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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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Sunday, March 06, 2011
The Rational Response.
Doctor to two patients addicted to the same poison, one is rational, the other irrational: This is a bottle of slow acting poison. It's effects are cumulative - every drop you drink will destroy you a little, an effect that cannot be reversed - there is no way to restore the damage done. Likewise there is no way to build up an immunity to its effects over time. Each drop you ingest brings you one drop closer to an easily avoidable, but otherwise utterly certain death.

Irrational Patient: Yes. I believe that is all true. I have put this all upon a scale and weighed it and have decided that even though it is killing me, and will eventually and more or less swiftly bring me to an easily avoidable death, yet I am going to ignore all that because I like the taste of this poison.

Rational Patient: I know that what you have said is true doctor. It is madness to consume (even a single drop of) poison if that same poison will do irreparable damage, and ushers in a waiting and certain death. I too like the taste of this poison, but I see now, having weighed the thing in my thoughts, that the reason I am destroying myself is because the it is the nature of this poison - the pleasure of it - that provokes me to slay myself by it. How can I continue to consume the thing that not only is killing me, but makes me a willing helper in its murder of me?

Clearly I am not really talking about a doctor and two patients. I am talking about the nature power of sin.

Sin's power is that it produces death in us. I described it metaphorically above, because I think doing so highlights the points I want to make understood today. The power of sin is that we want to indulge it. That's sin's power. That is what is meant when the author of scripture says that sin produces death in us. He is talking about the manner in which sin manifests itself within us. Or said another way, he is talking about the nature of our fallenness - the way in which our "fallenness" manifests itself or works. If we didn't want to indulge in sin, sin would have no power over us. The fact that we want to sin - even though we know it is death to do so, tells us that it is sin that is provoking this irrational response in us.

Without Christ, there can be no rational response to sin's dominion over us. When the Apostle Paul writes to the Romans about being in enslaved to sin, he is writing about being unable to escape sin's power (it makes you want to sin). Fear of the consequences may give us pause, but the hunger to sin eventually overcomes every fear, and drives us, at length, to sin again. Every motive we conjure to suppress sin's desires to hold out against them, whether for the sake of appearances, for fear of consequences, or even for the false hope of self mastery - all (without exception) fall short. We sin the very moment exhaustion overtakes us. That is what it means to be fallen. That is what it means that there is none righteous, not even one. No one is born into this fallen world, that does not experience this, and none can escape it.

So when I say that without Christ there is no rational response to sin's dominion over us, I am drawing a line between what we are able to do in ourselves and what we are able to do when we are in Christ. In Christ we are able, not only to see sin's dominion, but to be free from it. Free in this sense - though we will still want to sin - there will be an alien desire within us to please God rather than our self. Sin is, after all, rebellion against God. Instead of saying, "not sinning" we say, "not rebelling" - it means the same. If we say, "not sinning" we tend to think of just not breaking a set of rules. But rebellion resides in our hearts first can be there even when our hands are idle. It isn't what we do that damns us, it is what we are that damns us. What we do is just the outflow of what we are. This is the foundational truth that our Lord laid out when he said that the mouth speaks out of the heart's treasure. The problem isn't the mouth, it's the heart.

But Christ is Israel's new heart - the one God promised to give to Israel. When you become a Christian, you are put into Christ, who was an Israelite according to the flesh. You are grafted into the olive tree that is the Israel of God - so that the new heart of Israel, becomes your new heart also - that being Christ. Out of this Heart, to continue the metaphor, flows the ability to respond to sin in a rational way - that is, to turn away from it, and towards God.

To repent is to be reconciled to God. We become reconciled to God when we stop rebelling against His rightful rule over us. The rational response to sin is repentance. But no man can repent unless God grants it. That is how profoundly inescapable the fall of mankind truly is - no man can come to Christ (ie. repent) unless the Father draws him. Thus there can be no faith where there is no desire to be reconciled to God - for why would a man who hates God, and wants only to satisfy his own desires, have anything to do with God? There is no room for such a man to trust in God to save him, because he doesn't want to be reconciled to God - he cannot want that (that is the nature of his sinful predicament) - he only wants to avoid condemnation. He is God's enemy, and like a leopard, is unable to change his spots.

When God draws a person to Christ, and grants them the repentance that ends in faith, they are baptized in (ie. put into) the Holy Spirit by Christ Himself - it is the Spirit, the very presence of the Holy Spirit, that makes possible the only rational response to sin. The only rational response to sin (rebellion) is an obedience that flows into the hands from the new Heart. We have access to the new Heart (Christ) through the Holy Spirit who is in every believer. Thus every genuine believer has been set free from sin's bondage - that is, set free from sin's power - the power being that we so want to sin, that we eventually do. Now we have a new desire - a desire to please God in obedience - a desire that is foreign to our old nature - foreign to the old self, or old man (as Paul writes).

It isn't complicated, but it can be confusing if we are expecting something different. If we expect that we are suddenly supposed to be immune to temptations, or free from sinful desires - then we will be fairly perplexed about why we keep on having the "same old" desires - and why we keep giving into them. We do this because we have a habit of doing this. There was a time when we could do nothing else. So we continue to walk the old roads, except now we do so with a crushing guilt, and a real concern about the legitimacy of our faith. The problem here is that we don't understand that Christ sets us free in order that we have a genuine option to obey Him. Like having a new pair of shoes - you didn't have the option to wear them until you possessed them, and now that you do have new shoes, you still wear your old ones because they are more comfortable. The work of the Spirit is to make your old shoes uncomfortable, and your new shoes more comfortable.

Thus, the whole of sanctification can be summed up with the thought that God is doing a work in you by which you hate your sin more and more, and by which you have a real option every moment to obey God - so that you increasingly obey God, even as you increasingly hate sin. You will ever feel increasingly loathsome over your sin, but also strive more and more to root out every false way within yourself. You will struggle with prayer - because you will no longer be satisfied with lip-service. You will struggle with heart attitudes, because you know that they define you more than what your outward behaviour shows. You will loathe your many failures, and cherish the Lord's mercy and grace all the more. This is the work of the Spirit in you. Conforming you into someone who wants to obey God - or said another way - progressively causing you to partake of God's own desires - for it is God working in you to produce this will in you, to drive you to obey from your heart - it is a work that requires the putting to death of the old ways - the deeds of the body - a painful work, but with much precious fruit. People think that the refiner's fire is some painful experience that a few believers go through - but I tell you that your failures, your suffering because you want to be righteous and find yourself lacking - the horribly sloooooow progress of sanctification in your life that causes you often to despair - this -is- God refining you, this is the refiner's fire. It is not some passing problem, some temporary valley you walk through - it is the life you are in, and you will not step out of that fire in this lifetime.

But be encouraged - for just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stood in the furnace unscathed, so you also, for all the light and heat are spiritually unscathed - for your life, the one that matters, is hid in Christ, so entirely secure and safe that all your failure cannot undo it.

Take encouragement then, Christian - beloved of God, chosen, and placed into the Holy Spirit by Jesus personally - and this as your own personal guarantee that He will not leave or forsake you, and that He will finish the work He began in you.

For today however, and every day - you have the power of Christ to obey, which is your rational response - your reasonable act of worship.


posted by Daniel @ 6:25 AM  
  • At 11:41 AM, March 08, 2011, Blogger Daniel said…

    I spoke on this topic on Sunday, the message is up top in the sermondrop box (see right margin of blog). You can download it, or stream it, if you are inclined.

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