Why are Christians and Churches Caving in to Lies?

This guy pretty much says it all.  Not much need for me to add more.  I will, however add that I believe that the reason so many churches are caving in to the pressures of society and beginning to accept and participate in things like gay marriage is because it’s far easier to do that than to begin preaching Biblically.

They hear the cries of ‘foul’ from the culture saying “why do you only condemn homosexuality and not the rampant divorce rates and sexual immorality within the Church?  Why do you not deal with gluttony and covetousness??”  And these churches are seeing that they have a point, and instead of turning to Scripture and the preaching of the Truth on these things, they are giving in because they think, “If we start preaching from the Bible (against these things), we are going to scare off over half of our members.  We won’t have a youth group anymore because we know that most of them are sleeping around, and they would leave.  We have a lot of people who are getting divorced for far less that Biblical reasons and who are co-inhabiting with their significant other outside of marriage, so if we begin to preach that these things are wrong, we will lose a lot of our members.”

The sad reality is, they reveal that they don’t believe the Bible and they don’t trust God to take care of them for standing up for the Truth.  They are more afraid of losing numbers and money, so they begin preaching the false gospel of acceptance.  After all, we all struggle with sin and Jesus said not to judge, right?  They show their lack of knowledge of Scripture in failing to see that we are to make proper judgments about sin among those who name themselves believers.

We are, of course, supposed to speak the Truth in love and with gentleness and humility, but if we truly love God and others, we won’t allow them to continue to do things that grieve the heart of God and hurt themselves and others.  We are to encourage one another to love and good works, which is one of the main purposes of the Church.  The Church is for believers, not the world.  We are to go out into the world and change the world, not let the world’s philosophies come in and change the Church.  I pray God’s grace and mercy upon these churches who are caving to the demands of society and that He will continue to bring people out of these sinful lifestyles and into a glorious and freeing relationship with Him!

Sin is Like AIDS (Another way to Explain the Gospel)

I’ve always kind of struggled with the idea that Adam’s one sin ruined us all and made us all sinners.  It doesn’t seem fair does it?  I mean, one person ruled the fate of all mankind just by eating a piece of fruit?

Over the years I’ve come to understand that the sin committed by Adam was much worse than just eating a piece of fruit.  He wanted to be like God, which is why he gave in to the Serpent’s lie when he told them that they would be like God if they ate the fruit.  Adam was also supposed to be the protector of his wife and he just stood by as she was being tricked and then he took of the fruit himself.  Have you ever noticed that their eyes were not opened until after Adam ate of the fruit, even though he ate after Eve did?  Just something to think about.

I believe that God has helped me to see a better way to understand what happened in Eden and what is happening now with an illustration.  When Adam took on the disease of sin by taking of that fruit, he took on a disease that would spread to all of his offspring.

We are facing a disease today that is very similar to the disease of sin.  AIDS is a result of sexual immorality and generally is contracted when sexual immorality takes place.  The disease is often spread to the sexual partner, and in most if not all cases, to the offspring.  Now wait a minute, that baby didn’t have sex outside of marriage did it?  And yet it contracted AIDS because of it’s father’s choice.  That is just like us.  We may not have been there in the garden of Eden to choose to disobey God, but the disease of sin was spread to us because of the nature of what sin is.

AdamSin

We are all born with the disease called sin, and are hopelessly and terminally ill with it.  For some people, its symptoms are very mild and it does not show itself very often.  For others, the symptoms are very strong.  The point is, the symptoms of sin are different for everyone and the severity of the symptoms is different, but the fact of the matter is, we are ALL, every single person on this earth, born with the terminal disease of sin and without hope of a cure on our own.  And if we are not cured of it, we will die of it.  The only way to be cured of it is by a miracle.

The only person who can do any kind of real miracle, especially of this magnitude is God.  Why would God help us when we have chosen to consistently turn our backs on Him?  Because He is full of grace.  He came down to earth as a man who had no earthly father to pass the disease of sin on to Him because God is His Father.  He was born without the disease of sin, lived His life completely perfectly without the disease of sin, and yet died as a result of the effects of the disease of sin in everyone else even though He didn’t ever show a single symptom of the disease of sin.

