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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.
My complete profile...
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.
- Marc Heinrich
His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole
[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.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos
Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead
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.
- Carla Rolfe
| Delivery Room Tools
|Having had our fourth child about three and a half months ago, I am familiar with a certain tray in the delivery room. It is usually covered by a clean, hospital green sheet so that the tray itself seems harmless enough. Yet beneath the hospital greens everyone knows is a gleaming set of stainless steel surgical instruments at hand to assist the delivery should the need arise.
Most of us are not doctors, though we probably know a couple personally. When we interact with the medical system, it is usually in the capacity of a patient, or the friend or family member of another patient. That is, we are either spectators, or the subject of medical attention our selves. Even from our limited perspective most of us appreciate the necessity of such a tray.
Not many of us would shun or refuse their presence or use, should a medical professional deem that use appropriate - we accept that we are simply not qualified to make a decision, and therefore submit ourselves or our loved ones to trust in the hands of someone who actually is qualified to make such decisions.
Hold that thought.
Whenever we think the right thing to do is "X" yet we willfully do "Y" (or alternately we simply fail to do "X") - our action transgresses our conscience; whenever we transgress our conscience we experience a sensation known as "guilt" or "remorse."
Conscience, and subsequently Guilt, are tools God has given to every one of us. Just as our nerves tell us when something is going wrong physically, so too, our conscience produces a sense of guilt whenever we do something wrong spiritually.
In 1 Timothy 4:1-2 we read, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,..."
While guilt/remorse is produced by the conscience, shame and dishonor are produced by the ego (pride). We don't want to confuse or commingle the outcome from a transgressed conscience with the outcome from a shamed ego. The adulterous man who has long since seared his conscience so that his adultery no longer bothers him, may still remain discreet to protect his reputation - that is he wants to be thought of as upright.
The distinction between the two is minor, but I want to touch on it before I go on - the fear of being ashamed or dishonored comes from an inflated opinion of our selves - it diagnoses a sin problem - pride. Unless a man is proud, he cannot feel ashamed or dishonored. Such feelings are always and ever symptoms of self exaltation - pride. Guilt (remorse) on the other hand has nothing to do with our reputation, but rather has to do with a certain internal awareness that whatever we have done or failed to do was in fact a moral failure. Although we can't truly articulate it - we intuitively understand that our moral failure has "depreciated" us in some way.
Instinctively we desire to restore our selves to our previous state - that is, we want to "appease" our guilty conscience by "making it right."
Okay - back to the delivery room. The conscience is one of God's "delivery room tools."
Christ died to save us from our sins - not just sin's penalty, but sin's power to rule over us. When we were saved Christ quickened our conscience so that we became "sensitive" to sin - that is, we gained an acute sense of sinfulness when we transgress our conscience.
This "sin guilt" is, in a word, awful it tells us that we have done something that is not pleasing to God. Immature Christianity is entirely focused on dealing with sin guilt.
Since we are in the delivery room, let me use an appropriate example: My wife, in giving birth to our four children, did so without any drugs. No epidural, no Demerol - nothing. For the benefit of those of you have have not been in a delivery room, I will inform you that "labor" generally has two stages. The first is the contractions and whatnot - cramping pains as the body prepares itself to deliver the child. The second state is called "the transition" - it is the actual child birth part - when the mother is told to "push." Contractions and whatnot hurt, but the real pain comes in the transition - when the baby is being pushed through the birth canal. Every time my wife has gone through the transition phase - she is entirely "zoned" - If you want to say something to her you have to scream it in her ear, because nothing in the world exists for her at that moment except pain - nothing else has her attention, nor can it get her attention - she is in her own world, and no one can reach her because the pain has her full attention.
Immature Christianity is like that - laboring in birth, the new believer isn't focused on evangelism, or ministry, or anything else - the main focus of the new believer is sin guilt, and trying get out from under it. New believers will try to articulate this saying, "All I know is that I want to live a life that is entirely pleasing to God" - meaning, "All I know is that I am mortified by my sin - it is always before me, and I want to be free from it in a desperate way."
