Trying to Improve the Old Man
Today the focus is on improvement, not repentance. The old self is gradually reformed through a series of purpose driven lessons that teach them to cope with the sin and learn to live within its limits. The main reason behind this logic is that man was born with an inherited corrupted nature and has no choice but to gratify his evil desires in whatever he does. Therefore doing wrong things is part of his nature, not a free and independent choice.
Working from this fallacy has rendered real repentance null and void. It has become easier to minister to the people's needs than preach come out of your sins! It's a natural human tendency to feel empathy toward the suffering and show your compassion by trying to do something about it. Some do more than others, of course. And some even dedicate their whole lives to the cause, like missionaries in depressed areas of the world. They give up the comforts of life, forsake everything, leave family and friends behind and go. Some even die in the field; get murdered by very people they are going to help. But they are compelled by a force stronger than there will to survive. They go and pour out their lives in likeness of Matt. 25, and others look on in amazement, anxious to hear their fascinating stories of the perils faced.
Because man is NOT born with any corrupted nature inherited from Adam, he has an inherent compassion toward his fellow creatures when he sees them suffering (this is not to say, of course, that some people go reprobate as Rom. 1 describes, and are given up to their vile passions and forfeit this natural tendency toward good.) Most of us however have experienced this at one time or another. We see hungry kids, homeless people, drunks in the gutter and our hearts go out to them. I've known vile sinners, who want nothing to do with Jesus, extend this compassion to the down and out. Many instances can be cited to prove this, think of all the movie actors and rich people who go into poverty stricken areas of the world, using their own money and set up shelters, hospitals, food banks, etc.. Does God have anything to do with it?
That the people respond to this kindness is no guarantee it's done with God's approval either. Are the poor and barely clothed going to turn down anything given them? Deny the food, medicine, shelter, Bibles, and tracts, will they listen to what you have to say? They would respond if Buddha came to their village and told them he was God! They have NOTHING! Their own countries show them little kindness, everyone is trying to exploit them! You come along talking about Jesus, telling them God is love, offering your help -who among them would turn it down?
But NO ONE is coming out of their sins! Nor is anyone being lead by the Spirit of truth AWAY from error into more truth, but only DEEPER into error. WHY? Because the primary concern it NOT repentance (forsaking or stopping the sin) but rather ministering to their needs and showing them compassion. It is less difficult and much more popular (and successful!) to comfort them, then cut them to the heart with a sharp message of repentance and warning about their vile behavior. Why make them suffer more than they already have? If they can believe in your God out of gratitude for you showing them compassion, that's enough for you to say your mission was successful and souls were won.
Does it work? That's the quandary. To a degree it appears to have some measure of success, especially when compared against the standards of today. (But a far cry from the standards of the Bible!) But no one wants to think that their efforts are in vain or without purpose in eternity. If you've given everything to go and sacrificeg the better part of your life to the work, it HAS to be of God. So it HAS to succeed. The program must show real world results, you expect it, and your supporters demand it.
How far can compassion extend toward redemption? Certainly short of saving the soul, according to the Bible, that requires specifically a repentance PROVEN by DEEDS and faith working by love! But self improvement is not impossible. With the right support groups, proper counseling and a healthy change of environment, people can come out of drugs, alcohol, sexual addictions and all kinds of improper behavior. Couple this with the physiological effect of the "God is love" message and the warm and fuzzy nature of human compassion, and you can most certainly count on some people winning the battle with addiction.
But in most cases, if you look closely, they have merely traded one addiction for another. The new one may not be as vile or socially unacceptable, but it meets some deep felt need inside them, perhaps to be wanted or loved for the first time in their lives and have a friendly place to go and feel respected.
It has nothing to do with contending earnestly for the faith, keeping pure of sin, digging deep for the truth so not to be deceived. At best it's an improved version of the old life, a program, that if they remain dedicated to it, will indeed give them some sense of fulfillment that God is working and all is well. In appearance then, WHO could be critical of such things? Surly it's commendable for people to show compassion to others, so it has to be of God. (Since man can do nothing good of himself! At least that's what everyone teaches and believes the Bible says.)
BUT in the Bible repentance (proven by deeds!) is the primary concern everywhere, and is preached first and foremost by the prophets and apostles, PRECEDING any ministry of the people's needs, and shown as the ONLY method by which man can approach God. YET the people today who take the Gospel into the world predominantly minister to needs and ignore repentance. Instead, they universally preach a message of confess and receive Jesus by persuading the people God loves them and if they repeat the magic words they will be saved! (Which most of them are anxious to do to please their benefactors and receive more help.) Thus the stories can be told of huge numbers of people receiving Jesus and rejoicing in God. Along with relating the trials and tribulations of traveling in the mission field.
Now add the reports of the miraculous things happening in these places, the signs and the wonders. Are the people seeing what they WANT to see? Or is it something genuine and of God? We can only compare these things with what is revealed to us in the Bible, if what we are seeing is NOT in agreement with scripture (or how Scripture testifies the Holy Spirit will manifest Himself) we have to question its source.
All we have is what the Bible reveals to us, this is NOT Hocus Pocus! What does JESUS say first and foremost the Holy Spirit will DO when He comes? (John 16:8-15)
CONVICT the world of SIN, Righteousness and Judgment! And GUIDE you into ALL TRUTH!
Notice it does not say:
- Convict the world God loves them
- Ask them to confess their sinfulness
- Guide them to receive Jesus
- And tell them to trust He has forgiven their sins
The conclusion then is absolute, not a matter of opinion (yours or mine) not some warm and fuzzy feeling I get and am all choked up with emotion because God loves me so much! If the people are NOT convicted of SIN, their desperate need to DO what is RIGHT and the awful aspect of the Judgment to come if they refuse, the Holy Spirit is NOT present!
It doesn't matter what you THINK you see, how much you FEEL His presence or how emotional everyone gets if some sign or wonder happened. WHERE is the repenting, the crying out to God for mercy, the people seeking to clear themselves of wrong doing? Where is the zeal, the diligence to DO what is right and the testimony of heart purity? THIS is the pattern shown throughout the book of Acts, the method used to bring people from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God!
Why does everyone think it can be done in another fashion and God approves? Honestly, DOES ANYONE CARE? Or is an improved version of the old life good enough to make a difference? Emotion is a powerful force. If you can move the heart, man can accomplish great things. That's why real repentance is directed to the heart. But so is deception, it plays on the same emotions and can motivate people to give their lives for what they believe in. If you really believe that God will bring a person into the Kingdom in their sins and that repentance is merely confessing (rather than the stopping of sins) your sinfulness, you will defend what you are doing, being of God, to the death if necessary.
And NOTHING I could say or the Bible shows can change your mind. In fact to challenge your work would be equivalent to blaspheme in your book! It has God's personal endorsement and He has validated it with strong witness. But HOW does it weigh against His word?