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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
| The Heart of Unrepentance..
|At the core of the unpenitent heart is this one thought - "I will not have you to rule over me!"
Consider the believer who comes to know that looking at pornography feeds his lust and is a wicked offense against God. He sees this because  his conscience is informed by the word of God, and  because the indwelling Holy Spirit convicts him of sin. Notwithstanding, since he was addicted to porn prior to his salvation, the addiction continues after his salvation - only he feels very, very, bad about it.
Now let us say that this man one day, driven by remorse over his sin, determines that he will no longer look at porn, and from that day on he removes everything in his life that would trigger the temptation - the computer is cleaned of all bad images, the internet is either disconnected or he puts his computer into a public room in the house and makes sure that he is never alone there - he even begins to guard his own thoughts so that whenever a lustful though enters his mind he forces himself to think of something else until the temptation goes away.
Many would say that this man has repented.
He has certainly put himself on morally higher ground. He has recognized his sin, and responded to it by producing in himself morally superior habits. Some understand repentance as being an entirely practical exercise - you simply stop your bad habits, and replace them with better habits and voila! you have repented.
But in Acts 20:21 we read that Paul preached "repentance towards God".
I point out that phrase because it helps us to make a distinction between turning to God and suppressing a sinful habit. A man can suppress a sinful habit without ever turning to God in doing so. He can be motivated by a desire not to offend God, and begin a regimented attack on all the sin in his life, and do so without ever surrendering to God. In fact, he does that -get this now- instead of surrendering to God. He is willing to give up some sin for a season, but he is not willing to surrender Himself to God.
There is no victory over sin in a heart that obeys that spirit of rebellion (small "s") that scripture calls the "old man".
It is entirely possible and I suspect even common for Christians to deal with sin not according to the gospel of grace, that is, not by surrendering themselves to God, but rather by staunching the outward expression of sin as much as is humanly possible without surrendering to God.
Don't think for one second that doing what is right equates to repentance. Repentance produces what is right, but doing what is right does not produce repentance. I have used this illustration before, but it fits here. The young girl who is told to sit and defiantly refuses until threatened then begrudgingly plops herself down in a show of outward obedience betrays her heart when in open rebellion she remarks - "I may be sitting on my bottom, but I am standing in my heart!" - that "heart" illustrates what obedience without surrender looks like - it is not repentance, it is a rebellious servility that was coerced by fear of retribution.
The believer who puts away the porn because way down deep inside he is secretly afraid that by viewing porn he is proving that he was never saved in the first place - and so in order to be free from the fear of damnation he puts aways sin, but does so without really surrendering himself to God - this one hasn't repented, he is doing penance because deep down he is convinced that doing so will appease God. He is catastrophically wrong.
Any "righteousness" that springs from a heart that is motivated to appease God in order to secure for themselves God's favor or pardon - such a "righteousness" is not righteous at all, it is in fact unclean. Such a righteousness is polluted by the flesh, it is counterfeit, an external facade - it is, in biblical terms "=the= world religion" it is Babylon, it is attempting to be like God (righteous) without surrendering to God. It is in no way harmonious with the gospel of grace, but has at its core a concealed, "dressed up as righteousness" rebellion against God.
I repeat - genuine surrender produces genuine repentance and not vice versa. The problem with sin is not the sin, it is the self that is unwilling to surrender to God. The sin is just the outflowing of that rebellion. The real culprit is the old man - and that is why Christ took the old man to the cross with Him - to render him powerless - a reality that while true immediately of every believer, is only experienced when the believer is surrendered, that is, when the believer is "in Christ".
When scripture instructs the believer to walk by the Spirit as the means by which we overcome the lusts of the flesh it isn't some empty slogan - it is life from death. You can battle with sin until the cows come home and you will never get on top of it if you don't surrender yourself to God.
If you are a genuine Christian you know what genuine surrender looks like because that is how you became a Christian - you surrendered yourself to God.
But if you find that sin is your master, then know this: at some point you stopped surrendering - and it was at that point that sin got a foot hold in you again.
What are you to do? Stop trying to perfect yourself in the flesh Christian! Do it spiritually, do it the way you received Christ - by surrendering to him the whole of you. Surrender again, surrender continually - give your very life and all that is in it to God - a living sacrifice - stop cherishing that secret rebellion in your heart! it is killing you, do you understand this? It is killing you, killing your time, killing your inheritance, killing you!
The part of you that wants to rebel was (past tense) crucified in Christ in order that you may now (present tense) no longer obey it. It will call the same old shots, tempt the same old temptations, but only when you are not surrendered to God will these be any problem for you. Being in Christ is being surrendered. Being in the Spirit is being surrendered. Being surrendered is being willing in every moment to do what God asks because God asks. It is the opposite of rebellion - a slippery thing to describe, but easy enough to know, for we know it both by its absence, and by a conscience that knows it is utterly right with God.
I am convinced of these things. Are you?
