The Bible and Sin
The state of society and of the professing Church in Britain today is such that the media force upon general attention evils which were regarded in other days as secret works of darkness, “of which it is a shame even to speak” (Eph 5:11,12). It is extremely sad when persons prominent in professedly Protestant Churches are foremost among those solemnly addressed in Isaiah 5:20,21: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” The connection between the loss of the sense of sin and the substitution of carnal human wisdom for the authority of the Bible is highlighted by the recent controversies over whether or not to appoint as bishops men euphemistically described as “gay”. The rejection of biblical authority was manifest first in the churches in wholesale departure from biblical doctrine – and it is now bearing fruit in the open abandonment of biblical morality.
There is an obvious denial of the biblical doctrine of original sin, which attributes to the fall of mankind and to the consequent corruption of fallen human nature every attitude, thought, word and deed that either does not conform to, or is a transgression of, God’s revealed will. The sin of Sodom has been given a new name and there are those who attribute an inclination towards it to genes with which some are born. They proceed blasphemously to suggest that it is therefore God-given and not to be condemned. In arguing for the acceptance by the Christian community of those who confess to such an “orientation” – and for their ordination to the ministry if otherwise qualified – the Moderator of the last General Assembly of the Church of Scotland confuses the issue by arguing that Christ died for such.
The Bible recognises that the grace of God in Christ saves sinners of all kinds (1 Cor 6:9-11). It also recognises that each one saved by grace will struggle all through life with the corruption of fallen nature in the manifestations of it which are peculiar to himself (Rom 7:21-25). But those whose cases are currently in the public arena are not persons seeking to overcome their sin in the strength of grace but persons who deny that their condition is sinful, who glory in that of which they should be ashamed. One of them even says that “this is something of the pure and best in us, something that reflects God’s image in us”. Those who argue, from the Lord’s forgiveness of the woman taken in adultery, for the acceptance of deviant lifestyles ignore the fact that He sent her away with these words: “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). The gospel received in the power of the Holy Spirit promotes holiness of heart and life, as holiness is defined and exemplified in the Bible.
Fundamental to the arguments on behalf of attitudes and orientations and relationships which the Bible condemns as sin is not only a denial of the biblical doctrine of sin and of grace but a denial of the authority of the Bible itself. Lip service may still be paid to the Bible as a book from which general ideas and “spiritual” comfort and help may be derived but its status as the Word of God, clearly and authoritatively defining both the truth to be believed and the life to be lived, is denied both in theory and in practice. An academic colleague of the Archbishop of Canterbury has described Dr William’s theological writing as displaying “carefully judged unclarity” (Daily Telegraph, June 21). It is no wonder that calculated vagueness with regard to biblical authority and doctrine gives rise to a rather bolder endorsement of unbiblical morality. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Rom 1:28).
The churches have been reaping for generations the fruit of the higher critical views of Scripture sown in them in the nineteenth century. The real struggle which is taking place in these churches is with unbelief, ungodliness and worldliness cloaked in a form of religion. We should pray for those seeking to contend for the Bible and biblical religion that they would recognise that the Bible does not support their readiness to coexist in these churches, as professedly fellow-Christians, with those who are not Christians at all in any Biblical sense. Either the unbelieving should be expelled or those faithful to God should come out from among them.
Declaring Their Sin As Sodom
“On Saturday, August 2, Belfast streets echoed to the aggressive sounds of sodomy on the march. It was the annual Gay Pride parade, and like many similar events held throughout the UK, it was a sickening sight.” So writes the Belfast correspondent of the British Church Newspaper. Even reports of such events are distressing to those who believe what Scripture says about this abominable practice.
It was distressing to read, for example, that a similar parade in London’s Hyde Park in July was “a recruiting ground for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office”. Members of the Foreign Office Lesbian and Gay Group handed out leaflets indicating “the Foreign Office’s commitment to diversity” and inviting applications for posts.
It is alarming too to read that “80 gay and lesbian police officers have joined the Pride Parade in a historic first for Britain’s biggest gay and lesbian festival. Around 35 of the officers wore their uniforms, a first at UK gay festivals.” Even more alarming is the fact that “Britain’s most senior police officer [Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens] was urging gays and lesbians to join the force in a video message to be played at the festival. Several forces, including the Met, were staffing recruitment stands at the parade.”
When will those in authority who promote this gross sin begin to understand its seriousness? Like other sins, it brings the soul to eternal destruction if not repented of, but it is also destructive to the mental and physical well-being of those who commit it. History shows that the society which gives itself over to this sin goes into self-destruct mode. Even more solemn is the case of a society, having spurned God, repudiated His authority and thrown away His Word, being given over by God to this sin. “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves” (Rom 1:24). How desperately we need the Spirit of repentance to be poured upon us as a nation. “Thou justly hast displeased been; return to us, O God” (Ps 60:1).
After a Nineteen-Year Coma
Nineteen years ago, Terry Wallis of Arkansas, USA, a 19-year-old newly-married man, lost control of his pick-up truck, which crashed through a guard rail and plunged 25 feet down a bank. He was taken unconscious from the wreck to hospital. Until recently he has continued in a coma.
His family never gave up hope of a recovery, visiting him every day, talking for hours to him, not knowing whether he understood them or not. Then he began responding to questions with grunts of assent or disagreement, and by blinking his eyes. Finally, on June 12, he awoke and spoke for the first time. Although still paralysed, he continues to make good progress in speaking. A press report notes that “his case has been seized upon by the pro-life movement among growing controversy over the switching off of life-support systems for people apparently without hope of recovery”.
We do not wonder. Medical bodies in America and the UK have issued carefully-drawn-up ethical guidelines about withholding artificial nutrition and hydration from patients who are not terminally ill or permanently unconscious. Medical staff are to be admired on account of their dedication and hard work in stressful conditions and with restricted resources, but we feel that some of these guidelines do not provide for the degree of protection of life which Scripture requires.
In any case, there is cause for concern when the British Government’s draft Mental Incapacity Bill contains proposals that would allow euthanasia by neglect. Some who have examined the bill say that it “proposes two mechanisms which could be used to force doctors to kill by withdrawing life-sustaining treatment and care from vulnerable patients”. Our spiritually sick society has long lost sight of the scriptural requirement that we make “all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others”.
Unprecedented Increase in Bad Language
Everyday conversation is now so foul-mouthed that only a mere 16 words are generally considered offensive and out of bounds, according to those responsible for a new edition of the Collins English Dictionary. Sad to say, swearing is common even among those who are regarded as leaders in society. Quite recently the Prince of Wales used a swear word in public to describe the hot weather in Scotland, a fact immediately seized upon by the news media. The Prince is no stranger to such adverse publicity. A few years ago he used a “liberal sprinkling of swear words” and took the name of God in vain when addressing boys in Manchester Grammar School.
How solemn is the warning, “The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain”! We must guard against this sin as against all others. Considering that the apostle Peter himself fell into the sin of cursing and swearing, it is clear that everyone needs to pray, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Ps 141:3). God requires us to be pure in our words, having “sound speech that cannot be condemned”. Indeed, He demands that our “speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt”.