Posts Tagged With: Sin

Problems with the Nashville Statement

The Nashville Statement is troublingly ambiguous on the sinfulness of same sex attraction:

“Article 8. WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.”

Is this Christian’s purity of life attained by repenting and mortifying the sinful “sexual attraction for the same sex”, or are these desires somehow compatible with such purity? It seems they mean the latter, which is unbiblical, and a heretical denial of the sinfulness of sinful lusts.  The authors of the statement had no trouble being crystal clear on the sinfulness of many sins.  Why the lack of clarity here, on one of the most confronting issues of our time?  I take it as a denial that same sex erotic attraction is sinful, which is a huge mistake because:

1. It seems to deny that some sins are more heinous than others.  

One area where Christians need to be taught better, is the degree of heinousness of sins.

Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 150. Are all transgressions of the law of God equally heinous in themselves, and in the sight of God?
All transgressions of the law of God are not equally heinous; but some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.

All sins are heinous, but some are more heinous than others due to several aggravating factors. One of the aggravating factors that the Larger Catechism lists in Answer 151 is that a sin is more heinous if it be against the “light of nature.” For this reason, in this respect, same sex attraction is more heinous even than lust for the opposite sex, which is not, essentially, against nature. Same sex attraction is not the moral equivalent of opposite sex attraction, which God gave us for the purpose of procreation.  The recent confusion among the Reformed and Evangelicals over the sinfulness of same sex attraction shows this deficiency.
2. It denies the Christian doctrine of original sin. 

The statement that a Christian can live a pure life despite experiencing erotic desires toward persons of the same sex, suggests that such proneness and proclivity to enter into temptation are not sin unless they are acted upon.  But this flies in the face of Scripture and the traditional Augustinian teaching on original sin.  “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” James 1:14 Temptation arises from our sinful nature, which is itself sin, and calls down God’s wrath upon us. By grace, those whom God has regenerated, get the victory eventually over their indwelling sin, by mortifying it daily. This teaching is sorely lacking in the church today. It is being said that our sinful nature, and the temptations that arise from it, are not sin, as if to raise up Pelagius from the grave.  If the Church ceases to maintain the historic, orthodox, definition of Original Sin, she will fall utterly.

I am concerned that the Nashville Statement adds to the confusion and false teaching on sin rampant in the Church today.

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A Flying Roll And A Woman Trapped In A Basket Portend Judgment: Zechariah devotional, part 7

In His most holy word, God provides many promises of blessing to give to His people hope and strengthen their faith.  He also provides many warnings to keep them on the right path.  The warnings are just as important as the promises.  We need not only the healing ointment, but also the sharp surgeon’s scalpel.  Just as we are encouraged by the promises, we are made to be more aware of our sins and keener to reject them in true repentance when we are reminded of God’s judgment against sinners.  In chapter 5 of Zechariah, God’s people are warned of pending judgment through two word-pictures.  They serve as an illustration of that truth expressed in 1 Peter 5:7, that judgment begins with the household of God. 

Zechariah 5

Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.

And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits.

Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it.

I will bring it forth, saith the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.

A scroll the size of a billboard flies through the air, portending the judgment that is written for sin.  This represents the just sentence of God upon evil-doers.  Through His prophets and apostles, God has warned the entire human race of His judgment against sin.  This judgment is written in the law of God, which was recorded on a scroll in ancient times.  Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. Deuteronomy 27:26  Two sins in particular are highlighted in this word-picture: that of stealing, or acquiring goods or riches by deceit and falsehood, and that of swearing falsely, that is, making an oath with God as witness and not keeping ones word.  The latter sin is committed directly against God, the former against ones fellow man.  (Although truly all sin is committed against God.)  All sin falls into one of these two categories of sin: sin against God, and sin against the fellow man.  God’s judgment is coming on the whole earth for sin, for His law has now been preached in every corner of the globe, and even for those who have not yet heard, the law of the Creator is written upon their hearts, leaving them without excuse for their sins against God and man. (Romans 1:20)

How often have we, as Christians, been guilty of mistreating our fellow human being, of coveting what is his or defrauding our neighbor of what belonged to him?  How often have we failed to give God the honor due His name by not keeping our promises spoken in His presence?  Let us as God’s people shun and depart from sins against God and neighbor, knowing that judgment is coming upon the whole world.  Let us return and repent.  What a shame would it be if we who have taken His name, heard His word, and known His presence became partakers of judgment with those who have never known God?  (Ephesians 5:7)

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photo from souljournaler blog

Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.

And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth.

And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.

And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.

Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.

10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah?

