Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. -- 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Friday, July 11, 2014
Settling My Own Problems
This looks like it is turning out to be our theme for the week.
Being a libertarian, I like to let people mind their own business. As John Wayne, in the character of John Bernard Books put it in The Shootist: I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people and I expect the same from them.
What a person wants to do, so long as he or she is not harming or taking advantage of anyone else, is between that person and the Lord. The kingdom of God is made up of all kinds of former sinners. Being a former sinner is rather like being a former single person who is now married or a former civilian who is now in the military. We have entered into a contract or covenant that controls in a new way what we do and how we have to think. So, as former sinners, we have entered into the fellowship of the saints, being, by the Spirit, in covenant through Christ. Our outlook and our behavior will be no longer the same.
We also appreciate another Duke quote, this time through character Tom Doniphon from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: Out here a man settles his own problems. We might add, “By the grace of God through faith”, but otherwise, what good is a man or woman who refuses to face up to the difficulties at hand? Assuredly -- except possibly for the fictional John Ford cowboy, we all need others to lend a hand from time to time; no one can stand alone against evil.
Yet, alone, we must peer into our hearts: Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
There is a traitor in our midst, one who cannot be trusted, who must be locked down and guarded. Release the old man from confinement, and he will jump your claim, poison the waterhole, bushwhack and back-shoot you. He will swear his allegiance and tell you how much you need his help, but all your valiant efforts, good intentions and best-laid plans will come to naught so long as he is involved.
Thus, if we see someone who claims to be a Christian yet remains in thrall to the old Adamic nature, we are right to question that one’s sincerity or understanding, or both. Some of the items in Paul’s list may cut a little close to some of us. We know our weaknesses, where we are most likely to stumble and fall, but we also know the way out of our temptations and even our failures. The Apostle John puts it like this: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. In here a man settles his own problems: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The mistake the people in Corinth were making was to suggest that what they were doing and how they were living was unrelated to their “state”. We cannot claim that sin doesn’t count or that, because we are the ones doing it, it is not sin. No exemptions: If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
To stand together with our brothers and sisters against evil in the world, we must first stand with Christ alone against the evil in our hearts.