“Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, ‘Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.’ He said to them, ‘All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.’ When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, ‘Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!’ When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, ‘Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?’ And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.’”
What Is the Sin of a Human Being?
I want to speak about the ‘human sin’ that the Lord spoke of here in today’s Scripture reading. What is the sin of human beings? The Gospel of Mark chapter 7 records our sins in detail.
People have their own standards about sin. Some people define a sin as a flaw. And some people think sin is a wrong behavior of a person. In Korea, when parents pass away, their sons and daughters dig a large grave and lower them into the grave carefully and then build a mound over the grave with earth, and cover it with grass. Then the surviving children regularly go to this gravesite and take care of the grass that covers the grave. And they say this is the faithful duty of children. So, if someone does not do this, he would be reproached as a grave sinner
How about other countries? There are some remote regions in Papua New Guinea or the Amazon forest where civilization has not reached yet. Native tribes live there. But we are told that if one dies, his or her descendants gather around their dead parent and eat the corpse so that the animals would not eat it. I don’t know whether they boil the dead bodies or they just eat the flesh raw, but they think it is the filial piety of the children to gather together to eat the flesh of their parents so that the worms would not eat them. Therefore, even the concept of filial piety to parents is different from each culture with its own distinction in different societies.
There are many different concept of sin according to human thinking as there are many concept of filial piety to parents. Some people say that a wrongdoing is a sin. Like this, people define the concept of sin according to their value system or their standards. Some people judge the sin according to their ethics and moral standards. They look at a behavior in the light of the social norms that must be kept and they consider it sin when it deviates from those standards.
In Korea, some people stipulate sin in the light of the teachings of Confucianism that has been handed down. So they think it’s a grave sin for a person not to follow the virtues such as not honoring their parents faithfully. They think it is very important to abide by Confucian norms. They believe that they don’t have sin if they worship their dead ancestors and take care of their parents faithfully with all their devotion. Like this, there are many different concepts of sin in this world.
Therefore, we must know what sin is in the light of God’s Word. Then what is the sin of a human being which God is talking about? What part of us constitutes sin? People generally do not know this correctly even though God told us clearly what sin is. That’s why we must pay close attention to the Word. That’s the only way we can understand correctly about the sin of humans. What is the human sin? It is a sin to try to just keep God’s Word without believing in His Word of mercy.
Let’s look at the Scripture passage here. When Jesus was in this world, a few Pharisees and the scribes came together around Jesus in Jerusalem and saw that the disciples of Jesus were eating bread without washing their hands. Therefore, the Pharisees and the Scribes pointed to Jesus and His disciples and thought, “Why do they sin?” They stipulated that it was sin according to the tradition of the elders which was made up by their ancestors. The Scriptures records that the Jews thought only the man-made traditions were important and because of this they threw away God’s Word.
What would happen when people of Palestine went around together with dust all over their bodies and then returned back home? Their hands and feet as well as their clothes would have been covered in dust. In a word, they would be covered in dust. Therefore, when they got home, those people poured water into a washing basin first and washed their hands and feet clean and dusted off their clothes before entering the house. And before they eat anything and even before they made food, they took out the necessary kitchenware that was previously washed clean and washed it again. And so it is written that they washed “the cups, pitchers and copper vessels.”
What would be different with the things at home when even people become completely covered with dust? How much more would they be covered with dust? That’s why people washed their hands and feet as well as the kitchenware. And this became the inherited tradition of the people. In other words, this custom was made and inherited because of the natural environment of that dusty region.
Therefore, they needed to wash their hands and feet cleanly if they wanted to eat after going around here and there. Of course we Koreans also wash our hands before eating, but we don’t have to absolutely wash our hands and feet before we eat. That’s why people in Korea cannot understand such behavior of the Jews. But you will understand a little better if you understand the background of their tradition. The Jews taught their children after playing outside to “wash hands and feet in this manner.” And they also taught their children, “Eat food only after washing all the dishes in the house.” The teaching that was made necessary because there was so much dust in that region was passed down through many thousands of years. Through about four thousand years of the history of Israel, adults have been teaching their kids like this continuously and their children grew up and passed down this same custom in the same manner to their descendants. And they told them, “You must definitely wash your hands and feet before coming inside and then you can eat food.” Therefore, it became the tradition of the elders.
