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ACIM – CHAPTER 21 REASON AND PERCEPTION III. Faith, Belief, and Perception

1. All special relationships have sin as their goal.  For they are bargains with reality, toward which the seeming union is adjusted.  Forget not this: to bargain is to set a limit, and any brother with whom you have a limited relationship, you hate.  You may attempt to keep the bargain in the name of “fairness,” sometimes demanding payment of yourself, perhaps more often of the other.  Thus, in the “fairness” you attempt to ease the guilt that comes from the accepted purpose of the relationship.  And that is why the Holy Spirit must change its purpose to make it useful to Him and harmless to you.

2. If you accept this change, you have accepted the idea of making room for truth. The source of sin is gone. You may imagine that you still experience its effects, but it is not your purpose, and you no longer want it. No one allows a purpose to be replaced while he desires it, for nothing is so cherished and protected as is a goal the mind accepts. This it will follow, grimly or happily, but always with faith and with the persistence that faith inevitably brings. The power of faith is never recognized if it is placed in sin. But it is always recognized if it is placed in love.

3. Why is it strange to you that faith can move mountains? This is indeed a little feat for such a power. For faith can keep the Son of God in chains as long as he believes he is in chains. And when he is released from them it will be simply because he no longer believes in them, withdrawing faith that they can hold him, and placing it in his freedom instead. It is impossible to place equal faith in opposite directions. What faith you give to sin you take away from holiness. And what you offer holiness has been removed from sin.

4. Faith and belief and vision are the means by which the goal of holiness is reached. Through them the Holy Spirit leads you to the real world, and away from all illusions where your faith was laid. This is His direction; the only one He ever sees. And when you wander, He reminds you there is but one. His faith and His belief and vision are all for you. And when you have accepted them completely instead of yours, you will have need of them no longer.  For faith and vision and belief are meaningful only before the state of certainty is reached.  In heaven they are unknown.  Yet heaven is reached through them.

5.  It is impossible that the Son of God lack faith, but he can choose where he would have it be. Faithlessness is not a lack of faith but faith in nothing.  Faith given to illusions does not lack power, for by it does the Son of God believe that he is powerless.  Thus, is he faithless to himself, but strong in faith in his illusions about himself. For faith, perception and belief you made, as means for losing certainty and finding sin.  This mad direction was your choice, and by your faith in what you chose, you made what you desired.

6. The Holy Spirit has a use for all the means for sin by which you sought to find it. But as He uses them, they lead away from sin, because His purpose lies in the opposite direction. He sees the means you use, but not the purpose for which you made them.  He would not take them from you, for He sees their value as a means for what He wills for you. You made perception that you might choose among your brothers and seek for sin with them. The Holy Spirit sees perception as a means to teach you that the vision of a holy relationship is all you want to see.  Then will you give your faith to holiness, desiring and believing in it because of your desire.

7. Faith and belief become attached to vision, as all the means that once served sin are redirected now toward holiness.  For what you think is sin is limitation, and whom you try to limit to the body you hate because you fear.  And your refusal to forgive him, you would condemn him to the body because the means for sin are dear to you.  And so, the body has your faith and your belief.  But holiness would set your brother free, removing hatred by removing fear, and not as a symptom but at its source.

8. Those who would free their brothers from the body can have no fear.  They have renounced the means for sin by choosing to let all limitations be removed.  As they desire to look upon their brothers in holiness, the power of their belief in faith sees far beyond the body, supporting vision, not obstructing it.  But first they chose to recognize how much their faith had limited their understanding of the world, desiring to place its power elsewhere should another point of view be given them.  The miracles that follow this decision are also borne of faith.  For all who choose to look away from sin are given vision and are led to holiness.

9. Those who believe in sin must think the Holy Spirit asks for sacrifice, for this is how they think their purpose is accomplished.  Brother, the Holy Spirit knows that sacrifice brings nothing.  He makes no bargains.  And if you seek to limit Him, you will hate Him because you are afraid.  The gift that He has given you is more than anything that stands this side of heaven.  The instant for its recognition is at hand.  Join your awareness to what has been already joined. The faith you give your brother can accomplish this.  For he who loves the world is seeing it for you, without one spot of sin upon it, and in the innocence that makes the sight of it as beautiful as Heaven.

10. Your faith in sacrifice has given it great power in your sight; except you do not realize you cannot see because of it.  For sacrifices must be exacted of a body, and by another body.  The mind could neither ask it nor receive it of itself.  And no more could the body.  The intention is in the mind, which tries to use the body to carry out the means for sin in which the mind believes.  Thus is the joining of mind and body an inescapable belief of those who value sin.  And so is sacrifice invariably a means for limitation, and thus for hate.

