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PREACHING that HINDERS -extracts by A.W. Tozer

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  • PREACHING that HINDERS -extracts by A.W. Tozer

    -extracts by A.W. Tozer

    To any casual observer of the religious scene today, two things will
    at once be evident: one, that there is very little sense of sin among
    the unsaved, and two, that the average professed Christian lives a
    life so worldly and careless that it is difficult to distinguish him from
    the unconverted man. The power that brings conviction to the
    sinner and enables the Christian to overcome in daily living is being
    hindered somewhere. It would be oversimplification to name any
    one thing as the alone cause, for many things stand in the way of
    the full realization of our New Testament privileges. There is one
    class of hindrances, however, which, tends out so conspicuously
    that we are safe in attributing to it a very large part of our trouble...

    Fundamental Christianity in our times is deeply influenced by that
    ancient enemy of righteousness, antinomianism,

    The creed of the antinomian is easily stated:
    "We are saved by faith alone;
    Works have no place in salvation;
    Conduct is works, and is therefore of no importance.
    What we do cannot matter as long as we believe rightly.
    The divorce between creed and conduct is absolute and final.
    The question of sin is settled by the Cross; conduct is outside the
    circle of faith and cannot come between the believer and God."

    Such, in brief, is the teaching of the antinomian, And so fully has it
    permeated the Fundamental element in modern Christianity that it
    is accepted by the religious masses as the very truth of God.

    Antinomianism is the doctrine of grace carried by uncorrected logic
    to the point of absurdity. It takes the teaching of justification by
    faith and twists it into deformity. It plagued the Apostle Paul in the
    early Church and called out some of his most picturesque
    denunciations. When the question is asked, "Shall we continue in
    sin that grace may abound?" he answers no with that terrific
    argument in the sixth chapter of Romans.

    Right after the first World War there broke out an epidemic of
    popular (NEWor NEO) evangelism with the emphasis upon what
    was called the "positive" gospel... They talked about a "big,"
    "lovely" Jesus who had come to help us poor but well-meaning
    sinners to get the victory. Christ was presented as a powerful but
    not too particular Answerer of prayer.

    The message was so presented as to encourage a loaves-and
    fishes attitude toward Christ. That part of the New Testament which
    acts as an incentive toward holy living was carefully edited out. It
    was said to be "negative" and was not tolerated. Thousands sought
    help who had no desire to leave all and follow the Lord. The will of
    God was interpreted as "Come and get it." Christ thus became a
    useful convenience, but His indisputable claim to Lordship Over the
    believer was tacitly canceled out.

    Much of the stream of gospel thought has been fouled, and its
    waters are still muddy. One thing that remains as a dangerous
    hangover is the comfortable habit of blaming everything on the devil.
    No one was supposed to feel any personal guilt; the devil had done
    it, so why blame the sinner for the devil's misdeeds? He became
    the universal scapegoat, to take the blame for every bit of human
    devilry from Adam to the present day. One gathered that we genial
    and lovable sinners are not really bad; we are merely led astray by
    the blandishments of that mischievous old Puck of the heavenly
    places. Our sins are not the expression of our rebellious wills; they
    are only bruises where the devil has been kicking us around. Of
    course sinners can feel no guilt, seeing they are merely the victims
    of another's wickedness.

    Under that kind of teaching there can be no self-condemnation, but
    there can be, and is, plenty of self-pity over the raw deal we
    innocent sinners got at the hand of the devil. Now, no Bible student
    will underestimate the sinister work of Satan, but to make him
    responsible for our sins is to practice deadly deception upon
    ourselves. And the hardest deception to cure is that which is self-imposed.

    Another doctrine which hinders God's work, and one which is heard
    almost everywhere, is that sinners are not lost because they have
    sinned, but because they have not accepted Jesus. "Men are not
    lost because they murder; they are not sent to hell because they
    lie and steal and blaspheme; they are sent to hell because they
    reject a Saviour." This short-sighted preachment is thundered at us
    constantly, and is seldom challenged by the hearers. A parallel
    argument would be hooted down as silly, but apparently no one
    notices it: "That man with a cancer is dying, but it is not the
    cancer that is killing him; it is his failure to accept a cure." Is it not
    plain that the only reason the man would need a cure is that he is
    already marked for death by the cancer? The only reason I need a
    Saviour, in His capacity as Saviour, is that I am already marked for
    hell by the sins I have committed. Refusing to believe in Christ is a
    symptom of deeper evil in the life, of sins unconfessed and wicked
    ways unforsaken. The guilt lies in acts of sin; the proof of that guilt
    is seen in the rejection of the Saviour.

    If anyone should feel like brushing this aside as mere verbal
    sparring, let him first pause: the doctrine that the only damning sin
    is the rejection of Jesus is definitely a contributing cause of our
    present weakness and lack of moral grip. It is nothing but a neat
    theological sophism which has become identified with orthodoxy in
    the mind of the modern Christian and is for that reason very difficult
    to correct. It is, for all its harmless seeming, a most injurious belief,
    for it destroys our sense of responsibility for our moral conduct. It
    robs all sin of its frightfulness and makes evil to consist in a mere
    technicality. And where sin is not cured power cannot flow...

    The vogue of excusing sin, of seeking theological justification for it
    instead of treating it as an affront to God, is having its terrible
    effect among us. Deep searching of heart and a resolute turning
    from evil will go far to bring back power to the Church of Christ.
    Tender, tear-stained preaching on this subject must be heard again
    before revival can come.

    -SOURCE: "Paths to Power" - by A. W. Tozer, Ch 5.​