Sunday, August 11, 2013

"The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither."

~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Lately, I keep running across verses that talk about us being in the world but not of it ... and how we aren’t to be what we were before Christ found and redeemed us. Inevitably, commentary on those verses goes off talking about convictions that deal mainly with externals.

It isn’t that the externals aren’t important. Some things are honestly better for our bodies, or for those around us ... but is it the outward that God is more concerned about, or the inward?

It’s relatively easy to change the outward. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t do drugs. Cut your hair, grow it out, put on a head covering, wear skirts instead of pants, don’t show too much skin.

But what about the underlying principle of “all things are permissible, not all are helpful ... I will not be brought under the power of any”?

What about the fact that modesty is more about not drawing undue attention to ourselves than how much skin we cover?

God is after a heart change, not just an outward one.

I heard a lot of lectures growing up about choosing the right kind of entertainment—music, books, films. What about the fact that entertaining ourselves becomes an addiction in and of itself?

I’m not advocating we all go off and live in the woods, away from modern media. Or that we become “Christian nudists,” as some have argued for, since we’re no longer under the curse. (I’m not kidding!) But what was the one thing Jesus said we needed for the world to know we’re His?

It wasn’t by what we wear. What we eat, or don’t. What we watch or listen to, or don’t.

It was love.

Remember 1 Corinthians 13? If I make sure there’s nothing “ungodly” in my home, and yet lose my temper with my family, I haven’t achieved a thing, except to encourage Phariseeism in my children’s hearts.

If I pride myself on having never touched another man besides my husband, and then linger over photos of attractive men online, I’ve completely missed the point of marital fidelity.

If I grow my hair long, and always wear skirts and dresses, but I look at others with judgment and pride in my heart ... have I really pleased the Lord?

Convictions are important, and I’m certainly not here to tell anyone how they should define their own, but we can’t forget, as C.S. Lewis said, that the worst sins are those of the spirit and the heart.

Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.
 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”
 6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 
20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
(Mark 7, NKJV)


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