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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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Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The Living Dead...
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." - Philippians 1:21 [NASB]


You're walking along in that part of downtown where there are a lot of street people begging. You feel justified in not giving a lot to these because you really don't know whether giving them money would do more damage than good. It is one thing to give to one who is in need, and quite another to give to a man who is unwilling to work (c.f. 2 Thessalonians 3:10). But it does happen that you will find, from time to time, someone who is in genuine need, and my presumption is that when you encounter such a one, you willingly give the change in your pocket up to help this one along.

My question to you is why do you stop there? Why, is it that when you see a legitimate need, and are even provoked within you to give something, you do as little as is humanly possible?

The question is actually a rhetorical one. I plan to tell you why you do that, and hope that in doing so you are edified.

Let's ask our selves that tired old cliche, "What would Jesus do?". But, let's not ask that question intending for the answer to become the motivational squeeze that forces our hand to act. That would be using our understanding to "guilt" us into activity. That would be using guilt as a motivation - or worse, fear of spiritual repercussion as a motivator. We don't want to ask that question in order to provide some motivation, we want to ask that question as a diagnostic, so that we can see the gulf between ourselves and Christ. If Christ would do more than we are willing to do, that tells us something.

You see, the reason we would do as little as possible is because our old man is dead in trespasses and sin. It is the old man who sees the situation, and has no love within him for someone else. The old man can be motivated by guilt and fear to a level of civic virtue, but there is nothing spiritual in a virtue that is born of guilt and/or fear.


I should explain what I mean by civic virtue. Anytime a person does something that outwardly is perceived as a charitable or good work - that person is performing a civic virtue. Whenever a Muslim gives money to the poor, the external act is indeed a civic virtue, but the Muslim is not performing this seemingly virtuous act in response to a prompting by God's spirit. From the Christian perspective, we reason that the Muslim is simply responding to guilt or fear of repercussion. The Muslim would disagree, but I am speaking from the perspective of a Christian. Now, what I say of the Muslim is true of any world religion, Buddhism, secular moralism, atheism, Hinduism, etc., and unless a person is acting in Christ, it is true of the Christian who performs a civic virtue also.

When the moral wherewithal to help the needy descends upon me, it is always coupled to a carnal indifference, and my default reaction to this tension is to satisfy them both. Give to the needy satisfying the moral imperative, and give as little as possible, satisfying the carnal indifference. You do that too.

That is why at the moment the moral imperative comes, we ought to consider how far Jesus would go to help this person. Would Jesus dig into his pocket, set consciously push past the bigger bills, to find the smaller coins, and then hand them over, and move on? Would Jesus give all the money in his pocket and then move on? Would Jesus stop and talk to the person? How far would He go?

Now, why is it that "we" don't want to go that far? Because the "we" in that question is what the bible calls the old man. It is the old man that has no interest in the things of Christ. It is the old man that we obey by default. But that old man is twice dead and we need to reckon on both deaths if we are going to live as Christ lived.

Here is what I mean by twice dead. The old man is dead in his tresspasses and sin. What the old man desires is what death itself desires. The old man is a dead man, and the desires of the old man are the desires of death. Death, here means that which is void of life. Everything that the old man desires translates into that which has no life in it. The old man lives in, and thrives in death - that is, he thrives in all things in from which life is absent. The desire of the old man is to flee anything even remotely connected to life. This isn't meant to be some ethereal, metaphysical, and therefore vague and unfathomable thing I am saying. I am speaking in plain and literal English. I do not use metaphors here, I mean exactly this - the old man is not dead in some figurative sense - but is the well of death that flees from life in all that it desires. It has no desire for life - it hates life, and Jesus is Life.

That's the first dead. The second dead in what I meant by "twice dead" is the fact that the "old man" of every genuine believer was crucified with Christ. Our old man died on Calvary. The death of the old man on Calvary freed every believer from our bondage to sin, and through sin, our bondage to the death that the old man was "living" to produce. This may well be difficult to understand for some, so it is enough (for now) to understand this second "dead" as meaning that the desire of the old man to flee life, is no longer binding on you.

