God, Jealousy and Sin

As I go around the internet reading about God, Christianity, and encountering the disbelievers, I usually notice they always come up with the most ridiculous of accusations against our faith. Recently, one of them has tried to come up with the claim that the Bible invokes God as one who sins! So, how did they come up with such a claim? Well, let’s take a look.

God told Moses that when He was giving the Ten Commandments, He was a jealous God.

[Exodus 20:4-6] Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands.

This is the Third Commandment. Now, the disbeliever that I encountered had also known of a text in the New Testament which condemns jealousy.

[1 Corinthians 3:3] because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like unbelievers?

This verse condemns envy, however jealousy and envy are two synonymous words. Paul also outright condemns jealousy in Galatians 5:19-21, so the challenge that is given is not fictional. So what is the solution? God simply does not commit the fleshly of course, and so the solution bears down to the meaning of jealousy in the two passages. There is a difference between sanctified jealousy and sinful jealousy, and that is what we are going to be looking at to solve this discrepancy.

  1. Sanctified jealousy. Sanctified jealousy is the natural response one has when an established relationship is violated — if a husband or wife find out that the other has committed adultery with another person, the husband or wife would experience jealousy, as a negative response to the violation of their relationship.
  2. Sinful jealousy. Sinful jealousy is when one covets another possession from another, such as if you know someone who is quite wealthy, and you are jealous that they bear possessions that you do not. Sinful jealousy involves no relationship, rather when one takes a look at another unrelated person and feels as if they should have or bear what that person possesses, even though they have no claim to such possessions. This is similar to what is condemned in the Tenth Commandment.

As we can see here, God’s jealousy of us breaking our covenant with Him, of us made in His image worshiping false man-made idols, is sanctified, whilst is of course not sinful whatsoever. Thus, we can see this discrepancy being solved once we take a much deeper look at the issue at hand, and we realize that we should never doubt God — who are we to doubt God’s glory when His knowledge is infinitely greater than our own?

[Psalm 139:17-18] God, how difficult Your thoughts are for me to comprehend; how vast their sum is! If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand; when I wake up, I am still with You.

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22 thoughts on “God, Jealousy and Sin

  1. I always enjoy leading a class through that description of God as a jealous God who also forbids coveting. A jealous God is a loving God who wants to keep what is his. The commandments identify for us the false gods and wrong priorities that come between us and God. I am glad that God is jealous and wants to keep me as his child, because he knows that when I stray from him I am inevitably wandering into danger. J.

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  2. God is described as a perfect being. And by definition, perfection means completion (i.e. without defect). So how could God be jealous? That would mean God has desires, and desires betray a lack of perfection. To suggest a perfect being has imperfections creates a logical contradiction.

    You also state that sanctified jealousy is the natural response one has when an established relationship is violated. But how can there be a violation of an established relationship when no such relationship exists to begin with? Because to date, I’ve received no direct contact from any God. Furthermore, healthy relationships are based on the consent and voluntary interaction of all parties involved, not just the unilateral demands of one. The latter is usually called stalking.

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    • God obviously has no imperfections. Our relationship with God was established the moment He made us in His image — as you can see, animals don’t worship God as although He created them, they aren’t made in His image and do not possess the intellectual capacity to believe. Thus, we owe Him this worship, rather than giving it to man made idols.

      Of course, you even believe in God. It’s been scientifically established that all humans have a biologically inherent belief in God and the afterlife — under the thin layer of disbelief in an atheists brain, there is all sorts of quasi-religion. The fact is, this is an established relationship and violation is rebellion.

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      • You haven’t addressed my point. The biblical god desires worship and adoration. Yet a god with needs and desires can not be called perfect. How do you reconcile this dichotomy?

        And to reiterate: healthy relationships require consent. What you’ve described is a dictatorship.

        I know of an anthropologist named Daniel Everett who unsuccessfully ministered to an isolated tribe (the Pirahã people) in the Amazon without god beliefs. Could you please provide direct links to the peer-reviewed research establishing that all humans have a biologically inherent belief in God and the afterlife? I’m unable to find it.

