Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Call it what it is . . .


Pointing fingers is easy. I can always find someone ‘worse’ than I am. Looking down on someone else is one way to make myself appear better than I am.

I can also change the labels. Yesterday I read a comment on an online article where the writer said that because Eve had been deceived by Satan, she was a ‘victim.’ Before I look down my nose at that total misinterpretation of God’s Word, I must remember that I can change labels too. I can call my lies ‘fibs’ or say that evil thoughts are ‘spiritual battles’ or that disobedience to God is ‘insecurity’ or make some other excuse for what I do by describing it in softer language.

Today’s devotional reading talks about changing labels. Stealing is ‘scrounging’; adultery is ‘an affair’; a fetus is a ‘blob of tissue’’; an abortion is ‘termination of pregnancy’’; promiscuity is ‘being sexually active’; sodomy is ‘gay’ and people brutally killing each other is ‘military conflict.’

The author gives several other examples then adds that when we gloss over what the Bible plainly names and use euphemistic terms to soften those terms, we are “simply greasing the path to hell.”

If such direct talk is offensive, then what about the directness of God’s Word? This passage makes blatant statements . . .

“ . . . the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar . . . Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.’”

The passage ends with this: “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:1–20)

Before anyone, including me, can overcome moral guilt, it must first be admitted. To do that, it must be called what it is, not excused with terminology that doesn’t sound quite so bad. One of the most important verses in the Bible, a verse written for Christians, says this: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

The word ‘confess’ means to agree, to ‘say the same thing’ about sin as God says. It means to call it what He calls it without changing the label. That tells me that if I re-label my sin, this verse could say, “If I give my sin a less offensive tag, God will withhold forgiveness. Instead of cleansing my sin, I will be stuck with my unrighteousness until I am willing to admit it.”

Messing with the words of God not only dishonors Him, but is totally self-defeating.


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