Even though our world is morally and ethically adrift, discover how your life can be based on a set of moral absolutes.
[Darris] In the novel Chesapeake author James Michener described how native American Indians would build a canoe from a hollowed out log. One of the main characters observed the process and learned a valuable principle about life. Listen :
"When the great hollowed-out log lay top down at the edge of the water, one of the Indians took a straight piece of timber and with an oyster shell drew a line down the length of the canoe two inches off dead center. Then he drew a parallel line two inches to the other side of the center, and... began to scrape away small fragments of oak along the outer edges of this four-inch center area, (what was) left (was) a slightly raised backbone for the canoe, and... this would always be the lifeline of the craft. It would give direction and stability; it would keep the canoe from drifting sideways when blown by wind.
"...a man lived best when he maintained some central belief upon which he could hang all action, and to which he could refer all difficult moral problems... (and) men and women who failed to develop this central belief wandered and made hideously wrong decisions because in time of crisis they had nothing to which they could refer instantaneously. (A person can find) his backbone in obedience to God..."
Today our world is morally and ethically adrift. As if no one can determine what is right and what is wrong. And God? Well, God isn't even considered when the great moral issues of our day are debated.
Where do you stand? What is your central belief structure? Do you know what God says and are you ready to listen?
Join us on Beyond Today as we look at the question, "Whatever Happened To Sin?"
[Announcer] Join our host, Darris McNeely and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today!
[Darris] Here is a model of a sailing boat. If you look at the keel along the bottom of the boat, you'll see exactly what I am talking about. You see, most people don't see this because the boat's always sitting on water and the keel is under water. But this keel is a central feature of any boat's structure. Not all of them have one as pronounced as this, others are a bit more shallow, but every good navigable boat has a keel. And with that ridge it's able to glide through the water on a straight course, and it aids in steering the boat.
This ridge or the keel illustrates a very important principle of life. You see, our life must be based upon a central belief structure. Something that is unbending, unchangeable and unyielding. And when that kind of foundation is in place a person can endure any test or trial, anything that comes their way. They can steer a straight course in life. They're not going to be blown about by the changes in social morality or situational ethics at any given time in society.
You see long ago, in my life, I came to see that obedience to God and to His unchangeable law - what is called the Ten Commandments - is really the central belief, and the backbone on which a very happy and a successful life can be built.
But you know, it is unfortunate, we do not live in that type of world today. We are in a world that is morally challenged and ethically challenged. And people are not grounded in the essential truths that are considered to be absolute and unchangeable. Instead, our world has seen sweeping changes in recent decades that have taken place that have opened up a floodgate of changes in how personal behavior, sexual morality and even how the sanctity of life is viewed.
And really we don't need to look any farther than some of the major social issues that are in front of us today. Let's look at one. Let's look at abortion. In the United States, forty years after the Supreme Court issued its opinion in what is commonly called Roe v. Wade, most Americans continue to want and desire legal abortions in the country. The majority continue to have that even though it edges up and down somewhat because of certain things that do take place in our society and... However, the majority of Americans do not want to see that particular law legalizing abortion overturned.
And let's look at another major social issue that is in the headlines continually, and that's same sex marriage. More American continue to favor the legalizing of gay marriage in America today, and in most other countries. And so the polls and - all the polls really that are taken - basically show this one fact that more people are accepting of some form of same-sex marriage than a decade ago. It's taken less than 10 years for the majority of people to desire something like that to take place.
Now when we look at divorce rates and the state of marriage in the rest of society as well, we still see some additional problems. People who live together without the benefit of marriage, who do not take part in marriage in a covenant relationship, continues to increase among young people. And sadly, among a lot of older people as well.
In all of these major issues that are impacting traditional views of morality, and marriage, and family, we continue to see major changes in America, Canada and Australia in the past decade. People and society at large, even educational and health organizations who once defined certain behaviors as immoral, or a disorder, have now considered certain behaviors acceptable and a normal part of life. And that's how quickly things have changed in this period of time, in really less than 10 years.
There was a time when all of these issues were considered what the Bible calls sin.
Let's look at this question of: What is sin?
