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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.
- 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.
- C-Train

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
 
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Sunday, March 19, 2017
Mysticism vs. Christianity (How to do God's will).
"Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." - Genesis 2:15 [NASB]
Recently I made a post about how I understand God's sovereignty.  The main focus of that post was to show that God's sovereignty does not require micromanaging the universe - that when an apple falls to the ground on earth, or a moon orbits a planet on the other side of the universe - both are obeying a natural law (gravity) that God designed into the fabric of this universe.  The only way one of these natural laws can be broken is if God Himself intervenes to break it.

After the fall, Adam's body still obeyed the law of gravity - even though Adam Himself had rebelled against God's command.  The fact that Adam's sin was volitional tells us that his rebellion did not come from his flesh (which continued to obey the natural laws of God even after the fall)  but from his spirit.

A lot of people make no distinction between the soul and the spirit.  But there is a difference.  As I understand it, the soul is the breath of life that God breathed into Adam after creating him from the dust of the earth.  Adam possessed the breath of life from God, but Adam wasn't the breath of life itself.  Adam possessed a body, but Adam was not the body itself.  The part of Adam that was Adam is what I understand to be the spirit.  The spirit directs the life that animates the body, even as Christ created all creation according to the will of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  We are made in the triune image of God.

Just as we are free to do whatever we are able, we are not free to do what we are not able to do.  I can jump up and down, but I can't read minds or turn invisible.  I can speak, or stay silent, but I cannot leap over a tall building in a single bound.  I am free to do only what I am capable of doing, just as I am free to "not" do it. 

Thus even though we have free will - we are not free to do things that we are incapable of doing.

Why did Jesus act in a righteous way?  Was it in order to become righteous, or was it because He was righteous to begin with?  He was righteous to begin with.  A well produces either fresh water or salt - not both.  A well does not produce fresh water one day, and salt water the next.  The well produces what it produces because that is the kind of well it is.  James describes it this way in James 3:11-12:
Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. [NASB]
Jesus produced fresh water (i.e. righteousness), because in him was  the fountain that produced fresh water (i.e. righteousness).  He didn't become righteous by doing things that were righteous, he did things that were righteous, because He was righteous.

A sinner only has in himself a salt-water well.  It cannot produce righteousness, it can only produce unrighteousness.

Thus a sinner is free to do whatever he or she desires to do, but he or she will never desire to do righteousness, because there is no righteousness in the sinner whatsoever.  When an unsaved person does something that seems righteous - it isn't.  It may seem righteous, but it is still a filthy rag (c.f. Isaiah 64:6).  It may look like fresh water, but it smells and tastes different, because it comes from a place that isn't righteous.

When a sinner becomes a Christian - they are joined to Christ, such that His life becomes theirs - even as they are still living their old sinful life in the flesh.  Romans 7 describes this new state.  The life of Christ in them is producing in the desire and ability to do righteousness, while the flesh and the old sinful life that will be put to death in Christ continues to provoke them to sin, or to shallow/false righteousness.

The point is, even when we become a Christian, our righteousness is not our own.  Any righteous thing we do, we do in spite of and contrary to our old self - the life that we are living.

So in the believer there are two springs - one salt and one fresh, and we are called to draw our water from the one and not from the other.  To walk in the one, and not in the other, to obey the one and not the other, etc. 

The question is How?

A great many Christians embark on this question without a very firm understanding of who they are in Christ, and what they are and are not capable of.  They come to this thinking of themselves as a "new creation" entirely different from the old one - and wonder why they still sin, since that contradicts their own theology.  They struggle and fret, and try harder, and fail, and many just give up trying.  They don't know how to obey Christ when they are still struggling with sin in their life.  It all seems wrong or patchy at best.

Well one solution people come to is pretty weird.  It is the mystical approach.  The idea that God is constantly trying to speak to you and direct you in this life, but you are too immature to hear it, let alone obey it.

This is as destructive to a faith as it is misleading. 

Did God micro-manage Adam's cultivation/keeping of the garden of Eden?  Did God tell Adam how many breaths he was to take each day or how many times he should chew before swallowing each bite?  No matter where we stand on this, we have to draw the line somewhere.  At some point God gives Adam some autonomy.  Surely Adam was allowed to breath as often as seemed right to him.  To chew his food as many or as few times as seemed right to him.  Adam wasn't a sinner, so what seemed right to him would have seemed right to God also.  God very likely gave Adam instruction (just like He gave Adam instruction about which plants could be eaten and which could not) and left Adam to function independently thereafter.

Yet in the last century or so, some have begun to teach that God has so specific a plan for your life, that He is leading you moment by moment into it, and that you will be sinning if you don't follow that plan.

The trouble is that you're spiritual antenna is too short, so you're not getting God's message very clearly. This is where mysticism takes over - and you're taught to interpret your own intuition as being a message from God.

Now I believe that God works through providence, and that He will use His word to remind you of what is expect of His children - and that as you live your life conformed to the expectations of God outlined in the bible and in the New Testament in particular, you will know when you're doing something you shouldn't be doing, and you will know when something you're doing is "right".  It won't be an airy-fairy feeling, it'll be a conviction that you are being obedient to an objective expectation made clear in the scriptures.  You may have some false hits, because we're fallible, but the more you conform yourself to the word of God - the more this will become natural and obvious.

But I do not believe that God is whispering constantly in our sin-deaf ears and that it is our job to interpret our own intuition into commands and expectations from God.  That is a road doesn't bring anyone closer to God - it only makes us being to trust our own intuition, over and eventually against the word of God.  Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked.  When we use our hearts to interpret what we think God wants us to do - we eventually and inevitably end up satisfying our hearts, and convincing ourselves that we are holier for having done so.

I know too many Christians - genuine, sincere Christians who follow every waft in the wind thinking they are being obedient to God, when they are in fact contradicting the clear expectations of a Christian as laid out in the scriptures.

Listen to what Paul tells Timothy, and ask yourself if Paul missed the boat:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:15-17 [NASB]
Do you want to be equipped for every good work? You shouldn't be looking for liver-shivers and special feelings.  You should be studying the word of God so that you know it, and knowing it you are familiar with both the character of God and what God expects from you.  He expects you to be able to function autonomously having been given clear instruction from his word.  There is no mention of intuition or feelings, or visions, or whisperings, premonitions or any such nonsense.  You will be equipped to do the good work you're called to do, because what God has called you to do can be found in the scriptures.

Know them, and you will not only know the Lord who inspired them, you will know what is expected of you as a believer.

Throw the mysticism in the trash where it belongs.
posted by Daniel @ 7:47 AM  
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