Effects of Sin: Gospel Opposition

A sinful generation opposes the Gospel.

Sin and Its Effects and Cure (4)

But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” Acts 4.15-17

Not going away
The tragedy of sin is not going away any time soon. Preachers and church leaders who refuse to talk about sin are only allowing more space for it to grow and to wreak its devastating effects in the Church and the world.

Do we need more evidence that sin is still thegreat problem facing the world? Shall we consider more of the effects of unacknowledged and unchecked sin? Not only do many of our contemporaries deny that Christianity has been a source of much good in the world; they’d actually like to see the faith put out of business.

Or at least, confined to a more limited place and role in society.

This has been the case in every generation since the earliest days of the Gospel. There are always those who, blinded by sin and determined to be done with God, work to eradicate or at least control the spread and influence of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

The Roman Empire mounted ten successive waves of persecution against the Church in an effort to stop the spread of the Gospel. Tyrants and oppressive governments have followed suit in every age. Still the faith advances.

Even in the face of the abundant evidence of Christianity’s positive contribution to the world, there will always be those who want it confined or silenced. Otherwise, why the first amendment to the U. S. Constitution?

Hardened against the truth
The religious leaders who tried the apostles Peter and John in Acts 4 did not lack evidence that Christianity is a power for good. Right before them was the lame man who had been healed in the name of Jesus Christ. They admitted to one another that this was a “notable miracle.” Nevertheless, they resolved to stop the spread of the Good News.

The Good News was not good to them because it threatened their place in society and their presumed right to determine how people should act and whom they should serve.

We mentioned that one of the effects of sin is that it attaches to our souls, hardening hearts and minds against God and His truth in order to preserve the soul’s claim to autonomy. People in whom sin continues to hold sway simply do not want God telling them what to think, how to feel, or what they can do. You can parade before them all the reports and records of the abundant good Christianity has brought to the world, and they’ll still be looking for ways to shut you up.

In our day, the freedom to worship and serve Christ has again come under assault. We’re familiar with contemporary efforts to chip away at Christianity’s role in shaping culture and society. This is just the latest phase of a never-ending effort on the part of certain people to silence the Word of God. Christianity has been removed from the public schools of the land – for the beginning of which they provided a significant impetus. The faith is locked out of the corridors of political power – even though Biblical ideas and a Christian consensus helped give shape to the founding documents of our nation. Christians are told where they can and can’t preach, and what they can or can’t say when they do preach. Legislation and court cases are routinely introduced to try to force Christians to act against their convictions and conform to the demands of a secular state.

And in other parts of the world, more violent and extreme measures are taken to silence the followers of Jesus and the message of the Cross.

No time for silence
On every hand we see the evidence that the Gospel opposers of old are still seeking to shut down or fence in the faith of Jesus Christ. The hardened hearts of sinful human beings can be seen in just about every sector of our culture and society, and it will not help the cause of the Gospel to ignore such evidence of the power of sin by remaining silent about this greatest of human tragedies.

This is no time for being silent about sin. But we must not zero in only on the sins of those outside the household of faith. We must always remember that facing-up to and dealing with sin must begin among the members of the Body of Christ.

The Gospel is only Good News when it is seen against the backdrop of sin – how sin blinds us to good, hardens our hearts, and invites us to make up our own rules about right and wrong, truth and good. And how trying to live this way, apart from the grace and truth of God, routinely blows up in our faces.

The proper way to respond to those who oppose the Gospel is by overcoming the sin that lingers within our souls and proclaiming the Good News which alone can break the hold of sin on our world.

For reflection
1.  What evidence do you see that people today would like to eliminate or reduce the influence of Christianity in society?

2.  Only the Gospel can soften hardened hearts. Does this mean we should notuse everyavailable means to shore up our freedom to proclaim and believe the Gospel? Explain.

3.  Why is it important that Christians and their churches be consistent in facing-up to and dealing with sin?

Next steps – Conversations: Do you feel the pressure – anywhere in your life – to keep quiet about your faith? Where? Why? How should you respond? Talk with some Christian friends about these questions.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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