It has come to my attention that my last review of Mavuno Church’s ongoing series, The Sex Files: Living in an R-Rated World came off to many people as being predominantly [and therefore unfairly] negative. It appeared as if I was out to pick out all the flaws in the sermon and ignore all the positive things communicated [ and even nuanced] in the sermon. So, this blog post will focus on one key component of the second sermon which I found useful and worth expounding upon. If you have read my post on The problem with half truths in Preaching, you will hopefully understand my difficulty in acknowledging as positive, those elements of a message that independently sound true but are not based on an overarching sense of Gospel-centrism.
Now, in the second installment of the series, Pastor K exhorted and encouraged us to counter Satan’s lies with God’s Truth. He said:
How can we avoid this spiritual death? We avoid it in many ways but I would like to take our cue from God’s word.
We can counter the lie by shutting down the lie and sticking to the truth. We must fill ourselves up with the truth at every instance we can. The ultimate truth is God’s Word. At Mavuno we say that God’s word is the true North, the compass which sets the direction for our life and belief.
When we are faced with the lie of the devil then we must confront it with God’s truth.
Jesus modeled this for us when he was faced by the same deceiver and tempted in much the same way. He countered the lie – with God’s word. Every lie and accusation Satan brought He used God’s Word to counter it.
In the same way we must fill ourselves with the truth and shut out any lie we find.
First, the reason why I simply could not take the whole proposition positively is because it finds its basis on a false premise, that we can avoid spiritual death. We are born spiritually dead, so one cannot avoid it. Secondly, since the believer is spiritually alive, this could be a glimpse into another altogether controversial issue of whether or not a believer can lose their salvation – die spiritually again. It is in light of these two concerns that I found the phrase “shutting down the lie and sticking to the truth” as communicating a strange concept of how we ought to use God’s Word.
Now, onto the positive aspect of Pastor K’s exhortation. On the night before he was to be crucified, Jesus himself prayed for his disciples and made several petitions. One of them was, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” [John 17:17]. In this prayer, Jesus was affirming the truth that God’s Word is able to sanctify us. How does this sanctification by God’s Word come about? The following verses provide a deeper insight;
- Joshua 1:8 “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
- Psalm 1:1-2 “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”
- Deuteronomy 17:18-20 Instructions for Israel’s future King, “When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left.
- Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The verses above are just a few scriptures which speak directly on how the rest of the Bible is supposed to help us in our sanctification, including sanctification from sexual sin. So, yes, it is through God’s Word that we are sanctified. But this is not a mystical thing, the Bible clearly says that we are to meditate on God’s truth and remember it. We are to understand and memorize it with the help of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). I guess what threw me off was the illustration that Pastor K used about God’s Word sanctifying us without necessarily being understood or remembered [memorized]. That was simply off. And yes, Pastor K’s last practical point of application was spot on:
What if you chose to fill yourself with God’s truth – His Word, one verse a day, one chapter a day everyday?
I will be considerate enough not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. God’s Truth does beat Satan’s lies and help us in our sanctification. Jesus prayed that it would. May we also believe that it can… and stay faithful to the Truth. Jesus is the Truth. And He continues to use crooked sticks like I and Pastor K.
For the fame of God’s name,