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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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Thursday, May 24, 2007
Attacking The Root...
Below are three verses that speak (almost) directly to a problem that many Christians face during their infancy as Christians. I am talking about loving God, or rather, a failure to love God.

Now to be sure, I am not talking about a sentiment when I talk about loving God, and (just so the pendulum doesn't wag the other way) I am neither talking about love as some action we do. When I say love, I mean the kind of love that is similar to what flows between a man and woman who are truly infatuated with one another - an adoration that would willingly set aside one's own agenda for something as trivial as merely being in the presence of the other.

The verses illustrate a point - that being that the person who tries to hold onto the world and love God at the same time, is never going to love God while holding onto the world, or the things in it:


But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. - James 1:6-8 [ESV]

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. - John 3:19 [ESV]

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. - 1 JOhn 2:15 [ESV]

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." - Luke 16:13 [ESV]


What I want to draw your attention to, is the way in which we deal with our own lack of love. Primarily the immature believer is ignorant of it, but many immature believers remain so, because either they presume that their lack of love is [1] normal, or [2] cannot be helped, or alternately, they believe that what they presently possess is in fact "love" since they either have a sentiment ("...didn't I weep when they whipped that actor in Mel Gibson's movie??") or they imagine (as some teach) that biblical love is all "action" and can be done with a grim, cold determination, utterly void of any attachment to who we are as Christians; love (for such as these) is a duty you do because you have to.

These verses, I hope, shake us out of the notion that we can make ourselves love God by "doing" loving things or that since we have a desire to be pleasing to God this very desire must be all there is to the love that we are supposed to have. But no honest soul is going to be satisfied with these.

How do I love God? First of all, scripture says that God's love was poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (see Romans 5:5). That is a hard picture, because it starts out with God's love and not our own, and we may confuse what is being said here - imagining that it is saying that God pours into us a love for Himself by the Holy Spirit (and in a way that is true), but that is not what the text is saying. The text says that the love with which God loves us was poured out in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. The Holy Spirit was given to us (those who are in Christ), and by Him God's love literally came into us. I tie that verse to 1 John 4:19 where we are reminded that we love God because He first loved us.

The problem is, how do we get from God's love being poured out in us by the Holy Spirit - that is, how do we get from God first loving us, to us loving God in return? Scripture paints that picture, so why is it that we are not loving God??!?

Sin.

Yeah, it always boils down to sin - but let's not keep it vague at this point. The quoted verses that I began this post with come into play here. You have the capacity to love God right now Christian - to love him with all you have. You have received the Holy Spirit, and by Him God's love has been poured out into your heart. You have been loved by God, and you can love God in return. The reason you don't is that you cannot love two things at the same time.

Okay, you know this already - not many of us are as interested in the "what" as we are in the "how" - and that is fair; yet we have to go in these baby steps sometimes so that we don't lose anyone.

In the moment that you received the ability to truly repent, in that moment you turned away from everything about yourself, and turned to God to receive Christ. However you describe it, in that moment you let go of the world and everything in it, and in that moment you turned 100% to Christ. Those of you who have a genuine faith will nod at this point as I am talking about spiritual things. Those of you who were saved in your childhood may not remember this so well, and some of you who have nothing more than an intellectual persuasion may well balk at it, being deceived as you are, and unwilling to let go of that deception, since it gives you the only comfort you know (however false).

The how question is answered by the gospel - as all how questions in Christianity are. It is surrendering all to God. But I am getting ahead of myself. I merely wanted to tie that in for later.

You see, the moment you were saved two things happened - your old man was condemned - it died with Christ, and you received a new man. Scripture refers to the new man as the new creation that is hid in Christ. This was an act of redemption - Christ redeemed your life, putting to death the old, and providing a new. But that was all spiritual - your flesh, the body that you presently live in - that was not redeemed, and it remains to this day - and it remains corrupted.

Now when I say corrupt, I mean all of: irredeemable, perverse, crooked, fallen, twisted, wicked, worldly etc. I say worldly because our flesh is never going to be part of God's kingdom, it is, and remains in the world system - God's enemy, and our enemy. It is one of the "things in the world." God is going to burn up our flesh one day along with the rest of the world, and for that we should rejoice!

Every true believer hates the fact that they sin. It makes them feel (and rightly so) like hypocrites. The trouble is that we are still in this flesh, and being in this flesh we have the opportunity moment by moment to give into its desires and in doing so - to sin. Understand this: giving into the flesh is an act of love, it is an act of worship. When we truly want what the flesh wants, we are "in the flesh" and this happens because we love the flesh.

