Tag Archives: Christian

Christian Incompatibility with Sin

 

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

With the news this week that active NBA player Jason Collins revealed his homosexuality, a largely celebrated decision (link), an important note that cannot go overlooked is that Mr. Collins claims to be a Christian and sees no incompatibility with his homosexual sin.  Largely, this is what drew the excellent response by ESPN analyst Chris Broussard (link again).

This clinging to sin while simultaneously claiming the name of Christ as Savior is not isolated to homosexuality.  Just recently I watched a video of a street preacher involved in a discussion with a TV reality star, who despite her continued animosity, foul language, unrepentant sinful behaviors, and likely inebriation, continued to cling to her profession of faith in Christ, citing God’s love as evidence for it. (see post on God’s Love here).  It seems like only a few years ago that the world labeled Christians most often as hypocritical because the behaviors of those who profess faith in Christ did not match the lifestyle that the Bible outlines for believers (or the worldly expectation that believers are perfect).

Now there has been a paradigm shift.  Professing Christians can live any lifestyle they wish, including open homosexuality, without any fear of the hypocritical label, but are simply free to live how they want.  The pendulum swing from legalism to license is nothing really new, but it is certainly something that the Church needs to address more and more.

In the verses above, the Apostle Paul, writing to the Church at Corinth, provides a series of contrasts beginning with the contrast of heaven and the unrighteous who will not enter there.  Continuing his thoughts from the previous verses, Paul asks the rhetorical question, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?”  Kingdom of God here is a reference to the kingdom which Christ has ushered in and for the sake of simplicity we can refer to it as eternal life, or heaven.  So there are those who are unrighteous who will not enter heaven.  The word “unrighteous” used here is the Greek word adikos (unjust, unrighteous, wicked) which we will look at again later, but for now we’ll leave it as an adjective describing a particular group of people.

The immediate question might be, “So Paul, who are these unrighteous people that will not get into heaven?”  Isn’t that the ultimate question on most peoples minds, am I going to heaven?  It’s almost as if Paul perceived that there are many who assume they are going to heaven, in fact most everyone you talk to will affirm that they are going to heaven.  Not on the basis of Christ’s righteousness, but on their basic understanding of being “good”.  It is to that line of argumentation that Paul says, “do not be deceived”.  Paul then begins to color inside the lines of the picture he’s outlined for us when he used the term “unrighteous”.  Here he tells us that the neither the: sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality,thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers will enter heaven.  If there were any doubt that this list referred to the unrighteous who would not enter heaven, Paul began his statement in the negative “neither”, listed the people, and concluded with “will inherit the kingdom of heaven”, thus closing what Charles Spurgeon calls the “black list”.  This ends the first contrast of heaven with those who will not enter.

Next, it needs to be noted that Paul is not listing sins.  He’s not rattling off a list of do’s or don’ts.  He has personalized this list to the individual level.  Those persons who fornicate, or have sex outside of marriage, are sexually immoral and will not enter heaven.  Those persons who have idols in their lives, whether it be food, entertainment, family, alcohol, drugs, name it, are idolaters and will not enter heaven.  The person who has an adulterous affair is an adulterer and will not enter heaven.  Men who practice homosexuality, note again it is personalized from more than just deed or actions, but it is the “men” who do the acts. (Please note: this is not excluding lesbianism from sin, see Romans 1:26-27)  And so on down the list.  Why is this so important to notice?  Because it has to be understood that sin is something more than just what a person does or doesn’t do.  If it were just a matter of cleaning up your act and “being good” then the person with the strongest willpower would win.  But that is not the case.  Sin is intrinsic to the nature of humans, i.e. it is a part of who we are, because we were born with a sinful nature.  That is why Paul identifies a person on the basis of their sin.

This leads to the next contrast from the passage, “and such were some of you”.  Here Paul has taken great aims to describe, while not exhaustively it is certainly representative, a black list of those who will not enter heaven.  But in this particular sentence he contrasts the “those that will not enter” list with a phrase addressed to his audience and subsequently future readers, “and such were some of you”.  The use of “were” here is the turning point.  Paul points to the past of his audience in Corinth to remind them that even some of those Christians among them were once on this same “black list” that he has just described.  Perhaps even some of you today who are reading this passage would be considered among the “such were some of you”.  Consider how it is that God would save you from the black list of sinners.  Perhaps some of you reading would still be on that list mentioned above.  Consider how it is that you could get off of that list.  Which begs the next question, if Paul hasn’t listed individual sins, or do’s and don’ts, then how is a person supposed to get off of the black list and into the group “and such were some of you”?  How does someone make that change if it can’t be something that they just stop doing and then start being good?  Well, the answer is that there is nothing a person can do to change their identity of being associated with the sin they’ve committed as a result of their very nature.  But there is One who can make that change for them and His name is Jesus Christ.

