2 Timothy 4:4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
We live in a time of competition for church members, and a time where success is measured primarily by numbers and income, not quality or commitment. There is no end of teachers and churches who will present what feels good and what tickles the ear. The is no shortage of churches that provide every program, support group and resource that will “meet your needs”. But the Bible has many unpleasant topics as well. I call them “distasteful doctrines”. These are being sorely neglected today and that’s a shame because they are a vital part of Christianity. Over the next few days we will take a look at Christian doctrines that you may have never studied, rarely studied or only lightly studied unless you are in a good, uncompromising Bible-teaching assembly – or you have studied them personally..
Jesus had much more to say about hell than heaven. Hell is a grim reality that is virtually ignored by Christians today as being too harsh, unloving or uncomfortable. We don’t want to scare people away with talk of hell, so we simply ignore it, or give it a quick passing mention before moving on to more friendly subjects. That’s a shame because our friendly intentions won’t count for much to those who find themselves in eternal torment. We’ll take a look at the facts about hell straight from the Bible.
It has been said by a very prominent “Christian” preacher that teaching about sin is one of the worst things we can do because it destroys self esteem. Somebody forgot to warn Jesus and Paul. Regardless of whether we want to hear it or not, the Bible is very clear about the sinfulness of man. As Christians, we typically believe in the “idea” or doctrine of sin as it applies to humanity as a whole, but very rarely do we get honest about sin when it comes to ME. We’ll take a look from Scripture at the real nature of sin in our lives.
You would think that Christian liberty would be a very pleasant doctrine, but to teach it threatens our stranglehold on “truth” as we define it. I’m not talking about the core essentials of salvation, but all the other peripheral issues that have divided Christians into almost 3000 different “flavors”. We don’t hear much about Christian liberty because we’re afraid people might actually take hold of it and not do things OUR way. Christ died to bring us liberty, and we constantly want to rob other sincere Christians of it simply because they disagree with us on some issue or doctrine. We’ll take a look at liberty, where it applies, where it doesn’t apply and what it means to the Christian life.
Suffering is seen as something today that either is caused by a lack of faith, or is something to avoid and alleviate immediately as all costs. Does God have a use for suffering? Does He allow it? How are Christian supposed to think about suffering? We’ll examine the Bible to see if God agrees with today’s opinion about suffering..
- Christian Discipline
In this age of political correctness, competition for church members and fear of lawsuits, Church discipline has all but disappeared. That’s a shame because a leading factor in the ineffectiveness of the Church today is its hesitation to apply Church discipline. We’ll look at Scripture to find out what it is, how it works and what it accomplishes.
- Jealousy, Wrath & Judgment
We hear much about God’s love, mercy and forgiveness – and rightly so. But how much is our concept of those things distorted when we hear little about God’s jealousy, wrath and Judgment? The lack of teaching on these subjects certainly contributes to the lukewarmness of the average Christian. “Yeah, but you’re not supposed to SCARE people about God!” Oh, really? Who says? There are lots of scary and fearful things about God that we would do well to know and understand. We’ll take a look at the “unpleasant” side of God and how it affects our daily walk with Him.
- Intolerance & Exclusivity
There is only ONE way to avoid being eternally damned in hell, and spend an eternity with God in Heaven. There couldn’t be a more unpopular message today than that. All the political correctness, ecumenism, tolerance, diversity and inclusivism in the world doesn’t change that fact. We’ll look at the Bible to see how it teaches very plainly this “one way”.
The Biblical truth about sin is taking a real beating today. Consider these comments by a very popular “Christian leader” (bold emphasis mine):
- “What do I mean by sin? Answer: Any human condition or act that robs God of glory by stripping one of his children of their right to divine dignity. … I can offer still another answer: ‘SIN IS ANY ACT OR THOUGHT THAT ROBS MYSELF OR ANOTHER HUMAN BEING OF HIS OR HER SELF-ESTEEM’” (Robert Schuller, Self-Esteem, p. 14).