Then one day, Jesus was born to the little village called Bethlehem near Jerusalem in the region of Judea. And when Jesus was grown up He went to Jerusalem with His disciples. And the scribes and Pharisees were also gathered together there. There was a group of the disciples of Jesus and there were some who were not His disciples. And it was the custom that the owner of that house usually served food to the guests when people gathered together there. This is similar to Korean custom. This is the proper custom. There are many similarities between the Israeli custom and Korean custom.
Now, what happened? The disciples of Jesus took the food and ate it without washing their hands and feet. They did this before the people who thought that everyone had to wash their hands and feet before eating. The Pharisees and the scribes who were there with Jesus thought like this, “What ignorant bastards! They are so ignorant.” Who did they point the fingers at because the disciples of Jesus behaved like this? It was Jesus who was insulted here. It is recorded in the Scriptures, “Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, ‘Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands.’” They challenged Jesus in this manner. How did Jesus respond? He said, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” And He also said, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”
God looks at the center of people’s hearts and not the outward appearance. Jesus saw their hearts’ when the Pharisees and the scribes told Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples keep the tradition passed down by the elders? Why don’t they keep the teaching passed down by the elders to wash hands and feet before eating?” Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.’”
Generally, people thought that it was a sin to discard the tradition and the teachings of people that were passed down from their ancestors. So what did the people of Israel do? They threw away God’s commandments and followed after human tradition that were passed down as their ancestors’ teachings.
But our Lord said, “Throwing away God’s Word is a sin.” Then, what is sin? Sin is to throw away God’s Word. Of course, trespasses committed by humans, wrongdoings, shortcomings, and not doing what we must do are all sins. But throwing away God’s Word is the real and fundamental sin.
What Does Our Lord Dislike the Most?
It is throwing away God’s Word instead of believing it as the Truth. He dislikes this the most. And He dislikes not believing in His Word the most. What is the difference in the concept of sin between the Lord and the Pharisees? What is the difference between our thinking and God’s thinking? God says it is upright when we believe and accept God’s Word of Truth and tells us that we have done well. But God says that it is a sin if we do not believe in His Word and ignore it.
What is the sin of a human being? The original definition of sin (Hamartia in Greek) is “to miss the mark.” Not believing in the Word according to God’s will is sin. Believing in God’s Word is hitting the mark perfectly. Put differently, not acknowledging God’s Word is committing sin. Not believing in God’s Word and throwing it away is sin. God existed even before the creation and then God created this world. Therefore, God Himself is the Master of this world.
What did God say about the sin of the Pharisees? We can see in the Scriptures that Jesus said that people throwing away God’s Word and considering human traditions more important is sin. Do you understand what I am saying? The Pharisees are absolute hypocrites in Jesus’ eyes; they were people who only decorated themselves splendidly on the outside.
Jesus looked at the Pharisees and judged them, “How could you believe in God and how could you admire and revere Me, and with what could you say that you honor Jehovah God?” They are sinners in God’s eyes. They judged others only based on their outward appearance and totally ignored God’s Word. Furthermore, they considered the human word very important. That is sin. This is the greatest sin of them all. Not acknowledging God’s Word and throwing it away, that is the greatest sin.
Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Here the Bible classifies two kinds of sins namely, trespasses and sins. We sometimes have shortcomings as we live in this world. We refer to it as a trespass or a transgression. The sin we commit due to our shortcoming is referred to as a trespass. The sin we commit with our action because of our shortcoming is also a trespass. But a mistake, a transgression is referred to as a shortcoming or a defect in the Scriptures. As such, sin is divided into trespasses and sins.