The next contrast that we see is again the list of sinners and their identity with sin now contrasted fully with the “and such were some of you” and how they’ve obtained their new identity.  “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  Three particular actions were performed on behalf of those who used to be among the homosexual, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, etc. – washed, sanctified, and justified.  While not particularly in chronological order, nevertheless, the list is significant.  To this washing, Charles Hodge writes, “to wash means to purify, and is frequently used in Scripture to express moral or spiritual purification.”  John Gill comments on the meaning of washing to refer to that

“which is not to be understood of external washing, of corporeal ablution, or of their being baptized in water; so they might be, and yet not be cleansed from their filthiness, either by original or actual transgressions; nor of the washing of regeneration, which more properly comes under the next head; but of their being washed from their sins by the blood of Christ, through the application of it to them, for the remission of them”

While there may be some debate on the application of washing in this passage, there is absolutely no reason here to assume the physical method of baptism, instead it should refer either to the “washing of regeneration” or the “washing by the blood of Christ” and I tend to take the reading of Matthew Henry who writes, “The wickedness of men before conversion is no bar to their regeneration and reconciliation to God. The blood of Christ, and the washing of regeneration, can purge away all guilt and defilement.”  Here we see that both applications (though the latter will be spoken of next as Gill pointed out) of washing are necessary to purge the sin and guilt of believers.  (see also 1 John 1:7, Rev. 7:14, Ephesians 5:26, Ezekiel 36:22-32)

Next, those who were formerly marked as the guilty sinners from Paul’s list have been sanctified.  Again, it’s important to realize that this mention of washed, sanctified, and justified is not a chronological list, but is provided to point out the absoluteness of the work of God in the life of a believer.  Sanctified always refers to being made holy or set apart.  So those among the “such were some of you” in contrast to their prior sinful defilement, have been sanctified.  This is a work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer and it occurs at regeneration, the moment the Holy Spirit takes out the heart of stone and gives the heart of flesh, or what is commonly referred to as being born again.  In this sense sanctification is complete although the process of progressive sanctification (or being made holy unto perfection) is an ongoing work by the Spirit in the life of a believer and is not completed this side of heaven.

Finally, we see Paul saying that the “such were some of you” have been justified.  This is the Greek word dikaioo and it is the positive counterpart to the word for unrighteous, adikos, used earlier in the passage, providing again another contrast.  Justified is a legal term referring to the believer’s positional standing with God the Father and it is only through the Lord Jesus Christ that it can happen, “you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ”.  Because of Christ’s perfect righteousness, those who have repented and placed their faith in Him can stand before God with confidence that they have been made righteous, or justified, on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ.  A person, regardless of their sinful past can be washed, sanctified, and justified by repenting of their sin and placing their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

From this short passage, we can see the Lord makes absolutely clear that for the believer in Christ, identification with a sinful behavior is simply incompatible.  For those who do will not enter heaven.  That doesn’t mean that the believer will be sin-free, but it does mean they can no longer be identified on the basis of their old sinful nature.  As it relates to homosexuality, even in the case of Jason Collins, it is incompatible to claim Christ as Savior, to have been washed, sanctified, and justified and still be identified as one from the “black list”.  What a glorious gospel truth that Christ saves the vilest of sinners such that we can claim, “and such was I”, because I have been washed by the blood of Christ and the water of purification, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and justified by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thinking about Santa

Repost from December 22, 2009.

I found this post on the blog at Pastor John Piper’s ministry www.DesiringGod.org  It was written by his wife Noel and I think it perfectly explains the distraction that Santa Claus is to the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Society likes to portray those folks who don’t get wrapped up in this fairy tale diversion as a “Grinch” or lacking “Christmas Spirit.”  How typical of a fallen world to denigrate those who recognize Christmas as the birth of Christ and not that of a mystical man with a god-like persona.  Thank you Mrs. Piper for writing words of truth and providing a model for Christian families to follow.

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By Noel Piper http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/2141_thinking_about_santa/

Over the years, we have chosen not to include Santa Claus in our Christmas stories and decorations. There are several reasons.

First, fairy tales are fun and we enjoy them, but we don’t ask our children to believe them.

Second, we want our children to understand God as fully as they’re able at whatever age they are. So we try to avoid anything that would delay or distort that understanding. It seems to us that celebrating with a mixture of Santa and manger will postpone a child’s clear understanding of what the real truth of God is. It’s very difficult for a young child to pick through a marble cake of part-truth and part-imagination to find the crumbs of reality.

Third, we think about how confusing it must be to a straight-thinking, uncritically-minded preschooler because Santa is so much like what we’re trying all year to teach our children about God. Look, for example, at the “attributes” of Santa.

  • He’s omniscient-he sees everything you do.
  • He rewards you if you’re good.
  • He’s omnipresent-at least, he can be everywhere in one night.
  • He gives you good gifts.
  • He’s the most famous “old man in the sky” figure.

But at the deeper level that young children haven’t reached yet in their understanding, he is not like God at all.

