It is often said that to be a “black and white” person is not a good thing, and those of us who are need to learn to be more “nuanced” in our outlook on life. I certainly agree with the intent of most who offer that analysis. Their purpose is to address opinionated “know it alls” like Yours Truly, who are convinced we are always right and, therefore, “don’t confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up.”
However, truth doesn’t come in shades of gray; it always comes in black and white. Christians believe the only source of eternal truth is God Himself, on full display in the life of Jesus Christ. The record of what Jesus said and did in the Bible is that truth. It is the standard by which all else in life is judged, and it is black and white! It is what we do with that truth in our lives—our application of it—that changes the way we live.
We have at least three options as we live our lives each day. 1.) The approach to truth that has in the ascendency in the culture today is the postmodern approach. It tells us there is no universal, absolute truth. Jesus was an ancient religious leader and the Bible is just another religious book. Therefore, every man has his own truth, and what is true for you is your “ truth.” For example, If you were born male but you believe you are really a female in your heart, then the truth for you is that you are female, and everyone must accommodate your pursuit of that truth because it is legitimately “your truth.” Thus, there can be no such thing as “sin,” because there is no black and white, right or wrong.
The second option is a popular approach to daily life among Christians. 2.) There is absolute truth, and it is defined in the Bible, and we are responsible to conform to that standard as closely as possible. God wants me to give my life to the task of sanctification (growing more and more holy), for “You must be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). My daily spiritual disciplines (like reading the Bible, praying, obeying, etc.), are designed to accomplish that task—the more I do the disciplines, the more I climb the holiness ladder to becoming “holy as God is holy.”
The third option naturally follows the second. 3.) After giving #2 my best shot and realizing I am an abject failure at living this Christian life, I give up, say “To hell with this,” and jump into the life-style of the world, maybe even option #1.
If you are even an occasional reader of this blog, you know exactly what I am going to say next, and I am very aware of that fact. As a friend of mine used to say, “I always talk about the same thing and just change the title.” As Paul says to the Corinthians, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Here’s why I am a one-trick pony:
Paul says he determined that his message to the Corintians would be only one thing: not just Jesus—a wonderful, exemplary model for how they should live—but Jesus hanging on a cross for our sins. He never wants us to forget that message, take it for granted, or “go on to deeper things.” There are no deeper things; we never go “deeper than” the cross, only “deeper into” the cross. Communion, taken every time the church meets, is a reminder of this cross and what happened there (2 Peter:1:9).
Living by faith in this message of the cross is not a once-for-all experience, occurring at salvation, but it is a dramatic new way to live each day, i.e., “living by faith.”
This way is counterintuitive to fallen mankind. It is no longer living, as we all do coming out of the womb, by the fruit of the “Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil,” (trying to make “good decisions,” and not bad ones, trying to obey God’s law, trying to be good and not bad, etc.). It is now living by trusting our Father to lead us with His still, quiet voice inside—leading us, believe it or not, by our “want-tos!” Yes, God’s will for you, right now, is what you want to do!
Do you believe that? If not, you are not believing what our Father has told you as His little child, His “black and white” truth. Living in His kingdom by faith demands, Jesus says, becoming “like a little child,” with His hand in Daddy’s, knowing and believing “Daddy’s got it.” I have to worry about nothing—neither what I will eat or wear, where I will sleep or travel, nor how I will protect myself or pay my taxes! Daddy’s got it. I can just trust him!
This is exactly what He told me in His inviolate Word. He told me clearly, “For it is God who is producing in you both the desire (the “want to!”) and the ability to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13). When I am trusting Daddy like a little child, walking with my hand in His, His great love for me makes me want to do what He wants me to do.
That desire is now in my heart, growing more consistent as time goes by. It is no longer a black and white law in the Bible that I must keep. “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit (Who is now leading me by changing my want-to’s!) and not in the oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6). I am dead to that holy, righteous, wonderful, perfect law of God that I can never keep and now I just trust my Daddy to lead me.
This obviously is not an instantaneous process. It is an unfamiliar, counterintuitive way to live. We are no longer living in any way by what’s “good and not bad.” We are no longer trying to keep that perfect, black and white law of God that is the standard by which all of life is measured, and which is impossible for us to ever keep! Instead, we are learning to live by faith in the cross where God told us, clearly, “I got it,” and He did, permanently—”It is finished!”
We are not yet mature. Some of our desires are not yet conformed to His, but He is not impatient, irritated, disappointed or displeased with us in any way. We are right on the maturity schedule He has for us. We are His little children, and when He sees our daily, persistent sin, He chuckles, and says. “I’ll have to take care of that.” He says. “I got it. Just trust me.”