But the great sin committed before the presence of God is not acknowledging God’s Word. This is the great sin before the presence of God. Those who have not believed in God’s Word essentially become the greatest sinners before the presence of God. That’s why Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in today’s Scripture passage. He was saying that they had thrown away the commandments of God. He was saying that they had thrown away the Word of God as recorded in the Pentateuch, the first five Books recorded by Moses in the Old Testament from Genesis to Deuteronomy. It means that the Pharisees had thrown away the do’s and don’ts of God’s Word.
What Is the Commandment of God?
Jesus referred to the commandment of God in today’s Scripture passage. There are 613 statutes in God’s commandments. “Do this, and don’t do this. Sleep this way, and do not do this. But do certain things this way.” They all say such things. The Ten Commandments that we know well also speak of the do’s and don’ts. The Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament records, “Men must do this and women must do that; lift out an animal when it falls into a ditch; and do this but don’t do that.” There are 613 such statutes that God has spoken of. The 613 statutes constitute the Law. We must reconfirm these commandments continuously and obey them because the do’s and don’ts that God has commanded us are God’s Word, not the words of mere human beings. We must keep them with faith. We must acknowledge that it is God’s Word even though we do not have the ability to live by them. I am saying that we must acknowledge that the Word is right.
Is there any part of God’s Word that is not correct? There isn’t a single verse that is not right. But the Israelites had essentially thrown away the Word of God. Whether God’s commandments consisted of 613 or 1000 statutes, they just did not acknowledge any of them. What the elders said was more important and more respected than what God said. Therefore even during the period when Jesus was in this world, the Israelites believed and acted according to the tradition of the elders instead of on God’s Word. And Jesus abhorred that the most.
And what does God say to us? It is written, “For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all” (Romans 11:32). God knows that we will not be able to keep His Word perfectly. But God wanted to make us His children because He had mercy on us.
There Is a Purpose for Which God Gave Us the Law
Of course God knew that we humans could not keep the Words of the Law perfectly that was given to us. But the thing that we must understand is that we should not forget about or ignore every Word that God has spoken to us. What we must do is acknowledge before the presence of God clearly that His Word is always right and that we are really corrupt. Therefore, to make us acknowledge that we are truly great sinners, our Lord gave His Law to us.
For what purpose did God give us the Law? Our female believers, our dear sisters, for what purpose did God give us the Law? What is that purpose? You really understand this well don’t you. For what purpose did God give us the Law? It is to make us realize our sins. That’s right. It means that God gave us the Law to make us recognize our sin.
Did God give the Law to us thinking that we could keep the Law to the letter? Or, did He give us the Law to make us understand our shortcomings and sins? For what purpose did God give us the Law? The purpose for which the Lord gave us the Law was to make us understand sin (Romans 3:19-20).
Therefore, it was okay that the Israelites including the Pharisees and the scribes were not able to keep the Law. But they should have acknowledged God’s Word as God’s Word. It was wrong for them to ignore God’s Word or throw it away. But the Israelites disrespected God’s Word. They disrespected the authority of God’s Word.
Romans chapter 3 says that God gave the Law to make us have the knowledge of sin. Therefore, we fail to understand that God did not give us the Law to keep it. Then what did we understand through the Law? What should we understand through the 613 statutes that say the dos and don’ts of God’s commandments? We must think about these things.
We must realize our shortcomings and sins by the Law. We must realize our sins before the presence of God. What should we do if we have realized our sins before the Law? Of course, we must try to keep it even though we are lacking. But what is more important is that we must know our sinful selves through the Law. God gave the Law to us humans for the purpose of making us realize sin and understand that we are really sinners and seek help from God and believe in Jesus Christ. Like this, God gave the Law to us in order to make us His children and His people through faith in Jesus Christ.
Even now, there are so many people who are trying hard to keep the Law. But Jesus said in this verse, “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men.” We are people who cannot keep all the Law perfectly. But we must not reject even all God’s Word just because we cannot keep the Law. In other words, it is wrong not to acknowledge God’s Law. We can acknowledge our shortcomings the moment we acknowledge God’s Law. What does this mean? A person comes to acknowledge that he is a sinner by understanding his helplessness and his sin through God’s Law.
