Theme: Positive Christianity
By Charles W. Brackett
Many years ago my uncle Paul, head chef at a large Louisville hotel, impressed upon my twelve years one of life’s greatest principles. We were in his own kitchen at home. I watched as he deftly chopped vegetables into small, colorful pieces. Halfway through a celery stalk he stopped, took a dirty glass from the sink and, after emptying and cleaning it, he filled it with sugar from a nearby canister.
“Tell me, Charles,” he said. “How many of these worthless vegetable scraps can you put into this glass full of sugar? The answer was obvious, None. While filled with good, there is no room for the bad. l remember nothing else about that day.
How valuable yet how simple this lesson. The Lord Himself originally taught it when He told of the unclean
spirit who, having gone out of a man, returned to find the house unoccupied. The spirit moved hack in with seven other spirits more wicked than himself (Luke 11:24-26), Oh, what a hopeless mess we can make of our lives! An older woman wakes up every morning unwilling to face another day of the unhappy, downward spiral that depression brings. There are no physical problems. Only her thinking is depressed. A young homosexual feels trapped by his ungodly practice. Believing heaven will not admit the likes of him, he wonders if he really was born that way and really is powerless to rise above the sin in which he flounders.
“Worldly,” you say? Right, but these were baptized believers caught in Satan’s web, the same one he would weave for each one of us. “Not me,” you say? We pray not, but consider this. A Christian deals with his son out of anger, failing to consistently exercise discipline. Often he says one thing and does another. His son grows up confused by his fathers hypocrisy and provoked by his anger.He learns anger of his own and also learns how to rebel against his father, perhaps others. Sin is sin. While the nature differs, these three cases each bear the marks of habitual sin. “Little children, let no one deceive you, the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil” (1 John 3:7-8).
There is a bright spot. There is hope in sin! Not in the practice of sin, but in the glorious fact that Jesus has paid the price for sin. Yours, mine and, yes, even the homosexuals (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), All we need do is recognize when the negatives of life are sin, or are due to sin; repent and follow the Lord’s way to remission and justification.
Uncle Paul’s glassful of sugar vividly illustrated for me the way that positive morality eliminates the negative. The Bible calls it putting away and putting on, an essential principle of Christianity. Many Christians have not yet grasped this principle and more have not yet made it a part of their lives.
Long ago, another Paul taught, “lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit . . . be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth” (Ephesians 4:22—24). Again, “consider your earthly body as dead to immorality . . . put them all aside , , .you laid aside the old self with its evil practices and have put on the new self” (Colossians 3:5-10}.
There is no more practical or needed message in God’s book, If there is sin in your life, there are two steps you must take with the Lords help, First, cast out the sinful, immoral practice and second, begin an offsetting practice of what is moral, what is right before God. The process is as clear as cleaning a dirty glass and filling it with sugar. Put aside the old and put on the new. Both steps are necessary to change, but when the old has been put aside, let none of us forget to emphasize positive morality. Keeping our lives filled to the brim with right living will eliminate the negatives and keep us safe from Satan’s web. How terrible if, having swept and cleaned, we leave the house unoccupied only to be filled with greater evil than before.
CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE JANUARY, 1984