Thursday, September 18

Degrees of separation...from God

"So let him who seems to himself to be safe go in fear of a fall." 1 Corinthians 10:12 (BBE)

There are many in the Christian community today who feel that they've gotten the gist of the mystery down pat, that they are saved and that's is all that is important in the grand scheme of things. Even I, with the issues that I struggle with, fight that temptation to 'justify' my continued struggling by 'at least I'm saved.'

Too often I have found that the 'pleasures' in life, those things that give me instant gratification that I pursued in the past and struggle against revisiting even today, are too often far from the life that God wants me to live and that Christ Himself opposed during His ministry on earth.

That doesn't change the fact that they are sinful (many of them), and it doesn't change the fact that I struggle against the tendency to re-taste the forbidden fruit of sinful gratification of worldly pleasures. Paul warns that we should guard against pleasing ourselves because that is how Satan gets his hooks into us, causing us to fall. Carnal desires (those of the flesh) gain momentum and power as we indulge in them, eventually taking command of our lives.

In the end, we justify ourselves before the commands and decrees of God, making ourselves not responsible for continued struggles or failures to resist sinful desires. We explain away our failure to stand on our humanity and blaming God for making us that way. After all, who are we to say that God didn’t intend on us to be this broken and sinful? Illogical as it sounds, that is all 'self-justification' is…..denying God's authority and holiness.

Nothing written in the Bible is written to be something examined and then either rejected, justified, or rewritten to our taste. God said it, I believe it, and that settles it no longer is a creed for Christians to follow. Declaring ourselves law giver based on a cultural understanding of issues and behaviors, because Jesus didn't say something 'definitative' in the New Testament, have left us a people vacant of God's full blessings and void of His grace, for to receive grace means you have to believe in the authority of the giver and the intent of the giver to deliver such grace.

We rob ourselves by believing in ourselves. That is the distortion the Church is bringing within the body of Christ in regards to a host of 'social' and 'domestic' issues. We can invoke a chant prayer, declare the blessings and promises given, and make no stand in regards to issues that would break us away from the very culture we're called to reach. "Hate the sin, love the sinner" has become to mean, "Don't mention the truth, it's too hateful and mean."

We look at the political choices of the election and decide that we've got to accept 'the devil we know' instead of declaring the unacceptability of any candidate that doesn't recognize and vocalize God's authority, regardless of the 'political fallout'.

We don't become fearful of a degree of separation between the latest 'teaching' and God's truth. It is okay to be saved, without any evidence of such salvation…just so long as you said the prayer and meant it. It is okay to accept some moral decay, so long as you stand on the big ones. It is okay for those who oppose Christianity to continue to gain ground, because we don't want to be intolerant.

As a nation and a people, we have continued to allow the separation to slowly creep into our cultural and social arenas until we look around now and find ourselves no where near the location we should be on the map....the years of allowing a 'degree' of separation has become thousands of miles off course and we don't know how we got here. The Church, in its effort to be 'culturally sensitive', has become the worst enemy in the battle between God and Satan for the souls of the lost. Pastors abound that thousands flock to because they are accepting of a multitude of what was once considered sin....and now is labeled "unclear" in the biblical text. "We just want to get them in the door and let God work on 'em."

We just want to save you, the Church seems to have declared, and everything else doesn't matter.

It is easier to justify sinful behavior or action than to declare yourself weak, unable to fight, and look to the Heavenly Father, author and authority of the Law, to bring you to the point of freedom.

A point that may never be reached, in this life.

So, why continue to struggle? Why not give in to the temptation, indulge in the sin, and merely be comfortable in knowing that, 'hey, you've said the prayer, got saved. You worked at renouncing your sinfulness and gave it a good shot', and have realized in the end that there is no big deal to not have a pile of 'treasure' when you get to Heaven and even the smallest shanty in the most remote part of the Kingdom Christ will usher in upon His return isn't so bad.

What if Christ, the nail poised to pierce His hand, suddenly declared "I was just KIDDING! Nah, I'm not the Messiah...just a prophet. Hey, this is gone far enough!!?" He had several times, having inflicted upon His too human body intense pain and agony, to reject the things God had sent Him to declare, emulate, and stand for. Yet, Christ continued to the point of death to realize our salvation. That, despite spending the night prior in the Garden crying for the cup to pass Him by. He believed in God's Word, God's purpose, and God's mission to the point of death.

Should we expect nothing less than that as we struggle against our sinful natures? Denying our pleasures and instant satisfactions to the 'point of death'.

Why is the Church not teaching endurance, strength from the true source, and leaning on God's own teaching rather than coming up with 'flashy' and 'tolerant' ways to present a message that hasn't changed from God's perspective for thousands of years? The only changing has been mankind's reception of it.

Take for example the hot topic of homosexuality, brought to painful focus by Ray Boltz's declaration of commitment to "the way God made me;" a homosexual man.

Boltz, the songwriter/singer who sold about 4.5 million records before retiring a few years ago, songs like "Thank You," (GMA Song of the Year 1990), "Watch the Lamb," "The Anchor Holds," and "I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb," has rocked the Christian music world and those who have listened to his music by surrendering to his homosexual struggle, giving in to this sin because the struggle was "too long."

“I’d denied it ever since I was a kid," Boltz, 55, told the gay magazine, The Washington Blade. "I became a Christian, I thought that was the way to deal with this and I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years and then at the end, I was just going, ‘I’m still gay. I know I am.’ And I just got to the place where I couldn’t take it anymore … when I was going through all this darkness, I thought, ‘Just end this.’”

