Spiritual Warfare Is Serious Business
“Cheshire Puss,” she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. “Come, it’s pleased so far,” thought Alice, and she went on. “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
—Lewis Caroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland—
There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
—Proverbs 14:12; 16:25—
[B]ecause of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.
—the apostle Paul to the Corinthian Christians in 1 Corinthians 7:2—
Key point: Article 2 and many other elements of the Nashville Statement not only affirm God’s plan for humanity but also expose the stark contrast between God’s way and man’s way. The conflict between these two perspectives constitutes the great cosmic battle of the universe.
You can access summaries of all the articles in this series here.
In several recent posts we have been considering various elements of the Nashville Statement on Biblical Sexuality. This declaration not only seeks to uphold God’s plan; it also exposes just how distant man’s way is from the Creator’s. We see this divergence in many places in the statement, including Article 2.
WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.
WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.
Note the phrases that describe the two opposing sides in this spiritual fight-to-the-finish:
“God’s revealed will” versus individual “affections, desires [and] commitments.”
The Cosmic Battle
The collision of these two ideas represents what Christian leader and educator Del Tackett calls the great cosmic battle. Did you think the cosmic battle was between God and Satan only? Not so. Members of the human race have the opportunity to choose whether they will follow God’s way or their own—and their own prideful way mirrors Satan’s. An individual is on one side or the other; no one can escape or opt out of the cosmic battle.
Note carefully: Not all sexual activity is sinful. As Article 2 states, “God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.” With this in mind, ask yourself this: What else are “affections, desires, and commitments” but “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”? (See 1 John 2:16 in the context of vv. 15-17.)
Affections, desires, and commitments that attempt to justify sexual immorality are what the apostle John calls “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” in 1 John 2:15-17.
The divergence between these two opposing sides brings to mind an overlapping conflict—the one between relativism and absolute truth, We have explored this contest frequently in weeks past.
- Relativism is the idea that everyone can make up and live according to his or her own truth, which, relativism says, is no more or less valid than the “truth” created by anyone else. According to this perspective, truth is subjective; it is inside each person and therefore conforms to individual preferences and whims.
- Contrast that to absolute truth, which has truth as its object. In other words, absolutes are objective, or outside individual preferences, feelings, opinions, and inclinations. Moreover, absolute truth is based on God’s character and will. As such, it involves principles that apply to everyone, everywhere, at all times, and in all circumstances. Absolutes represent “God’s revealed will,” as Article 2 puts it.
God’s Way or My Way
Best-selling author Frank Peretti also is a riveting speaker who actually performs when he talks. His vocal gymnastics are mesmerizing! Peretti exposes the folly of relativism in this minute-and-a-half clip from his classic message, “God’s Way or My Way.”
With what does relativism ultimately leave you? Just feelings!
Mr. Peretti has nailed it! Thankfully, he has the courage to point this out forthrightly and without apology. Do we have the courage to openly agree with him? Read on to find out why we must join Mr. Peretti in his affirmations.
We find relativism promoted everywhere in popular culture. Not only that, but it has been promoted for decades. Consider this pivotal scene from the 1977 blockbuster Star Wars. Because the term Star Wars became the name for the entire series, this movie later was renamed Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope. Keep in mind the Star Wars movies promote Eastern religious ideas as well as the relativistic concept of “getting in touch with one’s feelings.” In this first Star Wars installment, we vividly see the overlap between these in more than one scene. This clip depicts Luke’s lightsaber training abroad the Millennium Falcon.
So, what about “stretching out with one’s feelings”? Frank Peretti warns against this specifically in his presentation.
Going “with the fuzzies” ultimately will exact a high price, but apparently not in Luke Skywalker’s world. Remember that we don’t live in Luke’s world! Moreover, Luke doesn’t even exist!
Even so, despite the obvious stupidity of essentially blindfolding oneself and fighting according to instincts and feelings, Luke not only successfully fought the remote satellite during his training but also dealt a deathblow to the Empire’s Death Star at the end of the movie. Do you remember what happened? Luke ditched his targeting computer to rely on his feelings and “the Force flowing within him.” You can watch the scene here.
Don’t be taken in! If reality had been allowed to play out, this episode in the Star Wars saga would have been named A Dashed Hope rather than A New Hope. It is, after all, science fiction!
Had reality been allowed to play out, this episode in the Star Wars saga would have been named A Dashed Hope rather than A New Hope.
Human feelings are not reliable guides for life! This isn’t what we hear in our culture, though! Follow your feelings! Only you can determine what’s best for you! If it feels right it must be right. These ideas, as compelling as they are, simply are not true!
Despite its gaping flaws, relativism remains popular and widely accepted. We explored numerous reasons why when we began our series on this subject. We do well to revisit that discussion here. The following is a summary. Go here for a more complete presentation.
Why is relativism so attractive?
- First, it appeals to people’s emotions. The notion that everyone can be right in what he or she believes sounds good and noble.
- Second, relativism appeals to people’s imaginations. As a philosophy, it offers people the opportunity to create their own world of “reality.” Here’s the harsh truth, though: Visiting Fantasyland with an intention of exiting is one thing, but relativism invites people to live there. Fantasies can’t survive long-term in the real world.
- Third, social pressure to espouse relativism is extremely intense. This factor has at least two aspects. First, to reject relativism is to reject a belief held by “everyone else.” Who wants to be different from the crowd?
- Fourth, add to the loneliness of being in the minority the difficulty of taking an unpopular stand. Who among us doesn’t want to be viewed as magnanimous? Moreover, the person who says absolute truth exists has taken a position that makes him or her a target of vicious criticism. It’s ironic, though, that the very people who say no one ought to judge will, in a heartbeat, judge advocates of absolute truth!
- Fifth, believing in absolutes not only puts a person at risk for vitriol and strong criticism; it also requires a person to think through his or her position and to defend it intellectually, at least in his or her own mind. Put another way, believing truth to be relative is the “PLR”—the “path of least resistance.”
- Sixth, relativism appeals to human pride. Let’s face it. Anyone making up his or her own truth and following it actually is playing god, even if he or she doesn’t realize it. Either way, it has tremendous appeal!
The Bottom Line
So, Article 2, like just about everything else in the Nashville Statement, places God’s way right beside man’s way and exposes the stark contrast between the two.
Dr. Michael Brown is very much on target in his assessment of the situation. He cites numerous vehement objections to the Nashville Statement from non-Christians; then he says,
The problem [these people are having] is not with the Nashville Statement. It is with the Bible, since the statement only reaffirms what the Bible clearly teaches, namely that: 1) God made humans male and female; 2) marriage, as intended by God, is the lifelong union of a man and a woman; 3) homosexual practice is always sinful in God’s sight; 4) God offers forgiveness for all human beings through the cross of Jesus; and 5) those who struggle with same-sex attraction or gender identity confusion can be welcomed into the Body of Christ like any other struggling individual, as long as they do not celebrate or affirm that which is wrong.
The way of man is deeply flawed. Some weaknesses are so glaring that, as we have seen, they’re easy to point out.
Are we willing to try to point them out? Are we willing to exercise love and compassion as we do? Are we willing to uphold God’s way over man’s?
If we are, we truly will give our neighbors, family members, and friends in this country and in the world a new hope!
Let these words from Frank Peretti inspire you and encourage you as you take your stand.
When you know the Lord—when you know the transcendent, personal, loving God—you’ve got something that you can carry with you and pass on to your children. Something they can be sure of, solid ground that they can walk on. You’ve got something that is true!
Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.