Few pulpits or Christians defend the sin of open adultery among fellow church members. Sexual sins when exposed are usually confronted with urgent and immediate rebuke, sometimes with excommunication. Likewise, known backsliding drug abusers and alcoholics are not permitted to occupy a pew until they have sobered up. These sins are unacceptable in the church. Gutter talk and cursing are also disallowed in most churches, because the Bible says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth" (Eph. 4:29). Cursing and foul language are openly identified and condemned, as are a long list of other unacceptable sins! Such blatant and open transgressions are commonly faced and denounced by pulpits everywhere. Even so, there are three deadly sins frequently neglected by preachers, sins which occupy a comfortable place in many modern churches, sins deeply rooted through a modern day double standard. How do triple dips, phone calls and. . . Gospel singing identify three acceptable though deadly sins commonly practiced and seldom rebuked in many churches in our time? What does the Bible say about these three deadly sins?
by Jerry Gentry
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers" (Eph. 4:29).
The modern church world rightly stands against many sins of the flesh and of the spirit. Adultery is condemned. Theft is forbidden. Lying is deplored. Murder is reprehended. Biblical standards are upheld and taught on many points of Bible principle. But rarely are three deadly sins exposed for their dangerous consequences, which can in fact be far worse than even notorious sins often condemned. These three deadly sins are often hidden behind things apparently as innocent and innocuous as triple dips, phone calls. . . and Gospel singing. Lets make that connection clear. What do triple dips, phone calls. . . and Gospel singing have to do with three deadly sins?
Think for a moment about that giant triple dip of ice cream, with that luscious, rich topping, that you enjoyed last night. On your way home from church, you stopped off at your favorite ice cream parlor. That stop has become a favorite after-church rendezvous for you and several of your friends. You love the added fellowship, and sometimes indulge yourself in a triple dip, a chocolate Sundae, but not last night. You cut back and had only a double scoop with little topping at all, because you had noticed something a little disturbing earlier yesterday. On your bathroom scales before your shower Sunday morning, you noticed you had put on an extra 15 pounds since a few weeks ago. And even before that extra 15 pounds you discovered yesterday morning, you were already 35 pounds over your desired weight. . . blessings! you think. I must take off some of this weight or Ill be fat!
So last night you indulged in a double dip only, and not your usual triple! Today you remember and feel a little good about exercising that self discipline. . . but you know you need to increase your resolve. Oh well. . . there are lots of other ladies in our church who are much heavier than I these days, you think. They have far more to lose than I. So Im not so bad, I guess.
OK, friend. What is wrong with this picture? Click the shutter and freeze the frame for a moment. You have just focused in on your gluttonous behavior, one of three deadly sins seldom confronted in the modern church.
But whats wrong with being 50 pounds overweight, you ask? The simple answer is found in the Bible: "For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags" (Prov. 23:21). The Bible pairs the sins of drunkenness with gluttony. These sins may not be equal in your eyes, but they are equal in Gods eyes. For sure, if a man comes to church staggering and reeking with the smell of alcohol, he will most likely be turned away. But a man or woman who from excessive size can barely squeeze through the doorway into church is welcomed! Such churches have a problem of duplicity, of a double standard.
Such churches are guilty of partiality in the law, where the sin of drunkenness is loudly condemned, but where the sin of gluttony is silently welcomed. God loves the gluttonous sinner, the poor wretch, just as he loves the poor wretched drunkard! And in His eyes, the sin of gluttony is not one rung below the sin of drunkenness in the Biblical list of deadly sins. The Bible gives the fundamental though profound answer for every glutton. One of the fruits of the Spirit is temperance. It commands us all to have "meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Gal. 5:23). Temperance is self control. The glutton must acknowledge and abhor his sin of overeating just as the sexual abuser must acknowledge and abhor his sexual sins just as the alcohol abuser must acknowledge and abhor his drunkenness. These are all of equal significance and consequence in Gods eyes, even if the glutton will not admit such equality! His lack of self control in saying no to lifes double and triple dips is often misconstrued as hormonal imbalance or some other term not found in the Bible. The reality is most simply stated: too much of a good thing (in this case, too many double and triple dips) always leads to overweight, which is always the evidence of a personal life yielded to the deadly sin of gluttony.
