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Does the Bible Teach Karma?

Does the bible support the existence of karma? How is karma different from the idea of being punished for sin?

In the bible, sin is understood as transgression against God. Sin prevents a personal relationship with God, and creates a life of vanity and delusion. People are alienated from God by the workings of sin.

However, karma is understood as raw spiritual cause and effect. The actions of the past have created the present, and the actions of the present will create the future. Karma is the process of a person's actions creating their place in the world.

Karma is more like natural law than divine purpose. It's the natural effect of our actions on ourselves. Karma includes both the immediate physical effects of our actions, and the long-term spiritual effects. Many believe that karma is guided by the universe, not a divine being.

Is it karma or sin?

Part of wisdom is identifying evil. Many people recognize it by experience, "He who digs a pit shall fall into it, and he who rolls a stone shall have it turn back on him" (Proverbs 26:27 LITV bible).

People of different beliefs and backgrounds have observed that we often receive what we've sown. The betrayer gets betrayed, the thief gets caught, and the violent person is killed. This can be interpreted as karma, or as the fruit of sin.

However, it's also true that some people reap severe tragedy. Some people enter the world with far less and suffer in ways that are unfathomable to most people. Some might interpret this as karma from past lives, and others might interpret this as the result of sin.

To many observers the simple answer is that life is unfair. Calling it karma or sin is a crutch. Its an attempt to find fairness in something that isn't fair.

Our perceptions are tainted by sin.

A nonbeliever's perception of the world is built upon life in the flesh. This is how they interpret blessing and suffering. They don't know anything else, so they measure according to what they value. Their heart is with the treasures of the world.

However, by faith believers see the world is vain. Believers don't covet the things of the world because they are passing away. The treasures of the world are deceptive, therefore the believer takes pity on those who are enslaved by them.

The spoils of wickedness are an illusion, "For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men...When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction." (Psalm 18.3-5,16-18 KJV bible).

God's values are not of the world.

A person who has been given less might gain something of value to God. However, the world doesn't recognize the value of their experience. The world might try to understand, but the experience doesn't serve the lusts of the world.

The world can't recognize the purpose of God within it because its darkened by sin. However, the patience of faith overcomes the darkness of the world. True faith from God changes our perception so that we value eternal blessings above temporary ones.

The faithful find joy not in the things of the world, but in the Lord. They use what they've been given for a greater purpose (see Does a Seed Die?). Their reward is not good karma of the world, but eternal life, "And the world is passing away, and its lust. But the one doing the will of God abides forever" (1st John 2.17 LITV bible).

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