SHAKE THE GATES OF HELL
By Marsha West
May 19, 2006
Or do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanders nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by the Spirit of our God. --1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NIV
The woman who cuts my hair is a Christian. Recently twenty-three year old Beth (not her real name) moved in with Bill, her boyfriend of 8 months. Because Bill gave her a promise ring Beth decided it was OK for them to live in sin. Beth’s mom is also a Christian. When Mom found out the couple was planning to live together her main concern was that Beth might become pregnant. Beth’s two sisters have children out of wedlock and this understandably distresses Mom. However, her Christian daughter living in sin apparently does not trouble her.
Bill claims he’s a Christian. Bill and Beth don’t go to church together because he has a hang up about church that he doesn’t like to talk about. Beth doesn’t want to probe too deeply so she attends church with her mother. I asked what would happen if he doesn’t get over his hang up. She replied, “He’d better!” I also asked what her pastor would say if he knew she was living with a man without the benefit of marriage. She looked surprised and said with conviction, “Nothing!” Nothing? I pressed on. “He doesn’t have a problem with people living in sin?” I could tell by her expression that a pastor getting involved in someone’s personal life was a new concept for Beth. “If he doesn’t like it I’ll change churches,” she stated matter-of-factly.
In other words, Beth would shop around for a liberal pastor who accepts behavior that is explicitly forbidden in Scripture. I decided to pass on the Apostle Paul’s instructions to church leaders on how to handle believers that indulge in fornication. They must be counseled to abstain from fornication forthwith, repent of their sin, and separate. If a couple refuses to do any of the above, pastors are to exercise church discipline. Simply put, they are to expel the immoral brother and sister. Beth was shocked, but not speechless. She claimed she had never heard of a church doing something so “ridiculous.” I assured her it was done all the time. Not in her church though. “There are other couples living together that go to my church,” she huffed. “My pastor knows about them and they haven’t been asked to leave.”
It seems Beth has already found a liberal pastor who has taken a stand against God in support of sin and tolerance. Since I had made my point I decided to leave it at that and pray for the Holy Spirit to convict Beth and Bill of their sin.
Those who read the Bible are aware that sin is a major topic of discussion. In the Old Testament it seems that God was perpetually ticked off about all the sin going on. In fact, He dealt rather harshly with those who sinned. We all know the story of David and Bathsheba and what happened when they sinned against the Lord. Because of their adultery, “The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. On the seventh day the child died” (2 Samuel 12:15-18).
God’s judgment was that David’s child should die. Yes, David confessed his sin and repented and God forgave him. Still, he was made to suffer the consequences of his sin. In the New Testament we have the story of Ananias and Sapphira. The complete story is in Acts 5:1. In a nutshell, the husband and wife team lied to God and to God’s people. God’s punishment was swift. He struck them dead on the spot for their hypocrisy. You might say that God was a little displeased with their blatant lying. God is holy. Hence He cannot ignore or tolerate sin.
There are an abundance of scriptures that talk about sin. Here are a few:
The verse that got my attention is Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities have separated you from God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Sin separates us from God. We can petition God until the cows come home; but He may not be listening to our prayers. By that I mean, He hears our words but doesn’t act on them. The Bible says He sometimes looks the other way. No one can stand in God’s holy presence unless his or her sin is removed.
With all the willful sin going on in the Church body, one can’t help but wonder if God has indeed hidden His face from a multitude of believers. Sin is our enemy and not to be taken lightly. When we knowingly transgress, we are to sincerely repent then make every effort not to become repeat offenders.
Today when a pastor gets up and preaches on sin (or hell) it rankles the folks who showed up to hear a positive uplifting message. For them, hearing the S word is offensive. Sin is not in their vocabulary. Wrongdoer has replaced sinner. No matter how badly wrongdoers behave they want to be assured that God loves them. They mustn’t be told that God will severely punish bad behavior. The image of God they prefer is of a father that shakes a finger at a disobedient child and says, “That is not OK Johnny.”
What happens when the minister’s message doesn’t meet someone’s “felt needs”? Disgruntled consumers will go looking for a church where the Christian’s self-esteem is of primary importance. In these user friendly churches, feel good messages take precedence over teaching doctrine. (Ever heard of Robert Schuller?) Having a positive self-image is nice and all, but what followers of Jesus Christ need to realize is that sin ignored breeds even more sin, until we eventually become slaves to sin. As Brent Riggs puts it, “Sin is the essence of everything bad, wrong, ruined, spoiled, messed up and broken in your life. Therefore, you should be educated about it.”
Riggs is right. Christians should be educated about it. That’s why straightforward preaching on the subject of sin is imperative from the pulpit. John Wesley said, “Give me nothing but one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth.”
Christians must become people who fear nothing but sin. Starting today, let’s shake the gates of hell!
© 2006 Marsha West - All Rights Reserved
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Marsha West is the Founder and Editor of the E-Mail Brigade News Report, an online news report for conservative people of faith. Marsha is a freelance writer specializing in Christian worldview. She is a regular contributor to NewsWithViews.com, Alainsnewsletter.com, CapitolHillCoffeeHouse.com, plus her commentaries appear in MichNews.com and bibleteacher.org.
is also designer and webmaster of a Christian apologetics website, On
Solid Rock Resources. She is currently writing a series of children's
books for homeschoolers. Marsha and her husband reside in historic Jacksonville
The verse that got my attention is Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities have separated you from God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”