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Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Christians read in their Bibles -- you know, the Word of God -- that it is a sin (for instance) to engage in homosexual practices, so they say it is a sin. They read that humans are made in the image of God and murder is a sin, so they say that killing humans in the womb is a sin. They see that sexual relations outside of marriage is sin, so they consider sexual relations outside of marriage to be sin. It's not rocket science. What is, apparently, difficult to figure out is just why we say these kinds of things.

The world would like to argue that we say it because we're haters. Simple. Simple, but wrong. Well, let's not be too hasty. Mostly wrong. Because there are indeed people who say that homosexual behavior is a sin because they are haters. But let's just talk about those who say, "Well, would you look at that? God says it's a sin, so I have to call it that." Not haters.

But why call it sin out loud? I mean, sure, we can think things that the Bible calls sin are actually sin, but why say so? And I think here we run into another problem.

Why do Christians stand firm on issues that Scripture (God's Word) calls sin? Why do we point it out? The problem here, I think, is not merely the world's notions of why. The problem here is that too many Christians don't know why. You see, I think there is a big problem in Christian circles in failing to grasp the very basic idea of the Gospel. We seem to think that our job -- God's job, too, mind you -- is to try to make bad people into good people. Thus, if X is bad, it is our job, our duty, to point out that X is bad so they will stop. I call that "moralism". We're trying to "legislate" (whether we go through legislation or not) other people's morality. "This is bad; stop doing it." And, try as I might, I can't find that in Scripture.

So why should we be standing firm on these kinds of things? It is not because we're trying to reform people. The Bible calls them "dead in sin" (Eph 2:1). There. Go ahead. Reform that. No, that's not the aim. The aim is to point out to dead sinners that they're dead sinners. Only when they've seen this abundantly clear fact from the Bible can they take the absolutely necessary step of getting help. And what help is there for dead sinners? Well, of course, Christ and Him alone. Oh, and we have that to offer! See? Good news!

The way it works right now is that the god of this world has blinded unbelievers. So they're strolling along in their homosexual sin and their fornication and the entire list of other sins, and they're thinking, "I'm not so bad; at least I haven't murdered anyone today." If we say to ourselves, "Well, that is sin, but I'm not going to say anything because we're not trying to make bad people into good people and we're not trying to moralize and we're certainly not trying to irritate people," then they keep walking, happy in their sin. But if we say, "You know, God says that what you're doing is sin," God can use that fact to awaken them to their need for Him and you get the chance to give them the Gospel that faith in Christ can solve that sin problem. And that is why it's not "hate".

We are not in the business of making our world better. That is, making people more moral is not going to solve their sin problem. If we care about people, we will need to, first, show them the problem in order to, second, offer them the solution. If they don't know there's a problem, they won't care about your solution. Moralism is not the aim. Sharing the Gospel is.


Craig said...

I assume that you are drawing a distinction between what you are calling moralism and the practice of holding fellow Christians accountable for their actions. While I agree that beating non believers over their heads with a demand that they adhere to a moral standard that a believer would, I also see the value in accountability. But even there the notion of holding believers accountable is not a license to walk up to random people and pint out their sin, it's much more about developing a personal relationship that allows openness and honesty about everything no matter how bad.

Once again, well said.

Stan said...

Well, yes. By "moralism" I mean "the intent to make people moral." For unbelievers, making them moral doesn't save their souls. I let them know what God says is not moral because they need to know their peril. I let believers know what God says is not moral because they need to be restored. In both cases, moralism is the attempt to make people into more moral people. In neither case, in my view, is that a reasonable goal. Unbelievers need to see their need. Believers will want to pursue God's best. In both cases, I'm assisting them to obtain what they need. In all cases, the motivation is love. (So walking up to random Christians or non-Christians and beating them over the head with their errors won't be of much help.)

Craig said...

I thought so, but wanted to verify

Bob said...

The Greek word repent is "Metanoia" which means to change one's mind, or for the man to change on the inside. it does not mean to perform a moral act.
consider that the lost are dead in sin, so for them to change their minds, there must be a work of the Spirit. however when Christians use the term with respect to other Christians they usually imply some form effort to change behavior. is it remotely possible that for both the lost and the saved require the same Spiritual Gift, the gift of repentance? oh yea i am not that smart, i looked it up in wiki..