Isaiah 61:1-3 ESV
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”
Wild at Heart?
The Lord Jesus brought back to mind this morning the teachings of a man named John Eldredge. He is an author of books written for men teaching men on how to be men. But his teachings are very twisted and unbiblical and even heretical in many places. And what he is teaching men about being men is mostly, though not all, in direct contradiction to what the Scriptures teach men they should be and how they should live. And this type of teaching is leading and/or encouraging many men, mostly those who are already bent that way, into living in captivity to sexual immorality.
In his famous book, “Wild at Heart,” he compares all men to a lion living in a cage in a zoo. And what cage does Eldredge say men live in? Basically, though not always spelled out, but implied, he sees their cage as their homes, as the Garden of Eden, somewhat the church, the norms of society, religion, the “ought tos” and the “should nots,” and neat, orderly, and controlled environments. And he believes men should be wild, untamed, undomesticated, and that they should follow the natural inclinations of their own hearts and desires, and he teaches they can trust their hearts (1).
He compared all men to Adam and he talked about how God created Adam outside of Eden and then he placed him inside Eden, and ever since then, he said, “boys have never been at home indoors” (in Eden), and “men have had an insatiable longing to explore” (outside the Garden), and that man longs to return from whence he came, i.e. to the natural state from which he was first created. He said that is where (or when) “most men come alive.” And all men’s natural state is born in the image of Adam with sin natures (2).
But the Garden of Eden is where Adam and Eve walked in pure fellowship with God until they sinned against God and then God had to cast them out of the garden, for sin could not exist in the Garden of Eden. For Eden represents a place of moral purity and walks of obedience to our Lord and pure fellowship with our Lord. So when Eldredge compares “Eden” to a place boys want to escape from so that they can return to the wild where they can come alive because they have an insatiable longing to explore, that can only suggest that men should go outside the purity of their relationships with God so that they can follow after their insatiable longing to explore sin.
Now, what is concerning about John Eldredge’s teachings is that he is a very popular author among evangelical Christian men, and many men’s groups in various institutional churches are studying his books in their small groups in place of studying the Scriptures. And so many men in our churches are being taught that to be a man is to explore outside the confines of their homes (and marriages) and outside the confines of moral purity and righteousness and holiness, and for them to become “wild at heart.” And that just isn’t biblical. It is antibiblical. For they are to be like Jesus Christ.
So the result of this kind of teaching, for those who are following the likes of John Eldredge, is that many men are rebelling against God’s design and purpose for their lives and they are exploring outside the confines of Eden, i.e. their pure relationships with the Lord, and outside the confines of their homes and marriages, and they are following that insatiable longing to explore outside of God’s moral boundaries and outside the moral and ethical norms of society. Now I am certain that not every man who reads John Eldredge’s books is doing this, but many are, with or without his books.
They are living wild and uncontrolled lives following after the insatiable longings of their fleshly appetites, and this is ongoing even after they have professed faith in Jesus Christ. And they are still engaged in the same sins they were engaged in before they made their professions of faith in Christ. And many of them are addicted to pornography for their own selfish lustful appetites and for sport and as a diversion and as a hobby (pastime). So, instead of living holy lives, faithful, honest, and pure, they are living wild, untamed, faithless, dishonest, and impure lives for their own self-pleasure.
And this is not just confined to men. Many women are also engaged in addiction to pornography and to other sexually addictive practices, but this does seem to be primarily something men engage in. But whether you are male or female, the same situation exists, which is that many people are being encouraged to explore outside the confines of their marriage relationships and outside of God’s moral boundaries he has set down for us.
Freedom for the Captives
But we, as followers of Jesus Christ, are not only to be rejecting such teaching as this, and not only should we be living moral and pure lives to the glory of God, free from addiction to sin, but we are to be those who are proclaiming freedom to those who are living in captivity to sin. And we should be leading the captives to freedom, not coddling them in their sin. And we should be opening those prison doors by teaching the truth of the Scriptures and by exposing the lies of false teachers.
We should be proclaiming that Jesus Christ died on that cross, not just to forgive us our sins, and not just so we can go to heaven when we die, but so that we can be delivered from our captivity to sin and now walk in holiness and in righteousness in humility and in submission to Christ as Lord of our lives. And John Eldredge does not teach that in “Wild at Heart.” He does not teach that men are to be humble and submissive to God and obedient to his ways and that they should live moral, pure, and honorable lives in loving relationships with their wives in faithfulness and honesty and in moral purity.
But we need to be teaching the truth because people need to be delivered from their captivity to sin so that they can walk in holiness and in righteousness. For, if we continue in deliberate and habitual (addictive) sin, and if obedience to our Lord and righteous living are not what we practice, the Scriptures teach that we will die in our sins, and that heaven will not be our eternal destiny, regardless of what professions of faith in Jesus Christ we have uttered with our lips. So, we need to take this to heart.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
An Original Work / August 29, 2018
Your bond is broken
With your Lord and Savior
And your testimony is
Separate from Him.
Your words not matching
Your actions today.
Repent of your sin and
Bow down and pray.
Live what you testify
In truth always.
Purity’s lacking in
Your life and witness,
For you profess one thing,
But other you do.
Not moral, spiritual.
Still of the flesh.
Not living in truth to
What you confess.
Lying about it
Puts you in a mess.
Living a lie is your practice,
‘tis true of you.
Masquerade righteousness –
None of it true.
Your heart is not given
To your Lord God.
Because of how you live,
You are a fraud.
Turn from your sin and
Give your life to God.
(1) Man Over God – http://christsfreeservant.blogspot.com/2014/03/man-over-god.html
(2) In Whose Image – footnote: We humans are created in the image of God but we are born in the image of Adam into this world, i.e. we come into this world with sin natures separate from God.