Thursday, August 22, 2019
As we look around at our culture, it’s not hard to see that we are living in a time of huge spiritual crisis. People who call themselves followers of Christ are turning to lives of rebellion and sin and personal pleasure. Hardly a day goes by that my wife and I are not being asked to give advice or counsel to someone who is being affected by a spouse’s or friend’s decisions to serve self rather than God. These are people whom we have participated with in ministry and heard their testimonies of faith in Jesus Christ.
I believe more than ever that these are the last days before the return of Christ. The once narrow gray line of personal choice between morality and immorality has become increasingly wide. That’s because Christians are participating with culture in redefining the truths that establish the standards of each position. Those who choose to redefine morality and embrace immorality justify it with the argument of the pursuit of personal pleasure and happiness. They are motivated by a deep and deadly desire to eventually destroy the position of immorality by turning everything gray for a time until it begins to appear not gray at all. Their goal is to move all the black and gray into the light of white and declare everything moral. As this happens, they are becoming increasingly intolerant and abusive towards those who maintain a position of morality based on God’s truth. The attacks against truth are more consistent and louder than ever, and the attacks against those who hold a position of truth are gaining cultural acceptance at an alarming rate.
Here’s a thought that came to me as I prayed this morning – It is a good thing to live in a state of denial. In fact, it is an absolute truth that all of us do, one way or another.
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
The follower of Jesus is commanded to live in a state of denial of self. This is where I see the evidence of the great falling away in today’s church. We are not living in this state of denial. Rather, we are living in a state of entitlement to self, with all its pleasures and prosperity. So many in the church today have a claim to faith without the following that is inherently generated by faith. How can one claim to have faith without obedience?
Those who compromise their faith and follow self are usually unaware that they are still living in a state of denial, but one with deadly consequences ahead. You see, if we are not denying self and following Jesus, then we are denying Jesus and following self. One way or another we are ALL living in a state of denial. It’s our choice which one.
Listen to these words from the Apostle Paul and from Jude, the brother of Jesus.
Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
Jude 1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
When I counsel people who are living faithless lives of disobedience, yet deny that they are, I asked the one question – Whom do you love? It hits at the root of the problem for all of us. Whom do you love?
Rarely is anyone willing to admit that they love themselves more than Christ. Yet it is obviously true. It is true of me in certain places of my own life. We must be on our knees every day gaining insight from the Holy Spirit as He guides us to deny self and take up His cross and follow Him – in EVERYTHING!
We must recognize that in every area of our lives, when we choose to pursue self for any reason, it can only be defined as denial of Jesus. But when we pursue Jesus we are in denial of self. The latter is the state of denial I want to be in consistently. We are always in one or the other. It’s our choice. Choose wisely, and do so with eternity in view.