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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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Friday, September 08, 2006
Christianity - Summarized...
The Law came through Moses, but grace through Christ...I was over on Jeremy's blog, and thought he made a great closing post on the law. I commented there what follows, and thought the summary I shared there might make a good post here - besides, it is easier than coming up with new content...

It is always difficult to articulate the relationship between the New Covenant believer and the Old Covenant Law. While the law identifies unrighteousness, it cannot produce righteousness - that is the "thing" that the "law could not do."

It is quite "Galatian" (if you will) to turn to the law for sanctification, as though keeping the law (now that you are a Christian) will suddnely make the law do what it has never done, and can never do - sanctify you.

I used to think, though I never dared to talk about it, that sanctification was me keeping the law as best I could, and then, because I am supposed to be humble - I would have to "recognize" that whatever victory my own willpower wrought must be attributed to God, since I was (after all) "totally depraved."

The end result was that I would say that I am no longer under the law with my mouth - but my every endeavor to be pleasing to God was entirely grounded in my own self effort to be sanctified.

I was living like a Jew, trying to keep the law in order to be pleasing to God - and in doing so I had a form of godliness I suppose, but there was absolutely no power in it, except my own fear that if I didn't sanctify my self, it would demonstrate that I had somehow messed up my own salvation - or would indicate that I wasn't really saved.

How sad.

Surely the gospel teaches us that we are justified by faith, and scripture shows us that sanctification is not a human work, but a divine one.

No one can love with Christ's love who hasn't gone into the grave and died to self. We do ourselves a horrible deception to imagine that we can be raised here and now to a newness of life - to the likeness of Christ - when we haven't followed Christ into the grave. We cannot be united in the life of Christ if we haven't been united in His death. Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it remains alone.

But when we begin to believe the truth - that Christ took our sinful self inside Himself on the cross - that we truly were crucified in Christ in order for the body of our sin (that is the old self - the part that desires to rebel against God) might be rendered powerless, inert, unable to exert influence over us, etc. -- Then we begin to do something about this conviction that we are sinners and that something is wrong with a Christian who still loves to sin (even if they suppress that love with all their strength).

The trouble is most of us don't know what to do about that, so we turn to the law to escape the conviction - and in doing so, we fall into the error of the Jews - we treat the keeping of the law as though it were supposed to be the center of our Christian endeavor.

The purpose of our conviction is not to make us do with our hands what is right - that is like cleaning the outside of the cup - the purpose of our conviction is to show us where we refuse Christ's rule in our heart.

When we see that we truly will not have Christ rule over our heart in a matter - then we are able to turn in earnest to the Holy Spirit whom Christ gave for this purpose - to make us Holy - we must turn to Him and allow Him to make us understand that there is no way to "cure" this - that it is rebellion, and in fact enmity against God, and that it cannot -ever- be subject to God's law. When we see we cannot set ourselves free, and that even the law cannot set us free from our own unwillingness - then we will come to the place where we can actually "homologeo" that is - say the same thing about our sin as God says - not just that it is sinful - but that there is no cure for it in ourselves. To agree that keeping the law through sheer willpower won't cleanse the ugly unwillingness to obey - but that even should we keep the law perfectly through sheer will power we would still be wretches internally who neither loved God nor desired to obey him. When we can truly "confess" our sin - then we are ready to deal with it honestly.

The only honest thing to do with sin is ask God to forgive you and cleanse you - and if you do so in faith He will.

Years and years of disobedience have fashioned our hearts into hardened stone. When we get serious about sin - we being to deal with it, and God's Spirit shows us sin and expects us turn to Him for victory for every, tiny thing. Truly, the humble receive this grace, for it is a long process cleaning out the barn.

As you begin to yield to God, to surrender every part of you that refuses to obey - you will come closer and closer to ground zero - and eventually, you will get to a place where you are willing to do anything for God - and when you get there, God's spirit witnesses to you that you are there - and you receive assurance in the spirit - not the intellectual assurance we might have by regarding the scriptural promises of salvation as true - but rather, there will be no more rebellion in your heart - your heart will have been cleansed by faith, and then (and only then) God's Spirit will begin to fellowship with you unhindered by your rebellious "old self."

When that happens, you won't be popping in and out of obedience like you did when your entire obedience rested on your own willpower - no, you will be "in the Spirit" - and you will be able to love just as Christ loved, because you won't hindered by that "self love" that had consistently produced death and separation in you all the days of your life previously.

When one is in the Spirit thus - the law no longer convicts them, because they are in fellowship with God Himself, and God's love constrains them from offending. (not our love for God - but His selfless love poured in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.) Then we won't be pumping all day for a trickle of Holy Spirit - but out of our inner most being rivers of life will flow - not produced by our efforts, but rather the dam of self will no longer wall it up tight as a drum.

Truly, the man who is living in grace is no longer under the dominion of the law - that is what scripture teaches, and I believe it!

But it is a difficult thing to explain because most Christians today are not only entirely carnal - but they imagine that there is either no such thing as a carnal Christian - or they think that their "minor" and only partial rebellion elevates them above the title - or worse, they imagine that they are disobedient because they don't understand the truth clearly enough - as though a pristine doctrine could deliver them from self. It is crazy - but I am speaking of my own experience. I devoured scripture in the hope that it would deliver me from sin. I studied doctrine so that knowing the truth might set me free - but I didn't understand that it wasn't knowing the facts that set me free - but knowing the Truth (capital "T").

posted by Daniel @ 11:35 AM  
  • At 1:07 PM, September 08, 2006, Blogger Frank Martens said…

    FYI: You need to shrink the width on the mid-section so that the text isn't at the bottom of the page ;)

    Just a tip.


  • At 1:26 PM, September 08, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    firefox... sigh.

