Do Our Personal Sins Hurt Our Neighbors?

I recently saw an interesting meme on a Facebook’s friend’s timeline, promoting pro-choice and abortion:

“This isn’t about abortion. It’s about people having options, and everyone else minding his own business. If it does not affect you directly, it’s not your business.”

The meme’s words caused me to ask myself, “Do my personal sins affect my neighbors’ lives?”

Let’s begin seeking answers to this question by looking at the various types of sin in the Bible.

Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation. (Exodus 34:7)

The Bible separates sin into three specific types: sin, transgression and iniquity.

Although the word sin can be used as a generic catchall word for all three types, its biblical definition really means “missing the mark,” as an archer’s arrow misses its target.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

Basic sin is disobedience to God’s commands and His word, but usually without willful intent. Examples of sin: losing your temper with your spouse, getting caught up in gossip with your neighbor, exaggerating your importance at work to a new employee and so forth.

All basic sins can easily be reconciled by asking forgiveness of the Lord and if needed, the person involved.

The word transgression means revolt or rebellion and is willful disobedience of God’s commands.                       

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression (1Timothy 2:14)

Eve knew that God had commanded them not to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil, but she rebelled and did it anyway. As with all acts of rebellion, Eve suffered consequences for her transgression.

Truthfully, we all have transgressed at different times in our Christian journeys and can probably give interesting testimonies about the consequences we suffered. But as with sin, transgression simply requires us to ask forgiveness of the Lord and anybody involved. Then, we need to change our ways and not continue in the transgression.

Yet, continuing in a transgression without repentance eventually leads to iniquity. The word iniquity means depravity (evil perverseness or moral corruption) and always carries within it the hatred of God and His ways.

Iniquity is not always a voluntary disobedience to the commands of God, like transgression is, but instead, it may be more of a second nature sin. It could be a demonic stronghold within the individual which was passed on through his ancestral lineage or through rape or it could be that the individual surrendered himself to an evil principality over a region.

The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. (Proverbs 5:22 ESV)

Ridding oneself of iniquity is not as easy as it is for sins or transgressions. Because it is intertwined with the individual’s personality and attitudes, it requires acceptance of truth, God’s mercy and the fear of the Lord to set an individual free. This usually needs a deliverance move by the Spirit of God upon the people.

…For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting [punishing] the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me. (Deuteronomy 5:9)

Iniquities are not committed in spiritual vacuums. They are committed before the throne of God and cry out to the Judge to be avenged.

 

Part 2

As I wrote in Part 1: the word sin means “missing the mark,” as an archer’s arrow misses its target. One of the most common sins is fear.

The following is a true story from my life:

“If you can’t pay the truck payments up to date by Monday afternoon, bring us the truck. No more stalling because it has to be one or the other,” said the Ford Motor Credit official.

I hung up the phone, wondering if the Lord had another financial miracle in His basket to deliver me out of this predicament.

The new Ford F-150 pickup became a part of my life just five days before that dreadful morning on July 8, 1994. A special offer to businessmen lured me into the Ford dealership in Ames and the zero down payment financing sealed the deal. The dealership even filled the dual tanks with gas before I drove off the sales lot. What a blessing, I thought at the time.

Then, my financial nightmare hit.

The $300 monthly truck payment and insurance expenses added millstone weights to my downward death spiral. On the one hand, I needed the truck to remain a painting contractor so I could earn enough money to pay off my bad checks and painting debts. Yet, on the other hand, there never seemed to be enough money left over from my painting jobs for truck payments.

I eventually trusted the Lord to work out all of my other financial problems, and even had peace about each of them, but the Ford F-150 was a different story. I could not remove the nagging fear of losing it. It haunted me day and night.

The truck payments were ninety days late four times in the year after July 8, 1994. My problem was not an imaginary fear, but rather, a real one. I awoke each morning and looked out the window, checking if the truck still remained outside in the parking lot or had been repossessed during the night.

A friend grabbed my shoulder one morning during a prayer meeting, turning me around to face her.

“The Lord spoke to me about you, and said the cares of the world are pulling Larry under,” she said, staring into my eyes.

“Yeah, that’s right. It’s the truck. I can’t quit worrying about it. Pray for me.”

She prayed, but I still had no peace about the situation.

I fasted and prayed against every possible demon. I read Psalm 37 and countless other scriptures to bolster my faith, but still, the fear of losing the truck sucked every bit of joy out of my life.

The Lord finally spoke to me in a vision while I slept one night: “The truck is Mine −not yours. It is My responsibility to watch over it. If I choose to give it back to Ford Motor Company, that’s up to Me, and not you. So, quit worrying about it.”

My fears evaporated that morning. Why worry about someone else’s problems, right?

Ford Motor Company repossessed the truck six months later. I washed, waxed, and cleaned it before returning it to the dealership. It was the Lord’s truck and I wanted Him to know how much I appreciated driving it.

