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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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[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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Sunday, January 06, 2008
Sunday
As we were preparing to retire for the night, my wife and I were chatting last night. I have an outstanding obligation to our church that I have had ample time to conclude, but haven't started yet, and she, being a good wife, a good Christian, and a concerned member of our congregation, challenged me on why I was procrastinating.

My knee-jerk reaction was not the norm for me. While I could not deny that I was in fact procrastinating, yet I wanted her to agree with me that my procrastination in this instance was understandable. It certainly isn't, but that part of me that wants to be justified in everything it does - that part wanted to silence my wife's protests by showing that my conduct was "acceptable" given the demands upon my time.

But as we began to discuss it, I was praying because I know that I am wretch who is inclined to ignore anything the Lord would say to me through others, and especially through those who are closest to me; I didn't want to miss the truth by following my ever present self justifying nature, but asked the Lord to open my eyes to the truth in the matter.

My wife wanted to show me that this was not an isolated incident, but that it was a pattern in my life that I was not dealing with. I had to agree. When it was clear that I understood that there was something there, I told her that I needed to examine it for myself before the Lord, to see what it was and where it came from, etc. This post is the fruit of that examination.

The first possible cause for this behavior that I gave my consideration to was the idea that this was some deep seated psychological residue from my upbringing. Perhaps this was the lingering residue of that old resentment I had so passionately felt when as a young man my father was micro-managing my life? After some meditation it became clear that this was not the source - what happened in my childhood did not produce this, but was in actuality the same reaction my wife was identifying - I absolutely hated it when anyone told me what to do, or made me obliged to do anything that I didn't feel like doing.

I thought about the truth of that. How there really is only one thing that gets me angry: being imposed upon. Those three words ought to be unfolded lest I leave a smaller impression than I mean. I began to examine myself, asking myself the question, "Why do you get angry when you are imposed upon? What is it about obligation that riles you so?"

I concluded that unless I desired to do a thing, being obligated to do it was poison to me, that is I wanted to do only what I desired to do, and to avoid anything I did not desire to do; which is really just saying, I want to do whatever I want, and only what I want.

Throughout this meditation I was in and out of prayer, and when I woke this morning I continued to meditate and prayer about it, and began to put the pieces together. The word of God that continued to echo in me was from Romans 7:18, 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. [NASB]. I knew that this "thing" in me that didn't want to obey any other desire than its own had a name - sin.

My wife had seen the symptoms, but I was distilled it in my meditation down to the cause. When Paul speaks of what Christ took to the cross in Romans six, He is talking about this very thing - the part of me that not only calls me to obey its every desire but also convinces me that these same desires are in fact my own. Paul drags that lie out into the light in Romans six and seven, and here are the weapons and armor for this fight.

I should make a distinction between what I am talking about and simple temptation in case some dear soul reading this imagines I am only speaking of dealing with temptation, I am not, I speak of something greater. Temptation is like an enemy scout who has been sent into your camp to draw you out into a battle you will likely lose. Temptations will always come, but they have the greatest power in those areas of your walk where you are still struggling for victory. If you have been a Christian for some time, (unless you are "emergent" of course) I expect the temptation to use corrupt speech or coarse language isn't something you deal with day in and day out. You have moved the fight "inland" as it were, into Canaan - beyond the border skirmishes of your early Christian walk.

No, I am not speaking of temptation here, but rather, like the Israelites entering Canaan, I had come to a fortified stronghold deep in the territory that the Lord on the cross has purchased for me, deep into territory that is by promise mine, but territory that is still held entirely by the enemy. I am speaking about the whole of the war, and the nature of the enemy, and of the means of appropriating the promised victory.

As I considered the words that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write to the Christians in Rome, and by extension, to all Christians everywhere - and in particular - the words that the Holy Spirit intends for me not only to understand but to use in my Christian walk - as I superimposed these words upon my meditation, I began to be as a man who, in putting together a jig-saw puzzle, find those pieces of similar color and design, and groups them together so as to begin applying himself to the task of piecing them together.

I must digress momentarily into a small discussion on the way Satan has employed a "sleight of hand" technique. He is the master of misdirection, and if there is a greater blindness in the church than the one which obscures the facts of our union with Christ on the cross, I am not aware of it.

In Romans 6:6, which is by far the most precious verse in all of scripture by my reckoning, it says, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; [NASB]. That is my dying with Christ frees me from sin's power. That was the purpose of my death in Christ: to save me from sin.

But most Christians I meet have been pabulum fed a misrepresented understanding of this verse, or if not pabulum fed it, they have come to that same conclusion through their own failure to make practical use of the verse. You see, this verse cuts to the core of what we are as believers, and if it is twisted and misunderstood, it can be absolutely crippling to one's walk in Christ. Our Christian experience tells us that sin is still with us. So when we read this verse which says that we are no longer slaves to sin, we instinctively filter it through our own experiences. We must admit that we are very much still sin's slave in practice so we conclude that the verse is speaking of some forensic truth, that is a truth that is true but not experienced. We are then inclined to conclude that while the verse says we are no longer slaves to sin, it means that we are no longer slaves to sin in some sense that allows us to continue to be slaves to sin in the "here and now". We conclude that we are no longer slaves to sin in the sense that we are going to heaven when we die and not to hell; in the sense that we are no longer slaves to sin's penalty. I believe that is a gross, satanic perversion.