For example, does Santa really care if we’re bad or good? Think of the most awful kid you can remember. Did he or she ever not get gifts from Santa?

What about Santa’s spying and then rewarding you if you’re good enough? That’s not the way God operates. He gave us his gift-his Son-even though we weren’t good at all. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He gave his gift to us to make us good, not because we had proved ourselves good enough.

Helping our children understand God as much as they’re able at whatever age they are is our primary goal. But we’ve also seen some other encouraging effects of not including Santa in our celebration.

First, I think children are glad to realize that their parents, who live with them all year and know all the worst things about them, still show their love at Christmas. Isn’t that more significant than a funny, old, make-believe man who drops in just once a year?

Second, I think most children know their family’s usual giving patterns for birthday and special events. They tend to have an instinct about their family’s typical spending levels and abilities. Knowing that their Christmas gifts come from the people they love, rather than from a bottomless sack, can help diminish the “I-want-this, give-me-that” syndrome.

And finally, when children know that God’s generosity is reflected by God’s people, it tends to encourage a sense of responsibility about helping make Christmas good for others.

Karsten, for example, worked hard on one gift in 1975. On that Christmas morning, his daddy stepped around a large, loose-flapped cardboard box to get to his chair at the breakfast table. “Where’s Karsten?” he asked, expecting to see our excited three-year-old raring to leap into the day. Sitting down, I said, “He’ll be here in a minute.”

I nudged the box with my toe. From inside the carton, Karsten threw back the flaps and sprang to his full three-foot stature. “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them . . .” He had memorized Luke 2:8-20 as a gift for his dad. Karsten knew the real story.

In fact, a few days later, he and I were walking down the hall at the church we attended then. One of the older ladies leaned down to squeeze his pink, round cheek and asked, “What did Santa bring you?” Karsten’s head jerked quickly toward me, and he whispered loudly, “Doesn’t she know?”

(Adapted from Treasuring God in Our Traditions)

How much weight should our opposition to abortion carry in our voting decisions?

By R.C. Sproul, Jr., Ligonier Ministries www.ligonier.org

God calls us to think His thoughts after Him. That means all of His thoughts. That is, we ought to have a sound and biblical view on everything the Bible touches on. Where it touches on political issues, we are called, again to have sound biblical views. We need to think biblically about what is just war and what is not. We need to think faithfully about taxation, and the size and scope of government. We need to think through what obligation, if any the state has to protect property, to protect our lives.

That said, there are precious few things that frustrate me more about the evangelical right than its utter foolishness with respect to proportion politically. We bundle together this issue and that, everything from tax rates to school vouchers to flag burning to abortion, and call it “family values.” There is a right and a wrong answer on all these issues. But abortion is not like any of the others. It stands out all on its own. In a hundred years, the Christian church will not hang its head in shame that it did so little to pass a Constitutional Amendment against the burning of the flag. In a hundred years, no elderly Christian will be looked at with suspicion by the younger generation because they didn’t do more to lower the tax rate. In a hundred years, if God should be so gracious, we will be looked upon as that godless generation of the church that watched tens of millions of babies go to their deaths. Indeed, we’ll be remembered as those “Christians” who elected men to office who believed that the state ought to protect the rights of some mothers to murder their babies.

It is unfair to draw too tight a comparison between abortion in America and the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. There are significant differences. First, the Holocaust was carried out, by and large, in secret. The rank and file Germans had no idea what was going on. We, on the other hand, every last one of us, woke up today knowing that four thousand babies would die today. We, on the other hand, have four thousand mothers, every day, who knowingly do this. We, on the other hand, have four thousand fathers, boyfriends and husbands who every day encourage this. The Holocaust lasted roughly ten years, and the Nazi’s killed roughly six million people. We, on the other hand, have been at this for 35 years, and have killed more than fifty million babies. It is an unfair comparison, unfair to the Nazis. We are far worse monsters.

How much weight should our opposition carry? I have purposed in my heart that I would never vote for a man for any office that is not committed to using every power at his disposal to protect and defend every unborn child. Never. Ever. If every Christian would simply make that simple pledge, then we would win this battle. As it stands, at best we vote for candidates who might nominate or support judicial candidates who might vote for this small impediment or that to abortion on demand. At worst, we vote for the guy with the R by his name. We need to get rid of our strategies, and get on our knees in repentance. We need to stop negotiating with candidates over the bodies of dead babies.

Reprinted from:

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/how-much-weight-should-our-opposition-abortion-carry-our-voting-decisions/


Ligonier Ministries has launched a pro-life effort to coincide with the 38th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision (January 22) and the opening of the 112th United States Congress. Our goal is to raise $6,000 (#6K4Life) to send R.C. Sproul’s twentieth anniversary special edition of Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue (Reformation Trust Publishing, November 2010) to every Congressional representative. Will you help us speak for those who have no voice? Donate Now