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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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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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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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Thursday, June 19, 2008
One Lump or Two?
As I understand it, in Islam, the Kirama Katibin (Arabic: كراماً كاتبين) are two angels who sit one on either shoulder. The one records the good deeds, the other the bad deeds, and at the end of your life, which ever angel had the larger tally (the one recording the good or the one recording the bad) would determine whether you went to Jannah or Jahannam (heaven or hell) when you died.

From what I have read, this is probably where the old animation bit of the shoulder angel vs. shoulder devil comes from. We all know the gag - the animated character is faced with some dilemma in their conscience and their internal struggle is anthropomorphically represented by miniature versions of the character, one dressed as an angel on one shoulder, and the other as a devil on the other shoulder. The character then works out the internal struggle by weighing the counsel of these two "imaginary" characters.

My personal favorite is the scene from "The Emperor's New Groove" (2000), where Kronk is faced with the moral choice of letting Emperor Kuzco (who has been polymorphed into a Llama, rendered unconscious, tied in a bag, and tossed in a canal) die or not. As indecision grips him the following scene plays out:

Shoulder Devil: Listen up, big guy. I got three good reasons why you should just walk away. Number one. Look at that guy! (gesturing to the Shoulder Angel) He's got that sissy stringy music thing.
Shoulder Angel: We've been through this. It's a harp, and you know it.
Shoulder Devil: Oh, right. That's a harp, and that's a dress.
Shoulder Angel: (Irritated) Robe!
Shoulder Devil: Reason number two. Look what I can do. (He does a one-armed hand stand) Ha-ha, ha!
Kronk: (confused) But what does that have to do with me?
Shoulder Angel: No, no. He's got a point.
Kronk: Listen, you guys. You're sort of confusing me, so, um, begone... or, uh, however I get rid of you guys.
Shoulder Devil & Shoulder Angel: That'll work.
(poof! They disappear).

Interestingly enough, the Islamic origin of the shoulder angel classically illustrates how the world tends to view right and wrong, and what the eternal consequences of right and wrong are. If we do something "bad" that's wrong, and if there is more bad in us that good, we are going to go to a bad place when we die. If on the other hand there is more good in us when we die, we will go to a good place. Religion becomes that which instructs us in the difference between good and evil.

Of course, scripture teaches us that no good deed will by any means erase a bad one, and that God will not let even the smallest sin go unpunished, no matter how many good deeds we might bring to God to cover it up. That is, scripture does not paint God as being placated by good deeds, nor does scripture portray God as overlooking evil for any reason whatsoever. Were that not enough, scripture teaches that we actually don't have any "good deeds" that God would actually consider good. Sure, they are relatively good - in that some deeds are less evil than others, but scripture again plainly teaches us that those things we regard as being good, God regards as being unclean - that is, if there were two shoulder angels sitting on everyone's shoulders - at the end of one's life, the angel who was recording the "good" deeds, would give the list to the angel who was recording the "bad" deeds, and every noteworthy thing the person had ever done would be handed to God as "bad" deeds.

Which is to say, that anyone who holds out hope of getting past a righteous God and into heaven by the strength of their own good deeds, has never read the scriptures, or does not believe them. The God of scripture is going to punish that person for all the evil they have done - and all the "good" they have done too, since their "good" is in fact evil too.

But that isn't what I wanted to post about - it is just an interesting aside as part of the intro. Sorry for the delay.

I think that many believers are never taught about who they are in Christ. They are left with vague ideas and unasked (and therefore unanswered) questions, and in their ignorance they flounder about when temptation and sin come knocking.

I say "flounder about" because if one doesn't know the A, B, C's of their faith, one is left to figure it out by one's own self - and that is kinda difficult to do when sin makes you feel like a great big phony.

So I will spell it out quick and simple:

On the very day that you were saved, you were adopted into God's family and as such you became an heir to all the promises and privileges associated with being God's child.

Everything you have received and will receive comes to you because you are united together with Christ in the heavenly places. That is, you were united together with Christ on Calvary, where you both died and where resurrected. God dealt with your sins in Christ so that you are no longer condemned, since the condemnation for all your sins, past present and future, were poured out on Christ two thousand years ago, and because Christ was raised from the dead, you know that God has accepted you, since you were in Christ at the time. That is why there is no condemnation to anyone who is in Christ.