When you come to the beggar then, and the old man desires one thing, and the Spirit another, we are called to obey the one by reckoning on the death of the other. That is the way to fully obey the Spirit is not to compromise with the flesh, but to consider how Christ wrought the death of the old man on Calvary - consider that the thing which wants us to be indifferent is actually a dead man walking - a thing that flees from life, and has always and ever been at work to produce and maintain an absense of life in us - it is a murderous thing bent on our eternal destruction, a thing whose only desire is death, a desire that Christ Himself gave his life to free you from the power of.

You have heard it said, "Make war against sin" - don't take that to mean make war against individual sins as they come up - it means make war against giving into the desires of the living dead within you. Don't feed it by obeying it's desires, but reckon it dead - identify what it desires, and do more than simply turn away from them - for the sake of our Lord, turn to Christ, and obey the desires of the Spirit instead.

Let me tell you, the only thing that is stopping you from being like Christ is your own habitual willingness to compromise your obedience - your willingness to obey the death that lives on in you. If that thing and its desires find no purchase in you - let me tell you, you will not be the same person. You will be as the Apostle Paul described - crucified with Christ.

Knowing this puts you one step closer to acting on it. But you cannot act on it in your own strength. First you must be convinced from scripture that this is how is is supposed to be - then you must learn that you yourself need grace to act, and that grace comes from the throne of Christ. You cannot enter into this without deep, prayerful repentence.

Your days are numbered, so don't put it off for too long.

Labels: , , ,

posted by Daniel @ 9:52 AM  
7 Comments:
  • At 11:22 AM, July 29, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    It's okay to comment. Really.

     
  • At 11:29 AM, July 29, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel,

    This is great. Often, I'll drive by people on the street and I will, judging by their tattered clothes and aimless gait, utter a prayer to God for them, and while I am doing this, I am always completely aware that I have done nothing else but pray.

    Thanks for the exhortation.

    Renee

     
  • At 11:38 AM, July 29, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Renee, (from Challies?), thanks for the commment. I think it is a pretty common experience for Christians in our culture.

     
  • At 2:16 PM, July 30, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel,

    My daughter's father (who is not Christian) takes her out with him around Christmas to walk the streets of Portland, Oregon and hand out bagels to the homeless.
    While my daughter (age 15) hates this annual event, she has made some interesting observations. One year they had trouble finding any homeless people. They handed out bagels to only 3 people. Another year they couldn't find anyone who would take the food from them.
    For this self-admitted liberal agnostic, a once-a-year bagel give-away was enough to satisfy his conscience. It didn't matter that he didn't consider what the people really wanted or needed, just that he spent a few hours in the cold doing something "nice" for someone less fortunate.
    I, however, feel convicted by his small act of selflessness. Doesn't the bible exhort us to give away our shirt if asked for our coat? To be ready to part with any material possession if we come across someone in need? Why did early Christians often sell all they had and lived a life of poverty after conversion? What did they read in the Word that we modern Christians don't?
    *Jen

     
  • At 3:30 PM, July 30, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Hi Jen!

    In the sermon on the mount our Lord presses the point that love doesn't go to the line, but passes over it and goes beyond it. Those comments He makes show us that the law is not our standard, but that love, real love, is our standard, for only love is willing to go two miles when only one is "required".

    We are certainly commanded to give to all who ask, and the only thing that stops us from doing so is the certainty that if we give to someone else, we will have less for our selves.

    I don't think many of the early Christians did much reading of the word. They probably did a lot more "hearing" of the word. ;)

    I think the grand difference between the modern Christian and the early Christian is that continuing to walk in the flesh was unacceptable to the early Christians. You either walked in the Spirit, or you were tossed out of fellowship (and rightly so, for even sanctified friendships, however superior they may be to the friendships amongst the unregenerate - are by no means a substitute for actual fellowship.) Unless two people are both filled with the Spirit, they cannot experience fellowship. How much less when both are carnally minded all the time.

    I will probably be preaching on this on Sunday. I will link to the audio when I do.

     
  • At 11:30 AM, August 03, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'd love to hear that audio. Thank you!
    *Jen

     
  • At 11:57 AM, August 03, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    As it turns out, the recorder was turned off during the sermon, and we had some microphone trouble. I will be preaching in a different church next Sunday, and I believe I will be preaching the same message, refined a little perhaps. If I get a recording of that one I will share it here.

     
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