Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | July 5, 2022

Cultural Bond, James Bond

“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…ungodly persons who turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 4

Licentious is not a word that’s used often (if ever) anymore. But it is a stellar word, full of accurate meaning in today’s culture. So, how can it be defined? Simply put, it is to be lawless, impious, given to unrestrained sin and gross immorality. It’s an arrogance to do what you please, when you please, even though it may offend others—and offend God. An easy way to remember it is to think of those awesome James Bond movies through the decades. (This makes me wonder, who is your favorite Bond?) Anyway, James Bond has the moniker of 007—he has a “license to kill”…and this is similar to how we can think of licentiousness: It is a license to sin.

Back when Jude (and Jesus, Peter, Luke, Paul, and John) were talking about false teachers/teaching coming into the Church, there was a spiritual movement called Gnosticism that was permeating culture and infiltrating the young Christian movement. Basically, Gnosticism was a combination of Jewish, pagan, and some Christian beliefs, all muddled together with one primary teaching: Your spiritual life is all that matters; flesh is meaningless, so you can do whatever you want with your body—it doesn’t affect your “holiness” in any way. In other words, the good Gnostic would say, “I can do whatever I want with my body!”

Hmm. Sounds remotely familiar.

The first-century Church (and every century since) has been called to influence the culture of that day. To spread the Good News of the gospel and the transformative power of  God’s grace through Jesus Christ. And the Church, despite the Gnostics and the pagan cultures around at that time, was turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6)!

Today’s culture, if you haven’t noticed, is shameless. Activities that not so long ago were hidden and done in secret when no one was looking—generally known to be “bad” or “unacceptable” or even “sinful”—are now done in the light. They’ve been normalized. And beyond that, they have also become celebrated. Most recently (and most disturbing), many of these activities are becoming engrained into our legal systems, mandated. Whether or not it conflicts with religious/moral beliefs, they must be accepted, affirmed, and celebrated. And if you don’t, you are a hater, bigot, etc., and you very well might get kicked out of school or go to jail. (There are many examples to the above, but there is no need to list them.)

The issue for believers today is not just what is happening in the culture, the degradation and licentiousness—and the resulting reaping of what’s been sown for the past decades. While that’s important to acknowledge, it’s more vital to recognize that the culture is influencing and infiltrating the Church more than the Church is influencing the culture. And this is a huge problem.

A recent Barna survey (released May 2022) is terrifying. Across denominations and pastoral roles in the American Christian church, just 37% of pastors hold a Biblical worldview. In other words, little more than one-third of church pastors believe and behave in alignment with God’s Word. Despite the warnings given us in the Bible—from Jesus and His disciples and the epistle writers—licentiousness has crept in. And it’s taken over.

So, friend, be on guard in your church and with those pastors/teachers you listen to. Know God’s Word for yourself, so you can test what you’re hearing. If you don’t know the Truth, your ears will get itchy (2 Timothy 4:3) and you’ll be easy prey for the wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). When the world around us embraces a license to sin, we need to stand firm on the Truth and be ready to defend our faith. And when that licentiousness results in pain, depression, and despair for those partaking in it, let’s be at the ready to give a reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15).

“Lord, Your Truth will stand amid the false teaching and cultural darkness—help me to stand firm on it.”

For His Glory

Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life

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