"LUKEWARM PEOPLE don't really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don't genuinely hate sin and aren't truly sorry for it; they're merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better that the old sinful one." p.70
Well, that's a mouthful, isn't it? There's a lot to dissect here and I think the best way to do this is by example. So, at the risk of calling myself out...making my sin known (one of many!), I'm going to use an example from my own life... apply it to Chan's description and then see where that leaves me. For me, one of the obvious sins that I, for whatever reason, seem unwilling to let go, is my propensity for "entertainment news"... or what my husband refers to as "that garbage." I'm honestly not sure where I picked up the habit. But, I do remember growing up with my mom watching those salacious entertainment "news" shows. I didn't watch them at the time, but I remember them being on in the house. Then, as I got older, it was all the "harmless" teen-movie star magazines..."Who's Dating Who" or "Who Got Arrested." But, I have to say, compared to now, there wasn't nearly as much of the latter when I was a teenager. Now, as I'm older, it's about the tabloid magazines at the supermarket or the countless "entertainment" websites that give you "Up to the Minute" information about what the rich and famous are doing...Twitter anyone?
So, what does Scripture say about gossip? Or maybe we should start with understanding the definition of gossip: Gossip is sharing private information with those that are not part of the problem or part of the solution. Scripture says a lot about gossip, but for the purposes of today's blog, I want to focus on one in particular: Even to participate in the act of gossip as a listener is sin (Proverbs 20:19). By willfully listening (or reading) to the one who gossips, you sanction the destruction of the other person's reputation. So, picking up one of the countless tabloid magazines at the hair salon... not a good idea. Flipping through one of them while you're waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store... also not the best idea. And as I sit here, I can honestly say, that despite my affinity for "entertainment news," I don't do either of those things... because I would never want anyone to see me reading that garbage. HOWEVER... what I do at my house, behind closed doors is another thing completely.
Now, I readily admit, on the "Scale of Sin," it's pretty minor. The fact that I love to watch Entertainment Tonight or read about which celebrities were at what movie premiere the night before (or read about the train wreck that some of these younger celebrities have made of their lives) seems a little ridiculous. It's not like I'm doing something "bad," right?
Wrong. We've already seen in Scripture that this type of thing isn't okay. But, it's more than that. For me, there's a fool-proof way of knowing that I'm doing something I shouldn't... If I wouldn't do it in front of my children, then it's most likely something that I shouldn't be doing. I would NEVER let my children watch, or read this stuff. The fact that I'm older, wiser, more "experienced" with life, makes it no less tragic when it come to the power it has to corrupt my mind. But, DESPITE recognizing this fact and admitting its truth, I still do it. Why? I think Chan's right. I don't want to be saved from my sin. I just want to be saved from its penalty. Think about a teenager that gets caught breaking curfew. Imagine his joy when he finds out that his "Dad" decided to forgive him for his bad choice, and more importantly, didn't ground him. That's a pretty sweet deal that I would have gladly taken when I was a teenager... a personal "GET OUT OF JAIL FREE" card. But, does it really deter you from not breaking curfew again, or does it have the reverse effect? Does it make you more likely to do it again, because you know that you will be forgiven? THINK ABOUT THAT!
Now, the whole key to this is what Chan says at the very end: Lukewarm people don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one. If anything that I've written today rings true for you... just substituting your sin for mine... then this should feel like a slap in the face. To say that we don't believe Jesus is to say that we think He's a liar! Over the past few months, my husband and I have had some really great conversations about this, which can ALWAYS be boiled down to one important question: If we honestly believe that Jesus is who He says He is, then why aren't we doing everything in our power to follow Him? That's the real question... and it's incredibly powerful.
So, what do you do? Well, I can only speak from my own experience. In our house, we eliminate our weaknesses to the best of our abilities. We haven't had cable for seven years... and no, we don't have a dish either. And, PLEASE, know that I'm not advocating that you have to eliminate these things from your life in order to follow Jesus!!!! A few years ago, a woman in my small group called me a "legalist" because we didn't watch TV. I very rudely told her that I wasn't and that she should mind her own business... but what I SHOULD have said is that the television was a weakness that was interfering with my relationship with God and my relationship with my family. And because we didn't have the fortitude to just turn it off, we eliminated it
from the picture. Out of sight, out of mind. And wouldn't you know it, we haven't missed it in the past seven years.
Yesterday, our youth pastor gave a really great sermon. He and his wife are at the exact same place that my husband and I find ourselves. We're ready to make some big changes in our lives... wanting to follow Jesus, to trust Him completely. In his sermon, he said that we have to make hard decisions... and this is one of the hardest. We all do things we know we shouldn't. We are called to repent and turn our back on sin... not repent and keep sinning... ignorantly believing that God's forgiveness saves us from "penalty."
Spend some time today, examining how you currently live your life. Do you knowingly, repeatedly, engage in activities that do not bring glory to God. The list is exhaustive with examples: gossip, hold hatred and resentment in your heart, watch or read things you shouldn't, treat your spouse or children with disrespect, covet things you do not have, allow jealousy and envy to make you bitter. These are only a few examples. Really think about your life, your heart. Then spend some time in prayer, asking God to work in you... in such a way that you want to let go of these things because you TRULY realize that the life He offers is SO MUCH GREATER than the life we currently live!