For the longest time, there was a moisturizer company whose tagline was ‘Love the skin you’re in.’ It was a good tagline. It is succinct, punchy, and memorable enough that it occasionally shows up on crossword puzzles as a clue. Notable as the tagline may have been, it was never meant to be deemed as instruction for the people of God, but for some, it has become their refrain.
While the ungodly are encouraging the masses to love the skin they’re in, Jude instructs us to hate even the garment defiled by the flesh. As I’ve said often enough, when individuals and the Bible take contrarian positions, I will believe the Bible every time, without fail, no matter who the individuals happen to be.
Perhaps it’s because we’ve downplayed the danger sin poses for decades that even those who warm a pew every week are reticent to part ways with it. If no one tells you that a cobra will kill you with one bite, you may be tempted to treat it as a pet. What’s worse, if they insist that it’s harmless and inoffensive and everyone they know handles the serpents without any adverse effects, you may be tempted to try your hand at it, too. You have never touched a snake before, and everyone says it feels different. What could be the harm? Everyone else brags about being amateur snake handlers, and they’re still around. Live a little; you deserve it.
Unlike those who care not a whit for your spiritual well-being, Jude contextualizes the danger sin poses and insists that not only aren’t you supposed to love the skin you’re in if you haven’t been born again, but have such an aversion to sin itself that you hate the garments defiled by it.
The other day, it was brisk here in Wisconsin. We’d had some scorchers for a few days, then one morning, the temperatures dipped into the fifties. Since my girls will use any opportunity to eat something sweet, they concluded it was the perfect weather to make a fire, toast some marshmallows, and make s’mores.
I suggested watermelon since I wouldn’t have to make a fire for that, but as is usually the case where I’m outnumbered three to one, my idea got the axe. I dutifully went to the local supermarket and grabbed some marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate. I made a fire, and the girls had their fill of s’mores. Then, once the fire died down, my youngest sniffed herself and said, “I stink. I smell like smoke. I’m going to go take a shower and change.”
There are a couple of lessons worth remembering from that seemingly innocuous event. First, you must be honest enough with yourself to acknowledge when you stink. If you can smell yourself, be sure others can smell you, too. Second, once you recognize that you stink, it must be off-putting enough that you’re willing to do something about it. It’s not sufficient to say, “I’m a sinner.” You must hate the sin you’re in enough to want to make a change, repent, turn away from it, and never revisit it again. Third, once you’ve washed and made yourself clean, don’t put on the stinky clothes again. New birth, new life, new garments.
Some people try to put on new garments before they’ve washed themselves clean, and that doesn’t work. Others stink to high heaven but pretend as though they don’t, and that doesn’t work either. Others still don’t mind their reek and insist that no one around them should mind it either. Rather, they should be deemed brave for being so filthy that the dirt is caked on in layers.
The individuals Jude is referring to, when he instructs us to save some with fear, pulling them out of the fire, are those who’ve been the way they are for so long they are unaware of their wretchedness. Some people have been filthy and stinky for so long that they are unaware of the odor they emanate. It is toward ones such as these that we must show compassion and offer them the soap, the water, and the clean garments. Whether they follow through and wash themselves clean is not on you. You can’t force someone into the bath, but you can point them to it and lovingly say, “You stink.”
It would be mean and unloving to state the obvious and go about your day without offering the individuals the means and opportunity to remedy their situation. It’s not unloving, however, to make someone aware of their sin and then provide them a way they can be free of it. Even in our hyper-sensitive age, where everyone is offended by everything, that should be deemed appropriate. The reason it’s not is because the enemy wants those in darkness to remain blind to the darkness they are in. He wants those in the fire to go on believing that it will never burn them, and when supposed Bible scholars strengthen the hand of the wicked by echoing this sentiment, they must be called out on it.
No matter how syrupy a voice, inoffensive a demeanor, or how big the smile is, they’re still telling people headed to hell that they aren’t and demonizing anyone who would say otherwise.
One surefire indicator that someone isn’t preaching the whole counsel of God is that they are popular with those in darkness. We’ve all woken up in the middle of the night and turned on a light. What was your first reaction? I know what mine always is. I cringe and shut my eyes because the sudden light offends my sensibilities. I have to wait until my eyes adjust to the brightness before I’m comfortable in the light, and it happens every time.
Why do those who live in darkness not cringe away from some who claim to be bearers of light? That’s a question worth pondering. It will tell you all you need to know about the current state of the church.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.
Posted on 6 September 2023 | 11:04 am
Page processed in 0.038 seconds.