Sin, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ 9 Things that Are Still Sins Whether We Agree or Not

Originally published June 19, 20159 still sins

 

I do it all the time, Mother, and I’ve decided something-
it’s not a sin.

I heard this line several years ago on a popular sitcom, spoken by an adult daughter to her Christian mother about a behavior the Bible unambiguously calls a sin. I mean, it’s right smack dab in the middle of the Big 10; “thou shalt not” and everything.

It’s one thing to say, “I know it’s a sin, but I don’t care. I’m going to do it anyway,” but how depraved is the world when they think they – in God’s place – are the ones who get to define what sin is? And what’s even worse is that the church has begun to adopt this audacious depravity as well, whether approving of sin by fiat or by simply ignoring God’s word and letting sin slide without rebuke.

When it comes to what’s a sin and what’s not, God made up His mind a long time ago. And He’s not changing it, regardless of what you or I or Joe Politician or Jane Celebrity might think. Maybe we all need a remedial course in hamartiology, so let’s start with the basics. These things are all still sins whether the world and the church agree with God or not:

1. Homosexuality

Let’s just get it out of the way right up front. I don’t care how many celebrity “pastors” and “Christian” authors twist God’s word to say otherwise, or how many people declare themselves to be (unrepentant, practicing) “gay Christians,” or how many homosexuals declare that God made them that way, God’s word is clear: homosexual lust and behavior are sins.

2. Abortion

Abortion is the taking of an innocent human life. We don’t murder people because they’re small or sick or inconvenient or will hinder our sucess. God didn’t say, “You shall not murder, except when…” He said, “You shall not murder.” Period.

3. Extra-Marital (Heterosexual) Sex

Adultery, fornication, whatever form it might take, if you’re not legally married to the person you’re engaging in sexual activity – up to and including actual intercourse – with, you’re sinning.

4. Cohabitation

See #3. And don’t try to whitewash it by saying you’re living together but not sleeping together. A) The Bible says we’re to flee temptation, not move in with it, and B) we’re supposed to avoid every form of evil, even the appearance of it. If you call yourself a Christian and you’re shacking up, you’re living in sin (that’s why they call it “living in sin”). Repent and move out or marry up.

5. Divorce

Yep, still a sin, except in two cases: unfaithfulness or an unsaved spouse leaving a saved spouse. In those two cases the spouse who was wronged is not sinning and is free to marry again.

6. Swearing

The air is saturated with it. Foul language coming from our TVs, music, movies, social media, and the people we’re around all day. But expletives have no place in the vocabulary of a Christian. Is your potty mouth on Saturday the same one you praise God with on Sunday?

7. Taking God’s Name in Vain

It’s gotten to the point where we think so little of casually punctuating our sentences with, “Oh my G-d,”  or using the name of Jesus as an exclamation that pastors are even doing so from the pulpit these days. God’s name is high and holy and should be spoken only reverently and worshipfully. How can we look people in the eye and call them to repentance and faith in a Person whose name we use as a cuss word?

8. Gluttony

We have almost completely amputated gluttony from the spiritual realm by cordoning it off as merely a physical or medical issue. We’ve renamed it “overeating,” but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a sin. God created good food for us to enjoy, but just as with all the other good gifts He gives us, He expects us to exercise Spirit-enabled self control when we receive it.

9. Female Usurpation

God makes it abundantly clear in His word that women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures or hold authority over them in the church. Women sin when they pastor churches, preach sermons in church, teach men in Sunday School classes, and hold other positions of authority over men in the church. Men, however, bear the primarily responsibility for this when they sin by failing to rebuke usurping women, or when women feel they have no other choice but to take on male responsibilities in the church because men are shirking their own duties before God.

 

We don’t get to decide what sin is. That’s God’s job. And all of us – whether we’ve committed one of these nine sins or not – are guilty of sinning against Him. That’s the bad news.

But, in Christianity, we never give the bad news without following it up with the good news. And, oh what wonderfully good news it is: forgiveness. Jesus paid for our sin at Calvary so that if we will only turn from it and trust Him, He will forgive us for all nine of these sins and countless others.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

Gospel, Homosexuality, Salvation, Sin, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Cancer: A Love Story

Originally published April 7, 2013cancer love story

Cancer.

The dreadfulness of the word hung heavy in the air between Jana and her friend Denise.

“The doctor says it’s terminal,” Denise choked, “I’m so confused. I don’t know what to do.”

Jana’s heart broke as she envisioned the difficult emotional road ahead for Denise and watched the tears streaming down her face.

“I’d do anything to take that pain away,” thought Jana. “Anything.

For days after they parted, Jana’s thoughts were consumed with how she could help Denise accept and feel better about her condition. By the weekend, when they met for coffee, Jana was ready.