Do you acknowledge the Word of God’s Law with your heart? Let’s acknowledge God’s Word of the Law right now. We must acknowledge that we are sinners before the presence of God. We must acknowledge that we have many shortcomings when we stand before God’s Law. We then ask God for our salvation after we acknowledge God’s Law. We must go before the presence of Jesus the only Savior and God who can save us from all our sins and seek His help. God sees whether we have such an attitude or not.
But for what purpose did God give us the Law? We cannot stand before the presence of God uprightly with our own efforts because God gave us the Law to teach us painstakingly that we have shortcomings and that we are sinners. To save those who have come to acknowledge their sinfulness, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to this world to cleanse all the sins away from all human beings and made Jesus Christ receive the baptism and shed His blood on the Cross. Therefore, our God gave us the Law to make us receive the remission of sins and become His children by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
God gave the Law to us all who are the descendants of Adam. And thereby made us understand our sins. And then He made us acknowledge that we are really complete sinners. Therefore, God gave us the blessing of becoming His children by believing in the righteousness of Jesus and being freed from all our sins. God gave the Law to the descendants of Adam to make them receive all the blessings that He has fulfilled for all human beings. Those who still do not understand the reason why God gave this Law and try to keep the Law even though they are weak are people who dwell under the curse of God.
We must clearly understand the intention of God by giving us the Law. God in the beginning created this universe and you and me with His Word. Therefore, we must start our faith from God’s Word. And our thinking must begin to unfold within God’s Word as well. We must think, judge, and believe all things according to God’s Word. This is the most correct notion.
We must believe in God based on the criteria in His Word. We will definitely fall into errors if we do not do this and if we think of God with our own criteria and act according to our own thinking. The Pharisees and the scribes in today’s Scripture passage could not have rebuked the disciples of Jesus for eating the bread with dirty hands if they had seen themselves in the light of God’s Word. That’s because the things that go into a person’s mouth cannot defile that person because they do not enter his heart but his stomach, and then pass through. It’s because what really defiles a person is not the food of this world. People are defiled because of the sins that arise out of their hearts, not because of food that goes into their stomachs. Do you understand this?
We Are the Descendants of Adam Who Have Inherited All Sins
The things that come out of human beings are evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, and an evil eye. All these dirty sins come out of a person and defile that person. As Jesus said in the Scriptures, it is the sin inside of someone that defiles him not food.
Romans chapter 11 verse 32 says, “God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.” What did God say about human beings? God says that He has mercy on them. God made us His children by bestowing His mercy on people through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. God’s purpose and His will were aimed to make us His people. Do you understand this? That’s why He made us all be born as the descendants of Adam. And He made us a little less than angels because God originally had love for us; He wanted to make us His children because He had pity on us. God planned and brought His plan into being to make us His children out of His love.
We creatures have become God’s children not because we are perfect. We have become God’s children by His love for He gave us the gospel of the water and the Spirit out of His mercy. God clothed us with the grace of salvation that makes us His children through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Do you think that we have become God’s children and become sinless because we are righteous and blameless, and because we have acted in an upright manner? No, this is not the case. If our salvation was given to us by our merits, then this would not be the mercy of God. We believers have become God’s children by His grace of salvation because Jesus Christ took all our sins upon Him at once through the baptism He received from John the Baptist and because He had pity on us.
We became absolute sinners through God’s Law, and then we have entered into that grace of God by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. God made us become His children by making us enter into the grace of salvation by faith. It means that He lifted us creatures up as beings like the creator. Do you understand this work God has done?
The Scriptures say, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33) How great is God’s wisdom? The riches of perfect wisdom and knowledge are in our Lord. His judgment is unfathomable and His ways are unsearchable. Who knows why people were born with such shortcomings? But we get to know the reason why when we meet Jesus Christ. Oh, how unfathomable the depth of the riches is!
Apostle Paul was born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit just like us. He was able to say, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?” (Romans 11:33-34) That is because he was born again from sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Who became the counselor of God? Who dared to share God’s plan with Him? It was God Himself who thought this and did this. We as mere creatures became the children of God just by His thought and plan, not because someone taught us how to become His children. Do you believe so?
