01 July 2013

Nurturing Perversion

Sinful perversion. The phrase is almost redundant, for to pervert a thing is to distort it to the point of corruption. Perversion of anything that corrupts God's original design and intention is sin.

America is a perverted nation, as clearly demonstrated by the 26 June 2013 decision by the United States Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This determination, though disappointing, should not have come as a surprise to the Christian who is familiar with his Bible. For quite some time, America has been plodding along the path of Romans 1, steeped and reveling in her sin and perversion. The ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional now swings wide the gate for the acceptance, and perhaps in time the legalization, of other gross sexual perversions. Even now, polygamists are celebrating the recent ruling by SCOTUS:
The Supreme Court’s rulings in favor of same-sex marriage Wednesday were greeted with excitement by polygamists across the country, who viewed the gay rights victory as a crucial step toward the country’s inevitable acceptance of plural marriage. Anne Wilde, a vocal advocate for polygamist rights who practiced the lifestyle herself until her husband died in 2003, praised the court’s decision as a sign that society’s stringent attachment to traditional “family values” is evolving. (Source)
But while Christians quite predictably raise their voices with such publicized events, it often is forgotten that these sexual sins—like all sins—did not appear in this advanced state overnight. How, then, did Americans get to this point? Note, the question is not how did America get here, but how did Americans get here. When the focus of the church is distracted by great national sins, individual sin can be overlooked, downplayed or ignored. This is to the detriment of men's souls, for salvation does not come to a nation, but to men, one by one.

So how did Americans arrive at this point? An easy answer is, of course, the Fall. Sin entered the world through one man, Adam, and it is only through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, that salvation may be found (Rom 5:12, 19). But it is important to move beyond this generalization.

For every man, sin begins in the heart. It does not one day appear in its most visible form without first being born, fed and nurtured within the dark hearts of men. Yes, the heart is a detestable place:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jer 17:9)
Jesus Christ Himself equated the sins of the heart and mind with the outward act:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matt 5:21-22)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matt 5:27-28)
The Lord further explained the notion that outward sin is a direct result of what is in the heart of a man:
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (Matt 15:18-20)
Yes, to even conceive of sin in one's mind is to be guilty before the Lord. Few people would knowingly move next door to a convicted sex offender or child molester. Yet, what if a father was to discover that the man next door, though he never acted out his sinful thoughts, was prone to have his lusts incited by mere pictures of girls not much older than that father's daughter? Would that father's protective instincts be any less strong? Would he be any less wary of his neighbor than if that man were a registered sex offender?

Christians are quick to cry out against gay "marriage" and other such abominations, but sexual perversion is everywhere even if it is not as exposed as these national issues. It is in the Christian's workplace, school, grocery store . . . perhaps even in his home . . . perhaps even in his church. These are not "lesser" sins, they merely are more hidden, at least for a time (Num 32:23; Eph 5:13). So, is the Christian as committed to speaking out against these sins? Is the Christian zealous to tell others that these too are an affront to God, that all sin is worthy of condemnation before the Lord if one does not repent and turn to Christ for salvation? Further, is the Christian committed to mortifying his own sinful lusts before they give birth to something greater?

As has already been noted, sin that appears outwardly usually is the result of a nurturing over time within one's heart. Man loves his sin. He cultivates it, dotes on it, rationalizes it. All one must do is entertain the temptation just once and his resolve weakens, and sin has taken its firm foothold in the heart.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (Jas 1:14-15)
Sin is not an isolated act, but the result of a process. Dr. John MacArthur explains the steps of this process as desire, deception, design and disobedience.
Before salvation all people are slaves to lust (Eph 2:1–3; 4:17–19; 1 Thess 4:5). . . . It begins primarily as an emotion, a feeling, a longing for something that, at first, may be largely subconscious. It develops from somewhere deep within us, expressing a want to acquire, achieve, or possess something that we do not have. . . . 
The next step is deception, which is more closely related to the mind than to the emotions. When we think about a desired object, our mind begins to rationalize a justification for getting it. . . . It is at that point, James says, that lust has conceived. The "life of sin," as it were, has started to form and grow.
The third step is that of design, when plans start to be made to fulfill the emotional desire that we have rationalized and justified with our minds. This stage involves our will, our conscious decision to pursue the lust until it is satisfied. And because the will is involved, this is the stage where the most guilt lies. What has been longed for and rationalized is now consciously pursued as a matter of choice.
The fourth and final stage is disobedience. If we allow the process to continue, the design inevitably produces disobedience to God's law, by which it gives birth to sin. That which is desired, rationalized, and willed is actually done, committed, and accomplished. Desire leads to deception, deception to design, and design to disobedience, which is sin. . . .
If the cycle of temptation is completed, sin is accomplished and it brings forth death. The "child" conceived by lust is born a murderer, a killer. To use another figure, "the wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23). Sin brings forth physical death, separating the soul from the body; spiritual death, separating the soul from God; and eternal death, separating both body and soul from God forever.
– John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: James, 52–53.
And so, while the ire of the Christian may be raised by sinful politics and a degenerating nation, let it be a reminder of the great killing power of sin. And let the Christian not be more angered at the sin of a pagan nation than he is of the sin in his own heart. Many are familiar with the famous John Owen quote, "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." The great Puritan also reminds of the means by which the Savior taught His own to prevent even temptation:
'Watch' and 'Pray.' To watch means to be on guard, to take heed, and to consider the ways the enemy might seek to approach us and entangle us in his baits and methods. The second direction is to pray. This important duty is known to all. These two duties are the whole expression of faith to protect us from temptation.
Now, if there is a man reading this who is entangled in sin and who does not hate that sin, then even those commands of "watch" and "pray" will do him no good. A man who does not loathe and mourn over his sin (Matt 5:4) is a man who has not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. He cannot fight against temptation because he is a child of Hell, not of God. That man's only hope, if by God's grace he has been made aware of his broken and fallen state, is to cry out, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" (Luke 18:13). That man's only hope lies in the great grace of God, that He alone might bring that sinner to repentance and faith in the Son, Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

There is forgiveness for sins for those who repent and believe. No matter the darkness, no matter the perversion, no matter the depravity, Jesus Christ saves and transforms sinners. Today is the day of salvation. Repent and believe upon Christ in this moment, before the sun sets, for you do not know if tomorrow will be granted to you.

Further Reading
Nothing Safe About Secret Sin (Grace to You)
How to Kill Sin in Your Life (Grace to You)
John Owen's Mortification of Sin
Even the Demons Believe

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this pointed and convicting message. I confess I struggle mightily with the sins that were nurtured over many years, but at least I can say I hate them. Such was not the case a few years ago. I need to remember, as the old evangelist Vance Havner once said, that I must get busy and work on this because "I am so far behind in my salvation."

    Blessings to you for your insightful words.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We wrestle not against flesh and blood.....

    ...this kind doesn't go out except by prayer and fasting.

    and sadly, American Christian' have neither wrestled, prayed nor fasted - but have wrung their hands in defeat and allowed the enemy to garner more and more control - as the ruling of the SCOTUS has so clearly shown.

    What must happen next before we will bow the knee and cry out in repentance and mourn for our sins.??

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