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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
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Tuesday, March 07, 2006
The Infinite Lull…

I had a dream last night that I found quite disturbing - because in it I willfully engaged in sin. At some point I “came to my senses” – that is, I understood that what I was doing was entirely against the Lord, and the moment I did I stopped sinning the sin and immediately confessed it as sin before the Lord (yes…. I pray in my dreams too).

Now, some Christians guffaw at that sort of “piety.” These same will muse that because dreams are A] not ‘real’ and B] we are typically only semi-aware in them: whatever transpires in our nocturnal consciousness is “above reproach.” Some might even quote scripture to emphasize the point – since scripture teaches that “a dream comes through the multitude of business” (Ecclesiastes 5:3) – that is, a day full of activity is likely to produce a night full of dreams. Surely, they reason, we are not held accountable for any sin committed in our dreams – in fact, some would flush in anger at the very suggestion that sin is possible in a dream.

I have never been of that opinion myself.

I am careful to note that I have never found a verse that teaches me explicitly that I am morally accountable to God for whatever occurs in my dreams, but I do have many verses that teach that the root problem with me is not the outward act of sin, but the inward condition of sin – a truth that comes to light when I examine the way in which I conduct myself in my dreams.

I have prayed this prayer in the past, and repeat it as often as I remember: “Lord, show me my sin – show me how sinful sin is, and cause me to hate it like you do.” I used to expect that God would hit me on the head with a magic wand and suddenly my eyes would be open to the profound sinfulness of sin – all in an instant; but that hasn’t been the case. Instead (over time), I get insight into the line between myself and sin. I begin to see with greater clarity that sin is who I am, and not what I do.

So it was this morning that I saw this truth in a brighter light. The moment I understood (in my dream) that I was sinning - that I wasn’t supposed to be doing it – I cried out to the Lord, and ran away from it.

There is a subtlety there that I hope isn’t missed. Until I fully understood that I was “sinning” I was enjoying it, but as soon as I understood that it was sinful, I fled from it. The fleeing itself was “unnatural” – a response of my will; my truest self however was entirely sold out to sin. The subtlety here was really drawn out by the dream because unlike “the real world” where I suppress the desire to sin long before it bears fruit – in the dream I didn’t, allowing me to see the line between who I am and what I do.

If I suppress who I am, I can act like someone else you see. In fact, if I act like someone else long enough, I might even begin to imagine I am someone else. If I get good at suppressing sinful desires – I begin to look “righteous” -- I am not righteous at heart, but I behave in a righteous manner because I am suppressing the *real* me.

It is one thing to know intellectually that I am sinful. I might even go so far as to admit that I am utterly sinful – but part of me is still fooled into thinking that so long as I can suppress sin, I am not entirely bad.

I am disgusted anew every time I see myself for what I truly am, and with each iteration I am slowly becoming convinced that it really is true – that I really am incurably sinful. All the suppression in the world won’t cure it. I have asked God to bring me to the end of myself – to empty me entirely of self so that I will be a tool fit to His use. I have prayed that the Lord of the harvest would *send* me into the harvest – that is, prepare me for the harvest that I might enter into it in His strength and not my own. I am not surprised therefore that I am seeing with greater clarity the nature of my sinfulness.

I have learned that sanctification is -not- suppression; that is, I understand that I am not being sanctified in the least by simply increasingly my ability to suppress my sinful tendencies. Suppressing sin is not sanctification – it is called “Judaism.” Seriously, what good Jew doesn’t suppress his or her sinful tendencies? How is that any different than what most Christians do? I stand on this - we make a gross error when we imagine that suppressing sin is actually God sanctifying us – yet many do just that. Like a devout Jew, they study scripture and pray, and begin to withdraw from sin – and lo and behold the external countenance is changed. They do in fact sin less than they use to. They keep themselves from all sorts of sin – and in doing so they give the glory to God. But they are only sinners who have trained themselves not to sin.

No right thinking tree farmer imagines that a spruce tree is an apple tree when someone hangs a bunch of apples off of it. The presence of the genuine apples doesn’t make the spruce tree an apple tree – it only shows that someone has dressed up a spruce tree with apples - the spruce tree is still a spruce tree and the moment you stop dressing it up with apples you see that it is still a spruce tree.

There are some among us for whom sanctification is little more than the hanging of “good work” apples on the spruce tree of their lives. That is they begin to live righteously assuming that by doing so they will be sanctified – in fact they believe that their righteous living is in fact what sanctification is all about.

They are wrong of course.

God sanctifies us – that is, he changes us so that the part of us that loves sin becomes powerless allowing the part of Him that loves righteousness to live in and through us. It isn’t that we suppress the part of us that loves sin – it is that Jesus Christ took that part of us to the cross. When we are truly willing (and not before) to die completely to a sin, when we can honestly reckon ourselves dead to that sin; then it is held powerless on the cross. *THAT* is sanctification. Not a work that I do, but a work that God does in me; Christ has born the punishment for my sin, and has freed me from its power (even if I linger in ignorant bondage).

It is tragic therefore to imagine that the suppression of sin is the mechanism by which God sanctifies us – or even worse, to imagine that this same suppression of sin is (in and of itself) the “sanctification” that comes with justification. We are sanctified in the same way we were justified – by faith. We are foolish Galatians indeed, running about trying to sanctify ourselves as though we could change a thing.

So the dream I had this morning underscored this truth again for me. I am not a good man who sometimes sin – I am a sinner to the core who through conscious effort has learned to suppress my sinful desires.

Not that we shouldn’t suppress our sinful desires – God forbid! We are to make no provisions for the flesh, and always and ever we are instructed to live righteously – a Christian should suppress his or her sinful desires – but this is not to be confused with sanctification. Sanctification is consecration – being set aside for a holy use or purpose; or perhaps more pragmatically: being made holy. Not acting holy – but being holy. Not that we suppress our desire to sin, but that the cross of Christ renders it powerless in our lives.

I know, I know – I am always on about this, but bear with me. People, if we could make ourselves holy we would have done so already. Only God can make you holy, and He has already accomplished the means in sending Christ to the cross – all we have to do is believe it, and everyone who does can overcome through Christ, the power of sin in their lives. Not that they will never be tempted or suddenly be sinless – but that the apples will grow naturally from within rather than be forced on from without. They will desire to do righteousness rather than desire to sin and live in a state of continuing suppression. Christ didn’t die so that we could suppress our sin – the Jews already had that.

Why do I pray that God opens my eyes to the sinfulness of sin? Because I see in myself that I still try and redeem the flesh – that is, I continue to try and please God by my external acts of righteousness. I know that these things are not pleasing, never the less I continue to cling to them because the alternative is so alien to my sense of reasoning. Unless God shatters my dependence on my own righteousness, I will never turn to His. I am not talking about justification here either – I know I am justified by the blood of Christ and not by my own righteousness – I am talking about being sanctified. Unless/Until I see my sin for what it is, I will never truly reckon it on the cross, because I won’t see the need for it to be there. I can fix it, I can suppress it, I can deal with it – and as long as I do, I snub God’s provision and suffer the temporal consequences – a lack of genuine fellowship with God. I cannot pretend I am “in the light” when I am still working at trying to “look like I am in the light.”

Anyway – dreams are dreams, God can use whatever He wants to open our eyes a little more (if we ask Him) – and in my case He used a dream I had this morning to show me anew that I am a sinner at the core, and that the magnitude of my suppression of sin doesn’t change who I am at the core. The way of the cross is not the same as the way of the Jew – it may seem right to a man, but that way doesn’t lead to deliverance, it keeps one in bondage. We do ourselves an injustice if we re-label bondage as “freedom” just because we know we are *supposed* to be free. We have all heard the cliché about the prisoner who is set free but remains in the cell; I tell you that it is worse than this – it is an oarsman on a galley who has been freed, but continues to push on the oar even though he is no longer shackled to it – striving to please his master in the hopes that doing so will somehow give him what has already been freely given.

I am appalled and amazed that so many of us have entered into a walk with Christ that at once denies the possibility of freedom while resting (albeit uncomfortably) in the bondage of sin. Unless this infinite lull is addressed, it will be passed on to future generations of Christians.

