From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

– Matthew 4:17

Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. -Acts 8:22

There is a shrouded hatred in permissive theology: where there is no sin, there is no repentance, and where there is no repentance, there is no chance of salvation. Yet we live in a post sin world. What was once considered unacceptable is now a matter of choice or can be explained away via science, psychology, or philosophy. We are smarter than to believe in something so provincial as sin, and people who believe and speak about it publicly are labeled “stupid” and shamed.

Talk of sin is offensive. Most people recoil at hearing there is something about their nature or conduct that is inherently wrong in its natural direction, needing repair and restoration. They would rather enjoy the pursuit of pleasures without restriction. Others are hesitant or unwilling to inform people of potential error because conduct is thought to be the private matter of individuals, though flaunted in the social strata. For this reason, people much prefer the permissive theology and ideologies permeating most of our culture. “This is who I am” is the prevailing mantra of the day.

Of course, that’s right. We are all born with inclination to follow our base instincts and fulfill our fleshly desires. We are bent toward pleasures of all kinds including those which please body and pride. We want our own way and the suggestion that we should be subject to a higher moral order is found to be a matter of offense. There are few societal restraints left and behaviors once shameful have become a source of pride, no matter how harmful to self, others, family, community, and world.

Mankind’s aversion to the concept of personal sin is so pronounced that man has re-imagined God to reduce his culpability. Recently someone told me that “God has changed his mind. He’s doing a new thing.” The true God of The Book does not have the vote of the average Joe; the Creator of the Universe has standards far too high to win the approval of crowds, so He is rejected outright – both him and his Book. According to man today, God should be “bigger” than what he is. There is no sense that there is a higher wisdom beyond mortal consideration. Man has made himself the judge of God himself. We – not God – are King.

God has not changed his standards. In permissive, philosophical circles, Jesus was considered to be an enlightened Master. Yet, he was the Master who called for repentance from sin as written in the Laws of God and who upheld the highest moral standards of all the spiritual masters. Unlike the others, Jesus warned of the ultimate, deadly consequences of continuing in sinful conduct, including eternity in hell. He uniquely offered a way out through his Holy Spirit, the one and only transformational spiritual power granted to those born again of his spirit and through his sacrificial death on the cross.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that “For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who perish, but unto us who are saved, it is the power of God.” Those released from bondage to sin who bear no resemblance to their former selves are left with no doubt of God’s transformational properties. The same power that raised Christ from the dead and created the heavens and earth also resurrects and reforms the spirit of man into a new creation.

All people are made of the same substance and enter the earth stained. Pop psychology and spirituality asserts our inherent light. An honest look into myself, around the world, and through the annals of history reflect this isn’t so. The light came into the world and man rejected it because they preferred to remain in darkness. They preferred their own way and own standards and rejected those of God.

If a person doesn’t believe, they don’t believe. The nature of God cannot be re-written into a modernized, palatable form, or that isn’t the true God. It is another false god among the many being worshipped and roaming the earth today. God isn’t having an identity crisis. People just don’t like him, and they don’t want to acknowledge or repent of sin. Jesus’ final words to followers of all other gods will be, “Depart from me, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you. Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41)

Because of this I believe the most loving thing a person can do is tell the truth, even if others reject both the word and the person. It’s hateful to lie to spare people’s feelings and keep them from the possibility of repentance and salvation. If we are truly free, we are equally free to pursue holiness. There is no shame in that.