"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32

Thought for the Week - last week's message 

EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT   

This lesson with the daunting title makes plain that error (sin, wrong doing, flawed motives and hurtful acts) will inevitably punish itself.  And sometimes it would seem that only negative consequences can put a stop to such destructive behaviors.   But the lesson also stresses that God doesn’t curse.   The law of mathematics doesn’t penalize.  Yet, if it isn’t followed, the student won’t progress.   We can take comfort from these verses in the Responsive Reading:  “If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 

All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him:  in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.” (Ezekiel 33:15,22) The lesson reminds us of God’s mercies, compassions, and faithfulness.   As Jeremiah puts it:  “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love:  therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.  (31:3)  

Mary Baker Eddy puts it this way:  “God is Love.  More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go.”  But she also insists that we not “misunderstand Love and…make prayer the safety-valve for wrong-doing.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 6:17)    Certainly, God doesn’t make anyone “inclined to sin” and then punish  the evil-doer.  Instead, God forgives sin as it is forsaken. 

The children of Israel learned this lesson when, on their journey out of bondage in Egypt, as Moses was in the mount receiving the Ten Commandments,  they persuaded Aaron to make a golden calf from their jewelry and then worshipped it.   We can’t expect to willfully break God’s law without suffering from our disobedience. 

The first commandment and the first demand of Christian Science is that we “have no other gods.”  As Mrs. Eddy puts it:  “Divine Mind rightly demands man’s entire obedience, affection, and strength.  No reservation is made for any lesser loyalty.”  She adds:  “We worship spiritually, only as we cease to worship materially.” (S&H 183:21-23 and 140:16-17)    Certainly God requires that we keep His commandments.   Jesus knew that.  Yet, when the Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery to be stoned, his response was:  “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”  Convicted by their own conscience, they went out.  (John 8:3-11) 

Then Jesus commanded the woman:  “Go, and sin no more.”   Mrs. Eddy remarks:  “Chastity is the cement of civilization and progress.  Without it there is no stability in society, and without it one cannot attain the Science of Life.”  (S&H 57:1-3)   Nevertheless, she rejects the notion of a final judgment, commenting that “the judgment day of wisdom comes hourly and continually” and that it divests us “all material error.”  (S&H 291:28-31) 

The lesson notes that Jesus healed a paralyzed man by forgiving his sins.  (Matt.9:2-7)   It also includes Paul’s instruction to the Romans:   “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”  He adds that when we are free from sin and “servants to God,” such holiness results in “everlasting life.” (Rom.16-17, 22)  

How comforting to know that “…the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (has) made (us) free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom.8:2)  Paul also makes clear that “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” and that “against such there is no law.”  (Gal.5:22-23)       

Jamae van Eck