Dead bodies stink.

On Tuesday I was reflecting on the remaining sinful nature of the members of our churches, how we need to strive to hold one another accountable and in situations of non-repentance we need to remove the nominal believer from our midst.

At the end of the post I made a clarification, just as a side thought, that has been simmering on the back-burner of my thoughts for the last few days.  This was the application being made to the Biblical truth:  “Let us build up the reputation of the church by not expecting lost people to act like believers.  It will serve no one to judge a dead man for stinking (Eph 2.1).”

Paul says that before we are saved, we are spiritually dead in our sin (Eph 2.1).  Jesus says that to have Spiritual life, we have to be born Spiritually (John 3.3).  Until we are conceived and born, we are not alive.  [Insert caveat:  I am not arguing scientifically as to the point of the beginning of life in a fetus – though I do find it interesting that God says the life is in the blood, Lev 17.11, and the blood vessels form on day 17 of gestation, with the heart pumping blood through the fetus’ body by day 21, week 3.]

This is common sense, no?  How do you know you are alive?  You were born.  You are walking around.  You have life.  And it is God who gives us life, who gives us faith, who gives us Spiritual breath.  How then do we know we are Spiritually alive?  If you have Spiritual life!  Are you sensitive to the working of the Spirit in your life?  Is He living through you, growing you in the fruit of the Spirit:  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control?  All out of love for God?

So here is where I am afraid we often fall off the boat.  We Christians, in our safe, comfortable, sterile bubbles are shocked that the world acts like the world.  Sinners sin.  Dead people stink.  We are more concerned about morality than we are about people’s hearts and destinies.

What’s that?  You have moved in with your boyfriend before marriage?  Don’t you know that’s a sin?!  Let’s gather and bigot gay/lesbian parades because God says homosexuality is an abomination.  Oh, you have tattoos.  And you get drunk.  And you smoke.  How dare you!  [I hope you can infer my extreme sarcasm in this paragraph.]

Let’s open our eyes, Christians.  The world is going to act like the world.  These are the exact reasons that we, they, need a savior!  Every single one of us is going to have to give an account for everything we have done on Earth, good and bad:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

– 2 Cor 5.10

“But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”

– Rom 14.10

Dead bodies stink.  They rot, they decay, vultures come and pick at them, and they are quite simply disgusting.  I lived in a city when I was overseas, and would run at daybreak – to avoid the heat of the day.  I could smell dead rats from a block away, even in the cool of the day!  You know you have rolled your windows up a time or two when passing by a dead raccoon in the summertime.

We can bathe these dead bodies in cologne, we can cover them in flowers, we can wash them and even embalm them to preserve them for years to come.  We might remit the stench, but we will never bring them to life.  And since they are dead, we do them absolutely no good to try to make them prettier.  Or less stinky.  None.

When we meet Joe Shmoe on the street, concern #1 must be, without a doubt, is he alive?  Because if he is dead, nothing else matters.  All we will do is whitewash a tomb, or pave the road to Hell in gold.  Is he a liar?  Is he a cheater?  Is he unfaithful to his wife?  Is he a drunk?  None of these things matter before he meets Jesus.  Morality is worthless apart from saving faith.  Political purity is nothing if separated from a desire to honor God.

There are times that we need to take a stand against public sin.  There are times that we need to stand up for those who have no voice:  to fight injustice, to free those who are kept in bondage in the sex slave or trafficking, to protect life where it would be murdered for the sake of so-called choice.

But when you encounter a person in your day-to-day who has not come to Jesus in faith for the forgiveness of his sins, it serves no purpose to condemn that person for his actions.

Instead, let us offer hope!  If we are honest with ourselves, we all know that even if we are generally good people, we have sinned.  Even if our morality surpasses that of the politicians, our coworkers or the population in general, we all remember that bad decision we made in our youth, or the cookie we ate when our mom denied us, the test we cheated on or the lie we told.

Jesus.

Jesus died on the cross for the cookie disobediently eaten, the baby aborted, the money stolen and the person murdered.  And it is through the confession of His Lordship in our lives and the repentance from our sins that He gives us life.  That is the good news.  That is the hope that we have.