Christ has died

Then He rose from the dead so that He can save those who have died because of the disease of sin.  He holds the only cure for this awful fatal disease and offers this cure for anyone who wants it.  The problem is, most people don’t realize their need for the cure.  Many think they don’t even have a disease that needs curing, or don’t think they have the disease badly enough to need a cure.  Now, we all know that the first step to being cured of a disease is acknowledging that we have a disease that needs to be cured, that we need help.  But most people are too blind to see that.

He is Risen

But for those who do acknowledge that they have a terminal disease that they have no hope of curing themselves and who ask God to cure them of that disease, He answers and gives them the cure.  He sees them as healthy as Jesus, who lived without sin and who died as a result of sin and rose from the dead.  God gives them the hope that they will also rise from the dead one day to live forever without the awful disease of sin.

The sad reality is, the world would rather flaunt their symptoms and try to force everyone to believe that they aren’t sick or that it’s ok to be sick since everyone is sick rather than seeking the cure for their sickness.  And they will die of their disease and be forever separated from the Holy and Righteous God Who has the only cure for the disease of sin by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Without Christ, no one is cured of sin.  Just like with AIDS, no matter how healthily you choose to live or what good choices you make, it cannot be cured but by the miracle that God provided through Jesus Christ.

I realize that this is not a perfect way to explain the Gospel, but I believe that the essential message of the Gospel is included and that this is another way to explain the Gospel to others in a way that can help them understand the seriousness of sin and the amazing Grace of God.  Be encouraged!  There is hope!  Grace, love and peace!

More Hard Teaching… (or Lovemaking is Beautiful)

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog called “A Very Hard Teaching.”  Link here: http://joshandjenmendenhall.theworldrace.org/?filename=a-very-hard-teaching

Jesus told us that being His disciple would be very difficult.  He told us that we would have to deny ourselves (say “NO!” to our sinful desires and to a comfortable life of complacency), pick up our cross daily, and follow Him.  In my last post, I talked about how He is the good master who has paid the price to set us free from Satan, sin and self; all which lead to a dark, lonely eternity away from God and all that is good, but that many people refuse to accept the freedom either because they love themselves and their sin too much, or they think that they can get freedom on their own, which is of course, impossible.

 

One of the most difficult sins to break away from is sexual immorality.  Unfortunately, the human attitude toward sex is, “if it feels good, do it.” Even among Christians there are some who think that lovemaking is beautiful in any form, whether it’s two unmarried people, two gay men or two gay women, it doesn’t matter.  They obviously are not reading the same Bible that I am.  Or they do, but they try to twist what the Bible says and justify their sinful lifestyle.  (Haven’t we all at one time or another?)

 

This greatly disturbs me and honestly makes me wonder about the condition of their salvation.  How can anyone who claims to love God call something beautiful that He has called an abomination and shameful?  Do you dare to disagree with God or to call Him a liar?

 

Yes, lovemaking is beautiful, but only in the context for which God created it, and that is between one man and one woman within the covenant of marriage.  That’s it!  “Love” making in any other context is vile, disgusting, broken, dirty and an abomination to the Lord our God!  He created it for a man and his wife to enjoy each other and to show their love for one another and that is ALL He created it for.  Only then is it the beautiful, wonderful, glorious thing for which He designed it.  Any other use of it is a perversion!

 

Would you call raping an innocent child beautiful?  Of course not!  What about a man cheating on his wife or vice versa?  I certainly hope not!  What about women and children being sold into the Sex Trade and the wicked men who buy them?  Why then would you call any other form of sexual immorality beautiful?  Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery, But I say to you, that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Also, “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander (Matt. 15:19, Mark 7:21).”

 

That’s a hard teaching, because unfortunately, that makes me an adulterer, and that breaks my heart.  Thanks be to God that I never got the opportunity to indulge in physical sex outside of marriage, but I sure spent a lot of time looking and lusting after women both in real life and on TV and the internet, and did things I certainly shouldn’t have done.  I don’t want to be an adulterer, and now I’m not because Christ has set me free from it.  I am deeply convicted by Paul’s words in I Corinthians 6:19-20:  “What?!  Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God??  For you are bought with a price!  Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which belong to God.”

