A Course in Miracles Text Made Simple

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you read the corresponding chapter and section in the Text of the Second or
Third Edition of A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace.

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Chapter 19: The Attainment of Peace

Section II: Sin versus Error

Read ACIM Chapter 19, Section II (pages 402-03)

How does Jesus define ‘sin’?

In this short section Jesus brings to our attention the foundation on which the ego thought system is based — the idea that the separation from God really happened, and therefore we are guilty for destroying God’s oneness. He tells us, “Sin is the grand illusion underlying all the ego’s grandiosity. For by it God Himself is changed, and rendered incomplete.” (2:6-7)

This idea that the separation from God really happened and therefore we are guilty for what we have done is inherent in the ego’s idea of ‘sin.’ Jesus describes to us the guilty belief in ‘sin’ on which this world is based: “To sin would be to violate reality, and to succeed. Sin is the proclamation that attack is real and guilt is justified. It assumes the Son of God is guilty, and has thus succeeded in losing his innocence and making himself what God created not. Thus is creation seen as not eternal, and the Will of God open to opposition and defeat.” (2:1-5)

Why does Jesus say we cannot sin?

In helping us to heal our mind of these false ideas and bring us back to sanity, Jesus tells us an important truth: “The Son of God can be mistaken; he can deceive himself; he can even turn the power of his mind against himself. But he cannot sin. There is nothing he can do that would really change his reality in any way, nor make him really guilty.” (3:1-3) This is an important idea that we want to take in and apply to the way we view ourselves and the world. Jesus wants us to understand that when we maintain that this world of separation is real, it is the same as thinking that sin is real and that we really succeeded in separating off from God.

Jesus knows that we are not consciously aware of why we see the world of separation that we are currently experiencing. He knows that this has been pushed out of conscious awareness. He also knows that we do not understand why we experience such a vulnerable world, a weak and loveless world, where everyone seems to be looking out only for themselves or those they consider ‘close’ to them. That is why he reveals to us what is really going on within the framework of the ego thought system.

What does sin call for and what does error call for?

He tells us, “The belief in sin is necessarily based on the firm conviction that minds, not bodies, can attack. And thus the mind is guilty, and will forever so remain unless a mind not a part of it can give it absolution. Sin calls for punishment as error for correction, and the belief that punishment is correction is clearly insane.” (1:6) Look at the world’s religions. Do they not reflect these ego thoughts? Look at how we punish ourselves by making up fantasies where the body becomes sick and eventually dies.

What is the core belief of the ego that is the cause of our fantasies of self punishment and death?

When we buy into the ego thought system we are also buying into the idea that we are really guilty and need to be punished. This core belief of the ego is what is the cause of our fantasies of self punishment and death.

How does the Course help us reverse these insane ideas?

To help us out of these insane ideas, the Course tells us again and again: The separation never really happened. We are only dreaming that it did. It was just a mistaken idea that has no substance at all. Jesus tells us, “It is essential that error be not confused with sin, and it is this distinction that makes salvation possible. For error can be corrected, and the wrong made right. But sin, were it possible, would be irreversible.” (1:1-3) We have made an error in our thinking. That is all. Thinking that the separation really happened cannot change our changeless Identity as one with the universal Mind of Love. This is the change of mind that Jesus is leading us to. This is the change of mind that will free us from the bondage of ego thinking. As we let go of making a world of separation real, the truth will show up, just naturally.

Jesus mercifully asks us, “Would you not rather that all this be nothing more than a mistake, entirely correctable, and so easily escaped from that its whole correction is like walking through a mist into the sun? For that is all it is.” (8:1-2) We have merely been mistaken. Once we see that we can simply choose again, and this time choose with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will see that this change of mind is not so hard.

Jesus also knows that we have become attached to what we think we have made. You have heard the commercial line that says, “Mikey likes it.” Well, we have grown accustomed to our world of separate bodies and individual, private minds. It seems threatening to give up these ideas, even if we now know that they are mistaken. That is why Jesus tells us, “Perhaps you would be tempted to agree with the ego that it is far better to be sinful than mistaken. Yet think you carefully before you allow yourself to make this choice. Approach it not lightly, for it is the choice of hell or Heaven.” (8:3-5)

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Reference Keys for
A Course in Miracles Quotes

How to Read References for Quotes from A Course in Miracles

Below are example references to specific sentences using the notation of the Second & Third Editions of A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace:

T-26.IV.4:7 = Text, Chapt. 26, Section IV, paragraph 4, sentence 7.

W-pI.169.5:2 = Workbook, Part I, Lesson 169, paragraph 5, sentence 2.

M-13.3:2 = Manual for Teachers, Question 13, paragraph 3, sentence 2.

C-6.4:6 = Clarification of Terms, Term 6, paragraph 4, sentence 6

The above numbering system of the Second & Third Editions is © Copyright 1992, The Foundation for A Course in Miracles.

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