The desire to be out from under the guilt of sin is enough to motivate new believers to stop sinning as much as is within their power to do. For some, the change is profound - for others less pronounced - but the end result is that the believer deals with sin by suppressing it as much as they are able. They aren't really interested in ministry or evangelism - because although they are genuinely saved from hell (justified) they are only just beginning the process of sanctification. Christ hasn't been fully formed in them yet (that is, they are not fully sanctified/mature/perfected/complete or however you wish to describe it - Christ hasn't yet been "formed" in them - that is, they are not like Christ yet, they are simply justified - and as such they still presently labor to enter into genuine rest.
Prior to the cross a repentant Gentile could join himself to Israel by exercising faith in Jehovah God (not unlike Abraham). In doing so, the individual was saved from God's wrath (justified). Thereafter the "convert" would observe the sacrificial laws to deal with his or her personal sins. So too the immature believer has joined himself to Israel, through Christ, and is justified by his faith on account of that. The immature Christian no longer looks to the OT sacrificial laws to deal with his sin guilt - but identifies the true sacrifice - Christ Jesus, as having borne his sins on the cross where God Himself has punished them one and all - that is, there is no more condemnation to anyone who was in Christ, because God punished the sins already of anyone who was/is in Christ - demonstrating the completeness of our forgiveness by raising Christ from the dead since we were in Christ at the time He was raised - we are therefore accepted by God being in the beloved.
But that is only dealing with our justification - our sanctification is not like it was before the cross. Prior to the cross there was no balm for sin - the law pointed out what sin was, and it was up to the believer to suppress it as best as he or she could - and trust in the sacrifice for everything that he or she could not. The new covenant God made with Israel was not like the old covenant - it actually did something the old covenant did not - it provided a way for the believer to have genuine, practical victory over sin's power. The heart of stone (the law) that was in Israel was replaced by a heart of flesh (the Spirit) in the new covenant.
That is why it is so important to understand that everything Jesus did in His earthly ministry He did through the power of the Holy Spirit - that is, if we fail to comprehend the genuine humanity of Christ - we will naturally reason that when Jesus walked on water, healed the sick, and lived without sin it was only on account of His being God - and had nothing to do with his being utterly reliant on the Holy Spirit. When we think like that are we not blaspheming the Holy Spirit that enabled Christ to do these things? I tremble at the thought!
I don't think for one second that Christ read minds "because He was God", or that Christ healed the sick and raised the dead "because He was God" - and I certainly don't think he lived without sinning "because He was God" - rather I think He lived without sinning because He walked in the Spirit and didn't fulfill the lusts of the flesh - just as we are instructed to do. To write off what Christ did as though it were a consequence of His own divinity is to deny that the Holy Spirit was doing it - something the Pharisees did when they charged Christ with casting out demons by Beelzebub. Christ explained that they weren't speaking against Him - they were speaking against the Holy Spirit - the same eternal Spirit through whom Christ offered Himself without spot to God.
If you are still of the opinion that Christ exercised His divinity during His humiliation - you need to go back to the book - big time.
Notwithstanding - the immature believer is identified in this way - they still labor against sin. Can I be so bold? Until they enter into rest, their ministry will remain carnal - since they are still carnal Christians. That isn't to say that their ministry will not have some effect - but it is to say that it will not motivated by love, but by guilt.
You see, Guilt is one tool that the Lord uses to bring about the formation of Christ in us. I am not talking about justification here - that is, when I say the "formation of Christ" I am not using that as a metaphor for justification - I am using it quite practically - the person of Christ cannot be formed in person who is living carnally - that is, Light cannot have fellowship with darkness, and anyone who thinks that they are in fellowship with God when they are still struggling against sin is lying and is not practicing the truth. The way is actually narrow and few even see it, and even amongst those few who can see it, fewer still enter into that rest.
God uses our conscience to make us guilty - and our sense of guilt burdens us so that we try to get out from under the burden. It is a surgical tool in the hand of the Lord - we need our guilt to bring us to the end of our selves - to the place where we are willing to stop trying to fix our selves, to accept our state as "unfixable" - to see the only solution is death on the cross - and to be willing to go there because there is no other way.
But our enemy is crafty - and a false religion has sprung up within the true church. It teaches that we are justified, but never truly sanctified (at least here and now). It teaches us that Christian sanctification works exactly like Islamic, Buddhistic, or even humanistic sanctification - that is, you simply learn to suppress your sin, except you give God the hat tip when you do.
The problem with suppressing your sin, is that suppression doesn't do anything except thwart the commission of sin - that is, it makes the outside of your cup clean. You haven't gotten rid of sin - you are just developing habits that help you sin less. You are trying to make yourself stop sinning, by sinning less - and that doesn't work. While it is true that the outward expression of sin can be momentarily thwarted by good habits - the desire to sin within you cannot be starved to death - if you suppress it, it will find expression in some other way until such time as you wear yourself out trying to suppress it, then in the same moment you relax your strangle hold on it - it rises again - very much alive for all your suppressionism.
You have to understand, you don't need Jesus to fight sin that way - all you need is discipline and devotion - and a firm conviction that there is no other way to deal with sin.
If this to you is "sanctification" - you need to understand that all you are really doing is using the law to identify sin, then motivated by your own guilt at sinning you are trying to stop sin with all the power you have - and let me tell you - you may stop a lot of the external stuff - swearing, getting drunk, sexual sin, etc. But no matter how determined you are to put a lid on sin - you have no power whatsoever to change your spots -- you cannot even get past the first commandment; you cannot make yourself love God with all your heart through a regiment of disciplined but ultimately flawed obedience. This sort of "victory" is entirely superficial. It does however serve one "good" purpose: it can bring you, if you are genuinely seeking God - it can bring you to the cross where Christ won the victory for you.
It may seem crazy, but victory over sin is achieved through faith and not effort.
Not that you sit down one day and determine to "believe" - as though it were simply a matter of making a personal affirmation and believing it. You may have all the facts, but you can't put faith in them until God gives you that grace, and this same grace is only given to the humble.
Humble yourself beneath the mighty hand of God, and He -will- lift you up.
God knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust. He has even invited us to "reason together" with Him, having opened the way to Himself (by Himself). This "way" isn't fancy and new - it is spoken of in scripture - Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart! What does the brother of our Lord encourage us to do - cleanse our hands and purify our hearts - so that we no longer are double minded - that is, carnal on the one hand, and spiritual on the other. If we want to be in fellowship with light, we have to purge out all the darkness, not simply suppressing the darkness - but purging that bitter stream so that it no longer brings forth bitter and sweet water both - but only sweet water.
How do we get to the place where we are able to see ourselves on the cross in Christ? How do we get to the place where we can have faith for cleansing - so that we no longer flop about in Romans seven - but enter into Romans eight? - through Romans six - we need to go to the cross - and it isn't something we do through discipline, it is something we do through faith as opposed to through effort. Rest is entered into through death on the cross - and not through anything else. Not a mind game, not some Gnostic knowledge that once we possess it we have power to do what those who do not possess it cannot - no. It is humility and trust - a humble walk with God.
We must stop trying to please God through obedience and rather we must trust that God is already placated towards us solely because we were in Christ when God poured His (entire) wrath out on our sins - that is, we must understand that the reason there is now no condemnation for our sins is because they have all been condemned already. Whatever obedience we can muster will add NOTHING to this picture. Let that sink in for a long, long time - nothing we do can alter our standing before God.