Think of it this way - the moment you die, all that you were is put on Calvary with Christ. Your whole life, beginning to end is tied to Christ, and God deals with your sin there, and that old man dies with Christ and goes into the grave with Christ. But that old man is raised as a new creation, not on the earth in the here and now, but was created -in- Christ when God raised Christ from the dead.

Experientially speaking, you have no connection with this "new creation" - for it does not live in the here and now, it lives on the other side of the cross. But unlike the "new creation" that is presently hidden in Christ and sitting at the right hand of God on high - the current "you" is still here on this earth, and hasn't changed a lick.

"Huh?", says you.

"Yeah-huh!", says me.

You see, you -are- a new creation, but only in Christ. You won't experience that inheritance until you are finished living this life.

Read that last line over a couple of times till it clicks.

You have to finish living out this life before you come into your inheritance. That might sound like a raw deal, but it is (I believe) the one God has cut for us, and I remind you that we have not been left here as orphans. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us - He sent Him as a "Wedding Ring" as the proof of His promise that we are redeemed, and will enter into our inheritance.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment - to come along side the heirs of God and help them during their sojourn as pilgrims on earth.

You see, you flesh isn't going to get any better. It isn't going to stop being the base for temptation and junk, it will continue to spout bitter water (if you will) for the rest of your life. It is a leopard that cannot change its spots - that is why, even though you are a believer, you still sin. Because deep down, even though you know the Lord and hate yourself for it - you still want to sin. You don't want it to be that way, and you feel like there must be something insincere about your faith - but that is the cold bare truth.

Now that's normal, as far as I know. But being born again doesn't mean that the only thing that has changed is that you get to go to heaven. It means, as I said, that the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in your life - and will produce in you, day by day, conviction and godly desires - in fact it was this ministry in the first place that allowed you to believe. The Holy Spirit came to you and produced saving faith in you.

You are therefore, a sinner, in a sinful body, who loves sin, and will continue to love sin until Christ returns or you die, but you are indwelt by the Spirit of God who is working in you spiritual desires that are foreign to your old man - desires to obey, desires to set yourself apart to God's work.

Sin still brings you pleasure, and you crave it, but sin does not bring you peace, or joy - it only brings you shame and sorrow. To be sure, the only thing that would bring you true joy is perfect obedience, and the Spirit within you cries out within you for this very thing. Yet you have no strength in yourself to make it happen.

Thus if someone was to ask you how many natures you had, you could say I have but one nature - a sin nature. I want to sin, and I live for my own pleasure. You wouldn't be lying. In fact, coming to know this is true about yourself is the very first step in genuine sanctification.

Why is that?

Because until you understand that you are not part good and part evil - that is until you understand that there is no small sliver of "okay-ness" in you, until you lose all confidence in the flesh, you will never turn to Christ for all things. You will certainly turn to Christ for the "big" temptations - whatever those might be. You will turn to Him in your "weaknesses" but more often than not you will forge on in the strength of your flesh - on Christian "autopilot" if you will. You will teach yourself all sorts of moral habits by which you can silence that nagging Holy Spirit conviction, as though the ministry of the Holy Spirit was simply to nag you when you sin so that you stop sinning - rather than to convict you of what you are deep down inside so that you utterly abandon that which is destined to die at Calvary, and instead embrace with both arms and a whole heart the only truth that can ever benefit you - that you are a wretch through and through, that nothing you have ever done or ever will do can be anything but wicked, and that you need Christ for each and every moment of your life if there is going to be even the smallest increase in Christian living.

The Christian habit is perhaps the most sorry excuse for Spiritual living that there can be. Yet it is by far the most common. Listen, you have one nature right now - just one - a sin nature. You are not flipping back and forth between a shoulder angel and a shoulder devil - doing now the deeds of the new nature, and now the deeds of the old; rather you have only a sin nature that will only produce death in you and more death - and you have been given the indwelling Holy Spirit by whom you can live out the rest of your life at war with that thing that has been killing you since the day it took its first breath. You are supposed to be at war with the flesh, not at home in it. You are supposed to know what it means to be spiritually minded, and not tossed about like the waves of the sea, teetering now this way, and now that.

