A pastor I know used to employ a rather stark approach to confrontational discipleship with some of his college students. Whenever one of them would come home back from college, newly questioning his Christian upbringing, this pastor would listen patiently to him. The student would go on and on about his newfound doubts about the Bible, all of the contradictions in it, and the usual laundry list of problems with religion more generally. And then this pastor would ask, “So, how long have you been sleeping with your girlfriend?”
It’s not an approach I’d recommend. But there’s some wisdom behind that. The pastor was showing that the student, more often than not, didn’t first run into an intellectual problem. He indulged in a moral problem that developed into an intellectual problem. Finding himself in an environment where he could be sexually “free,” he was forced to shift his moral compass to accommodate his lifestyle.
It’s usually the heart that guides the mind, not the mind the heart. We first crave the gratification of our sinful desires, and then we seek justification for why those desires aren’t so bad after all.
That’s why Paul wrote that people suppress the truth “by their unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Our hearts are so disposed to self-gratification that we resist anything that challenges that, making us blind to clear and compelling evidence for our Creator. Because we think God is an obstacle to our gratification, we get him out of the way through unbelief.
Our belief problem is a heart problem. While it’s helpful to seek intellectual answers for our doubts, what we need more than anything is an answer for our heart. We need someone to take our sin of exalting ourselves and show us that we were made for God’s glory. We need someone to take our sin of gratifying our sinful desires and show us that in God’s presence there is
This article was written by J.D. Greear and originally appeared at his blog. Find it here.
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