The God of the universe is a God of precision and orderliness. He makes that plain through creation and through His Word, the Bible. God has not been mysterious about His expectations or His truth. As His people, should we not likewise be clear when communicating biblical truth to each other and to an unsaved world? I believe we would all agree that yes, we should. That being established, I have noticed a trend in western Christianity of softening terms or exchanging traditional vernacular with more modern slang. I believe this is detrimental to the effectiveness of communicating biblical truth. It’s time for the Church to pay closer attention and consider what our word choices are conveying.
The first example I would like to bring to your attention is God’s children verses God’s creation. People saved and unsaved alike seem confused about these terms. They are often used interchangeably. Usually, these terms come up when people are discussing a natural disaster, or talking about unsaved people and God’s love for them. Every person ever born is certainly part of God’s creation, and God does have a love for His creation. However, only individuals who are born again are God’s children. Here are a sampling of bible verses that tell us this truth:
John 1:12 tells us “But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God–”
Romans 8:14 “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
Romans 8:16 “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
In contrast to these verses about God’s children, Ephesians 2:3 says that the unsaved are “…by nature children of wrath.” The distinction is important because unbelievers need to understand their separateness from God. Yes, God loves His creation and He wants sinners to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But the unregenerate cannot claim the promises and benefits of the children of God. At best, I believe casually interchanging the terms breeds further confusion in the unrepentant persons mind, for example: “…but if we are all God’s children, why does he say I’m sinning and deserve hell?” You see the problem.
The second and far more serious example that I would like to bring to your attention is “mistake” vs. “sin”. This one really gets me aggravated. Let’s begin by clarifying what a mistake actually is. Pulling out a navy blue sock and a black sock in the dim light of morning from your bureau drawer and wearing them to work is a mistake. It is an unintentional act. You were not intending to wear mismatched socks, but due to circumstances like low lighting and sleepiness, you pulled out socks that seemed the same and were not. Also, wearing two socks of different colors does not transgress God’s moral law. It is not an offense to His Holiness.
On the other hand, having premarital sex with your most recent boy/girl friend is not a “mistake”, it is a sin. Not only does sexual intercourse require intentional action, but it does transgress God’s moral law and offend His Holiness. When we use the word “mistake” to describe our sinful acts, it connotes a lack of responsibility. People generally do not worry too much about genuine mistakes, nor do we expect people to have terrible guilt about making them. Mistakes are usually met with mercy, and chocked up to learning experiences. Choosing to rebel against Holy God, and then claiming that you made a mistake, reveals a lack of seriousness and Godly remorse. Its letting oneself off too easily; giving oneself a buffer. People of the new nature, regenerated people, recognize and own their sin. They comprehend the seriousness of sin, its consequences and the price that was paid to atone for them. People who are born again are grieved by their sin, desire to turn from it, and know they need to confess it and receive forgiveness from God. Believers willfully disobeying God are not making a simple mistake or blunder. They are rebelliously shaking their fists at God in sin. And that is a very serious thing. I’m concerned that casual, soft language diminishes the seriousness of sin and fails to ignite the repentance that sinning against God should incite. It also has a flavor of dishonesty; a hiding of true motives. Let’s just call it what it is. Owning and openly admitting when we sin; turning to God in repentance and confession knowing that He is a God who forgives.
Soli Deo Gloria!