“Denise,” she began, “I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and I think I know why you’re so uncomfortable with having cancer.”

“Oh? Why?” asked Denise.

“Well, first of all, you shouldn’t be fighting against the idea of having cancer. It’s a completely natural biological event. In fact, you were probably born genetically predisposed to cancer. It’s part of who you are. Accept it and embrace it as something that makes you unique and wonderful!”

Denise seemed skeptical, but Jana plunged ahead.Girlfriends Enjoy A Conversation

“You’re also worried about what other people will think of you. Maybe they’ll think you’re weak and try to help you with things that you’d rather do for yourself.”

“But maybe I’ll need some help,” Denise suggested quietly.

“Nonsense!” Jana retorted, “Having cancer doesn’t make you different from anybody else. It’s exactly the same as not having cancer. What we need to do is show that to the world. Maybe we should have a rally for cancer equality!”

“Jana, that’s great and all,” Denise whispered somberly, “but I’m going to die. That makes all the stuff you’re talking about seem a lot less important.”

Jana seems like a very loving and kind person, but does the “help” she was offering Denise seem…well…helpful?

What if I told you that during this entire scenario, Jana personally knew a doctor who had a proven cure for Denise’s type of cancer, and was giving it away, yet Jana never told Denise? How loving and kind does Jana seem now?

Now read back through this story and substitute “homosexuality” for “cancer”.

We live in a culture that tells Christians that we are to “love” our homosexual friends and loved ones by embracing homosexuality as good and natural. We even hear people who claim to be Christians saying this. But is this how the Bible defines love? Is this how Jesus loved people?

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:10-11

Think back over the encounters Jesus had with people, from the woman at the well, to Zaccheus, to Nicodemus, to the woman caught in adultery, to the rich young ruler, to anybody else Jesus ever interacted with.

Did Jesus ever “love” someone by telling him it was OK to stay in his sin?

No, He didn’t.

Jesus loved sinners by calling them to repentance, forgiveness, and a new life in Christ.

Why? Because it isn’t love to help the slave to embrace his chains. It’s love to set him free.

Christ loved us by going to the cross and becoming the propitiation –satisfying God’s wrath—for our sins. He laid down His life for our freedom.

And, Christian, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. We must lay down our opinions, our politics, our ideas of what we’d like the Bible to say, maybe even our actual lives, in order to help people know freedom in Christ. We have the cure for their spiritual cancer—the gospel—and it is not “love” to knowingly misdiagnose them or keep that cure from them.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

blurry-sky-cross
But as important as it is to rescue the perishing, there’s an even greater issue at stake here for those of us who claim the name of Christ.

For our sin, our Savior endured wrongful conviction, ridicule, mockery, and bullying.

For our sin, our Savior was slapped, punched, spit on, had His beard yanked out, and thorns and brambles mashed into His skull.

For our sin, our Savior had the skin flayed off His back, buttocks, and legs, whipped nearly to death until He was a bloody mess.

For our sin, our Savior, beaten, bloody, and broken of body, hoisted a heavy, splintery cross onto His shoulders and carried it through town and up the hill to His execution.

One nail.

Two nails.

Three nails.

For your sin. For my sin. For our neighbors’ sin.

How dare you, or I, or anyone spit in the face of our bleeding, dying Savior by saying that the sin that put Him on the cross is OK?

How dare we?

How can any of us claim to love Christ while celebrating the nails, the spear, the crown of thorns?

By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
1 John 2:5b-6

Jesus walked the way of leading people to repentance from sin and to the beauty, the freedom of a glorious new life through faith in Himself. Will we, who say we abide in Him, love Jesus and our homosexual neighbor enough to walk in the same way in which He walked?

Mostloving

Church, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Prideful and Prejudiced: Racism, Diversity, and Southern Baptists

Originally published April 1, 2016prideful prejudiced

 

Racism. The word practically emits the hum of electrical voltage. No decent person wants to be accused of being a racist, and no one wants to be mistreated on the basis of race. If there’s a more powerful word in the American vernacular right now, I’m not sure what it is.

Racism isn’t something I normally think about or have to deal with on a daily basis even though it would seem to be swirling all around me here in the Deep South. I’m white. The majority of my friends are white. Either I don’t know anyone who’s racist or those who are racist are wise enough, polite enough, or ashamed enough to keep it to themselves. But despite the fact that I don’t have much one on one experience with it, race is an issue that gets a lot of attention, and the main place I’m encountering racial issues of late is in my denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention.

