Friday, December 12, 2014
Monday, December 8, 2014
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
In our world
today, especially in the United States of America, we are a part of a
democratic system that allows an incredible amount of freedom compared to most
other countries. Indeed, this desire for freedom filled the sails of the first
pilgrims and settlers as they traveled here and tried to carve out a living in
a completely raw land.
For some pilgrims they only wanted freedom to build their own houses wherever they wanted. For many others, they sought religious freedom from persecution back home. No matter the case, the people wanted freedom from oppression.
Only a handful of centuries and 44 Presidents later, we are growing up in a culture that has only ever known this freedom and has become groomed to think in such a context all of the time. The way in which we cast ballots and vote for whomever we want to fill a political office reveals that the people determine what goes on in this country. The people can essentially vote themselves freedoms and restrictions. They vote themselves money and taxes. They vote themselves leaders that think like them or that will do what they want. They vote in a way that is informed by their own views on morality and what is “right” to them.
This is the rule of American life. The United States of America is deemed sovereign. The Constitution is deemed as authoritative. The citizens of America are deemed a free people and each century has revealed the growing yearning for more and more freedoms. With this demand for certain freedoms comes arguments from all sides on which freedoms are necessary and what Constitutional amendments should still apply to modern times.
God, Who’s throne is the heavens with the Earth as His footstool, has given us governmental institutions to protect us from enemies outside and keep us in control from within. Romans 13 makes very clear that “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (13:1).
Whether a particular government is godly or not does not matter. We are still under their authority and expected to be subject to them, no matter the freedoms they allow or disallow us, so long as we are not commanded to sin. If the government took our guns away, we can be upset about it, but in our anger we should not sin and retaliate, though a controllable appeals process would be completely acceptable. If we really understood and rested in the sovereignty of God, then gun control would be the least of our worries.
Some of the godliest people we read about in our historical accounts lived under the most oppressive governmental situations—regimes of anti-Christian sentiment. Just think back to the medieval ages and into the Reformation period when persecution started coming from the government and even the very church that purported to represent God. John Huss, Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, John Calvin—to name a few—were not exactly free men like we would consider ourselves today in America. Their dedication to sola Scriptura (“scripture alone”) got many of them killed.
Let’s go back further. Think about Joseph and Daniel in the Bible. They served at the highest levels of government, neither of which honored God, yet they maintained their faithfulness to God in belief and in practice even when it threatened their lives. They had no ability to weigh in on a moral code that would help restrain their nation’s vice. They were not given authority to write laws that would come more into line with the law of God.
If Daniel or Joseph were given an opportunity to vote for their civilization’s establishment of moral law—like we can today—how do you think they would make their decisions? Would they vote for laws that allowed gay marriage, or obliterated the lines between men and women in their unique roles? Would they call that a civil right? Would they vote for the freedom of killing children in the womb? Would they call that an issue of a woman’s health and thus her own prerogative and right? Would they vote for no-fault divorce? Would they vote for leaders who campaigned on legalizing these rights?
Put another way, would Daniel or Joseph allow “freedom” to dethrone God and His law?
To our deep shame, many professing Christians today do just that. In the name of freedom we have separated our conviction of Scripture from the checkbox on the ballot. In the secrecy of the local school gymnasium’s voting booth, we are abandoning God’s clear commandments and working against His call for us to be holy and to go out and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ that will save people from the penalty of the very sins we are voting to make legal.
As Christians, we can’t have it both ways.
The freedom we have in America is an amazing gift in itself! Why would we then take that gift and use it to rebel against God? We have political parties in this country that campaign on legalizing the very things that Scripture has condemned since the beginning of time and we are arrogant about it.
The Democratic Party today prides itself on tolerance of just about everything. Abortion is approved. Homosexuality and gay marriage is applauded. Light drug use is acceptable. These are at both the federal and state levels. Every professing Christian that votes for someone with these beliefs and for someone who has the intention of applying these beliefs to governmental rule is participating in a proactive assault against God and His Word. They are declaring that they are at odds with God and, by way of legislation, showing themselves to be an enemy of God.
In Romans 1, Paul talks about how people rebel against God and suppress the truth by their unrighteousness and—although God is known to them—they exchange the glory of Him for idols. For these reasons we are told that “God gave them up” over and over.
“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves…” (1:24).
“God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (1:26-27).
“God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (1:28-31).
What we see here is a condemnation of all kinds of specific sin, yet it is also generalized in the final list to cover nearly all sin in itself, i.e. “haters of God”. Hating God necessarily means you do not love God and we know that Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
Even the phrase “inventors of sin” implies that you don’t need to have the Bible list every specific sin in order to know it is sin. The fruit of the Spirit of God makes abundantly clear what is good and acceptable, the final characteristic (fruit) in that list being self-control.
