Different parts of the United States have colloquialisms (phrases of speech that are unique to that region). In the so-called "Bible Belt," the phrase, a "come to Jesus meeting," is used in a variety of circumstances. For example, a few months ago my mother’s car began to overheat.
Dad took the car to the local Ford dealer to get the problem fixed. A few days later, my parents paid about two hundred dollars for the repair. The following day, Mom drove the car on a short errand and the engine seriously overheated again. Mom called the dealer and a tow-truck carried the car back to the shop.
Needless to say, the shop foreman was surprised and embarrassed to see the car returned for repair. Soon he called my parents, told them the car had a blown head gasket and the repair would cost about $2,400. As an apology, the foreman offered to deduct the previous payment from the repair and also offered a one year warranty.
Mom knew she had almost ruined the engine by driving it, so she asked how the mechanic could have overlooked the possibility of a blown head gasket. The shop foreman said he did not know since shop procedures require a compression check on all cylinders if an engine is overheating.
Then he said, "I cannot excuse the negligence of the mechanic that serviced your car, but I can assure you that we are going to have a ‘come to Jesus meeting’ and he will not do this again."
A "Come to Jesus Meeting"
A sincere "come to Jesus meeting" is that moment when an individual is compelled by the weight of evidence and looming penalty to admit wrong doing, seek forgiveness and agree to avoid wrong doing again. The origin of the phrase is unknown, but the phrase says it all.
No doubt the phrase caught on in the "Bible Belt" because Christians generally agree that man stands before God condemned for wrong doing. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
Consequently, every sinner is under the condemnation of God’s law. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
Therefore, the only way to escape the penalty of eternal death is through a "come to Jesus meeting." "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:12,13)
A real "come to Jesus meeting" consists of three things. First, the sinner must admit guilt and wrong doing. If this admission does not occur, there is no need for a meeting. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." (1 John 1:9,10)
Second, the sinner has to sincerely repent and commit to stop doing wrong. "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God." (Hebrews 10:26)
Last, sinners must attempt to make restitution before God forgives us. "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23,24)
Many people may know about the Ten Commandments, but few people understand the reach or ramification of these profound laws. Most people incorrectly think the second commandment forbids idolatry, but the commandment that forbids idolatry is the first commandment! "You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3)
Idolatry is the first sin that all sinners commit. Idolatry occurs when a person becomes willing to violate any of God’s commandments because of greed or grasping desire. If we desire something so much that we are willing to violate God’s law, we have exalted the object above God’s requirements and this is idolatry.
Carnal humanity is not interested in repentance or reformation. (Romans 8:1-8) People do not tremble at the Word of the Lord (Ezra 9:4), give due consideration to the destruction that awaits, or concern themselves with the need for a crucified Savior. (Revelation 20:15; Acts 4:12)
So, how do carnal people exalt and worship a righteous God who rebukes sin and declares its harsh realities? The carnal nature rebelliously screams against submission, but it must become willing to submit to the declarations of a righteous God to receive salvation. (John 15:10-14) It is an all or nothing proposition.
Unfortunately we have allowed human concepts to form our ideas about what God requires. To avoid confronting God’s demands, carnal Christians have created their own "concepts of god." Contrary to what many preachers say, the Almighty does not accept us as we are! We may come to Him as we are, but God will only accept us if we are covered with the garment of Christ’s righteousness. (Romans 1:17; Revelation 19:8)
The righteousness of Christ is granted only to individuals who repent and are willing to forsake their sins! (Matthew 22;1-14; Acts 3:19; 17:30,31; Hebrews 10:26) Remember, the rich young ruler had a "come to Jesus meeting," but sadly turned away because he was not willing to do as Jesus required. (Mark 10)
Nothing deadens the reasoning powers of sinners like constant repeated commission of sin. Sin is like Novocaine, it numbs the conscience to spiritual matters. The carnal heart becomes numb to God’s demands and is stimulated by pleasure seeking and gratification. People living in sin do not grasp the foolishness of their ways nor the comprehensive scope of their evil influence until they are confronted with the gospel.
The gospel declares the verdict, the wages of sin are death and God will destroy all sinners by fire unless they repent and forsake their sins. (Revelation 20:11-15) The good news found in the gospel is that there is a wonderful Savior who will forgive us if we confess our sins and allow Jesus to empower reformation within our lives.
The process is simple. If the Holy Spirit can find entrance into our heart, He will produce guilt. This is His first mission. (John 16:8) When a person feels no guilt, there is no sense of wrong or a need for repentance. If we respond to guilt with sincere sorrow for the wrong, a change will come as we, through faith, claim the indwelling power of Christ.
If there is no remorse for doing wrong, there is no reason to cease doing wrong. If there is no heartfelt sorrow or guilt, there is no need for a "come to Jesus meeting."
"Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery"
In the January issue of Day Star, I presented how idolatry is a sin that almost defies detection. This month, we will consider a sin that almost defies correction. The seventh commandment says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." (KJV, Exodus 20:14)
This commandment is far more comprehensive than sexual intercourse by a married person with someone other than his or her spouse. From God’s perspective the seventh commandment forbids any form of sexual misconduct. The dictionary definition of adultery is any lewd, unchaste act or thought. Jesus agreed with this definition when He said in Matthew 5:27,28 that adultery does not require sexual contact.
Furthermore, the dictionary also says the word adulterate means "to corrupt." Therefore, adultery is any act or thought that sexually corrupts the human being. God explicitly defined sexual misconduct in the Bible to include many immoral behaviors and He also defined principles for appropriate sexual conduct. (See Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 18 and 20; Acts 15:20; Romans 1; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Hebrews 13:4 and 1 Corinthians 7:4,5.)
