Zaccheus claimed that the scribes and sinners – err, Pharisees – were better at fleecing the sheep than the average tax collector. He loved ticking people off so much that Yehováh wondered if He would ultimately have to scratch Zaccheus’ name out of the Book of Life.
To get a better view of Yeshua, Zaccheus climbed a tree. To get a better view of Zaccheus, Yeshua told him to get out of that tree so He could stay at his house.
When Zaccheus did, Yehováh was pleased. He watched His Son walk side by side with a tax collector, of all people, both of whom were ticking everyone of self-importance off along the way.
Of men aged 18 to 49, 67 percent say pornography is morally acceptable. And of all Americans who say religion is not very important, more than two-thirds (76 percent) find pornography morally acceptable.
But I want to argue that the sexual revolution is not actually about expanding the bounds of sexual behavior. It’s about fundamentally challenging the notion that there is such a thing as wrong or right sexual behavior. It’s about blowing apart the whole notion of sexual morality.
Paul wrote in Romans 1:28 that God gives the disobedient over to a depraved mind. He wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 that God sends a strong delusion so the disobedient will believe the lie.
What lie might that be? Perhaps the lie is that there is nothing morally right or wrong with our sexual behavior nor how we deal with the consequences of it such as abortion or divorce. That means we don’t think we have to repent. That suggests that we don’t believe that there is any God to Whom we owe repentance. And all of that makes us forget about the “pursuit of holiness” that Jerry Bridges rightly pointed out is not an option.
The lie confuses us about repentance, God and holiness. The lie affects our beliefs and our beliefs affect our behavior.
If you don’t behave as you believe, you will end by believing as you behave.
When I was a teenager my family and I watched the 1959 film The Diary of Anne Frank in our living room. Anne died in a Nazi concentration camp, but she left behind a diary of the events that occurred while her family was in hiding. A memorable part of the movie was when she expressed her belief that people were good at heart.
The reason the idea that we are good at heart is wrong is because it is sentimental. It is a false form of consolation, because it looks for goodness in the wrong place. Rather than acknowledging that God is good, it claims that somewhere deep down inside of us we are.
To a society that rejects Jesus, we mythologize the Kingdom of God rather than preach it. To a society that blatantly intimidates with sexual addiction, we downplay the need for repentance. Alisa Childers wrote that one of the five signs that one’s church was becoming progressive is “[t]he heart of the gospel message shifts from sin and redemption to social justice”.
I’m still trying to figure this out. You are welcome to tell me what you think about people being good at heart.
I am grateful to Michael Wilson for presenting George Barna’s research and to Bruce Cooper for pointing out Alisa Childers’ criticism of progressive Christianity.
Final thought: After David impregnated Bathsheba, had her husband Uriah killed to avoid scandal, and was called out for it by Nathan (2 Samuel 11-12), he didn’t think much of his heart. He wanted God to create in him a clean one (Psalm 51).
I learned from Michael Wilson’s blog that the San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone had called on the Catholic Church to deny Communion to prominent pro-abortion Catholics.
I agree with Archbishop Cordileone, but would add a twist to his call making it relevant even for non-Catholics: All Christians should advisethose who are pro-abortion to refrain from Communion until they have repented.
Does that sound harsh?
What would be harsh would be Satan’s accusations full of finger-pointing and despair with no hope of forgiveness on the other side. However, this call is different. It is a call to the discomfort of repentance and the liberation of change where pardon replaces that crash into the brick wall.
Does an extraordinary claim require extraordinary evidence? If one thinks of ordinary as natural, something one can see, touch or measure, and one thinks of extra as super, then it might make sense to transform extraordinary into supernatural just to help us see what’s at stake. From that new perspective, a supernatural claim would seem to require supernatural evidence.
True, some proudly deny the supernatural entirely. They might as well deny the extraordinary itself, but such a denial would itself be an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary or supernatural evidence to justify it.
Pause for a moment.
Without the supernatural there would be no words to describe the ordinary if the ordinary could exist at all. That we take words for granted does not mean they are ordinary or can be completely reduced to something natural. We are just used to the extraordinary, the supernatural, pervading our lives in spite of our denials.
Furthermore, we use these words that are extraordinary to form presuppositions, or believed assumptions that cannot be reduced to the ordinary, in order to rationalize those very denials.
Those presuppositions are part of our spiritual environment. Can we change our minds? From this environment do we produce wholesome fruit worth offering to our loved ones? Can we repent if that fruit is rotten? Can we be forgiven?
We sink into the waters aware of those presuppositions, those mundane, questionable, unwholesome, but extraordinary claims. As we are brought back up, having repented, having changed our minds, the Lord renews in us a right spirit and creates in us a clean heart.