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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.
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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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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.
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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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Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Does Abstaining from Sex Make You A Virgin?
Provocative title? Check.

I am under no illusion. I know that when you include abstinence, sex, and virginity in the title of a blogpost, you are likely to get more visitors than you would have otherwise. So welcome to my blog you people that wouldn't have come here unless you saw the word sex in the link.

The question is a serious one, even though you can answer it before you read one word of this post. We all know full well (unless we are of the sort of conceit that prompts us to filter reality through the lens of some form of navel-gazing philosophy...) that you cannot produce new state of virginity by abstaining from sex after you lose your virginity. It doesn't work that way, and we all know it.

Given that virginity is not produced by abstinence, and (obviously), that abstinence is likewise not produced by virginity, we might wonder what exactly relates the two notions. I describe it this way: abstinence is a consonant adornment of virginity.

What I want to impart to you is the nature of that relationship. The notion that one does not produce the other, but is rather the natural expression of the other.

We know this intuitively, but I wanted to spell it out so that when I apply it, the application is as clear as possible.

Jesus kept the law of God. It wasn't the keeping of the law that made Jesus righteous. Jesus wasn't born in a neutral state, being neither righteous or unrighteous. He did not become righteous by keeping the law. When Christ kept the law it was simply the natural expression of His inherent righteousness.

Keeping the law (or let's just call it what it is: obeying the will of God) does not produce righteousness in you anymore than abstinence can produce virginity in a non-virgin. Christ obeyed God because He was righteous, and not in order to become righteous or produce new righteousness.

That is an important Christian concept because until we understand it properly, we won't understand what God is teaching us in the scriptures when the Spirit inspired men to write that without faith it is impossible to please God, or that there are none righteous, not even one.

Christ alone is righteous. Unless we have Christ, we do not have righteousness, and without righteousness, we will perish† in the judgment.

Whatever things we do that we think are obedient to the will of God, that is, our "righteousnesses" are described by God as spiritually unclean (cf. Jeremiah 17:9). Nothing we do in our own strength is righteous, and if that weren't enough we cannot take credit for anything we do in Christ's strength. That is, when Chrsit's righteousness is working in us, we err to think it is our own. It is His righteousness that saves us.

I want to unpack that a bit for our Catholic friends. If we say that Christ imparts His rightoeusness to us, we do not mean by that to suggest that Christ takes some of His own righteousness out of Himself, then puts it into us, so that it becomes ours. Nor do we mean by that that Christ zaps us and suddenly we start producing our own righteousness by obeying God - for obeying God does not produce righteousness, it merely reflects it.

If we obey God in the strength of Christ, our obedience reflects not our own righteousness, but Christ's righteousness that is in us through that spiritual union which is the new birth. It is as the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed in Jeremiah 33:16 speaking of the Messiah to come: "the LORD is our righteousness!".

In other words, the Christian is not in the business of making himself righteous. He can no more become righteous by his own effort than he can become a virgin through abstinence. We, Christians are and remain unrighteous in and of ourselves. We appeal to a righteousness that is at once not our own, yet again is ours but only in Christ.

There aren't as many in the church who understand this properly as there ought to be, so bear with me as I dwell on it for the sake of those who are new to this teaching.

The reason all your righteousnesses are as filthy rags to God is because none of them can wipe away the stain of your sin. Present obedience cannot undo former disobedience - and righteousness has nothing to do with sin. The person who has sinned is by no means righteous, and can never attain to righteousness ever again by any act of obedience, any more than the prostitute can become a virgin by subsequent abstinence.

Christianity is not, as some would have you believe, the process by which Jesus spiritually empowers you to obey, so that your newly empowered obedience produces an inherent righteousness in you that becomes the basis for your justification before God. God will not and cannot look to your obedience to justify you. You are a sinner, and even if you have managed to obey God in the strength that Christ supplies - that obedience is not the grounds for your forgiveness. Rather you obey God (in Christ's strength) as a consequence of the fact that Christ has saved you.

Do you see therefore how wrong-headed it is to imagine that your obedience adds anything to your righteous standing? Your obedience, if it is more than just a frightened person trying to appease and angry God in the hope that by doing so they might avoid damnation, is a consequence of God's work in you --not something you do to earn God's favor. If you are obeying the Lord from your heart it is something that comes from Him, and not you - and itself testifies to the fact that God is showing you His favor already. In other words, real obedience does not produce favor, but reveals the fact that God already favors you.

Not that we look to our obedience for assurance, rather we look to the Spirit within us who is compelling our obedience as the assurance that we are God's children.

If keeping the law did not make Christ righteous, but demonstrated that He was righteous already, then keeping the law will not make you righteous, and how much less given that you were not righteous to begin with?

Finally, this righteousness that every sinner needs to apprehend, the righteousness of Christ, is obtained by faith and not by obedience; yet when it is obtained, obedience naturally (and inescapably) follows. That is, as many as are justified by Christ, the same are sanctified by Christ.

This is where we make a distinction between righteous and holy. We are called commanded to be holy. That is to be "set apart" to God. We do this by obeying God (Don't miss this last part) which does not make us righteous, but makes us holy. Do you see that? Do you see that your obedience is expected, because you are commanded to be holy, but your obedience does not make you righteous. Your righteousness is not your own, but Christ's righteousness.

This is what people mess up the most. The moment you tie your obedience to "personal righteousness" rather than to personal holiness, you step on the little mouse wheel of human effort, and no matter how you run, you simply tire and are no closer to your destination for all your effort than you were when you began. You are pursuing a righteousness that you can never, ever attain. But when accept Christ's righteousness, and stop setting about to establish your own, you are free to pursue holiness, the actual avenue through which men are meant to draw near to God.

The one who hungers and thirsts after righteousness shall be filled with the righteousness of Christ, and thereby enabled to pursue holiness in spirit and in truth. Obey God therefore, not to make yourself more acceptable to Him, but because He has commanded that His childnre be Holy (set apart to Him).
† that is, the second death: being cast into the lake of fire to suffer torment eternally.

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posted by Daniel @ 7:10 AM  
  • At 1:08 PM, May 25, 2011, Blogger Bob Johnson said…

    Excellent point... thanks

  • At 12:50 PM, June 01, 2011, Blogger Margaret said…

    Wow, *thank you*!! This really clarifies "righteousness" for me.

  • At 1:15 PM, June 01, 2011, Blogger Daniel said…

    I think the distinction between holiness, and righteousness is an important one. Our righteousness being the righteousness of Christ does not excuse us from being holy, the very thing God commands. Once we get it straight, we are not as likely to confuse sanctification with justification.

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