For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you. (1 Corinthians 15:31 NLT)
|Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria|
Athanasius, one of our early church Fathers, said, “If we live as though dying daily, we won’t sin.” His take on Paul’s words was that if we understand the uncertainty of life, it will determine how we live.
If our immortality is always before us, it will cause us to make decisions based on an eternal and not temporal perspective. When we sin by gratifying the flesh in forbidden ways, are we not choosing short-term gratification over submission to God’s laws? Athanasius continues in his thinking by saying, “but daily expecting death, we will abandon wealth, forgive everyone for everything, and won’t harbor lust for women or any other foul pleasure.”
As I set about to write this piece, I hesitated. I thought an overemphasis on death may be a little morbid or severe. Yet, when I pondered this, I wondered if the influence of the world on the modern-day church had blinded us to the mentality of our church fathers. Has easy-believism and hyper-grace distorted the theology held by the first-century church? In this devotional, more than instruction, I have been thinking out loud. Ponder the questions that I have posed and make up your own mind.
Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria and defender of the faith, finished by saying, “For the dread and danger of torment always destroys the ease of pleasure. It lifts up the soul that is likely to fall.” I must admit that my conclusions about his thoughts are still in flux, but I am sure that anything that will help the modern church deal with sin, we desperately need.
Image used with permission by Microsoft.
Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing