Sinking, Floating, and Sin

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“I read an illustration by J. Oswald Sanders a long time ago about what it means to be in union with Christ.  It goes like this:

I have in my hand a piece of lead.  I hold it over a pool of water, and relax my grip. The lead is drawn irresistibly earthward and sinks to the bottom of the pool. It has been mastered by the law of gravitation. I take the same piece of lead, attach it to a piece of wood and drop it into the pool. Now it floats. No change has taken place in the nature or tendency of the lead, nor has the law of gravitation ceased to function, but through its union with the wood, it has been mastered by a stronger law, the law governing floating bodies, and has been emancipated from the downward pull of gravitation.

I know you know that you’re that piece of lead in this illustration and that sin, like gravity, will sink you every time if it were not for that piece of wood, representative of Jesus Christ, possessing a power stronger than gravity.

However, knowing that doesn’t emancipate you from the downward pull to the bottom of the pool of life – staying attached does, and you stay attached to Jesus Christ by first choosing to repent – i.e., in keeping with this analogy, you recognize that the piece of wood in the water next to you is your only hope and you forsake everything to grab it!

Then you mustn’t lose your grip by doing stupid stuff like grieving the Holy Spirit by sins of commission or quenching Him by sins of omission. You’ve got to hold on tight by choosing to read and apply God’s Word, memorizing it and cultivating a life of prayer.

And should you try to slip off and start sinking to the bottom, it sure does help to be surrounded by women who will try to rescue you, women who don’t merely talk about what holding on and being attached means, but who are attached to Jesus Christ through the power of the Spirit evidenced by floating.

Oh, may God grant us the sense to be the kind of woman who actually holds on.”

– Guest blog, Susie Walther, www.thewellbiblestudy.org Susie Walther

Sex – The Central Issue in Christian Morality?

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I have been watching current social and political debates on sexuality issues with some degree of curiosity, horror, and shame.

Last week I re-read C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”, which was first published in 1952.  It was taken from a series of radio addresses he gave at Oxford from 1942-1944.  At the end of the section titled “Sexual Morality” he writes,

“Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the centre of Christian morality is not here.  If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong.  The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins.  All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting; the pleasures of power, of hatred.  For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become.  They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self.  The Diabolical self is the worse of the two.  That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who regularly goes to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute.  But, of course, it is better to be neither.”

Timeless wisdom.  Convicting.

Shipwrecked

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 I know you’ve seen this picture of the Costa Concordia this week. (Reuters/Max Rossi)  I have been completely fascinated by this wreck, enough to actually pull up the nautical charts for the Island of Giglio…  If I understand correctly this is what happened in a nutshell – The ship’s course was electronically set when it left Rome, and it was to pass through the main channel.  But the captain turned off the alarms and changed course to sail much closer to the island because he wanted to “salute” the little town on that side, which happened to be where his head waiter was from.  And he hit some rocks, ripped a big hole in a 450 million dollar boat, killed some people, scared the snot out of everyone who had to relive the Titanic, nearly bankrupted Carnival cruise lines, and will probably get to spend the rest of his life in jail….

He chose to take the other “un-approved”route to impress some people?!?!  And it cost him EVERYTHING!!  Not to mention what it cost other people!

There is a way that seems right to a man but it only brings him death. (Prov 14:12)

He’d probably been through there before.  He thought he knew where all the hazards were.  It looked like a simple thing to do, little bit of fun, even if it was against the rules.  Just for the record – the rocks are on the charts, and so are some other wreck sites where other ships had troubles in the same area.  But he obviously didn’t notice that.  He was too busy turning off the alarm systems.

Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God?  Or am I still trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10)

Let me tell you something I’ve learned – sin is exactly like that in our lives.  It’s just a little deviation from the “acceptable, righteous” path.  It doesn’t seem like a dangerous thing.  And maybe you’ve even tried it before and nothing significant happened.  And often you do it to impress somebody else, or just to make them happy and not cause a ruckus.  Or just because you feel like it.  BUT you don’t always see the rocks!  And you for CERTAIN cannot correctly estimate ALL the consequences of your choices.  And there are ALWAYS consequences for sin.  ALWAYS, but they are not necessarily immediate.

The “approved” path is there to keep you safe, to protect you.  God is not trying to take all the fun out of everything… it is for your own good.  Trust Him.  Learn from the shipwrecks on the chart and DON’T GO THERE.

He guards the course of the just and protects the way of the faithful… Walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. (Prov 2:8,20)