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Category: Sin (page 1 of 2)

Man Faces Jail For Selling His Dirty Socks

Topic: Guilt                                                                               Printer Friendly
Source: “Fraud plea in dirty socks sold as marijuana” by Dennis Pelham, published online, Michigan Daily Telegram, Aug. 6, 2015
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Author: Illustration Exchange

ILLUSTRATION

When is a crime really a crime? That’s a great question when it comes to this bizarre and convoluted news story.

It all began July 8, 2015 when Michael Suarez of Ypsilanti, Michigan, arranged to sell a pound of marijuana for the sum of $2800. He and a couple of friends were to deliver the drugs in the wee hours of the morning to a couple who were waiting at a local mobile home park.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Suarez and his accomplices didn’t bring marijuana to the drug drop at all—instead, they brought a backpack full of dirty socks! Upon delivery of the backpack, Suarez and friends received payment of $2800 and quickly sped away.

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When Life Calls For A Transfusion

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Author: InfoPlease.com / Illustration Exchange
Scripture: 1 John 4:16
Source: “Blood Types” published InfoPlease.com, retrieved 5/9/15

If you ever find yourself, either by virtue of illness or injury, in need of a blood transfusion, you’d better hope your local blood bank has a good supply of a compatible blood type.

According to INFO PLEASE:

Human blood is grouped into four types: A, B, AB, and O. Each letter refers to a kind of antigen, or protein, on the surface of red blood cells. For example, the surface of red blood cells in Type A blood has antigens known as A-antigens.

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From My Cold Dead Hands

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Topic: Control
Scripture: Romans 5:12; Romans 8:13; Galatians 5:16
Author: Mitchell Dillon

“I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands” was a bumper sticker slogan made popular by the NRA (National Rifle Association).  Then on May 20, 2000, at the 129th NRA convention, actor Charlton Heston, who served as the organization’s president at the time, famously concluded a speech by pausing to wave a replica of a flintlock rifle in the air.

“So,” said Heston as he gripped the gun, “as we set out this year to defeat the divisive forces that would take freedom away, I want to say those fighting words for everyone within the sound of my voice to hear and to heed … ‘From my cold, dead hands!'”

Mr. Heston would conclude each of the NRA conventions over which he presided with that same declaration.*

In similar, though rather humerous fashion, the 1997 farcical comedy, MEN IN BLACK, portrayed a scene in which a farmer, disturbed by a load noise, exits his house only to discover that an alien has crash landed in his front yard.

When asked to drop his shotgun, the farmer replied, “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.”

The alien calmly responded, “Your proposal is acceptable.”

The farmer is not only killed, but the alien then dons the farmer’s skin to wear as a disguise.

Application:

Since the time when Eve first held the forbidden fruit in her hands, we have clutched the want for power and control with a deadly grip, in essence telling God, “You can take it from me when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.” To which God responded, “Your proposal is acceptable.”

Since then, as the Apostle Paul explained it, “… sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).

Nevertheless, God promises, “If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).

We can only fully experience life as we loosen our grip of control, “die daily” to the power of self and sin, and allow the Spirit of God to manifest the life of Christ in and through us.

Like the alien in MEN IN BLACK, God wants to live His life in our skin!

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

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*Click link to source above to see a video of Mr. Heston’s call to arms.

Standing In For Tom Cruise

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Topic: Salvation
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 2:17
Source: “Standing In” by Bryson Smith, as published on Perspective.org.au, Perspective Vol8 No4, 2001, from an article published in the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, Sunday Life Section, Sept 17, 2000
Author: Bryson Smith 

“I [once] read an interesting article … all about movie stand-ins,” says Bryson Smith. “They’re the people who replace movie stars in scenes that are dangerous or just uncomfortable. Like Glenn Duhigg, an ex-lawyer who worked as the stand-in for Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2.”