If you are overweight, God still loves you. Christian, if you are five feet tall and tip the scales at 200 pounds or more, God still loves you, just like the "Christian" who drank a fifth of whiskey last night and stumbled home at 3AM. But God calls both the drunkard and you, the glutton, to repentance. When the drunkard sobers up, he knows he has done great wrong, and has a hangover to prove it! But you the glutton, who love your twice weekly "fellowship" over double and triple dips of pecan praline ice cream, or some other rich dessert, are just as guilty of defiling your temple as is the fellow who drinks too much. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (1Cor. 6:19), and "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" (1Cor. 3:17).
These are sobering words for every person guilty of the deadly sin of gluttony. May we speak plainly? Christian, we must judge ourselves as to what degree of overweight is evidence of the deadly sin of gluttony. Does five extra pounds around the middle due to attending a couple of recent birthday parties mean you are a glutton? You must answer that question for yourself. You must judge yourself. For sure, if you allow those five extra pounds to stay there, and do nothing, then the first five extra pounds make the next five even easier. Then you have ten pounds to deal with. The multiplier effect often exposes a growing lifestyle of gluttony, while the gluttonous person plays the game of denial.
Solution: Better weigh now, than pay later. Obesity is evidence of a host of other physical/mental/spiritual/psychological health problems. A daily check on the scale, and adjustment of food intake accordingly, can be a great preventive against the deadly sin of gluttony. Are you already 50+ pounds overweight? Then you may need outside help, from one of a number of good Christian resources available. But you already know the bottom line: Decrease your fatty food intake, and increase your exercise. The answer is simple but profound. Other resources may help you in making and staying with a plan, lest you continue to live in the deadly sin of gluttony.
. . . phone calls. . . what do these have to do with deadly sin? Simply stated, many phone calls are made for the unspoken, often unrealized, purpose of off-loading guilt as blame on others, through the deadly sin of gossip. Now is the morning after you ate triple dips last night, and you feel low in energy, a little mentally muddled. You need a "pump up," so you call your best friend Sherry Sue, who herself also carries around a few extra pounds. Sherry Sue is glad you called. She feels a little rotten this morning too, but is quickly charged with energy when she hears what you have to say about old so and so. That woman, you tell Sherry Sue, thinks shes Mrs. Perfect! Even after giving birth to six children in twelve years of marriage, Mrs. Perfect still maintains her youthful figure, her smile and her high energy level. She never indulges with the ladies' ice cream fellowship committee. She is not a member of the famous church ladies dessert auxiliary.
You and Sherry Sue have a good time ripping Mrs. Perfect apart for little more than things you imagine, because you have never bothered to get to know Mrs. Perfect well. It is easy for you to criticize her for the good qualities you see in her, which you long ago let slide. Solution:?You, Mrs. Glutton, should get better acquainted with Mrs. Perfect. You should get to know her, learn her secret of maintaining her youthful flower after having six children. You can benefit greatly from such a friendship, if you will come down off your high horse of the deadly sin of gossip and humble yourself. Otherwise, you will continue playing the guilt/blame game, while you displace your guilty conscience as fault finding onto Mrs. Perfect, while you justify your obesity and invite even greater problems.
Of such deadly gossip, God says: "And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity" (Jer. 9:5). Further, "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this mans religion is vain" (James 1:26). When you go to church on Sunday morning, and make a show of goodness, then call up Sherry Sue on Monday morning, with a juicy story to tell, you are engaging in the deadly sin of gossip, accompanied with a good dose of hypocrisy.
Your "religion is vain," my friend. Your tongue becomes "an unruly evil, full of deadly poison" (James 3:8). This language is explicit. Gossip is serious business, and God calls us to purity of communication, if we will be Christians. Will we say with the Psalmist, "I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me" (Ps. 39:1). When someone comes before us with deadly gossip, we must refrain from engaging in such spiritual poison.We must avoid engaging in phone calls, or other communications, where the deadly sin of gossip is present.
. . . and. . . Gospel singing. . .OK, what in the world does Gospel singing have to do with any deadly sin you might ever think of?
Gospel music was conceived, born and has grown up in the twentieth century. Such music is relatively new in the Christian world. Among Bible truths, there is an adage: "If its new, its untrue. If it is true, then it is not new." Christians before the past two or three generations had never heard a single Gospel song. Such did not exist. Gospel singing was "fathered" by Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993), a black man from Alabama, who began writing Gospel music during the 1920s. Among hundreds of songs, he wrote the tear jerking hymn,"There Will Be Peace in the Valley." Such singers as Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972) and Clara Ward (1924-1973), both blacks, were already popular blues/jazz singers. They took up Gospel singing and promoted it, even to their night club audiences! Later, James Cleveland (1931-1991) a black charismatic blues/jazz musician with a raspy voice, picked up gospel and took it into churches, which had theretofore rejected gospel singing as being of the devil. Little more than half a century later, much of the "Christian" world swears by Gospel singing and claims it as their musical mainstay. Black television producer Bobby Jones produces a weekly program "Gospel Explosion" for BET (Black Entertainment Television). He claims: "Gospel music is black music." (The History of Gospel Music, Phil Petrie, CCM Magazine Online, 2/96, found at http://www.ccmcom.com/ccmmag/96feb/0296gospel_hist.html).