If we don't "have" to obey God - why should we obey God? This was the objection that the apostle Paul anticipated in presenting the truths of Romans eight - that is, if you tell someone they are no longer under condemnation - they are going to sin like crazy - something that Paul addressed by writing Romans six and seven. No, he says, they won't sin like crazy just because they are not under condemnation - they can't sin like because the Spirit of Christ is in them - and Christ's ministry in them is to save them from their sin - something He does by sending the Holy Spirit into their lives to bring them to the cross where sin was rendered powerless. They will obey God because the law will continue to condemn them until they enter into rest - either way, they will either resemble a pious Jew by trying to keep the law in their own strength - or they will resemble Christ Himself by obeying the Holy Spirit within them.
Why do we obey? In first John we see three levels of Christian maturity, little children, young men, and fathers.
Why do little children obey? If you are immature (spiritually) you obey because the Spirit within you is pressing you (through your conscience) to towards the cross - you want to be out from under the guilt of your sin - so you do all you know how to do to avoid it - that is, you teach yourself to sin less so as to avoid the guilt. You are not motivated by a love for God rather you are motivated by an all consuming desire to be free from the guilt of sin.
Why do young men obey? At some point, if you are both genuine, and earnest - you will come to the place where you have gone as far as you can go in the flesh. When you get there, you will either:  meander back and forth at the wall - trying desperately to "break through" and surrender all - but never really getting there. Eventually after continual defeat you will become discouraged and stop trying, and satisfy yourself to "do your best" - these remain carnal all their walk - and never grow from infancy into "young men." Alternately however,  when you come to the end of your own efforts against sin - you understand that all your "victory" up to this point has actually been worthless. You will see for the first time that all your good habits and discipline have done absolutely nothing to change your sinfulness - but have only revealed with greater and greater clarity that you are in fact, still in your sins. Depending on your theological bent, you will either understand that you are a carnal believer, or you will suspect that you were never saved in the first place. One thing is for sure - you will know with some degree of certainty - that suppressionism cannot cure your carnality - and you will begin to seek God, not to be saved from hell - but to be saved from sin.
The young man (spiritually speaking) begins to obey God because he starts to understand that Christ can truly set him free from the root problem - the internal desire to sin. The young man has been set free from the law, because he understands that his personal righteousness is garbage, neither commending him to God, nor providing any freedom from sin's dominion - so he turns to in obedience to God for the sole purpose of being free from sin's power. No longer is he obedient to "The Law" - because he no longer needs to be convinced that he is hopeless and helpless - now he turns to the Holy Spirit whom Christ sent in His own stead to help the believer. He trusts the Holy Spirit to change Him from within - and understands the purpose of obedience is not "in order to be pleasing to God" - but in order to let God cleanse him. He obeys because God cannot cleanse a man who is not humbled before Him - he obeys because he realizes that the grace he needs to be truly free from sin's power is only given to the humble - so, while he is like the "little child" spiritually in that he still wants to be free from the guilt of sin - yet his obedience itself he no longer imagines to be the means to that ends - now he sees his obedience in terms of humbling himself before God - he begins to "sell everything" in order to purchase the "pearl of great value."
Why do Fathers obey? When the "young man" allows the Holy Spirit to trim the vine - and the Holy Spirit begins to show the young man everything that stands between himself and God - and the young man begins to give up these things - one by one, so that eventually there is nothing left that the believer isn't willing to set aside for God - at that point grace comes into the believer's life, and his heart is cleansed; that is, the bitter stream within is "cleansed" so that the believer is no longer tempted from wickedness within (though he is still tempted from without) - there is no longer any internal compromise - the believer is holy - "sanctified" At this point he has opened the door to God and God in turn comes in to him, and sups with him, and he with God. The believer has "entered into rest." Having nothing to be guilty of, this believer's obedience is entirely an expression of love. He obeys because the love of God drowns out every temptation to the contrary - he loves God, knowing Him intimately, and he obeys because there is no longer a desire within him to do his own will. He is still tempted as all men are - and like Adam who was sinless and living in a perfect environment could sin - so too can a mature believer sin -- but it isn't like it was before - before sin wasn't severing his fellowship with God - He wasn't really in fellowship - sin just maintained the status quo of being out of fellowship. Now sin can sever him from God - and he is not ignorant as he was in his youth - he knows whom he forsakes - and it would take much temptation, and a good measure of beguiling to wrest him from his stay in grace. Not impossible (Adam is our example) - yet not likely under normal circumstances. Such a believer isn't seeking sin, but stumbles into it - and immediately deals with it when things go wrong.
