Thursday, May 14, 2009
The Word: Mere Avoidance
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of a liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer (1 Tim. 4. 1-5).
It is easy to be like a clock; since the Bible tells us that Christ's kingdom is already here we can swing to one side and act as though we are going to solve all the world's problems in the here and now. Other times we can act as though Christ is not sitting at God's right hand, swing to the other end, and act as though there is nothing more to the Christian life than a lot of waiting.
When Christ ascended to the right hand of God he brought with him times of great joy. The spirit has arrived and people from every tongue and nation are coming to Christ in repentance and faith. Nevertheless, these 'last days' bring danger as well as great blessing. One of the threats that the church constantly faces is false teachers/teaching. There is such a thing as 'damning doctrine' and the god of this age loves when God's church fails to be discerning.
False teaching can be easy to detect at times. When we are told that it is okay to indulge in immoral sexual activity, tell lies, or anything else contrary to the will of God we know that we are to have no part in it. However, the devil and his demons are often more crafty than the 'in your face' kind of false teaching. Many times he fools Christians into thinking that the way to holiness is the way of 'mere avoidance'. After all, God's word tells us not to be worldly so, perhaps, the way we might do this is to avoid anything that brings pleasure. The craftiness behind this deception is the fact that it totally by-passes the heart of the matter. It is easy to avoid things and then look at ourselves and think, "I'm doing pretty well; not like those people over there".
Jesus is the creator of all things and through his death he is working to reconcile all things whether in heaven or on earth. Jesus is exercising his Lordship over all creation. So the way forward is not mere avoidance. It is doing everything in life in a way that reflects the truth that Jesus is Lord. Take sex for example: Pornography is a terrible misuse of God's good gift of sex. As a response Christians should not avoid sex all together. Rather, married couples should express the truth, through prayer and thanksgiving, that God made man and woman for each other and that together they reflect the image of a wise, generous, and loving creator. In this way Jesus is taking sex back.
The fact that Christ is Lord is not an excuse to indulge in sinful activities; nor does it mean that Christians become holy by the avoidance of things that God created for our good. Rather, we should live in a way that truly bears witness to the fact that Jesus is king and is working for the glory of God in all things.