On the Plains of Moab Blog
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January 31, 2013, 9:02 AM

Point of Clarification

Some of you may have noticed that one of the persistent themes in my preaching centers on the fact that we are all sinners before a holy God.  Yes, even after we have become Christians and have the Holy Spirit indwelling within -- we are still sinners, none the less.  I have always marveled at Paul's lament in Romans 7 -- The things I want to do, I don't do; and the things I don't want to do, I do!  Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?!  The beginning of Romans 8 is always a welcome relief.  There is NOW therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!

Now, that's the Christian life for me.  A pilgrimage of  trial and error.  Successes and a boatload of failures.  Joys and heartaches.  Victory and plenty of besetting sin...along the way.  That IS life.  That is what I try to communicate week after week.  Please do not ever assume that I would ever say that it is okay to remain where you are in sin.  I know that we are all there more times than we would care to admit.  That's okay.  But don't ever settle for staying there.  That's not what God wants from us!  The Christian life is hard.  Holiness is never a simple 1-2-3 step program.  It is a lifetime work with the Holy Spirit gaining traction in your life, slowly but surely.  That's called sanctification.  My preaching will always acknowledge reality. But I hope that it will also encourage you to move forward in a relentless, pursuit of Christ-likeness.

This brings me to one other point of clarification.  Last week, as we opened up the Jonah series, I talked about Jonah's sin of hating his neighbor.  In this case, the Ninevites of the Assyrian Empire.  As an application, I noted how we sometimes dislike or judge people because they look or act differently from us.  Now, when some preachers use this approach, they aim to level the philosophical playing field.  That is to say, we're all on the same track in life.  We are all heading in the same direction.  We all worship the same god.  Why discriminate?  Yada, yada, yada.

Well, that's not my approach.  We are to love our neighbor NOT because we all, in some mystical sense, deep down all serving the same cause [read: god].  No!  We are to love our neighbors because they are all created in His image; and for that reason, have immeasurable worth in and of themselves.  And because they are created in His image, they ultimately belong to Him; and they all need to be called back home. Called back into a relationship with the one, true God -- who we know in the Lord Jesus Christ.  The sailors on that ship needed the God of Israel!  The Ninevites needed the God of Israel.  Did they get that in the end.  Probably not.  But, if not, it's not because God didn't want them!  Jonah failed to see that mission of Israel was to reach out.  To be ambassadors to the world for the Kingdom of God.

Hope that makes sense, and gives a little perspective for this preacher's pet peeves.

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