Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The worst gifts of sin. . .

Sin causes guilt, creates shame, undermines relationships, and kills us dead.  It is a gift that keeps on giving -- except that it gives us what none of us should want.  But it does something more.  Sin makes us stupid.  How slow we are to learn and prone we are to live in our ignorance and unbelief!  We cast our smug look against the Old Testament people of God and wonder why they were so dense.  We condemn the ancient Israelites who seemed to know the prophets but not understand anything they said and so we today knowing but lacking in comprehension.  But of course it is easy to look backwards upon the past and the people of the past.  But they were in a different position.  They were being asked by God to look through the fog of the future through the lens of His promise.  It is a great wonder that any believed -- but of course, faith is the gift of the Spirit to a people who would not believe without God's power to break through our thick heads and insulated hearts.  Everything outside of us is stupid but often there is even more stupidity inside of us.

How can Christians be deceived by such things as homosexuality, gender confusion, same sex marriage, abortion, and reproductive technology?  How can Christians be so thick when it comes to claims of so-called science against the truth of Scripture?  How can Christians fall under the sway of self-proclaimed prophets and entrepreneurs who trade on heresy, distortion, and lies?  How can Christians hold to the sacred truths clearly outlined in God's Word and then be perfectly comfortable in so-called churches that deny nearly event tenet of orthodox Christian truth?  How can Christians follow along with their finger on the very words of the Bible as somebody denies what it says and not be bothered?  Sin makes us stupid.

We stand on the shoulders of giants in the faith, who contended with heretics and apostasy to defend the truth and confess boldly the catholic and apostolic of the Scriptures.  With pen and creed they stood against those who would gut the Word of God or slant its meaning until it was no longer the faith once delivered to the saints.  We are heirs of an astonishingly rich tradition of reformers and teachers who resisted the primacy of reason over God's Word and feeling over objective truth.  Even now we stand where they once stood as Christianity has come under the threat of relevance and individual judgment only to see the Church grow smaller and seemingly weaker.  Like those who went before us, we suffer the taunts and threats of a world set against God and His commands and promises.  Will we betray them to act as the foolish and stupid who surrender the once and eternal faith to the pressure of the moment?  Sin makes us stupid.

In St. Mark's Gospel, 3:20-21, we hear of those who claimed Jesus was crazy, out of His mind, foolish, or stupid -- anything but true!  It is the same charge the world lays against us.  Christians are crazy, out of the cotton picking minds, fools and as stupid as wood.  Sin makes us stupid.  Christians willingly surrender what they do not know or comprehend to the Word and Promise of God in the Scriptures.  But the world will not surrender anything -- preferring to judge and condemn.  Suffering the same fate as Jesus gives us the opportunity to stand with Christ.  All who have fidelity with Him will find suffering as He suffered.  Though our suffering will not purchase the salvation His has already won, it shows who we are and whose we are.   All who love Hm will share His fate. Each of us will in our own way have a fight against the stupidity sin has left in us and each of us will in our own way have to suffer the slings and arrows of a world still captive to its stupidity.  We stand not alone or on our own nor do we contend alone or by our own power.  Christ is with us, in us, and working through us.  We fight not simply against those out there but the battle for our own souls and it is a daily battle that will allow us no relief.  We contend against spirits and spiritual powers, to be sure, but we also contend against our wills, intellect, and powers corrupted by sin and distorted by evil.  Sin makes us stupid but only Christ, working through His Word and Spirit, can make us wise.  God grant us to hear and heed that Word and Spirit and make us wise unto salvation.

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