Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Promise or Promiscuity?

If ever there was a question that needs to be raised today it’s the one of promise or promiscuity? In fact it's a perennial problem/question.
Will we as God’s people live by the promise of God, or will we be seduced and fooled by the enemy and live in promiscuity – the enemy’s idea of what it means to truly live? Its a challenge every Christian faces.
To put it another way – will we live by the Spirit or by the Flesh?
Sadly the statistics show there are too many today who are choosing the latter. The statistics for people including Christians struggling with pornography are on the rise – statistics suggest that 50% of Christian men struggle with pornography; 20% women (2006) – pornography is about getting by media what you can’t have in the flesh.
The statistics regarding divorce are not that much different to the world.
The World has a habit of changing or dumbing down language to suit it’s own ends. Now we use words like ‘affairs’ when what we really mean are adulteries, or ‘sleeping with’ when what we mean is fornication, and ‘partner’ instead of husband or wife, each in there own way just taking something of the edge off the original word, and so anaesthetising us to what’s really going on.
A word that has really taken hold is addiction, we say ‘oh, he/she’s addicted to…’ as if it’s some disease, some ‘thing,’ a sickness even. The word originally meant ‘a leaning,’ and its only since the early 1900’s that it has become what it is today – habitual or compulsive – a word that suits a godless generation with no references to sin and its power over people’s lives. The truth is all are addicted in some way, because all are sinners.
You may not struggle with lust, it could be something else: drink, drugs, anger, gambling, possessions…. don’t let the enemy fool you:
  • Sin is illusionary – it fools you with an empty promise, it’s not what it appears to be.
  • It’s pleasures are momentary.
  • It’s fruit is broken lives, damaged relationships, and unfulfilled potential.
To all of the above you could say, remember Adam & Eve.
Is there some temptation that keeps coming your way, more than that, is there something you are already indulging in and the devils fooled you it’s OK, maybe even that God understands – don’t be fooled! Listen, it’s not worth it! Never!
There’s only one life to live and that’s the life of promise – the life that says first of all, yes to God, and then no to temptation and sin – not the other way round. If you are not wholly surrendered to God, wholly convinced of his goodness and plan for your life you will never be an overcomer. Maybe you need to get a fresh vision of God and the promise of life he offers – unless you get that every attempt at living the life of promise will fail because it will run aground on a lower, less fulfilling vision that captivates our hearts.
When you have the vision and commitment you can then work effectively at making no provision for the flesh, and putting to death the desires of the flesh, in order to live the life of promise which is far, far greater.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Essential Goodness or Total Depravity?

Sin, not a word or a subject we are comfortable with – we’d rather talk about love and grace. We’d rather be affirmed than convicted. Patted on the backed rather than challenged and corrected.
Following my last post re Steve Chalke’s article in Christianity calling for a new understanding among Christians with regard to homosexual relationships – an article that received widespread attention from the press – I’ve found myself thinking more about the doctrine of sin.
The world has never liked it (that includes you and me).
Evolution has no place for it.
Psychology frequently has no place for it, or what follows – guilt (a religious idea).
And frequently there have been those in the church who have wanted to downplay it, or reclassify it in order to be accepted by those around them, and with the hope of reaching others – albeit mistaken.
It’s a doctrine that confronts and levels us all, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, advantaged or disadvantaged, the haves and the have-nots, etc.. The Bible doesn’t play with words, or feelings, it tells us ‘we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory,’ and that we sin because we are fallen – that there is a ‘natural’ leaning in all of us to do what is wrong, something that is evidenced in one of the first words a child utters: ‘No!’ and said with emphasis! Something that I’ve observed you never have to teach a child to say, in fact parents spend their lives attempting to teach their children what is right and providing discipline and correction when the line is crossed – you never have to teach them to do wrong, they do it!
One of the problems with the current debate is the focussing on one particular sin as if it has a category all of its own, to the neglect of other sins and the thing ‘sin’ in particular.
Some Christians talk of it in terms of Total Depravity, a strange couple of words perhaps to modern ears, words which seemingly imply that someone has ‘lost it’, and capable of no good at all. In reaction to this, some theologians and preachers have attempted to rework things and talk of the ‘essential goodness’ of humanity – having observed that we are not all that bad, that some people who are not Christians have done some very good things.
The problem is that isn’t where the Bible goes, quite the opposite. Yes we are capable of some good things, but the Bible makes it clear that even the good that we are capable of is no more than filthy rags in God’s sight – they may benefit others, but they have no merit with him. Sin is ingrained, and contaminates everything in such a way as to condemn us all.
If we undermine the doctrine of sin, we undermine the very Gospel itself, and the existence of the church and it’s mission is at stake – such liberal theology has a history of emptying churches, not filling them.
Perhaps we all need to go back to the Bible and rediscover exactly what it has to say.