Their comfort with sin also intrigued me, causing me to wonder whether or not I could make moral compromises and still enjoy fellowship with the Lord. When I tried doing so, however, the Holy Spirit showed His faithfulness by making me miserable. Even the most theologically empty praise song would flood me with an awareness that the Lord hated my behavior. I knew I'd dug a gulf between myself and Him.
4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? ~~James 4:4-5 (ESV)Why, then, didn't my chat room "friends" struggle with conviction? Why could they rationalize their sin until it no longer conflicted with their profession of faith? Their accommodation of sin fascinated me, even after the Lord settled it in my heart that He would not tolerate that sort of behavior from me.
In the years since then, I've learned that many people claim to be Bible-believing, Spirit-filled Christians, but have never truly experienced salvation. As a result, they feel equally comfortable in church or in activities that even militant atheists know dishonor the Lord.
Yesterday I demonstrated that morality, in and of itself, attacks the Gospel by offering a way to earn God's acceptance. Salvation through morality nullifies the need for Christ's atoning work on the cross by implying that we can achieve God's approval. But an abandonment of obedience to the Lord's moral standards, especially by people who identify themselves as evangelical Christians, also blasphemes the Gospel by trivializing sin.
Sin nailed our precious Lord Jesus to the cross, causing Him to suffer the full wrath of God that rightly belongs to you and me. God took sin so seriously that He sent His only Son to suffer its penalty for those who would believe in Him. That grace, however, changes its recipients, giving us a desire to live in accordance with His character.
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~~Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)His purpose in redeeming us goes far deeper than granting us entrance to heaven. Ultimately, the Lord desires a people for Himself, who share in His holiness. Those who reduce His grace into license to live self-indulgent lives ignore the serious nature of sin and completely miss the purpose of grace. In essence, they trash the very Bible they claim to believe.