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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Be Killing Sin Or It Will Be Killing You

By Mike Ratliff

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

The 21st Century version of pop-Christianity is not doctrinally sound. That should not surprise us since those most of influence in it elevate human philosophy up to the highest esteem while looking at Orthodox Christianity and its solid biblical doctrines as passé or old-fashioned or something to be phased out to make room for what is culturally relevant. One of the components of this “pop-Christianity” consists of using cool buzzwords like “missional.” Within that paradigm, there are other cool buzzwords like “incarnational” and “Spiritual Formation.” I have yet to see a denominational or church group go down the path of a “missional” focus that does not also emphasize the necessity of being “incarnational” and that that must be preceded by a church-wide emphasis on Spiritual Formation. “Incarnational” is a buzzword that refers to a church becoming culturally relevant. It calls for its members to alter how everything is done in the church in order for those outside of it to not feel threatened so they will come in and become part of it. They attempt to make the church look just like the culture they are attempting to be part of. They are trying to fit the church in. A crucial step in doing this is Spiritual Formation in which the members go through spiritual disciplines in order to enhance their ‘spiritual maturity.’ This is focused on things like transcendental meditation, yoga, et cetera.

None of this is biblical. It is a drive to make churches be just like the world in order to be acceptable by it. As I grow in Christian maturity I find that I am being drawn into becoming more and more separate from the world, to remove those markers from my life that make me worldly or be like the world, to actually mortify or kill the sin my flesh desires. Christian maturity is a call to become more and more holy and that means separate from the ways and standards of this lost and dying world. Christians who are more mature should take on the role of those who disciple. That is, they should come along side the less mature believers God brings into their influence in order to lead them into something far superior to anything that would come from spiritually bankrupt ‘Spiritual Formation.’

One of the reasons that pop-Christianity has such a hold in our time is that the deterioration and erosion of solid discipleship through biblical exposition has become more and more prevalent over the last 100+ years. C.H. Spurgeon in the late 19th Century noted its rise as the Great Down-Grade Controversy. This has only gotten worse as man-focused religiosity has replaced Bible-focused and God-centered discipleship and evangelism. In our time, the greatest sin seems to be to cause offense. No one is willing to stand firm and be bold with God’s truth. Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. Is that politically incorrect or what? Well, that is God’s truth. The Gospel is offensive because it calls all people sinners and completely unworthy of salvation. However, those called by God to believe are also called to live a life of repentance. That means that within the Lordship of Jesus Christ they learn to walk through their Sanctification in continual mortification of their sin. The Puritans understood this. However, as compromise has consumed the will of the Church with no one wanting to risk offending anyone, this sort of teaching is rare indeed.

At our salvation, God justified us, but that is a forensic declaration by God as He imputes Christ’s Righteousness to our account. However, other than our regeneration, which makes us spiritually alive in Christ, we still have the reality of sin within us that is keyed to our flesh. Hence, the work of sanctification in our lives becomes the key to true Spiritual Maturity in Christ. Since the vast majority of professing Christians are ignorant of what I am talking about here and see doctrinal words like Justification and Sanctification through ignorance, let us take a closer look at this work of sanctification that God does in each of His children.

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