As Duhigg himself recalls:

It sounds very glamorous saying you’re the stand-in for Tom Cruise but I don’t think many people realize the long hours and constant demands that deflate your ego very quickly. The days are long. Whatever scene Tom was in, I would be the one standing there, being him sometimes for ages as the crew set up the shot – getting the lighting just right and the props just so. I’d be standing there for hours out in the weather, getting drenched in the rain or sun stroke out in the heat. And then Tom would just walk on the set from his air-conditioned caravan or out of his beautiful sports car once the scene was ready.” As one of the other stand-ins said, “I realized very quickly the difference between being a star and being a stand-in.”

[Bryson Smith is a member of the ministry team at Dubbo Presbyterian Church, an evangelical church in rural Australia.]

Application:

“But you see,” says Smith, “on the cross, Jesus Christ was our stand-in. He endured the discomfort, the pain, the punishment from God, all in our place. He accepted God’s anger on himself instead of us. He was our stand-in.

“Amazing that he would do that, because really he’s the important one. You wouldn’t expect Tom Cruise to stand-in for that bloke Glenn Duhigg. No, no. Tom’s the important one! And yet, even though Jesus is the important one, a divine king come to earth, yet he stood in for us.”

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).

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Police Dole Out Gifts Not Tickets

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Topic: Christmas
Scripture: Isaiah 9:6
Source: “These Drivers Thought They Were Getting Tickets. Instead, Police Gave Them Christmas Gifts” by Kate Abbey-Lambertz, posted HUFFINGTON POST, 12/12/14
Author: Kate Abbey-Lambertz / Illustration Exchange

“Getting pulled over by a police officer can make a good day bad and a bad day worse. Unless, of course, he helps you with your Christmas shopping instead of writing you a ticket,” reports the HUFFINGTON POST:

In a video released Tuesday, the police department in Lowell, Michigan, did just that.* Over two days in November, Officer Scot VanSolkema stopped unsuspecting drivers for minor infractions, like illegally tinted windows, that the department might normally let slide, according to Today.

After he pulled them over, VanSolkema made small talk and sneakily asked drivers what they or their kids wanted for Christmas. Meanwhile, a group of helpers were standing by at a nearby store. As soon as they heard a driver’s Christmas wish, they’d race to find, buy, wrap and deliver it to VanSolkema.

Instead of tickets, the officer handed over gifts, like a new TV and an electric scooter. Drivers had reactions that turned from irritation into confusion before melting into joy, and, in some cases, hugs.

*Click link to source above to view the video.

Application:

Isn’t it sad that those who have been tasked with the job of “keeping the peace” usually evoke such a sense of fear and dread within us? There’s no doubt that those Lowell, Michigan, citizens were convinced that the officer approaching their car was there to drop the hammer and nail them on one infraction or another.

Some of that stems from our own sense of guilt and shame. We’re just sure that we must have done something wrong! And some of it stems from an expectation that those who are charged with keeping the law take some sort of perverted delight in catching us when we break it.

But on this day, all expectations were shattered. It’s important to note that the officer pulled over the drivers for legitimate reasons (illegal tinting or a burned out turn signal). Yet he chose to look right past the driver’s guilt to the driver’s need for those yet unfulfilled gifts on their Christmas lists.

This is exactly the way our gracious God chooses to deal with us each and every day!

While many of us see Him as the great “law keeper” in the sky, just waiting to nail us on one thing or another, the reality is exactly the opposite. He’s the great keeper of the peace Who has Himself already satisfied all the requirements of the Law, so that He can look right past our guilt to our need. And the best part is HE is our gift!

It shatters our expectations. It’s confusing. But let the reality sink in, then just melt into the joy!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

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Animal Sentinels

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Topic: Savior
Scripture: Hebrews 4:15
Source: “1986: Coal mine canaries made redundant” posted on BBC News, “On This Day, Dec 30, 1986″
Author: Bo Thompson/Illustration Exchange

Early coal mines did not feature ventilation systems. Since canaries are especially sensitive to methane and carbon monoxide, the miners would bring along caged canaries into new coal seams. The birds’ rapid breathing rate, small size and high metabolism made them ideal for detecting any dangerous gas build-ups. As long as the birds kept singing, the miners knew their air supply was safe. When the canaries stopped singing–or worse, died–the miners knew it was time for an immediate evacuation. The birds became tiny sentinels of safety.

