The Sins of Tolerance—A Biblical Worldview
by C. Kevin Thompson
One job. That’s all we’ve ever had.
One rule. How simple is that? Imagine how life would be today if we had just one law to follow…
“Don’t touch that tree,” God said. “That’s it. You can eat anything else from this garden. Just stay away from that tree” (Gen. 2:16-17).
Then, the serpent showed up. He questioned the rule. He challenged the interpretation of the one law. He even painted God as an individual trying to withhold information, even deceive, if that were possible. “He’s trying to keep you from reaching your full potential,” the serpent said. “He knows that if you eat of that tree, you’ll be just like him, and he doesn’t want any competition. Trust me on that one” (Gen. 3:1-5).
And ever since, the pockmark of human existence has stemmed from that one decision man made in the Garden: to disobey the one, simple rule.
In the parlance of Scripture, it’s called sin. More definitively: disobedience. Out of this fountainhead found in Genesis 3 comes multiple tributaries of sinful behavior throughout the Old and New Testaments. Each act questioning God’s real intent. Each deed determining an alternative outcome contrary to God’s Word. “You will not surely die…”
We are told in the Bible that God hates sin. He detests disobedience. It is perverse to Him. We find numerous kinds of disobedience throughout Scripture. Many have been listed, but these aren’t comprehensive lists, mind you.
Because sin grieves God so, just three chapters later, He decided to wipe out mankind from the face of the earth (Gen. 6:5). However, after the flood, God decided never to “curse the ground” again “because of man,” even though every inclination of his heart is evil (Gen. 8:21-22; 9:11). At that moment, everything crystallized, and God’s redemptive plan for humanity has never wavered.
But note this: All of sin throughout all of human history can be traced back to the Garden. God hates sin, and He cannot tolerate it. Ever. However, God does tolerate one thing.
Us. In our sinful, unrepentant state, God looks down upon us in love. Working and hoping that one day, we’ll repent for eating of the tree in our own lives . . . our tree of disobedience . . . in the center of our Garden. It’s a good thing He tolerates us. Otherwise, Genesis 6 would have happened over and over again. For God tolerates mankind with its sinful nature for one supreme purpose: redemption.
With this backstory, we see the sins of tolerance easily.
The Sin of Rationalization. This is what the serpent did. He interpreted God’s Word to say something it never said. With this sin, erroneous interpretation is always on purpose, by the way, and secular society has learned it well. Everything from the accepted use of profanity to the defense of the tenets of homosexuality and abortion are rationalized in the depraved mind of man to make God’s Word say something it never said so that the sinner can feel good about living that way. The serpent used this sin for a specific purpose: to lead people astray and enslave them (to disobedience). “Did God really say…?”
However, before we pick up our stones and get ready to toss them, do we ever say to ourselves, “Did God really say…?” Have we ever rationalized away the meaning of what we know the Scripture to be telling us so we can feel good about our sin? A simple trek into Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 might really challenge us.
For example, ever hated someone? Wished they would “get what they deserve” because of what they did? Despise them because of their beliefs? Jesus calls that “murder” (Matt. 5:21-26). He also said we should not come and worship God until we’ve made it right with that individual. How many Sundays have we spent in church, singing, praying, listening and giving, with a heart that gets fired up at the mention of that person’s name? It’s hard to be forgiven in the eyes of God when we have not forgiven others (Matt. 6:15; Col. 3:13).
Ever looked at a member of the opposite sex (other than your spouse) and scanned their person with a lustful eye? Jesus calls that “adultery” (Matt. 5:27-30). He also says that we might consider gouging out our eye if it is a sin we cannot overcome. “Better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
Is all this radical teaching, or what? And we only touched on two of the many things Jesus taught in His sermon. Yet, in our society, the proliferation of violence and the acceptance of promiscuity can easily cause us to fall prey to rationalizing away God’s Word for the purpose of easing our consciences . . . to tolerate sin in our lives. And this leads us to the other sin of tolerance.
The Sin of Disbelief. Eve was confronted with a choice: Do I believe God or the serpent? You see, “to believe” in God and His Word connotes trust. You don’t trust people you don’t believe. It was Eve’s disbelief in God and His Word that caused her to pluck the fruit. The Sin of Rationalization was the first step, but it is this sin that is the ultimate act of disobedience. This is why John 3:16 is so crucial. “Whoever believes in him (Jesus) has eternal life.” To believe is more than just an acknowledgement of understanding, like believing winters in Siberia are cold (cf. James 2:19). To believe in Jesus, to believe in God’s Word, must be accompanied by obedience to Him (1 Sam. 15:22), and a wholehearted trust in His Word. That’s when we know we are true believers (John 4:23-24).
Therefore, if God hates sin and only allows obedient children into His kingdom (Matt. 7:13-14), should we not spend these last days making sure we are no longer tolerant of sin in our lives (1 John 2:1-6)?
C. Kevin Thompson’s debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, won the 2013 BRMCWC Selah Award (First Novel category) and is now available in second edition wherever books are sold! Also, the first two books in his Blake Meyer Thriller Series are available, 30 Days Hath Revenge and Triple Time. Book 3, The Tide of Times, comes out Labor Day Weekend! You can visit Kevin @ www.ckevinthompson.com: “Where imagination meets eternity.”
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