God knows all about human sexuality; after all, He invented sex. Sex has mental, spiritual and physical benefits if used according to God’s will. Likewise, sexual misconduct brings a curse that produces depreciation, sorrow, separation and perplexity.
Adultery, in all its variant forms, is a very grievous sin in God’s sight because it destroys the relationships that human beings need. Every child needs two parents, four grandparents and a circle of wholesome friends to surround them. Every child needs the security and discipline of love and respect.
Healthy family relationships produce strong communities and nations. Just one single act of adultery, however, can ruin many people’s lives. This is why God hates adultery. In fact, when ancient Israel provoked God’s wrath, He often cited adultery as one the primary reasons for His anger! (Jeremiah 3:6-9; Ezekiel 23; Hosea 4)
The devil preys on our sexuality using sensuality and promiscuity to entice people to commit some form of adultery. He knows that adultery begins within the carnal heart and that we all have a certain amount of interest in sexuality. Down through the ages, the devil has closely studied mankind and the Scripture.
He realizes that adultery can begin with a subtle temptation. For example, King David committed adultery after he observed Uriah’s wife taking a bath.(2 Samuel 11)
His sexual interest in her started a miserable chain of events for himself and his kingdom. James says, "But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." (James 1:14,15)
Nudity leads to lust, and pornography flourishes because it feeds sexual desire. If sexual desire is not governed by self-control, high morals, an appreciation for self-worth and a dedicated commitment to please God (Genesis 39:6-9), an immoral act or thought will be committed given enough desire and time. However, the devil does not just stop with the subtle temptation.
After he has succeeded in leading the victim to commit adultery, the devil works just as hard to expose the act. He knows that once the act is exposed, it will destroy many relationships and the integrity of his victim. The knowledge of sexual misconduct produces denigration, disgust, grief, abandoned children, loss of career, hatred and separation.
Once the act becomes a habit, it is one of the most difficult sins to correct because sexual immorality corrupts the mental, physical and spiritual components of a human being. Human sexuality has three dimensions: the mental, the physical and the spiritual and if violated, adultery can irreparably damage one or more of these dimensions. – Few people realize that before there is a victim of a sexual crime, there is a victim of adultery. Those who indulge in sensualism or promote sexual misconduct are slaves of sexual immorality. Peter says, "–For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." (2 Peter 2:19) Adultery can begin with something as innocuous as a lustful glance. Jesus said, "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." (Matthew 5:28,29)
The Healthy Side of Sexuality
God has given sexuality as a wonderful gift to every human being, but a serious responsibility attends this gift. Every gift from God is for man’s benefit when used in harmony with God’s will. Parents must inform their children of the purpose and importance of sexuality.
Children need to know that their sexuality is an integral part of their self-esteem. Children need to know that adultery is any form of sexual misconduct and it extracts a great loss. Nothing is gained by sexual misconduct except heartache.
Most of all, parents must teach their children that adultery has enormous consequences in all three dimensions of life: mental, physical and spiritual. Fictional stories in books, movies or television rarely reflect the long hard years of grief and self-depreciation that can follow one single act of adultery.
The devil wants young people to see the "joy of sex" without understanding the lifelong "hell" that one foolish moment can produce. Every person needs to know that a person cannot participate in sexual immorality and simultaneously maintain the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Paul wrote, "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
The Church at Corinth
Sexual immorality plagued the Christian church at Corinth. The ancient city of Corinth was noted for its prosperity, promiscuity and sensual pleasures. Because the practice of sexual immorality is so numbing, early converts to Christianity thought little of their sexual misconduct.
Paul realized they needed an attitude adjustment. Notice what he wrote, "I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’" (1 Corinthains 5:9-13)
To the uninformed reader, Paul may sound very harsh, but he is expressing a principle that God gave Israel. (Leviticus 18:1-29) There are two reasons why God is so harsh on sexual misconduct. First, promiscuity will eventually breed some form of sexual misconduct. Second, the personal relationships necessary to sustain a persecuted church cannot survive the damning effects of adultery.
Through the years I have been asked why the Ten Commandments say nothing about rape, prostitution, pedophilia, bestiality, incest, sodomy, homosexuality and fornication. The question itself reflects a limited definition of adultery. As far as God is concerned, adultery is any form of sexual misconduct.
All sexual misconduct is included under the umbrella of adultery. I marvel at the flagrant way sin is promoted – "Adult" videos, "Adult" book stores, "Adult" entertainment abounds. The irony is in the spelling: "Adult"- ery.
One act of adultery can bring irreparable damage to many members of a family and for that reason, God forbade sexual misconduct in the Ten Commandments. Make no mistake about it, every form of adultery is destructive. Each participation is like another injection of Novocaine.
Soon, the conscience is deadened and wrong appears to be "no big deal." Adultery may be defended as "the right of consenting adults," but sexual misconduct always extracts a sorrowful harvest. "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." (Revelation 22:14,15) Paul adds, "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming." (Colossians 3:5,6)
Given the authority of Scripture and the looming penalty for sexual misconduct, a "come to Jesus meeting" is in order if adultery or any other sin is occurring in your life. Come to Jesus confessing your sin, He is anxious to forgive us and to cleanse us from evil desires.
Jesus is coming soon and His offer of righteousness (the spotless wedding garment) and eternal life is worth far more than any temporal benefit that sin might have.