November 25, 2020

Subject: Sin

Golden text: Psalms 25:6-9*

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

Luke 7:36-50

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38 She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak.” 41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48 Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

21st Century Science and Health**

While divine Principle never pardons mistakes until they are corrected, mere legal pardon leaves the offender free to repeat the offense. Sometimes the offender has suffered, and made others suffer so much, that they don’t want to repeat the mistake. Truth doesn’t excuse error, but wipes it out in the most effectual manner. Jesus suffered, not to annul the divine sentence for other people’s sin, but because sin inevitably hurts others.

Honesty is spiritual power. Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help. You uncover sin, not in order to hurt, but in order to bless human beings; and a right motive has its reward. Hidden sin is spiritual wickedness in high places. The masquerader in this Science thanks God that there is no evil, yet serves evil in the name of good.

The seventh chapter of Luke’s Gospel tells us that Jesus was once the honored guest of a certain Pharisee. The Pharisee’s name was Simon (though he was quite unlike Simon the disciple). While they were at dinner an unusual incident occurred, as if to interrupt the scene of Middle Eastern festivity. A “woman who had lived a sinful life”[1] came in. This woman’s visit was made with no regard to the fact that she was excluded from such a place and such society, especially under the austere rules of that time period. She was looked upon as an outcast, intruding on the household of a high-caste religious authority. This woman easily approached the feet of Jesus, who was reclined on a couch with his head toward the table and his bare feet away from it, as was the custom of the day. The woman moistened Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her long hair, which hung loosely about her shoulders as was common with women of her status. She carried an alabaster jar containing costly perfume. Perhaps it was sandalwood oil which was commonly used in the East. Breaking the seal of the jar, she anointed Jesus’ feet with the oil.

Did Jesus snub the woman? Did he reject her reverence? No! He regarded her compassionately, and this was not all. Jesus knew that the people around him were wondering why he, being a prophet and exalted guest, did not at once detect the woman’s immoral status and tell her to leave. Knowing what they were thinking, Jesus reproached them with a short story or parable. He described two debtors, one with a large debt and one for a smaller, who were released from their obligations by the same creditor. He asked Simon “which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” Jesus answered, “You have judged correctly.” [2] The answer brought home the lesson to all, and Jesus followed it with that remarkable declaration to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”[3]

Why did Jesus summarize the woman’s debt to divine Love? Had she repented and reformed spiritually? Did his insight detect the unspoken moral improvement? She had bathed his feet with her tears before she anointed them with oil. In the absence of other proofs, was her grief sufficient evidence to warrant the expectation of her repentance, reformation, and growth in wisdom? Certainly, there was encouragement in the mere fact that she was showing her affection for a man of undoubted goodness and purity, a man who has since been rightfully regarded as a great man. The woman’s reverence was seen by Jesus as sincere. It was manifest toward him, who through his words and works might redeem humanity from false perceptions and limited mortal thinking. It was manifest toward him who was soon, though they knew it not, to forfeit his human existence on behalf of all sinners.

Which was the higher tribute to Jesus’ ineffable affection? Was it the Pharisee’s hospitality or the woman’s perfected conscience? This query Jesus answered by rebuking self-righteousness and releasing the penitent from guilt. Jesus even pointed out that this poor woman had done what his rich host had neglected to do, anoint his guest’s feet, a special sign of Middle Eastern courtesy.

Here is suggested a poignant question, a question indicated by a need of this and every era. Do Christian Scientists seek Truth as Simon sought the Savior, for material conservatism and for personal politics? Seekers like Simon are self-absorbed and stingy, giving little in return for the spiritual reward that comes through the Messiah. If Christian Scientists are like Simon, then it must be said of them also that they love little.

On the other hand, do students of Science show their regard for Truth, Christ, by their genuine repentance? Are they conscience-stricken and submissively expressing goodwill and good works as the woman did? If so, then it may be said of them, as Jesus said of the unwelcome visitor, that they indeed love much, because much is forgiven them.