There is a basic biblical definition that we can go to that is very, very clear. It's in 1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×. And it says in the Good News Translation, "Whoever sins is guilty of breaking God's law, because sin is a breaking of the law."
Now what we are talking about here in this verse is the law of God - the Ten Commandments defined by that. Which also in other parts of the Bible, is the determined and defined as something that is "holy, just and good" - God's spiritual law.
You know what happens with most religious people when you get into a discussion about the Ten Commandments, and even among people who consider themselves to be religious is they feel that they read the Bible, that "the law is done away with." But if you look very closely at what Jesus Christ said, that is not the case.
In Matthew 5:17 Matthew 5:17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
American King James Version×, we read what Jesus Himself said in His words that really define the whole subject for us. He said, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19 Matthew 5:17-19  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.  For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or one pronunciation mark shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
American King James Version×).
Jesus Christ, in this basic teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, shows us that the Commandments and the law are still in effect. So when we are looking at this subject and we're dealing with this, it really brings us to an important question: What does this mean... if the law of God is still in effect?
It's very simple. It means there are laws that govern the world and the universe. There are spiritual laws in place that act upon us as human beings just as surely as certain physical laws like gravity are in place.
And it means you have a choice. And if you make a wrong choice it results in suffering. Just like breaking a natural law can result in suffering.
And it means the answer to our question today, "Whatever happened to sin?" is this: Sin still exists because God's law is in effect and it - the law of God - exists.
It means that many of the social problems that we continue to deal with in our world are the result of broken spiritual law. And the only answer to that is to rethink our morals and begin to look at the Bible and to see what God says about that subject.
And I have to keep coming back to the story and to the analogy of the boat. And the keel that is here as the backbone upon which any reliable ocean-going vessel is built. This keel, this ridge, it keeps everything together. It keeps the ship going straight and true through the water. Without the keel the ship will drift.
What it means is that without a spiritual compass in our life we are going to drift and be tossed about on the waves of life. And we will sin without knowing it. We will suffer the consequences of that spiritual sin in our life and we will not understand why. And we will go through our life looking for answers but not able to find them.
God doesn't want us living that way. In one of His most eloquent passages as He looks at mankind and He says, why will you die? Why do you want to continue to suffer? He's says something that I've put into my own paraphrase here. He says in Ezekiel 18 beginning in verse 30.
He said, Stop sinning. Stop all this destructive living that leads to heartache and suffering and death. Stop ruining your life and those around you.
Start living by my ways and laws. Learn how to really live and experience life the way I intend it to be! God says, I love you and I want you to have a good heart and a good spirit. He says, turn it around today and let Me show you how life is supposed to really work! Let Me show you how to get it all together! (Paraphrase of Ezekiel 18:30-32 Ezekiel 18:30-32  Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, said the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby you have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will you die, O house of Israel?
 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, said the Lord GOD: why turn yourselves, and live you.
American King James Version×.)
That's what we're talking about on this program, getting it all together. That's what God wants. I am going to tell you a little bit later about our free study aid that we're going to be offering, this booklet called, The Ten Commandments. You'll be able to order this later on or go online and find it later on in the show.
This booklet is going to help you see the value of God's eternal spiritual laws. And you're going to want to sit down with that book and use it along with your Bible to begin to build a foundation - like that keel on our boat that I'm talking about - to build a solid relationship with God. And that's one of the most important things you can do. You keep listening and I'll show you in a few minutes how you can get your own free copy of that book plus something else.
When I was younger, I learned the very practical side of this lesson I'm talking about today with the boat. I had a small canoe that a friend of mine had loaned to me. And I had it parked out in my backyard. We happened at that time to live on a lake so I could keep that boat out there and anytime just slip it into the water and go off paddling around whenever it was necessary.
But there was one problem with that canoe.
You see, it was built without a keel, without that ridge along the bottom that I've been telling you about. And so we'd get out on the canoe, on the water and we'd paddle around and on most occasions it was okay, as long as the waters were calm. It might take a little bit more time to paddle and it was a little bit harder to steer and navigate. But, sometimes you had to just paddle twice as hard to get where you wanted as a result of it.
But when the winds came up, and when the waves developed on the lake - forget it.
