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Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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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.
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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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Thursday, April 02, 2009
Dealing With Daily Defeat
On the day that my Lord saved me, what was I saved from? Why do I still sin if I am saved from my sins? If the power of sin has been broken on the cross, and I have given my life to Christ, why do I still desire sin, and why do I still give into that desire? Why do I crave righteousness even as I cling to and reach out for sin, and more sin?

These are the questions that a soul being sanctified starts to ask when it comes to the end of itself.

You see, no matter how pious we are, no matter how filled with the truth we are, no matter how perfect our knowledge, how correct our orthodoxy, or even how pure our desires for righteousness might be - we still try and make ourselves righteous by acting righteous. That is how we come out of the box - and eventually we come to the end of our strength. We get to the place where, deep down, we really don't want to put in the effort anymore - since it isn't having the effect we were expecting.

We came in full of zeal, looking for a victory that we seemed to be drawing nearer to as the months rolled along. But somewhere along the way we must have got lazy or missed something, because slowly, we began to peter out, so that we find ourselves desiring sanctification, without having a desire to actually pursue it any longer, and we wonder what went wrong, and especially, how we can fix it.

And by "fix it" I mean, how we can make the same boat we just ran aground not only float again but take us further up stream.

The problem with that is that even if we nurse a few more leagues out of the old wreck, it is clearly not the light yoke and easy burden that scripture describes, and it isn't long before we beach the wreck anew.

Some, I suppose, drag their boat down the beach for a while, or just keep trying the same old things and continue to experience the same old failure.

It is amazing what lengths we will go to, isn't it? I mean, what lengths we will go to in order to avoid what Christ tells us we must do if we are to follow Him.

Stop taking up the sorry wreck of your own effort, and take up the cross of Christ. The answer isn't to try harder, the answer is to release that death grip on controlling your life. The reason you struggle is because you refuse to die. You are trying to do in the strength of your flesh, what can only be done in the strength of Christ - a strength that comes when you rest in peace - and I am choosing my words carefully here. Resting requires no effort on your part.

Here is the thing: Christ has called -YOU- (and is calling you right now!) to surrender everything to Him, ...and you not only haven't, you refuse to do so. You tell yourself it is because you don't understand this or that, or because you are too weak, or whatever it is that allows you to continue on in the way you are going - it doesn't satisfy you, but it does keep you from doing anything about it. You don't want to obey all the time, you don't want to give up control - and control here is really a synonym for "your life". You don't want to go to the cross with Christ because you will die there, and you don't want to die - and the reason you don't want to die is because you don't want Christ to rule over you. You think your problem is disobedience, but really it is far uglier, and much deeper than that - your problem is that you know that if Jesus really rules over you, you won't be able to do what you want to do - and you reject His rule because of it - even as you desire to be saved from this very thing.

So what do you do when you come to this place? The first thing you do is get honest with yourself and with Christ. Recognize that you can't make yourself desire righteousness - that God himself has to bless you with that desire. All you can do is confess your lack, and trust God to provide for you.

Did you get that?

If you confess your sin, Christ is going to be faithful - even just - not only to forgive you this sin, but to cleanse you from it. He is going to do that by bringing you to the place where sin is handled - the cross - the place where you give up that death grip you have on the control of "your" life - and there you will either lay down your burden and be freed from it, or you will refuse to and continue dragging your shipwreck around.

What must be seen, is that Jesus isn't going to make your flesh better - he is going to do something in spite of your flesh when you surrender control of it to Him in faith. There is a theological word for this that some might find surprising: repentance.

I say some may find it surprising, because they have come to think of repentance as the willful suppressing of a behavior we know to be sinful, rather than surrendering to Christ total control of our life. I can make myself stop doing a behavior for a time without (and more precisely... instead of...) surrendering control of my life to Christ.

