Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Was Born This Way

I just heard word of another big name in Christian circles who has "come out" and openly embraced a sinful lifestyle. It is sad to hear the rationalizations that accompany such decisions. We've all heard them, if not from this particular individual, then certainly from others.

"This is the way God made me, and if he made me this way, he won't hate me for it."

"I feel so much closer to God now that I don't hate myself."

How tragic.

I can relate to the pain of unrelenting temptation. I don't struggle with the same exact one that downed this particular man, but I have my own weaknesses and points of struggle. I spent far too much of my life living like "The Romans 7 Man." (In other words, like the man portrayed in Romans chapter 7, living with the desire to do right, but with no power to fight sin.) It's a miserable way to live.

I believe the Romans 7 man was not saved. That was the view of the early church, and it was widely held up until fairly recently in church history. It's beyond the scope of this blog to expound on that, but if you want to hear some excellent sermons on the subject, you'll find some here and here. They certainly convinced me. What's more, looking back on my own "Romans 7 years" is enough to convince me as well. I don't believe I was saved then. I knew a lot of good Biblical stuff, and I had a hunger that showed the Holy Spirit was working on me. I was under conviction, but not yet converted, not yet made new, not yet born again.

If I had embraced the rationalizations I mentioned above, I would still not be born again. They defeat the very purpose of conviction, quench the Holy Spirit, and lessen the holiness of God in our eyes. They are deadly. We need to be in prayer for anyone who is numbing himself with such things. We must feel compassion for them and pray "that they may come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." (2 Tim. 2:26)

Let's look at the first of these rationalizations in the light of Scripture.

"This is the way God made me, so he won't hate me for being this way." Another version of this excuse is, "I was just born this way, so I can't help it." But what does Scripture say?

First of all, Scripture agrees wholeheartedly with the second statement. You were born this way, and you can't help it. The same is true of every last one of us. We were all born in sin (Ps. 51:5). We are by our very nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). We are born spiritually dead in trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1), and dead people can do nothing to change their condition. It is only God who can make us alive (Eph. 2:1). There is not a single sin in us that we did not inherit from Adam's line. There is nothing special about a certain type of sin that makes it somehow acceptable to God to be "born that way." We are all born liars (and we start proving it at a very early age), but that doesn't make God overlook lying (Rev. 21:8). God hates sin, and all sin is inborn.

"I was born that way and I can't help it" is no excuse. Why? Because God never intended for dead people to change themselves. He intended for the hopelessness of our situation to drive us to Him, our only hope. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing." (John 6:63)

No one will be condemned merely for having been born a sinner. People are condemned because they reject whatever light they are given. "This is the condemnation," Jesus said, "That the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). God's word says that even those who never hear the Gospel are still condemned, because they reject the light given them by their consciences, and reject whatever convicting work the Spirit may do (Rom. 1:18 and following).

Please, please, if anyone reading this is resting in rationalizations, I plead with you to stop. It is far better to feel the discomfort of conviction now, than to feel the wrath of God in eternity.

In future entries we'll discuss the following:
  • What does God's Word say about the other rationalization ("I feel so much closer to God now that I don't hate myself")?
  • What about people who have sought the Lord's help with their sin for years, even decades, before giving up?
  • What kind of help can a person reasonably expect from God?

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