There is no group better trained or equipped to derail the enemy of God more than His church. Yet no group looks more disconcerted and mystified by evil today. The church has that deer-in-the-headlights look. “What?!...Am I supposed to move, or what? Maybe that blinding light barreling down on me will just go away.” Guess what church? Sin isn’t going away anytime soon. Neither is evil: the stench of sin. Are we ever going to stand up for our God and Savior?
They legalized infanticide and changed its name to something more palatable (abortion) and we’ve learned to live with the stench of it for more than forty years. Even when Kermit Gosnell’s infamous house of human dismemberment was made public there was no unified statement of condemnation from the Christian church. Then we saw the Center for Medical Progress undercover videos where Planned Parenthood officials laughed about the new cars they were going to buy with illegally harvested baby organs and staffers giggled over Petri dishes full of massacred baby parts. The smell had always been there and so we weren’t surprised when someone opened the lid to the garbage can and took pictures and we saw what we saw. We just hurriedly closed the lid, sprayed some air freshener around, and went back to the business of planning VBS and our latest plans for building expansions.
For millennia, Christians have known that the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin. Suddenly some ingenious homosexuals decided to start describing their sinful indulgences as “gay” and a large portion of the church got on board with it. We let them co-opt the rainbow and haven’t done much of anything about the targeting of our own children by homosexual activists (Boy Scouts still find a welcome mat rolled out by many mainline churches despite deciding to allow practicing homosexuals to join, lead, and participate). Now we’re seeing that parents in some school districts cannot even have their own children opt out of LGBT classes!
The United Methodist Church is on the precipice of a split because denominational leaders allowed a practicing lesbian to openly flout the denomination’s rules about not ordaining practicing homosexuals and even elevated her to the role of bishop! The stench of sexual immorality weighs heavy in the air while some Christians pat themselves on the back for their open-mindedness and tolerance. Their theological acuity has evolved beyond the giants of the church like John Chrysostom, Augustine, and Martin Luther (to name a few) who all agreed that Scripture plainly identifies homosexuality as a sin.
Then there is the plague of biblical unfaithfulness (heresy) that is running rampant in the American church. Creation is a myth. The Noahic deluge was a localized event. The walls of Jericho didn’t fall because they didn’t exist. Isaiah didn’t mean that a “virgin” would conceive. He meant a “young woman.” Jesus was walking on a sandbar, not the water. He ministered to epileptics rather than cast out demons. And His resurrection was only meant to be taken as a metaphor; not literally! The stench of disobedience and faithlessness wafts higher and higher. Yet some of the largest churches in the most prominent denominations are staffed by those who reject most (if not all) of the tenets of the Apostles Creed. But they are kind. They are accepting. And some are even entertaining. So they stay.
Many in the church act as if sin is an antiquated doctrine. Much like the way people used to think the Earth was flat but now we know better. Do we really know better, church? I know Jesus talked a great deal about love and was Himself the personification of love. But I don’t recall reading about any deer-in-the-headlights kind of episodes when He was confronted with sin and the stench of evil. He didn’t ignore Satan in the wilderness. He didn’t jump back into Peter’s fishing boat when the demoniac of Gadara ran screaming from the tombs straight for Him. He didn’t placate the crowd in John chapter eight by saying that adultery was simply an ancient rubric God used for the ignorant Hebrews of old and that sexual relations of any kind was now a private matter and of no concern to God. He didn’t tell the Sadducees “You know what? That view of yours on resurrection…sounds just as good as any other I’ve heard.” No, He said something about them being wrong because they knew neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. And when Satan entered into Judas (Luke 22:3) Jesus didn’t say to him “Can’t we all just get along?”
The Church has an example. Jesus set a high bar for love and forgiveness (“greater love…seventy times seven”). But raising the bar for love did not lower it for sin. The guy who believed he was closest to Jesus (Apostle John) would write “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). That doesn’t sound very accommodating. The guy who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament (Apostle Paul) wrote: “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). Expose works of darkness. Hmm. I wonder what “works of darkness” he meant? For many in today’s modern church, the only works of darkness are those that fail to affirm anyone doing anything they feel they want to do.
It’s high time for the church to start acting like the church in the midst of darkness. We need to stop acting like we don’t understand how depraved the human heart is (Jeremiah 17:9). When human life is “aborted,” a sexually immoral behavior is “ordained,” and the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is deemed a “metaphor” by Christian leaders the rest of us Christians shouldn’t resemble a deer-in-the-headlights. We should look more like an angry mama bear charging when she deems her cubs to be in danger or under attack.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against…” Paul says. God expects His church to identify and oppose sin thereby diminishing the lasting effect of evil. Spraying air freshener in the garbage doesn’t work. All it does is taint the stench with a sickly sweet smell which usually makes it worse. The only way to get rid of the stench is to remove it from your presence. Accommodating sinful behavior is spraying air freshener in the garbage. It does nothing to rid the world of its stench of evil. Only a sold-out sacrificial commitment to Jesus Christ can clear the foul smell in the air today. And only a church that is committed to Christ can take the garbage out.
I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
Doesn’t the word “prevail” imply some things that seem woefully absent from today’s Christianity?