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      • Ok. But “taking what is His” implies were really just God’s possessions and triggers scenario two: sinful jealousy.

        Thanks for the link. I’ve tried locating the actual study but come up empty-handed. As such, I can only comment on what was reported in the article.

        First off, the title does not support your contention that humans have a biologically inherent belief in God and the afterlife. Widespread belief in some form of supernatural agent and/or afterlife is not equivalent to belief in the specific God and afterlife described within the Bible. Second, the article states that religious beliefs form naturally, but then concedes that “people living in cities in highly developed countries were less likely to hold religious beliefs than those living a more rural way of life” and concludes that “religion is less likely to thrive in populations living in cities in developed nations where there is already a strong social support network”—a tacit admission that natural explanations eventually replace supernatural explanations as wealth and education levels rise. So even if superstitious beliefs are intrinsic to human nature, they only endure until they are displaced by empirical evidence.

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      • Correct, we are God’s property.
        1 Corinthians 6:19: Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,

        Regarding the study, you seem hopelessly confused and we’re obviously unable to understand it. For one, the study very clearly said that those living in cities were less likely to be religious (as in practice religion), but nowhere did it say that these people actually don’t believe in God, they all do, 100% of them. Scientifically speaking, atheism doesn’t actually exist — nor does agnosticism, verificationism, or any view that doesn’t recognize the existence of God and the afterlife. That’s exactly what the study concluded, and of course, the part where you say it is replaced by “empirical evidence” is simply laughable at best.

        Because you didn’t really get the study even after very clearly reading the simple article, let me summarize. 100% of people believe in God, it’s part of our inherent human nature. Depending on where you live, practicing certain religions becomes more/less likely. I also never said that the study showed people believe in the Christian God in specific, that’s a ridiculous Strawman.

        In conclusion, God is acting on an established, existing relationship — and thus, it is sanctified jealousy. Arguing against this is hopeless, as I have claimed nothing more than established fact. Please re-read the blog and look at the difference between sanctified jealousy and sinful jealousy, as sinful jealousy (coveting, see Tenth Commandment) exists where there is no relationship, but you desire the thing to be yours anyways.

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      • Where in the article does it explicitly state that 100% of the world’s population believes in God? Because no such statement can be found. And in order to make such a claim you’d have to unfettered access to the mind of every single individual on earth—which you clearly don’t. Moreover, I can unequivocally state that I do not believe in any gods or an afterlife.

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      • Unfortunately for you, that’s not the case. The study clearly establishes that all humans have an inherent biological predisposition into belief in God and the afterlife. It’s part of our biology, it’s not something that can be “overcome”. There is no “off button” or method that can be pursued to turn off this belief. This is the fact. Your brain, like it or not, is filled with quasi-religion. This is reality, were not discussing your emotional response to scientific facts.

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    • I don’t think you are correct when you say “desires betray a lack of perfection.” I suppose if the desires were for his own sake (ex. I lack food and so desire it) you’d have a point, but if they are for the sake of others (ex. you are hungry, I desire food for you) then that desire does not betray a lack of perfection within God.

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      • I fail to see the distinction between a desire for one’s own sake and a desire for another’s sake. Perfection means everything is as good as it gets, whereas desire indicates there’s still room for improvement. How can both conditions exist at the same time?

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      • Well just because God is perfect does not mean everything and everyone else is also perfect. If you are trying to fold this into the problem of evil then I suppose you can go there.

        To use a human example. I can be happy while also desiring my brother to be happy. The fact that I want my brother to be happy does not mean I am unhappy. And I suppose that is only true if my happiness is not dependent upon the happiness of those around me. In like manner, God’s perfection is not dependent upon the degree of perfection around him. Why should it?

        Maybe you are taking “desire” in a more Buddhist way? Where “desire” is analogous to “discontentment”? God has no un-met needs and so any “desires” or, as we anthropomorphize, emotions he exhibits (like compassion, jealousy, etc) are superfluous to his perfection. God does not “have” to love us, as if it were to fulfill a need of his, he “chooses” to love us.

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