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Man gave up. He gave up in the Garden and he has given up ever since.
God was simple and straightforward with Adam. Take care of Eden. Eat of every tree. But stay away from the one called the “knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). Call it a test. When confronted with the Creator’s rule, would he obey? He would not. His obedience lasted less than a chapter (Genesis 3:6). To trust and obey was too limiting, so he thought. And Adam’s offspring has done the same through the centuries. Man, the rebel. Righteousness too hard. He has given up and gone his own way ever since.
In his “Abolition of Man,” C.S. Lewis observed, “For the wise men of old, the cardinal problem of human life was how to conform the soul to objective reality, and the solution was wisdom, self-discipline, and virtue. For the modern, the cardinal problem is how to conform reality to the wishes of man, and the solution is a technique.”
The objective reality of God’s Word is too stifling and inhibiting for man to swallow. Man’s solution has been a string of techniques. The 20th century was full of them. The veracity of Scripture was attacked. It was a version of Satan’s “Did God actually say…?” (Genesis 3:1) Darwinian nonsense gained steam. It was a way to deny the Creator. Marxism gained traction. It was a way to replace God with statism.
But God has no problem exposing lies. So, man needs to tell new ones all the time. The 21st century’s tactic is to change the meaning of words. How do you conform reality to the wishes of man? Simple. Change the definition. Marriage, defined by God, was the union between one man and one woman. Not anymore, says man. Two dudes, two babes, satisfy the definition. Gender once was male and female. Men were to act like men. Women were to act like women. That’s too stifling and inhibiting says man. So, let’s make it fluid. Change your gender. Change your pronouns. Do you.
Fallen man has given up. Fighting sin and temptation is too exhausting. So, just change the calculus. Then you do not have to obey God. In fact, you get to be your own. And that is the ultimate of all “give ups.”
The solution to the wordsmithing of the day, of course, is bowing the knee to the only Sovereign. And it continues from there by following God’s law. When his law is pursued, freedom is the result. When our will is pursued, bondage in inevitable. And that occurs whether you change the definitions or not. Look around. See man’s chains. They clink and clank when he walks.
But do we have a few iron links around our neck, too? That is, have we given in? Sadly, we have. We grow weary of the struggle. Whatever it is. There are the ones considered big: drugs, alcohol, porn, etc. And there are the ones considered small: lying, cheating, lusting, etc. What makes them small? It’s another tactic. We call our offense small when we’ve given in to it. It makes us feel better thinking we have given in to a petty sin rather to an egregious one. But there is no such thing as petty sin.
Conform your soul to the greatest of realities—Jesus is Lord. Fight the fight. Fight the sin. As one cigar-smoking statesman said years ago, “Never, never, never, give up.”
Pastor Rich Hamlin
August 11, 2022