- “I don’t think anything has been done in the name of Christ that and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition.” (Robert Schuller, Time, March 18, 1985)
- Concerning the critic’s claims on his message Schuller responding to a question from Paul Crouch on the TBN television show, “I preach repentance so positively, most people don’t recognize it”.
He’s doing a good job because of all times I have heard Mr. Schuller speak, I have not recognized anything remotely close to repentance either.
The large majority of serious, Bible-believing, fundamental Christians have no problem in pronouncing Robert Schuller an apostate and heretic of the highest order. There is simply no denying that fact given his well documented theology and extreme ecumenical approach that smacks of Universalism.
Robert Schuller doesn’t preach the Biblical truth about sin. Big deal – that doesn’t have anything to do with the average evangelical Church, right? Wrong. At this very moment, there are multiple-millions-of-Christians, in thousands-and-thousands-of-churches-and-groups, involved in a book-program written by an author who considers Robert Schuller his mentor, who holds conferences with Schuller, and who is praised by Schuller:
- “During his last year in seminary, he and Kay drove west to visit Robert Schuller’s Institute for Church Growth. “We had a very stony ride out to the conference,” she says, because such nontraditional ministry scared her to death. Schuller, though, won them over. “He had a profound influence on Rick,” Kay says. “We were captivated by his positive appeal to nonbelievers. I never looked back.” (A Regular Purpose-Driven Guy, Christianity Today, 11/08/2002)
- “Rather than threaten sinners with fire and brimstone, Warren says, “We believe in attraction evangelism. We believe in loving people into the Kingdom.” (“This evangelist has a ‘Purpose,” by Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY, 7/21/2003)
- “I’m praying that every pastor will read this book, believe it, be prepared to stand corrected by it, and change to match its sound, scriptural wisdom. Rick Warren is the one all of us should listen to and learn from” (Robert H. Schuller, Pastor, The Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove, California).
“The Purpose Driven Church” and “The Purpose Driven Life” are multi-million sellers that have swept into all corners of Christianity. It introduces NOT a new idea, but the old idea of human-centered religion based on “giv’em what they want”: self-esteem, meeting needs and positive thinking. Robert Schuller didn’t invent it either. It’s been around throughout the history of man and has its roots in the Garden of Eden when Satan convinced Adam and Eve to take their eyes off God and focus on their own feelings and self-interests.
So what is the point? The point is that Satan will stop at NOTHING to water down teaching about sin and make it unpopular or “unsuccessful”. If Satan can’t accomplish this through the blatant false teaching of men like Mr. Schuller, then he will accomplish it by dressing it up in evangelical clothes and getting it into our churches riding the coat-tails of things like “church growth”, “successful evangelizing”, “seeker-friendly strategies” or “needs-based ministry”.
Satan doesn’t care HOW he waters down God’s Word,
just as long as he is gets it done.
Sin. It is a foundational truth in Scripture. It is the reason we are in this mess to begin with. Sin invades, infects and saturates God’s entire creation. It is the reason Jesus came to earth, suffer, died and rose again. No amount of human reasoning, change in tactics or statisticals studies of success changes what God has to say about sin. We have come to the mistaken opinion that QUANTITY (the number of members in our church) is the measure of success and whatever increases quantity should be utilized in building the church.
Let’s think about that for a moment; which of these two options do you think will result in a greatly increased church membership:
- A church that has numerous self-help programs; teaches a good, positive, healthy self-esteem message; actively monitors and implements things in the church to meet the needs of its members; and carefully, skillfully avoids making its members feel guilty or condemned about anything in their life
- A church that preaches God’s Word unwatered down, not only the positive and encouraging aspects, but also the condemning and convicting subjects such as sin, hell, guilt, wrath, condenmation and correction.
