"God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him in the midst of loss, not prosperity." --John Piper

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Religiousity #2

Lamentations 2:14

Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions;
they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes,
but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading.

Is this true today? Have not our prophets (preachers) seen false and deceptive visions? Haven't many of them seen a gospel that is different from the one proclaimed by Christ? Do they not preach a gospel that puts us at the center of God's desires instead of putting Him at the center of ours? Some even taking this to the extreme of saying that if we just trust in Him, He will bless us materially beyond our imagination. But it does not have to be taken to such an extreme to be a false gospel.

And what charge is laid against these preachers? "They have not exposed our iniquities to restore our fortunes."  They have not exposed our sins, in order that our former state of being may be returned to us. They may have exposed sin, but not in such a way that in impacts the hearer other than the hearer to nod in agreement and say, "Yes, when others do that it is wrong." The ESV uses the word fortunes, which we might interpret wealth. But the idea in the original language carries is more of the thought of restoing us to God's original intent, such as how things should have been in the garden.  The NIV states that section this way, "they did not expose you sin to ward off your captivity." Either way, the preachers did not preach about us as sinners. They sugar-coated their message so that it would taste better. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." (Prov. 14:12) The death that Proverbs speaks of here is eternal death, separation from God. Captivity. Cast out of the garden forever.

There is a big difference between preaching about sin and preaching about us as sinners. ONe places a burden of law on the hearer while the other brings glory to God for what He does as a result. Preaching about sin can lead to modification of actions. Don't go to R rated movies, don't drink or cuss, go to church, tithe, etc. And the neat thing about this kind of thinking is that we can do these things without repenting. Just do it, as the old Nike commercial says. But does that really work for anyone?

If we want life change, we must talk about the truth of life. We must present the gospel, which says that we are sinners in need of a Savior. This does not lead to mere modification of action, but to repentance. And true repentance will bring the type of modification of action that will last.

2 Cor. 7:10 states, "For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death." Godly grief breaks our hearts. It happens when we see that our actions have hurt the God that we worship and love. Godly grief brings regret for our actions to the point of repentance, because we do not want to continue such despicable behavior. Godly grief is when we see the full consequence of our action and are motivated by love to change.

My dad had been a smoker most of his life. He had tried to quit on several occsions, but these attempts never brought success. He retired at age 62, and shortly after his retirement, he had a heart attack. He knew that a large part of the reason behind his heart attack was smoking. And it was in that stay in the hospital that he found godly grief. No longer was smoking an action that might have some bad consequences, but now it was the thing that was going to take him from his wife, retirement, children, future grandchildren, and so on. I think his greatest motivation of all was the love he had for his wife of 40+ years, and his not being ready to leave her because of his selfishness. He said that once he entered the hospital, and from that day forward, he never even desired another cigarette.

I am not sure where I heard this, but I like the idea. A small boy was asked to define repentance. He said, "Repentance is to be so sorry for doing something that you wouldn't do it again, even if you knew you wouldn't get caught. That is what I want, that is what I need. That is why I need to understand the Holiness of God, and the sinfulness of me.

1 comment:

A Joyful Chaos said...

Excellent quote on repentance.