I often joke and make feeble attempts at being funny in my blog posts (yesterday’s post is a good example…). And although it makes it more fun for me to write when I am keeping the mood light, not every topic lends itself to such an attitude. Today’s post could very well be taken lightly, especially when you consider the fact that it is based partly on a passage of Scripture which people (actually, just me…) are calling “the most x-rated passage of Scripture in the entire Bible.” But when you begin to read the language that God uses, over and over, in His Word to describe how He feels about this, you lose all feelings of humor and lightness, and instead trade it for feelings of sadness, disgust, and butterflies in your stomach.
The title of today’s lesson from The Power of the Gospel is Saved from the World, and it begins by looking at a well-known passage in Acts 2. Here, Peter has been preaching to the Jews, revealing to them that Jesus is the Christ, and telling them to repent. But that isn’t all he does – it then says:
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” (v. 40)
Even though we don’t know exactly what Peter said, we know that his general message was “save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” What is this corruption Peter is speaking of? We talked about the term corruption in an earlier post, and we said that it refers to a decaying process, something that occurs over time, that very slowly leads to destruction. Theologists have a term for the corruption that is in the world – depravity. Peter calls people who are corrupted by the world “slaves of depravity” (2 Peter 2:19), adding that “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”
God’s View of this Corruption
The second quarter of the Gospel, which we’ve been studying for a few days now, reveals that we are not just saved from sin, but that we are also saved from the corruption of this world. In order for this to become a reality in our lives, we must first have a revelation from God, showing us what this corruption truly is, and then repent (we’ll talk about what this looks like in the section below, titled The Gospel’s Answer). The first of these – the revelation – is something discussed at length in many different passages of Scripture. I will point out that many of these passages are hard to swallow (especially the Ezekiel one…).
It’s important to understand that when we talk about the corruption of the world, and the depravity of man, that there are 2 distinct people groups we must take into consideration. One is the unsaved or unregenerate person – one who has yet to be revealed the Gospel of Christ. These people are corrupted by the world, but it is to be expected. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10: “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.” We are told that associating with unbelievers who are still corrupted by the world is inevitable. The other group of people are Christians – or at least, those claiming to be Christians, or that have been revealed the truth of the Gospel. People in this group, Paul says, are to be completely shunned: “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.” (v. 11).
This second group of people are the ones that we must be wary of, and even more importantly, they are the ones we must be sure not to become! The lesson today had a word for the actions of believers who continue to be corrupted by the world: spiritual adulterers. The term is taken from the concept portrayed in Ezekiel 23 – I have linked to the passage instead of copying it here, both because of it’s length and it’s explicit content. But this passage is essential in understanding God’s view of Christians who are still corrupted by the world. He sees them as adulterers – ones who, though they set themselves up as committed to Him, continue to instead wallow in the corruption of the world. Though they may not call it this, they worship the world and it’s ways, and they worship themselves and their own desires. They continue to give in to the Old Self, though the Bible says that it has been crucified. They pick it back up and lug it around on their back, willingly!
Another eye-opening view of these kinds of actions by Christians is in the final words from the passage in 2 Peter 2 – he calls a Christian who gets entangled in worldly corruption again “a dog [returning] to its vomit” (v. 22) A dog returning to its vomit! Have you ever seen a dog eat it’s own vomit? I have…it’s gross. Have you ever seen a dog eat it’s own feces? I have…it’s disgusting. That is how God sees us when we accept Christ’s forgiveness of sin, yet continue to live in the corruption of the world.
The Gospel’s Answer
God is extremely disgusted when we are corrupted by the ways of the world, but the good news is that He’s provided a way out of this – salvation from the corruption of the world. This is the second quarter of the Gospel.
As with any God-directed change in our lives, it must begin with a revelation from Him, and it must be enacted through repentance. These are outlined in the following passages:
- Revelation – Galatians 6:14: ” May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” – once we understand that, because of the Cross of Christ, we have been crucified to the world, and it has been crucified to me, we are ready to act…
- Repentance – 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.” – This renewing of the mind is done through the infiltration of God’s Word into your very being. It’s an active pursuing of the truth in God’s Word, making it a part of who you are.
The entire answer to being saved from the corruption of the world is summed up in 1 Timothy 6:11: “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” We must not just turn away from the corruption, but also turn towards God – pursue Him and His righteousness. It is through this pursual that we are putting on the new self, and this is God’s intention for us, to be regenerated and made new. This is being committed to our first love, and not turning away in spiritual adultery.