 

If you are truly a believer in Christ, then all that you are belongs to God!  How can we glorify Him if we are defiling our bodies by perverting something that He created for one purpose only to satisfy our own selfish pleasures?  This also goes for addictions, storing up riches for ourselves and refusing to give to others and many other sins.  As the great preacher Donald Barnhouse said,

“The great fact is that God wishes these who name His name to become like Him day by day.  He is a holy God who demands holiness of His people.  We are all born as children of Adam, with natures that are prone to sin.  The greatest of all sins is that each of us desires his own way.  Wanting one’s own way is absolutely natural and absolutely sinful.”  Matthew 5:48, Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  And God the Father Himself: “Be holy because I am holy,” all over the Old Testament.

 

I hope you see that I am trying to identify with you as a fellow sinner.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, I love you and God loves you, because you are created in the image of God and He longs to redeem you and I long to see you redeemed if you have not been.  I wish that you could feel the deep love and concern that I have for you as I write this.  My words may sound harsh, but the truth is harsh sometimes and I would not be a good or loving neighbor or brother or friend if I did not warn you of the danger you are in by living in ways contrary to the Word of the Creator of the Universe.

 

But I know that many will misunderstand me.  I know that this post will be incredibly offensive to some.  I know that insults and false accusations of intolerance, hate, homophobia and judgmental bigotry will come.  But I know my own heart and I know that God knows my heart.  I do not wish to estrange myself from my family members or my friends whom I love dearly, but I desire the approval of God and not of men.  I will never view anyone as my enemy, but I can’t control how others view me.  That is the attitude that Jesus had, and look where it got Him.

 

I understand that it’s hard.  I have to fight against my flesh daily.  Being a follower of Christ is not meant to be easy.  I wish I could tell you that it’s ok to live however you want.  I wish I could tell myself that, but I can’t.  Barnhouse again with a great thought says, “God tells man that the divine way is perfect and that He desires men to walk therein.  Man cannot do it by himself, so God provided His own Grace.”  That’s the Gospel in a nutshell.  Why would we want to trample the Grace of God when our lives should be wholly devoted to Him with all gratefulness and thankfulness?

Titus 3:3-7: At one time we (Believers) too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
he saved us (Believers), not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

 

Before I end, I also want to share a word to the judgmental and/or self-righteous, which, at times is also me, but really is everyone.   This also from Barnhouse.  “God repudiates (hates deeply) formalism without a heart change, and the (person) who trusts in liturgical ceremonies or religious rites without having a definite change of heart is in the folly of self-deception.”  Just because we may not live lifestyles that we wrongfully consider more sinful than others, doesn’t make us right with God.  Only by putting on Christ’s righteousness can we be made right with God.

 

I pray that my words, harsh though they may sound, were spoken in love and genuine concern.  Once again, these are not my ideas or opinions.  They are the very truths of God and the ONLY truths that matter.  They are hard, they hurt and they can be incredibly offensive, but the Word of God is the only Truth that can set you free!  It MUST be shared! As one who has been given the responsibility to speak the Truth, I HAVE to.  I cannot suppress it, it burns within me, and it has changed my life!

I also pray that I share these things with humility, knowing that I do the same things sometimes.  I truly desire and long deeply to see us all set free from our selfish, sinful desires, and brought from the kingdom of Satan and darkness and self, and into the Kingdom of God and His glorious, marvelous light!

 

Grace, peace and love to all through God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

I WANT to Remain a Slave to the Cruel Master

Imagine for a moment that you live in slavery.  Your master is incredibly harsh and ruthless.  You get beaten multiple times a day, you basically get starved, and you know that in the end, you will be killed in a violent way.  None of the slaves that this master owns get to die peacefully but in the most painful and brutal ways.

 

Now imagine that another master comes along who is incredibly rich in every way.  He owns it all and is rich in love, humility and mercy.  He makes his slaves family.  They get their own mansions and are made co-owners over everything he owns.  He offers to buy every slave that the cruel owner owns and to adopt them into his family.  You simply have to trust him and humbly ask him if you can become his.

 

It would be incredibly stupid to refuse this generous offer wouldn’t it?  And yet you see countless numbers of fellow slaves refusing to humbly ask to become the good master’s slaves because they are too proud and they even say that they LOVE being slaves to the cruel master.  This is unthinkable!  But this is how many people live their entire lives.

 

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the cruel slave master is yourself and sin and the good master is Jesus.  We as humans love sin and we love to be slaves to our own desires.  We want to do everything OUR way and not the way that God has clearly laid out for us in Scripture.  I myself daily return to the cruel master of sin and self.  Whether it’s by giving in to my desire to judge others, to lust, to not forgive someone of some stupid little thing that doesn’t even matter, to exalt myself above everyone else in my foolish pride, and the list goes on and on.  I know that in spite of the fact that I have been adopted into God’s family, I still at times shake my fist at Him and basically tell Him that MY way is best and that HIS way is too hard and that it’s dumb.