Therefore, even all the angels in the Heaven were astonished. The angels had higher status than us human beings. The Scriptures tell us clearly that God created us a little lower than the angels, saying,
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:3-5). Human beings were made a little lower than the angels in the beginning, but suddenly they were in a higher position than the angels. Those who believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit had already become the children of God. That’s why the angels were astonished.
Then, what sort of beings are the children of God? They are beings similar to God. Of course they are not God. But those who have received the remission of sins are those who belong to Heaven. That’s why the Book of Psalms states,
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?”
God did not just leave us in the midst of destruction, but instead loved us unilaterally and had mercy on us who could not help but be destroyed due to our sins and made us His children by blotting out all our sins. God made us His children and His people by making us sinless. So the writer in the Psalms said, “O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!”
And the Apostle Paul said the same exclamatory sentences in the New Testament here. He said that this Truth of salvation is so wondrous and deep. That we mere creatures have reached the status of God is done clearly through His mercy. It is done out of His pity on us. It is impossible for us to become the children of God if not for the grace of the salvation of God. All this is the love of God.
Is it right for us to try hard to keep God’s Law even though we are essentially lacking, and is it right for us to dwell in the Law of God and try a little harder and put forth a little more effort to go before the presence of the Lord? Or, isn’t it right for us to understand the meaning and the purpose of the Law God has given to us to understand our sin properly, and to understand that we are treacherous sinners, and therefore, desire His mercy before Him? This is right, isn’t it? It is right for us to truly realize before the presence of God that we are grave sinners and seek God’s mercy. But is it right for you to still try to become righteous by yourself without understanding the purpose of the Law God has given to us?
Therefore the important thing is how we understand God’s Word? What is sin? Not believing in God’s Word is sin, not acknowledging God’s Word is sin, and every lacking before the presence of God is sin. Not believing in this Bible as God’s Word is sin. Not believing and ignoring the gospel of the water and the Spirit even though one understands it is sin.
The Word is God. Therefore, not believing in God’s Word is a great sin. So we all must know God through His Word and receive the remission of sins through faith. We receive our salvation from sin only by thinking according to God’s Word and believing according to the recorded Word. Then we can receive the remission of our heavy sins inside us through faith only.
A person becomes a sinner thoroughly the moment he understands and acknowledges God’s Word and God’s Law. Someone who acknowledges God’s Law becomes a sinner thoroughly and such a person seeks after the righteousness of God and desires mercy from God and becomes freed from all his sins perfectly by believing in the gospel of the water. Such a person can come to know just how imperfect he really is when he acknowledges God’s commandment which is God’s Word. He comes to understand what an inadequate sinner he is before the presence of God. He does not boast about his own righteousness just because he kept the Law a little bit or not. When we understand the 613 statutes of dos and don’ts recorded in the Scriptures, we get to cry out for help, “God, I have not kept this Law, but did not keep this other Law either. And God, I cannot keep Your commandments perfectly. God, I cannot keep all Your commandments. I cannot keep them all. Save me from sin.” That person who understands thoroughly that he is a sinner seeks God in this way. We do not become a sinner because of our wrongdoings, but we acknowledge that we are sinners because we are essentially born to this world as a mass of sin. And we only have inside us these sins that completely stand against God’s commandment. Those who acknowledge God’s Law come to understand this fully.
What did Jesus say? He said, “The things that come out of a person defile him. All food that God gives can never defile anyone. All the things of the world are clean.” And He said further, “But the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.”
