Did you know that Christians can believe lies about God?
No Christian, I hope, desires to do so. But I am certain that whenever we sin, we have already believed something about God that is not true.
Lies and wrong IDs
We all live out the identities we believe in and find our purpose and satisfaction in.
A woman may claim to be a disciple-maker. She might say her aim is to be an exemplary employee and win souls for Jesus at her workplace. But if all that excites her is the monthly SMS notification about her account having been credited with a huge salary, God knows she has little to do with making disciples; she is living out the identity of a money-lover.
She has believed in the lie that money in her bank account will give her more pleasure or security than Jesus could.
A pastor might say he loves his wife and children to bits and might have provided a house, cars and all the snazzy gadgets they could enjoy in life. But at night when he has shut himself alone and his eyes and mind rove all over the dark side of the internet to get what his sexual desires want, God knows that he is living the identity of a pornography-lover.
He has believed in the lie that indulging in sexually impure fantasies will bring more pleasure to him than the presence of God could.
It is possible that both these people are actually children of God. Oh, the scandal.
“How could you possibly say that someone so sinful is saved?”
Well, if you know me, I usually hesitate to say so. But to paraphrase John Owen’s observations – “Some lusts flare up over others… One lust can be greater in one man than another”. Chapter 6, Right Way to Kill Sin, Mortification of Sin in Believers.
We might be quick to say such people are definitely not Christians, who are supposed to be dead to sin and alive to God. I am tempted to say the same. And some might even be not truly Christian.
But I will fool myself if I promptly declare myself better than them. Selective amnesia is sinful amnesia. Surely we remember how we have easily repeated sins for years and how easily have swept them aside?
To continue- the people involved may feel “genuinely” sorry about their repeated patterns of sin and their self-absorption. They might feel the tearing guilt inside, the controlled-demolition of their conscience with the silent pleas of God the Holy Spirit in the background. They might fall on their knees by the bed, hands on the floor, saying through desperate tears –
“GOD, OH GOD I’M SO SORRY .. PLEASE FORGIVE ME. PLEASE FORGIVE ME, OH GOD OF GRACE!”
If the sins of over-spending, man-pleasing and lust had stopped, it would have made sense.
But maddeningly, this cycle repeats.
If you are a Christ-follower and are honest with yourself right now, you know sins can repeat in your life.
Imagine this pattern of “sorry God and then sinning again”, and feeling guilty yet again, falling on their knees, hearts getting bitter and darker with each thud, repeating week after week, month after month.
People might feel guilt to the point that they can’t take the name of Jesus anymore.
And why should they anyway? Jesus does not seem central and all-appealing to their hearts.
Can life become better than this numbing merry-go-round of sin, guilt and praying?
This year’s Marg church camp – Realign- is going to be all about gospel-fluency.
Yet another G-word, right?
Gospel-fluency sounds like yet another Marg-phrase with “GOSPEL” at the beginning, “so it must be cliched and important somehow”. Vivek has talked about gospel-community, Gospel DNA, gospel change, gospel noodles (I am just checking if you are awake), so this is one of those phrases that needs to be learnt, repeated and maybe forgotten by February 2016.
Whether you forget this phrase or not, I hope you won’t forget what it entails.
For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. – Col. 2:5-8
God gave this warning through Paul because He saw the church in Colossae in danger of being taken captive by the empty philosophies of this world. I somehow feel no Christian today is too far from that same danger.
Gospel-fluency means we learn to distinguish human traditions and lies of this world that we are living by today and learn by the Holy Spirit to repent of them. It means we learn to meditate upon what the Bible says is of first importance, the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-3) the truth that Jesus died to justify us and rose again so that we would live like Him, dead to sin and alive to God. This will help us be rooted and built up in Jesus (Col. 2:7).
At Realign 2015, we will have practical workshops to learn gospel-fluency and apply it to different areas of life. We will also learn how to prize Christ practically in our personal Bible reading. I am quite excited about this and it’s my prayer that all of us would have a chance to do this as one body this year at YMCA Nilshi and then to practice this once we are back in action in Pune.
Venue: YMCA Lakeside Camp, Nilshi
Date: Friday, 18th December, evening – Sunday, 20th December, afternoon
Charges: Please contact us to know about the charges per head for accommodation and food.
Why Satan may not want you to be fluent in the gospel
The Christian is most vulnerable when he or she thinks they’re not in a war-zone. Satan wars for us and longs to cover us with his plans for us, plans for a safe future, to let us escape a Godly life and Christ-likeness.
So here are some reasons why Satan would not want you to learn gospel-fluency:
Becoming gospel-fluent means you may see the lies you’ve been believing about Jesus. Satan wants you to continue living out lies and false identities.
Becoming gospel-fluent means you may have a good chance to exercise Christian freedom to overcome lust, anger, anxiety and other idols. Now we know that’s bad business for the Father of lies.
Becoming gospel-fluent might remind you of glorious truths about God, that Holy Spirit could use to set you free to obey Him instead of yourself. But Satan wants you to basically do a mini Bon Jovi and “live my own life”.
Becoming gospel-fluent might make you eager to embrace your God-given identities of God’s family, missionaries and slaves. That means more God-pleasing obedience with true joy. That is a stench in the Serpent’s nose.
Becoming gospel-fluent might mean you might begin to see and enjoy Jesus in almost every page of the Bible. Satan wants you to drag yourself through your “quiet time” and get that routine done with!
Satan’s plans and lies can be overcome by God’s truth.
With these thoughts, I close. Love to everyone reading this and hope to see you at the splendid Lakeside Nilshi. If you have any questions, please write in or contact us.
The gospel is not the ABCs of salvation, but the A to Z of the Christian life.