The core of biblical Christianity is its presentation of Christ’s work on the cross—His blood—as the only way to deal with sin. Everything else is a fig leaf. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). Blood deals with sin. Fig leaves attempt to deal with sin consciousness to relieve the conscience and to make us feel better about ourselves without dealing with the sin. Fig leaves are a soulish response to a spiritual problem.
When Adam sinned, he became conscious of his nakedness. But his awareness (consciousness) of being naked was not the problem. It only informed him that he had a problem. Instead of dealing with the sin itself, he dealt only with his nakedness. Nakedness was the result, not the cause of his problem. He was treating symptoms.
There are other incorrect ways Adam could have dealt with his problem of nakedness. Since fig leaves tend to wear out quickly, a more permanent solution would be for Adam and Eve to poke out their eyes. This would have resolved their problem permanently. Right?
Anyone who places his trust in a fig leaf is not justified by faith in the blood of the Lamb, because he is relying upon the soul’s fleshly works and methods that are not God’s way of dealing with the problem. Those who make sin consciousness the problem are making nakedness the problem, rather than the sin that caused the nakedness.
Those Bible teachers who do this are teaching another gospel, and the truth is not in them. They are unbelievers.
The Role of Conscience
Eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil created in man a conscience. Before eating of this tree, he was led by his spirit through which the Holy Spirit communicated the will of God to him. His spirit and soul were in perfect harmony and agreement as they followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Eating of the tree of knowledge served to separate the soul from the spirit and made the soul dominant over the spirit. The soul’s conscience thus became a separate way in which man discerned the will of God (i.e., “good and evil”). The soul’s conscience is not a bad thing in itself. The problem comes when it is not in submission to the leading of the spirit. As a separate entity that seeks its own will, based upon its own data base of information, it is incomplete and incapable of leading anyone to perfection.
When Adam sinned, he began to experience the separation of soul and spirit, who were no longer united in God’s perfect order. He was still a believer, of course. We have no evidence that Adam was ever an unbeliever as such. Yet as a believer, he began to experience an inner dualism, with the fleshly soul often opposing the spirit.
Unbelievers are those whose spirits are “dead” and in need of regeneration. This is pictured in the story of how God’s presence filled the Most Holy Place in Solomon’s Temple. Without God’s presence in one’s spirit (the Most Holy Place), a person is not even a believer and is portrayed in Scripture as a “Herod’s temple” which was never filled by God’s presence.
The soul of the unbeliever is his only real criterion of understanding right from wrong. His motto is: “Let your conscience be your guide.” He is thus led by the soul, not by the spirit. And his conscience is only as good as it has been trained by parents, culture, and schooling.
And so when we normally speak of “conscience,” we mean the ability of the soul to determine right from wrong. One’s conscience is often warped by men’s teachings of right and wrong. If a child is told enough times that he is bad for little or no reason at all, he will grow up always thinking he is bad, no matter what he does. If a girl is told that it is a sin to cut her hair or wear brightly colored clothes, or wear lipstick, then she will grow up with a conscience molded by that teaching. Men’s traditions can warp our conscience and make it unreliable in discerning right from wrong. Conscience follows its understanding of the law and can be lawless.
If one is brought up in a culture that says it is a virtue to kill one’s enemies, then the people of that culture will feel no guilt in killing their enemies. When they are justified (Passover) and are led by the Spirit (Pentecost), their soulish conscience is re-trained to conform to God’s standard of right and wrong. If a person is brought up in a culture that sees nothing wrong with killing the unborn, his Holy-Spirit-filled spirit must retrain the conscience so that the soul comes into agreement with God.
If one is brought up in a culture that sees nothing wrong with men and women having sexual relations outside of marriage, the Holy Spirit must retrain his conscience so that the soul comes into agreement with God. As Christians are led by the Spirit, their minds are being renewed each day (Rom. 12:2). Their soul is trained daily. Soul and spirit (Holy Place and Most Holy Place) are reunited, and the soul reflects the glory of the Spirit.
Having a Seared Conscience
Charles Fillmore, founder of the Unity Church, did not know the difference between soul and spirit. He followed the ancient Greek idea that the mind was divine. In other words, he believed that the soul was spiritual. He called himself a “metaphysical Christian,” but the truth was that he rejected Jesus as a Sacrifice for sin. So Fillmore was not justified by faith in the blood of the lamb. By biblical definition, he was not a justified Christian believer.
To Fillmore, if a man has a guilty conscience, the problem is not that he may have sinned, but that he has a conscience telling him he has sinned. Sin consciousness is the problem, he says. And so he tells his followers to forgive themselves, think positively, confess and affirm our goodness and perfection, and learn how to manipulate the laws of the impersonal god to prosper while in sin.
As an unbeliever, Fillmore was not led by the Spirit. Thus, his only other recourse to know right from wrong was his conscience—the voice of his soul. He rejected even this. He taught men to ignore and destroy the voice of conscience in order to prevent it from making him and his followers feel guilty. Paul foretold this in 1 Tim. 4:1, 2,
1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.
