Righteousness vs Sin (Video Script)
Traditionally, righteousness means acting in accord with divine or moral law, being free from guilt or sin. Righteousness implies that an individual’s actions are justified and that the person has been judged to be living a life that is pleasing to God. Since righteousness involves judgment, it is often associated with ethics and morality.
In this context, as a counterpoint to righteousness, sin is any act that violates a known moral rule or code decreed by God or a divine entity. Or, sin may result from the absence of a required action.
Thus there are sins of commission and omission. Furthermore, sin may involve overt behaviors or inner acts of thought, motivation, feeling, or desire. Fundamentally, sin is rebellion or resistance to the Divine.
In some traditions, sins are rated in terms of severity – for example being deadly or merely harmful. The Catholic church recognizes seven deadly or mortal sins and numerous less serious transgressions.
The interplay of righteousness and sin has its secular parallel in the legalities of crime and justice. This all leads to some important questions about the basis of ethics and morality. Where do we draw the line and who is to be the judge? To be sure, this lesson deals with some controversial ideas about what it means to be human.
The concept of original sin is one of the most far reaching and controversial ideas in theology. Is each individual, as a descendent of the Biblical Adam in the garden of Eden, somehow marred or flawed by the actions of that iconic figure?
Setting aside for the moment questions about the historical validity of the Genesis account and whether such an individual even existed, the core issue has to do with human nature. Are human beings inherently good or evil? Is human nature flawed so that even a newborn baby is not entirely pure or innocent? Does each person inherent a tendency toward selfishness and rebellion by the simple fact of being incarnate in a physical body?
The Edgar Cayce readings define sin as a mistake or error – missing the mark. From the Cayce perspective, the sin of Adam that is common to all humanity is that humans are so caught up in themselves and their own problems, that they do not recognize the spirit that connects all that is. There is also the human tendency for willful disobedience. As co-creative companions with God, souls were not intended to enter into flesh bodies on earth.
Having made that choice, all must meet the consequences of that disobedience in terms of the laws of materiality – pain and suffering, death of the physical body, an exaggerated sense of separation that can feel like isolation from the Source. In this context, as souls who have made the choice to enter materiality in flesh bodies, each have a part in that original sin or mistake at a fundamental level.
Having become involved in material experience on this planet, souls must attend to the lessons of life, evolving back toward the source as part of a broader cosmic educational program of soul development.
In the classroom of earthly experience, there must be some criteria for advancement – a grading system with tests and feedback to keep the process moving forward. Righteousness and sin are terms used to describe the extremes of progress in soul development – in other words, passing or failing.
In some spiritual traditions, righteousness and sin are judged by definite standards attributed to divine proclamation and encoded as laws or rules of behavior. One who plays by the rules is righteous – to break a rule is sin.
In societies in which church and state are united, religious rules take on a legal status as the law of the land. In such situations, righteousness and sin is an outward expression of obedience to an objective standard of behavior. Those in authority judge the righteousness or sin of others.
Of course, the question arises as to whether this is the optimal arrangement for soul development. There is another approach to righteousness and sin that is more personal and subjective.
Rather than viewing proper behavior as a rigid, external standard, righteousness is based on inner attunement to the will of God, with each individual as the judge of his or her own attunement. The examination process is a personal matter for each soul. It involves self-analysis – looking within for the standard by which self is judged. Therefore, one person may not judge the righteousness or sin of another. What is righteousness for one individual may be sin to another.
The determination of righteousness versus sin is relative to the unique circumstances and intentions of each individual. To intend, or even try to do good is counted as righteousness. When in doubt, doing the best that you know to do is counted as righteousness.
Thus the standard for righteousness is attunement to the still small voice within and working with a spiritual ideal daily, based on that inner attunement with the divine. Sin is a failure or misapplication of attunement to God’s purpose.
As the soul consciously chooses righteousness and expresses the spirit of righteousness as a way of life, it grows and evolves toward the Source as companion and co-creator with the Divine.