GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICALS
Number 607 • January 24, 2021
SIXTEEN THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOURSELF
Here are sixteen things you need to know about your personal condition. This is not a select or limited list for an exclusive group. It is a universal list. It is not a multiple choice list from which you can choose, accept, or reject items. All items on the list apply equally to all persons, whether they know it or not. Note each item carefully. It may not be easy or comfortable to stay properly focused, but everything on the list applies to YOU. Number sixteen is the application.
- You are a living human. God himself is life, the creator and giver of all life. God made every living thing different. Angels were created by God before He made the physical world. Angels are not physical. They are spirit beings ( Heb. 1:7). On earth there are different kinds of life. Plants are living. So are microbes, bacteria, viruses, and other “germs.” Animals, birds, fish, reptiles, and worms are living creatures, but different. Humans are different from every other living thing on the earth. As human you are not deity (god), not angel, not animal.
- You are rational. You can think. You can learn and remember and know things.
- You are moral. You can be taught and know right from wrong.
- You are volitional. You are able to choose right or wrong. You have will, desires, likes and dislikes, preferences. You can do things according to your own will and desire.
- You are accountable. This is because you are rational, moral, and volitional. Angels are rational and volitional, at least initially. Perhaps they were allowed only one choice and having made it are now bound to do only as God wills for them. Angels who rejected God initially and fell away from Him became evil angels, devil and demons – evil spirits. Their eternal destiny is fixed and cannot be altered: heaven for the good angels; hell for the fallen evil demon angels. Since you are not an angel or a demon you will not be judged as angel or demon. Other living beings on earth do not have rationality and volition. They act by instinct and impulse. They do “what comes naturally” for them, according to their God-designed programming. Choices are very limited. Animals are not moral – they cannot judge rightness and wrongness. Mostly they are programmed to act or respond in certain ways, both defensive and offensive, when exposed to various stimuli and circumstances. Because they are not capable of moral judgment animals cannot be called good or evil, both of which are moral terms. You will not be judged as animals. They will not receive judgment and disposition based upon moral considerations. But you will be judged by what you do and what you agree to or approve in others – whether it be good or bad, right or wrong, righteous or unrighteous (Rom. 14:10b–12, 2 Cor. 5:10).
- Righteousness has rewards. There are physical blessings: good health and strength. There are social advantages: approval, acceptance, fellowship with other people. There are also spiritual rewards: approval of God, fellowship with God, hope of eternal life in heaven with God.
- Unrighteousness and sin have consequences. There are physical consequences: physical disease, deformity, debility, weakness and poor health, vulnerability and jeopardy. There are social disadvantages: disapproval, rejection, punishment, separation and perhaps isolation from other people. There are spiritual consequences too: disapproval and rejection by God; punishment, eventual separation from God and from any and all good, in hell.
- You are personally responsible for your own sins and righteousness. Your sin and your righteousness are yours personally and are not transferable. Sin may be by personal choice. In fact, you are not guilty of sins committed by others. You may be somehow the cause of their sins, but their sins are their own, not yours. And your sins are your own, not theirs. One may sin against you but nobody can sin for you. Righteousness may be by personal choice, doing what you are required to do and asked to do. The righteousness of others cannot be yours, even if they do it because you taught and encouraged them. Their righteousness is their own, not yours. Nor is your righteousness theirs – it cannot be credited to them. One may treat you righteously, but nobody can do righteousness for you. Sin may be by failure to do what you are required to do, what you ought to do, or what you are commanded to do.
- Righteousness is possible, but it too is personal. Both righteousness and sin are by personal choice, attitude, and action. We do not inherit righteousness or right standing with God – these are not transferable (we have already made that point, above at number 8). We are born innocent and morally perfect, spiritually upright. But the condition is ours either to keep and maintain or relinquish and lose. Everybody loses righteousness quickly by attitude and action. Even faithful Christians sin at times because they either do not know how to be perfect or they have lapses in judgment, lapses in resisting temptation, improprieties in attitudes and actions. Everybody becomes a sinner.
- You are a sinner. You are not perfect and imperfection is sin – missing the mark that is assigned by God – whether going wide of the mark, going beyond or falling short of the mark. All misses are included in the word HAMARTIA translated sin (Rom. 3:10, 23). You were not born that way with inherited or congenital sin and depravity – there is no such thing as “sin nature” which is transferable from parents to children (Eccl. 7:29, Ezek. 18:4, 10, 20). You do not inherit or bear the guilt of the sins of others – including Adam’s, your parents’ or anybody else’s but your own. Your sins are yours only by personal act in commission or omission.
- You need a savior, someone who can forgive and remove the consequences of your personal sins and bring you the rewards of personal righteousness. You do not need help to condemn yourself or cause your own loss. You cannot by your own actions save yourself. It requires something outside yourself.
- God has made your salvation possible by and through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the appointed sacrifice, the propitiation for all sinners (1 John 2:1-2). Jesus himself invites all to come to God through him (Mt. 11:28-30, John 14:6).
- God wants you to be saved. He wants all to be saved, none to be lost (2 Peter 3:9). God has no pleasure or joy in the death and loss of the wicked (Ezek. 33:11).
- Salvation requires acceptance and obedience. You cannot save yourself without God and God cannot save you by himself, without your will and cooperation (2 Cor. 6:1-2). Therefore do what He says as soon as you hear it and know it (Heb. 3:7-13).
- You are always presented with possibilities and choices that will affect your future, either negatively or positively.
- In every case you must choose. Many can tell you what to choose, but nobody can make your choice for you. You cannot refuse to choose – even refusing is a choice, a negative choice. There is a default for those who refuse to choose and those who make the wrong choice. If you do not make a positive choice the default condition and its consequences will be assigned to you. Salvation is a choice, based upon several other choices. Specifically, and in conclusion …
- FAITH is a choice. You can believe or disbelieve – you can refuse to believe.
- REPENTANCE is a choice. You can repent or refuse to repent. Believing in the necessity of repentance is a part of faith.
- CONFESSION is a choice. You can acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord – that too is part of your faith – or you can refuse his lordship.
- BAPTISM is a choice. In baptism you accept Jesus not only as the Lord you will obey but as the only possible savior of your soul.
- Continued FAITHFULNESS to the Lord and His gospel is a choice. He will not force you to obey Him, but He will reject you and refuse to save you if you don’t. It is your choice.
- Just remember that while you can choose to do or not do all these things, you cannot choose the results and consequences of doing or failing to do any and all of these things.
- Put it all together and you must see two final things; (1) HEAVEN IS YOUR CHOICE and you prove it by making all the proper choices that gain it for you. If you refuse or fail to make proper choices, then … (2) HELL IS YOUR CHOICE – by default, and not by deliberate request.