Many times we are confused because the enemy (devil is his hideous name) dangles confusing but juicy options before us in every facet of life. We like our entire fore progenitor from Adam and Eve always assume knowing the right thing automatically means having the power to choose and do the right thing. Else, how can Adam and Eve have missed the simple instruction they were given; eat from these (note plurality) trees but don’t eat from this tree (note that it is specific and singular). So, how come she ended dialoging with the deceiver (deceit is his own game and he’s the master of it and father of all who practice such, no matter in whose name and under whatever guise), accepting his rationale and forthwith basing the exercise of her (their) freewill and liberty on his confusing argument, when God’s instruction had been explicit and simple, don’t eat of this, period!
In our modern world, societal acceptable values and norms have greatly changed. Before (though not too many years ago), mere mention of Christianity portray and elicit fortitude and integrity; a splendid weave of upright character that no evil can be said about. However, in our present precarious times, many people, even most church folks don’t really understand what the ‘hell’ being a Christian is all about. No wonder we now have qualifying adjectives for our modern day Christianity: good Christian, strong Christian, cool Christian, nominal Christian, and what have you?
Christianity gives you the awesome but dangerous privilege to live your reality, whatever that may mean or indicate to you, however, there is a clear boundary. Peter the Apostle warned early Christians in 1 Peter 2:16: “As those who are free, not using your free position as a cover for wrongdoing.”(BBE). He emphasized the fact that they were indeed free. Free from what? Slavery? Certainly no! There is a clear eternal difference between being a Christian and going to church; attending or belonging to a fold, congregation or denomination. This is where a lot of good, well meaning folks got it wrong and twisted.
Church attendance, affiliation or membership doesn’t and will never qualify you to earn and rightfully bear that sacred appellation, Christian. No! No spiritual cleansing, consecration, ordination, investiture, meritorious award, faithful service to God (or those who have substituted or constituted themselves as and super imposed themselves on parishioner as God, whatever and whichever), will ever qualify you as a Christian before God, before whom we will eventually stand and with whom we have to deal, both now and in eternity. Being a Christian makes you go to church (or whatever name you choose for the building where you worship God), but unfortunately church attendance or affiliation doesn’t make you a Christian, not even a bad one, period!
Christianity is life in Christ Jesus or living your life after and at the prompting and by the dictates of Jesus: living the way Jesus Christ would have lived, if he was in you present and peculiar situation. That’s why Apostle Peter warned them that, “…but living as servants of God”. And this cannot be initiated or entered into without haven obtained freedom from sin and its power through a personal life changing encounter with Jesus Christ. This great freedom and liberty is what Peter the Apostle was warning those Christians about.
Why? Because, once saved and free from sin and its power, you are no longer subject to any laws or by laws, you literarily become the law you must obey. Your check and balance, conscience and law become your obedience to the Holy Spirit who God sends into your heart at salvation. And this is the crucible, it’s left to your obedience of that still small voice who always gently but clearly and firmly illuminate and instruct you about right and wrong in every situation. But the issue is how often do you set aside and ignore His directions, instructions and corrections, in preference of your personal perceived reality.
Many times we choose to do dumb things, things which we castigate and vehemently condemn in others. And that is why the warning of the Apostle Peter still rings true to us now more than ever. That you are saved (if truly you are), doesn’t mean you can choose to act out your feeling and emotion regardless of what anybody or scriptures say or feel. That a particular desire fits into modern Christianity or our fading society doesn’t make it ‘cool’, no matter the ‘Holy Ghost’ in the man or woman preaching or promoting it. Always check with the Spirit within you (that’s provided you have Him in you and you’re so blessed He’s still there) whether your reality is covered and allowed by God even if it’s licensed by the society, your family and even your ‘church’ (church is something else we got to talk about).
For some old Christian folks, some of the things I will say may be news, but to we young ones who are blessed and privileged to be chips of the old block, it’s no longer news but a dreadful and alarming reality. I was discussing with a Christian lady (taking her at her words on the strength of our conversation while we commuted) who said that, a married ‘Christian’ male friend who was a favored seed for the exalted post of a pastor advised her to reconsider her stance about no sex before marriage, and allow her fiancé have his way if that will suffice to make the fiancé marry her, “After all, is there a difference between sex before or after marriage, and is anything wrong with it?”.
Another so called fervent ‘Christian’ brother literarily forced and dis-virgined his fiancée despite her persistent plea to be patient with her and wait until after their wedding just because his older siblings (females for that matter) coached him that forcing himself on her will break her pride and make her his forever. Another prominent Christian married man kept young females outside his marriage in sexual affairs because he was fed up with a monogamous relationship; having to have sex and live with the same ‘old’ boring woman for so long, why, at least variety is the spice of life.
Space may fail me to be thorough with our modern challenges. Is it the debate on masturbation, purchase, and use of condom by unmarried even teen (at least, it is argued that will protect those Christian teens from contacting AIDS and other STDs). Ok, what about same sex relationship and marriage, fraud in all its kind, results racketeering, internet scam, pornography et al. They are fast becoming ‘cool’; acceptable and adorable even in Christian circles.