“If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.” Boltz concludes, faced with the 'end' of his struggle with homosexuality. Boltz gave in to his own opinion, not God's.

The Homosexual advocates within the 'Christian' faith say that there aren't any New Testament scriptures declaring the homosexual lifestyle as wrong, and the Old Testament's scriptures were for the cultural homosexuality of the time, not today's modern form of this 'alternative' lifestyle. We misunderstand the scripture in Leviticus,

"You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22; c.f 20:13).

The Old Testament condemns "sodomites," which were male temple prostitutes in several verses throughout the books of Kings 1 and 2. (I Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; II Kings 23:7).

Then, of course, we have the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed because of their sexual perversions, though not only that, as evidenced in the seventh chapter of Jude.

Those who promote 'tolerance' of homosexuals in the Church as 'sinless' would have you believe that the love between two men or two women is as equal and acceptable in God's eyes as the biblical foundation of love between a man and a woman, in the context of marriage.

Yet, what if this particular struggle is one that is given to some to bear. What would be a biblical representation of such?

Ron Belgau, a Christian homosexual man, says he has chosen to remain celibate because " is love, not understanding, which God most desires from us. To place our hopes in Him even when we do not understand His ways is a mark of great faith, and even greater love."

God didn't create homosexuality, and science has proven it. Dr. Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, stated in March 2007 that: "Homosexuality is not hardwired. There is no gay gene. We mapped the human genome. We now know there is no genetic cause for homosexuality."

Several other studies show that the homosexual 'tendency' comes from an 'unnatural' cause. God seems even state through His created order an admonishment against homosexuality, through Nature;

"What makes a certain act "natural" has everything to do with whether it in fact involves using a capacity in a way consistent with its natural function or purpose," Edward Feser wrote in his article "Natural Ends and Natural Law", "and nothing necessarily to do with whether or not someone has, for whatever reason, a strong desire to use it that way or some other way."

The Christian's security against sin is to mistrust our own opinion of what constitutes sin, and trying to 'justify' our behavior against God's decrees, commandments, and ordinances. When we decide that we want to go against what we know, biblically and through 'natural' logic, we stand against God and God will let us pursue our heart's desire. God doesn't promise to keep us from falling if our eyes are upon ourselves and not Him.

"Because of this God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion" (Romans 1:26-27, NIV).

But if God is our heart's desire, we can struggle 'well'. He gives us representations of those who are burden with the same struggles, yet continue to bear up under them; some to break through and achieve victory and others to struggle until they graduate to the Kingdom reward. The difference between a child of faith and those 'closet' sinners is what happens in the midst of their struggle; either they drop continuously to their knees in prayer, fighting against the sinful nature with supplication to God, or they accept the curse of their sinful ways.

"He will make a way to escape; he will deliver either from the trial itself, or at least the mischief of it. We have full encouragement to flee from sin, and to be faithful to God. We cannot fall by temptation, if we cleave fast to him." (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary)

It is not just homosexuality that this is true about, it is each and every sin that we face and struggle against; all sin is equal in the eyes of God. I utilized the sin of homosexuality in this blog because of the recent events revolving around Boltz and his decision to immerse himself in a sinful lifestyle. I cannot speak of Boltz's struggle, because I have never had such trials to face. But, even in my own struggles I've had to face that decision to stand on my own two feet or drop to my knees in prayerful anguish, wishing the cup to pass from my lips but knowing God is God regardless of what I have to face.

As we are reminded in Matthew;

"How can you think of saying, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye." Matthew 7:4-5 (NLT)

Boltz, like so many Christian leaders today, have fallen into a justification of "how God made me" instead of facing the fact that God calls us to higher standards, not subject to our daily struggles no matter how long they last.
How we stand in those on-going struggles show us and the world who's we are.
Do you 'praise Him in the storm' or ignore His commandments in the darkness?
God loves all of us, desiring that 'none should perish but all have eternal life.' But He will let us have the desires of our hearts, regardless of what He wishes.

That is God.

Who will you listen to? God, through His Word, His examples, and His servants or the Devil, who knows our failings all too well, that whispers "God loves you and made you this way"?

I want someone on my side that is, in His weakness, stronger than I am at my strongest. Who's counsel is born of Creation and perfection, not my own interpretation of it.

And there is only one who fits that bill:




Anonymous said...

The comment that you attribute to Dr Collins has become an "ex-gay" meme. However, it appears to be a myth. The only place you can find proof of it is on social conservative sites, and Dr. Collins himself has spoken out about the way his work is being misrepresented by the "ex-gay" proponents:

Here are two posts on the subject:

Navalpride said...

I am not in opposition to a person with homosexual tendencies/lifestyle, I am only stating what the bible says is what is considered sinful. A person living the homosexual life is no more or no less a sinner than I myself am. I do not know what promotes or enables such a lifestyle beyond the enemy, because God says He is in opposition to it.
It is fine to disagree, but I use a standard that is beyond myself to hold myself to, and the Bible, throughout the translations from the original, show homosexuality to be a sin. As is the sin I struggle against, all have fallen short of the glory of God.
I am not 'ex-gay', I am 'pro-God'.
Sorry if you disagree.

Navalpride said...

It wasn't my intention to highlight Dr. Collins comment only for the 'homosexual' sin but for all sins.....

We were designed for better, yet we continue to work against that design in sin.