(An excerpt from my memoir – The Hunt for Larry Who by Larry Nevenhoven, ©2014, Amazon eBook)

 

Part 3

God tests our hearts to reveal to us what is in them, but just so you know, it’s usually not a good report.

This was especially true about my heart during a 1995 experience. That particular day I had been sitting alone in my apartment, reading a biography about the faith and healing pioneer, John G. Lake. As I turned the pages and read how God continually provided for Lake’s needs, it dawned on me — my life really sucks right now. Where was the God who was supposed to be my provider?

At the time, I owed thousands of dollars to numerous creditors, most of my friends had dropped me like a hot potato, the woman who I thought would be my wife didn’t want to see me and my kitchen cupboard was bare. I was lonely, broke, hungry and angry.

I laid the book down and stood up. “God if You’re such a big God,” I said, “how come You can’t help me with my problems right now? Maybe Your arm is not as strong as it was a hundred years ago. Is that Your problem?”

I sat down, quite satisfied with the way I confronted God. I picked up the book to continue my reading.

Then, all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit burst into the room in His holiness and power. His Presence blanketed me. I dropped the book and fell on my knees. “O Lord, don’t kill me! Don’t kill me! Forgive me! Forgive me! Please don’t kill me!” I said over and over again.

In the midst of my  plea bargaining, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. “If I wanted to, I could deliver you from all of your problems in a blink of My eye.”

“O Lord,” I whispered, “I believe You and will never doubt You again.”

The Holy Spirit’s heavy presence lifted off me.

How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin. (Job 13:23)

It was the love of God that showed up in my room that day to reveal my transgression (or rebellion) to me. I still treasure that experience.

 

Part 4

How would you like to come back from a short honeymoon and discover another couple has moved into your apartment while you were gone?

Tony and Janelle already lived with us in our apartment because of health issues, but Rick and Marta then showed up, needing a place to stay for a time. We were all friends, but this was not exactly a love boat situation for us.

Carol and I were learning how to live with each other while also learning how to live with other people at the same time. And guess what? Proximity adds pressure, pressure becomes stress, and if the conditions are right, stress erupts.

A few days after our return, Carol arrived home from work to see me in a bad mood.

“Larry, what is your problem?” she said with concern on her face.

“I want to kill the other two couples.”

“That doesn’t sound very godly.”

“Well, God killed more people in the Old Testament than anyone else did. Thus, maybe, I’ll be acting as an agent of God by hanging the four of them.”

She rolled her eyes.

“Listen up, Honey, if you don’t get on your knees and repent, we will never have our own place. Think about that, okay?”

I mumbled something as she left the bedroom, but eventually I bowed down by the bed, praying until peace filled my heart about our situation.

“Lord, I give up. If You want us to live with other people, I will love them and be their servant to the best of my ability.”

My attitude changed right away. Dirty dishes left in the sink − no problem. I washed them. Food left on the counter − no problem. I put it away. Messy living room − no problem. I vacuumed and straightened everything up. Need groceries − no problem. I went out and bought them. Wrong TV channel − no problem. I changed channels.

This revelation dawned on me that day: if I am unhappy about something, I needed to shut up, and fix the problem. This was the only way to live in community with other believers without creating a bunch of laws, which all would end up hating and rebelling against.

This attitude especially helped us in our first three years of marriage because Carol and I lived with other people a little more than two thirds of the time.

(An excerpt from my memoir – The Hunt for Larry Who by Larry Nevenhoven, ©2014, Amazon eBook)

 

Part 5

I was going through the worst trial of my life where nothing was going right for me. Finances, relationships and everything else were in the toilet, waiting to be flushed. It was all I could do to rise each morning and put one foot in front of the other throughout the day. Then I had a dream.

In it, I arrived in heaven. It was so beautiful and peaceful there. No fear. No worries. No enemies. Only peace. Only joy. Only love. Even the colors were alive and seemed to sing in their beauty to the Creator.

But as dreams usually do, the scene changed and I saw myself standing in front of a long line of young, dark-skinned people. The first one walked up to me and said, “I died young and did not achieve God’s destiny for my life because you failed to fulfill the calling on your life.” When he finished, he walked off.

The second person in line then stepped forward. He repeated what the first young man had said to me. Then, a third. And a fourth. And so forth.

As I stood there and looked at the endless line of young people waiting to talk with me, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I cried out to the Lord at the top of my lungs. “Lord, give me a second chance. Send me back to earth and I promise to not allow pain, agony, rejection, sin or anything else to stop me from fulfilling the calling which You have placed on my life.”

End of dream.

Yet, I can still the long line of young people waiting to talk with me. The dream continues to work on me, even today.

For many are called (invited and summoned), but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14 AMP)

The Lord determines the type of calling He places on our lives, but we determine whether or not we are chosen to fulfill that calling on earth by how we endure His training program.

You see, at any point in the training process, we can rebel and opt out. It’s our decision, but we need to remember that there are consequences involved with our decisions.

(Continued in Part 6)

 

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