No Law Against Such Things

www.bible.com/72/gal.5.22-23.hcsb

“There ought to be a law against that!” I can’t count how many times I’ve heard that statement. Oftentimes, the speaker is frustrated with a life circumstance, or situation out of his control. Insurance didn’t approve a treatment on a technicality. Trooper stopped you but not the other fifty people that whizzed by. Politicians are making money hand over fist while you scrape by paycheck to paycheck.

I think we have plenty of laws, ridiculous laws, inane laws, but plenty of them. We’ve become a society dependent on law to solve our problems. And we thus determine morality by whether or not it is “against the law.” If it’s not “illegal” then it must be morally permitted, right? This is the trap of abortion and homosexuality. Those used to be against the law. Now they are not. Slavery used to be legal, now it isn’t. Which is right and which is wrong? How do we know?

The text in question today is the fruit of the spirit, the natural produce of a saved heart. A person who is indwelled by the Holy Spirit has these qualities in common: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, etc. the text specifically says that it is the “fruit” not the “fruits” as if to say that the singular fruit of the life possessed of God is a multi-faceted fruit which reflects all of these qualities. You don’t have one or two, but all of them at once.

For a person to display such fruit, the text says there is no law against it. No law has yet been written that violates love, joy, peace, patience, etc. and you know if such a law were to be written, it would be wrong. But let me be clear in this. I don’t get to define these words to suit myself. Culture doesn’t get to define them either. We cannot define these words away from their biblical context and meaning and make them what we want to hear. I cannot define love as anything by the kind of love shown in the scriptures, i.e., the sacrificial love exemplified in Jesus Christ. I cannot say that this love is illustrated by a same-sex relationship, or an adult-child romance. That would be taking “love” out of context and violate the very principles of love taught in Scripture. And so that same with the others.

We hold our laws to a higher standard. We do not bow to the whims of men who think sins are fashionable and so make them legal. We worship and honor a Holy God who has said what is right. “He has told you O man what it good” Micah 6:8

Study, pray, learn. Worship. Make today count. God bless you today.

Advertisements

Gone too far?

bible.com/72/mat.5.6.hcsb

Yes. You read that right. I couldn’t believe it either. Wherever you stand on the social justice movement, I hope you won’t go so far as to change the scripture to justify it.

Now I’m usually a live and let live kind of person. Yes. I see unrighteousness and injustice around me. I’m not blind. I see criminals walk the streets. I see people who are here illegal walking free. To me that is not just. But of course, that isn’t what justice means anymore.

Let me define what I believe Social Justice to be today. It means that what is mine is yours and what is yours is yours, especially if you are poorer, or care more about people than I do. Social Justice ignores ethnic and economic boundaries. Social Justice doesn’t care if have a deed or a receipt. It allows for theft and redistribution of wealth in the name of compassion. It calls good evil and evil good. Social Justice May have had a good and noble beginning, but like every other good cause, it has been hijacked by the left. So when you change even one word of scripture, it has profound implications.

In the older translations, the word used for justice in this text is righteousness. With this word, the verse speaks of seeking personal righteousness, trying to do better in one’s own life. Every Christian should seek to improve, to grow as a disciple. Many Scriptures support this.

But with this new word, now Christians are called to hunger for justice. 2000 years ago those concepts may have been synonyms. But now? For a Christian to seek justice today isn’t about personal holiness, but about seeking to make sure everything is “fair” as far as he sees it. God is just, and the very example of justice we are told to follow. God does not deal with us justly however. For those who follow Him, He gives grace, forgiveness of sin, and we are not judged according to our sins. So what exactly are Christians to do here? What kind of justice? God’s Justice as we see Him practice? Or the fashionable social justice we see practiced around us?

Believe what you want. But don’t mistranslate the scripture to support your argument.

Sorry for the rant. God bless you all.

Source Code

I had the opportunity to watch “I Can Only Imagine” last night, the biographical movie about Bart Millard’s journey to stardom in the band MercyMe. If you are familiar with his story, you know he grew up in a abusive home and left as soon as he could, only to discover he couldn’t be “authentic” until he resolved his issues with his father. In the meantime, his father had turned to Christ and became a different person. Their reconciliation becomes the impetus for Bart’s own transformation. His father’s death prompts him to write the eponymous song. The shining point of the movie is Bart’s moment in Nashville, having sung his song, seeing his father clapping for him. In an interview, Bart explained that he believed he sang to two people that night, both his father, and His Lord. It moment worthy of the Kleenex.

That moment also got me to thinking about father-son issues, in which this movie traded heavily. Even if our parents, mothers or fathers, treat us horribly, even if we hate every fiber of their being, every breath of their body, there is still a part of us that cares. There is still a part that longs for reconciliation, even if it’s no longer possible. That’s why this moment is so powerful in the movie, because it resonates. Everyone has a father, and everyone desires approval from that father. We all want our fathers to be proud of us because it is built into us to care what our father’s think of us.

We can’t explain it, because it isn’t part of the intellect. In fact, it defies the intellect. It is part of what I liken to “source code”, or more exactly, that code that a computer has burned in to its motherboard that tells it how to read a hard disk, before it ever loads the first bit of the operating system and everything its ever learned. It’s the BIOS of the human psyche. It is built into us as human beings to have a relationship with our parents. When that relationship isn’t “right” it leads to a host of other problems, “daddy issues”, psychological syndromes and traumas later on. As described in the movie, Bart couldn’t have a close relationship with his girlfriend until he resolved his relationship with his father. How many people labor today in horrible marriages, live-in situations even same-sex relationships because that one aspect of their being was wrong?