Whether you see it as “too little, too late,” or “it’s about time,” the upper echelons of the SBC have been talking a good game (and, in many instances, making progress) about diversity for the last couple of decades. It started in 1995 with the Resolution On Racial Reconciliation, in which the SBC confessed, apologized for, and sought forgiveness for past involvement with and support of slavery, racism, segregation, and other civil rights issues. Next came the task force that studied changing the name of the SBC to “Great Commission Baptists” due to the negative perceptions and racial implications of the word “Southern.” This was followed by the election of Fred Luter, the first black president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Fast forward to 2016. So far this year, three well-known pastors have declared their candidacy for president of the SBC, and each has indicated that diversity is an issue he will give attention to.

J.D. Greear: “I want to see minority leaders take places of real prominence in the SBC, such that diversity might become a hallmark of our denomination.”

Steve Gaines: At Bellevue, we don’t just talk about racial reconciliation – we actually experience it and live in it as a reality. It works in our church because we focus on Jesus-centered racial reconciliation.

David Crosby (who will be nominated by Fred Luter): I hope to make [diversity] a matter of consideration from the very first as we seek to structure in the present for a future gospel strategy that is ever wider in its reach.

OK, great. More people of diverse racial backgrounds appointed to executive offices in the SBC. More books and resources about diversity. More seminars, conferences, panel discussions, and breakout sessions about race. Super. All of those things are wonderful and well intentioned, and will hopefully have some sort of positive impact at the administrative level.

But I really don’t think it’s going to make much of a dent in the actual problem.

I have a friend whose seminary graduate husband has been searching for a senior pastor position in an SBC church for about a year now. He’s a great guy who loves God’s people and rightly handles God’s word. And he’s been turned down by church after church. Why? I’m sure the churches who have rejected him would list a variety of factors, but one of the reasons is that he’s black and his wife is white.

Several years ago, my husband was on staff at an SBC church that was located across the street from a lower income housing project inhabited mostly by black, single parent families. The vast majority of our members were retired and I was a stay at home mom. We had a lot of people with a lot of free time on their hands. I suggested we start an after school tutoring program for the kids who lived in the housing project to minister to and reach out to our neighbors. The idea was quickly dismissed by a vocal few because “we don’t want those people in our church.”

That’s where real racism lives in the SBC, not at the national, upper management level, but in the hearts of some of our individual church members.

  • Church members who excuse their sin by saying, “Well, that’s just the way I was raised,” or “I’m too old to change.”
  • Deacons, elders, and search committees who – instead of dealing with sin in the camp – make provision for the flesh of their churches by quietly pushing aside the resumes of minority pastors because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of racist congregants making a stink or risk losing the money they contribute.
  • Churches who sell their buildings and move to a whiter part of town when the surrounding neighborhood “goes black.”
  • Christians whose offerings go around the world to share the gospel with people of all colors but who won’t go across the sanctuary to share a pew with people of another race.

Racism is an issue of the heart. It’s sin.

And sin can’t be solved by appointments based on skin color or some sort of “trickle down” diversity. It can only be solved by individuals repenting before a holy God, receiving His forgiveness, and growing in Christlikeness.

God’s way in the body of Christ is not “top down,” with administrators creating programs, holding meetings and conferences, and strategically moving people into various positions like pawns on a chess board. God’s way is “bottom up,” with local pastors preaching the truth of God’s word to their people and calling them to repent. It begins with Christ working in people’s hearts, one by one, convicting them of their arrogance and self-righteousness, their pride and their prejudice, their failure to see others through God’s eyes, and their failure to love one another the way God has commanded.

1 pet 1 22

The solution to racism and diversity in the SBC?
It’s right there in black and white.

Ministry, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Used by God

Originally published April 9, 2015

When I was sixteen years old, I was convinced God was calling me to be the next Sandi Patty (if you’re under 40, she was the Kari Jobe of my day). I had been singing solos and in church choirs since I was in the second grade. I was taking professional voice lessons and spent my first year of college as a vocal performance major. Not to toot my own horn here, but, while I’m not the greatest singer in the world, certainly not even in the top 10 or 20 percent, I’m also not one of those people you see during the audition rounds of American Idol who makes you want to conduct a nationwide manhunt for every person who ever lied to this poor soul and told her she could sing just so you can beat all of them senseless with a pitch pipe.

But anyway…

I had a modicum of talent and I wanted to put it to work doing “great things for the Lord.” I wanted God to use me- to put me on a stage every night in front of thousands of people so I could sing to them about Him.

Paragon of adolescent spiritual maturity that I was, it somehow never occurred to me to care what God thought about all this or what He might want to do in my life. If I thought about it at all, I just assumed He was on board with my plans. Like, how could He not be, right?

