Monday, March 05, 2007

Proverbs 16:25

There is a way that seems right to a man
but it's end is the way to death.

How good is good enough for Heaven? How bad is bad enough to go to Hell? One of the most common misconceptions about Christianity is that it's about being good. It just plain isn't. Christianity is not about being good. Yes Christians should shine like stars in a wicked and depraved generation, they should go the extra yard for their friends, and they should love people with a costly love, but as a response, not as works to earn something.

There is, says this verse, a way that seems good to a man. There are things that we can do to appear good, to feel good, to convince ourselves we are good. We can give money to charity, be good parents, buy food for homeless people, buy fairtrade food for ourselves, be moral, try and do the best in every situation. But what does the Bible say? This way ends in death. This is not the way. Mark Driscoll said that 'good people, moral people die and they wake up in hell', and this verse seems to evidence that statement.

I think there are two reasons for this. Firstly, we can never be good enough. What sort of a small insignificant god could be impressed by people's actions. If i could do something that God couldn't, then He would no longer be God. And i'm pleased that He always will be God. All our good deeds are tainted by our sin. We are inseperable from our sin, we are sinful from birth, imputed with Adams sin, and then participating in Adam's sin as soon as we're old enough to know how. No amount of charity collecting will sort that out. And this is good news because God is more just than that. It's good that evil gets punished. Really good. But it means we all need to find a way out of that punishment.

The second reason is that God is not interested in man's glory. If we could work our way to Heaven imagine how proud and boastful we would become. We'd be playing off against eachother for an eternity. Ephesians 2:9 makes this clear. We were saved by grace through that no one may boast. Christ is to be pre-eminant in all things, including our salvation.

So who can be saved? How are people to be divided at the end of time? People who worship Christ, who love Him and embrace and He enjoy all that He is go to Heaven. And this a gift from God! Thats why the way that seems good to man will end in death, because man will never think of Christ. Man will try and do it on his own. He's not interested in Christ, he wants all the glory himself. So man wakes up in hell. Christ said I AM the way. Christ is how we can have eternal life. This is eternal life, that we know the only true God and Jesus, who He has sent. (John 17:3). To know Jesus is to know eternal life. Not being good. The way that seems good ends in death, and rightly so, because it is not good. Only what comes from God is good. David said in Psalm 16:2 'i have no good apart from you'. I have no good apart from Jesus, apart from my Creator, Savior and Lord. Even when i'm saved and try to do good works, those come from the work of the Holy Spirit in me, not from me. I need to remember that, otherwise i'm like the Pharisee in Luke 18:14 who did not go to his house justified. And thats bad.

So lets reject synergism. Lets reject the idea that we give God any help in our salvation and sanctification. Because we don't, we can't. But He can and thankfully He does. Salvation isn't a matter of believing true facts about Jesus. It's about embracing them and letting them change you and living and dying for them. There's nothing i can do to help God in my sanctification except obey Him, listen to Him and ask Him to help.

And let's get rid of asceticism. Lets stop denying ourselves fun because we think Christ is disapproving. That the command to bare our cross, which we must obey, stops us from laughing or enjoying good food and company. These things are, of course, not our ultimate joy, they are not things to be enjoyed to deny the supremacy of Christ in our lives and purposes and happiness, but Christ gives them to us to enjoy them. So lets do the things we enjoy, lets lie in bed and listen to Moyles on our days off, lets walk in the hills, lets laugh with our friends, because Jesus has put these things there to enjoy, to point us to Him, and the time when we will be with Him. Everything we enjoy should point us towards the time when that enjoyment will never end, everything we hate should remind us of a time when those things will dissapear.

Things that seem good for a man to do to earn eternal life do not end that way. They end in death. But because Christ has saved us, we are liberated to enjoy things as they really are. To enjoy food without becoming enslaved to gluttony, to enjoy friends without becoming enslaved to their opinions, to enjoy wine without being enslaved to alcoholism. Becci Brown says her hope isn't in shells, but that doesn't mean she can't enjoy them. Spot on. Thats what they're there for. My hope isn't in Coke, but life's too short to drink diet coke. It won't get me anywhere anyway. Only Christ will do that. So lets stop being 'good' because we aren't anyway and start worshipping Him, because that is eternal life.

1 comment:

ccanuck said...

Well said, I completely agree