A funny thing happened on my way to writing a devotional post. I ran into a political speech! And what connections could those two things possibly have? The answer comes from one of my seminary professors. If Dr. Elmer Towns said it once he said it 1,000 times: All truth is God’s truth. The problem here is finding a political speech with any truth in it! 🙂 And you guessed it; I did exactly that.
Connections: Past & Present
History can be a great teacher. That’s only possible if people take the time to learn from it. Today’s world faces uncertainty on many levels. Terrorism is just one thing that adds to our collective uneasiness. Now, sticking with my title, seeing it is not really a problem. And believe it or not, the connections I want to share will end in a challenging devotional thought.
As I was researching for my series on the Names of God, I ran across a speech given by Dr. Benjamin Netanyahu. He spoke before the U. S. Congress just after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. The following quote from that speech is insightful and useful on several levels:
We must declare terrorism a crime against humanity, and we must consider the terrorists enemies of mankind, to be given no quarter and no consideration for their purported grievances.
If we begin to distinguish between acts of terror, justifying some and repudiating others based on sympathy with this or that cause, we will lose the moral clarity that is so essential for victory. This clarity is what enabled America and Britain to root out piracy in the nineteenth century. This is how the Allies rooted out Nazism in the twentieth century. They did not look for the root cause of piracy or the root cause of Nazism because they knew that some acts are evil in and of themselves, and do not deserve any consideration or understanding. They did not ask if Hitler was right about the alleged wrong done to Germany at Versailles. That they left to the historians. The leaders of the Western Alliance said something else: Nothing justifies Nazism. Nothing! We must be equally clear cut today: Nothing justifies terrorism. Nothing! ……
The Prime Minister was/is an excellent student of history. Connections are easy if we just open our eyes to see them. Prime Minister Netanyahu could easily see the problem and clearly say what it is. In the world’s political landscape there are too few leaders willing to speak and act with that kind of clarity. But this post is not about politics. And the failure of political leaders is not our biggest problem! Remember Dr. Towns: All truth is God’s truth. There are more connections to make.
Connections: Truth & My Life
What is the spiritual truth in the Prime Minister’s speech? It starts with my post title. He cited times when great problems arose, yet responsible leaders did three things:
- See It
- Say It
- Solve It
To solve a problem, we must say what it is. To name the problem, we must clearly see it. And clearly seeing the problem is the point where we apply God’s truth. What truth?
We are often uncomfortable with God’s version of truth. We prefer our own. Let’s start with a small easy word that is falling out of use: sin. Now, let’s see some examples of what Yahweh calls sin and how we have little fuzzier view:
- God says adultery is sin – We say an affair
- God says a lie is sin – We just told a little white one, it didn’t hurt anyone
- God says gossip is sin – It’s just getting even
This list could easily be very long. That’s the problem. For almost every sin we have another pet name that keeps us from seeing it as God sees it.
Here are two more words: crucify and mortify. And there are definite connections! Mortify has all but fallen out of use. Older translations use it like this:
…mortify the deeds of the body… from Romans 8:13
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth… from Colossians 3:5
Just substitute put to death for the word mortify. And what does it mean to crucify? Sin isn’t something to be renamed. It must be put to death. The verses above were penned by the same Apostle who said he died daily.
Speaking clearly, every believer’s sin debt was paid on the cross by Jesus Christ. What the Apostle Paul speaks of crucifying are the acts of sin we still commit even though we are forgiven. This is why he wrote in Romans that we are to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices. That means we see the need to overcome sin, to call it sin, and submit ourselves to God’s power to overcome the sinful nature that still lives within us.
Borrowing truth from the Prime Minister, we don’t have to look for the root cause of sin because we know it is evil in and of itself, and it does not deserve any consideration or understanding. Sin put God’s only Son on a cross. Sin is the ultimate enemy of Man and must be given no quarter. And we know that no matter our circumstances or alleged grievances, nothing justifies our continued acts of sin. Nothing!
But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY. I Peter 1:15-16
Soli Deo Gloria!