This last week, I had the opportunity to be the vespers speaker at church camp for our elementary school students. We covered the greatest commandment, the great commission, baptism, teaching obedience to God as the highest form of love we can show Him, and lastly, the need to meet together. It's made me wonder why these things are not talked about in church a lot more. I'll be honest with you, this morning, I'm writing this with a heavy heart. I see many of my youth students, many of them Church Camp Alumni, writing about their new religions. Sure, they say they love God, but really, that isn't demonstrated in their writing, or their posts about their lifestyles. You see, just as in ancient Israel, we often try to set up idols in the most holy places, and according to 1 Corinthians, and elsewhere in Scripture, we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, chosen to bear God's name, and He will not let His name be treated as common.
How often do we try to have Jesus and our own way? How often do we think God will understand in my case? How often do we skip Sunday Worship, but will drive hours to go play in the mud, or work extra to buy luxuries, or to go and see someone in a relationship, but we put Worship on the backburner, thinking "God will understand"? We make little of God's grace, and even take advantage of it. We violate God's word, and justify our actions before Him, because we fool ourselves in to believing that God wants us to be happy. We keep going for that forbidden fruit, and do not dream the consequences of God's fulfilled Word will ever happen to us...because we make so little of God's grace.
Make no mistake: God's grace covers a multitude of sins, but it does NOT give us permission to continue in them. God's grace is meant to draw us to repentance, and this Himself, and He never gives us leave to do what is right in our own eyes. Jesus died to make us Holy, but we need to seek to live lives that are Holy (set apart) to God. Anything else is putting lipstick on a pig: we're dressing up what is dirty, and calling it clean. What shall we do, then? James has an answer: "Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." (James 1:23)
Romans 6:1-14 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.