11. Think you the Holy Spirit is concerned with this?  He gives not what it is His purpose to lead you from.  You think He would deprive you for your good.  But “good” and “deprivation” are opposites and cannot meaningfully join in any way.  It is like saying that the moon and sun are one because they come with night and day, and so they must be joined.  Yet sight of one is but the sign the other has disappeared from sight.  Nor is it possible that what gives light be one with what depends on darkness to be seen.  Neither demands the sacrifice of the other.  Yet on the absence of the other does each depend.

12.  The body was made to be a sacrifice to sin, and in the darkness so it still is seen.  Yet in the light of vision, it is looked upon quite differently.  You can have faith in it to serve the Holy Spirit’s goal and give it power to serve as means to help the blind to see.  But in their seeing they look past it, as do you.  The faith and the belief you gave it belongs beyond.  You gave perception and belief in faith from mind to body.  Let them now be given back to what produced them and can use them still to save itself from what it made. [1]

It is very important in our spiritual journey that we realize that in the flesh we can have no union.  In our special relationships – Jesus tells us that we make a bargain with reality.  In the flesh we have no choice but to set limits upon our relationships.  I will love my husband best in all the world.  He will be my only sexual partner, and I will be his.  We made this bargain when we got married.  I will share my life with him, and he will always come before others even as I expect him to put me first.  We have different bargains, spoken or unspoken, realized or unconscious, with our kids, our best friends, our aunts and uncles and our other family members.  We try to be fair.  The other night one of my friends went out of her way to give me a ride home and she said, “Oh, I know you would do it for me, and so I don’t mind.” 

Jesus tells us that we strive to ease the guilt of these special relationships with such examples of “fairness,” and equality.  I will give you some of the tomatoes from my garden and you might give me a jar of the sauce that you made from them.  In this world and in our special relationships we must always be careful with each other so that one person doesn’t feel used and abused while the other person seems to be getting more than their fair share.  I know someone who makes long lists of people who liked her posts on Facebook and then makes a point to like or not to like the posts of others based upon this list!  She is the same person who keeps track of who sends her Christmas cards and is very careful never to send a card to anybody who has not sent her one. While this may seem extreme to me and perhaps to you, the fact is that in the flesh these are major concerns to us.  Is my husband keeping up his fair share of our commitment to each other?  Can I trust my friend with my secrets?  Can I trust my family members not to gossip about me amongst themselves?  Did I spend as much on her birthday present as she spent on mine? 

Very often we tell lies in our special relationships or fail at least to tell the whole truth.  I may not tell my husband exactly how much I spend on the cologne I enjoy wearing.  I may downplay how much I still enjoy male attention.  There are times that his dialogues about his projects and technological interests puts me to sleep no matter how hard I try to maintain an interest.  Thought certainly not limited to romantic, sexual, or marital relationships, jealousy and possessiveness can also rear its ugly head between us. 

In my work with domestic violence and sexual abuse, we found that it is more often the special relationships and not strangers who inflict the most harm and even death upon their “loved” ones. 

Jesus tells us that Holy Spirit lives in our holy relationships with one another.  As we bring our special relationships to holiness, we let them go.  We no longer cling to one another for a sense of security, for a sense of belonging, for a sense of safety in a dangerous world.  Our relationships become truthful because we are no longer bound by jealousy and possessiveness, we realize what is our business with each other and what is not!  When we take our special relationships and all the demands and obligations we put upon them and upon ourselves and give them to Holy Spirit, the source of sin is gone.  I am no more inclined to lie to my husband than I am to lie to God.  When my relationship with you becomes holy, I can be truthful with you.  I can admit to all things that have to do with my humanity – I do not have to hide things to make myself look bigger and better than I really am.  When our relationships are holy, I forgive you for your mistakes and you forgive me for my mistakes.  We do not hold grudges against each other.  We do not harbor thoughts of revenge and spite.  We do not compete with each other for attention or flatter each other to puff up each other’s ego.  Because now our faith is not in the fear-based selfishness of the ego but our faith is in love. 

When we place our faith in love, mountains move.  We imprison ourselves in our special relationships because they are based upon fear, selfishness, possessiveness, and the flesh-based sense of fairness and equality.  When we stop believing in specialness, we are no longer bound by the unnatural way of relating to one another.  The worries and concerns about our loved ones go away.  We no longer try to manipulate and control our kids to keep them on the straight and narrow – we let them learn their life lessons with perfect trust in God and in them.  We do not mar our beautiful relationships with jealousy and possessiveness and grudges.  We build trust with each other by refraining from all forms of gossip and backbiting.  We forgive ourselves and each other for all lapses in holiness and support one another in tender, gentle, merciful ways.  When you make a mistake, I do not gloat or call other people and tell them about it. For this is taking away my faith in holiness and giving it to sin.  I simply trust that you will see it and correct it and we can go on in holiness and in love. 

