Friday, October 5, 2007

If that's true, then Christianity is False, or A Popular Lie in the Lukewarm Church

As I've read debates on certain blogs and as I've talked with many professing Christians, I've come to see that one of the chief lies promoted by many in the church today is that because no one is perfect, there can be no expectation of freedom from sin in this life and that there should be no standard of holy living when it comes to selection of church leadership.

I actually debated once with a liberal pastor whom I worked under and she used this argument to justify acceptance of practicing homosexuals in church leadership. She said that since she was divorced and remarried, she was technically living in adultery according to Christ's words, so how could she judge a homosexual? I was, of course, unimpressed by her argument but I didn't have the courage right there to say, "well maybe you shouldn't be a pastor." Ultimately her argument was that because certain things described as sin have become acceptable to many in the church, that we had no right to choose other sins which would bar one from positions of leadership in the church.

If freedom from sin does not come with conversion to Christ than I say that Christianity is proved to be a false religion. Jesus said, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.(Matt. 5:48)" Is Jesus calling us to something that is not possible? And what does Jesus mean by perfection? In the context of this call to perfection we see the Sermon on the Mount, we see teaching on anger and reconciliation with brothers, sexual morality, marriage, oaths, retribution and love for enemies. We also see in Matthew where a fundamental part of Jesus' message is repentance. We read, "From that time on Jesus began to preach, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.(Matt. 4:17)'" So it is obvious that Jesus was calling his followers to leave sin behind and follow him. If all of this talk of repentance and leaving sin behind and holiness is not reflected at all in actual followers of Christ then I say the whole thing is a sham. And yet it seems that many believe and teach that there is no real change in the life of a Christian other than maybe a new hope or some warm feelings. In fact, maybe the only life change encouraged by the liberal is abstinence from ever making a judgment call that something is actually sinful or contrary to God's will. Even in evangelical circles you can see the theology of praying the "sinner's prayer" and then everything is a-okay. This theology doesn't match the New Testament, or the Old Testament for that matter, though. If you take a verse in isolation here or there you can argue for that theology. If you only read John 3:16 then maybe you could believe that no repentance is required but if you read it in the context of the entire gospel of John you see calls to repentance in both 5:14 and 8:11. The Gospel of John also contains some of the most sublime writing on the promise of the Holy Spirit. In connection with this promise we read Jesus' words, "When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment...(John 16:8)" It is claimed in the New Testament and in the testimonies of multitudes of believers that the Holy Spirit really has come into the lives of many. So if this testimony is true and if Christ's words are true, then what is the point of the Holy Spirit convicting of sin if there is no change in the life of a Christian?

So is Christianity a big lie? Well, I don't think so. It follows that I believe that there is a real life-change in Christians that is supernaturally enabled by the work of the Holy Spirit. There is real sanctification and freedom from sin in this life. God in His grace has freed me of things that many don't even think a person can be freed of. Am I entirely sanctified? No. But God is working on me and I have a blessed hope for entire sanctification and Christian perfection in this life. And for any who scoff at terms like "entire sanctification" and "Christian perfection," I say, how dare you limit God! How dare you answer Jesus "no thanks, I don't think it's possible," when He says to you in His Word "Be ye Perfect." This freedom from sin will come differently to different people but it always requires patience, perseverance and a willingness to lose one's life for the sake of following Christ.

And for those who perpetuate the lie of the "carnal Christian," Jesus warns, "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.(Matt. 18:6)" The lie that there is no supernatural life-change when a person in converted to Christ keeps many today in sin. If revival is ever to take place we must break free of this lie.




The instruction about "bearing one anothers' burdens" in Galatians is about restoring those who lapse into sin. The admission that all of us struggle with sin does not remove our responsibility to strive for a holy life or even to correct others - it just tempers our approach. Since all of us have struggles, we must correct one another with gentleness and humility - but still give and receive correction.

Thanks for another great post.

Anna said...

I can't imagine the spiritual anguish someone would have who persists in sin and is still somehow trying to follow Jesus. That's not fun.

Incidentally, I've never heard much about your working at that church. Maybe you should blog about that sometime.

Have fun studying!! I have so much to do, but I am feeling way better these days, so that is great, praise the Lord!