This is not to denounce well-meaning NGOs having these issues as their project target, but it’s more like an ideal or if you like a biblical view of these pressing issues. All these situations became issues because, somewhere, sometimes ago, somebody decided to act out what he or she felt was right for him or her, without giving due diligence to find out what God’s intent, design or plan was concerning such situation, thereby satisfying his or her ‘self’ (natural Adamic sinful nature), thus disregarding and disrespecting God.
This is the crux of this write up. Many times as Christians we are faced with the difficulty of choosing (and we’ll continue to be faced with them daily till we are translated from this terrestrial divide) between actions or responses which are in agreement with our personal desires and craving or those we don’t quite agree with or even upset us though we know they are what God and the demand of being a Christian would rather have us choose.
You cannot totally claim ignorance or innocence of some of the bad thing you do, yet if you have the chance to choose again, you may still end up with that same silly choice. No wonder Paul the Apostle said in Romans 7:15, “And I have no clear knowledge of what I am doing, for that which I have a mind to do, I do not, but what I have hate for, that I do”(BBE). This scripture captures the spirit of this message in summary. Many things we end up choosing to do as Christians are the things, which we already know and pre-accepted as wrong, yet when we get to the point of choosing we often buckle up our chances.
One thing we must realize is the awesome strength in the freewill that we have as humans, which graduates to total liberty once we are in Christ. And this great strength called freewill is what I termed as the switch. As a normal human, becoming a Christian doesn’t automatically immunize you against wrong desires (lust) or insulate you from error. No, it doesn’t! In fact, you even become more susceptible to ‘common sense’ mistakes; you are tempted to make wrong choices about things you should have known better about, even without claiming to be a spirit filled Christian.
You are in total control of your switch and you can choose to flip it to any direction anytime you wish. You have both the right and the awesome power to either allow and choose between your old nature (the person you were and would have become without Christ) or your new nature (the picture of Christ that God is trying to make of you). You can whine and growl and throw a fit but that’s the gospel truth. Think of it, whenever you give way to whether small or great emotional volcanoes bottled in you, you have flipped your switch and I bet you can determine yourself the direction you gave it, old man or new man.
Jesus had a chance for total self expression just like you and me. He had the choice to flip his freewill in whatever direction he decided when tempted, yet he didn’t. He chose what he knew would please the father, though it was a painful direction to go. The devil wouldn’t have bothered to tempt him, if he was immune to failing under pressure. No wonder, scripture says, he was tempted at all point, but yet without sin.
Whenever I hear or read about debates such as whether church should allow same sex marriages or not, whether it’s ok to be joined in holy matrimony in church with the “virgin bride’s” tummy bulgingly protruding, seeking for air to breathe, whether it’s ok if Christian singles’ couples (please permit my construction, it’s for emphasis) intending to get married in the future (that’s if it eventually works out), can live together in trial marriages, frolicking and rolling in the hay (or anywhere) whenever the urge arises, can our handsome teenage prince charming and beautiful teenage princesses pursue a stable ‘date’ and the list goes on, I’m amazed how far away from scripture we are headed.
How palpable is our blatant disregard of God and his word, when we begin to see, read and hear of ominous sins and crimes being perpetuated in and outside ‘church’, some in the name of God and most in the name of Christian liberty or freedom, even by people who seems to be more knowledgeable about these things. Indeed, this is the end time and we all must be reawakened to ‘right choiceness’ (righteousness) and Christeousness (Christlikeness).
There is little need to deceive or be deceived, scripture is clear that, “But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”(RSV). God’s foundation (the most essential but least visible structure or part of anything), can’t and won’t change with the tide of our changing culture, norms, value etc. Interestingly it has a means of measuring, knowing or checking if one is in line. The indicator is simply departing or distancing oneself from anything that is an iniquity, or anything which God would not celebrate with you despite man’s ovation.
Another version of that scripture is yet more enlightening, “But God’s strong base is unchanging, having this sign, The Lord has knowledge of those who are his: and, Let everyone by whom the name of the Lord is named be turned away from evil.”(BBE). Many salient points are raised here. One, God’s base or platform is strong and is unchanging. Two, it has a sign; an indicator or signal, which is, God knows his own. Thirdly, let everyone who is called by or in God’s name (anyone sharing in or having a part of God’s family name, which obviously is the names Jesus and Christ) make personal effort to live up to that gloriously wonderful name, by accepting to be turned away from evil or else such is on his or her own; living in fool’s paradise.
You have a choice and you always will. The battle is in your mind, but the victory is in Christ. If Jesus Christ faced diverse temptations and didn’t fail or fall then you can also always choose to act as a true child of God no matter how painful that choice will be and the attendant ridicule from the society around you. Always remember, there’s always a great cloud of witnesses, watching and daily waiting to hail and applaud your right choices. You don’t need to see them, but each time you have the conflict of switching between your old or new man, look up at the imaginary expectant faces of your innumerable witnesses and steel yourself against the world and choose for Christ’s sake. God bless you.