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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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Sunday, June 05, 2011
Deuteronomy 7:17-18 applied to your struggle.
If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’ You shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: - Deuteronomy 7:17-18 [NASB]


This passage pictures the difficulty behind, and the solution to, the main hurdle of our sanctification.

In the context Moses is addressing a very real sense of hopelessness that was threatening to paralyze the Israelites, as they prepared to conquer Canaan. It seemed an impossible task, given the strength of their enemy, and the weakness of their own might. Recall that this was the very reason they were made to wander in the wilderness in the first place - because they chose to believe that the inhabitants of the land would destroy them even though God had promised them victory.

We understand, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:11, that "these things" referring in general to those things that happened to the Israelites in the wilderness, "happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.". The instruction we want to take from this passage concerns our own sense of hopelessness, not in overcoming the inhabitants of Canaan, but more gravely, in overcoming the sin that rules us in our life - that is, in overcoming our bondage to sin.

There is a parallel, I say, between Romans 6 and the conquering of Canaan, one that you, as a believer, must come to understand if you are to benefit from the word God has left us. The land of Canaan was given to the Israelites - promised to them (hence the promised land) - before they ever set foot in it. God said to Israel, in Deuteronomy 11:25, "No man will be able to stand before you; the LORD your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you." - That is a powerful promise indeed. They hadn't even entered the land yet, but they were promised it, promised victory over the inhabitants of the land - even though those inhabitants were greater in number and power than the Israelites.

In Romans 6 Paul tells us that we are no longer slaves to sin, that we who are in Christ have been set free from sin's power. A truth as true as the promise given to Israel concerning the land of Canaan, and yet (perhaps) even more difficult to appropriate, given the Christian's certain knowledge that sin owns him entirely.

The first hurdle to our sanctification then is similar to the hurdle the Israelites had to face - unbelief. They had to overcome the thought that they could not defeat the Canaanites, and trust, not in their own strength, but in the victory the Lord would give them if and when they eventually began to take hold of the promised land. The Christian, likewise, must believe over and against his own experience that he will truly be able to overcome sin, or more specifically, to believe that in Christ he has already overcome his former bondage to sin, in spite of how things seem. Just as Peter looked to the fierceness of the storm and began to sink, when he ought to have been looking to Christ (both literally and figuratively), so too we, when we take our eyes off the truth of what God has said, and focus instead on the way things seem to be - we also fail.

We love our sin so much that we are ready to believe that our sinful disposition is "greater than I" - and without Christ it certainly would be - even as without God the Israelites would not have stood a chance against the Canaanites - yet gripped by this concern, we are unable to see how we could possibly overcome this bondage. As I said, the problem, at the root, is unbelief. We think that God will not deliver us because our bondage is so great - even as the Israelites feared that God could not give them victory because their enemy was so strong. Do you see that that is like saying that God can only deliver us from those situations wherein we could have delivered ourselves in our own strength? In other words, we refuse to believe that God -will- help us. We accept that God could help us, but we believe that on account of our own wretchedness, God will not help us.

Oh how our enemy has a field day in a flock that doesn't know what is going on when they think themselves so miserable that God won't keep His promise to deliver them! Convincing men that their failure secretly proves that God is not for them, but is in fact their enemy waiting to judge them - thus keeping them from turning to Him who is their Helper. Our enemy is a master strategist who has honed his craft over millennia. Don't be surprised then when you find yourself wallowing in his wiles - but don't for a second imagine that this wallowing is supposed to be normative. The defeated, suffocating Christian, however common in this present age, is not the intended Christian norm.

It is imperative then, that you, Christian, who are struggling in sin and unbelief, learn from this passage the way of escape that God Himself points you to. The encouragement given to the Israelites was that they should remember the great works of God, works done on their behalf in the past - works that testify to the fact that God is for them, and not against them, and thereby renew their trust in God.

The cure for that sense of hopelessness, that sense that you will never overcome sin - is to renew your trust in God. Meditate of what God has done, and what God says He will do and is doing, and soon your trust will not rest in the miry clay of what seems likely, but in the anything-is-possible-for-Him glory of God who is at work in you to will and to do His good pleasure.

Listen: Typically we fail in this because we are more persuaded by our guilt, shame, and self loathing, than we are by the love of God, His promises, and His faithfulness. My brothers, this ought not to be.

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posted by Daniel @ 6:37 AM  
3 Comments:
  • At 2:26 AM, June 06, 2011, Blogger JIBBS said…

    Regarding the verse you chose for today: I was watching a documentary on TV this afternoon that discussed the demise of ancient Egypt. In all their explaining and speculation, they never once referred to the Biblical record for any insight. It's astonishing to me.

     
  • At 9:47 AM, June 06, 2011, Blogger Daniel said…

    Perhaps it is a form of passive aggression?

     
  • At 7:09 PM, June 06, 2011, Blogger JIBBS said…

    Perhaps. They were researching how it seemed that the Egyptian culture came to a sudden end and were trying to explain it in naturalistic terms. They concluded that it was due to a severe drought that dried up the Nile. What was strange was that they took core soil samples from the ocean floor 200 miles off the coast and determined that there was a certain type of sand that could only have come from the area that is now Iraq. From this, they concluded that there was a drought in the entire area, from southern Greece over to Samaria and down into southern Egypt. How they came up with that as well as the time line just blows my mind. It seemed like a completely arbitrary process. Not to mention they failed to mention anything about the Biblical account of Egypt's history. Oh well.

     
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