If these things seem strange to you, talk them out with someone who has been in Christ for a long time - study scripture, see if these things are so. It is not noble to accept these things because some guy on the internet wrote them. Nor is it noble to reject these things because some guy on the internet says they are so. What -is- noble is to examine scripture and see if what I am saying is found there or not. We need to understand repentance if we are going to avoid wasting days, weeks, and years pretending to repent but never overcoming sin's power in our life.
Labels: holiness, Instruction, repentance, sanctification, sin, Theology, union with christ, victory
posted by Daniel @
Very excellent teaching. It's a difficult thing to live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit. The flesh keeps doing what it does best.
It's a life long war of surrender. But there are victories, and then there will be the final victory, either when He appears, or He calls me home.
All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.
All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!
Don - I always liked that song.
Keep on in your messages to the heart. The Lord bless you in this rather unique ministry He has placed you in.
Pure gospel - its good for what ails us. ;-)
In part of the testimony of Steve Saint (son of Nate Saint, missionary killed in South America) he said, "Let our will be God's quill - and our lives His slate."
I like that - because, well, in addition to his own life being just that - he stresses the importance of laying down our own will. I don't know a single person who hasn't or doesn't struggle with that - but also who doesn't suffer for not doing so.
Part of Steve's beautiful testimony is when he was praying over his daughter for a headache to be removed, and he said, "God answered my prayer, but not according to my script. She had a cerebral hemmorhage and died."
It's on a Steven Curtis Chapman music DVD if anyone's interested.
Anyway, Daniel, thank you for this ongoing discussion of repentance. It's having an impact. And I am appreciative, because I need it.
It's not even any identifiable outward sin that could be recognized in my own life - just the stubborn girl still standing in her own heart. Not fully 100 % submitted. I still feed the old man first.
As I pray daily for God to take the old man down, to remove other idols and chasing the wind from my life, He so mercifully is. I am in awe of what He does in His abundant grace. If we ask Him to change us for Him, He does.
Now I need to restructure the order of my days and habits.
Daniel, how do you deal with less sleep, when you get up early to put God before all? I've tried that and sometimes fallen asleep during those times with Him.
The temptation at this point for a believer who's struggling with a particular sin would be to give up. Because in his head he thinks that he is surrendering and because he keeps failing he wonders if he really ever was in the beginning or if God is really changing him or even saved him.
But what you say applies to pretty much every sin.
I'd say that it's not bad for a person to take action to get rid of the temptation to look at porn. Even if his flesh is not surrendering, that's part of the war is it not? There is truth in what you say, but at the same time, the person who's putting away the stuff may be doing it because he knows that he can't control his flesh and so a form of surrender is to put away the things that tempt... no? :)
I don't think you're not saying that, but some clarification would be nice :).
Peace bro... oh and you coming to the conference this year?
I lay in my bed one morning. I had gone to bed quite late, and when I awoke I was literally so entirely exhausted from lack of sleep that it was all I could do to cry out in prayer - Lord, I want to get up, I want to study, but I am so tired and weary, I am afraid that I am going to do this all in my flesh, and it will be miserable, and a thing I would resent. To be sure, I didn't pray that word-for-word, in fact I don't remember what I prayed exactly - but I know that I was exhausted and sincere in my desire to get up, and equally sincere in my concern that although I could make myself do it, it would be entirely a carnal effort or something similar.
As the prayer was in my mind - for I was not praying out loud - the sleep drained out of me, as if someone removed a plug from the middle of my back and in the span of a second I was drained of all exhaustion and sleepiness - so wide awake and invigorated, I was frightened by it.
Yet another time, I dragged myself out of bed and, praying as I went, I decided to run a hot bath for myself. Just as I leaned into the tub to turn on the hot water this prayer was in my mind - it was after the experience I formerly mentioned - I was kind of begging God to wake me up again for I was so hard done by - as the prayer was in my mind the most freezing cold water imaginable came thundering out of the shower and unto my head and back. Someone had left the shower toggle on. It was quite hilarious - Dear God, do a miracle for me so I can wake up - AHHHHHHHHH!
That freezing cold water woke me up in an instant - and in the same instant taught me a lesson about what kind of prayers I was offering up to God. Asking God do for me what I am unwilling to do for myself is not the same as asking God to change my heart and make me willing.
Which is to say that getting up in the morning is not always easy for me, and if I paint the picture of perfect consistency, let me say that this is not something I am perfectly consistent at. There are times when I am given to leisure in the evenings, and there are times when the mornings are decidedly hijacked by everything but devotion. Consistency comes not by a diligent, regimented, discipline - though I suppose it could - but it comes best and most consistently when a person actually desires it more than everything else.
Thus the problem is not typically that we don't have time, or that we are not "disciplined" enough - it is that we are trying to make ourselves do something we don't want to do. The way to get out from under that is not to get militant about keeping some sort of devotional schedule - but to get militant about the thing in you that loves yourself more than it loves God. The problem is not a discipline problem, it is, after all, a heart problem.
