Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Is Chocolate a Sin? Part One

The door to the local Christian bookstore was pushed open with such violence and drama that some of the books near the door tumbled to the floor. The creases in her forehead, the frightened rabbit look in her eyes telegraphed a message that this lady was in some trouble. She moved straight-way to the counter taking long strides and shallow breaths. The clerk behind the counter was trying to get a read of what was going on in life of this tormented soul. Had she suffered a the loss of a loved one or a house to fire? Had she received horrifying news from her doctor? Had she been in an accident? The expression on this poor woman’s face seemed to indicate that all these things had happened... and more. Perhaps she was a modern female version of poor Job. The clerk remained calm but took a quick glance at the phone and mentally practiced dialing to 9-1-1.

“May I help you find something?” asked the clerk. The lady spoke with the same breathless urgency with which she had pushed open the door.
“Yes, I hope so. You’ve got to help me. You’ve go to get me something... a book, yes, a book or a tape to get me through this.
“Get you through what ma’am?”
“Get me through the next forty days! Today is the first day of lent and I’ve given up chocolate and I’m going crazy.!”

Now this is a slight embellishment of a true story and when I heard it I laughed to think that someone could get so worked up over chocolate.

Let me set your minds at ease, chocolate is not a sin. Not usually anyway. If you were to put chocolate before your love for God then yes it would be a sin as would be anything we put before God. But in this little story it was not the giving up of chocolate that was difficult, it is change. Change is difficult.

The word the Bible uses for change is ‘repentance’. Repentance means ‘a turning from sin and self’. Repentance is the negative side of conversion. In conversion we turn in faith TO Christ but we cannot turn TO Christ unless we also turn AWAY FROM sin and self. This happens the first time when God regenerates us but for the believer, it must continue happening as we are sanctified, changed or transformed into the image of Christ. Repentance carries the action of ‘turning around and going the other way’.

This article attempts to address the things that hinder us from turning around, from changing.

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:16-22

This is a familiar story, it’s a sad story and it’s a puzzling story.

The Bible summarizes our hindrances to repentance into three categories and we see all three of these categories coming into play in this short story of the rich young man. Our three enemies to repentance are - the world, the flesh and the devil.

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