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Respond to God’s Law or Wander in Sin? – To Which will you Consent?
Highlights & thoughts on the lesson, “Everlasting Punishment” – Apr. 26-May 2, 2004
Prepared by Kathy Fitzer, CS of St. Louis, MO

As you read the lesson this week, try to identify:
What is God’s law? How does it operate? What are the benefits of being obedient to it?
What is not God’s law, but rather the “law” (or false belief) of mortal mind?
How do we overthrow such false laws? How is sin destroyed?

Golden Text (Ps. 119: 1): Do you want to be happy and prosperous? The Golden Text tells us how – be upright, without spot, and play by God’s rules. Rather than being restrictive, obedience to God’s law – including the 10 Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount – is freeing!

Responsive Reading: Here we learn what God’s law is: holy, just, good, spiritual. But another “law” is seen to be tempting us and binding us. The question is then asked, what frees us from the captivity of this “other” law? ( the law of death, rather than Life) The answer is – our inseparable relationship with God! “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8: 31) Look at the list of suggestions mentioned in Romans that would try to separate us. Be alert to them, but be confident that not one of these conditions has the power to “separate us from the love of God.” (Rom. 8: 38-39)

Section I: Rejoice! Your steps are ordered by the Lord.
What does it say here about how God created man? What should our response be? Did God create man capable of sinning? “Does divine Love commit a fraud on humanity by making man inclined to sin, and then punishing him for it?” (S&H 356) Here’s what the Bible says, “whosoever is born of God sinneth not; … And that wicked one toucheth him not.” (I John 5: 4, 18) We MUST start from the right basis if we’re going to reach a correct conclusion. Identify yourself correctly – as the perfect man, sinless and eternal, governed by God. (See B-4 and S&H-5) The Message translates Romans 8 as: “God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.” With that knowledge, we’re set for whatever comes our way, and can proceed fearlessly and with a “Yipee! Let’s go!”

Section II: Make Good Choices. Refuse to Consent to Sin
Because God made man sinless, man has the authority to deny sin, control evil thoughts, and choke the life right out of sin’s suggestions. Joseph made the right choice by not “lying” with his master’s wife. (Genesis 39) Was it an easy choice? Joseph must have felt the same physical yearning that presents itself to others. He must have seen the opportunity for advancement that would likely come from finding favor with his master’s wife. He must have had the thoughts, “no one will ever know; it won’t hurt anything.” Joseph came from a home where his brothers were pretty mean to him (not that they didn’t have reason to dislike him) and here was someone offering love and comfort him in a strange land far from home. It was tempting. The temptations are no different today. The acceptance these days of casually “hooking up” and the blatancy of physicality in the media, dress, and attitude of society, not to mention the lack of ethics in business and personal dealings, indicate that the moral compass is not what it once was. It is tempting to think, “What’s the big deal?” Might we also be tempted to “lie with” fear, discouragement, self-will, etc? We don’t need to give our consent to any of these things. What if Joseph had yielded to temptation and consented to the seduction? Life in the short term may have been a lot easier – he may have escaped being thrown in jail. But, Joseph needed that time in jail in order to accomplish all he did later. (Read farther in the Bible to catch the whole story.) After all, Joseph would have suffered from the famine with everyone else if he hadn’t had the opportunity to do something about it. Mrs. Eddy says, “Choke these errors (hatred, lust, revenge, deceit) in their early stages, if you would not cherish an army of conspirators against health, happiness, and success.” (S&H 405) Joseph thought, “how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” That’s what it really comes down to. With all that God has done for man, how can we sin against Him (depart from Him)? It is really God’s love for us, reflected in our love for God that keeps us safe – free from sin. According to Webster, the primary sense of the word sin is to depart or wander. So, we are striving to be free from wandering from God.

Section III: Heredity is not a law! The law of God frees us from this false belief.
Heredity is an age-old belief, but it has never been law. This statement from Ezekiel 18 explains why it is impossible for God’s man to inherit anything from human parents: “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine:” Although mortal belief attributes man’s origin to a human embryo formed by a human mother and father, in reality we are all the direct offspring of God and inherit the good and pure heritage of Spirit. (see S&H #15, p. 63) We must guard against accepting the subtle suggestions of heredity – you have your mother’s eyes or your father’s intelligence or the personality of one or the other. Instruction for how to free ourselves from the beliefs of heredity is given in markers 12 and 13 of Science and Health (p. 178 and 228). Mrs. Eddy tells us on p. 228, “Heredity is a prolific subject for mortal belief to pin theories upon ….” Who needs a bulletin board like that? We hear the excuses all the time: I’m like this because my parents are like this; my mom (or) dad can’t run fast either; my parents weren’t organized either; someone in my family had (this or that disease), so I need to obey this or that health law in order to prevent getting it. The belief of heredity is subtle, it is aggressive, and it is widely accepted. But it lacks authority! “Disbelief in error destroys error, and leads to the discernment of Truth.” (S&H p. 346).
Be a disbeliever in anything that is not supported by the law of a loving God!