Guilt therefore is not a bad thing - it is a fantastic thing. It is God Himself working tirelessly to bring us into fellowship with Himself. If we understand these things, we will not flounder about in our immaturity - but will move on to maturity ("perfection" - "completeness").
My suspicion is that in the last hundred years, the enemy has somehow managed to keep most Christians as "little children" - such that the vast majority of believers today pay lip service to the idea that sin will no longer have dominion over them - but will defend their sinfulness from the rooftops claiming that none can be free from sin in this lifetime - as though the bible even hinted at such an abominable thought.
posted by Daniel @
I really like it, you are an articulate man, but now you are starting to make sense (ha ha).
That being said, I believe you may need to define things further. Only the "fathers" are in fellowship with God? Only they have the dining in or supping aspect, how is God "in" the others?
Also, our other Reformed friends may think you are defecting to a Weslyan / Entire Sanctification / Quietism / Keswick, etc,., etc., or some form of, etc., etc.
There are other things I could mention, but I believe you get the point.
Not saying I don't see your point or don't agree, to a LARGE extent I do, but this may be confusing to many, perhaps.
Grace and Peace
Only the "fathers" are in fellowship with God?
Only the Fathers are in fellowship with God in the way that Christ was. We can be in fellowship with God in the sense that any pious Jew was - that is, God is our God, and he is the one we try and be obedient to - but light cannot fellowship with darkness - and rather than banter about labels, let us just say that God is not fellowshipping with people who still hold onto their sin. Let every man examine himself and ask - Am I willing to do everything that God wants me to do today. If that man can honestly say yes he is in true fellowship with God - if that man is not able to say this, that is, there is a root within him still that holds out and says, "I will not have this God to rule (entirely) over me!" - there is no intimacy between that man and God. If he has believed, he is saved, but being saved is not the same thing as being in fellowship with God.
Only they have the dining in or supping aspect, how is God "in" the others?
The Spirit was sent to help us enter into fellowship with God. We have something the Jews didn't have - the Holy Spirit indwelling us. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to reveal Christ to us. When this ministry is accomplished - Christ is manifested to us, and begins to live unimpeded through us.
When a believer is saved, the Holy Spirit doesn't thump him or her on the head and suddenly Christ is entirely known to them. Only as the believer is willing to obey the Spirit can the Spirit reveal Christ to the believer.
There are many Christians who don't know the first thing about the minitry of the Holy Spirit, and so they supplant His ministry and try to bypass knowing God through the Holy Spirit by instead simply obeying "the law" - as though the law could get you to God, and worse, as though you could actually keep it.
Wesley was a great man of God, and while I think his theology needed polish, I think he was far closer to understanding sanctification than most of the reformed camp today. I don't really know too much about Wesley (I am more familiar with Whitefield), but (unless I am mistaken) didn't he believed in "sinless perfection" - the idea that you could become so holy that it became impossible for you to sin?
I certainly don't believe that. Adam had no sin nature yet he sinned. Even if we experience fully the promises of the bible - that is, even if our sin truly is held powerless on the cross - even so we could still sin.
I don't believe in "sinless perfection," yet I do believe that if you hunger and thirst after righteousness you will be filled (as opposed to you will be involved in a process of filling that never reaches completion). I believe that a simple reading of scripture teaches that God promises to cleanse the hearts of sinners by faith - that is, God makes it so that the part of us that desires to sin is genuinely powerless to influence us - so that we no longer have a blackened font of bitter water within tempting us to sin, but instead are tempted thereafter only as Christ was tempted - not desire rising out of His sinful flesh (His flesh wasn't sinful) - but coming in externally from outside. Genuine temptation - but entirely external.
