THE CONCEPT OF SIN AND PERSONAL SALVATION
By The Right Reverend Father Michael D. Jordan
There was only one person who walked this earth that can claim that they were without sin, Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God. He was born without sin, and remains sinless to this very day!
Any mortal human being that claims that they are without sin is not telling the truth, and attempts to diminish the sovereignty of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We, as human beings, are subject to carnal desires and often victimized by the influences of evil. We have a remedy for our sins called repentance and reconciliation, through which the Grace of our Risen, Lord Jesus Christ, allows us to stand pure and un-condemned before God the Father, through the ultimate Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His Only-Begotten Son. Who was crucified, died for us, and rose from the dead on the third day.
This belief structure is supported 100% by the Holy Scriptures. St. Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, proclaimed that he was a sinner in First Timothy Chapter 11, verses 15 and 16: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." You will notice that he did not say, of whom I was chief, he used a present tense saying, of whom I am chief. If St. Paul, an Apostle claims that he is a sinner; then how can we, as common people, proclaim that we are better than an Apostle chosen by Jesus Christ?
In First John Chapter 1:8-10, we read: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He (The Lord) is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."
Those who claim to be sinless commit the deadly sin of pride, which is frowned upon by Jesus Christ: We read in Luke 18:10-14 "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted."
In Luke 11:24-26 we read; "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, I will return unto my house from where I came out. And when he comes, he finds it swept and garnished. Then he goes, and takes to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first."
Jesus Christ was given all power by His Father. All is now in the Hands of God the Son, Judgment, mercy and the salvation of our souls. John 5:22 "For the Father judges no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:" We are expressly forbidden by Jesus Christ from judging others as unworthy of salvation, or denying that their efforts toward salvation are valid. Matthew 7:2 "For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again." Does this not clearly tell you that to judge others brings condemnation upon yourself?
As St. Paul writes in Philippians 2:12 "Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Jesus Christ reserves all judgment, and if He does not presume to judge a man until he is dead, what gives us the right to judge a man before he is dead? If we violate the teachings and directives of Jesus Christ, whether it is in a well meaning context or not, do we not prove ourselves to be sinners and transgressors of the very precepts of Jesus Christ?
It is always possible to fall back into sin after you have been forgiven of your previous sins, as the Scripture passage concerning the man who brought seven more evil spirits back into his house teaches. This is why we must ask for forgiveness of sins every day of our lives. This allows us to remain in a constant state of Grace and preparedness for the return of the Son of God. We have the Sacrament of Confession and Absolution of Sins which was granted to the Disciples of Jesus Christ, by Jesus Christ, Who was given all power of judgment by God the Father. Every Bishop, or Priest, that has been ordained according to Apostolic Succession, after the Disciples receives the ability to forgive sins in the name of Jesus Christ. We find proof and validation of this Sacrament in John, Chapter 20, beginning with verse 19:
"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive you the Holy Ghost: Whosoever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins you retain, they are retained."
The Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church can trace their Bishops all the way back to the Disciples of Jesus Christ, by maintaining this Apostolic Succession, they are entitled to dispense the same Sacraments as given by Jesus Christ to the Disciples. This passage is clear and absolute, Jesus Christ gave the Disciples power on earth forgive sins in His Name. To believe otherwise is to doubt the very words of Jesus Christ!
If a person tells you that they feel comfortable with their faith, and have a positive attitude toward God, and have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and they believe firmly in the Holy Trinity, and the 12 articles of the Nicene Creed, which are necessary for salvation; and are working diligently toward their salvation; you must accept their testimony and give glory to God. For a person that is concerned and working diligently toward their salvation, is striving for the same goal as you are! To judge their efforts as invalid, or second guess their motives, is to doubt that the Holy Spirit is working in them, and invites judgment upon yourself! Again, judgment is reserved exclusively by Jesus Christ, Who sits enthroned with the Father in Heaven.
We must not go out of our way to grieve others concerning their salvation; this places stumbling blocks in your brother or sisters way. Romans 14:13 "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." For if we, by judging others, fall into the sin of pride, thinking that we are better than they are, we endanger ourselves in the eyes of God: 1 Corinthians 10:12 "Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
All human beings are created by God, and stand equal before God. It is our job as brothers and sisters in Christ to help as many of our brothers and sisters in Christ to find their way to salvation. The methods we use are important: We must not fall into judgment of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must encourage them in a loving and caring manner, showing true Christian charity. We must offer hope and comfort to them, and last but certainly not least, we must love them with the same unconditional love that God the Father loves them with. We should offer help, when asked, but we must respect their freedom when they choose to work out their own salvation. Salvation is a very personal thing, it is a matter that should be unconditionally respected by others.
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