Continued from last week

Christ referenced several of the Ten Commandments in the New Testament, in each case magnifying and strengthening them. Recall, for example, what He said concerning the Seventh Commandment, most important for our purpose here: “You have heard that it was said by them of old time, you shall not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28).

Violating the spirit of any of God’s Law is sin-and all sin is against God (Psa. 51:4). This is the perspective that one must take to understand correct dating and courtship. Your perspective should mirror God’s. Although the Bible does not tell us specifically how to approach every aspect of dating and courting, there are principles that must be applied to build a successful, long-lasting relationship.

Everything you do in the course of dating and courtship should be based on give, continually asking if your conduct reflects both love toward God and love toward your neighbor.

Sin is the opposite of love, and this includes vanity. Competition, strife (arguments), greed, envy, jealousy, hatred and lust all stem from vanity. The briefest look reveals that relationships today are filled with these attitudes.

What is Sin?

The Bible teaches that you have at least one thing in common with every man, woman and child who has ever lived: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). The Bible also says that when-not if-you sin, you automatically earn the penalty of death (Rom. 6:23).

But what is sin?-What is it that people do to earn death?

Many religious leaders teach that Christ died for our sins and that His shed blood cleanses us from sin. They preach about being set free from bondage to sin, while they preach about freedom from keeping God’s Law. Have you noticed that they never define what sin is-that they never challenge people to search their Bibles to see how God defines sin?

If they did, they would have to read I John 3:4, where John wrote, “Whosoever commits sin transgresses [breaks] also the law: for sin is the transgression [breaking] of the law.” When you sin, you break the law.

But what law? Paul wrote, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law” (Rom. 7:7). God’s Law reveals sin.

Again, what law was Paul writing about? Notice: “…for I had not known lust, except the law had said, You shall not covet” (same verse). This is the Tenth Commandment, found in Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21. Paul and John were both clearly referring to the Ten Commandments. Both apostles taught that breaking this Law is sin.

John also wrote, in I John 5:17, “All unrighteousness is sin.” Since God’s commandments are righteousness (Psa. 119:172), then unrighteousness-sin-must be the opposite. Therefore, sin is the breaking of God’s commandments.

The apostle James expanded this principle when he taught, “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend [sin] in one point, he is guilty of all. For He that said, do not commit adultery, said also, do not kill. Now if you commit no adultery, yet if you kill, you are become a transgressor of the law [a lawbreaker]” (2:10-11). Of course, James was also referring to the Ten Commandments.

Consider. People may go through life without ever physically committing a murder or adultery, or stealing or lying. Nevertheless, all have sinned. How can this be? Because even when we obey the letter of the Law, we can break the spirit of the Law in our minds-and this is sin.

Sin always begins in the mind. Given enough time, what you think eventually becomes what you do (Prov. 23:7). Notice what Christ said: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart [mind]; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders [Sixth Commandment], adulteries [Seventh Commandment], fornications, thefts [Eighth Commandment], false witness [Ninth Commandment], blasphemies [Third Commandment]: These are the things which defile a man” (Matt. 15:18-20).

Also, James 1:14-15 demonstrates that wrong thoughts eventually produce wrong actions: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death [the wages of sin].”