Listen, here is encouragement: God is for you. Yeah, you're a sinner. Yeah, you can't produce anything but sin. Get over it. God is at work in you right now - but he isn't trying to make your old man better, he is not trying to make it so that your flesh stops tempting you, or so that the world stops tempting you - No! He is making it so that when the world, the devil, and your own nature call you to sin - yet you have a way of escape, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

That is why we are to set our mind on the things of the Spirit - not looking back at our sin, but looking ahead at what God is going to do (glorify us) and what God is doing now (strengthening us as we walk in the Spirit). We don't mope around just because we have made a great big shipwreck of our day. No, we recognize that the "old man" has been dealt with already - that the shipwreck we made of this day has been dealt with on Calvary - and we rise up on wings of praise - putting on the garment of praise, because we know that Christ has overcome this already - that our shipwrecked day has been defeated on Calvary, and that our moping doesn't make God more disposed to us - instead we take joy in what God has done, and press on.

I know, I know - listen: I KNOW, that sounds backwards to the shoulder angel mentality. It is out of step with what we think about our selves. We want God to fix us, we don't want to accept that we are great big sinners who can't change. We want to be changed, and we want it yesterday. When it doesn't happen we think there is something wrong with us, and if there is some small victory - some change of heart, some ease in our struggle - how we make that the focus of our hope - that God would make all things easy.

I hate to be long winded here, but allow me to continue a moment more. Stop trying to make the old man better. He is not going to get better. Now stop pretending that the old man wants to get better - he doesn't. Stop playing this game with God - the one where you try and be good in order for God to like you -- the one where you stay at arms length away from God until after you "feel" like you are more spiritual. Good gravy! There is nothing in you, not an ounce, that longs for God - if anything in you is craving God it is the Holy Spirit, and grieving Him only hinders your joy - it only hinders your joy.

Walk in the Spirit little ones. It isn't some horrible command, it is joy and peace. Don't try and make the flesh better, stop waiting for that perfect day, or that perfect moment - it isn't coming. Today - while it is called today, right now even, just turn away from the flesh and its demands and instead say - yeah, I am a sinner, and I love my sin, yeah I want to keep on sinning - but I know that there is nothing in me that commends me to you Lord - except that you have called me, and your Spirit in me calls to you through me, yearning for me to return to you - deep calling unto deep. My flesh will resist you with all its might, but I know that you overcame this very flesh on Calvary my Lord, and My Savior - come and yearn for the work of your hands - grant grace that your life in me would drown this death that has no desire for you - come be glorified in me because I know there is nothing in me that is worthy, all I have is praise for you, for you have done these things for me and I have not and never can be worthy of them. You who are the Victor, and Victory both - come and drown this sin that would rule your child, and deliver me!
posted by Daniel @ 3:25 PM  
  • At 11:14 AM, June 20, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    To the one who knows to do good and fails to do it, that failure to do good is sin.

    That is, you know what you are doing is not good, but you do it anyway - that is sin.

    Yet it seems we sometimes put sin into two categories, one of which is actually make believe. The first category is real, "honest", sin - and by honest I simply mean intentional and undeniable - we know all to well that we are guilty, and we knew we would be guilty as we entered into it. Then there is the "other" category, the one where we "struggled against sin," but eventually gave in to it - we think of that sin in a more noble way - surely God is quicker to forgive sins, quicker to accept me in fellowship when I seek His face following a sin I have struggled with and failed, than when I didn't struggle at all.

    That is, we imagine that God likes us better if we work harder at resisting sin, and not as much if we don't.

    Which really distills down to this: When we secretly think that God's opinion of us rises and falls according to our spiritual successes and failures, we are resting, not on God's faithfulness for our assurance, but on our own.

    There are many in the sovereign grace camp who vociferously proclaim the sovereignty of grace in theory, but in practice appeal to their own righteousness rather than God's faithfulness for assurance.

  • At 12:55 AM, June 22, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A wonderful read! So true. We are simply sinful carnal humans who hold within us the Holy Spirit where any righteousness lies. Over and over I find I must cry out in confession of my sinfulness and dying to self, lay hold of His promise to live for me in those areas instead.

    I must say that is not what I hear often enough in Christian circles. Rather I see fellow believers "trying to do the right thing" as they pray "Lord, I'm going to be patient, loving, kind, etc today, so please help me", instead of falling on His grace and His indwelling Holy Spirit to "live through them", confessing before God their own inability to "be righteous".

    There are so many sentences you wrote that I love and want to say amen to.

    My joy has so often been hindered by all the moments I don't love God enough. I needed that reminder and encouragement to joy today.

    God Bless you my brother in Christ.


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