Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I Don't Have That Right

Sometimes we see discussions about things that some churches call sin and others do not. It often centers around how much involvement a church allows people involved in that sin to have. Often we see churches trying to be more accepting of people, no matter what sin they might be involved in.

I was thinking about one of these discussions. In this case one well known preacher was criticizing another well known preacher for not speaking out against one sin that it has become taboo of late to speak against. I think you know which one it is. In fact, the pastor had no problem with two men of that persuasion to serve in the church, except one of them was still married to his wife. Rather than try to sort through that mess, I’ll leave it at that. I’ll just say, the pastor mentioned above has said that people of a particular persuasion have stated going to his church because other churches are not accepting of their lifestyle.

As I thought about it, I began to think, you know, I have no authority to give anyone else permission to sin. My pastor doesn’t have that authority. No pastor has that authority. Yet, so many times, that is what people want from their pastors. They go to some church that speaks out against some sin. Let’s say a man is living with his girlfriend, for example. After hearing the pastor preach, they don’t feel comfortable. But they want to go to church, so they find another church, one where the pastor is accepting of fornication. Nothing has changed, they’ve just found someone who is willing to say, “God doesn’t really care about things like that. He loves you anyway.”

The problem is, that pastor doesn’t have the authority to forgive sins. It’s like going to the store and the clerk says, “You owe us $100.” You don’t like the sound of that, so you turn around to the customer behind you, give them $50 and walk out of the store. Just because the someone else was willing to take less money doesn’t mean you owe the store any less. And so it is with sin. You can find a church that doesn’t say anything against your sin. For that matter, you could start your own church, as King Henry VIII did when he wanted to get divorced. But that won’t change anything. It is not within the power of a church to define what is and is not sin. Only God has that authority.

Even more than that, God wrote his law in stone, both literally and figuratively. God had the authority to change the law, but he never does. So true is this statement that when God wanted to solve the problem of being out of fellowship with man, he didn’t rewrite the law to say that what Adam did wasn’t a sin, rather he provided a system of blood sacrifice. But that wasn’t good enough to save man, so rather than developing another system, God sent his son into the world to be the perfect sacrifice. He fulfilled the law, rather than doing away with it.

So often, I find myself wanting to do something that I know is wrong. I won’t, but I could take you to a Bible verse that clearly states that what I want to do is wrong. Even so, I find myself trying to come up with a way to say that that verse doesn’t really apply to what I want to do. If I looked in the right place, I could find a few people to agree with that. They would gladly assure me that it would be okay for me to do what I want to do. But they don’t have that authority. I don’t have that authority. Only God has that authority and his word is clear.