A Voice in the
Re: Pretext for Evil?
"..as free, yet not using liberty as a pretext for evil, but as bondservants of God." (1Pt2:16)
There's a story my dad would tell from the pulpit once in awhile when I was a youngster (don't know if it was true, or not...): a certain young man attending seminary as a 'baby' Christian, just freshly learning the concepts of the natural vs spiritual natures (1Co2) and how when we wish to do good, that our old nature leads us to sin (Rom7)... This person was caught speeding, pulled over, and ticketed. Standing before the judge, the person explained to the judge that it wasn't really 'him' who had done the speeding, but his "old man" (Rom6:6, Eph4:22, Col3:9). So, the judge, having a bit of wisdom in these things said, "This court finds your old man guilty, and fines him $xx.xx."
As Christians are we not set "free from the law"? (Rom8:2) Are we not exhorted to "stand firm" in the "liberty" by which Christ has "made us free"? (Ga5:1) As 'citizens' of Heaven (Php3:20) are we not free from all other laws? Did not Paul proclaim, "I am free from all men" (1co9:19)?
The opening passage begins with Peter saying, "Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man because of the Lord..." (vs13) To rulers, officers, judges... those in authority. Why? It is God's will. Why? "..that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.." (vs15)
Remember when the artisans of the statues to Artemis (Diana) complained against Paul, and got an uproar going, what was the defense the town's clerk gave? "these men here...are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess." (Ac19:37) When Paul was in chains, heading to Rome after appealing to Caesar, the Roman officials said amongst themselves, "This man is doing nothing deserving of death or bonds" (Ac26:31)
Because of Paul's habit being a law-abiding citizen of Rome, even though he was in chains, he was given liberties other prisoners didn't have. (Ac28:16) When the soldiers would have killed all the prisoners, the centurion saved them IN ORDER TO save Paul. (Ac27:43) The unbelieving Jews hated Paul and wanted him dead, but the pagan Romans seemed to respect him...because he was level-headed and law-abiding. He was "all things to all men" (1co9:22)....and as a result he had many open doors to heal the sick (Ac28:9) and to preach the gospel (Ac28:30-31) In other words, as he says, "that I might in any way save some." (1co9:22b)
Paul did not flaunt his "liberties" in Christ and snub it in the noses of everybody. His attitude was, even though meat is meat in the "fullness" of God's "world" (1co10:25-27), if his actions in his liberty might cause another to stumble, he would "..never again eat flesh, so that I not make my brother stumble." (1co8:13)
You see, the concept of our foreign "citizenship" in Heaven might be used by some as a "pretext" to break laws of earthly governments. One's own liberties regarding one's personal life might become a pretext to offend other believers who are weak.
What is a "pretext"? 1) An ostensible or professed purpose; an excuse. 2) An effort or a strategy intended to conceal something.
So, in our present context, what is the pretext? What is the "excuse"? What is being "concealed"?
That which we address regularly. The -HEART-
'Don't really want to face up to one's own wrong-doing in breaking the speed limit, so try to confuse the judge with theological mumbo-jumbo. The issue is, the person was driving "too fast". The 'theological' pretext is a form of -LYING-. I'm not really sorry I was going too fast; just sorry I got caught....now, how can I spin some words and get out of it?
It doesn't matter that a young Christian will be spiritually scarred by my deliberate pagan practices, "meat-is-meat". This particular meat is soooo delicious, and has a lot of romantic-emotional sensuality surrounding it...with its holly, misletoe, pretty lights, romantic fires, chocolate-filled eggs, and pretty new dresses and bonnets.
It is true that it is by God's -grace- "mercies/kindness" that we are not annihilated from off the face of the earth. (La3:22) He is full of "compassion". (Ps145:8)
But there's many who call themselves "christian" who know God's holiness, but live like the world. They say that God is happy with us, we are valuable to Him "just as we are"...we don't need to change. We might be living in the world's filth, dressing like the world, doing the world's lustful activities. They don't care. They intone "graeeesss!"
They "...turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God, even our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ju1:4) And they sing songs like "grace greater than my sin" (BTW, a good song, in its proper context!) But Paul retorts, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Let it not be! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Rom6:1-2)
You see...purposely sinning, whilst intoning "grace" is a "pretext" for a lust-filled willful heart. "Do not be led astray, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." (Ga6:7) God knows each heart, to give "...to each one of you according to your works." (Rev2:23)
"For if we sin willfully after we have received the full true knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour those who oppose... For we know Him who has said, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. And again, The Lord will judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (~Heb10:26-31)
Yes, in Jesus Christ we are "free". But what are we free 'from'? We have been set free from sin. (Rom8:2) We are to no longer live like the world. Our love is for God and His Son, Jesus Christ. As a result we no longer "love the world or the things of the world". When a person uses pretexts, they show their true heart, that the "love of the Father is not in" them (1Jn2:15)
A pretext is not an 'accidental' sin, it is deliberate.
How much deliberate sin does it take to reap God's judgment?
Here is how the psalmist said it: "O let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just. For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds." (Ps7:9)