Human Beings Are Originally Sinners
What does it mean to be born as the descendants of Adam? It means that we are born with sin from our birth. And we commit sin throughout our entire life with the sin that comes out from our hearts because we were essentially born with sin. All God’s Law and commandments are upright. There isn’t anything wrong with the Word God which speaks to us. Therefore, we come to know that we are sinners who are completely opposite of the commandments of God when we come to know His Law. This Truth speaks about the human proneness to sin, original sinfulness, inherited from the first sinner, Adam. Therefore, such people should kneel before the presence of God and seek pity from Him. Only God’s love can truly make us sinless. We humans can only seek this before the presence of God. We come to understand that we cannot do any merits with our own work and that we cannot reduce even a little bit of our sins and therefore seek God’s mercy and the salvation of His love. Therefore, we come before the presence of the Lord and kneel before Him unconditionally. We then say, “Lord! Have pity on me.”
Look at David’s account recorded in the Scriptures. David said, “Lord, I am righteous if You say that I am righteous and it is done according to the judgment of the Word of the Lord. I am a mass of sin if You say that I am a sinner and I more than deserve to go to hell. But I am a righteous person if You say I am righteous. I shall receive salvation if God saves me and I shall go to hell if God sends me to hell. It is all up to You, Lord!” David acknowledged God as such.
This is a truly upright faith. This is the faith and the proper attitude that is able to receive the remission of sins. Some of you may say, “Why are you saying this so emphatically and tediously when we hear this all the time?” But we must understand correctly what sin really is and what constitutes our sin.
I have said that we are the descendants of Adam; and we know that we are sinners. Then is there lewdness in your heart, or isn’t there? There is. But what does God tell us? God tells us not to commit adultery. Is there a heart of murder in your hearts, or isn’t there? There is. But God’s Word tells us not to commit murder. But is there a heart to molest other people in your hearts, or isn’t there? There is. God’s Word tells us to honor our parents, but do we really honor our parents properly? God’s Word is so correct. We are truly evil people when we look at our selves in the light of God’s Word. Is this correct, or not? It is correct.
Then What Must We Believe to Be Saved from Sin?
We must first become a mass of sin completely before the presence of God. Then we can acknowledge by ourselves that we are sinners before Him. We are sinners even if we have done some good deeds today. In the same way, we are also sinners even when we have not done any good deeds. People are complete sinners with a mass of sin before the presence of God if we were born with human flesh even if we did not commit even one iota of sin and we have not done any wrong, not only if we have actually committed sin with our work. It means that we are beings that are doomed to go to hell eventually. Do you believe this?
We did not become sinners by committing wrong deeds, in other words, by committing adultery, stealing, beating up other people, and molesting others. We are sinners because we were originally born with sin. We are sinners who cannot help but go to hell because we were born with a nature that is completely opposite to God. Can a person who was born with sin say that he is righteous just because that person who was born with the heart of murdering did not commit murder or just because that person who has a heart of committing theft did not commit theft? What do you think about this? I am saying that we humans are not essentially righteous.
The Scriptures clearly tells us that a work-oriented faith or a Law-oriented faith is ‘hypocritical.’ Jesus reproached the Pharisees and the Scribes, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” He was saying their behaviors were hypocritical. People sin throughout their lifetime because they were already born as a mass of sin. This is the perfectly correct perspective of God concerning human beings. But there probably are some people who say, “I have never used my fist in my whole lifetime and I have never stolen anything either. Therefore I have not sinned even once. Therefore I am not a sinner,” even though they were born as a mass of sin. But that is lying before the presence of God. God judges us, “You are a mass of sin. You are a sinner.” That’s why we are sinners born as a mass of sin even if we did not commit any sin even once, and therefore deserve to go to hell. We are still sinners even if we kept the Law a little bit and obeyed the commandments a little. We cannot help but go to hell in the end.
What then should we do? We must receive pity from God. This is the only thing we can do. We can receive the remission of our sins only if God remits our sins; but we cannot help but to carry our sin and go to hell if He does not blot out our sins. We human beings were born with such a fate.
It is written, “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36). All things of this universe are of the Lord, through the Lord and to the Lord. All things in this universe have been created through God. And God created all human beings. The reason God created mankind is to make us His children and live forever together with us in the Kingdom of Heaven. God created you and me for that purpose. Genesis chapter 2 tells all about this. Furthermore, it tells us that our becoming the children of God does not depend on our works but on His love and grace that He has granted upon us unilaterally. Isn’t that right?
