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The Ultimate Sin

Basic to the ultimate sin is the desire to reform others and to conform them to our ideas and hopes. Too often in our day this sin is proclaimed as a virtue.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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California Farmer 242:8 (Apr. 19, 1975), p. 30.

Basic to the ultimate sin is the desire to reform others and to conform them to our ideas and hopes. Too often in our day this sin is proclaimed as a virtue.

What it means simply is that we try to play god and to change other people to suit ourselves. People who are having problems getting along with their family, their fellow workers, or their community very often are guilty of this sin, which means they are trying to play god.

You and I are not asked to change other people. Only God can do that. What we can do, by God’s grace, is to change ourselves to conform to His Word and calling. This means seeing the need to change in ourselves, rather than in others, and leaving the reformation of others to God through the ministry of His Word.

Today, of course, this is unpopular. The common idea of a noble person, statesman, or religious figure is of a man who, by legislation and police power, with tax funds works day and night to change others, never himself.

The ultimate sin is anti-Christianity to the core. It places the power to change men in the hands of man, not God. It gives to man the supposed right to control his fellow men in terms of his ideas of social and personal reform.

We have no right to ask people to conform to our will and ideas. We do have the responsibility to summon them to conform to God’s Word and calling. God Himself conforms us to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29), and requires us through St. Paul to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2). By His sovereign grace, He makes us “conformable” unto the death of His Son (Phil. 3:10). So that we die to our self-righteousness and our ideas of reforming the world, and are instead alive to the righteousness of God in Christ, and are conformed to His Word.

The next time you hear a man propose to reform you, the state, the world, and everything in sight, look at him for what he is: the ultimate sinner, a would-be god, and a defiler of creation. And be careful, when you see such a man, that you do not spot him in your mirror.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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