That isn't to say that we don't love God, it is to say that we are double minded, and that is the problem. If there were no love for the flesh, the love of God would have no rival - kapiche? Okay, we have identified the problem again, so let's move on to the final "how" question.

I hinted at it there in the last paragraph - God endures no rival - I used to think of it as God being jealous in the way that a man might be jealous - you know, I want to be first in your affections because -I- am so entirely insecure that unless I am first in your affections, and markedly so, I will feel like I could lose you at any moment, and that is a bad feeling rooted in my own desire to be loved at all costs. But God isn't insecure like that. I am convinced that His jealousy is for our benefit and not His own. He wants us to love him above every other love because that is the greatest way to serve us - and we do serve a servant God (did Christ not wash Judas' feet?).

When we find ourselves in the precarious position of loving (worshipping) self more than we love God, the solution is not to try and love God harder - for we do not love God according to our own effort, we love Him because He first loved us (and not because we grit our teeth and made it so), rather the way to deal with our lack of love is to root out the love of the world.

Now, we could go off half-cocked at this point and begin to suppress all the other loves that we have. But let me tell you, if in my dating days, someone had locked my wife in a closet, it would not have stifled my love for her one bit. I would probably sit at the closet door and wait for her - eventually she will come out... No, suppressionism is not the name of the game - we put the deeds of the body to death by the Spirit or not at all.

It starts on one's knees - have you even asked God to take away every false love? If you have, have you knocked on that door until it was opened? Did you wrestle in prayer as Jacob did with the angel - saying I shall not let you go until you bless me? Or did you give up after twenty minutes with a shrug because you didn't believe God would ever do it in the first place?

No one stops loving the world who hasn't been to the throne for grace, and no one who is serious gives up until they have victory. A soldier who lays down on the field as soon as he hears gunshots is not pressing onto victory - no, he charges into the teeth of the fray and starts fighting. Christian, maybe today you see yourself as that one on the ground, afraid of the fray, you see an unwillingness in yourself to go the "whole nine yards" - don't call it weakness, call it worship, for you are as much an idolater as can be. You love your flesh, and you worship it, and so long as you fawn over it like that, you continue on as an idolater. "For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." - Ephesians 5:5 [ESV]

Listen: the stakes are high. Those who are Christ's are certainly saved - eternally secure - but if you find yourself an idolater who is not willing to repent of it, don't hang your hat on the doctrine of eternal security, don't pretend the fight is over just because you are a believer - make your calling and election sure - enter the fray brother, enter the fray sister - stop playing at Christianity - the time to clean house is at hand - grab hold of God in prayer, and don't let go till you come through the other side. Don't settle for an intellectual assurance - fight until there is nothing left in you but God's love - then you will be assured brother, sister - then you will be assured.

Labels: , ,

posted by Daniel @ 6:49 AM  
10 Comments:
  • At 10:54 AM, May 24, 2007, Blogger Bryan said…

    Good entry today Daniel.

     
  • At 11:31 AM, May 24, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    I am surprised people still come here, I post so infrequently...

    Thanks Bryan.

     
  • At 12:01 PM, May 24, 2007, Blogger M.A.C. said…

    Standing Fast

    Thanks Daniel even though you sound somewhat double-minded in your surprise (j/k). FYI I just started coming so post more often please. These verses come to mind in the reading of your post.

    2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 (ASV)

    13. But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, for that God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

    14. whereunto he called you through our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Thank God for that the further I go the more I become awed by His Way.

     
  • At 6:15 PM, May 24, 2007, Blogger MaLady said…

    My friend and I were chatting about the relationship between the shoulds of Christianity and the need to be whole-hearted about it just yesterday... you have great timing!

    Thanks again for the valuable thoughts.


    Ma Lady

     
  • At 11:07 PM, May 24, 2007, Blogger Bryan said…

    I don't "come here". Google reader feeds me your updates ;)

    But you should post more often.

     
  • At 4:44 AM, May 25, 2007, Blogger Garry Weaver said…

    Excellent! I agree, but at the same time, am rebuked. Does that mean I'm double minded?

     
  • At 8:55 AM, May 25, 2007, Blogger Even So... said…

    Hmmmm, I wonder if I agree with this...


    ;-)

     
  • At 3:10 PM, May 25, 2007, Blogger Even So... said…

    Oh yeah, I do...

     
  • At 8:46 PM, May 25, 2007, Anonymous Margie said…

    Thanks Daniel, your faithfulness is deeply appreciated. Your words have pierced my heart. Please excuse me, I must get on my knees.

     
  • At 11:10 PM, May 27, 2007, Blogger Sista Cala said…

    Excellent post. I love the way you wrapped it up in that last paragraph.

     
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