We are all built with this source code, called a conscience. The Bible recognizes this:

They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
(Rom 2:15)

Written on our hearts, our BIOS if you will, is the law of human beings. As sentient, rational beings, we are built with a set a laws of interaction (not unlike Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics) that direct the “rightness” and “wrongness” of our actions. Our conscience (C.S. Lewis’ moral law argument) is universal. Every human being has one, and they are all coded with a set of unwritten laws of human interaction. One of those laws is that relationship between parents and children. And when we willingly violate those laws, that’s when we run into problems,from simple (in the form of fractured relationships) to complex (in the form of mental illness). I believe that a person who consistently violates his own moral code, deterred by his “conflicting thoughts” in his conscience, is well on the road to insanity. He is trying to reconcile a world of his own creation with the real world as written in his source code. A logical being (which we are, to a fault) cannot hold two diametrically opposed points of view simultaneously, and still have a hold on reality.

So how do we address this innate moral code so that we can correct ourselves for error? Can we correct ourselves?  Let me re-introduce you to the most succinct explanation of our innate moral code ever written, complete with correctives for repair. You may know it as the Ten Commandments.

  1. “You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
  3. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
  4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
  5. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
  6. “You shall not murder.
  7. “You shall not commit adultery.
  8. “You shall not steal.
  9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
    (Exo 20:3-17)

I will come back to this issue of parents and children, but to do so, I need to look at the Ten, the underlying principles that each describe, and how they affect us when they are broken. These commandments are so well written, that if you know how to read them, you can discover both the underlying moral code that we were built with, and the correction for applying that moral code to life. The manner in which God sends these ten is I believe one of the most dramatic in history (He wrote them down with His own finger so we wouldn’t miss how important they are). He doesn’t do anything like this until Daniel 5 (where he writes again, saying, “you have been measured and found wanting”). These ten, though immediately applicable to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai, describe the innate moral code of all human beings, which is why they affect people every time they are posted. This is why many want them taken down.

For the next several posts, I will be taking and looking at each commandment individually, and its parallels in Deuteronomy 6, with other passages in tow. I can’t wait to dive into these things with you. Thank you for reading and I hope this is an encouragement to you.

Keeping Your Oath

I was listening to the news the other day and heard a very interesting question. Should a person’s faithfulness in marriage be counted toward or against their ability to serve the public? We’ve seen how infidelity in the oval office has been explained away as a “private matter.” But is it really private? I remember a Saturday about years ago when I stood before a body of witnesses, and publicly confessed my faithfulness to a woman that I am still married to. That day really frightened me because I had to confess to private feelings and make public, lasting commitments in front about 200 of my closest family and friends, and before God. It sure didn’t feel like a “private matter” at the time.

Marriages are not private affairs. They are licensed by the state, and performed by a state representative, whether it be the justice of the peace, or a minister permitted to do so by law. If a man makes a public commitment to a woman before the state and a body of witnesses, doesn’t that have some effect when that man then swears an oath to office? If a man will not be faithful to a woman in marriage which he has sworn “till death do us part” before the state, how can he be trusted when he swears an oath to a public office.

In a marriage, it is much harder to be faithful than as a public servant. A marriage is built upon the thousand tiny decisions to be faithful; not to look after other women, not to imagine being with them, and so on. Marriages require far more diligence, more work to communicate, tolerate, and even love one another. Marriage doesn’t happen by chance, but by the thousand careful decisions to make it work that take place everyday. Stopping by to pick up a flower, just to say, “I love you.” Picking up the dirty laundry and doing it without being asked. Offering to take the kids out for a while so your wife can get some time alone. Marriage is built on selflessness, the thousand little decisions like these to make it work and be successful. It is much easier to be unfaithful in marriage than in public office. It is much easier to make a mess of a marriage than it is the governor’s office, because no one is watching, and few people care if a marriage breaks up. It happens all the time.

Public Service on the other hand is constantly monitored by the media and those after your job. It calls for greater scrutiny and accountability. You pay much closer attention to it because you have to make it work, or you lose your job. If marriages had that much scrutiny, there would probably be less divorces. If Marriage called for that much accountability, like some celebrity marriages have, then they would last longer.

Most importantly, the commitment you make in your marriage is made not just before the state, but before God. The commitment to public office may require a Bible to make the oath, but it is not made before God, but before Men. If a man can’t be trusted to honor his commitment he made to one human being, his wife, how on earth can he be expected to honor his commitment to a thousand, or three-hundred million? Can I trust a man to honor his commitment to me if he’s been unfaithful to his wife? In the end, we are measured not by our great decisions, but by our small ones.

You know what the secret to success is, in anything? It is embodied in Matthew 25:21, “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.” The one who gets the brass ring in God’s eyes is the one who has been faithful and a good steward of the things he has already been given.

Do you want to be successful in the new year? Faithfulness is its key. What commitments and responsibilities have you been given already that you need to work on? How can you demonstrate that you are “faithful with a few things”? When God sees He can count on you to manage a few things, he will give you more responsibility, and if you are faithful, more success.

Something to think about for your voting decisions.