Saturday, June 29, 2013

Moralism, Morality and Grace

Sometimes when Christians really get ahold of the grace of God, and their release from the bondage of legalism gives them a new joy, they become a little confused between “moralism” and “morality”.
“Moralism”, for our purposes here, is that awful, even nauseating, idea that if we’re good enough, if we follow enough “rules” of what’s right and wrong, then we can earn the love and favor of God.  Indeed (so says “moralism”) we DESERVE the love and favor of God, even heaven itself.
Such “moralism” is rightly criticized, because:
1) No one is “good enough”.
We instinctively know this of other people.  Their faults are often glaring, and their blindness to them is just another chink in their armor of “goodness”, evident to all but them.
2) When we think WE are “good enough”, we are merely adding pride to our long list of sins, any one of which would be enough to bring condemnation from the Perfect and Holy Lord God.
However, when people of grace rightly criticize the concept of “moralism”, they often throw out the baby of “morality” with the bathwater of “moralism”.
Here’s what I mean.
“Morality”, for our purposes here, is the thinking and doing of what’s right.  It’s knowing the difference between right and wrong, and doing the right, even if imperfectly.
And “morality” is good!  It’s right for people not to steal.  It’s right for people to have sex only within the bonds of marriage.  It’s right for people not to bear false witness against others. And it’s right to refrain from killing one’s unborn child.
Conversely, it’s wrong to steal, to have sex outside of marriage, to bear false witness, and to kill the unborn children.
True, no level of “morality” will gain us heaven.  We are born with a sinful nature, and we’ve committed many sins as a result, and our acting “moral” will not erase that condemnable record.
That’s why we needed a Savior, Jesus Christ, and when we believed in Him, He forgave us all those sins, having paid for them on the cross, and He declared us righteous by grace through faith in Him.  A free gift.  GRACE!
But that doesn’t mean we are to be so foolish as to join the world in blurring the difference between right and wrong.
“But who are YOU to judge ME?”, one asks.  “Doesn’t the Bible say, ‘Judge not?’”
People acting immorally love to quote that verse. But it doesn’t mean don’t “judge” what’s right and wrong.  God has already determined that, and put it in His Word, and in our heart and conscience.
In context, “Judge not” merely means not to judge the heart of another, especially in a self-righteous hypocritical way.  But to judge right and wrong actions is not only legitimate biblically, but necessary to a society.
Here’s the bottom line.
“Moralism” stinks.
But there is, and always will be, right and wrong, morality and immorality.
To deny that, or ignore it, is to use “Grace” to chip away at some of the “Truth” — whereas Jesus is “full of Grace AND Truth”.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Speaking The Truth In Love In Politics

We Christians need to ask ourselves, seriously, if we are going to love people or not. Even people we disagree with. Even people whom we consider enemies.
The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13, says if we don’t have love, we’re just sounding brass and clanging cymbals.
“Oh, I believe that.”  Really?  Let’s get real with that.
Ready?  Here we go…
If you don’t love President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Eric Holder, and leftist activist SCOTUS Justices, you are just sounding brass and clanging cymbals.
And if you don’t love me, because I just said that…well, you get the point.
Of course, love is a Fruit of the Spirit. And we’re not always going to be walking by the Spirit, are we?  But that’s our goal and the desire of our heart, isn’t it?
On the other hand, we ought to always speak the truth.
We don’t have to cower in our defense of God’s institution of marriage, or ending the murder of the unborn, or any other true and good thing.
But God told us to “speak the truth in love”.
Not just speak the truth.
Not just love.
I know, some of these issues touch our emotions deeply. And evil is real.  But when that results in bitterness and hateful language, we’ve left the realm of our Savior and gone into another realm.
And the irony is, it doesn’t even work in persuading.  No one ever says, “Oh, since you’re yelling at me with shrill anger in your voice and calling me names in ‘ALL CAPS’, then okay, I’ll agree with your view!”
Now there’s no guarantee that speaking the truth in love will persuade either, but at least we will be doing the bidding of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ — and leaving the results to Him.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

“The Perfect Father” – A Father’s Day Message by Pastor Bill Sasser

A Father’s Day Message delivered by Pastor Bill Sasser
on June 17, 2012, at Grace Church at Franklin, Franklin, TN