Having the Appearance of Godliness...

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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
2 Timothy 3:5 (ESV)
...having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

I'm heartbroken.

I'm heartbroken over the sins in the places where I live. I am not just mourning over the fact that others are committing sins but I'm mourning over the sins because they destroy people created in the image of God. I mourn over the sins of the places where I live because people are rushing headlong to their destruction.

My heart breaks for people.

But I mourn because I see my own Church rushing headlong into an inability to actually communicate the Gospel. Romanticism, sentimentalism and therapeutic views of man have infected our ministers.

These articles have the appearance of godliness but they deny its power:

An Apology to LGBTQ Brothers and Sisters from a Theological Conservative - Sammy Rhoades

First, an apology for what Christians obsess over

First, the appearance of godliness can be found because they articulate something that is good: we ought to care about the death of people. It ought to break our hearts. We also sin when we think of others as completely other - that they are some separate species of person (unlike us) who sin in such a way that they are just "bad people" and we're "good people".

These things we need to remember.

But, beloved, we deny the power of the Gospel when we adopt a romantic or therapeutic view of man.

The Scriptures present man in the most exalted fashion. We are all created in the image of God. The sinfulness of sin is terrible precisely because of the exalted state that man was created to reflect the glory of God. Our sin is terrible in that we retain many of its glories but use those glories in rebellion against our glorious Creator.

Beloved, we are not, by nature, what we do in our sins. As James says:

James 1:14–15 (ESV)
14*But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15*Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Sin arises from desires not being. We are not our sins.

We are persons created in the image of God confronted by sinful desires that tempt us and lead us to sin and, when fully grown, bring forth death.

The moment we create a "community" out of a sinful desire, we have already said to the world: We deny what the Scriptures say about men and women.

We do not show men and women love when we label them at LGBTQI. It is the exact opposite of love.

We show them love when we mourn over the sin that others have committed against them while yet mourning over the sin that enslaves them.

They are not LGBTQI, they are PERSONS, created in the image of God, who are lured by sinful desires. These sinful desires are utterly enslaving as we are all born in Adam. The glory of the Gospel is that we all once walked in such slavery but the mighty Savior stormed the gates of sin and death and broke the enslaving power of sin.

I was listening to Joel Beeke recently and he said this (paraphrasing): The Puritans thought of themselves as physicians of men's souls. They loved doctrine because they believed that the body of divinity (our system of doctrine) would give them a comprehensive view of man so that they could accurately diagnose and give men and women answers to their problems.

In other words, a doctor who does not know the anatomy of a body is useless as a doctor. He might really care about other people. He might see other people hurting. He might even write sincere and heartfelt blog posts apologizing for all the other doctors as a way to let people know he really loves them and cares that they are hurting. Yet, because he doesn't know anatomy, however, he will not really know what the cure for their ailment is. The patients may gain comfort in knowing that there are doctors out there who care but what they need are doctors who care and understand anatomy.

I fear we are increasingly producing ministers who are sincere and sentimental about sin but have very little knowledge of the "body of divinity". These two blog posts are illustrative.

Five years ago I told two elder friends that we'd be facing problems with respect to LGBTQ in the PCA within 10 years. They scoffed at the idea.

Why was I certain? Because so many of our ministers and elders are ambivalent about our system of doctrine (body of divinity). They care about social justice or being missional or incarnational or relational or various other kinds of other vague notions but they mostly think that our system of doctrine is really unattached to the real issues of loving others.

I care deeply. I'm a passionate man. I was enslaved to Roman Catholicism in my childhood and then Charismatic experience in my early adulthood. It was the clear doctrines of Scripture of the Reformed faith that helped me to see who God was and who I was. It helps me battle indwelling sin and have compassion for others who need the Gospel because I know the power of sin but I know that the power of the Gospel is greater.

Please pray that we will stop sentimentalizing these real issues. Let us mourn over the places in which we live but let us also return to understanding the body of divinity that we may know how to accurately diagnose and heal. If the ministers of Christ's Church can only ape the culture then of what use is the Church?
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Thank you, Rich.

A very good observation and summation.

I'm seeing a related dynamic play out: those who have been reactionary, that is, those who took a "bold stand" against one form of sin or another, especially this one, are falling at the first blast back at them. That's because their reliance is on standing against something instead of standing on the doctrine of Christ.

If we define ourselves by what we oppose, we are still defining ourselves, not God's word. In other words, pride works on us from the back end and we are made low.

May God preserve his people and cause them to fully rely upon him and his revealed truth.
 

KSon

Puritan Board Junior
A good word for us all, Rich. Very, very timely given some difficult dynamics we, as elders of the church, are trying to navigate in order to shepherd the souls which God has given us well.

That paraphrased Beeke quote was much-needed medicine for my soul and mission this day.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
I thank you as well, and share in this mourning, as I'm sure most here do.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

johnny

Puritan Board Sophomore
There seems to be an all out assault by the media in every country over LGBT issues.
I find myself turning the news off, in an effort to escape it somehow.
We are being bombarded with this agenda on every level, it is not subtle anymore.
I am more and more reminded of Jude's Reference to Enoch's speech.

Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Please kee the topic focused to the issue at hand. The world will not have resources to talk to the real problem or remedy.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
If calling sin "sin" is to be apologised for, Christians ought to apologise to everyone for ever proclaiming that Christ died for sinners.
 

BGF

Puritan Board Sophomore
These things frustrate me to no end but I lack the ability to express it as well as you have here. Thank you, Rich, for providing a voice for those of us who cannot find the words.
 
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