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Friday, August 11, 2017

God's Name

In Paul's epistle to the church in Rome, he writes this.
As it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (Rom 2:24)
No one is entirely sure to what Paul is referring with his "as it is written" statement. Written in Scripture? Written elsewhere? There are a few possible Old Testament links there; Matthew Henry lists three (Isa 52:5; Ezek 36:22-23; and 2 Sam 12:14). None are a word-for-word quote. The intent, however, is clear.

The text is talking about those of us who know what is right. After listing the moral decline of humans from knowing God to all manner of evil (Rom 1:18-32), he tells his readers (who would be clucking their tongues and agreeing that "those people" are evil), "Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things." (Rom 2:1) Oops! Walked into that one. Paul tells his readers that they know what is right and what is wrong and they point their fingers at those who do wrong while they themselves are guilty of the same things. Paul goes on to do what we called in the Air Force some "wall-to-wall counseling" (something you don't want to actually experience) explaining to them that "You think you're so good? Well, you're not. You're equally guilty of sin."

So, sinners who recognize sin and indulge in it while claiming to be followers of God are causing the name of God to be blasphemed among unbelievers. Okay, got it.

But ... isn't that every one of us? We who call ourselves followers of Christ -- who know the truth, who affirm and endorse God's Word, who long to be conformed to the image of Christ -- do we not manage to violate His commands? This is a problem.

I, for one, am delighted that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) I need that. But rather than needing ongoing forgiveness, I would much prefer to stop misrepresenting my Savior, to stop being an example of why I need salvation and be an example of what Christ can do in a changed life. I'd much rather demonstrate the power of God at work in His children than be a cause for people to blaspheme the name of God. It is my goal, my day-by-day aim, my constant prayer. I want my life to be a reason for people to glorify God rather than a reason for them to question Him. I have not yet arrived, but I press on (Phil 3:12), because my shortcomings here are my heartbreak and His successes here is great joy to me.

1 comment:

Marshal Art said...

I totally relate to your final paragraph.