11 And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.

This word from the prophet Zechariah was spoken after the Jewish nation had already been taken away in captivity to Babylon, in the land of Shinar, and were now already returned to the land of Judah.  God represents the wickedness of his people by a woman who is carried away in an ephah, a large flour basket.  She is trapped and possibly killed by a heavy weight of lead.  She will be carried away again to captivity by two women with wings like storks.  But unlike the first time, captive in Babylon for 70 years, she will never be restored again, but rather will be “established, and set there upon her own base.”  She will be carried away never to return.  God represents the wickedness of His people Judah and warns them of what is going to come.  Probably this second exile is a foretelling of the captivity of the Jews under the Romans and their dispersion in 70 A. D. after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.  Although God’s judgment is upon the whole world, it starts in His own household, 1 Peter 5:7 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  The wicked from among His people will be taken away never to return to the blessing and promise that God has promised to those who are faithful to His covenant.

As the Church of Jesus Christ, gathered out of the world unto Zion, His holy city, the place of His presence on earth among His people, we are the household of God.  Let repentance begin with us God’s people, for if we get lazy and begin to pursue the allurements of the world and the dictates of our own sinful flesh, we will lose the promise while many others are hearing and obeying the good news.  We who have enjoyed God’s promise will be separated and cut off from it entirely if we allow ourselves to be followers of sin rather than followers of God as He has expressed Himself in His word.  Let us rather, depending entirely and prayerfully on His grace, return to the Lord, turning from our pet sins to obey the living God.

When God says, Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings, let us say, Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God. (Jeremiah 3:22)

When writing this devotional, I got some ideas from the notes of the ESV study Bible and from Matthew Henry’s commentary. 

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The Biggest Obstacle to Faith in Christ the Savior

Amid the rampant unbelief in the world, one often hears people putting up roadblocks and obstacles by describing that which keeps them from believing the good news of reconciliation with the Creator through Jesus Christ.  The most common objections verbalized tend to be along the lines that evidence is lacking for God, for the integrity and truth of the Bible, that the morality revealed in Scripture is outdated, or that the Bible’s record on such things as creation is contradicted by modern science.   But as we know from human experience, things are not always as they appear when it comes to people saying why they do not accept something.  People are prone to not indicate the real obstacle that prevents them from coming to Christ.

Would it surprise you to know that the biggest obstacle to people’s acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ today is not a lack of evidence, but self-righteous pride?  The Bible humbles the pride of man.  It describes him not as righteous, but as ungodly, unholy, evil, undesirable, and unworthy of any consideration or favor from the Creator.  According to the Scriptures, the good news is that God has offered eternal blessing in Christ to those who only deserve His eternal curse and punishment in hell forever.

Romans 3

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:

16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:

17 And the way of peace have they not known:

18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

People just cannot accept the picture that God paints of them in Scripture.  They are offended by what He says about them in His word: that they are vile, corrupt, and worthy only to be cast into hell forever.  That is the biggest obstacle that the average person has to receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  It is pride.  It is an unwillingness to accept that they are as worthless as God says they are.  For it is only those who recognize their need as sinners, and their utter inability to help themselves or to do anything pleasing to the Creator, which makes them ready to receive the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ the Savior.  The world’s biggest obstacle to receiving the gospel is not a lack of evidence for God or the Bible; It is the pride of humans who think they are good people.

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Old South Church, Boston

Ebenezer Pemberton, a Congregational minister who served as the pastor of the Old South Church, Boston from 1700-1717, puts it this way,

“The freedom and riches of divine grace to the greatest of sinners is an essential part of the glory that is displayed in the gospel.  But we are naturally slow of heart to believe; a self-righteous spirit appears in a variety of forms to obstruct our approaches to God through Jesus Christ*.”

Thanks be to God that for those of us who have embraced Christ when we heard the gospel, the Lord subdued our self-righteous pride and stubborn will, informing us of our miserable condition, making us willing and able to receive Him as He was offered to us as Savior.

*Ebenezer Pemberton, Don Kistler, ed., The Puritan Pulpit, Orlando, FL: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2006, p. 207.

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When a father p…

When a father provides crutches for his child, he does as good as say, I count that my child will be yet infirm; and when God shall provide an Advocate, he doth as good as to say, my people are subject to infirmities. Do not, therefore, think of thyself above what, by plain texts, and fair inferences drawn from Christ’s offices, thou are bound to think.  What doth it bespeak concerning thee that Christ is always a priest in heaven, and there ever lives to make intercession for thee, but this, that thou art at the best in thyself, yea, and in thy best exercising of all thy graces too, but a poor, pitiful, sorry, sinful man; a man that would, when yet most holy, be certainly cast away, did not thy high priest take away for thee the iniquity of thy holy things.

John Bunyan, The Work of Christ as an Advocate, 7.

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