  • At 11:57 PM, September 08, 2006, Blogger Frank Martens said…

    firefox is dabomb, don't be hate'n :)

  • At 11:11 AM, September 11, 2006, Blogger Fred Butler said…

    Where do I get those cool Moses legoes? Do they have Jesus on a cross? Maybe the head of John the baptist?


  • At 12:06 PM, September 11, 2006, Blogger Brad Williams said…


    Another clear and present danger when talking about the "law" is being precise by what we mean by its role in sanctification. I think we went a round or two over this. Let me lay out how I see the law as beneficial to sanctification.

    The law only acts negatively, as you have so eloquently stated. That is, it reveals areas of unbelief. (Essentially, that's what sin is.) Yet it is valuable precisely because of this. Now let me ask the "rubber meets the road question."

    If a man is looking at internet pornography and becomes convicted by the law, we would both agree that this is very good. Now, is the answer for this man to simply "buckle down" and obey the law?

    I say, emphatically, NO!...and yes. What he ought to do is find out how his sin is rooted in faithlessness. (It could be that he doesn't believe that God can fulfill his sexual needs by providing a wife, or that he doesn't believe that his current wife fulfills his need, etc.) Once the root of unbelief is identified, and this man repents, then he will keep the law concerning sexual immorality by faith. I see in this the law being instrumental in the process of sanctification by revealing unbelief. Are we close here?

  • At 3:23 PM, September 11, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…


    I think we are close.

    I am going to presume that your example is talking about a sinning believer.

    I wouldn't ascribe the root of his sin as faithlessness rather, I would regard his faithlessness as symptomatic of the real problem - an unwillingness to deny himself pleasure. The root problem is self, and more "faith" isn't the prescribed, biblical cure. God's solution for dealing with the power of the old self is found in Romans 6:6 - "knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."

    Once the root of self is made powerless on the cross the man will no longer break the law - and not because he is now divinely empowered to suppress self so thoroughly that he can now keep the law where previously he could not - but rather self is no longer empowered to break the law, having been rendered powerless on the cross - and the man, having been set free from his enslavement to sin no longer is "tuned to" breaking the law. The man could still break the law if he really wanted to, but has no desire to, since what used to produce that desire was taken to the cross with Christ and made inert there.

    The law therefore is instructional in the process of sanctification in that it continues to show us where we have resisted God's sanctifying work in our life - that is - it identifies where we are unwilling to obey God, and therein continues to condemns us, and drives us to Christ - to the teaching of the cross.

    I think we aren't too far off - maybe we're just using different nomenclature? I see the law being instrumental in the process of sanctification by revealing where self is still enslaved.

    Orthodox Jews do their best to keep the law of God - and the very best of these no doubt appear to all the world as righteous and moral men. But they have cleaned only the outside of the cup - inside they still desire to sin just as much as they ever did. The keeping of the law doesn't sanctify the Jew, and it doesn't sanctify the Christian - nor does it sanctify the Muslim.

    Sanctification is not a reward we get for keeping the law. Our enslavement to disobedience wasn't generated by the existence of the law - Paul makes that point people were sinning before there was ever a codified law - it should be obvious therefore that when we are set free from sin we will obey the law - not that we will suddenly become better at following guidelines but because the the part of us that the law identified as sinful will be powerless - and the law will no longer be able to identify us as sinful. Our obedience is not tied to the law - the law simply reflects it.

    Let me know if we seem close by your standards.

  • At 5:16 PM, September 11, 2006, Blogger Brad Williams said…


    It seems that we disagree in this area, and it may partly explain our difference, however slight, in understanding the role of the law. You wrote:

    I wouldn't ascribe the root of his sin as faithlessness rather, I would regard his faithlessness as symptomatic of the real problem - an unwillingness to deny himself pleasure.

    I believe that the root of all sin is faithlessness. (BTW, you were right to assume I was speaking of a believer in this case.) Here's how I understand sin:
    God commands X, in this case it is sexual purity.

    The man, in his rejection of command X, pursues an illicit affair.

    The man's problem is that he doesn't believe that command X is better than disobeying it. Or, as you put it, he believes that he will have more pleasure in breaking the command than in the keeping of it.

    So, I keep the command from faith, believing that God has given me commands for my good and for my joy or pleasure. I do not view this a sanctification by keeping the law per se, because my motivation in law-keeping is not to check a works box. My motivation in obeying is that I believe that such action is pleasing to the Lord and that pleasing the Lord will maximize my joy.

    I agree with C.S. Lewis in this. He said the problem does not lie in our pleasures, but in the fact that we are far too easily pleased. I believe that the man above will not find freedom in self-denial of pleasure, as you have put it, but that he will find freedom in the pursuit of God, and in that pursuit he will find the greatest joy that he could know.

  • At 9:16 AM, September 12, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Brad - I regret my unfortunate word choice ("an unwillingness to deny himself pleasure") as I seem to have implied that sanctification involves a form of asceticism.

    The stress would have been on the word "willing" and not on "deny" - if the distinction helps.

    I don't think that freedom is found in the self denial - I think freedom is found at the cross where self was crucified. The distinction may be very subtle so allow me to illuminate it a bit if I can. "Denying self" is done by one's own willpower - and it is the bread and butter of sanctification in every false religion you can think of. Being crucified by Christ is a matter of faith - and it is unique to the only true religion - Christianity. It isn't that we make ourselves die, or try to "deny our way into death on the cross" - it is that we understand and even trust that God has placed us into Christ on the cross.

    In the former one goes about trying to secure sanctification through asceticism, in the latter one is being sanctified by God and appropriating the reality of their death in Christ through faith.

    I think we agree more than we disagree, but let me know if this distinction brings us closer.

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