Spend some time with paragraph ten for here Jesus explains very carefully the terms of the special relationships and the sacrifices we make to and for them when we have faith in them.  When we have a special relationship between us, I will sacrifice my time, money, and effort to it just as you will.  We will have expectations of one another – you will have your role and I will have mine.  Everything that we value about one another will be in the flesh.  Because you attended a concert of my choosing with me now I must attend one of your choosing.  You baked me a cake; I make you some cookies.  You looked after my house when I was gone; I watched your dog when you went to the shore.  We may not look upon these things that we do for one another as sacrifices, but they are sacrifices and they can get very demanding and cause us to sin against each other.  When you feel as if I am not reciprocating properly you will talk about me behind my back; when I feel as if you have no right to call me in the middle of the night to complain about your neighbors and all the racket they are making, I will feel resentful and mean toward you.  None of this can happen in the spirit for you can not inconvenience me in Spirit;  I simply cannot take advantage of your kindness in Spirit. 

All of the ideas we have about sin and shame center about the flesh.  There is no sin in Spirit – we must have bodies, at least two, to sin.  And so to believe in sin is to believe in the body and not in the Spirit.  To believe in the need of sacrifice is to believe that God is concerned with flesh and not Spirit.  We do not have to give up anything for God for we give Him nothing in exchange for Everything!

Holy Spirit’s purpose is to lead us away from our attachment to the flesh and bring us to the reality of Spirit.  Nothing in the physical world means a thing to God.  Holiness is of spirit and not of flesh or anything in the perceptual world.  In the Spirit, mountains that move and prisons that fail to hold captive is a small feat indeed for it is nothing. 

Holy Spirit does not yank our special relationships away from us, He transforms them into relationships in which we see each other as we really are – loving, whole, and as one in Spirit.  Only in Spirit can I love you as I love myself, for only in Spirit are we one.  I do not have to sacrifice you, I do not have to remove myself from you because now I am holy and you are not; I do not have to put you on a prayer list, bring your name up to my holy friends and have them pray for your salvation; worry that you may burn in hell for all your sins and shortcomings.  I simply see you in the light of God’s Love and know that we are one.  Mutually human in time; mutually Son of God beyond this realm. 

In closing, Jesus tells us that the body was designed to be sacrificed to sin.  When we see each other as bodies, this is what we do to each other – we sacrifice each other.  But with the vision of Christ, we look upon the body only as a means to help the blind to see.  We give it to Holy Spirit to use for His purpose.  It is no sacrifice to give our bodies to Holy Spirit to be used to save us from them!  For only when we can relate to one another without flesh and physicality will we know the Kingdom of God.    


[1] A Course in Miracles. Chapter 21 Reason and perception. III. Faith, belief, and vision. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).

For daily 2021 Workbook lessons visit www.i-choose-love.com courtesy of Linda R.

Audio credit: www.eckiefriar.com

Filed under: ACIM, Teaching and Learning

About the Author

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Coming up on sixty, my love for God, home and hearth, my husband and family fueled my decision to devote the rest of my life only to pursuits which brought love, joy, peace, and purpose. I am a writer, seeker, student, and teacher with experience professional and otherwise from waitressing to teaching the English language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. I hold a BA in Psychology from Bloomsburg University, which took nearly 30 years to attain while I squeezed courses in between raising my children, journaling, relationships, work, and an assortment of escapades, some of which I would rather forget! An ongoing passion for reading, writing, adventure, food, and fun, eventually led me to the love of my life, James, whom I met in 1996 and married in 1997. Our life together has been an exciting journey of work and travel, spiritual awakening, and domestic bliss ever since. Although we have experienced the tragic loss of family members and friends through death and estrangement, we have managed to turn our special relationship into a holy one by the grace of God and an acute and growing awareness of “there must be a better way!” In 2006, I published my first novel, Luella’s Calling, and am currently working on my second, Grover Good and the Stone Chateau. From 2013 through 2018, I worked as a Prevention Education Specialist for Transitions, a local domestic violence sexual abuse victim’s service agency. My work there, fueled by a lifelong enthusiasm for teaching, led me to obtain an MS in Education from Scranton University. In 2018, I resigned to accompany James on his work travels while focusing on my calling to study and teach A Course in Miracles. To that end, I dedicate the rest of my days to writing, sharing, and teaching the message of salvation found within the Course pages. Thank you for your interest in this blog. As I do not respond to comments on the posts, if you care to contact me, please email me at eckief@yahoo.com.

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