I think scripture plainly teaches that Christians are supposed to live how Christ lived when He walked the earth - entirely clean, and continually obedient to the Holy Spirit. I don't think that this is an unattainable ideal - rather I think it is not only possible but it is actually expected of us.
The problem is we can't live like Christ when we don't believe it is possible. And we will never believe it is possible if we think that our carnal walk is actually spiritual - that is, if we think bible knowledge is equal to a calling, or academia trumps obedience. Somewhere along the way we started to admire academia instead of godliness. Scholastics above obedience. In the wake of such a shift, Christianity no longer believes that there is a solution for sin - now there is only band-aid. I suspect that if the trend continues - pretty soon Christianity will have nothing to do with sin - it will just be the "going-to-heaven social club"
But I digress. The point is I believe the bible - even the parts that make me tremble; and I call it like I see it.
In blogging about these things I have an opportunity to articulate my thoughts - and in doing so, refine and even affirm them. To that end, I rejoice everytime I am questioned on a thought - it gives the Lord opportunity to affirm or deny what He is teaching when people poke it to see if it is full of hot air.
It is my contention that if Christians were willing be wrong in front of other Christians more often, they would come to the truth sooner rather than later. Pride, more than anything, impedes our understanding. Would that I were more humble with my God.
Indeed, it seems as if, in the mega church variety at least, it has become, as you say, a "going to heaven social club".
Wesley's followers took his ideas further than he did in the sanctification realm. He would have called it "pefected in love" today, which mirrors what you are saying, I think.
My understanding is actually similar to yours, in this way...
We progress and develop into maturity, using flawed means until we get the picture and enter in to the resting of the Gospel.
I wrote the p, q, r, of s to show the development, but I have since articulated it further.
We start out with riotism (don't go, forget God)
Move to pietism (go and get God)
On to quietism (let go and let God)
And finally, hopefully, mature to the truth (don't let go of God).
We start out, when we are serious, with a patterned discipline and measured devotion, which most often leads to a boom and bust spirituality, as you have rightly implied.
We try next to "absolutely surender", which seesm closer, but is still not there yet.
When we get the real picute of our sorry state, and have glimpses of what TRUE fellowship is like (not Schleirmacher's "feeling of absolute dependence" but a cleansing of our will in conformity to God's), then we "want it".
It is as you say, we finally realize that fellowship with God is incomparable with anything else, and it has a pronounced effect.
Not so much that people don't see us sin, we probabaly already had that licked, the outside that is, but that now, to our own hearts, we know that we just don't "want" that stuff anymore, at all, its rubbish.
Its like, for a crude example, having a toy that is deteriorating, a car, lets say, and then getting a car that is new, and runs on batteries, and makes noises, etc. We have no DESIRE to have the old car anymore.
Of course that is a weak example, in that Christ is not just a "better car", He is in a totally different category than anything else, as I said, incomparable.
Oh, that we might find this in our daily walk, EVERY DAY!
This is my prayer for you, I mean it...I covet the same from you...
This sort of thing helps us more than we might know, I believe, and I pray that God is honored and glorified in it, as we become light bearers, not just a dimmer switch.
I think you get it Even so!
I'm so glad I stumbled onto your blogspot page (not to get into the debate about Calvinism and chance)!
Thanks for the insights and for your transparency. I'll be frequenting here often, and I hope to glean some new perspectives from you Daniel.
- Jerry DePoy Jr.
Jerry - Welcome! I hope you find something edifying or at least edible!
As usual - wonderfully spoken.
"Pride, more than anything, impedes our understanding. Would that I were more humble with my God." Amen!
Glad to know that I at least fit into the 'young man (woman?)' catagory.
You articulate this stuff so well. I need to copy and keep this for future reference. I see Christians living in the baby stage everywhere. Can't tell you how many sermons I have heard that send the listeners home to "try harder" instead of to their knees in repentance.
Wish I could post this on every church door.