God -is- more worthy of our time than anything else in all creation. That we would snub spending time alone with Him in order to pursue anything else is an unparalleled cosmic snub. The way out of this mess is not to try and love our self less, but to talk to God honestly about the problem. Let Him know that we understand with our intellect that His worth is beyond measure, but that our hearts seem blind to that same worth - eclipsing it, as we do, with our own misplaced self worship. Let Him know how worthless we feel he is, and ask Him why that is - ask Him to provide that truth that will set us free from this lie - in fact demand it.
Recall that the reason the one man gave his neighbor the three loaves wasn't because his neighbor was a good friend and a fine neighbor - it was because the neighbor persisted in the asking. Had the neighbor given up before the bread came it would have demonstrated that he wasn't really all that concerned about getting bread. Likewise, we if we lack persistence in such a request, or make the request and expect nothing from it - we are by no means believing that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him, but rather we either believe that God fickle, or that we are asking something that God is by no means going to give us. But when it comes to wisdom, we have some pretty straightforward promises in James - God gives to all who ask, and he gives liberally. So even as James exhorts, do I exhort - call out to God believing that God can provide, and you will receive.
I'd say that it's not bad for a person to take action to get rid of the temptation to look at porn. Even if his flesh is not surrendering, that's part of the war is it not?
It certainly isn't "good" to go on sinning. ;-)
Good question though.
The axe is laid to the root of the tree that bears bad fruit and not to the fruit itself. which is to say that the way to kill the tree is not to attack the fruit, but to attack the root.
Now when I say that, I am not endorsing the idea that we should let bad fruit flourish so long as we are going after the root, no, no, no! It is never good to make provision for sin, and there is no excuse for sin, not for the believer, not for the unbeliever. Fight sin with all you got, and don't stop. But let's be careful so that we do not confuse the prescription for the symptoms with the prescription for the cure.
One man puts away the porn because he is trying to surrender, and knows porn is wrong, and another puts away the porn because he is trying to clean up his life in order to be pleasing to God. Both are putting away the porn, but only one is doing so by the Spirit. We can put to death the deeds of the body all day long, but if we are not doing it according to the prescription, whatever voodoo we practice will not get rid of the problem.
That was what this was about. Am I rambling, or did I miss the point? Let me know.
Thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I'm glad to visit your blog as well. I enjoy reading your post on repentance. It reminds me of two of my favorite quotes on the subject.
One of my favorite Puritans, Thomas Watson, wrote:
"Many think they repent when it is not the offense but the penalty that troubles them."
"The eye is made both for seeing and weeping. Sin must first be seen before it can be wept for. Hence I infer that where there is no sight of sin, there can be no repentance."
Thank you again for your visit to my blog. It's a blessing to have come across yours. May God continue to bless you with His wonderful grace.
Thanks Jessica! I hope you come back again!
Asking God do for me what I am unwilling to do for myself is not the same as asking God to change my heart and make me willing.
Consistency ... comes best and most consistently when a person actually desires it more than everything else.
These are two points that I won't soon forget, Daniel. I am much encouraged by your sharing of experience and Spirit. I believe what you have written. I agree with them.
And I've noticed in my own experience that when I ask God to change me, He does. My experiences vary in time duration (length of time God takes to effect change of any given nature in me) and degree, but it seems to me that when I find myself in such sore lack of ability to change something in myself (desire for a worldly hobby, say, over Bible study and prayer time - or appropriate respect and love for someone in my life - or love of God Himself), when I try and try and fail and finally ask Him, I see that once I come so empty of my own efforts to Him and ask, He does change me.
Your posts and comments here are encouraging me to place my priorities aright in my life - what I know should do that I don't - who I know I should be but am not (that is, in the Spirit and not feeding the flesh).
I appreciate your encouragement.
And I appreciate the distinction between knowing that there are things that I can and should do and other things that only God can do.
Your time is not in vain here. I believe God is using you.
Susan, Thank you. I don't write such things from an ivory tower - rather I articulate what I see as the light of God's word, the path out of the struggle - at least as I am able to give voice to them. I am glad that they edify someone other than myself. ;-)
Very convicting, Daniel. You know how to get to the root of matters! That is what I love most about you.
Yea... sounds good to me :) I had a conversation with someone once and they said that they feel bad that they have to get rid of the computer because of the temptations it brings. He then proceeded to say that he felt like if he was really a child of God, then why isn't his heart able to control himself with the computer around?
I proceeded to say... "or maybe, because you are a child of God, He's opening your eyes to show you that you need to get rid of the computer for a while in order to remove the temptation."
In other words... you're right, some people are getting rid objects (i.e. gouging out their eyes, cutting of their arms, etc...) because they think it makes them closer to God. Others remove those items because of a love for their savior is welling up inside and there is a deep conviction inside that the items need to be removed because He (Christ) is demanding total surrender.