June 09, 2010

Little White Lies series "My sins don't have consequences anymore because I'm saved."

There is a story of a little white lie in Scripture that eventually ends in death. Most little white lies in our lives won't end in death, but the consequences can still be drastic.

Read Acts 5:1-11.
1Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet.
3Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."
5When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
7About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?" 
 "Yes," she said, "that is the price."
9Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also."
10At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

What can we get from this story? It's not our intent to focus on lying to the Holy Spirit, but we do want to focus on the destructive power of a little white lie.
You see, the man and his wife in the story started out with a little white lie that seemed insignificant and harmless, but when all was said and done, they had allowed something much more powerful into their lives by giving Satan a foothold into their life through their lie. It eventually led to death.
Yesterday, I talked about the little white lie, "God helps those who help themselves."
Today's little white lie is a lot more serious. Paul wrote a lot of instruction in the Bible, specifically in the book of Romans, to counteract this little white lie, because he knew it was going to be a big issue. Today, it is one of the most destructive little white lies in young Christians lives.
It's the lie that says, "My sins don't have consequences anymore because I'm saved."

In 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 theses on the door of his catholic monastery outcrying the immoral practices that had come to characterize the church. He knew this was wrong and he was asking for reform. It was never his intention to break free from the church, but the result was the protestant reformation. One of the battle cries of the reformation was "Sola Fide". Faith alone. What the reformers meant by Sola Fide, was that faith alone was the requirement for salvation. This was a contradiction to the church at the time, which was telling everyone that they needed to do perfom penance in order to earn God's grace, and that they could actually pay money to recieve it as well. In other words they had to earn God's grace or buy it. Luther and the rest of the reformers knew that was a lie. Grace was a gift, so they made it a saying, "Faith alone!"

Faith alone today is used a lot, but not knowing what it originally meant, a lot of Christians think that it means once they exercise faith, they don't need to do anything anymore to please God. This is really, really wrong, because of a rather prominent idea in Scripture that a lot of us overlook. That something is called "sanctification".

God's intention was not that we accept his love on faith and then simply walk through life being good most of the time and not caring if we mess up then and again. The truth is that we continue to mess up a lot more than just now and then. We mess up a lot. When we begin to think that our sinful nature doesn't matter to God anymore because of our faith, then we give evil a foothold in our life. We begin to allow more and more little infractions into our life. Little deceptions here, not speaking up when we need to there, working a situation to our benefit here, taking ethical shortcuts there, rationalizing lustful behavior here, giving in to full blown sin there. The Bible actually addresses this very thing is the life of Christians. Do you know where?

It is interesting that the Bible can talk about this very thing being a danger in the lives of Christians, but so few are aware of it and even fewer live like it is real.

Let's look at James 1:13-15
13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
The path is this:

temptation from our own evil desire
give in to desire - sin
sin grows -
ends in death - (eventually all die, can come sooner if our behavior warrants it- drugs, physical abuse to self, dishonoring parents (amazing how many people say they believe God and love God, but they don't believe He was serious about that one), drinking to excess, smoking to excess, etc.)

What we need to know is this. Faith alone is necesarry for salvation, not blessings in life. God still demands our obedience, and he will bless us if we are. If we are not, He will allow the consequences of our sin to play out, like smoking will rot the lungs. The Holy Spirit is not going to put a magic shield around your lungs and regenerate your lungs if you choose to give in to a desire that kills what He gave you to steward with respect. Same for drinking. How about pre-marital sex? How many young Christians have children out of wedlock today because they gave in to temptation? They are not lost and no more guilty than anyone who simply lies, but the point is God allows the consequence. Sometimes He allows the consequence even if it does horrendous things like breaking apart families, ending in the death of innocent victims, or bringing death to us. Think about a drug addict who gives birth to a baby that dies soon after it's born because of complications to the mothers drug addiction. What about a family that is torn apart because a husband and wife aren't faithful to each other? Who suffers? Everyone, including the innocent children and grandparents.

James says that we need to be very careful that we don't excuse little white lies into our lives that grow and grow. Paul asks the question in Romans 6:1

"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?"

He answers it with several points but summarizes with this:

"15What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification."

It's important that we understand that our sins still have consequences, and not just the big ones but the little white ones too. Our salvation is secure, but how we follow after God in this life will determine the blessings and consequences that we live in. Faith is not a magic pill; it is a relationship with the Living God.

With you for His glory

No comments: