A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The greatest of all values is to have values. If your own personal value system is dominated by the desire to be popular [win elections], then you will derive your "positions" from focus groups and polls.

If this is what drives the preacher, the columnist, or the politician then he is only pretending to have values and seeks to conceal his true value: the desire for power and popularity. Machiavelli once wrote, "It is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them."

Machiavelli argued that because men are evil and seek their own pleasure, the successful ruler must deceive them in order to be successful. Click Although this idea is much deplored by public men, yet they often practice it. Even preachers do it, I am sad to say, forgetting the maxim of Paul, "If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."

There are two contradictory principles operating in the nature of man. On the one hand he loves to be told what he wants to hear, and will punish the bearer of bad tidings. He will go in mobs to hear false prophets speak smooth and enticing words, putting his very soul in jeopardy. He will do the same thing to the false prophets of political or economic theory. Political correctness is no new thing. Jer 23:17 "They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you."

This first principle is the effect of sin in the heart of every man.

The other principle contradicts the first, even though men are not often aware of it as it pertains to themselves. They recognize it in others, but deny it in themselves. This second principle is this: Men, because they are in the image of God, have a longing for integrity and honesty and want to be known as honest men. Thus the proverb, "hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to goodness." Men do not mind being rascals, but they resent people thinking they are rascals.

So man is conflicted. He has the dilemma of seeking his own way while at the same time pretending to be seeking integrity. He seeks ministers and politicians who will tell him what he wants to hear, and he is outraged if he finds he has been lied to.

We forget the example of Christ who refused the kingdoms of the world when offered them by the devil for the price was more that Jesus would pay, the worship of the devil. He would not deny the truth: He is true Son of Man and must worship God alone.

This, of course, led to the Cross. This is the reason that the preaching of the Cross is so offensive to men. They may glory in silver and gold crosses and even crosses made of old rugged wood, but the message of the cross is highly offensive. "Christ died for our sins," implies that I am a sinner, and that is a message I do not wish to hear. I will go down the road to another preacher who will tell me that I am a jolly good fellow, with great potential. I do not mind making great sacrifices, and even give my body to be burned, as long as I can affirm myself while doing it.

That's why there is a difference between professing to be a Christian and being one. I may pick a few things out of the Christian message that is flattering to me, profess these things with great gusto and gain the reputation of being a great one in the church, even become a martyr for "truth." Such are found everywhere. The other is less attractive, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me," is the way Jesus put it. It means accepting the message of the Cross, not just wearing one around your neck. It means confessing the pollution of your nature and your natural hatred of the truth, in order to see the truth. As Luther said, "Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Cross, cross," and there is no cross!" Click

"This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." [1 John 1:5,6] Jesus put it in these words: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." [John 3:19-21]

So man, because of these contradictory principles, is at war with himself. To confess the truth in reality is to die to himself, but in order to affirm himself he must deny the truth. This is the reason that Jesus said, "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. [John 12:25] I cannot affirm myself and the truth at the same time for I am a sinner by nature alienated from God.

But this is too tough for public consumption. Men affirm themselves and continue to lie. They affirm themselves and continue to listen to liars. This is the reason that Jesus died on the Cross, to save wretched sinners like you and me. It is through death that men live. Galatians 2:20: "Ga 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

This is the truth, but you and I must die to see it.
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