II. THE OBJECT OF OUR DEALING WITH SINS
The object of our dealing with sins is the sins themselves. There are two aspects with regard to sin: the nature of sin within and the action of sin without. The nature of sin within us is in the singular form; the action of sin without is in the plural form. The singular form of sin is the life of Satan within us, with which we have no way of dealing—the more we deal with it, the more alive it becomes. The dealing with sins of which we are speaking is our dealing with the sins which we commit outwardly, the sins in our actions.
What are the sins in our actions? First John 5:17 says, “All unrighteousness is sin.” First John 3:4 says, “Sin is lawlessness.” Both references show that in our actions all acts of unrighteousness and lawlessness are sins. It is difficult to distinguish between unrighteousness and lawlessness. All lawlessness is unrighteousness, and all unrighteousness is lawlessness. Therefore, all deeds of unrighteousness and lawlessness are the sins of our actions and the object of our dealing.
Romans 2:14-15 says that those of the nations which have no law are a law to themselves; they show the work of the law written in their hearts. Their conscience is the law within them which bears witness, and their thoughts either accuse or else excuse them. All deeds which are right and lawful are justified by our conscience; all deeds which are not right and lawful are condemned by our conscience. All actions, therefore, that are contrary to our conscience are actions of sins and the object of our dealing.
We have said that the object of our dealing with sins is the external actions of sins. This external action of sins has two aspects: the record of sin and the fact of sinning. The record of sin denotes the unrighteous and lawless deeds which offend the righteous law of God and result in our having a record of sin before the law of God. In the future, God will judge us according to this record. The fact of sinning is the very act which establishes the record of sin. These sinful acts always fall short of the glory of God and, in either a perceptible or an imperceptible manner, hurt others. For example: stealing is an act of sin. By so doing, not only do we put the name of God to shame, but we also cause damage to others. This constitutes the fact of sinning. At the same time, we have offended the law of God. Henceforth, before His law we have a record of sin. Therefore, whenever we commit a sin, we have immediately the fact of sinning not only against God, but many times also against man. At the same time we have a record of sin before God.
Since the action of sins has these two aspects, the object in dealing with sins likewise has two aspects. One is the record of our sin before God, the other is the fact of sinning. On one hand we need to deal with our record of sin before God, and on the other hand we need to deal with the fact of our sinning.
III. THE BASIS OF DEALING WITH SINS
Our object in dealing with sins includes all the sins we have committed. In carrying it out, however, God does not require us to deal with all the sins at once, but to deal with all those that we are conscious of while in fellowship with Him. We do not mean to say that we must deal with all the sins that we have actually committed, but only with those we are conscious of while in fellowship with God. The basis, therefore, of dealing with our sins is the consciousness we have while in fellowship with God.
We read in the Scripture concerning this in Matthew 5:23 and 1 John 1:7. Matthew 5:23 says, “If thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother have aught against thee…” then go and deal with it quickly. Offering the gift is for fellowship with God. Therefore this means that when we are having fellowship with God and are conscious of any discord between ourselves and others, or vice versa, we should immediately endeavor to rectify this situation lest our fellowship with God be affected or hindered. First John 1:7 indicates that if we have fellowship with God, we can see our sins in His light; then, according to what we have seen in His light, we are to confess this to God and deal with it before God in order to obtain God’s forgiveness and cleansing. Matthew 5 speaks of our problems with others, 1 John 1 about our problem with God. One is the remembering by the altar; the other is the seeing in the light. Both indicate our consciousness while in fellowship with God. It is based on this consciousness that we have dealings towards man and God. Therefore, the basis for our dealing with sins is our consciousness while in fellowship with God.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)