When our surrounding culture—or even our feelings—contradict the Word of God, what should we trust as Truth?
It's easy for us to believe the Bible when it says that murder is wrong or that we should honor our parents or love our neighbor. But is homosexuality really wrong? Would God really send good people to hell? Do men and women actually have different roles? Did God truly intend for us to save sex for marriage?
The Biblical answers to some of today's toughest questions aren't always what we want to hear.
The Biblical answers to some of today's toughest questions aren't always what we want to hear. They may even contradict the beliefs and advice of people with PhDs after their names. But Christian, remember we serve the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God. It should not be culture or our fallen emotions that govern how we live; our concern cannot be whether we are "on the wrong side of history." Rather, we must endeavor to be on the right side of God.
In an effort to make God more relatable and appealing—as if that were necessary—modern Christianity has presented God as our best buddy rather than the almighty Creator of the universe, supremely holy and righteous, whose unveiled face would strike us dead from its glory. Yes, because of the saving work of Jesus Christ, God now calls us friends (see John 15:12-17), but He is also our Lord and King. He is a loving and merciful Father, but He is also a just and fierce judge; what He says in His Word, He means.
Too often, when modern pastors and theologians are offended by Scripture, they explain away the portions that make them uncomfortable, such as passages about the sinfulness of homosexuality. They reason that the grace of Jesus has altered the standards for righteousness found in the Old Testament. Then, when faced with New Testament passages that also call homosexuality sin, they blame Paul, saying he misunderstood the culture and nature of man.
But this line of thinking is dangerous. If Paul was wrong about sexual morality in Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, and 1 Timothy 1, then what else was he wrong about? Has God's Word erred? Beloved, as author and professor Norman Geisler warned, "Once you deny the inerrancy of the Bible, you don't have any basis for your teaching. And you've lost the power of God because if it's not the Word of God—if what the Bible says is not what God is saying—then how can we preach it with authority and life-transforming ability?"
We cannot allow such faulty logic a foothold. While we can wrestle with Scripture and seek to understand it, we cannot twist it to serve our purposes. God has been faithful to provide a Scripture that was written over the course of 1,600 years containing hundreds of fulfilled prophecies, corroborated historical events, and harmonious accounts. Who are we to sit in judgment over His Word, picking and choosing which pieces are acceptable? "God is exalted in power. Who is a teacher like him? Who has prescribed his ways for him, or said to him, ‘You have done wrong'?" (Job 36:22-23).
Our God is the matchless Creator, and out of His goodness, He has revealed Himself to us through His Word. Therefore the Bible is authoritative for our lives; it is God-breathed; it corrects and trains us for righteousness (see 2 Timothy 3:16), and when we walk in its ways, we show the world we belong to God.
WHAT ABOUT THE LOVE OF JESUS?
Because our culture glorifies self and individualism, it rails against the idea that we are not our own—that the Creator has a claim on our lives. So, like Satan in the Garden of Eden, society twists God's Word: "Did God really say we must not live in this way? Doesn't He love us?" You see, our culture will make "love" synonymous with "acceptance" and "tolerance." It goes something like this: "You must accept me and tolerate my actions because Jesus was all about love."
Of course, Jesus is about love. He is love. No greater love has been displayed apart from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for our salvation. But Jesus never displayed the kind of "love" the world demands—the kind that tolerates and even justifies sin, which harms us body and soul. The love of Christ is a love that says, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more" (John 8:11, ESV, emphasis added).
Sin distances us from God, who is our only source of hope, joy, peace, and fulfillment. And because He loves us, God doesn't want us to live in a way that keeps us far from Him; that is precisely why He sent His Son to redeem us. His lavish love for us should compel us to obey His whole Word—not just parts of it.
SPREADING THE AROMA OF CHRIST
In this postmodern age, we must all ask ourselves: Whom do I trust more—a just, loving God or my own personal opinions? We cannot accept the lost man's actions as good and righteous simply because they are acceptable in the latest USA Today poll. Rather, when our culture conflicts with God's Word, we must submit to Scripture, remembering that "friendship with the world means enmity with God" (James 4:4). Likewise, when our desires don't align with God's call for holiness, we must surrender our wills and ask the Holy Spirit to renew our minds, remembering that "the heart is deceitful above all things" (Jeremiah 17:9).
The Gospel may be challenging and offensive to our pride, but it is the only thing that saves. A watered-down gospel is not good news. But if we give Scripture the authority it deserves in our lives, using it to illuminate the darkness even when it becomes uncomfortable, unpopular, and costly, we will become a people who spread the aroma of Christ—the Good News of the Gospel—to the glory of God.