Watching Point 6
From 500 Watching Points by Gilbert Carpenter
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6 — WATCH lest the old theological teaching and training as to what constitutes sin, prevent you from realizing that fundamentally sin is cause, rather than effect, wrong thinking rather than wrong acting. The primary sin is sin against the Holy Ghost, or against that which unites man to his Maker. What the world calls sin is the outward result of this fundamental belief, or error of yielding to mesmerism.
What the world calls sin does not shut man off from God as effectually as what the world calls goodness, which is largely self-righteousness. When a mortal finds that his actions are sinful, he is apt to become dissatisfied with himself and with material existence, so that he yearns for God; whereas the self-satisfied follower of creeds and doctrines feels very little spiritual hunger, or dissatisfaction with matter. We conclude, therefore, that self-righteousness is the more dangerous state of thought as far as spiritual growth is concerned. No one eats until he is hungry. Hence the attitude of the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees of today precludes any definite spiritual hunger, which causes mortal man to reach out for the divine.
Self-righteousness may be called the sin against the Holy Ghost, since it is a sin against man’s spiritual nature, and is far more serious than those sins against society, for which mortal mind has decreed punishment. The most dangerous sin from God’s standpoint must be that which tempts man the most to be satisfied, and to feel secure apart from God.
It is reported that Mrs. Eddy once declared that she would rather have a church member to work with who was forty percent good, than one ninety-five percent good. Such a statement would be anomalous unless we interpret it to mean human good. In reality Mrs. Eddy was only putting into her own words the saying of the Master, “I come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’’ The human must finally be eliminated, whether it seems good or bad. The greater the percentage we consider bad, the greater the effort we will make to throw it off; hence the less of a sinner we are in God’s sight, since to Him sin is believing in and clinging to the human. The rich young man who came to Jesus was an example of one Mrs. Eddy would have called ninety-five percent good. He was sad when the Master told him that he must get rid of all that he possessed, no matter how good it appeared to him to be. Had he possessed less treasure in the human, or matter, he would not have been so sad. Thus his belief in human good was a sin against the Holy Ghost.
The prodigal son was perhaps forty percent good, in contrast to the ninety-five percent good of his elder brother. Yet behold the latter’s attitude when the prodigal returned! He malpracticed on him, was jealous of the way he was received, and acted as if he wished that his brother had never been redeemed; when as a matter of fact, the Egypt experience was the necessary process through which the prodigal learned the worthlessness and nothingness of all materiality. Since nothing concerning the claim of evil could be learned in the Father’s house, and this knowledge was necessary in order to help poor humanity, it had to be learned in Egypt. Then when the prodigal returned, he was ready to be united to his Father’s purpose and work with Him in redeeming mankind. The Father and son working together would symbolize divine Science and Christian Science, one the truth in heaven, and the other the truth brought to earth. See Science and Health, 471:29.
Mrs. Eddy had many experiences with the elder brothers in her church work. She knew that they make most of the trouble. Many times she saw them attempt to throw back into the stream of mortal mind those valiant swimmers struggling to reach the shore, — perhaps the very ones she was striving to save. Who can blame her for crying out against this most heinous of all sins, namely, the belief in human good — when the only true goodness is divine?