Thursday, October 25, 2012

Don't Say You Weren't Warned

When I was in the Outer Banks a couple of weeks ago, I finally got to use my Jeep as a Jeep and tour around 4x4 country looking for wild horses.  It was so much fun and I look forward to do it again.  For those who do not know, 4x4 country is an area of the Outer Banks where there are no roads.  Well, technically, there are roads I suppose as they have street names and houses, but there is no pavement or even gravel path.  It is just sand.  The beach is the highway and you need to navigate through the dunes and deeper sand to get to the houses.  It is only accessible with 4x4 vehicles and even those sometimes get stuck in the sand. Praise God, I didn't.  What is interesting is that there are signs coming into 4x4 country warning people that it is for 4x4 vehicles only.  Furthermore, anyone with common sense, a computer with internet, or a very basic understanding of the laws of physics would know that you need an off-road vehicle to be able to drive off-road in deep sand.  Some ignored the warnings, though, and tried to take their 2-wheel drive vehicles on the sand.  Personally, I saw two stuck on various days.  On one day it was a minivan (I kid you not) and the other was Toyota Corolla.  Needless to say, neither of them made it 100 feet from the entrance and their drivers and occupants were feverishly trying to dig themselves out of the sand.  While we laugh (and I admit that I did), it is also a sobering illustration.  Even us, in our pride, ignore the warnings in Scripture to our own peril.
Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for [their bodies] were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as [were] some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all  these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.  1 Corinthians 10:1-11 NKJV
The point of that lengthy scripture is that we can not ignore the warnings given to us by God throughout His word.  All those things that happened to Israel are recorded as a warning and admonition to us.  We are not to lust after the things of this world, we should not commit sexual immorality, we should not be idolaters, and we should not tempt Christ.  The whole idea that we can sin and live however we want after coming to Jesus and expect blessings to fall upon us like rain runs in direct contradiction to this Scripture.  God promises to chastise us when we are not walking with Him, not bless us.  Yet, just like the foolish drivers who ignored the 4x4 only signs, we tread out into our lives of self gratification and expect to live a prosperous, healthy Christian life.  And, just like those foolish drivers, we get stuck in the sand.

Most of the time, God does not even need to supernaturally chastise us for bad behavior.  Many times the behavior itself brings its own chastisement.  It is almost like it was designed that way.  If you are sexually immoral, you can not expect God to protect you from the unwanted risks of that behavior.  You are just as likely to be forced into being a parent before you are married or catch some dreaded disease as anyone else in the world is.  If you drink or do drugs, you are wreaking the same havoc on your health and body as anyone not in Christ is. Many sins have many natural consequences whether it be broken families and relationships, dreaded diseases, financial ruin, and criminal prosecution just to name a few.  Life, for the Christian, is not a magic carpet ride through life where God promises to navigate us around the problems we are creating of our own sinful behaviors.  To live with that idea is not only tempting Christ, but playing chicken with Him. 

No matter what your sin is, its lure and luster will not last forever.  The Bible is very true in that you become the slave to whatever it is you present yourself.  What begins as fun oftentimes becomes obsession or necessity and what would have once been easy to turn away from now becomes ingrained into your life.  When that happens, the sin becomes not an escape to fun but an escape from the misery of not doing whatever sin it was your were doing.  It is just like a drug addict.  At one point, it was to get high, but now it is only temporary relief from withdrawal. 

There seems to be a convergence of two false teachings in the church today.  The first false teaching is the Health and Prosperity Gospel where coming to Jesus means promises of supernatural healings and wealth for all.  The other false teaching is the teaching that Christians should not be concerned for things such as sin, repentance, or righteous living.  This convergence means that coming to Jesus is meaningless for how we live our lives yet produces health and wealth to all who believe.  In other words, this doctrine teaches that coming to Jesus means you can be just as sinful as you have always been and not even have the slightest concern about it while expecting God to prevent you from ever getting sick and lavish you with wealth and prosperity with eternal life in paradise to look forward to.  I call this the Gospel of the Spoiled Brat Trust Fund Baby. 

I am not writing of repenting to be saved, but I am writing about repentance as a result of salvation.  To deny that sin bears consequences even for the Christian is to not only deny the reality we see all around us, but it is to deny very large portions of the Word of God.  The Bible is full of warnings in the Old and New Testaments as to the perils of living like the unsaved once you make a commitment to Jesus Christ.  We often do not think of the Old Testament, but Paul made it clear as day in 1 Corinthians that what was written in the Old Testament was written as a warning and admonition to us.  We ignore these warnings to our own peril.  When we face the consequences of our sin, we do so of our own fault for not heeding those warnings.  We may laugh at those who ignore warnings on the side of the road and get there cars stuck in the sand, but how much more foolish are those who ignore the warnings of God? 
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.  Galatians 6:7-8 NKJV

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