The People Who Acknowledge God’s Word Admit That They Are Complete Sinners
They come to acknowledge that they are sinners that cannot help but go to hell no matter what they do. And these kinds of people who acknowledge the Word in this way eventually come to understand that they are perfectly righteous people by the very Word of God. Therefore, throwing away the Word and not acknowledging God’s Word is sin. People who commit such sin remain sinners forever. But those who acknowledge God’s Word become sinners first and then become perfectly the righteous. This is being born again through God’s Word. This is being clothed with God’s grace.
What is sin? Not acknowledging God’s Word is sin and throwing away the Word is sin. In the Gospel of Mark chapter 7, Jesus tells us clearly about sin. Through this illustration of the misconception of the Pharisees and the scribes, Jesus clearly defined what sin is all about.
God wanted us humans who were created by God to become sinners first by acknowledging God’s Word and then become righteous by believing in His Word of salvation by faith. It means that God wanted to fulfill His plan towards us perfectly because He was the Creator. Therefore, if one throws away God’s Word and does not acknowledges His Word, that person will become the biggest sinner and deserves to be sent to hell. That’s why we must understand God’s Word properly and clearly. We must understand clearly what sin is. I will reiterate this again. We used to be doomed complete to death, but we become perfectly righteous people when we truly acknowledged and believed in God’s Word.
Let’s look at the Book of Galatians chapter 3 verse 10. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’” What is recorded here? It says that people who are under the works of the Law are under the curse. People who still try hard to keep God’s Word, the Law of God, with their works even now are under the curse of God. It’s telling us that those who are trying to cleanse their sins away by offering up prayers of repentance and by doing meritorious deeds are still under the curse of God.
It is written, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). God gave us the Law to make us have the knowledge of sin. God did not give us the Law because He thought we could keep the Law. Then why did God give us the Law if He did not expect us to keep it? He gave us the Law to make us know our sinful nature. This is the purpose why He gave us the Law. Therefore, it is a great sin not to acknowledge God’s Word.
You may then ask, “How can trying to live according to the Word be a sin?” Of course, to fear God and try to obey Him in itself is not wrong. However, God said the heart of a human essentially is a heart of murder, adultery, and pride. And it is arrogant to think that we can keep the Law when we have such an evil heart. Then what sort of person receives salvation from all his sins before the presence of God? Someone who believes in God’s Word, someone who acknowledges God’s Word, someone who seeks for the remission of his sins from God by acknowledging His Word, is saved from all his sins. Only such people can become the people of God and His children and go to the Kingdom of Heaven. We receive salvation from sin only by believing in all of God’s Word.
We receive all the blessings of God only through having faith in His Word. We receive salvation by believing in God’s Word, not by keeping the Law. Only such people can receive the remission of their sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that God gives. But most Christians today try very hard to keep the Law even though God has given it to us to understand our sinful nature. Most Christians are like this. Their notion of trying to keep the Law is laudable, but they must truly believe that God gave the Law to them to make them have the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20). Put differently, they must throw away their arrogant thinking that they can live according to God’s Law if they just try to keep it. Only then can they receive the merciful love of God. Let me say this again: You must first get rid of your arrogance in order to receive the remission of your sins.
God says that those who try to keep the Law and who are of the works of the Law are under the curse. God says that people who think and believe that they can become sanctified and clean and become righteous to enter the Kingdom of Heaven only by living by the recorded Word of God are still under the works of the Law even now and therefore they are under the curse of God. They still take this for granted and think, “I believe in God as my Savior, but I still must live according to the Word.”
Then do people become righteous by living according to God’s Word? No, never! They must become a complete sinner first by acknowledging God’s Word. They must first become sinners who cannot help but go to hell because of their sins. And then they become perfectly righteous people through faith of believing in the Word Jesus Christ. That’s why God established the gospel of the water and the Spirit which saves us from sin through the law of faith. God saved us from sin through faith of believing in the God’s gospel of the water and the Spirit, not through the works of any human being. God decided on such salvation to save us from the sins of the world.
