15 Aug 2017

God is Against it!? Really? God Desires Joy

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Apologetics, C. S. Lewis, Christian hope, Church, Contemporary Ethics, Culture, Discipleship, Ecclesiastes, Ministry, Mission, Paul

A Gross Denial of the Biblical Worldview

A meme has been floating around Facebook with this statement, superimposed on a group of men (in overalls in front of a mill), holding what appear to be beer mugs, with a barrel that says “Roll out the barrel.”

“If the world is for it,
There’s a good chance

Not only does the non-Christian world assert this but, sadly, so do a large number of Christians.  In fact the meme was posted by a Christian in a Christian Facebook group as a warning.

But the meme utterly unbiblical.  The saddest part is that so many contemporary Christians do not even know it.  It is a capitulation to a creation denying, dualistic, asceticism more indicative of Gnosticism rather biblical faith. It is perspectives like this that gave voice to Frederick Nietzsche’s trenchant criticism,

“Christians have no Joy and they take the joy out of the world.”

This is clearly not the opinion of Jesus (John 2), Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Paul, etc etc. I offer this comment on the post with the meme.

What the World Wants, God Created

I have a hard time thinking of something that the world wants that God is simply against.

The world wants to breathe, God is for it.  God created breathing.

The world wants love, God is for it. God loves passionately.

The world wants food, God is for it. God created food for God’s creatures.

The world wants money, God is not anti-money. God blesses his servants with resources including money.

The world wants joy, God is for it. God’s kingdom is about joy.

The world wants sex, God is for it. God created sex for his creatures both for intimacy and for joy.


The world wants wine, God is not against it. God created wine to make humans “glad” (Psalm 104.14-15, NLT)

The Misuse of God’s Gift and the God Ordained Use of God’s Gift

What the fallen world does, however, is abuse and pervert, the good gifts that God has placed within God’s good creation. Christians do not surrender God’s grace to the forces of evil.  We show how they are properly enjoyed.

The slogan above highlights the excess and abuse. not the proper use of divine gifts. In fact it does not even recognize the proper use of God’s gifts. It creates a false dichotomy. As stated above, to be truthful, the meme is false doctrine. Moderation, gratitude and thanksgiving point to proper use of God’s good gifts.

Augustine, the great African Church Father, was correct. Evil has nothing to offer on its own. It is “parasitic upon the good and distorts it.” The world twists what God has made. Scripture refuses to acquiesce.

Scripture calls us to demonstrate the holy, and proper, receiving offer God’s gifts with gratitude and thanksgiving (1 Tim 4.1-5 & Col 2.20-23, clearly reveal Paul’s rejection of any form of asceticism).

The Wisdom Literature’s Program of Joy

C. S. Lewis, an atheist turned Christian apologist, believed JOY was one of Christianity’s greatest gifts to the world. He would end up writing some of the best Christian books ever from a pub called The Eagle and Child in Oxford, England. Is Joy what you think of when you Christianity comes to mind?

The wisdom literature of the Bible was written for our learning and for training in righteousness (Romans 15.4; 2 Tim 3.15-16).  In those books we learn about wrong and the proper use of good things that can be used wrongly. The abuse of God’s gifts is clearly condemned as sinful.  Abuse of food is sinful gluttony.  Abuse of sex is sinful fornication or adultery. Abuse of wine is sinful drunkenness. Abuse of money is called greed.  Yet at no point is the answer of the Holy Spirit to the sinful use of God’s gifts to never eat (we are not “one bite gluttons”), to never have sex (we are not “one sexual act fornicators”), or to never sip one glass of wine (we are not “one drink drunkards”), or to have money (we are not one dollar greedy).

The Holy Spirit’s approach is the very one that so many preachers and Christians actually reject. In fact the Spirit’s way is often either denied outright or ignored. We, instead, actually embrace pagan values of dualism and asceticism.

The Bible’s approach, though, is that of thanksgiving, gratitude, joy, and moderation.  Those gifts so frequently abused, are brought together by the Holy Spirit guided authors.  Watch what Qoheleth does.

it is God’s GIFT that all should EAT [food] and DRINK [not Dr. Pepper beloved] and take PLEASURE in all their toil” (Ecclesiastes 3.13)

Go eat your bread [food] with ENJOYMENT,
and drink your wine [wine] with a MERRY HEART;
for God has long ago approved what you do …
Enjoy life with the wife whom you love [sex]
(Ecclesiastes 9.7-9)

Food is the creation of God. It is divine gift and good.
Wine is the creation of God. It is divine gift and good.
Sex is the creation of God. It is divine gift and good.
All of these are both received with gratitude and with great joy. These gifts are the demonstration of not only God’s goodness but his love. God gave the gifts for a reason–to enjoy.  Joy was, and is, fundamental to life with God not only in Israel but also now.

Paul on False Religion

God’s gifts of grace are to received with thanksgiving and gratitude. Thanksgiving and gratitude are the biblical antidote to abuse.  If we are grateful for the blessing of our wife/husband, we will not abuse her/him.  False, human made, laws deny God as Creator but they do not, in fact, keep our being from being self-indulgent.  Paul states this point blank.

Do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink [this is not Dr. Pepper!] … Why do you submit to regulations ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings. These have indeed the APPEARANCE of wisdom in promoting  SELF-IMPOSED piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of NO VALUE IN CHECKING SELF-INDULGENCE” (Col 2.16, 20-23, my emphasis).

Paul calls these false commands what they are, human inventions. They are a show of wisdom but actually not wise. They are of no value.  Because Sin, the abuse of God’s creation, will not be prevented by a invented rules, especially human ones.  Thanksgiving, what Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and yes that ignored book, Song of Songs proclaim, is the Spirit way of transforming our desire from self-indulgence to God honoring gratitude.  Paul states it,

They forbid marriage [sex, intimacy] and demand abstinence from foods [same as in the marriage folks], WHICH GOD CREATED TO BE RECEIVED WITH THANKSGIVING by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is GOOD, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer” (1 Tim 4.3-5)

Paul’s fundamental answer to dualistic, creation denying, asceticism that claims it is spiritual to deny sexuality, to deny eating, and yes even deny wine, is to go back to the “Old Testament” and declare God is Creator! Paul’s evaluation of Creation is that of Genesis 1.31.  God made food, wine and intimacy to be received with “thanksgiving.”

Thanksgiving. Gratitude. Joy. These are cardinal Holy Spirit virtues. We as Christians condemn the abuse of God’s gifts. But we, as Christians, model the thankful way of receiving God’s gifts which results in joy not gluttony, not fornication, not drunkenness.  Paul says those who “know the truth“(what truth? God is Creator!)  recognize this position and reject as utterly false, the creation denying false spirituality of neo-platonism and neo-gnosticism.

Nietzsche is wrong. The meme is wrong.

It is not true to say that if the world wants it then God is against it. What the world wants is an echo of the reality that God created the world! What the world wants is not wrong. What is wrong is the manner in which the fallen world tries to meet those wants.

Christianity is about JOY (Romans 15.23)

Think about it.

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