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Friday, January 23, 2009

Do we limit God?

Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27
I was awake early this morning and heard someone talking on a morning show about the great battle they had with a certain mental condition and how God had helped them to overcome it. But a few weeks ago I read an article by someone else discussing the same condition and more or less excusing their difficulty because it was a recognized syndrome.

It made me begin thinking of how sometimes modern science has fostered in us a predisposition to limit God. Many things that were once regarded as sin are now being excused as “illnesses”. And thus many evil habits are removed from the “sin” category. Other things that we once recognized as an imposition of Satan are now simply “mental illnesses” and again removed from God’s purview.

I’m thinking right now of alcoholism and nicotine addiction. During my lifetime, I’ve known many people who, before they were saved, were alcoholics and many were smokers. When they gave their lives to God, they were wisely counseled that these things were a part of the sinful life that needed to be laid aside. Believing the Lord and following the advice of His ministry, they laid their cigarettes on the altar or walked away from the alcohol and never considered going back. They hated their sinful life and everything connected with it. Their faith was in God and His Power to change men’s lives and they never questioned either their need to abandon the things of the flesh or God’s Power to give them victory.

Two incidents I can recount personally. The man who stood as my paternal grandfather used to testify as often as he had opportunity of how the Lord had saved him from “drink” and how he walked away and never looked back. Another was a dear friend who smoked for many years before she was saved. She was saved in a different time, when smoking was considered a disease, an addiction. She was counseled that they were not good for her, but not so much that they were sin as they were her responsibility to wean herself away from. Her struggle lasted for months. It wasn’t until she came to the place of recognizing them as sin and as such something that she needed to stop doing or lose her salvation that she was able hate the habit enough to grasp the power of God and simply lay them aside. She testified many times of how she had never had another desire for a cigarette once she gave them their rightful title of Sin and stopped looking at them as an addiction or a social disease. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. I John 3:8

That brings me back to my original thought: society is prompting the people of God to excuse many sinful habits and practices as ‘diseases” and ‘syndromes’ rather than the sin they are. Alcohol, nicotine, drugs, and others are all being viewed illnesses (for lack of a better word) and as such not the fault of the individual sinner.

As we go from day to day, we need to speak out to all men of God’s power to deal with all manner of sins, especially those that have become more socially acceptable by being relegated to the area of illnesses. We must present a testimony to the saving power of Jesus Christ by recognizing sin as sin and proclaiming the victory over it that He has for His People.

Many mental illnesses- schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, sexual addiction, pornography and many others- are now being perceived not as the imposition of Satan but simply as something to be treated medically and with counseling. And that may be well and good for the unsaved world but for those who know Christ there is victory from another source. At one time these conditions were overcome by men of God rebuking Satan and demanding that he release his power over the sufferer and free him. Today the wild man from the Gadarenes would have been seen as a victim of epilepsy or a chemical imbalance and been left to suffer. Jesus saw him and his condition for what it was and rebuked the Legion of devils. The next day the man was clothed and in his right mind, sitting at Jesus feet.

Let’s not be so easily influenced by the findings of medical science. Great things have been accomplished through research and medicine and I will not discount it, but God’s people have been granted that they may be partakers of the Lord’s Table. We have access to the richness and the greatness of God and through it we can have victory if we will only put out our hands and grasp it.

The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south. Psalm 126: 3-4

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