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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.
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Friday, June 11, 2010
The Disobedient Christian
Yeah. You.

Though the apostle John was merely rephrasing a truth that rang throughout the whole of scripture when he said it, his words paint the truth so clearly for all to see, "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us." [NASB].

I like the way John states it too. He doesn't say, "if we say that have never sinned..." - which might lead someone to conclude that John was talking about being deceived about some prior state. But John is saying that any believer who imagines himself to be presently in a state of sinlessness is deceived, either about what sin is, or about his own estate, and likely both, since the truth does not reside in anyone who believes themselves to have attained what we can never attain to on earth - perfection.

So when we talk about the "Disobedient" Christian, we are talking about every genuine believer.

The problem with spelling it out like that it that there are some (many?) amongst us who will carnally appropriate a truth like that as a sort of insulation. They will reason that since every other believer is, in many ways, being disobedient to God each and ever day, that their own disobedience is not something they should overly concern themselves with. In this way they are lulled by our enemy into allowing the field of their faith to fall into fallowness.

I think the enemy wrings more havoc out of this particular ploy amongst those who have so misunderstood the gospel as to imagine that they must do good works in order to maintain their salvation than he does amongst those who, having a more correct theology, understand themselves to be saved by grace and that, irrevocably and eternally so.

Externally speaking at least, those who believe that they flip in and out of salvation depending upon whether or not they have confessed their last sin or not, are more inclined, for fear of hell, to good works and ministry, than those who are assured of their salvation through the promises of God. Yet this same flawed doctrine that produces a flurry of "doing it primarily and most often to save my own butt" activity, does not produce any positive spiritual effect, since all they do is insulate themselves, by all their activity, from genuine obedience. God calls us to worship Him in Spirit and in truth, which means that we can't just make up junk and call it worship just because our particular confusion on the issue rises out of a sincere ignorance. Paul did not count his former, sincere effort, as confused godliness, he referred to it as refuse (and that's the polite form of the word).

So those who, for fear of losing their salvation, make protracted, ultimately flawed, and consistently short lived, attempts at obedience, for all their effort (and failure) are in reality seldom closer to obedience than the one who simply gives up trying to obey under this sort of pretense.

On the other side of the horse however, the one who knows that we are saved by grace through faith, not of works lest any one should boast - that is, the one who looks to Christ's having fulfilled God's promises, so that they are yea and amen, and applicable to us, and who rests his hope solely in having appropriated this divine provision through the sure promises of God - this one may well become inclined (in his flesh) by virtue of the certainty of his salvation, to allow this folly to fallow his fine field.

Sorry, I love the alliteration.

If the genuine Christian does not and cannot maintain his salvation by obeying God, and if all Christians are disobedient, as John teaches, one might be inclined to think that there is no *real* purpose to obedience - at least one who thinks that the point of their faith is all centered around them "getting to heaven" when they die. That is, those people who view Christianity as nothing more than what you need to do in order to avoid hell, or said more bluntly, those who, by virtue of their immaturity, and in part, by virtue of the way the gospel was originally presented to them, imagine that the point of this life is to make sure your hide both gets and stays "saved" - these same will, upon having convinced themselves that they have gained that which they came to Christ to receive (a better afterlife), will see no real value in obeying God thereafter. I mean, if they are going to go to heaven anyway, who cares how big their reward is?

Christianity is supposed to be about being reconciled to our Creator through Jesus, and -not- (as contemporary Christianity sometimes make it) about making sure we have our "Best Life Later™".

How does anyone worship God when they are only doing so in order to get a better afterlife? Think about it. Have you fallen in love with God, or do you just fear Him? It is my opinion that you should have this question (properly) answered before you reach the grave. Are you reconciled to God for God's sake, or for you own?

We are all disobedient - but we are not all deceived.

Hear then, what the scriptures say about our disobedience. It is not acceptable. It is, in fact, worthy of God's wrath. God does not ignore it, or think nothing of it - He hates it. But because God has dealt already with this wrath, at least as it pertains to those who are in Christ, because He has poured out that wrath in full already, so that He can justly regard us as righteous in Christ.

The debt of our sin is not the barrier that keeps us from pursuing God in this life - it is our love of it that keeps us from obeying God.

This is why our Lord taught, and Paul echoed this teaching, that we are to deny our selves. We are not to give into desires that rise out of the waiting death that is within us, not because to do so would ruin our chances at the best afterlife - but rather because the best thing we can do for ourselves is to obey God.

The flesh doesn't buy that, so praise God that in His infinite wisdom He put His Holy Spirit within each of His children (in this covenant) to bear witness to the fact that obedience is superior. Even when we fail to obey, that is, even when we give into the desires of the flesh, we know we do so to our own hurt. The Holy Spirit works in us like that - putting a spiritual desire (as opposed to a visceral one) in each of God's children - a desire that both draws the believer near to God (by calling them to obey) and again by laying the truth concerning what is righteous and what is evil before the believer so that unless we are momentarily blinded by the flesh, we will have a clear (moral) path upon which to walk in this life.

Here's the thing: our victory in Jesus is not, nor has it ever been, sinless perfection. Our victory is that through Jesus we are able to rely utterly on God for all our needs - that is, through Christ we are able to enter into that right relationship with God again. Through Christ we are reconciled. Our walk on earth is all about living out that reality. Drawing near to God because we are God's children, and not because that is what we have to do in order to be certain that we get the Best Life Later™.

Spiritual maturity can only be hampered, and is probably impossible, when one is still trying to furnish the best afterlife for himself. Obedience therefore, should flow, not from the well of padding our own pockets with a better afterlife, but from the well of certainty that we are reconciled to God in Christ, and from drawing near to God in answer to the Holy Spirit's work in us. It doesn't happen over night, but eventually God's children can learn that God is worth our worship, worth our obedience, and worth a worthy walk. Eventually, as we learn to disdain the glass beads and shiny bits that make up all the treasure the world has to offer - when we begin to see these things for what they are, and God for who He is - our greatest treasure - then we begin to pursue God for the sheer joy of it.

We are all disobedient, even those who are genuine believers - but we are not all pursuing the things of the flesh. If the Holy Spirit is using anything I say today to open your spiritual eyes about what you're doing with your life, or how you're trying to "do" Christianity - ask yourself why it is that you are going to put that aside for later. What are you clinging to?


posted by Daniel @ 7:34 AM  
  • At 9:41 AM, June 11, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…

    Ahhhh. Feels good to post on a Friday!

  • At 9:26 PM, June 13, 2010, Blogger JIBBS said…

    you tore it up last week. 4 posts!

  • At 4:41 PM, September 09, 2010, Blogger Marcian said…

    Daniel, thanks for posting this. I have been struggling a lot in this area, even questioning my own salvation. I will probably need to read this admonishment several times over...

  • At 4:20 PM, April 05, 2014, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To have trademarked the term "best life later" is telling, it demonstrates contempt for your fellow brothers who who don't hold the same doctrinal position as you regarding if salvation can be forfeited or not as well as showing you're a person who wants to make a name for himself off that, at the least, if not also market that phrase for gain (that's generally what trademarks are about). So you're sneering at such brothers. Pride blinds friend. If Jesus Christ is first and foremost among your interests, (and you rank him second In yours) you obey in order to demostrate your love and out of hatred of sin.

  • At 4:30 PM, April 05, 2014, Blogger Daniel said…

    Actually, anonymous, the trademark symbol in the text is an intentional attempt at sarcasm. I have by no means trademark the actual line "best life later" that is a play on Joel Osteen's less than biblical slogan, "best life now".

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