I had no control in the boat. The wind and the waves would push us around sideways and it was impossible to steer the canoe straight and to get anywhere. In fact, it was pretty dangerous to be out there on the water in that canoe without that ridge, without that keel under there.
That's when I really learned the lesson about the keel of a boat and the need for a foundation that was unbending and unchangeable.
So many who do not understand this are tossed around in life and really never come to understand how to frame and shape a happy, productive, successful life.
How did we get to this point in the United States, in Canada and Australia? How did we get to the place in our modern world where sin is really not understood? And we have to ask this question today? Well the reality is that you and I have lived in a whole generation of people and time that has been conditioned to not be able to recognize sin.
Not that any other previous time was perhaps any more righteous. Sin has always been around and people have been sinning. But at least people knew what they were doing.
I am going to show you what has happened in our modern time, in recent years, how sin - that word - has been redefined in our own minds. And every one of us, myself included, has been impacted by this. And it's been a very interesting experience for me to prepare for this television program.
And let me share something with you to help you to understand what has happened. We have really redefined language in our day. We used to talk about actions and behavior that the Bible talks about and defines as sin. But our language, our words that we use to define behavior have taken the sting right out of any wrong, sinful action.
Let me give you an example of something, an action and a word that you probably have not heard too much about. But when I show it to you, it may spark a memory.
It's this word: fornication. You don't hear that too often today. Fornication refers to the sexual act outside of marriage. The Bible uses this term to mean an unlawful sexual act apart from the marital covenant. This word carries a great weight of meaning in the Bible. But you don't hear it today, not even in most churches and certainly not in conversations about sexuality.
A few years ago, former United States President Richard Nixon was being interviewed by the British journalist, David Frost. And in an outtake of those famous interviews, President Nixon said to Mr. Frost, "Well David," he said, "did you do any fornicating this weekend?" It was kind of awkward. Some thought it was judgemental. Certainly many thought that phrase was out of date, just like Nixon at that time was considered to be out of date.
But you know, "fornication", the word sounds kind of creepy and it sounds certainly out-of-date to a modern ear. We talk about sexual morality today and we warn against sexual immorality, but those are the words we use, on our best days. More commonly, used today are the terms, to practice abstinence or to avoid premarital sex.
But could it be that the loss of the word "fornicate" and "fornication" is about something more than just updating our vocabulary to connect with the society around us? Could it be that we've lost something crucial about what the Bible says about how and what is sin and sex? Moreover, could it be that we're using the language of "premarital sex," we've lost the battle for morality to those who advocate sexual liberty in all ways?
I ask again, could it be language matters? You bet it does.
When we use terms like waiting till marriage or abstinence, we've removed some of the force and the weight of the godly biblical teaching on this important subject. Notice what the apostle Paul used when he labeled fornication as sin and an act that can keep one out of the Kingdom of God.
It's in 1 Corinthians 6. And he says, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 1 Corinthians 6:9-10  Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×).
This passage here just about covers everything in today's headlines.
And it is strong language. Paul is condemning - that's what he's doing, he's condemning or judging - a word again, a modern mind doesn't want to hear and really abhors. He is condemning all sexual activity outside of the biblically approved teaching of a covenant marriage between a man and a woman.
Let's look at how the redefinition of homosexuality has gone. Years ago the term "gay" was used to refer to sex between two men or two women. Notice how the word gay softens the matter? We are off on a new road of definitions there. Sex between men is gay or happy, or something to be glad about.
And today, the same sex marriage term is commonly used. But think about this! The terms used to define the discussion are not biblical.
The Bible has only one definition for marriage, and it is between a man and a woman within a covenant, a sacred covenant, before God.
Paul put it this way in Ephesians, he said, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak," he said, "concerning Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:31-32 Ephesians 5:31-32  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
American King James Version×).
Marriage, you see, is not a civil matter to be defined and regulated by a judge or a court. Marriage is a godly, divine creation and it pictures the divine majesty of a relationship between Christ and the Church. And it's at the very heart of the purpose of human life on this Earth!
God does not and never will condone same sex marriage! He cannot and still be God. The Bible has only one definition for marriage and it is between a man and a woman.
