Tuesday, June 09, 2009

0 The Danger of a Christless Existence

Part I of William Gurnall's The Christian in Complete Armor serves as introductory material, wherein the Christian is directed to the imperative from verse 10 of Ephesians 6, "Be strong in the strength of the Lord and in the power of His might". This is Paul's introduction of the great analogy of the Christian's armor, and leaves us waiting to see how it is we are to be strong - how it is we are to ensure that we are able to stand firm. Gurnall then continues in part II of this, his magnum opus, to describe the armor and give motives for pursuing the aquisition of it all. He begins with an analysis of verse 11 of Ephesians 6, wherein the command is given "put on the whole armor of God, that you may stand against the wiles of the devil." The implication here, clearly, is that apart from having that armor of God, we stand defenseless, and will undoubtedly fall. Gurnall has already directed us to the need for the strength of the Lord, and our inability to do battle with the enemy apart from the power of His might; here he launches into a very long discussion (encompassing the bulk of the rest of the book) of that armor which we so desperately need.

Among the first points he makes in this section is that we truly do stand defenseless against the enemy if we are not in Christ. It is a woeful state indeed of nakedness before the enemy's advances. We should no more be pleased to stand on our own before the temptations of sin and attacks of the devil than an Army commander should be willing to stand out in his boxer shorts on an open field with no armor or weaponry when facing a dozen tanks rumbling his way. Gurnall makes several points to this end. To be without Christ, he writes,
"is a state of alienation from God... such an one hath no more to do with any covenant promise, than he that lives at Rome hath to do with the charter of London, which is the birthright of its own denizens, not of strangers. He is without God in the world; he can claim no more protection from God than an out-lawed subject from his prince." (p. 46, The Christian in Complete Armor)
We somehow like to think that God protects all - especially when we hear things like His care of the sparrow, etc... not realizing that that protection of the tiny bird is offered as comfort for God's people (and not of people in general). If one is outside Christ, there is NO hope of protection for him... and as Gurnall says later,
"The Christless state is a state of ignorance, and such must needs be naked and unarmed. He that cannot see his enemy, how can he ward off the blow he sends?" (p. 46, The Christian in Complete Armor)
Those who aren't in Christ - i.e those who are "of the world" are lost not only because they have no defenses, but because they don't even know their danger. When one is saved by the grace of God, it is often said that their eyes are opened - he was blind, but now can see. This is an extremely useful analogy... for when one cannot see the danger he is in, there is NO way he'll be seeking solutions or salvation from that danger! Why don't those outside Christ clamor after Him, given that He is the way, truth and life? Because those outside Christ don't know their need, and indeed will not know it unless they have been regenerated by God's Spirit. THEN, knowing their danger, they flock to Him without fail.

It should not be surprising, this being true, that the world runs headlong into sin and is easily subjected to Satan's temptations and "wiles". With no ability to preceive their danger, people readily seek to satisfy their innermost desires - and the temptation of that Turkish Delight is too strong, especially when no danger is perceived. Satan has his way with the world because the world can't think of anything better than what he offers. How hard is it for a strong military commander to subdue an unarmed and undefended people? We should not wonder at this, nor wonder at the depths of sin into which our world goes. The filth that passes for entertainment on television and in film should be no surprise.

We also should not be surprised that Satan hates the gospel so much - for it provides the armor of God, and the only defense that the enemy cannot defeat. We should not be surprised that the Word of God is universally hated by those who are perishing. We shouldn't find it a shock that the expressions of Christian faith are suppressed and that we're often simply told to "shut up". The servants of the enemy (i.e. all those outside of Christ, whether they are "in" or "out" of the church) will act to serve HIS ends - the suppression of the gospel - one way or another. We see this now in particular, and will moreso, in the violent opposition given to speech that condemns things like homosexuality and abortion. These great sins of our time will be defended by those who practice them AND by those who have other sin that they'd prefer remained hidden... the sinner desires that ALL sin be kept in the dark, so that the light not shine on their own pet sins. Gurnall writes (350+ years ago, remember):

"Nay, it is come to such a pass, that the Word is so heavy a charge to the squeamish stomachs of many professors, that it comes up again presently, an abundance of choler with it, against the preacher, especially if it fall foul of the sins and errors of the times, the very naming of which is enough to offend, though the nation be sinking under its weight. What reproaches are the faithful ministers of the gospel laden withal!" (p. 49, The Christian in Complete Armor)

When pastors take on the sins of the day, whether it be the aforementioned horrors, or the sin of selfishness, consumerism and materialism that have plunged our nation and world into economic distress, they will be opposed, and opposed with whatever force is necessary to shut them up. The enemy hates the truth, and the light that clearly illuminates sin, and expends much effort to keep the light of the gospel from drawing people out of darkness and into salvation. Thanks be to God that the enemy never succeeds in keeping God's people from Him.

Gurnall's work simply drips with wisdom - and is rich and worthy of long pondering. He speaks so clearly to the errors and dangers of his time, and of ours - pick up a copy if you've not got one. It's well worth the effort to read, re-read and think about as you consider your own walk with Christ in this world of sin.



In Principio ... Deus Copyright © 2011 - |- Template created by O Pregador - |- Powered by Blogger Templates