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Why Political Speech Is Inappropriate from the Pulpit!

For years now, I have been criticizing the preaching of politics from the pulpit. Why? What's so wrong with talking about issues and can...

Sunday, May 26, 2024

You/They Are Wicked, and I/We Am/Are Righteous!

Unfortunately, too many Christians have adopted and "us against them" worldview. My/Our ideology is righteous and good, but your ideology is wicked and evil. In this worldview, the other side isn't just wrong or deceived, they are agents of evil - the enemies of all that is good and holy! For these folks, there is an active war raging between good and evil, and they are on God's team and are defending righteousness. For them, everyone else is on Satan's team and is participating in open rebellion against Almighty God. From a Scriptural perspective, however, we are ALL sinners in need of forgiveness and reconciliation, and there is no contest.

In his epistle to the saints at Rome, Paul wrote: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Romans 3:11-12, NIV) He then went on to say: "But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:21-24, NIV) Later, he wrote to Timothy that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." (I Timothy 1:15, NIV) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, was a sinner too? That's what he said!

Later, in that same epistle to the Romans, Paul spoke of his own CURRENT relationship to sin. He wrote: "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:14-25, NIV) Clearly, Paul regarded himself as just another sinner who had been rescued from his sins by Jesus Christ! In other words, he did NOT see himself as being superior to the unconverted Gentiles who were the focus of his missionary efforts.

Indeed, in the first epistle of John, we see that Christians (those who have accepted Christ and in whom the Holy Spirit currently resides) are also sinners! He wrote: "If we <Christians> claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us." (I John 1:8-10, NIV) Hence, from a Scriptural perspective, we see that we are ALL sinners, Christians and non-Christians. Thus, we see that the only difference between us and those sinners on the outside of the Church is that we have accepted Christ's righteousness and sacrifice and have been forgiven of our sins!

What's more, the old "your sins are worse than mine" doesn't work either! This was demonstrated in the way that Christ handled the situation where the woman who had been taken in the act of adultery was about to be stoned by a Jewish mob (see John 8:1-11). This concept is also reinforced by some remarks that James made in his epistle to the twelve tribes scattered abroad. He wrote: "If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, 'You shall not commit adultery,' also said, 'You shall not murder.' If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment." (James 2:8-13, NIV)

In short, it isn't our job to make ourselves superior to other folks as Christians. It is our job to tell others about what Christ has done for us, and what he can do for them. In the Gospel of Matthew, we read: "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' On hearing this, Jesus said, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" (Matthew 9:10-13, NIV) In other words, you and I were not called to preach to the choir!

Finally, Christ has already triumphed over Satan, sin. and death (see John 16:33, I Corinthians 15:57, Colossians 2:15, Romans 8:31-39, Ephesians 6:12-18, James 4:7, I John 4:4, etc.). From a Scriptural perspective, the "war" has already been won. Any "contest" was over long ago. God's purpose will stand. We can decide to get on that train or remain standing beside the tracks. That is our choice, and it is the same choice that everyone who has ever lived has made (or will make) someday. So, for Christians, we see that there is no room for an "us against them" mentality. Such a worldview is clearly excluded by Scripture.

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