Gospel singing has been adopted, dressed up and "Christianized" by many Christians of European heritage also. It is a new genre of singing of the twentieth century. Gospel singing echoes and reverberates the slave chants of the cotton fields of the deep south. Gospel singing relies heavy on emotionalism. Genuine Christians must recognize Gospel music for what it is -- an aberrant hybrid of the old black slave chant clothed in a New Orleans blues/jazz style, with Jesus overlaid as icing on top. There is little or no Biblical cake underneath, a "strange fire" in the modern church. The tasty "sweet Jesus" message proclaims a different gospel, addictive and cancerous to the spiritual bones of Christians with a heritage in the Bible. The spirit of Gospel singing has no Biblical heritage at all, though the name "Jesus" is extolled. Jesus said, "why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). The apostle Paul warned against teaching "another Jesus" (2Cor. 11:4). Gospel singing proclaims "another Jesus."
Gospel singing proclaims a different gospel, one that is highly emotional, seductive and deceptive. Its "Ill fly away" theology separates salvation from sanctification through holy living. Gospel singing proclaims little need for a resurrected body, since the ultimate Christian goal is getting to heaven. Gospel singing knows little of the Bible teaching of the reestablishment of Gods kingdom on earth. Christians are warned: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8). The Jesus of Gospel singing is not the Jesus of the Bible, strange as that may sound.
Numerous Christian hymns have been recast into the Gospel style and polluted with the feel of secular blues/jazz. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (Gal. 5:9). Gospel singing has high entertainment value and sells lots of tapes, CDs and videos. Gospel singing makes millions of dollars for recording artists and publishing companies. It can be emotionally and spiritually addictive, and certainly should not be judged on the basis of personal musical likes and dislikes. It must be judged on its foundational roots, its message, and its appeal to the mixed multitudes who love the earthly blues/jazz sound.
The blues/jazz spirit arrived in America with the voodoo religion imported from the African jungle. The words of Gospel singing praise a "Jesus" as savior of a people who know little about the real Jesus of the Bible and who have never heard about the gospel of the kingdom which Jesus preached. To put it bluntly, John Calvin and all the reformers had never heard of Gospel singing. Neither had any church before them. Had a modern Gospel singing quartet showed up in Geneva or Whittenburg or Edinburgh to sing in church during the 1500s, such musicians would have been turned aside as heretics, for the sin of "spiritualism," of conjuring up foreign spirits from heathen cultures. Gospel singing is "spiritual poison" that conjures up a false Jesus, just as Saul went to a spiritualist, the witch of En-dor, who conjured up a false spirit in the likeness of Samuel.
Gospel singing conjures up a Lord Jesus who is praised with the lips through unBiblical messages and through African blues/jazz style unknown to Scripture. Such music is common in churches filled with false doctrines of Plato and neo-gnosticism. "Ill fly away, oh glory" typifies the message of this music. "When we all get to heaven" proclaims its mainstay. Contrary to this Platonic theory of glory land, the Bible teaches that Jesus is coming again to this earth to dwell with and in his people. Gospel singing conjures the "believer" into a far off world "on the other side." Gospel singing promotes the gospel of escapism. Gospel singing is filled with doctrinal error, even rank heresy, when we look closely.
Gospel singing often provides a false "spiritual balm" for superficial "Christians" who want a spiritual quick fix through "feel good" emotionalism. When the singing is over, that "pumped up" emotional feeling soon goes away, in the absence of the listeners favorite "artist." So. . .the listener must come back for more and more, to get pumped up all over again.
Gluttony. . . . gossip. . . and Gospel singing. . . all three are linked together, as three deadly sins in the walls of the modern church. Christian, you and I must follow the real Jesus of the Bible, and purge ourselves of these three deadly sins. While we eliminate gluttony, gossip and false worship, we of necessity must eliminate our bad habits of triple dips, phone calls. . . and Gospel singing.