When the first parents, or whom they represent, possessed their God-given souls, these souls were in the image of God, but they had nothing of the essence of God in them. They were given the opportunity, however, to obtain the nature of God through prayer for His Love, which on entering the human soul through the agency of the Holy Spirit, transforms that soul from the image of God into the essence of God. But the first parents, instead of turning to God and His Love, sought mastery of their material surroundings alone and, instead of developing their souls so that they would partake of the nature of God through Divine Love, chose the development of their intellectual faculties. For it is through his intellectual attainments that man acquires the material possessions and wealth by which he so much sets his store and which marks him as a success by worldly standards. And thus came the story of the apple, and the Tree of Knowledge. And it is through this material knowledge that sin began, for man turned from God to be independent of God, and with it came pride. He became puffed up, cruel, heartless and merciless, where he had been created with a soul full of human love and mercy and tenderness and sympathy for his fellow beings. Thus man, in his ruthlessness, lost the use of his soul qualities and the potentiality of partaking of the Father's nature through the inflowing of the Divine Love into his soul, and this was the death which man suffered when he sinned. For, says Jesus, the material body was not in question; it was, rather, the penalty of having lost the opportunity of achieving at-onement in soul with the Father. Men lost the potentiality for salvation through becoming immortal souls. The wages of sin, as Jesus explains it, is spiritual death: loss of the soul's chance to partake of God's nature and [to] live. Death in the flesh, Jesus assures us, is merely an incident in the progress of man's soul from preexistence to the point where he returns to the spirit world with his individuality assumed at the time of incarnation, and manifested in his spirit body.
The problem of sin, then, is the defilement of the soul during its period of incarnation. Sin is the violation of God's laws, says Jesus, as given to mankind by those of His messengers who transmit His will to mortals attuned to their suggestions, either because they are more pure in heart and are closer to the Father or because of their psychic or mediumistic powers. An interesting message signed Elijah tells us that he could receive messages from the unseen world because of prayers and religious instinct. Here, perhaps, is the story of the great religious founders and reformers of all lands and ages up to the coming of the Messiah. They all sought to turn man to the moral life, and the Eight Steps of Buddha, the Hammurabi Code and the Decalogue of Moses may, perhaps, be viewed as the success which the Father's messengers attained in planting into man's mind an awareness of the existence of God's laws, which were to be observed by all His children for the purity of their souls.
Some of the finest messages in this collection ["True Gospel Revealed Anew by Jesus," Vol. I] are those from Old Testament Prophets, like Elijah, Samuel, Moses and Daniel, who tell us of their efforts to turn their compatriots away from sin and error in the conduct of their lives to standards of ethical living, and seeking to give effect to their sermons through recourse to threats of punishment to be meted out by an angry and wrathful God. They explain that His Love was not available to them nor was it known to them as a reality, and they conceived of Him as a stern taskmaster who was vengeful and jealous "of His name." Their highest concept of Judaism, which graces the most exalted pages of the Old Testament, was intense faith in God, righteousness and obedience to His laws. There also runs through the Scriptures the theme of the new heart--the promise of the Father's Love, to be bestowed in the fullness of time upon the Jews first and thereafter upon all mankind, but this is a subject which, as far as I know, has never been given adequate treatment in the study of the Hebrew religion. (True Gospel Revealed Anew by Jesus, Vol. I, pp. XXIV-XXV).