You see, the terms have been changed and we have been lulled into thinking that these issues are not sin and there's nothing wrong. What happened to sin is that the language has been changed and the whole world is confused in its thinking.
And if we don't have a fixed moral compass, straight and true like the keel of a boat then we will drift with the changing trends of culture. And we will not understand the fixed and unchangeable laws of the Creator.
Let's look at one more example very quickly and it's that, again, of abortion. And see how the language has desensitized us, ourselves to this particular issue.
Look at the words we use:
Which is nothing but a euphemism for murder.
abortion rights vs anti-abortion people.
Slants the argument saying that there are actual rights to abort a life. I don't think so!
Nothing more than a way to refer to human life without feeling bad about taking that life! It is a human life that is being taken. There is DNA present! If it is not life then what is it?
And in some recent discussions I've seen, an unborn infant attached to the womb of a mother, is called a parasite. You heard that right - a parasite.
A commentary on this in the Wall Street Journal, commented on this and said: "At worst, calling a baby a parasite is an act of (rhetorical) dehumanization...likening hated minorities to insects (or) rodents or pigs."
No, it's not. It's a son or it's a daughter.
What happened to sin? The word has been thrown out in every debate about morality and ethics and no one can properly define what God calls something that causes human suffering, and a nation to fall, and for a person to potentially miss out on the Kingdom of God and eternal life.
What is your fixed moral compass?
We'll discuss more about that with the BT Panel in just a few minutes. But before going to the panel, let me make you two offers to help you understand today's subject.
As I mentioned earlier, the first one is this booklet, our free study aid today that we're offering called, The Ten Commandments which is one of the most thorough explanations we can give you of God's basic spiritual law. Each of the Commandments in this booklet gets a treatment by explaining how it fits into God's plan and can make a complete difference in today's world. In addition, in the booklet there is a chapter on the Ten Commandments in the New Testament and there's another one talking about grace, faith and the law.
You can begin reading it online right now at BeyondToday.tv. If you would like your own hard copy, you can also request it free by calling: 1-888-886-8632. And if you live outside of North America, you can also write us a letter at the address on your screen.
Please also request, when you do, your free subscription to our free magazine, The Good News. This also will help to accelerate your Bible study and help you to prepare for the God's coming Kingdom. With this magazine, with this booklet and any others that we have, you can begin to learn and study the Bible to use Scripture as a guide to the challenging issues that you face in everyday life. And you can begin to build that backbone, that moral character, that keel like the boat in your life.
The Good News will help you to clearly see where the world events are taking us through the eyes of the Bible. It is a magazine of understanding and you can get a free subscription. Both are also available free as an iPad app for those of you that prefer to read it on your tablet.
Again, call: 1-888-886-8632 or go online at BeyondToday.tv for the study aid, The Ten Commandments and for our magazine, The Good News.
I'm joined now with the BT Panel, Beyond Today Panel: Steve Myers and Gary Petty. The subject of what has happened to sin is an intriguing one. We can do several programs on this I am sure but let's go back to one of the questions that I posed during the program. How is it that we've come to this point in modern society to where sin is in question as to what it really is?
[Gary] You know Darris, I think you have to go back to something you mentioned earlier in the program, 1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×. That sin is the transgression of God's law. Now, the moment you say law, most people get very defensive about that and very negative. In fact, unfortunately many Christians get very negative about the concept of law...
[Darris] Right, they do.
[Gary] ...and someone being able to tell them what to do. Paul deals with this in Romans where he says that the carnal mind, it's the normal mind of human beings, is enmity against the law (Romans 1:28 Romans 1:28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
American King James Version×). In other words, they are enemies. The normal human reaction to law is they hate law. Human beings, if they do not want to submit to God, will find a way to get away from His precepts.
[Steve] It seems that society has progressed, or at least...
[Gary] They think it is.
[Steve] Yeah, they think it is. And that now we've advanced spiritually way beyond sin and so we're into more loving kind of characteristics like grace, and faith, and those kinds of things. And so often times with the way sin is described even in the media, it is amazing. Like you were pointing out the fact that we soft sell these things...
[Darris] By the terms we use.
