Archive for the ‘sin’ Category

Angela, Michelangelo, and Genesis

November 8th, 2011

My current view of Genesis is wrapped up in a song which was written by Charlie Chaplin.  Yes, the comedian, Chaplain, who knew so well how life could be (“I know why the world is smiling / Smiling so tenderly / It hears the same old story / Through all eternity / Love this is my song”).  In this post, we shall attempt to render the significance of the book of Genesis to modern-day Christians (the Lord’s people). 

street vendors

The route to church in Milan, which Marla and I take on Sunday mornings, goes right past the Italian vendors.  Sunday morning is a time for the coin dealers, stamp-collectors and artists to display their works.  The photograph (adjacent) shows the paintings of life in Italy.  It is this sense of story (history/storia) which overlaps with the lovely and often tragic stories of the book of Genesis.

What we do with Genesis is extremely important.  In my opinion, Genesis will influence your understanding of Romans.   In my Romans study (2008), I found myself relying on the phrase, “the human experience.”  Recently, one, Angela, asked why the players in Genesis (God’s people) were so troubled.  Little did she know that that observation is a huge insight into our own experience, as well.  In the Italian, sin is peccato.  So, when one says, “Peccato che,” the phrase becomes, “What a pity!”  Yes, peccato (sin) is a sad concept in Genesis: indeed, what a pity.   But, it is not only sad in the book, it is sad in the cross.  A fascinating study might be to trace the tears in the Genesis text; the tears at the cross; and, the tears in your own soul.  That is not at all to negate the joy.  Genesis is packed with laughter, surprise, and overwhelming burgeoning of happiness too!   Jesus, also, exhibits the whole gamut of emotions in the gospel accounts, that is, in his own human experience.

Genesis condenses well into Italian with a package of five words beginning with the letter “P”:  Paradiso; Popolo di Dio; Peccato; Passione and Promessa [Paradise, People of God, Sin, Passion, Promise].  In fact, the Genesis drama may be understood along these lines with significant progress being taken in understanding what this ancient book is all about.  Angela’s notes on Jacob (Israel), for example, find meaning not as a random story, but as a Hebrew heritage.  This is a heritage which applies to all who have the ability to understand the matter (Be sure to see Galatians 3:7, 29; 4:19; 6:16; and Romans 4:16!).

Michelangelo said something meaningful: “Io citico costruendo, quel cosa de bello” [I criticize by creating something more beautiful.]  The application being that when you encounter the pain of peccato in your own life, do realize that even though it ends with a sarcophagus in Egypt, the promise remains, “Surely I will visit you!” And, again, “Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear saying, God will surely visit you” (Gen. 50:24-26).


People Pleasing—Sin or Service?

April 16th, 2006

How much should a Christian do to help another person? This would appear to be a simple question at first glance. However, Matthew 5:40-42 and Matthew 7:6 appear to strike a balance regarding social interaction in the kingdom of God. On the one hand, “going the extra mile” seems normative. But, then, the Lord turns around and labels some as “dogs,” who are unworthy of our efforts.

“And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you”

(Matthew 5:40-42)

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you”

(Matthew 7:6)

Paul made an interesting comment to the Galatians—“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). Paul grounds his approval in God, not man. Still, Paul served his God by serving men (2 Cor. 6:3-113). Then, in the next breath, he qualifies: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers…Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? …Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them says the Lord…” (see 2 Cor. 6:14-18). The bottom line in serving men is to do it for God. Yet, in this service, one is to be prudent and not to reward or indulge the insolent or lazy indigent (see 2 Thess. 3:6-15).

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, Matthew, New Testament, sin Tags:

The Classical Defense Mechanism of Denial and 1 John 1:8-10

March 26th, 2006

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins

and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar,

and his word is not in us.”


(1 John 1:8-10, ESV)

The church phone number and the Wood & Huston Bank phone number are similar. In fact, it happens regularly, once or twice a week and sometimes even twice a day, that the church building gets calls intended for the Wood & Huston Bank. When these misdialed calls come into the office, the person on the other end often appears involved in the ego-defense mechanism of denial (a conscious or preconscious distortion of reality). The following is a typical interview: “Hello, Church of Christ, may I help you?” “Wood & Huston Bank?” “No, this is the church of Christ office.” “This isn’t Wood & Huston Bank?” “No, sorry.” “Well, that’s the number I dialed.” “They’re very close.” “Well, okay, if you say so.”

If denial is relevant when it comes to such trivial things as misdialed numbers, how much more applicable when it comes to being true to who we are as sinners. John 1:8-10 addresses this tendency to distort the reality of sin. Notice two distinct types of denial here: (1) Denial of sin as a potential concept (1:8), and (2) Denial of actual sin in one’s personal life.

Sin is being challenged on many levels today. Rather than accept personal responsibility for one’s own sins—other areas are being blamed instead. But, to deny the reality of sin, either in concept and/or behavior, is to deceive oneself, implicate God as a liar, and fail to acquire forgiveness and cleansing. Confess your sins, therefore (1 John 1:9).

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: 1 John, Bible, confess, New Testament, sin Tags:

Baptism for Remission of Sins

July 11th, 2004

“And Peter said to them, Repent, and let each of you be
baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness
of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”

(Acts 2:38, NAS)

The following excerpt is taken from brother Walter Scott’s periodical, TheEvangelist (Vol. VIII.Cincinnati, Ohio, December 1, 1840. No. 12) reprinted by College Press. We are including it in this week’s bulletin to assist in the teaching of persons currently under the influence of Calvinism, Baptist, or other denominational error regarding the role of Christian baptism. The article is impressive because it is written a learned Baptist scholar, Dr. John Gale:

“…I would note to you that one use, and end, and design of baptism, was for the remission of sins; of this we are assured in the express words of scripture. Thus in 1 Corinthians 6:11, after the apostle has enumerated a great many abominable sins and vices, which exclude the unrighteous from the kingdom of God, he adds, “and such were some of you; but ye are washed, i.e. in your baptism you are purified and cleansed from all guilt and pollution of these sins… .Thus saint Peter says to those being pricked in their hearts, and convinced by his preaching, inquired what they must do, Acts 2:37,38… And so again, chap. xxii.16, baptism is said to wash away sins… The scriptures shew us, that Christ instituted baptism for the remission of sins”

(Sermons of John Gale, London, 1724)

We prefer, “a thus saith the Lord,” or a word from an apostle. However, there are many in the world, who, because of their allegiance to their particular denomination, will hear only one of their own speak, we offer the words of Dr. Gale.

May all come to accept the words of scripture without human amendment (Rev. 22:18,19).


– Robert M. Housby