“You shall have a place outside the camp and you shall go out to it; and you shall have a stick with your weapons; and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it, and turn back and cover up your excrement. Because the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to save you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, that he may not see anything indecent among you, and turn away from you.” Deut. 23:12-14 RSV
I doubt you have ever heard or read a message on this Scripture! Nevertheless, it holds an important message for us. Sin no longer has dominion over us. Praise God for that fact.
The above Scripture deals with cleanliness in times of war. When Israel went to war, God was with them to defeat their enemies on their behalf, but He also required a “clean” camp. They couldn’t wallow in their filth - even though they were a picture of the people of God - and expected God to work for them.
Today, whether Christians realize it or not, they are at war against sin. It rages all around us on personal, family, organizational, and national levels. Many Christians wage war on evils like abortion, homosexuality, violence, etc. Many times we are not as successful [if we are successful at all] as we could be because there is filth or sin in the camp.
We are abhorred with sin in the world and the destruction it wreaks on lives, but often we are complacent about sin in our own lives. We don’t really want to stand out, we don’t want to be radical. We want to fit in with our “Christian” peer group. So, whatever sins are “acceptable” within that group we also accept. We want to be average and as long as we are not worse than our Christian peers we are satisfied.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: That is no way to win a war against sin. We must be in active war against sin in our lives - allowing no compromise - before we can be truly effective in fighting sin anywhere else.
We will stand against adultery, cheating, lying, and obvious sins. Sometimes we will even fight more covert sins such as unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, etc. However, are we willing to fight every thought that comes against the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Are we willing to lay down our theories and treasured beliefs if they are shown to be contrary to the Word of God or will we twist the Word of God to line up with what we have chosen to believe?
For example, the Bible [and we begin studying this in Christian Social Theory] gives details on how families, churches, businesses, civil governments, etc. are to be run. It tells us what economic policies are acceptable. It tells us what a just war is. It defines how education is to operate. It lays down the pattern for all areas of life. If Jesus is Lord then He is Lord of all - not just the so-called spiritual area of life. I would suspect that most Western Christians have no clue as to what a truly Christian society would be like - and many, because of humanistic influence, would reject it if they knew. For example, our current society is based on theft and envy and most people want it that way!
It is so important that we accept the Bible as the Word of God designed to reveal how every area of life should operate and be willing to act on it. We can no longer afford to be babies without diapers leaving messes everywhere. As we actively wage war against sin in our own lives [not living under condemnation but with repentance and forgiveness] we will be empowered to wage war against sin in other areas as well.
Many Christians are praying for a revival in our nations. The Christian foundations of our nations have been under an increasingly effective attack for several hundred years. We are living near the climax of this particular war against sin. Humanism has effectively limited Christianity as far as its effect in society and culture at large. What we need is not a revival, but a resurrection. We need God to breathe life into our dead bones and so bring resurrection and a Holy Spirit driven army committed to upholding and living the entire Word of God. Then we will see a change in our nations.
In the 1970’s in Asia a 17 year-old girl was shot to death for refusing to spit on a Bible. She honoured even the physical Word above her life. How often do we in the West spit on the Word of God by refusing to recognize it for what it is: The way of salvation - yes - but also the absolute requirements of the Holy God. How often to we spit on it by compromising it with so-called science, ignoring it when it conflicts with politically correct views, downplaying it when it would change our lifestyles, or abusing it to satisfy our carnal lust for sensationalism? Going to church on Sundays and being nice is not enough - it never was - we must be 100% sold out to God.
As usually, when I write like this, I am writing more to myself than anyone else. I need to examine my own life. I need to renew my commitment to the unchanging Word of God. I need to be more serious and active in war against sin in my own life. I speak to myself, if it is also a challenge [not a condemnation] to you then that is a bonus.