In attempting to open my eyes to the magnitude of what my wife and I were discussing last night, my wife mentioned that the same thing that drives my procrastination likely feeds my penchant for delegation. You see, when she asks me to do something that I think can be done by the children, I delegate the responsibility to one or more of the kids.

As I thought about that, and began to see a connection far more complex than my wife was getting at. She was trying to show me that I was just plain lazy, and there is good reason for her to do so. She wanted to show that my procrastination and my penchant for delegation both sprang from the same well - laziness. But as I considered it, I saw that the rabbit hole was much deeper than that.

My desire to delegate household chores is certainly motivated in part by some degree of laziness, I don't deny that. My wife however was unaware that one of the reason I delegate some of the things she asks me to do is because I think she should be asking me to do only those things that cannot be delegated to others. That is, my expectation is that if a task doesn't require me personally to do it, then because I have enough responsibilities elsewhere, and because the children need to learn responsibility - we should get one of the kids to do it - and so as soon as my wife would ask me to do a thing, I would call the kids together and delegate the task out, and in doing so, show my wife that it was my expectation that she should delegate to the children instead of burdening me withe the superfluous task of being her middle man.

It was this train of thought that really opened the door in my meditation this morning. First of all, I am called to love my wife as Christ loved the church, and I don't think the delegation model covers that. I could really spend some time discussing the ways in which I could improve as a husband, for there are many, and surely you who are reading see some room there, but I don't dare digress on that at this point, for my main point is already delayed by all this intro. It is suffice to say that I saw something "wrong" about my delegation that I had always ignored before: I hated it when my wife told me to do something.

I hated it whenever anyone imposed upon me to do anything.

This is when I began again, as I have done many times in my walk with Christ, to look at who I am. I asked myself why I liked doing one thing and not another? How did I choose what I would enjoy doing, and what would be repugnant to me? I didn't ask those questions in the exact words stated but they were the raw cry of my prayerful inquiry.

I concluded that there was a part of me that not only desired things and not only was only satisfied when its desires were answered, but was violently opposed to doing anything other than its desires. This "thing" I understood to be sin. Not that it "was a sin" but that it was "sin" itself. This was the very thing that died on Calvary with Christ.

With these thoughts in my head, as I still lay in my bed, I pulled out my Sony Clié (palm pilot), and cracked open my bible reader, and quickly read the passage from Romans seven that seemed most relevant to my thoughts: Read these verses through, especially if you are inclined to skip over them - read them with your heart focused on the fact that there is a part of you that is still in rebellion against everything except self...

1Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. 4Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 6But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. Romans 7:1-6 [NASB]


How these verses tugged at my understanding this morning! To be sure I read more than just these verses, but they make a good start.

The point here is really a continuation of what Paul began chapter six of Romans - you have been set free from sin, you are no longer sin's slave Christian. Oh, but my heart objects! I -am- a slave in practice, I rage against that slavery, it is the source of a mountain of woe, confusion, and fear. It hangs me daily with that damning epitaph - "Hypocrite!" What strength I have is found only in driving the fact that I am a grand hypocrite far from my mind by speaking platitudes about how God loves me, and how I am certainly His child. But the fact remains, I am at odds with what I expect myself to be.

Here then is where I found some joy this morning, a joy that I am sharing with you in my own way. You see, Paul spells it out quite literally, and even clearly, but it is our confusion about our experience that makes it obscure. Paul says that sin still dwells in him - and that echoes your experience and mine. Sin does dwell in us. The verb dwell there comes from the Greek noun for house (oikios), and coupled with the prefix (en) it conveys the idea of being inside a house, that is, of living or remaining in a place - or to use the colloquial - being "at home". Sin remains in us, it is at home in us. That doesn't change because we are Christians, all that has changed is that Christ has taken that thing that is at home in us to the cross and there defeated it forever.

But, as my wife would say, where is the practical application? How do I take something like that and apply it to my Christian life?

Here is how.

That thing inside of me that is only satisfied with its own desires, and rages against any other obligation - the thing that gives rise to the symptoms of anger, laziness, procrastination, etc. - that thing that hates to be told what to do - that thing that didn't suddenly become powerless or disappear the moment you became a believer, and has been the source of all your secret dread ever since - that thing is the thing that we are simply supposed to identify as condemned, and foreign to our new standing in Christ.

Have you ever wondered what it means to walk in the Spirit? It means that the sin inside you that continues to make demands must not be allowed to rule you. You must see it for what it is, the last remnant of who you were, a condemned thing whose continual rebellion is death itself - you must see this thing not as the "you" that you assume it to be, but as the "old you" - the thing Christ took to the cross, the thing God destroyed. It isn't destroyed yet because your life is not yet over, but at the end of your days here on earth, all that you were is going to be back 2000 years and partake of Christ's death on the cross. In the here and now that thing is alive and well, and it is your job Christian to know that it only ever earns the wage of death.