Animal sentinels are commonly used to detect risks to humans by providing advance warnings of impending danger. By virtue of their heightened sensitivity to a variety of dangers, they can serve to make us aware of myriad perils.

Other animal sentinels include: honey bees, which are susceptible to air pollution; bats, which have been used to monitor pesticide contamination; and pigeons, which have been used to detect atmospheric lead.

Application:

We walk around as oblivious to sin as coal miners do of the presence of dangerous gasses. What we need is a sentinel–someone who can detect this danger for us before it’s too late.

Who is more sensitive to the presence and danger of sin than God?

That’s why Jesus–God incarnate–came into this world. He came to warn us all of our exposure to the deadly threat of sin. Not only this, but He willingly exposed Himself–to the point of death–that we might be warned and be saved from sin’s power and peril.

Jesus is our Divine Sentinel.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

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A Stomach Full of Socks

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Topic: Fools
Scripture: Proverbs 26:11
Source: “43 1/2 socks removed from dog’s stomach” by Jessica Durando for USA TODAY NETWORK, published September 4, 2014
Author: Illustration Exchange

We’ve all experienced the frustration of missing socks. Foolishly, perhaps, we usually attribute their disappearance to the clothes dryer having “eaten” them. But maybe we should be pointing our fingers elsewhere, like toward our four-footed, furry friends. USA Today reports:

Chomping down on 43 1/2 socks was enough to make one 3-year-old Great Dane pretty sick. After vomiting and retching during the day, abdominal radiographs revealed “a severely distended stomach and a large quantity of foreign material,” according to Veterinary Practice News.

During surgery performed by a … veterinarian in Portland, Ore., the socks were removed. The dog was sent home one day after surgery.

When Dr. Ashley Magee at [the] Animal Hospital opened the dogs stomach, she told KGW-TV, they “kept removing sock after sock of all different shapes and sizes.”

The Dane, who had a history of sock snitching, has been in for follow-up check-ups and is so far doing fine. Needless to say, the Dane’s “people” are keeping a watchful eye to see that he doesn’t return to his former ways.

Application:

43 1/2 socks! Makes you wonder what happened to the other 1/2 of that 44th one. Maybe he just couldn’t choke it down.

It just goes to show, we all have our limits. If that’s true of socks, you better believe it’s true of sins. We may seem to tolerate them well enough for a while, but watch out for that 44th one. Eventually our transgressions catch up to us, and when they do, there we are retching and vomiting all over everything.

“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly” (Proverbs 26:11).

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Wall Street Ethics

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Topic: Salvation
Scripture: Romans 3:10
Source: WHY BE GOOD?: SEEKING OUR BEST SELVES IN A CHALLENGING WORLD by Byron L. Sherwin, p.30
Author: Illustration Exchange

Byron Sherwin, in his book WHY BE GOOD, sarcastically recalls, “Once I was browsing in a bookstore when I saw a huge volume with an intriguing title: WALL STREET ETHICS. I opened it eagerly only to find that each of its hundreds of pages was blank.”

When we read this at IE, we were skeptical. So we did a little research and it turned out the book is real. It’s entitled THE COMPLETE BOOK OF WALL STREET ETHICS by Jay L. Walker and was published by William Morrow & Co., April 1987.

Writes one reviewer, “If you are not familiar with this book, it is a joke, and a pretty good one. The pages are all blank. … Today, [after so many new Wall Street scandals], it probably needs to be updated with a new edition with more blank pages.”

Application:

How would a book that recorded all of the things that you have done to earn your place in heaven read? The only possible answer is that its pages would all be blank. Not only that, but no matter how hard you tried, all of the updated editions would only add more blank pages. That’s because nothing that we do with the motive of self-justification will ever be acceptable to God. Rather, earning the prize of heaven requires a righteousness that is perfect, not only in every action, but in every motive behind every action. It requires the righteousness of Christ.

