III. The Unreality of Sin
1. The attraction of guilt is found in sin, not error. Sin will be repeated because of this attraction. Fear can become so acute that the sin is denied the acting out. But while the guilt remains attractive the mind will suffer and not let go of the idea of sin. For guilt still calls to it, and the mind hears it and yearns for it, making itself a willing captive to its sick appeal. Sin is an idea of evil that cannot be corrected, and yet will be forever desirable. As an essential part of what the ego thinks you are, you will always want it. And only an avenger, with a mind unlike your own, could stamp it out through fear.
2. The ego does not think it possible that love, not fear, is really called upon by sin, and always answers. For the ego brings sin to fear, demanding punishment. Yet punishment is but another form of guilt’s protection, for what is deserving punishment must have been really done. Punishment is always the great preserver of sin, treating it with respect and honoring its enormity. What must be punished, must be true. And what is true must be eternal and will be repeated endlessly. For what you think is real you want and will not let it go.
3. An error, on the other hand, is not attractive. What you see clearly as a mistake you want corrected. Sometimes a sin can be repeated over and over, with obviously distressing results, but without the loss of its appeal. And suddenly, you change its status from a sin to a mistake. Now you will not repeat it; you will merely stop and let it go unless the guilt remains. For then you will but change for the form of sin, granting that it was an error, but keeping it uncorrectable. This is not really a change in your perception of it, for it is sin that calls for punishment, not error.
4. The Holy Spirit cannot punish sin. Mistakes He recognizes and would correct them all as God entrusted Him to do. But sin He knows not, nor can He recognize mistakes that cannot be corrected. For a mistake that cannot be corrected is meaningless to Him. Mistakes are for correction, and they call for nothing else. What calls for punishment must call for nothing. Every mistake must be a call for love. What, then, is sin? What could it be but a mistake you would keep hidden; a call for help that you would keep unheard and thus unanswered?
5. In time, the Holy Spirit clearly sees the Son of God can make mistakes. On this you share His vision. Yet you do not share His recognition of the difference between time and eternity. And when correction is completed, time is eternity. The Holy Spirit can teach you how to look on time differently and see beyond it, but not while you believe in sin. In error, yes, for this can be corrected by the mind. But sin is the belief that your perception is unchangeable, and that the mind must accept as true what it is told through it. If it does not obey, the mind is judged insane. The only power that could change perception is thus kept impotent, held to the body by the fear of changed perception which its Teacher, Who is one with it, would bring.
6. When you are tempted to believe that sin is real, remember this: If sin is real, both God and you are not. If creation is extension, the Creator must have extended Himself, and it is impossible that what is part of Him is totally unlike the rest. If sin is real, God must be at war with Himself. He must be split, and torn between good and evil, partly sane and partially insane. For He must have created what wills to destroy Him and has the power to do so. Is it not easier to believe that you have been mistaken than to believe in this?
7. While you believe that your reality or your brother’s is bounded by a body, you will believe in sin. While you believe that bodies can unite, you will find guilt attractive and believe that sin is precious. For the belief that bodies limit mind leads to a perception of the world in which the proof of separation seems to be everywhere. And God and His creation seem to be split apart and overthrown. For sin would prove what God created holy could not prevail against it, nor remain itself before the power of sin. Sin is perceived as mightier than God, before which God Himself must bow, and offer His creation to its conqueror. Is this humility or madness?
8. If sin is real, it must forever be beyond the hope of healing. For there would be a power beyond God’s, capable of making another will that could attack His Will and overcome it; and give His Son a will apart from His, and stronger. And each part of God’s fragmented creation would have a different will, opposed to His, and in eternal opposition to Him and to each other. Your holy relationship has, as its purpose now, the goal of proving this is impossible. Heaven has smiled upon it, and the belief in sin has been uprooted in its smile of love. You see it still because you do not realize that its foundation has gone. Its source has been removed, and so it can be cherished but a little while before it vanishes. Only the habit of looking for it still remains.
9. And yet you look with Heaven’s smile upon your lips, and Heaven’s blessing on your sight. You will not see sin long. For in the new perception the mind corrects it when it seems to be seen, and it becomes invisible. Errors are quickly recognized and quickly given to correction, to be healed, not hidden. You will be healed of sin and all its ravages the instant that you give it no power over your brother. And you will help him overcome mistakes by joyously releasing him from the belief in sin.