Separate yourself from it in your understanding. The old you is condemned by God, and you must in the here-and-now agree with that condemnation by warring against it in your spirit. When the part of you that desires only itself rises up you must see it for what it is, and go to war - that thing must be condemned- it must be put on the cross. When you agree with God against the "old you", you are putting to death the deeds of the body. When you see the new you as foreign to the old you, you are starting to understand what it means to walk in the Spirit.

Walking in the Spirit means not obeying your own desires, but obeying God's desires. Brother, sister, ask yourself this - why do I obey one desire above another - plumb the depths of that and you will see that your will is not part of the "old you" that you can choose to give that condemned thing freedom to rule you, or you can deny it and obey what scripture informs you that you should be doing. One was is the way of the flesh, and the other is the way of the Spirit.

Christ died to free you from sin - to free you from sin's power. Your job on the earth is nothing more than to walk in the fullness of that freedom that was purchased so dearly for your joy. Get about being free!

Ignorance is darkness - let God's light shine, let his words be the lamp that guides your feet (conduct). Learn how to be free, and be free - then rejoice in your Savior.
posted by Daniel @ 7:06 AM  
3 Comments:
  • At 10:34 PM, January 06, 2008, Blogger Even So... said…

    Amen...we need to proclaim it again and again...thanks for your candor...

     
  • At 12:42 AM, January 07, 2008, OpenID thomastwitchell said…

    And, if a man strikes you on...offer

    If he compels you...go

    We could look at these as just taking up the cross, but Jesus put something else to it...No man takes it from me but I give it willingly.

    Imposition cannot take place then, if, when you are asked give, and if it has been in your heart such that if your brother sins against you even 70 times 7, then the answer forth coming is not, "not now," but it is already done.

    That is hard for us no doubt. Or, perhaps I should reverse that, "No doubt". "That is hard for us."

    We impugn motive and there may not be maliciousness behind it. We rebel to impostition for the very reason that we so long rebelled against Christ. We do not want to be the servants of another. We also know the whip of our former master, and say no more.

    There is a righteous anger when there is imposition. We should recognize that sin is pervasive even in those that have been set free. Lording it over another is anthema to us and our servanthood in Christ is of a different kind. He is not the harsh task master, but the loving Master who disciplines us not for his good but our own. So, we need to ask, just who is imposing upon us their will.

    Boy you hit me right between the left and right ventricles. I am too, a knee jerk reactionary when I am imposed upon, right and wrong and have been learning here of late that I am really not taking to task the rebellion that is in me. You have reminded me again that, even when I am imposed upon unrighteously, there is gain and not loss in compliance, in giving when asked and seeking nothing in return. Weighing the circumstance is also right, but in most circumstances there really is no imposition at all except that I must give up what does not belong to me anyway. We are his and we have been bought with a price. That price was sufficient to set me free, though I do not always apprectiate that and stay stingy with my ointment.

    We would not consider Christ's imposition into our lives a bad thing, so imposition itself is no a bad thing. Often it is the very tool that helps us to fast from what we have laid hold of that the Lord demand we loose.

    Freedom is ours, and realization of that is the first step to being free. Freely you have been given, therefore freely give, for there is no fear in doing good.

     
  • At 6:30 AM, January 07, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    I believe our spiritual maturity is directly linked to walking in the Spirit and putting to death the deeds of the body. Who may dwell on His holy hill?

    Every moment of every day we who are indwelt by Christ's living Spirit are commanded to put to death the deeds of the body - to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. But very few Christians I have ever met seem to know what it means to walk in the Spirit. They imagine it is either something mystical and think therefore that when they feel good they are in the Spirit, and when they feel bad they are in the flesh - or alternately they presume that it is something that will just happen to them one day if they are faithful, or perhaps they think walking in the Spirit is something that is true of all Christians forensically, but not experientially - or maybe they are simply legalists who try and keep the law and imagine that doing so is "walking in the Spirit" and not doing so is "walking in the flesh".

    I am progressively convinced that the primary task of the believer is to believe on Him whom God has given us. But that is a pregnant thing to say - unpacked it means that in each moment we must agree with the indwelling Spirit that our 'old you' is condemned, and as such we must allow the judgment of the Spirit of Christ dwelling within us to condemn the 'old you' - that is, we must agree with Christ (who is in us compelling us to do so) that the desires of the flesh are condemnable, and that the dictates of the 'old you' are dictates that produce a rightly condemned death - a death that will eventually take place in Christ - and regarding our 'old you' thus we "crucify" it, that is, we "put to death" the deeds it would have us do, and we do this because we are obeying the Spirit of Christ within us who is convicting us that this is what we must do. -That- is walking in the Spirit of Christ.

    Now, over time, as we do this consistently, Christ begins to sweep up our character. Every time we follow Christ into the grave, we die, and we are raised with Christ into new life. Each opportunity we have to overcome sin in our walk is precious, so very precious. Yet so few see it.

    Grace and peace brothers.

     
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