Redemption and the Apostle Paul
We live in schizophrenic times. The culture does not seem to be able to differentiate between what is real and what is imaginary. “Virtual reality’ is plunging us into a sewer of depravity. Many have fallen into a great delusion preferring robotic dolls to a flesh and blood relationship with an actual human being. People prefer keeping their head down to their smartphone rather than have a conversation with another person, or opening their eyes to their surroundings. “Fake news” is presenting us with facts that are not facts at all, but mere propaganda promoting some political or social agenda. A fact is something that truly happened and not anyone’s idea of what may have happened. These things are taking away our ability to make judgments about what is true and what is a lie; what is a real relationship and what is a fantasy; what our eyes see and what is an illusion. Many are beginning to prefer lies, fantasies, and illusions over truth, reality, and common sense.
Witness the current wave of alleged and confessed acts of sexual misconduct and predation among male celebrities and politicians. For years, the Hollywood and advertising media has entertained and allured us with sensuality of every kind. In the movies, the heroine rarely says “no” to the hero, willing to bed with him before a proper introduction, portraying even “good girls” as being easy. Men are urged to feed every appetite and come to believe that they are entitled to satisfaction of every urge. Many men who have power over other people, whether in the workplace or in the government, think that they have a way open to force their will on others. Because famous people have evaded consequences when their deeds have become public, many abusers are living with the illusion that they are invulnerable. But we are seeing that the words of the Apostle Paul are painfully true, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8 (NASB)
Before I continue sounding so high and mighty, be reminded that Paul also wrote, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Paul himself confessed to condemning people to death unjustly. I confess that I am a sinner, even though my offences are not like Paul’s. I have sinned against God and others, if not with physical violence and abuse, with emotional wounds and other kinds of harm. We all have a part in the problem. Although society needs to bring the abusers to account, and everyone must acknowledge their own sins, these actions will not provide an excuse for wrong doing or solve the problem. People must be changed. I must be changed.
What makes a bad man “good?” It is when he ceases doing that which is harmful to others and begins “doing the right thing,” permanently. He also will try to repair the wrong that he has done to others, as much as possible. When Paul wrote about the universal condition of sinfulness in mankind, he also wrote of those sinners who had received Jesus, “But because of God, you are in Christ Jesus who has become to us the wisdom of God, bringing righteousness, holiness, and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30 (Author’s translation) Redemption is the answer! We are slaves to the desires of our own mind and flesh, only being restrained by fear of the laws of men and the norms of society. Redemption from this slavery is only found in Jesus Christ. It is the only way to truly change from the inside out.
I will give Paul the last word, “For the grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men, instructing us who have denied ungodliness and worldly passions to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present time. We are awaiting the blessed hope of the appearing of the glory of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us that He might purify for Himself a special people, who are zealous to do what is right.” Titus 2:11-14 (Author’s translation)
December 1, 2017