10. In the holy instant, you will see the smile of Heaven shining on both you and your brother. And you will shine upon him, in glad acknowledgment of the grace that has been given you. For sin will not prevail against a union Heaven has smiled upon. Your perception was healed in the holy instant Heaven gave you. Forget what you have seen and raise your eyes in faith to what you now can see. The barriers to Heaven will disappear before your holy sight, for you who were sightless have been given vision, and you can see. Look not for what has been removed, but for the glory that has been restored for you to see.
11. Look upon your Redeemer and behold what He would show you in your brother and let not sin arise again to blind your eyes. For sin would keep you separate from him, but Your Redeemer would have you look upon your brother as yourself. Your relationship is now a temple of healing; a place where all the weary ones can come and rest. Here is the rest that waits for all, after the journey. And it is brought nearer to all by your relationship.
As we come to Holy Spirit, our whole perception of sin, guilt, and punishment loses its hold on our minds. As our minds are purified, we no longer cleave to pointing fingers, digging around for evidence of ill will and evildoing, trying to find the guilty culprit so we can heap all manner of retribution upon him. We look upon all of human history, upon ourselves and our brothers in mercy and in forgiveness – we forgive each other our humanity; we forgive each other our perception of bodies and sin, guilt and punishment; we forgive each other for forgetting who and what we really are!
As humans and identifying with flesh, we cannot eat a meal that did not come to our table at the sacrifice of plants, animals, and workers. We cannot use toilet paper and paper towels without someone reminding us of all the poor trees that were chopped down for our convenience. Turn on the air conditioner and there we are sucking up more than our fair share of electricity. One guy I met was trying to make me feel guilty for living on land that had once belonged to natives. Have a beautiful pool in your backyard? How dare you enjoy it when all I have is a pond! All that would cause us to cringe inside, to remind us of how undeserving and unworthy we are of love, peace, and joy, of recalling our every bad deed, lustful thought, and unfair advantage – guilt is lovely to the ego.
Holy Spirit sets us free from all that. We are not guilty. Everything that happens here disappears with the past. It is not only “no more,” it is “never was” in the eyes of God. A dream of time, Holy Spirit teaches us to live in time and let holiness correct our mistakes, let it perfect us, let the nothingness of separation from God teach us everything we need to awaken in the arms of God.
I am being faithful to God when I can overlook all the ways in which you hurt me and filled me with dismay and see instead a person, like me, whose humanity sometimes gets in the way of Sonship. I am being faithful to God when I can recognize our mutuality, when I no longer hide my own misdeeds of the flesh and point out yours!
In the flesh, and in time, we make mistakes, and Holy Spirit inside of each one of us corrects them. When we are completely corrected, we are freed of the wearying cycles of time. We are freed of the encumbrances and limitations that come with physicality. We are fit for eternity.
We can only attain peace when we stop believing in and cherishing thoughts of sin. Sin can never lift itself up against God! Sin cannot touch the Creation of God. Sin cannot create an alternate kingdom which can withstand eternity. Every dreadful thing that you can imagine is nothing in the eyes of holiness, for it is over as soon as it begins, it is in the past, it cannot uphold truth or endure reality. To believe in the power of sin is to disbelieve in the power of God. It is to believe that sin has the power to change God from a God of Love to a God of vengeance and spite and bad temper. When you are tempted to think of God in this demeaning way, think of the father in the story of the prodigal son who waited with love and trust for his son’s awakening and return.
In your personal devotion today, ask Holy Spirit to give you application for the unreality of sin. Free yourself from guilt by taking all thoughts of it to your inner altar and putting it down. Bring every person you have mistaken for an enemy, all the people you attacked and wounded, all the ones you said you loved but then betrayed – bring them to the holy instant and ask them to forgive you. Bring those who have sinned against you and forgive them. Understand that it was all a case of mistaken identity – instead of vengeance, victimization, and vindication choose healing and wholeness. Practice extending the Grace and Goodness of God within you to all those who come to mind. This is the way to peace, this is the way to joy, this is the way we practice eternity and make beneficial use of time.
 A Course in Miracles. Chapter 19 The attainment of peace. III The unreality of sin. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
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