Whatever Happened To The “S” Word Dennis M. Golphin

It seems that after only a little over 2,000 years of rich church history, we have buried the hatchet on many doctrinal differences deemed heresies by the early church for the sake of unity and peace. Most of the carnal truths of scripture are deemed as unimportant for the “Big” picture of global evangelization. However, doctrinal differences and not doctrinal clarity are what define the diversity in the Christian community. We have grouped ourselves into classes and types of Christians that carry the torch of the light of truth.So I ask resoundingly, who then can properly interpret scripture and bring truth to light? For well over 1500 years the church had kept the task of biblical exegesis to the elite clergy and historical tradition. But corruption in high places led to questioning if they could be trusted. Then over 600 years ago, the Protestant Reformation cried foul and offered every person the opportunity to read the scriptures for themselves and do their own interpretation. They suggested the bible be printed in the language of the people and let it be the sole interpreter of itself. What a disaster this has been. Countless messiahs and numerous cults later, the problems still have not been resolved. Then a little over 100 years ago, spiritual gifts became the sole interpreter of truth, or should I say, revelational truth.In this entire quest for doctrinal correctness and leadership positioning, we have loss the essence of truth for the correctness of truth. Somewhere in this cloud of truth we forgot the call to holiness. Whatever happened to the sermons on sin? Is not character as important or more than gifting? And what of the call of God to get His people to maintain a standard, along with, magnifying our talents?To be quite honest, we act as if the mystery of sin has been resolved. However, scripture diagnoses “sin” as a widespread distortion of human nature, found at the core in every person in every generation. In essence, missing the mark God established for us to aim at, transgressing God’s law, disobeying God’s directives, offending God’s purity by defiling oneself, and incurring guilt before God the Judge. All of this describes and unregenerate person, but lately this description is rapid in the church.Sin actually stands revealed as energy of irrational, negative, and rebellious reaction to God’s call and command, a spirit of combating with God in order to play God. The root of sin is pride and hostility against God, the source detected in Adam’s first transgression. Man’s sinful acts always have behind them thoughts, motives, and desire that in some way or another express the stubborn resistance of the fallen heart to God’s claim on our lives. Sin may be comprehensively defined as a lack of conformity to the law of God in act, habit, attitude, outlook, disposition, motivation, and mode of existence.The term “original sin”, meaning sin derived from our origin, is not a biblical phrase; it was first coined by Augustine. It is one though that brings into fruitful focus the reality of sin in our spiritual system. The declaration of original sin doesn’t mean that sin belongs to human nature as God made it, nor that sin is involved in the processes of reproduction and birth, but that sinfulness marks everyone from birth, and is there in the form of a motivationally twisted heart, prior to any actual sins that are committed. In other words, by nature, we are born already knowing how to do wrong; we have to be taught to do right. Doing right is a lifelong mission. We don’t just do right long enough to get saved and return to our old ways.

I guess the problem is that when we ease up on holiness while we glorify personalities, no one is held accountable or responsible any longer. The danger of church life today is that the emphasis on moral standards has been replaced for moral shining. As long as one can perform and contribute, don’t worry about the vessel that dishonors. The sin issue is not only the task of evangelism to resolve to get converts saved, but instructing disciples to remain close to the truth in their conduct and discipline.

The scriptures put a lot of emphasis on holy living and giving. We have placed too much attention lately on the giving part and enough on the living. There is a growing cancer in the church to focus on the glory of this life and ignore the qualifications of eternal life. What happened to the “S” word? It has been replaced with “smile” be happy, God loves you; He understands you really want to do right, just thank Him for who you are. John Wesley just may have been on to something with his emphasis on “sanctification”. There must be an accountability of character along with faithfulness. We must return to the standards of holiness in order to please God.

The cry then is “repentance”. I believe the church universal must repent of failing the standards of holiness while we are spreading the truth of righteousness. Oh, I know, we have broadened the gospel almost worldwide. But while we have lavished our brand of salvation, we have made attractive the package without really making clear the contents. We have so marketed Christianity and not evangelized disciples until it has become one gigantic fad.

I believe there is so much of the “S” word in the church today that the echo from Rev 18:1-4 is chilling as we draw closer to the end of the age. A return to sincere prayer, true worship, and strong commitment are the order of the day. The problem is how do we address this without sounding judgmental? We must begin to relate to people from where we were and not from where we are. “I once was lost in sin, but Jesus took me in” says the song. We have to replace “sensuality” with “spirituality”.

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