 

I know that there are many people who also struggle with a variety of things.  Many people believe that they cannot overcome their struggles and it’s true, they can’t without God’s help.  I agree that we cannot choose what our struggles are, but we can choose whether we want to overcome them or allow them to overcome us and define who we are.  Many people are slaves to the lie that their struggles define them, but the truth is, THEY DON’T!

 

There are many who struggle with things like homosexuality, lust, adultery, fornication (sex outside of marriage), compulsive lying, alcoholism, being attracted to children or animals, gossip or any other number of things, but have overcome them by the power of Christ!  Yet there are so many more who believe the lie that God made them the way they are and they can’t change, so they are going to live that way anyway because they think it makes them happy.  But they are really empty, miserable and lonely inside and sometimes outside as well.

 

A lot of the problem stems from the fact that we think we can change our lives on our own.  We try to do good but keep falling back into the same old sin over and over and eventually give up or get frustrated and wonder why we can’t fix ourselves.  It’s because only God can change us from the inside out.  We try to change ourselves from the outside but that doesn’t work.  We have to humbly admit that God exists and that He is who He says He is and that He will do everything that He has said that He will do.  We have to admit that we can’t change ourselves and we have to ask Him to change us.  That is how we become adopted into His family, by humbly asking.

 

Those who do inherit the eternal Kingdom that God has promised to bring to earth.  Those who do not, remain alone and enslaved to their desires forever.  That’s what Hell really is.  People choosing to be left to themselves and their desires away from God’s presence, utterly alone forever, and that’s exactly what they will get.  As C.S. Lewis so brilliantly stated, “There are those in the end who will say to God, “Thy will be done.” Then there are those in the end to whom God will say, “Thy will be done.”  Please don’t be one of those to whom God says, “Thy will be done.”

 

I say all of these things out of genuine love and concern for all.  I call it speaking the Truth in love.  This stuff does not come from me.  This is not a matter of my own opinion.  As the great singer/song writer Rich Mullins sang, “I did not make it, no, it is making me.  It is the very Truth of God and not the invention of any man.”  All Truth comes directly from the Word of God.  Don’t just take my word for it.  Go, and experience it and see it for yourself!

Grace, love and peace to all through God the Father and through Jesus Christ!

 

 

What is the true meaning of: “Hate the sin, and love the sinner?”

C.S. Lewis once said, in his book Mere Christianity:

“(The Devil) always sends errors into the world in pairs-pairs of opposites.  And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse.  You see why, of course?  He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one.  But do not let us be fooled.  We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors.  We have no other concern than that with either of them.”

I believe that this is the way most Christians live their lives, including myself at times.  We focus so much on why we hate one type of error, that we fail to see that we are living in or believing just as much of an error, only it’s the one we think is less wrong.  It’s so easy to do because in our human pride, we don’t stop to think about the implications of our own actions or convictions when we feel that others’ actions and convictions are worse than ours.  What makes it even worse is that we fail to view these issues in light of Scripture.

For instance:  In the war on terror, how many of us who call ourselves Christians rejoiced when we heard that Osama Bin Laden had been killed?  I’ll be the first to admit that I felt a sense of “take that terrorists!” within me, but I later read in Proverbs 24:17 not to rejoice when your enemy falls.  Ouch.  I had to quickly repent and come to the realization that in spite of the hate that drives terrorists to do what they do, they are no less deserving of God’s grace and mercy than anyone else, and that I, in rejoicing over someone’s death was not showing the love of God that He had for those terrorists.

I would also challenge us to take a look at the way that the homosexual community is treated in America.  There are generally three types of responses among Christians:  1) People picket with terrible signs and hurl insults along with Bible verses.  (From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things ought not to be so!  [James 3:10])  2) People will condone and even applaud the lifestyle, not realizing that to do so is just as bad as picketing, because it is not telling them the truth that this can and will destroy their lives.  (I am tempted to insert:  But at least they are showing them love!  But remember Lewis’ analogy of the two errors).  3) Well-meaning Christians will use the oft-heard phrase that many on the outside of Christianity view as a cop-out:  “You just have to hate the sin, and love the sinner.”