[Steve] By the terms that we use and it seems like it is okay then. And so we ignore what the Bible says, we ignore God's Word and we sell it soft so that it doesn't seem so bad. In fact, it's not even an issue any more. So we've redefined it in a lot of ways.
[Darris] Gary you referred to Romans 1, also in that passage in that section, Paul says they did not like to retain God in their knowledge (Romans 1:28 Romans 1:28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
American King James Version×). That is another critical commentary not just on Roman society in the first century, but modern world society in the 21st century.
[Gary] And what Paul is dealing here with is the fact that we all want God to help us, to love us, to somehow…
[Darris] To forgive us..
[Gary] To forgive us, but we don't want Him meddling in our lives. We don't want Him setting up standards by which we have to live and yet the Creator of life knows how this works. But it is so hard for us to admit to that.
[Steve] Yeah I think when you look at that, what does govern our life? You talked about a moral compass. You talked about that keel on our boat. What is it that guides us? 1 John 2 is very clear. It says that if we don't keep the commandments, we don't even know God! (1 John 2:4 1 John 2:4He that said, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
American King James Version×) We can't even have a relationship with God unless we follow Him. And so I think that is such a key, that what it is that guides our life? What is our standard? And if we think we can make up our own standard, that violates everything that Jesus Christ taught. That we do not have the guide in our life that we need.
[Darris] You made an interesting statement. We'd make up our own standard. That's essentially playing God. When we make up our own standards, when we determine what is life, when life begins and make these critical decisions there. And we even, we mix the intent of God when it comes to the sanctity of not only life, but also the covenant relationship of marriage, we are playing God! And that is pretty, pretty, risky territory to be on.
[Gary] Yeah we are denying His sovereignty. That's what we're doing.
[Steve] In fact the rest of that passage I mentioned in 1 John 2, it says, if we claim to be Christian, if we claim to know God and we don't keep His commandments, He doesn't pull any punches. He says we are liars and the truth isn't in us! So we are kidding ourselves.
[Darris] The booklet we're offering, The Ten Commandments, the study aid is pretty well researched and thoroughly written to take people through something that is... Even on our cover, it's kind of the rock face that describes, likens it to the tablets of stone upon which God wrote the Commandments.
[Gary] Well it's amazing at how many Christians - they claim they want to obey the Ten Commandments but they really don't. It reminds me of Mark Twain. One time a man said to him that he wanted to go to the Holy Land and see where God gave the Ten Commandments. And Twain answered, well why don't you just stay home and keep them?
[Steve] The New Testament over and over again says don't let sin reign in your mortal bodies. Paul says that to the Romans. He says it to us! Well how do I define sin? What tells me what sin is? If I do away with the law, well we can make up our own things because the law defines what sin is. And without the law then we can decide for ourselves and that's why people I think are so anxious to push it aside. But God says His law is what guides us and should frame our life.
[Darris] So what are your principles in your life? What do you base your life upon? Is your life based on a central belief structure, a set of moral absolutes that are unbending, a keel like that boat that is unchangeable and unyielding?
When that kind of foundation is in place, you can endure any test or trial life throws your way. You can then steer a straight course that is not tossed about by changes in society, in social morality or ethics.
I'll be right back after this:
[Narrator] "You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for generations to come" (Exodus 31:13 Exodus 31:13Speak you also to the children of Israel, saying, Truly my sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the LORD that does sanctify you.
American King James Version×).
The Sabbath is a key to the Kingdom of God. The New Testament book of Hebrews says, "There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God."
Jesus and His followers kept the Sabbath and they still do today. God commands us to pause and reflect on His way of life. Take a break from the fast paced action of this world. Experience a rejuvenation of the mind and grow closer to Him. Join us as we explore the Sabbath and show how it is a key to the Kingdom of God.
The United Church of God is hosting free Kingdom of God Bible Seminars held around the world. Go to KOGSeminars.org to find one near you. Kingdom of God Bible Seminars - giving the message of hope for tomorrow - beginning today!
[Darris] Thanks for joining us and don't forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about our program. Tune in again next week for another edition of Beyond Today and join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today I'm Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today's program, go online to BeyondToday.tv. Please join us again next week on Beyond Today!