I am reminded that David’s son would build a house for the name of God – we see that prophesy fulfilled in Solomon with the temple – but we also see it fulfilled in Christ who builds the true house (as in household/family) of God. Will this family be worthy of the name? Solomon built the temple with the finest materials – no expense was spared – this was (after all) a house built that was to be worthy of God’s name. If this was the shadow of what was coming – how should we conduct ourselves with respect to building the house of God? With beggarly materials – surely our God is worthy of better than we can give Him – in fact, unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.

posted by Daniel @ 12:30 PM  
17 Comments:
  • At 2:48 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Gordon Cloud said…

    Daniel, this is good stuff. I don't put a great deal of stock in modern psychology, but it does teach us that dreams often reveal some of our innermost feelings. Therefore sinful dreams certainly can be indicative of the sinful nature.

    O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7:24-25b

     
  • At 3:47 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, dreams can be very self-convicting as they reveal our true depravity when we are only semi-cognizant of our faculties.

    There is a verse though that brings dreams into the realm of our responsibility; we are to bring every thought captive, that includes the ones in our half conscious state.

    Dreams do however show us the evil nature of sin when we think we have somehow become better.

    Good post,

    Jim

     
  • At 4:24 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    I hadn't considered the verse about taking every thought captive - very applicable.

    Thanks Jim.

    Gordon - yeah, I am not much on psychology - especially when it comes to dreams.

     
  • At 10:36 PM, March 07, 2006, Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said…

    Prov 3:21-24 ". . . keep sound wisdom and discretion so . . . when you lie down your sleep will be sweet"

    Let us pray to that end!

     
  • At 7:59 AM, March 08, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Another great verse Jonathan! Thanks.

    <begin tangent>
    No one mentioned how creepy the image looked? I really had to comb the net for it.

    Years ago, when I played role playing games daily, there was a game based on HP Lovecraft's Cthulhulian mythology named after one of his short stories (Call of Cthulhu). The game was "twisted" of course involving a pantheon of bizarre and malevolent deities, and their equally bizarre worshippers who were bent on bringing them into this world. This picture here is one of the illustrations from the book, and I have always found it exceptionally creepy.

    So, having thrown the book out long ago, I had to search like crazy to find the image on line (I was sure it was online, but how do you look for it: google creepy?)

    I managed to find a site that listed the artists who worked on the book, then I googled each artist's name. Turns out this one was done by a fellow named Les Edwards.

    Anyway, it was pretty creepy as far as I was concerned.

    </end tangent>

     
  • At 8:56 AM, March 08, 2006, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    Yes, I thought the image was creepy. I was going to comment on it, but by the time I got to the end of the post, I was thinking of more serious things. That is what you wanted, isn't it?

     
  • At 8:59 AM, March 08, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    If I looked as creepy as that guy I'd probably only come out at night too. :)

    David, I obviously missed the intent of this post. I thought it was to create serious dialogue on dreams? Silly me...


    BTW, that is one creepy picture!

     
  • At 9:32 AM, March 08, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    David - yup, that was the idea.

    Jim - not to create a serious dialog on dreams so much as to draw out the difference between having a clean heart and having an unclean heart that (by habit and practice) has become adept at suppressing sin so as to resemble a clean heart...

     
  • At 9:38 AM, March 08, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    When I was a new believer and I would have a dream about being attracted to a man other than my husband, it disturbed me to no end. At the time, I began praying before sleep that in my dreams I would honor the Lord, because in my waking hours I could consciously take thoughts captive or halt such things before they went further. But in my dreams... how could I do this? I didn't think I could, so I began submitting my dreams to Him before slumber took me over.
    I don't do this regularly anymore, but I believe I need to. I can't stand it when less than God-honoring thoughts appear in my dreams.
    But you are right. I sin because I am a sinner through and through. Justified only through the work of Christ.

     
  • At 10:40 AM, March 08, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    You know, you've got me thinking and praying on this now. It's not just about submitting to Him each night before slumber (although that in itself is still a good idea), but it's about reckoning sin for what it is in the daylight as well. In His light.
    I like your prayer and am saying it now as well, that I would see my sin as He sees it and hate it as He does.
    I confess I hadn't read your post thoughtfully before submitting my comment (I often print entries from blogs to read more carefully in my comfy chair after an initial breeze-read on the monitor.)
    After a second read of your entry, I realize you're speaking of how sanctification is God's work, when we are truly and fully willing to submit our sins - recognizing them for what they are by His standards - to Him.
    This puts my a.m. reading today in a fresh light as well - John 8. Wherein Jesus tells people that they shall know the truth, and the truth shall set them free. So the listeners inquired of Him how this can be, since they were not in slavery (or so they thought). Jesus said anyone who sins is a slave to sin.
    Your post has caused me reflection and prayer on this. Thank you.

     
  • At 11:04 AM, March 08, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, yes that is basically what I meant. Dreams are truly an interesting thing, they can reveal many things about us...almost as creepy as that painting.

     
  • At 2:33 PM, March 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Excellent post Daniel. This is also something God has been teaching me for many years. I find so many Christians just shrug it off, "all my sins were forgiven at the cross", "we're just human", "it's under the blood", "perfect before God through Jesus" etc, etc.
    Trying to explain to Christians that we still have sin in our (carnal) nature have been the most frustrating conversations I have ever had.
    Mostly they try to change their behaviour by 'trying hard' and 'changing the external', which is how they work at santification.
    Would you mind if I printed this out to share?
    I'd love to share with you the 'word picture' of this process that I use, but how long do you want comments to be?? :>)
    Eunice

     
  • At 3:16 PM, March 08, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Eunice, you can print it out and share it, that is fine. You can also add your word picture to the comment section, I am sure it will be edifying!

     
  • At 3:40 PM, March 08, 2006, Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said…

    Thanks for sharing that. That is a very challenging thought.

    God Bless

    Matthew

     
  • At 3:53 PM, March 08, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Matt - hey thanks for reading it! ;-)

     
  • At 6:17 PM, March 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Okay Daniel, here goes. Whether by dreams or conversation or experience, when we sincerely seek to see ourselves as God does, He will reveal to us the sin that resides in our carnal nature (I love that old KJV term) that we have not seen before.

    My understanding of the 'carnal nature' and 'spiritual nature' began as I struggled to understand how we get the fruit of the Spirt (a great summary of the nature and character of God - in Gal 5) to actually BE a part of who we are. More than just 'doing the right thing' I wanted my inner character to BE Christlike. I used to pray God would, for example, 'give me patience', 'give me peace', give me love' etc. That thinking came from the many sermons I heard on how to become a 'good' Christian. The harder I tried, the more I failed. I could 'do the right thing' Monday, and maybe even make it to Wednesday and then utterly fail, so I'd pick myself up and try it all over again the next week. Sound familiar?

    However, I have learned my real problem is not 'learning to do the right thing, practise makes perfect, or simply making a better choice', but it is SIN. I'll pick on patience as an example ('cause we can all understand that one!). My problem is not that I 'need God to give me patience', but my problem is the 'sin of impatience' within me.
    So, picture yourself holding a cup of coffee - and you want a drink of cold. clear water. Pour in cold water all you want - you'll just end up with lukewarm, watered down coffee. First you must empty the cup of coffee, and wash it out, and then pour in the cold, pure water to quench your thirst.

    Like this cup, the area in my life where I desire to be filled with patience, I realized, is already filled with impatience. So how do I remedy this? I cannot - but I know God can. So I use as my pattern of prayer 1 John 1:9 (personalized) "if I confess my sin (see the coffee - recognize my awful sin of impatience), He is faithful and just to forgive my sin, (he dumps the coffee out - thank you God for forgiveness), and cleanse me from my unrighteousness (wash the cup - cleanse me from my sin)". Now Lord, please pour in Your nature and character, 'patience' into that place instead.

    It's an ongoing process that will never be complete in me until I am 'like Him' in eternity. I'm not 'perfect' in any way, but little by little He is changing me. I see it when I respond to a situation in a way I never humanly could have before. I see it when I realize the hurts in my life are healed as I am cleansed from my resentment, bitterness and inappropriate anger. I see it when I can rejoice with a friend about their new house - car - vacation - stuff..., where once I would have been filled with envy....

    I hope this makes sense. Tried to keep it short but....

    Eunice

     
  • At 12:07 PM, March 09, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Eunice - I am *so* glad that you decided to post that. Thanks!

    lol - you know what I did? I read your post in my email account (the posts are forwarded there) and I commented the above in a post on another thread! I am pretty silly (that is careless) sometimes. ;-)

    Seriously though we are blessed by your sharing - thanks!

     
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