Isaiah 59:1-2, 15-21

See, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save,
    nor his ear too dull to hear.
Rather, your iniquities have been barriers
    between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
    so that he does not hear.

15 Truth is lacking,
    and whoever turns from evil is despoiled.

The Lord saw it, and it displeased him
    that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no one,
    and was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm brought him victory,
    and his righteousness upheld him.
17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate,
    and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
    and wrapped himself in fury as in a mantle.
18 According to their deeds, so will he repay;
    wrath to his adversaries, requital to his enemies;
    to the coastlands he will render requital.
19 So those in the west shall fear the name of the Lord,
    and those in the east, his glory;
for he will come like a pent-up stream
    that the wind of the Lord drives on.

20 And he will come to Zion as Redeemer,
    to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the Lord.

21 And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the Lord: my spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouths of your children, or out of the mouths of your children’s children, says the Lord, from now on and forever.

21st Century Science and Health

The way of error is awful to consider. The illusion of sin is without hope or God.

Here are four serious mistakes: Supposing that sin is forgiven before the sin is abandoned; that happiness is genuine when connected to sin; that death of the body frees us from anything unspiritual; and that God will forgive a sin without destroying it. We know that all will be changed “in the twinkling of an eye,”[4] when the last trumpet will sound; but this last call of wisdom can’t come until human beings have taken every little step to yield to the whole spiritual character. Mortals do not need to delude themselves by thinking the experience of death will awaken them to glorified being.

Universal salvation rests on spiritual improvement and proof, and is unattainable without them. Heaven is not a locality, but is a divine state of Mind in which all the manifestations of Mind are harmonious and immortal because sin is not there.

There is a large class of thinkers whose excessive prejudice and conceit twist every fact to suit themselves. Their creed teaches belief in a mysterious, supernatural God and a natural, all-powerful devil. Another class, still more unfortunate, are so depraved that they appear to be innocent. They repeat empty talk while looking you placidly in the face, and they never fail to stab their benefactor in the back. A third class of thinkers build with steel beams. They are honest, generous, noble, and open to the approach and recognition of Truth. Teaching Christian Science to this mindset is not a chore. Pure thought does not incline longingly to error, whine over the demands of Truth, nor play the traitor for place and power.

Some people respond slowly to the touch of Truth. Some people feel Truth’s touch without a struggle. Many people are reluctant to admit that they have responded to Truth; however, if they don’t admit their improvement, the boastings of evil will shout over good. The Mind scientist has enlisted to lessen evil, disease, and death. The Scientist will prove the nonbeing of all that opposed good by understanding the allness of Spirit. Sickness is no less a temptation than is sin and they are both healed by understanding God’s power over them. The Christ-like Scientist knows that sickness and sin are errors of belief, which Truth can and will destroy.

The universe of Spirit reflects the powerful creativity of the divine Principle or Life, which reproduces the multitudinous forms of Mind and governs the increase of multifaceted spiritual being. The tree and herb do not yield fruit because of any propagating power of their own, but because they reflect the Mind which includes all. A world with mindlessness implies a human mortal mind as creator. The scientific divine creation declares immortal Mind and the universe created by God.

Infinite Mind reveals and governs all, from the mental molecule to infinity. This divine Principle of all expresses Science and art throughout Spirit’s entire work including the immortality of spiritual being and the universe. Creation is always appearing and must always continue to appear from the nature of its inexhaustible source. Mortal sense twists this appearing and calls ideas material. Thus misinterpreted, the divine idea seems to fall to a level of human or material belief, called mortal human being. The seed is in it, only as the divine Mind is All and reproduces all—as Mind is the multiplier and Mind’s infinite idea, person and the universe, is the result. The only intelligence or substance of a thought, a seed, or a flower is God, the creator of it. Mind is the Soul of all. Mind is Life, Truth, and Love which governs all.

*New Revised Standard edition

**21st Century Science and Health, by Cheryl Petersen

[1] Luke 7:37

[2] Luke 7:42–43

[3] Luke 7:48

[4] I Cor. 15:52

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