It is the sin of human beings to not acknowledge God’s Word that came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Why then could those sinner Christians not receive the remission of their sins? They did not receive the remission of sins because they did not acknowledge the Word of the gospel of the water and the Spirit that God had spoken about. We who have received this grace from God, have received the remission of our sins because we acknowledged His gospel of the water and the Spirit even though we are lacking just as all other human beings are.
The Scriptures tell us, “Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left” (Matthew 24:41). Then would the woman who was left here continue to spin the millstone, or would she not? Of course she would continue to spin it. Why would one person be taken while the other person is left behind? That’s because the one taken up is someone who heard God’s Word that came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit and believed in it. But the person who was left behind was cast away after only doing the work that belonged to this world and trying earnestly to keep the Law. Therefore, that person went to hell.
Then why was she cast away? It’s because she tried to keep God’s Law, God’s Word, instead of believing it. She became like this because she tried to become perfect before the presence of God with her arrogant heart instead of just believing in God’s Word. What this means is that this person fell into hell while trying to challenge God with his arrogant heart.
We smack the bugs away from us when they try to climb up our legs. Likewise, human beings fall into hell when they try to climb up to God with their works instead of believing in His Word of salvation before the presence of God. God smacks them down when they try to live by keeping the Word with an arrogant heart before His presence. He sends people like this to hell. Therefore, you will indeed go to hell when you climb up to God and go against His righteousness. Do you understand this?
The Scriptures say, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them. But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for the just shall live by faith” (Galatians 3:10-11). What is recorded here? That’s right. It says, “The just shall live by faith.” Then how can anyone become a righteous person? The righteous can become righteous by faith and the righteous can also live by such faith. The righteous live by faith even though their works are lacking. As it is written, “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Ecclesiastes 7:20), we have not become the righteous because we have not sinned.
Trying to keep God’s Word instead of believing in it is sin. Not acknowledging God’s Word is sin. I will say this again. Not believing in God’s Word is a sin that sends that sinner to hell. I want you to know that this constitutes a grave sin.
We cannot keep God’s Word properly because we are essentially the descendants of Adam from our birth. Put differently, it is easy for us to believe in God’s Word but it is difficult to keep it because we sin throughout our entire lifetime after being born as a mass of sin fundamentally. Therefore, there is not even a little hope to us as humans. There isn’t any hope in our own selves for we also cannot but sin throughout our entire lives. The only hope for us who are such sinners is to believe in Jesus Christ who saved us from all sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We have hope in Him only. Therefore we have received salvation from sin by faith of believing in Jesus Christ who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We believe that He has blotted out all our sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and furthermore, He has blotted out the sins of the whole world. We have received salvation from all our sins through faith of believing in Jesus Christ.
Are you insufficient? Yes, you are. But what is your status now? Have you become the righteous through the gospel of the water and the Spirit? Yes, you have become the righteous. Then have you become righteous through your works? Have you become righteous by keeping the Law? Or have you become righteous because you tried hard to live according to God’s will? No, you have not. Rather, you have become the just through faith of believing in God’s Word.
Although God’s Word of righteousness was announced to everyone in the same manner, some people believed the Word and the others did not. Those who did not believe went to hell and the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit became the children of God and went to Heaven. That they refused to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit means that they did not acknowledge God’s Word. Trying to live according to God’s will even though they don’t believe in His Word is arrogance. The Scripture talks about this.
We must get rid of our own righteousness. We can return to the bosom of God when we acknowledge that we are sinners before the presence of God and acknowledge the gospel of the water and the Spirit with faith with the understanding that we are people who cannot help but go to hell. We must understand this Truth of how God saved us with His Word and hold onto it with faith. We must receive the grace of the remission of sins through faith in this manner.
We have received the remission of sins by believing in God’s Word. Therefore, we give thanks to God. We have become righteous through God’s Word, not through our works. We do not become righteous by trying hard to keep the Word of commandments, but we become righteous at once by faith. We become the righteous just by faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.