Several months ago I had a startling realization. As I was meditating on the Word, like a bolt of lightning, I was struck with the nature of sin and morality. Growing up in traditional church, I assumed that sin and morality were synonymous. If you were “sinning” you were doing “bad” stuff. Sin=evil. That’s what I was taught, but that does not really wash out in reality.
Essentially, the great divorce is the separation of these two ideas. When we divorce morality from the concept of sin we begin to see clearly God’s original design and Christ’s purpose. To understand this we need to understand the fall and salvation.
When examining foundational issues like sin it behooves us to return to our origins for answers. Genesis outlines what we refer to as “The Fall”. This earth shattering event occurred when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil at the behest of the Serpent. Traditional theology teaches us that the sin of our forebears was their disobedience of God’s law, the “Thou shalt not eat” command.
In reality, the issue was not so much their disobedience as it was their rejection of God’s relationship dynamic both legal and personal. God’s design in Eden was for mankind to live in symbiosis with Him. He would guide and mentor us and we would worship and love Him. Connection and relationship are central to God’s heart and He designed a place where humanity’s relationship with Him could flourish. The only key to success was in our hands: we had to submit to Him completely.
Adam and Eve’s choice to eat from the forbidden tree broke God’s heart and opened the gateway to rebellion. Before the Fall, humanity relied on God to judge morality. We turned to Him for the knowledge of good and evil. After the Fall, we internalized morality and pushed God off the throne so we could rule ourselves. While this act can be categorized as evil, evil is not necessarily at the heart of sin.
Sin flows from being disconnected from God. We can perform morally good acts and still be “in sin” because we are disconnected from God. It is the connection to Him, the symbiotic relationship we were intended to have from the beginning, that destroys sin forever. Christ’s work on the cross reopened that gateway allowing Holy Spirit to reconnect with humanity directly. Once again we are capable of symbiosis with God Himself through Jesus and Holy Spirit.
RECONNECTING TO GOD
Symbiosis, through the rebirth of our originally designed spirit, is the entire point of salvation. From that moment of rebirth flows righteousness and all good things. Therefore, it is not what we do that allows us to connect with God. He has already opened the gateway. We all have the potential to connect with God through Jesus Christ at this very moment, but to do so requires us to surrender our authority to Him. We must surrender.
Surrender leads to repentance and vice versa. In fact, our path of salvation is one of constant repentance and surrender. Which comes first depends on the person. For some of us we surrender and then repent after experiencing God. For others, we repent by changing our thinking and then surrender. Some of us do both simultaneously. The key is not some religious formula, it is that we accept and surrender to the reality of the universe.
What is the reality of the universe? God (Yahweh) is ruler over all things. His son (Jesus) has been given all authority in heaven and earth and placed Himself on the cross to reconnect the unseen realm to earth. We owe our allegiance and fealty to Jesus for He is our King and brother. Holy Spirit is God’s way of linking His home realm (Heaven) with our home realm (earth) in order to teach, encourage, empower, and so on. God in three persons connected to humanity on earth by our surrender and through His love. This is the reality of the universe.
WHAT ABOUT WORKS?
Most folks from a traditional background will be struggling with this concept because of works. Traditional systems of thinking are ultimately works based, or really “karma” based. Traditional systems teach that morality is our litmus test for life. We do good stuff and God likes us and we get good stuff back. We do bad stuff and God doesn’t like us and is “separated” from us and we get bad stuff. That’s karma, not Christianity.
Does what we do matter? Yes, absolutely it does. But not in regards to salvation! We teach in traditional systems that we are “saved by grace through faith and NOT of works”. Absolutely correct. So why do we immediately turn around and make works the indicator of the health of our relationship with God? It is because we have married morality and sin. Splitting these two is key.
Salvation, then, is the reconnecting to God in a symbiotic relationship made available through Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit, and attainable by any human who accepts and surrenders to the reality of the universe. Morality is a separate code of ethics and system of thinking that exists independently. Morality is from God and exists everywhere in the universe for all created beings.
We must change our minds (repent) to align ourselves with God’s moral code, but doing so does NOT lead to salvation. We can be totally in alignment with God’s moral code and still be out of alignment with God Himself. Remember the rich, young ruler that came to Jesus asking about eternal life. The young man told Jesus he had kept “all the commandments from my youth”. Now under the religious system of thinking Jesus should have responded, “No one keeps the commandments. Didn’t you hear my Sermon on the Mount, I’m sure you’ve thought things that disqualify you. So don’t lie to yourself and say you have no sin…write that down, John.”
Jesus didn’t say that. Instead, He told the rich man to go and sell everything had owned and come and follow Him. But the rich man refused to do so because “he owned much property”. So what stopped this rich, young ruler from attaining eternal life? Was it his ability to do good moral things and keep the commandments? It seems clear to me that he did exactly that or Jesus would have corrected his arrogance, but He did not. Instead, Jesus called the man into relationship through surrender.
The young ruler needed to surrender his false god (money) for the true God (Jesus). Surrendering oneself to Christ is the fullness and the end of salvation. It is the opening of a gateway in the heart and mind relinquishing our rights to authority and handing the keys of our kingdom back to their original owner, Yahweh God. Once we do that, once we surrender to Jesus, then the moral issues will flow from there.
So what we do matters, but anything we do is irrelevant if we are not submitted to Christ. From that place of submission, we will begin to change and we will do good moral things, but it is completely possible to be a good moral person our entire lives and miss Christ because we refused to surrender to Him.