It’s not rocket science. Of course the first option is going to be more popular and attract more people. But tell me, what good is a huge church full of people getting their needs met but have never come to the point of being “poor in spirit” (hopelessly lost sinner in need of rescuing); who have never understood their sinfulness and its consequences; who accept the Savior but don’t understand their need for a Savior; and who have not repented of their sinfulness and become a holy people separated from the world to be united with God?
Sin is the reason we need Savior. Sin has destroyed our relationship to God. Sin needs to be repented of. Sin is what we need to be aware of and alert for. Sin ruins our fellowship with God. Sin wrecks our relationships with each other. Far from being “unloving” or a “destructive subject”, sin ranks right up there with the MOST important things that a Christian should be taught. Sin is our enemy. Sin is our problem.
Sin is the essence of everything bad, wrong, ruined,
spoiled, messed up and broken in your life.
Thefore, you should be educated about it.
However, truthful preaching about sin will NOT bring the multitudes flocking to your church or event. So if success in numbers is your goal, positive thinking and self esteem are the way to go. But if you measure success by how many people hear, believe and respond to the authentic, life-changing, soul saving Gospel of Jesus Christ – which starts with SIN – then God’s Word is where you should turn. In God’s Word we find sin to be, logically, a primary topic of discussion. Here’s a sample:
- Sin is violating God’s law. 1Jo 3:4
- Sin comes from Satan. 1Jo 3:8 ; Joh 8:44
- Not doing what we know is good, is sin. Jas 4:17
- Anything that doesn’t originate from faith in God is sin. Ro 14:23
- Sin reveals what is in the heart. Mt 15:19
- Sin comes from lust. Jas 1:15
- Sin is rebellion against God. De 9:7 ; Jos 1:18
- God hates sin. Pr 15:9 ; Jer 44:4 , 11
- Sin is d isgraceful. Pr 14:34
- Everyone has a sin(s) that persistently tempts them. Heb 12:1
- Sin spread to all humankind through Adam. Ge 3:6 , 7 ; Ro 5:12
- We are all conceived and born with a sin nature. Ge 5:3 ; Job 15:14 ; 25:4 ; Ps 51:5
- Every person has sinned. Rom 3.23 ; 1Ki 8:46 ; Ec 7:20
- You are incapable of cleansing yourself of your own sin. Job 9:30 , 31 ; Pr 20:9 ; Jer 2:22
- Only Jesus Christ can cleanse and redeem us from sin. Eph 1:7 ; 1Jo 1:7
- If we say we don’t sin, we lie. 1Jo 1:10
- Sin hinders our prayers. Ps 66:18 ; Isa 59:2
- Sin will keep us from heaven. 1Co 6:9 , 10 ; Ga 5:19-21 ; Eph 5:5 ; Re 21:27
- The penalty for sin is death – physically, spiritually, eternally. Ro 6:23
- We should confess our sins. Job 33:27 ; Pr 28:13
- We should ask God to search our hearts for sin. Ps 139:23 , 24
- We should ask God to cleanse us, and deliver us from sin. Mt 6:13 ; Ps 51:2.
Sin is an important topic. Far from being destructive, it we should study sin thoroughly, routinely and consistently. As every good leader understands, knowing your enemy is important in a battle. And we are in a war against sin.
Lord, Help us to understand that sin is real, and that You have alot to say about sin in Your Word. Help us to view sin through Your eyes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you think it is important to know about sin? Does sin destroy a person’s self-esteem? Is self-esteem a Biblical concept? If God has so much to say about sin, can there be any good reason why we decide that studying or teaching about sin should be kept to a minimum?
Application: As Christians, we typically believe in the “idea” or doctrine of sin as it applies to humanity as a whole, but very rarely do we get honest about sin when it comes to ME, personally, on an individual level. It is vitally important for us to understand sin from God’s viewpoint because only then will we realize how destructive sin is, why Jesus had to come to save us, an why the penalty for sin is so severe (hell).
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?