Then, and only then do we begin the battle with sin.  It is once we are Spiritually born that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives and sets itself decidedly against our flesh and we fight the battle of killing our sinful tendencies and desires.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”

– Gal 5.15-16

In love we hold one another accountable to rid such sins from our lives:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

– 1 Cor 6.9-11

Let us not forget that such were we, before Christ saved us.  Let us not hold dead people accountable to the standards Christ has for us after He brings us to life.  Let us focus on the love of God that would give life to our Spiritually dead bodies, that would die on the cross to pay the punishment for our sins, and only exhort one another to obedience out of love and thankfulness for the forgiveness rendered as such.  He who has been forgiven much loves much and does not want to dishonor the one who has forgiven him.  It is through thankfulness that he obeys.  Not duty.  Not obligation.  Not guilt.  Love.

Hear me clearly.  Our dying to sin is the mark of our salvation.  Fighting against the temptations and failure of the flesh is the mark of the believer.  Do NOT make peace with sin.  Jesus’ death on the cross is not a hall pass to live however you want and spend eternity in bliss.  I am simply saying we ought not and cannot try to help someone die to sin if he is not alive to righteousness, if he does not have spiritual life.

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin asinstruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members asinstruments of righteousness to God.”

– Rom 6.12-13

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5 comments on “Dead bodies stink.

  1. undergroundmasjid says:

    That’s interesting. Most would agree Isa (Jesus) good guy and nothing to indicate he has ever committed anything in wrong doing. He is a prophet who spread the same message all prophets have before him and after including Muhammad. As we can find in Quranic teachings, Isa was carried by two angels before the Yahood could kill him, so with that he was never on a cross and this is unfortunately a story made-up by the church. Darby’s bible or his teachings are very appealing to people and why? Because he told a story about an event called the…get this the “rapture” so, this was added into the teaching of the church and why? Would Christians join if they knew they would be going through tribulation and jihad? (struggle) No, so of course a popular concept (man made) is you will be taken away in a flash or at an unknown time in the twinkling of the eye…thus the rapture. The concept is not found in the old scripts of the bible and I have read the Torah, bible, Quran, Hadiths etc…so why does the Christian community I guess is my question; add man made concepts into the scripts based on new man made personal views? I don’t find this in the Quran as the authentic hadiths backup the teaching but the bible would appear to me as still being “edited” today. One reason I find the teaching hard to believe…

    • awhitely says:

      Thank you for your comment, it is very nice to engage in conversation!

      I will be very quick to admit that I am not a scholar in Islam nor the Quran, but I have read some of it. I have regularly heard your objection to the validity of the Injil, in that you believe it to be corrupted. But the Quran teaches:

      Sura 6:115: “Perfected is the Word of the Lord in truth and justice. There is nothing that can change His words. He is the hearer and the knower.”

      The Quran confirms that the Tawraat and Injiil are the words of the Lord. Allah taught them directly to ‘Isa: Sura 3:50. If the Jews would have observed the Tawraat and the Injiil they would have had their sins forgiven and been brought to heaven (Gardens of Delight) – Sura 5:65-66. Therefore, if you believe the Quran to be true, you must also understand that the Tawraat and Injil have not been changed.

      Also, Sura 10:94 says, “If you are in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto you, then question those who read the Scripture before you. Verily the Truth from the Lord has come unto you so be not of the waverers.”

      We are taught here that “before Scriptures” were to be searched out because the Truth was found in them. The Tawraat and Injiil that we read today are translated from manuscripts dating from before the time of Mohammed. So if they were true and uncorrupted in Mohammed’s day, and nothing can change Allah’s words then they must be true and uncorrupted today as well.

      In regards to Isa, there is one passage in particular that grabs my attention, Sura Al ‘Imraan 3:42-55. I am sure you are quite familiar with the passage:

      42. And when the angels said: O Maryam! Truly Allah has chosen you, and made you pure, and preferred you above the women of creation.
      43. O Maryam! Be obedient to your Lord, prostrate yourself and bow with those who bow.
      44. This is of the tidings of things hidden. We reveal it unto you (Mohammed). You were not present with them when they cast lots to know which of them should be the guardian of Maryam, nor were you present with them when they quarreled.
      45. (And remember) when the angels said: O Maryam! Truly Allah gives you glad tidings of a word from Him, whose name is the Masiih, ‘Isa Al Masiih, son of Maryam, illustrious in this world and the Hereafter, and he will be one of those brought near (unto Allah).
      46. He will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in manhood, and he is of the righteous.
      47. She said: My Lord! How shall I have a child when no man has touched me? He said: So it will be. Allah creates what He will. If He decrees a thing, He says unto it only: Be! And it is.
      48. And He (Allah) will teach him the Scripture and wisdom, and the Tawraat (Torah) and the Injiil (Gospels).
      49. And will make him a messenger to the children of Israel saying: Lo, I come unto you with a sign from your Lord. Lo, I fashion for you out of clay the likeness of a bird and I breathe into it, and it is a bird, by Allah’s leave. I heal him who was born blind and the leper, and I raise the dead, by Allah’s leave. And I announce unto you what you eat and what you store up in your
      houses. Surely herein is a sign for you, if you are to be believers.
      50. And I come confirming that which was before me of the Tawraat to make lawful to you some that which was forbidden unto you, and I have come unto you with a sign from your Lord. So keep you duty to Allah and obey me.
      51. Truly, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is the straight path.
      52. But when ‘Isa knew of their disbelief, he said: “Who will be my helpers in the cause of Allah? The disciples said: We will be Allah’s helpers. We believe in Allah and bear witness that we have surrendered unto Him (Arabic: “we are muslims” – meaning “those who submit”).
      53. Our Lord! We believe in that which You have revealed and we follow Him (‘Isa) whom You have sent; so write us down among those who witness to the truth.
      54. And they (the disbelievers) schemed and Allah schemed against them; and Allah is the best of schemers.
      55. And remember when Allah said: O ‘Isa, I am gathering you and causing you to ascend unto Me and am clearing you of those who disbelieve and I am setting those who follow you above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then unto Me you all will return and I shall judge between you in that which you used to differ.

      It stands out to me how this passage paints Isa as holy (42-47). He is He is the word of Allah (45), He is “Ruhullah”, the Spirit of God (Sura Nobis 21:91), He is Al Masih, the Messiah (45), righteous (46), and born of a virgin (47). This passage also points out Jesus’ power (48-54) – He gave sight to the blind (49), He healed lepers (49), and He raised the dead to life again! (49), our duty to Allah is to obey ‘Isa (50), but to know what ‘Isa told us to do you must read the Injiil (48). Lastly, it truly stands out to me that Isa is in paradise with Allah, He knows the way to paradise, and He will be the final judge as to who is allowed entry into Paradise (55).

      It is also dynamic to me that we are commanded to follow and obey Isa’s until the day of the Resurrection (the rapture to which you alluded). Isa’s teachings and commands were not only for a time, they are concrete, until the end!

      If Isa is in Paradise, He is the one I will choose to look to for the path leading there! And if we both now agree, according to the teaching of the Quran, that the Injil is uncorrupted, then the account of Isa’s death and resurrection is indeed the true and holy teachings of God. Sura 4:157 also does not directly say that Jesus did not die, it only says that the Jews did not kill him. And we all know that to be true as they were under Roman occupation and it was the Romans who killed Jesus. 4:158 states that Allah took Isa back up to Himself, and we know that to be true, after He died. But if you are in doubt, as 157 would allude, then we should read the “before Scriptures”, the Injil. And the Injil clearly teaches that Jesus died and was resurrected, to pay the punishment for our sins, so that we might spend eternity in Paradise with Allah.

      Thus, I do not find it in any way hard to believe the validity of the Injil or the teachings of Isa!

  2. […] to a higher standard than you yourself are able to keep. Just last week I wrote on the fact that non-Christians are going to act like non-Christians.  So I will not dive too deeply into the topic again, other than to say – non-Christians are […]

  3. […] process is only to be followed in the case of one who calls himself a believer.  The nonbeliever is going to act like a nonbeliever, and we should not try to dress up a corpse, but pray for life.  Only once he is alive can we help him wash off the […]

  4. […] This might seem a silly story, but in hearing it yesterday, I had to think to myself how applicational this story can be in our day-to-day lives, and that on a variety of levels.  The most basic of levels is simply this:  we are all sinners.  By nature, we can do nothing but sin.  If your neighbor or friend is not a believer, he has no ability or desire in and of himself to obey God or honor God.  Sinners sin.  What else do you expect?  Dead bodies stink. […]

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