John 16:7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. NIV
“…the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 NIV
2 Timothy 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. [ESV]
Oh Lord, save us from ourselves and heal us! We have met the enemy…and he is us!a The changes of culture have affected, and sometimes infected, our minds. The infection is so subtle we no longer are able to recognize unacceptable behavior is actually sin.
- “Lovers of self” cover their selfishness behind a guise of self esteem.
- “Lovers of money” are no longer greedy. They’re considered to be economically savvy if they find ways to scheme for “more.”
- “Proud, arrogant, abusive or disobedient” are no longer unacceptable and unhealthy behaviors. They’ve become an acceptable form of personal expression.
- “Ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit” are excused as the byproduct of bad life circumstances rather than the loss of personal integrity.
These bullet points are shocking symptoms in these “times of difficulty.” We’re in a pandemic of immorality and the infection is getting worse. Our minds have been infected but we’re still not sure we’re sick. We are not immune. Even believers can become “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” We have met the enemy…and he is us!a Oh Lord, save us from ourselves and heal us!
aCartoonist Walt Kelly’s 20th century parody for his character Pogo of an 1812 naval commander’s quote
Ephesians 2:3-5 NIV All of us also lived among them [our transgressions and sins] at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
I’m fascinated with the uniqueness of the Greek language to distinguish subtleties of words and meanings. In this scripture there is one word [hamartia] translated “sin” and another [paraptoma] the NIV translates as “transgressions.” What makes it interesting is not the way we might differentiate between those two words but how the Greeks did. These are my edited notes from William Barlclay’s study of Ephesians.
•Hamartia (Greek #266) is a shooting word that means to miss the target completely.
•Paraptoma (Greek #3900)…means taking the wrong road when we knew enough to take the right one.
Sin is a loaded word even for those of us who believe we are sinners saved by grace. The Greek definitions don’t impact the reality of the scripture but they do influence my courage to recognize and confess the truth of it.
What if I read this Scripture as:
I have also lived with missing the target completely and choosing the wrong road at one time, gratifying the cravings of flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like so many, I was by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for me, God, who is rich in mercy, made me alive with Christ when he saw the road I’d chosen was going nowhere—it is by grace I have been saved.