I say, we learn early on in church to bring our behaviors in line with what is expected of us - this we do through identifying what is sin, saying we are sorry about doing it, then doing our best to stop doing it, and eventually doing it all over again, cyclically. We learn to confess and suppress rather than to confess and repent, and it is an error that eventually leaves us dry on the branch, gasping for life.

My Lord and Savior sacrificed His own innocent life to purchase my own - and more, to provide His own grace and strength to overcome the sin that reigns in my present reality, so that in spite of my sinful flesh, and in spite of the sinful world, and in spite of the powers and principalities that conspire together to snuff out the flame of His glory that was kindled in me on the day that He raised me from the deadness of my sin into the life through faith - I say, My Lord did this to set this captive free, and when He did, I became free indeed. So have you.

When you were a child, you thought like a child, acted like a child - lived like a child. But by now, isn't it time you put away childish things? Your problem, if this is you, is that you really don't want what Christ to rule over you, and you need to go to the cross with that - you need to repent.

The Lord's final message to the churches was not go out and make disciples, but six times in the book of revelation we read, "Repent!"

It helps to know what that means.


posted by Daniel @ 9:29 AM  
  • At 10:43 AM, April 03, 2009, Blogger mark pierson said…

    I've been watching you develope this train of thought on repentance for a couple years now. I can't deny your accuracy in handling this biblically. But I have a question: since day one of your looking at repentance in this way have you noticed more "victory" in your life than before? Has this way of looking at repentance revolutionized your walk in any way? Or are you still stumbling in ways like before? To me repentance is something I'm challenged with moment by moment, situation by situation, every day. A general repentance just doesn't cut it. I guess it really is a daily denial.

  • At 11:23 AM, April 03, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Mark, like most people, I only notice victory in proportion to both the magnitude and the genuineness of my repentance.

    I don't believe in entire sanctification - that is, I don't believe that if we would just "really" repent -just once- then after that would all be cake, but until then its all fake.

    But what we -must- do, and this is progressive, is give God our all, all the time - as much as we are able, whenever we are able. We must keep our eyes on the finish line, looking at, and striving for, not partial, but full surrender.

    I do not struggle with the same sins I used to struggle with, but I still struggle daily, and the solution is still total surrender - we progress towards it because we really can only surrender as much as we are aware of, and as we clean out the closet (at least in my experience so far), we keep finding more junk at the back.

    If we think of our victory as coming to a place where we no longer sin, we are really messed up, and are set up nicely for a very disappointing, even crushing fall. Victory in this area is not over sin's presence, but its power. What we are striving for is to be God's slave, and not sin's slave. To act in accord with what is already true of us spiritually, instead of what is patently true of us carnally. To walk in the Spiritual truths, rather than the carnal ones - if that helps explain the point.

    Would that I could experience a complete one time, general repentance. I would be so stoked all the time! But, I haven't, and I don't think anyone has. But I do believe one can come to the place where one's surrender is a settled thing; not that it means they never become "unsettled" but that they learn more and more to rest in God's rest - to be surrendered in everything - and when sin shakes them out of that, to return to it more readily and quickly as they mature in it. Never becoming perfect, but becoming perfectly mature.

    This way of looking at repentance has revolutionized my walk, in that I am not dealing with symptoms, but with the disease itself. I am not fiddling with suppressionism for the sake of looking the part, but dealing with my heart and its rebellion which is the real deal. Like yourself I am challenged moment by moment, situation by situation, every day. There was only ever one day of complete and utter surrender in my walk so far, and that was the day Christ opened my heart. I long for that sweetness of that moment, but I am content to wait until heaven to experience that communion anew.

    If that helps. Let me know.

  • At 10:24 AM, April 04, 2009, Blogger mark pierson said…

    Your post and response are as close to Paul in Philippians 3 as I've seen. In Phil. 3 Paul says that if others are of a different mind God will reveal even that to them. This is where the ALWAYS EFFICACIOUS chastening of the Father comes to bear. The Father's aim is Christ-likeness in us. His program is rigorous, and does not fail.

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