Fillmore and others who teach these things today are fulfilling this revelation which Paul had concerning these days. In contrast, Paul said of himself in Acts 24:16,
16 In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.
Paul did not treat the conscience as an evil thing to be silenced. He treated it as a part of the soul that was being brought in subjection to the spirit. When the soul bears witness to the spirit in all things, then they truly become one as in a marriage union. When the soul sees the world exactly as the spirit does, then they have perfect union.
In this way, the separation of soul and spirit brought about by Adam’s sin of eating of the tree of knowledge is overcome. Soul and spirit become reunited as one body, in full agreement and harmony. I believe this is the view of the problem and also the solution set forth in Scripture.
Another Example of Babylonian Teaching
Here is what one of today’s teachers has to say about sin and how to deal with it:
“Traditional Christianity has been made to revolve around the question of S-I-N and how to deal with it. This represents a hangover from the Priesthood and sacrificial system of the Hebrews of the Old Testament …. This whole focus on SIN firmly established a great gulf that divided MAN from GOD. If you think that this was born out of a genuine spiritual revelation, you could not be further from the truth. The whole system of sacrifices and offerings in the Old Testament provided permanent employment and position for the Priesthood in Israel, because of S-I-N. Church leadership today in both the Episcopal and Evangelistic Churches, would be looking for other means of income if people understood that GOD AND MAN HAVE NEVER BEEN SEPARATED!”
He is saying that the sacrificial system in the Old Testament was not a genuine revelation from God. Thus, Moses was deceived, and that part of Scripture was not inspired by God. He implies that it came from Moses’ carnal mind through a MONEY MOTIVE. That is, it was a way to provide employment for the Levites.
He says, in fact, that since “God and man have never been separated,” there is no need for the blood sacrifice of Christ to reunite God and man. There is no distinction between believer and unbeliever. There is no need to deal with sin, because there is really no sin—sin is just an illusion created by a lying conscience.
If Moses was wrong in setting up a sacrificial system, then that sacrificial system was NOT a type and shadow of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. This teacher is denying—or at least seriously undermining—the whole purpose of Christ’s first coming and His work on the cross.
He spent another four paragraphs in his article attempting to prove from Scripture than God never commanded Israel to set up the sacrificial system in the first place. Was Moses speaking out of a carnal mind? Was Leviticus not inspired? But then, why should we be surprised, for he tosses out the entire law of God as well.
So how does he define salvation? He tells us this:
“One of the clearest expressions of SALVATION in the Old Testament is given to us in Exodus 14:13. “And Moses said unto the people, fear ye not, stand still, and see the SALVATION OF THE LORD, which he will shew you today; for the Egyptians you have seen today, you shall see them again NO MORE FOR EVER.”
“I want you to notice that SIN is not even mentioned here in connection with Salvation. Further more, Israel was not told to REPENT nor to repeat some religious formula, but simply to STAND STILL AND SEE THE SALVATION OF THE LORD. The Egyptians did not represent S-I-N to Israel, but the carnal Adamic consciousness which even in this our day imprisons and enslaves the souls of men, separating our GOD from us leaving us vulnerable to that which would imprison us.”
First of all, this incident in the journey of Israel was not their justification experience. It was the day they crossed the Red Sea (baptism), not the day they left Egypt (Passover, justification). “Salvation” is a general word that can have different applications. That is why I use the more specific word “justification,” rather than salvation. Salvation means to be saved from something. In this case, it means being saved from enemies—the Egyptian army.
Israel was trapped at the Red Sea—not because of a sin problem, but because God led them there to teach them to rely upon Him for deliverance from danger. This is why they were told only to believe. That is the same message for the believer today. Believers ought to believe. They ought to have faith in God’s deliverance in their daily walk with Him. The message to Israel in the example above was a message to believers who were already justified.
Thus, his example of salvation is misapplied, because he confuses salvation with justification and uses the terms as if they mean the same thing. Then when God “saves” Israel from their enemies with no word of repentance, he says, “See, here is how one is saved (justified) apart from repentance. All they have to do is “believe.” But believe what? Believe in whom? He tells us the answer. It has nothing to do with belief in Jesus Christ:
“So in the dark night of the soul we search for someone to tell us WHO WE ARE.”
His answer is that we must discover and believe “who WE are,” rather than who Jesus Christ is. True Christianity is believing in Jesus Christ. The Babylonian counterfeit is to believe in one’s self. This is the difference between Christianity and Selfianity. The one lifts up Jesus Christ, while the other makes man a god and puts the focus upon himself. The one makes Jesus the answer; while the other says the real solution is to discover “who WE are.”
These false teachers often sound plausible, because so often Christians are beaten up every week by preachers who think it is their Christian duty to get people saved every week. This is usually done by reminding Christians that they are still sinners, and that if they committed any sin during the past week, they could be in danger of losing their salvation. Thus, the people are continually made to feel guilty and to doubt their salvation.
