Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Clarity and Sin

Devotion: Jonah 1:1-3

In Matthew 23 Jesus gives a series of woes (statements of warning) to religious leaders of his time. In the last of these statements, Jesus says"
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation." -Matthew 23:29-36 ESV
Jesus was confronting the idea that somehow we are better than those who came before us. The myth of progress - that humanity is getting better over time - is an idea foreign to the Scripture. We can claim the myth of progress for ourselves in a number of ways. Jesus confronted the idea that we are somehow more faithful and reverent than our forefathers. Jesus himself, the Son of the Living God, the Messiah/Christ, the Savior of the World, God's Word made flesh, would die at the instigation of these men he addressed, showing that humanity had made no progress in the area of righteousness. Indeed, as Isaiah said, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6a KJV).
Another fallacy of our wishful thinking regarding our own righteousness is the fallacy of clarity. It can be put like this: "If only God was clear, speaking in a clear voice His will for my life, I would obey him." This can be reduced to simply believing there is a God (the logical fallacy of requiring overwhelming evidence rather than dealing with the evidence that is available, especially divine revelation). Unfortunately the idea that God is now hidden and if only He made himself and His will obvious it would lead to an outpouring of faith. Keep in mind here that God spoke to Israel from the smoke on top of Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:16-25, 20:1-21). The people clearly heard God speak to them and articulate His will for them as His people. Yet, in Exodus 32 we find the people abandoning shortly thereafter the clear revelation of God when they construct an idol. Clarity of revelation (the presence and will of God) does not lead us, necessarily, to faith and righteousness. This idea is precisely where the story of Jonah begins.
"Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 'Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.' But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. " -Jonah 1:1-3 ESV
Jonah received a clear word from the Lord to go to Nineveh. Nineveh at the time of Jonah was the capitol city of the dreaded Assyrian Empire. God sends Jonah to Nineveh because of the great evil of the city. He is told to call out against it--to give clear warning that because of their evil deeds that the judgment of the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, will befall them. The text does not really explain until chapter 4 why Jonah decides to abandon the clear call of God (sneak preview: Jonah is sure that the Lord would be merciful if the city repents and he wants the city to be destroyed instead). What is clear, however, is that despite the clarity of God's call, Jonah heads in the opposite direction.
Nineveh is a land-locked city and so boarding a ship is a non-starter. Tarshish, according to the majority view of scholars, was located in modern Spain and may have referred either to a region or a specific city. Jonah heads to Tarshish in clear violation of God's call and will for his life. When we do the opposite of God's will we sin, that is, we actively rebel against our Creator in rejecting His will for our lives
No amount of clarity from the Lord or anyone else is enough to overcome the problem of sin. Sin is not the result of an information problem. Sin is not the result of fallacies (progress or clarity or any other). Sin is the result of a heart that is set on the human will in contrast to the will of God. So long as we battle God's will for our lives, sin will be with us. So long as we decide to go our own way, sin will be with us. So long as we deny God's call and head any other direction, sin will be with us.
We may believe that clarity or progress can defeat sin at some point, but the clear truth of Scripture is that only God through the saving work of Jesus Christ can defeat sin in our lives. We come into the victory of Jesus over sin through trust in Him as Lord and Savior, Our King, Our Great High Priest, Our Prophet, the One Mediator between man and God. If we want clarity for God's will for our lives it is to be found in Jesus. For only in Jesus is our sin unmasked and defeated.

News for You:

  • March 11th is potluck Sunday with the theme of green. Last names A-M are asked to bring a salad or a side dish and those beginning N-Z can bring a dessert. For bonus points, make it GREEN.
  • CPC member Marian McClanahan recently published a book about her life, titled “Vignettes of an Ordinary Life.” If you wish to support Marian and her book, you can find it on Amazon!
  • Maundy Thursday, March 29th, at 7pm will be a service of scripture, prayer, and the Lord’s Supper.
  • Community Good Friday Service will be on March 30th at 7pm at CPC!
  • Sonrise Service will be at the Omak Memorial Cemetery on April 1st at 6:30am.

No comments:

Post a Comment