We’ve all heard this phrase.  Whether you’ve heard it in church, in jest, or from a well meaning Christian, it has been repeated, ridiculed or spoken out of spite.  But just what does it mean?  Why do we, as Christians, use it, and, more importantly, do we really mean it?

First of all, we need to understand what it does not and should not mean.  It does not mean to hate the sin and barely tolerate the sinner.  We must be willing to love them in spite of their sin because that is how Jesus loved the “sinners” of His day, and how He loved us (Romans 5:8).  But neither does it mean that we are to condone or applaud sin.  Some people tend to enable or be passive about sin claiming “all things are permissible,” but this is not true.  So what does it look like to “hate the sin, but love the sinner?”

The most important thing we need to understand is why we need to hate sin.  Sin, defined, is: “An immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.” And that’s just the online dictionary definition.  Sin is anything and everything that goes against God and His perfect standards.  Therefore, if we love God, we should hate sin, because it offends Him.

We should also hate sin because it destroys people’s lives, including our own.  It distorts our relationship with God, pushing us further and further from Him.  It leads us to commit heinous acts of violence and injustice.  Worst of all, it separates people from Him for eternity.  Sin, not God, sends people to Hell.  This is the biggest reason why we need to hate sin.  While He may have a special love for believers who are His adopted children, God loves all people; therefore He hates sin because it enslaves the people He loves and separates them from Him for eternity.  It blinds them to His glory and deafens them to His voice and His truth.  It weighs us down and causes us to believe lies that prevent us from becoming all that God created us to be.

Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Who is our neighbor?  EVERYONE!  Everyone means our friends, family, strangers, terrorists, homosexuals, rapists, murderers, kidnappers and, yes, even our “enemies.” I have put “enemies” in quotation marks because, unfortunately, I believe that we have mistakenly made people our enemies.  Jesus did warn us that the world would hate us because we love Him and because the world is at enmity with God.  But although the people of the world may make us their enemies, we are not to be the ones to view those people as our enemies, but to try to live at peace with them (Romans 12:18, Hebrews 12:14).

People are our neighbors, therefore we are to love them and see them as our mission field.  The true enemy is Satan, who is the father of sin, and his demons, who lie to us, tempt us and tell us that we aren’t worthy of the Gospel which God has entrusted to those who love Him and have humbled themselves before Him.  Those that we consider enemies are actually people who are created in God’s image, which need to receive His love and His grace. We are not helping in the redemptive process if we are keeping ourselves from having anything to do with “sinners.” Therefore, if we love God, and our neighbor, we should hate sin, which separates our neighbors from God, whom we love and from His grace, which alone can save them from destruction.

Jesus gave us a good example of this when He spoke with the woman at the well.  She was a Samaritan, and the Jews hated the Samaritans because they worshiped in the wrong place (back then, the Temple in Jerusalem was still the only place where worship was accepted), and because they were considered to be “unclean.”  This was not God’s heart at all.  The Jews had begun to make up their own rules in addition to God’s laws thinking that they could gain more favor with God.  Jesus knew better than this, and He showed that by offering her the “living water” which was He Himself.  She accepted and went and told her entire village, and many of them accepted Him.

As Christians, we must be willing to develop true relationships with every kind of person, even those we consider to be unlovable because that is what Jesus did, and that is what He commanded us to do.

We must also be willing to realize that some people may never change, but we do not know who will change and who will not.  We also need to realize that in the end, only God can truly change them, we can’t.

Neither can any of us change ourselves.  We can’t hate the sin and love the sinner on our own.  We must get past our pride, humble ourselves, and let God use us and change us into who He has created us to be.

Only then can we truly have abundant life here on earth.  Only then can we help to bring God’s Kingdom to earth, and gain eternal life in God’s Kingdom to come.

I want to challenge us all, the next time we want to use the phrase, “hate the sin, and love the sinner,” to really stop and do just that.  Think of each person as one who needs to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ because they are dead in their trespasses and sins.  (Ephesians 2:1).  I would say that we should especially begin applying this challenge to those whom we consider to be the unlovable, or our enemies.  We need to apply the principles of 2 Timothy 2:23-26.  If we do, I believe that we will be bringing God’s Kingdom to places and people, including ourselves, where we never thought we would see His Kingdom come.