrist a blueprint of how a synchronized worship can be done. In fact, the project team suggests that the blueprint might be similar to, for example, the call to prayer carried out at the Islamic minarets.
Again, it is amazingly accurate that the Apostle and Prophet John foresaw these happenings. Everyone, and it includes believers, who choose to worship the beast and take on the mark will effectively have entered into an unpardonable stage.
Rev 20:4 says,
‘I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.’
- Who are those who have been beheaded? Christians or Non-Christians?
- Who are those who did not choose the mark on their foreheads or their hands?
- Who are those who ‘came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years’?
The promise from God to Christians who have been beheaded (not just killed) in the Tribulation is that they will be the ones that will participate in the first resurrection and to rule and reign with Christ during the millennium years.
S143 - Continue in non-repentance through the acceptance of 'another Jesus' (rejection of Jesus)
2 Cor 11:4; Luke 21:8; John 5:43; 2 Thes 2:9-11; Rev 13:13-14
2 Cor 11:4 highlights a situation when people starts accepting ‘another Jesus than the one (we/ Paul) proclaimed’. It is not the Jesus that we know as in the Bible.
Many great religions have Jesus in their ‘special’ books but not in the way that the Bible has portrayed Jesus to be.
The Catholic Church, for example, although often considered ‘Christian’, is really another religion. It elevates Mary, the mother of Jesus, above Jesus arguing that since Mary gave birth to Jesus, she is therefore the ‘Mother of God’ and, with it, a special place. For instance, Catholics pray for the intercession of Mary as they believe since she is in heaven, she will have a ‘better connection’ to Christ. Some equated it to the role of Bathsheba in the Old Testament as the Queen Mother to Solomon who interceded on behalf of the people. Hence, the Queen Mother of heaven (Mary, the mother of Jesus) can intercede for us, effectively making her a powerful influencing factor on Jesus.
Meanwhile, in Islam, Muslims also respect and revere Jesus and considered him as one of the greatest of God’s messengers to mankind. The Quran concurs with his virgin birth as well as the many miracles he performed but it does not affirm that Jesus is the Son of God and a co-equal with God. When a person converts to Islam, the new convert only needs to recite the phrase, ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his Messenger (Prophet)’ thus tellingly removing Jesus from the equation.
Both of these religions showcase Jesus differently from what we find in the Bible. The acceptance of ‘another Jesus’ is the same as ‘Rejection of Jesus’ found in S144 – Continue in non-repentance through the rejection of Jesus.
It only becomes ‘unpardonable’ if a person continues to accept ‘another Jesus’ rather than to repent of his/ her sins and put his/ her faith in Jesus.
NB: Believers might note that in the last of the last days, this ‘another Jesus’ will show up performing great ‘power and signs and miracles’. Believers are reminded not to be deceived by this display of awesomeness and ‘believe (in) these lies’ – 2 Thes 2:9-11, Rev 13:13-14.
S144 - Continue in non-repentance through the rejection of Jesus (Hardness of Heart 2)
John 11:47-48; Rev 9:20; Matt 11:20-24; Heb 3:7-11
John 11:47-48, ‘So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’
S144 relates to non-Christians who keep rejecting God despite being given opportunities to repent. In the verses above, the Pharisees saw the workings of miracles but yet choose to deliberately reject Jesus. Hence, it naturally reaches a point of no return.
Continuous non-repentance may be likened to the Pharaoh’s recalcitrant effort in despising the God of Israel during the time of Moses despite seeing all the miracles. There are ten places where the term ‘hardening’ was used for the Pharaoh’s heart.
Up until Plaque Five, it was ‘the heart of the Pharaoh’ that was hardened; that is, the Pharaoh was ‘hardening’ his own heart. From Plague Six onward, the Bible reports that ‘the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh’ (Ex 9:12). Plague Six onward represents the point of no return.
There were fourteen men imprisoned in their cells at Nuremberg, Germany. These were no ordinary prisoners; they were high ranking Nazis going on trial for war crimes committed during World War 2. Some of them would literally be fighting for their lives.
All prisoners were visited by Henry Gerecke, who served as spiritual adviser and chaplain to these top Nazi war criminals. Among the prisoners was Alfred Rosenberg, a fifty-two year old Nazi philosopher who served as the Minister of Occupied Eastern Territories. He rejected everything that Gerecke suggested on his first visit and never attended any chapel service on Sunday evenings nor did he accept a Bible. Rosenberg was eventually sentenced to death by the International Military Tribunal on 1 Oct 1946, with execution scheduled a little after a fortnight on 16 Oct.
On that fateful night, even as he was escorted to the gallows, Rosenberg remained unwavering. When asked by Gerecke whether he would say a prayer, he smiled and replied, ‘No, thank you.’ Gerecke noted in his diary, ‘He lived without a Savior and that is the way he died.’
Rosenburg rejected Jesus completely even when he was given a chance to repent. Rosenburg fulfilled the criterion of S144 – Continuous non-repentance through the rejection of Jesus as Savior.
Thankfully, out of those six who were executed, Gerecke reckoned that four came to the Lord, some at the very last moment.
S145 - Choose to continue sinning rather than repenting (rejection of Jesus)
‘And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.’
This is about a choice – a choice taken by those who prefer ‘darkness to light’ (John 3:19). Because God created us as beings and not robots, all of us have choices.
There will always be people who decide to follow a path of evil and there will be doubters (Matt 28:17). These people choose to satisfy their own appetite and think only about life on earth. Paul called them the ‘enemies of the cross of Christ’ (Phil 3:19).
We will never know why but a rejection of Jesus by the time we leave the earth for good, especially for those who have been given the chance to hear the message, is an ‘unpardonable sin’ with eternal implications.
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