Section IV: The grace of God forgives sin by destroying it.
In the parable of the prodigal son, the younger son thought he was setting himself free from his father’s house. Do you ever feel you would like to escape the rules and obligations of school, family or work? Do you sometimes wish you could hang out with your friends and party all the time – or just sit around and do nothing? The “law of sin” tempts us with these thoughts, but Principle is ordered action and includes a sense of balance. It is natural to want to serve God by expressing His order and balanced activity. In the parable the younger son learned that by wasting his substance, he was subject to the finite or limited sense of matter. When he woke up to the emptiness of the life that had seemed so inviting, he was ready to serve. Returning to his father, he was received with open arms – not as a servant but as the son he had always been. The sin of “wandering” from responsibility was immediately forgiven when the wanderer returned. We may not physically run away from our responsibilities to God and man, but mental wandering (sin) can take the form of apathy (the “I don’t want to’s) or self-doubt (the I can’ts) or pride (no one else can do it right) or any number of other suggestions. Eventually, however, the error of our ways catches up with us and we turn back to God. When we turn back, the sin is destroyed because we are no longer wandering. Look at markers 19 and 20 in S&H (p. 322 and 22) to see the rewards of turning back.

Section V: No penalty for loving your neighbor and doing good.
Some believe it is possible to be too good – too kind. World belief says, “You’ve got to take care of yourself.” But the law of Christ tells us to “bear one another’s burdens.” (Gal. 6: 2) When Peter was called to the bedside of Dorcas/Tabitha, he found the mourners talking about all the good she had done. Peter wasn’t content to acknowledge her good while accepting the death of that good. He demonstrated his love for her by seeing clearly the law of God that says there is no penalty for doing good. And her life was restored. The spiritual demand to love one another quells (thoroughly overwhelms and reduces to submission) the material demand to rest for fear of getting sick, and supplies all the energy and endurance we need to do whatever is necessary to do. (See S&H 385: 7) We read in S&H (p. 384 & 387) that God doesn’t punish man for doing good and we can’t suffer as the result of a labor of love, but grow stronger for it. Listen to see what God would have you do each moment of each day, but never be afraid to do what comes your way. Our purpose for being is to show our love in active, practical ways. Starting from the basis of “perfect God and perfect man” (S&H 259) there is no limit to what we can do. We can also support our military troops by thinking this way.

Section VI: God’s law is written in your heart
“The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” (Rom. 8: 2 – The Message) The sins of the world are taken away through Christ’s revelation of man’s holiness. To be holy is “to be devoted entirely to the diety or the work of the diety.” When God’s law is written in the heart (see Heb. 8), there is no wandering from it. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health, “It is our ignorance of God, the divine Priniciple, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony.” (S&H 390) With the law in our mind and in our heart, we can’t be ignorant of God – no more wandering. Thus, no more disease. Disease is an outward expression of the belief that man can be separated from God. Jesus healed disease and taught his followers to heal disease. Yet, the greater mission of the Christ-power is “to take away the sins of the world.” (see S&H 150) If we get side-tracked into working to just fix the body, we have overlooked the greater demand to give up the belief of sin, and we will not find lasting freedom. We read, “man is immortal and lives by divine authority.” (S&H 76) This authority is supreme and is within the consciousness of our true identity. The sooner we stop wandering and realize that God loves us “with an everlasting love” and draws us forward with lovingkindness (Jer. 31:3), the sooner we are willing to leave behind all false beliefs (sin) and demonstrate “the healing power of Truth.” (S&H 150) Celebrate each victory over sin – no matter how small – and the victories will become more frequent. Sin will be forgiven as it is destroyed, and sin, disease and death will be overcome, in accord with the law of God.

The law of God is the law of Love. This law destroys the belief of sin (anything that would distract us from the law of God). Suffering, in the form of physical or mental dis-ease, may surface as the sin is annihilated. But as we “delight in the law of God” – as we see the joy of striving for perfection in all we do – we are blessed. This blessedness is God’s will. Only the sin is punished, never God’s man – never you! Love to do the will of God and your reward is the ultimate freedom to be in harmony with God’s law.

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