Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Aware: a little slippage becomes a slide into sin
The Clay Country: Holy Trinity Church, in the centre of St Austell, where my great-grandfather, Rev. Joseph Hammond, was a forthright evangelical vicar in the Victorian era
Romans 3:9-10 (The Message)
All of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it: “There’s nobody living right…”
IT SEEMS LIKE bad news, not good. And for old-time preachers, it often was. They didn’t shy from telling people that sin was sin, and hell was the destination for those who continued in it. My great-grandfather was an evangelical vicar of the late Victorian era, and I have often wondered how the Word would have rung out from his pulpit. What would he have made of our emphasis on grace and love and acceptance? He would have had no problem with seeing that in Scripture. He might, though, have given me this solemn advice: You have to tell them that sin is abhorrent to a holy God, whose standards are absolute, in whom there is no darkness at all, and who said plainly that He will not be mocked.
Yesterday we considered how we all start off as sinners. No one is born redeemed or privileged. Without Jesus we are… without.
For us who live in Jesus and seek to keep in step with His Spirit, the trap is in being complacent — or worse, triumphalist. In the past two or three weeks, two well-known and highly ‘successful’ pastors of household name mega churches have stepped back, one owing to moral failure and the other for poor judgment which stemmed from lack of accountability. And the veteran leader of an unimaginably huge church in Korea became embroiled in his son’s dodgy dealing which effectively robbed the church of a few millions.
The flesh tells us we can get away with it and we swerve back into the old nature and become once again an easy target for the enemy.
UK evangelist and small-group discipling coach, Lawrence Singlehurst, puts the tendency like this: “Everything swerves to rot.”
Where is that in the Bible? We’ll look at that further tomorrow.