Summary: This sermon deals with the evils of Mardi Gras and its effect upon the heart, mind and soul of men, especially Christians who take part in the revelry.
FAREWELL TO THE FLESH
Since we live in south Louisiana, I think it would be timely for this message concerning the Mardi Gras season. It’s that time again; the time for King Cakes, Purple and Gold decorations, costumes and decadence beyond description. This is the time when the true heart of sinful man shows it’s colors in reckless abandonment of all that is decent and moral.
I think it is important that we look at some of the things that are going on at this time of the year and see what God’s Word says about them. Too many people who call themselves “born again Christians” are easy prey to the pressures to fall into the Carnival atmosphere. The Catholics may be the man participants in the Carnival but there are just as many Protestants that jump on the bandwagon of Carnival with them.
The amazing thing is that the Carnival season actually brings out in people the opposite of what it’s very name is supposed to mean. You see, Carnival is the Latin word for “farewell to flesh or meat”.
We are nearing the time of Lent which is supposed to be a time of “sacrifice, penance and repentance” and a time of “reflection” for those who are of the Catholic church.
Lent is the 40 day period between Mardi Gras day, or “Fat Tuesday” and Easter Sunday. In this year of 2004, the Carnival season is underway as the Krewes prepare their parades and the final day of Mardi Gras comes ever nearer on February 24th. During that time most Catholics will give up something that they enjoy doing as a form of paying penance for their sins. During Lent, they are not to eat any form of meat on Friday in observance of the fact that Jesus died on the Cross and gave his life for them on Friday.
Some will give up chewing gum. Some may give up their cigarettes. Some may give up drinking of alcoholic beverages. Each one must make their own choice of what is a “proper penance” to pay for their life of sin and debauchery. The problem is that as soon as the 40 days of lent are passed, they resume the same old lifestyle. For a lot of them, I think it may take the whole 40 days of lent just to get all of the alcohol and drugs out of their system, but most don’t last that long before they fall off the wagon anyway, so it’s all just a show; a way to prove how “religious” they are; and a way to try to sooth a guilty conscious if they even have a conscious anymore, because many have a seared conscious that doesn’t even bring conviction upon them anymore.
1 Timothy 4:1-3, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."
Lent begins after the Carnival season ends but before that “time of repentance and reflection” arrives, the normal morality of people is cast aside and a time of absolute immorality replaces it. The problem is that the “normal morality” is no morality anyway, so then the immorality that replaces it is becomes nothing less than a flaunting of man’s darkest nature before the whole world. The time of “repentance” is not a time of repentance at all but only a return to the normal immorality. There will be plenty to repent of but this won’t be a true repentance, only a slow down in the committing of sin for a short season.
I doubt that you will see many lives changed because of Lent. I don’t believe that there will be a massive revival in the ranks of those who celebrate Mardi Gras just because Fat Tuesday ends and Lent begins. Oh you will see more religious rituals and observance of special events in the church, but the heart won’t be changed.
If there was really a time of repentance during Lent, there wouldn’t be a Mardi Gras next year to have to repent for.
The Bible says in 1 John 2:16, "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
If there is ever a time that we need to heed these words, Mardi Gras is that time. The lust of the eyes can be filled to overflowing with the nudity in the streets and immoral acts out in open public view. The lust of the flesh knows no limits but people will push the envelope as far as they can for the next few weeks and, when these days are over, they will look back upon them and wonder why they did many things that they did, because they will recognize that they went farther than they intended to go in the celebrating of the flesh. The Pride of Life will be so visible in the proud look and the “in your face” attitude of the gay crowd, and I don’t mean happy.