“As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous–not even one” (Romans 3:10, NLT).

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Sacred Melons

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Topic: Spiritual Growth
Scripture: John 15:1-2, 5
Source: Info Barrel and FASCINATING FACTS by David Louis, p. 56.
Author: Illustration Exchange

In Japan, melons are considered luxurious, even sacred. While a common cantaloupe melon might set you back two or three dollars here in the states, it could easily run upwards of $15 dollars in Japan. Specialty melons sometimes sell for hundreds of dollars a piece. The gift of a meticulously cultivated melon is considered one of great generosity and respect.

Japanese “master” melon growers take tremendous pride in growing only the best melons. To ensure success, they “hand pollinate three flowers and let them get to about the size of a baseball, then select the best one and let only that one grow. The others are chopped up and added to the compost pile.” In this way, a single fruit receives all the nutrients originally meant for the entire plant. The result—a sublimely succulent, “best possible” melon.

Application:

The master melon growers of Japan have learned the secret of growing the “best possible” melon–channeling all of the nutrients to just one selected fruit. They do this to produce something they prize, something they consider sacred.

Likewise, God knows the secret to helping you to become the “best possible” you. As the Master Grower, He seeks to remove everything from your life that might prevent you from receiving the fullest measure of His growth producing love.

Every call to repentance, every warning against sin, every word of caution concerning temptation are all set forth in the Bible to prevent anything from competing with your spiritual growth potential. Once these things are removed, chopped up and added to the compost pile, you are free to receive all the nutrients necessary for God to cultivate something He prizes, something sacred–the “best possible” you!

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more . . . Yes, I (Jesus) am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-2, 5, NLT).

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The Power of Doing Something

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Topic: Evil
Scripture: Romans 12:21
Source: Illustration Exchange
Author: Albert Einstein / Mitchell Dillon

“The wold is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

[Albert Einstein 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity. He is regarded as the father of modern physics.]

Application:

Albert Einstein’s words were spoken at a time when evil seemed to have an upper hand in the world. Communism and Fascism marched across much of Europe, while the rest of the world was left to choose how to respond.

The same struggle continues today. By God’s design, there continues to be enough evil in the world to test those who have it in their power to do good. And by God’s design, there continues to be enough good in the world to overcome those who have it in their hearts to do evil.

So, the question is this: Will those who love good do what is in their power to do to overcome evil? God does not place the fate of the world in the hands of evil men, but in the hands of those who can and must do something to stop them.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’ (Romans 12:21).

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Even Missing Words Matter

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Topic: Grace
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:8-9
Source: Fowler Bible Collection
Author: Larry Kuhl

In 1631, Robert Barker and Martin Lucus, the royal printers of London, published what was supposed to be a reprint of the King James Bible but instead it became known as “The Wicked Bible,” due to a simple elimination of a three letter word. It seems that in publishing  Exodus 20:14 the printers left out the word “not” from  the seventh commandment, making the text read: “Thou shalt commit adultery”. Unfortunately this mistake was only discovered after the Bibles were released for sale!

This error cost these two respected publishers their license, a large fine, as well as their reputation.  An order immediately went out from the King to have all of these publications destroyed. Only twelve copies are known to have survived.

Application:

Like the “The Wicked Bible,” sometimes we say or do things we regret. Nevertheless, once our sins have been published, they can’t be retracted. Words and deeds matter. Even missing words and deeds can make a big difference.

Thank God for the grace and forgiveness that is ours in Jesus Christ, Who took our sins, small and great, on Himself as He hung on the cross, that we may become the “righteousness of God in Him.”

What a blessed life we have in Christ!  God doesn’t take our license away when we mess up! He generously gives us another opportunity to begin again, and again, and again. Grace always prevails with our God.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

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The Power of Doing Something

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Topic: Apathy 
Scripture: Romans 12:21
Source: Illustration Exchange
Author: Albert Einstein / Mitchell Dillon 

“The wold is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”

Albert Einstein

Application:

Albert Einstein played a strategic role in a time when evil seemed to have an upper hand in the world. Communism and Fascism marched across much of Europe, while the rest of the world was left to choose how to respond.

