My wife told me I needed to write a more “upbeat” post because my last couple have been “too dark and introspective.” And, I had every intention of doing so (especially because today is her birthday!) . . .
I really did.
Until I read a post from a fellow Christian blogger that include this little nugget of joviality:
The child of God is the one who has placed his full faith and confidence in Jesus alone. Without that he is “unsaved” and a child of Satan.
We struggle with this truth because of what it means about some of our acquaintances, friends, and family members. “But,” you object, “the unsaved person next to me on the ride is so nice. He can’t be filled with the devil” (Ephesians 2:1-3).
Consider the “nice” unsaved person you’re thinking of. Besides being under the total control and influence of the devil, he is not righteous … does not understand spiritual truth … does not seek after God … has willfully turned away from God … is unprofitable … does nothing good … has a mouth which is an open grave filled with deceit and poison … cursing and bitterness … his feet are swift to destroy others … destruction and misery are his way …. he has zero peace … and absolutely no respect for God (Romans 3:10-18). Yeah, I agree, that unsaved person is really “nice.”
Is it just me? This really pissed me off; and I’m not even 100% sure why.
Why is it I get so up in arms when fellow brothers in Christ lift passages of scripture, twisting them juuuuust enough to make a point? A point, I might venture, that was never intended by the original writer (i.e. GOD).
The first scripture referenced is Ephesians 2:1-3:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient, 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
Okay, point taken. But let’s continue on to verse four and five:
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
“Made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” makes it sound an awful lot like Christ died for sinners, too—the before-they-were-saved-type sinners. Including us. ALL of us. God extends his grace through Christ to all of us. The only difference being that there are those yet to accept that grace, those who haven’t been made aware of their need, or those who haven’t believed it necessary. And there are those who have.
It’s not a race. It’s not a contest. It’s not fodder for a superiority complex.
It’s Grace. Hmmm . . . .
Another passage of scripture, well cherry picked for use, is from Romans 3 starting at verse ten:
10 As the Scriptures say,
“No one is righteous—
not even one.
11 No one is truly wise;
no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away;
all have become useless.
No one does good,
not a single one.”
13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with lies.”
“Snake venom drips from their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “They rush to commit murder.
16 Destruction and misery always follow them.
17 They don’t know where to find peace.”
18 “They have no fear of God at all.”
But let’s go one verse earlier to gain a little more context shall we?
9 Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. 10 As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one……
Paul is saying ALL people—everyone—are under the power of sin. The “no one” part of “no one is righteous” includes ALL of us. But let’s do a little more contextual research: What was Paul quoting when he made these points?
Psalm 14:2 The Lord looks down from heaven
on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
if anyone seeks God.
3 But no, all have turned away;
all have become corrupt.
No one does good,
not a single one!
There’s that “all” again.
Psalm 5:9 My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with flattery.[a]
10 O God, declare them guilty.
Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.
In order to rebel, one has had to follow. David wasn’t speaking of pagans or the “unsaved”, he was talking about those within his own kingdom—at one time friends and fellow believers.
Isaiah 59:1-2,7-8 Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you,
nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.
2 It’s your sins that have cut you off from God.
Because of your sins, he has turned away
and will not listen anymore. . . . .
7 Their feet run to do evil,
and they rush to commit murder.
They think only about sinning.
Misery and destruction always follow them.
8 They don’t know where to find peace
or what it means to be just and good.
They have mapped out crooked roads,
and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace.
Isaiah is saying this, again not to pagans, gentiles or the “unsaved”, but to all the people of Judah.
It saddens me when I read rhetoric like this from fellow believers. This is not the way to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). This is not the way to “seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10). This is not the way to “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:5-6)
If you want to win the world for Christ, you don’t start by cutting off His outstretched arms and using them to beat up on those far from Him. As Dr. Phil is fond of saying, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”
I’ll bet you’ve just got tons of “nice, unsaved” friends, my blogosphere brother.
No . . .
Probably not . . .