Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You're just banging 2 coconuts together.

On Sunday I preached on depravity, that inherited tendency and inclination toward sin, using Jeremiah 17:5-10, with an emphasis on 17:9.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Driving through town on Monday something caught my eye. There's a church looking to sell its building and there were 2 men doing some improvements, one of which was painting.

I noticed they were merely painting over the terribly rusted wrought iron fence. That reminded me of Mark 7:14-23, which I shared on Sunday morning. Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees for a bogus understanding of practical holiness.

Contrasting the popular notion that a person was defiled by what went in to the body, Jesus explained that a person is defiled by what comes out. (Mark 7:20)

We have to let that sink in just a bit because we live in a time where folks are still prone to think that smoking or drinking or eating certain foods makes a person "unclean" or "defiled" or "unholy" or "sinful."

How easily we forget that defilement comes from our own depravity ("heart") and is manifest in various forms (cf. Mark 7:21-23; Luke 6:45).

Abstaining from irrelevant social "sins" is just one aspect of creating a false holiness, but there's also the "external only" holiness that misses the point. It's actually rather easy to cease doing some of the "big" sins, but never really address the "heart" of the matter, our own depravity.

It's not that hard to clean the outside of the cup or whitewash the tomb. True Christianity seeks transformation from the inside out as the Spirit works within in the renewing of the mind (Rom 12:2).

Someday somebody will realize they bought a rusted fence. People will eventually find out if you're not really riding on a horse, but just banging 2 coconuts together.

Just as African swallows are non-migratory, so will the veneer of Christianity prove problematic.

One of the great fears I have for my kids is that they will establish an external morality (only), without experiencing inward renewal through the regenerating Holy Spirit as they realize they need Christ not merely to clean up their act.

To use the words of Augustus Toplady, we need Christ to "be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and make me pure."


At 19 March, 2008 17:20, Blogger Oilcan said...

Monthy Python and the Holy Grail

In our flesh, we are even less effective in fighting sin as the limbless Black Knight is in fighting King Arthur - at least the Black Knight can bite. He has a mere flesh wound, but we are dead already.

Praise the Lord Jesus for saving us from our sins. Matthew 1:21

At 19 March, 2008 19:46, Blogger mark t said...

If you are remembering these movie quotes, rather than getting them from a book, I want to have your brain examined by medical science.

At 19 March, 2008 23:21, Blogger M. Jay Bennett said...

Great post Gun!

This is the doctrine that has been foremost on my mind this Holy Week. The more I think about what Christ actually saved me from, the more I appreciate the cross. It makes me want to worship him with fear, trembling, and great rejoicing.

At 20 March, 2008 09:10, Blogger Timothy said...

Great post on one of the top five problems of the church. The tendency to slip into the veneer of what we profess.

Now, please, don't ask me for the other four!

At 20 March, 2008 16:35, Blogger Rev. said...

The problem in most congregations is that sin is treated as nothing more than a "mere flesh wound."


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