|Volume 23 Number 9 September 2021
Christ Cancels Sin
We live in the age that seeks “cancel culture.” It involves a denial of most that has come before, and its proponents will resort to destruction and violence to cancel it. So, monuments to the past are destroyed because they do not fit this culture’s sensibilities. Don’t like the reality of our nation having a Civil War? Tear down statues, not just of the Confederate states, but attack the Lincoln monument as well. Don’t like the Constitution? Then, try to eradicate everything in it. Think Christianity has been the problem with the world? Then, do everything possible to negate it and make it look irrelevant for today’s world. Almost everything that is rooted in the past is targeted. Yet, is removing everything from the past to manufacture a new reality even possible?
The short answer is, “No.” Years ago, Solomon pointed out there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). As an illustration, many have become enamored with socialism and communism. Think that is new? Speak to those who lived under the regimes of Lenin and Stalin in Russia, or those who currently live in China or North Korea. Think you can do it differently? So did those who joined in overthrowing the czars, but the number of government executions and the poverty that became real for their lives was not what they bargained for either. You see, there was the same promise of change with each new Pharaoh, king or Emperor in so many nations that have come and gone. In the end, there are still those who are rich and those who are poor (Matthew 26:11). The joke told still seems to be true. “Remember the golden rule, that those with the gold make the rules.” It seems things like this will not be canceled.
However, many things of the past are not being changed. The cry to use green vehicles and the technology of computing and smartphones, which are fundamental to this culture, come from their past. They just did not appear yesterday. What about all those who are promoting cancel culture? Are their actions and attitudes all untarnished? Hate and violence as tools to advance many causes are as old as humanity. Just ask Abel (Genesis 4:8). Not only this, but what will the next culture that comes along do when it doesn’t like what the cancel culture established? It is a matter of keeping what is convenient and removing whatever is disadvantageous. Again, it has been done, time and again. If one generation can cancel its predecessors’ culture, do not think another will not rise to do that to the cancel culture movement, too.
Cancel culture is based on the principle of getting what one wants or desires for today, without a respect of the past, present or future. This should not surprise us since selfishness is rooted in sin – Satan’s specialty, and Satan is the master of deception. He only cares about our destruction, and he is the ultimate power behind these things –seeking to cancel the good that God provides through Christ.
Real change comes only in Christ, Who makes it possible for us to change from sinfulness to righteousness, from darkness to light, from despair to hope, from pursuing the flesh to seeking the spiritual, from engaging the temporal to embracing the eternal. Christians are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and have the offer of an abundant life (John 10:10). The children of God enjoy life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and eternal life (John 3:16). Only the change that God offers through the blood of Christ, defined in His Word and accountable by us in judgment, is true and lasting change. It lasts while nothing in this life does. It offers freedom from the effects of sin, where there is no pain, sorrow, suffering, tears or anything else sin brings (Revelation 21:4). In Christ, the culture of sin is removed for what is genuine, true and real, which will never be canceled. Jesus Christ offers us everything, while Satan, who has deceived the world (1 John 5:19), promotes sin and offers only eternal condemnation.
The apostle Paul lived under the rule of Nero in the Roman Empire. It was corrupt and degrading. In the Book of Romans, Paul, nevertheless, said to submit to its authority (13:1), because the ultimate authority, God, is in control. He also said to pray for those in authority, for their sake and the sake of the saved (1 Timothy 2:1-4). How did Paul envision canceling the sinful culture of Rome? Through the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. What we need is not a culture that cancels what has come before it for more of the same, wrapped in a different package. We need real change that cancels the effects of sin and offers real life. Live for Jesus. It is in Him real change is possible, now and forever. That is what we really need and should desire. Is Christ making a change in you?
Gary C. Hampton
Herod Agrippa II might have been the subject of tabloid headlines, if such had existed in his day. His constant companion was his sister, Bernice. He spent most of his early years in the imperial household in Rome. Claudius, emperor of Rome, ultimately appointed him king over Chalcis, a small realm on the western slope of the Anti-Lebanon.
Herod’s encounter with Paul came when he and Bernice went to Caesarea to salute the newly appointed governor, Festus. Paul’s challenging lesson on Jesus led him to say, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28). The power of the apostle’s message arose from three important points.
First, Paul appealed to the Bible and known truth. He referenced Moses and the prophets (Acts 26:22-23). He said Agrippa knew about Jesus and His resurrection because everything happened in the open for all to see. He asked, “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe” (Acts 26:25-27).
Second, Paul persuaded men. Herod’s words refer to that persuasion. He similarly sought to persuade the people of Antioch in Pisidia, Corinth and Ephesus (Acts 13:43; 18:4; 19:8). The apostle’s enemies even realized that was his purpose. Demetrius told his fellow silversmiths, “Moreover you see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands” (Acts 19:26).
Third, Paul wanted men to be Christians – not almost but altogether (Acts 26:29). Each must do the will of God, thus showing personal faith (Matthew 7:21; James 2:17). Self must be put to death and life must be lived for Christ (Galatians 2:20). We need to imitate Paul in these areas so lost men and women today can be persuaded to become Christians.