We Must Be Accountable to God

Jim Denison | Denison Forum | Updated: Jul 11, 2023
We Must Be Accountable to God

We Must Be Accountable to God

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Harrison Ford is making headlines again these days with the fifth installment in his iconic “Indiana Jones” film series. Consequently, his affair with Carrie Fisher when they were filming the original Star Wars movie in 1976 has been back in the news as well.

Fisher made their relationship public in 2016 as part of her memoir released shortly before her death. She was nineteen at the time of their affair; Ford was thirty-three and the married father of two. She claimed that the affair was not the cause of Ford’s divorce from his wife, which happened around the same time, reportedly calling their relationship a “minor digression.”

In all the coverage of their affair, I have seen no suggestion that what they did was immoral. In a day when more Americans than ever before consider sexual relationships of all kinds to be acceptable and half of US Christians say casual sex between consenting adults is sometimes or always acceptable, perhaps I should not be surprised.

But I am grieved. And, much more to the point, so is God.

What "the fool says in his heart"

This one sentence explains our moral crisis: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1a). Here’s why: if we are not accountable to God, we will be accountable only to ourselves or to other people. However, we are all “corrupt” (v. 1b). Consequently, we “do abominable deeds; there is none who does good” (v. 1c). This fact applies emphatically to us all: “There is none who does good, not even one” (v. 3).

However, one of the delusions of sin is that we are not sinners. World religions lead adherents to claim holiness by their standards, ameliorating the need for repentance and the one true God. Western secularism does the same, convincing us that we are good enough not to need the one true Source of all morality.

In fact, some in our culture celebrate the “fact” that they know what the rest of us do not and can therefore dismiss biblical truth as outdated, irrelevant, and even dangerous to society. On sexual morality, for instance, some are certain that Paul was wrong. (I once heard a religious leader say confidently, “We now know that Paul was a homophobe.”) Others assure us that the church has been misinterpreting the Bible on this issue for two thousand years, but they know better.

If we suggest that sexual relations are immoral outside of monogamous marriage between one man and one woman, we are ridiculed as hopelessly naïve, backward, and worse.

"Wage the good warfare"

This state of affairs is not new. For example, cultural elites in the ancient metropolis of Ephesus, called lumen Asiae (“the light of Asia”) by Pliny the Elder, claimed the same.

Paul exposed their delusions to Timothy, who was pastoring the Ephesian Christian community: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” (1 Timothy 1:5-7).

In so doing, they rejected biblical truth that is “not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted” (vv. 9–11).

The good news is that God’s grace is available to all: “This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (v. 15). Sharing the gospel and the morality it advances is God’s charge to Timothy and to us as we “wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience” (vv. 18–19).

"The ultimate experience of life"

According to Dr. Billy Graham, “The ultimate experience of life is knowing God.” He pointed to Isaiah 6 as the archetypal text for knowing whether we truly know the Lord:

  • We are convicted of our sinfulness: “Woe is me! For I am lost” (v. 5a).
  • We confess our sin: “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (v. 5b).
  • We are cleansed from our sin: “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for’” (vv. 6-7).
  • We are commissioned to tell others: “I heard the voice of the LORD saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me’” (v. 8).

By these standards, do you truly know God? If not, why not?

This issue could not be more urgent for your sake and that of your nation. The prophet warns us: “Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14). Again, quoting Dr. Graham: “There will be an end of history and the end of a world that has been dominated by evil. Jesus will come again and set up his kingdom of righteousness and social justice, and hatred, greed, jealousy, war, and death will no longer exist.”

Then he asked, “Are you ready for that day?”

Is America?

Are you?

Publication date: July 11, 2023

Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

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We Must Be Accountable to God