Friday, December 27, 2013

What Do We Accept?

Photo (c) Lloyd Morgan
A friend of mine wrote a recent post based on a quote by Rick Warren, “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”  That was followed by a quote from an unknown author, “A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it’s accepted by a majority.”  Contrast that with "Vice is now using 'tolerance' to bludgeon virtue, and virtue is currently losing." from a post a day later.  And that was followed by another friend posting a great study on judging.  I'm not going to presume that each had something to do with any of the others.  But the combination had me feeling like the guy in that picture.  There's really are no coincidences, only new insights into the heart of God.  Let's take a look.


Pastor Rick Warren has some great insights.  At other times, he's said things that my response is, "Are you for real?".  The quote my friend used is one I'd liken to a person standing at the edge of a cliff.  The next step can either be a step toward safety or a step over the edge for a perilous fall.  I'd really like to see the context of that quote to determine if it's meant in a Godly way or if it's taking the reader/hearer down a rabbit trail.

Though it isn't consistently mentioned throughout these posts, there's an underlying thread that what's being discussed is sensual sin.  And that's one that's confused me for years.  I've gone through the Greek and Hebrew original meanings of sin in the Bible, before.  I won't repeat it here. But God's view of sin is that it's sin.  Except for separation from God or leading others away from God, they're all the same.  One person's adultery is no different than another's "little white lie". That's not saying adultery isn't a big sin, it's pointing out that the "little white lie" isn't as small as we make it out to be.  The fact is, it's human judgement that trivializes the "borrowed" paperclip, the "little white lie".  It's that same human judgement that speaks more of sensual sins than of murder and theft.  I've come to my own conclusions why sensual sin gets far more press and discussion than other sins.  Maybe we'll get into that in a future post.  For now, you'll have to come to your own conclusions.

That brings us to "Vice is now using 'tolerance' to bludgeon virtue, and virtue is currently losing.".  Is that really news?  Just as we've been saying we're in the end times for 2,000 years, we've been saying this, too.  The fact is that, whether believer or not, we all want to justify our own personal pet sins.  And we're looking to silence any protest against them.  That's the nature of our flesh.  What I find interesting is that the post including that quote, then later refers to Romans 1:32b (NKJV) "...but also approve of those who practice them." as saying that anyone else being OK with the sin is condemned like those living in the sin.  Which ignores Romans 1:32a (NKJV) "who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same....".  Take a look at the whole verse together: 

Romans 1:32 (NKJV) who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. 

There's no part of the verse that can be separated from the rest.  It's not us saying that it's OK for someone else to practice a specific sin, it's someone not only practicing those sins, but drawing others into their sin.  And, while the passage hits on sensual sin a lot, look at verse 29-31.  

Romans 1:29-31 (NKJV) being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 

There's a lot more than the various forms of sexual sin involved.  And none is the real focus.  Those are mere vehicles to the important one.  The real sin is in verse 25.  

Romans 1:25 (NKJV) who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 

There we have it.  The real problem isn't sex, it isn't murder, it isn't lies, it isn't theft, nor any of the rest of the list.  It's willfully moving away from a relationship with God, focusing on self instead of Him.  And, if we tie in verse 32, it's drawing others into our personal pet sin, so that it's not only us moving away from God, it's us drawing others away from Him.

And we come to the third post in this group.  Judging.  God's short answer for that is "Don't!".  Part of our problem in understanding this doctrine is that there are multiple words that get translated as judging.  We'll skip the Greek, this time, but look at several verses more closely.

1 Corinthians 11:31 (AMP) For if we searchingly examined ourselves [detecting our shortcomings and recognizing our own condition], we should not be judged and penalty decreed [by the divine judgment].

2 Corinthians 13:5 (AMP) Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected?

Neither suggests we judge ourselves.  If we actually judge, the "we" is our flesh.  Do I really need to review all the verses that tells us our flesh is unqualified to deal with anything about our relationship with God (or lack of a relationship)?  Our own judging fits into a graphic floating around the web -- it says something to the effect, "Don't judge me because my sin is different than yours.".  We can't judge others based on our flesh. but we can't excuse our own sin on that same basis.  What the "judging" words in both of those verses say is that we need to discern and prove thoughts and behavior based on a standard.  And that standard is God, communicated via the Word.  Anything less is incapable of giving us a proper conclusion.

We see something interesting when we go back to that quote from the unknown author, “A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it’s accepted by a majority.”  Going by what our flesh discerns, sinners are terrible.  And, somehow, the flesh often manages to exclude ourselves and our sins from that category.  Or, other times, it'll do a backflip and we're the ones being condemned, while everyone else seems so good.  Both are wrong.

One of the great things to remember is that God sees us separate from our sin and sins.  When we look at the person with the sensual sin, the one who committed murder, the robber, that has to remain at the forefront of our thinking.  God sees Jesus instead of our sin.  So, He can be patient with us, giving us until we leave this earth to make a decision to have a full relationsip with Him.  If we can't love the sinner while hating the sin, we're saying we know better than God on that.  Unless we really are discerning from the standard of God's Word, that's what happens.  And we could very well be putting our opinion in the way of our call to draw others to Christ.

There's power in loving the way God does.  We can forgive each other and, more importantly, ourselves.  That doesn't condone sin.  It doesn't support openly sinful behavior.  What it does support is allowing ourselves and others to become in full unity with God.  And it supports that the option is available to anyone at any time, as long as they are in this life.Those we evangelize and disciple benefit and we benefit because each has the chance to grow closer to God.

2 comments:

  1. The heart of the matter..."The real problem isn't sex, it isn't murder, it isn't lies, it isn't theft, nor any of the rest of the list. It's willfully moving away from a relationship with God, focusing on self instead of Him." Love it! Simply put and honest.

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  2. Thanks, Pam. It all comes down to relationship, not specific actions. Which doesn't mean that a saved person can't mess up. And it doesn't mean that salvation eliminates earthly consequences. But, to paraphrase an advertising slogan, "everything goes better with God".

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