I know what I am talking about here. It happened to me as a child. It took me years to overcome the doubt that was continually instilled in me week after week. I battled it until finally the Lord reminded me that the preacher himself was not perfect either! That set me free, for I knew then that I did not have to be perfect to be a Christian.
Many preachers tell Christian believers that God is continually angry with them—even after they have put their faith in the blood of Jesus as payment for their sin. It is as if Jesus pays for only those sins that we confess, and that if we die with any unconfessed sin, we will lose our salvation. This is a Roman Catholic tradition, and it has kept millions of people in guilt-ridden bondage for many centuries. But it is NOT biblical.
I have written and spoken often about the two works of Christ as prophesied in the law. On the Day of Atonement it took TWO goats to deal with sin (Lev. 16). The blood of the first goat covered sin when it was sprinkled on the mercy seat in the temple. The second goat was not killed. The priest laid hands on it and confessed all the sin of the people upon its head, and then sent it away by the hand of a “fit man” into the wilderness (alive).
These two goats both represent Jesus Christ, who alone has the power to deal with sin. When He came the first time, He came to die as the first goat to cover sin in your temple (body). He must come again as the second goat to remove sin from your temple (body).
When we contemplate this great two-step process that is prophesied in the law, we see that at the present time, our sin has been covered, but not yet removed. When Jesus died on the cross, rose again, and ascended, He entered the temple in heaven carrying His own blood to sprinkle on the mercy seat in heaven. Jesus was both High Priest and goat. This is explained thoroughly in Hebrews 9:6-12.
Covering sin does not remove it. This is why we are not yet perfected in a literal sense. There is a further work to be done that removes sin. When we place our faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, God imputes righteousness to us, as Paul says in Rom. 4:7, 8, quoting from Psalm 32:1,
7 Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. 8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account (logizomai).
Romans 4 is the great “imputation” chapter. Paul uses the Greek word logizomai many times. It means “impute, reckon, or take into account.” Paul’s example showing the meaning of the term is in verse 17. God said to Abraham, “I have made thee a father of many nations.” Yet Abraham had no children. Paul says, “God calls what is not as though it were.”
This is the meaning of logizomai. God says that if you have faith in Jesus Christ, and His blood has covered your sin, then you are righteous before Him. Does this mean that you are perfect? NO. God is calling what is NOT as though it were. You are declared to be righteous even though you are NOT. How can God do that? Is He lying? No, He is looking at you through the blood of Jesus. The righteousness of Jesus is legally imputed to your account.
This is the good news of the gospel. As a Christian believer in Christ, you do not have to wallow around in guilt, because when God looks at you, He sees only Christ. His righteousness is put to your account.
Should a Christian Confess Sin?
It has become popular in the past century—largely because of Fillmore’s teachings—to think that if you just make positive confessions of righteousness, then all is well. To confess one’s faults or sin to God is considered to be a “bad confession.” They say we ought always to confess perfection, rather than to say we have sinned.
But lying to one’s self is not a Christian virtue. It is self-deception and does not solve the problem. If a believer sins, God does not suddenly stop imputing him righteous. However, he must still confess his sins for daily cleansing, as we read in 1 John 1:9,
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The fact that some preachers continually preach the gospel of condemnation to their parishioners every week is a separate issue. Such preaching is a misuse of the gospel, and often it is used to keep the people in a continual state of guilt so that they can be manipulated and motivated to give more offerings to atone for their sins. That tactic was developed in the Roman Catholic Church and is often continued in evangelical circles as well. It is wrong.
A believer’s confession of sin is the equivalent of the priest in the Old Testament who daily washed at the laver in order to prepare himself to enter God’s presence in the Sanctuary. This prophesied of the Christian life. This is not part of one’s justification, but it is certainly part of the sanctification process. We do not need to confess sin in order to “get saved” every day. But once saved, God begins to change our ways and our habits so that our soul begins to come into conformity to Christ’s perfect life. We change by recognizing sin, not by denying its existence.
Being justified is Passover. But being sanctified comes in the realm of Pentecost. A biblical pentecostal is one who washes at the laver and is not afraid to admit falling short of the glory of God. It is a matter of daily putting our old ways under the blood of Jesus Christ.
This new gospel of Selfianity, however, says that to confess sin or imperfection merely reinforces that thinking in your mind. You ought to confess righteousness, not sin, they say. You are what you say you are, and so if you say you are righteous, then you are. If you admit imperfection, then you are imperfect. Admitting sin makes you a sinner. 1 John 1:8 contradicts this gospel of Selfianity, saying,
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Justification (Passover) brought us into the outer court, for all Israelite citizens were allowed access to the outer court. Only priests, however, could enter the Holy Place, which is the place of Pentecost and Sanctification. The word Sanctification literally means being separated for divine service. It was used of the O. T. priesthood.
If you desire to be a priest in the eyes of God, it requires the infilling of the Holy Spirit. He begins to write the law on your heart. Confession of sin does not CLAIM sin—it releases sin and trains the soul’s conscience.