Because even in my day, that was the subtle message that was coming from the pulpit (and Christian media) and landing in the pew: If you really love Jesus and prove it by walking faithfully with Him, He’s going to use you to do some big, fat, hairy thing for Him. You’ll be the next David or Esther or Paul or Mary, and your name will go down in history just like theirs did. You’ll be famous, dahling.

Only I’m not really sure where Christian preachers, authors, and entertainers got this idea, because it sure as heck isn’t in the Bible.

The Bible knows nothing of the idea that we can behave our way into getting God to “use” us in some big way. Quite the opposite, in fact. Take a look at some of the “big names” in the Bible and what they were up to when God drafted them.

Noah- just a godly guy trying to survive a sin sick world

Moses- on the lam for murder and hanging out in the desert with a bunch of sheep

Paul- Christian-killer

David- more sheep

Gideon- just trying to feed his family

Peter- gone fishin’

Abraham- even more sheep

Were some of these guys walking faithfully with the Lord? Absolutely. But they were walking faithfully simply because they loved the Lord and desired to please Him, not with the goal of getting God to do some big thing in their lives. In fact, most of them were downright shocked when God showed up and revealed His plans for them.

And have you ever noticed that God doesn’t just use “good guys,” or guys who eventually become “good guys”? Ever read the story of Samson? Going strictly by his words and behavior mentioned in Judges 14-16, the dude comes off as a self-centered, slobbering ball of lust with anger management issues. Yet, knowing all about him before he was even born, God said He would use Samson to “…begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5)

And what about Pharaoh? In Exodus 9:16, God says to Pharaoh, “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” The plagues…the parting of the Red Sea…I’d say God used Pharoah for His glory in a pretty big way.

God can use anybody He wants for any purpose He wants, and He’s not at the mercy of their behavior in doing so.

What do we mean when we say we want to be “used by God,” anyway? I think what we often have in mind is something awesome, something grandiose. Something that will bring us fame, fortune, and glory. I’ve never heard someone say she wanted God to use her for His glory like God used Job.

Or, for that matter, Jesus.

The greatest event in the universe, the one that brought God more glory than any other phenomenon in the history of ever, was also the most excruciating moment of sorrow and suffering eternity has ever known: the crucifixion of Christ for our sin.

When we say we want God to use us, we want the stupendous, not the suffering. The crown, not the cross. Yet it is often in suffering that God is most glorified. So, just whose glory is it we’re seeking, again?

If you live your life clamoring after God to make you an Esther or a Paul, or a Sandi Patty or a Billy Graham, you are almost certainly going to be disappointed. And not just because there are only a handful of “big name” God-followers out there compared to the nameless millions who have followed Him faithfully in obscurity, but because being used by God in some big, ostentatious way is not what He calls us to clamor after.

When you stand in front of God on the Day of Judgment, He’s not going to say, “Well done. You did some phenomenal things for Me that people are still talking about!” He’s going to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Faithful servants aren’t out to change the world, they just obey. They go where they’re told to go. They do what they’re told to do. And they do it to honor their masters.

For servants of Christ, most of the time that means getting up every day and doing the same humble tasks over and over for a lifetime: cooking meals, going to work, changing diapers, serving the church, cleaning the house. You know, servant stuff, all done to the glory of God. This is what God calls us to.

God doesn’t call us to seek to be used, He calls us to seek to be faithful.

“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’.” Luke 17:10


The famous people mentioned in this article are mentioned for frame of reference purposes only – because they are recognizable names with large platforms in evangelicalism – not because I’m recommending you follow them. I am aware of the biblical issues with each of them.


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.

Prayer, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Pray for Revival

Originally published September 18, 2009

 

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; Acts 3:19

Prostrate yourself before the Lord in humility and prayer:
But He gives a greater grace, therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” James 4:6

Repent of known sin.
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Rev. 3:19

Ask God to reveal any hidden areas of sin in your life.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Ps. 139:23-24

Yearn for a deeper level of relationship with God.
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Ps. 63:1

Forsake complacency about your spiritual life.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13

Obey everything God commands, even when it is hard, humbling, inconvenient, or costly.
Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. I Sam. 15:22

Request that God will unleash His Holy Spirit, empowering your life, and sweeping through your church.
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? Luke 11:13

Return to your First Love.
Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, that I may return to you,” says the LORD of hosts. Zech. 1:3

Expect God to work mightily.
But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me. Micah 7:7

View prayer as a high priority, just as Jesus did.
But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:16

Invite others to pray with you for revival.
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42

Voraciously desire that God be glorified.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God; Let Your glory be above all the earth. Ps. 57:5

Agree with God about His desires for your life and your church.
Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!” Ex. 24:3

Lift up the name of Jesus.
And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself. John 12:32