The same struggle continues today. By God’s design, there has always been enough evil in the world to test those who were good, and there has always been enough good in the world to overcome those who were evil.

So, the question is this: will those who love good do what is in their power to do to overcome evil? God has never placed the fate of the world in the hands of evil men, but in the hands of those who can and must do something to stop them.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’ (Romans 12:21).

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My Mother Thinks I’m Ugly

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Topic: Sin Nature
Author: Larry Reagan / Illustration Exchange
Scripture: Romans 3:23, 12:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17

When I was a small boy, I felt like an ugly duckling.  I was a good student and a good athlete, but I had no confidence at all with girls.  One day I was listening to my mother as she talked on the phone.  She said, “My fifth boy, Larry, looks just like Buck Owens.”  I was so excited about her comment that I went into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror.  I did kind of favor Buck Owens, a famous country music star of the time.

That statement totally changed my attitude.  I went to school the next day with a spring in my step and my head up high.  I knew there would be many nice looking girls who would be interested in me because I looked like a celebrity.

About one month later, I was listening to another conversation between my mother and one of her friends on the telephone.  She said, “Buck Owens is the ugliest man I’ve ever seen.”  My heart sank, and I went to the bathroom again to look in the mirror. I thought, “Wow! If your own mother thinks you’re ugly, then you’re ugly!”

Application:

When we look into the mirror of God’s Word, our hearts should sink. There we are told that no matter how good we may look on the outside, God sees all the ugliness on the inside. Wow! If your Creator thinks you’re ugly, then you’re ugly!

Thanks be to God that we don’t have to stay that way. Through Christ Jesus, the “ugliness” of our sin can be washed away, and we can be made new and beautiful (2 Corinthians 5:17). And if the Creator thinks your beautiful, then you’re beautiful!

“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us” (Romans 12:3, NLT).

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23).

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV).

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Light to See Clearly

Printer Friendly Topic: Light
Author: Stephen Kingsley
Scripture: Isaiah 1:18
Source: Illustration Exchange

I used to work in the carpet cleaning business and enjoyed success selling our pet urine removal process. I carried a high powered black light in my van and upon smelling pet odor, would ask if the homeowner would like to see the extent of the damage. Being composed of proteins, urine glows under a black light. With the lights out and shades drawn, the homeowner would follow me through their house.

Usually, there were far more spots of dried urine than the owner expected and often it could be seen on drapes, stereo speakers, the back of the couch, and splattered on walls. The reactions were often quite dramatic. One lady said, “I don’t care what it costs, just clean it up!” Another said, “I’ll never be comfortable in my home again.”

Application:

The black light didn’t cause the problem, it only revealed it. The offense was there all the time, causing a bit of a stink, but when the extent of the problem could actually be seen, most people were ready to do something about it.

We live in sin to the extent we get comfortable with it, but when the light of God’s righteous law shines upon our lives, we can see our offenses for what they really are.

It would have been cruel for me to show homeowners their problem without being able to help them. God shows us our violations of his holiness so we will accept his help. He too is in the cleaning business. By the blood of Christ our sins can be washed away and the gift of eternal life secured.

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool” (Isaiah 1:18, NLT).

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Hidden In The Apple Blossom

Printer Friendly Topic: Sin Nature
Author: Paul Chappell / Illustration Exchange
Scripture: Mark 7:15; Romans 5:12; Jeremiah 17:9
Source: First Steps for New Christians

“If you find an apple with a worm hole, it does not mean that there is a worm inside the apple. It simply means that an insect laid an egg in the apple blossom.  Sometime later, the worm hatched in the heart of the apple, then ate its way out.”

Application:

Despite the appearance, the worm doesn’t work its way into the apple, it works it’s way out. And so it is with sin. It doesn’t work its way into our hearts, it works its way out. Although manifest much later through our words and actions, it was there all along, hidden in the very blossom of our human nature.

“There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man” (Mark 7:15, KJV).

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