Lamar on Life

From a Christian living in a Gulf country. The Middle East, Arabic, understanding Muslims, outreach to Muslims are to be addressed. In addition, thoughts, reflections, and book reviews will be posted.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The fifth proposition was, “It is easier for a Christian to sin than to do righteousness.”

From the previous discussion of question 4, doesn’t it just seem that it IS easier to give in to the temptation than to resist it? And doesn’t that mean that it is indeed easier to sin than to continue to resist? There is a saying that “Opportunity only knocks once, but temptation bangs on the door constantly.” Temptation can just wear you down. Christ sweated drops of blood resisting temptation and obeyed “even to death on the cross.” Surely, THIS proposition is true. It seems sin is easier. Or is it?

What then does it mean that Christ said, “Come to me all you are weary and burdened down, and I will give you rest”? And, “My commandments are not grievous”? And, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”? And, “The way of the transgressors is hard”?

We looked at I Cor. 10:13 before. Let’s look at the chapter again. Paul spent the first part of chapter 10 telling what happened to the children of Israel as they sinned in the wilderness. Vipers attacked, bodies got scattered across the desert, the angel of death visited. Then verse 11 says, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us...” Then Paul warns about how prevalent and common temptations are. “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” And vs. 14, “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.”

Paul warns about falling. Which is easier, standing or falling? He also says to flee idolatry. Which is easier, fleeing or staying? Well, to fall takes no effort at all and neither does staying where you are. If our definition of “easy” is to expend no effort against the inertia of life or gravitational forces, then I guess it is easier for a Christian to sin. And if it is easier to not flee and just hang around while an enemy dismembers you, then I guess it is easier for a Christian to sin rather than flee. However, if “easy” means avoiding trouble and unnecessary hardship, then I have to say that it is NOT easier to sin. Jesus also warned us that to commit sin makes us a slave to sin. For example, it may be easier for alcoholics to take a drink, but it inevitably brings them into difficulty. Though it is easy to fall into slavery, living life as a slave is not easy.

Peter Lord’s argument against this proposition centers around our identity as Christians. He asks rhetorically whether it is hard for a horse to be a horse or a bird to be a bird. Instead, isn’t it difficult for a horse to live like a bird or a bird to live like a horse? We are a new creation, created for a specific kind of life too. “We are His workmanship, created for good works in Christ.” As a bird is created to be a bird, we are created for righteous works. But a bird has to believe he is a bird, and we have to believe we are new creations.

Say there are two brothers. One of them believes that their beloved mother has died, and the other does not. Even if the mother is in fact alive, that brings no joy to the one who believes that she has died. We can expect him to live according to what he believes to be true. Or, if there are two soldiers who are supposed to carry their 70 lb packs over a mountain. One is told by the sergeant that he can’t do it, and the other is told that he can. If each of them believes the sergeant, how will their journeys differ? What we believe about life profoundly affects how we approach life’s challenges. And in this life, how much of the gospel we believe determines how much of our salvation we receive.

Jesus himself, in the garden of Gethsemene, saw two paths ahead. One went through the shame of the cross and ended in joy and honor. (Heb. 12:2) The other would have bypassed the cross, and ended … where? When you consider the glorious end of our path as part of the path, then we can join with Paul in downplaying our “momentary and light afflictions.”

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