The clinching verse of the day follows our Romans passage. This is so important for us to come to grips with and pastors need to do a better job of speaking to the implications of how we vote as voting for people who promote unrighteousness is a sin of culpability:
“Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (1:32).
Here, Scripture shows us that the sinner is not only the one fleshing out the sins as outlined above, but it is also the person approving the practice of it. This verse literally reveals the fact that few Christians run in liberal circles at the governmental level as the policy of their liberality is grounded in their being liberated from any outside source placing a restraint on their lifestyle.
Again, think again about Joseph and Daniel. Too far removed to be relevant? If someone were to think that, it would sadly prove the extent to which the Bible is authoritative for their life, which reveals the real problem.
It is important to remember that to God, “one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet 3:8). This means that Daniel and Joseph would have had the chance to vote just 3 or four days ago! Do you really think that time has softened God’s wrath on unrighteousness? Has His holiness slipped? Has His hatred of sin waned? Friends, no.
Christians are people who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and now walk according to the Spirit by the grace of God.
Listen: The Spirit of God would not contradict Himself and His eternal decrees by actually moving someone to vote in favor of legalizing sexual immorality, infanticide, and a loss of self-control in drug use—the very things that the Spirit of God has written against in Holy Writ.
Unfortunately, no one particular political party is exempt from this rebellious nature. Even the Republican party is starting to slip into the same moral dilemma. In fact, some are already there. There is going to come a time when the best vote will be a fill-in-the-blank because you cannot in good conscience use your wonderful right to vote for approvers of iniquity.
Why vote at all? Perhaps there are times when we don’t vote, but the main question is whether or not we are honoring God in the voter’s box, or hating God. We must be thinking bigger than us. We must be humbled and recognize who God is and what He has said and that we are obligated—rather, we are eager—to do what glorifies Him!
At this point in our country there is virtually no objective standard that is recognized as a moral code, which has allowed room for people to campaign on platforms like the Libertarian party. Again, the term liberty is being used because it has become a term signifying a liberation from moral restrictions. The only way to think about this kind of freedom is to completely ignore God.
The Libertarian agenda would decrease or completely eradicate laws against prostitution, sodomy, gambling, drug use, etc. They don’t consider these crimes. Why? They do not involve hurting other people or their property. They are consensual acts. This is right off of the Libertarian Party website.
What many politicians end up doing is redefining what sin is. They are the target of Isaiah’s warning:
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (5:20).
Our country believes that we are mainly good people who are and should be free to do what we want because that is where the true principle of freedom lays. Moral boundaries have become intrusive and offensive in a culture that rejects God and His authoritative Word.
There is, in reality, only one freedom we have as sinners—before we are redeemed by God’s grace—and it is found in our being free of righteousness all while we are enslaved to sin (Rom 6:20). This is the reality of the state of fallen man. When sinners create laws to allow the freedom to sin, they are really reveling in their slavery to it.
The Apostle Paul wrote to those Roman Christians who gave up their sin and turned to Christ:
“What fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (6:21-23).
Where is actual freedom? It is in the redemptive work of Christ Jesus. Will Christians ever vote America into a perfectly moral state? No chance. However, we must not aid in its decline. Even if we were to establish all of God’s laws in an effort to make a “moral” country . . . that does not actually make anyone a Christian, so our original concern of sharing the Gospel of Christ remains the same.
Again I ask: Where is actual freedom? The Christian should know this more than anyone else. We should not approve and vote for sin to be legal. Voting for the freedom to sin is antithetical to the holiness of God. We will be held accountable for the people we vote into power.
Where is actual freedom? It is only found where there is no sin. That is true freedom.
“When one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:16), (emphasis mine).
The Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian party may have the best plan for the middle class, or for tax reform, or for crime, but if they can’t get the definition of life, marriage, familial matters and sexuality right, then why would we lend our support to them when it offends God? Let’s be honest, if they can’t get those basic fundamental definitions right, do you really think they will be able to handle the vast complexities of financial reform anyway? Not a chance.
Don’t selfishly prioritize the middle class and financial reform over the preservation of children and familial constructs. Don’t dethrone God for the sake of our self-perceived notion of freedom. Let us vote and act like people who are indwelled with the Holy Spirit of God, the testimony of the Word, and with full conviction (1 Thess 1:5).
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).
Monday, June 16, 2014
Thursday, May 15, 2014
In case you missed Part 3, find it here: Worship Is Not Summed Up In Music
Another testament to this is found in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Of the Israelites, Paul said, “To them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ…” (Rom. 9:4-5).
Part 5: You Are a Type of Pastor