6 Oct 2002

In a bad situation

Submitted by theshovel
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I am in a really bad situation. I am, I can hardly write the word because I feel so guilty, Christian. My husband decided he didn’t want to be married anymore. We are not divorced yet. I am living with another man. We are planning to get married as soon as WE are divorced. His wife left him and moved several states away. I moved with him to Texas, from NY, because he got a job there. Since I have been here God has really drawn me back to Him and I am in agony over the fact that we are both married to other people and living together. It is really horrible. There are times when I have peace but then someone reminds me of the bad witness I am to other people. What do I do? Kathie

My dear Kathie… You mentioned that you have times of peace until someone reminds you of your “bad witness” to other people. Does your peace, as well as your guilt, rest upon what others think of you? Do you realize how often your actions are made based upon what others think of you, even your present bad situation? Guilt is a powerful manipulator, and it will keep you in bondage bouncing back and forth between one thing - or even one person - and another. Do you know that Christ FREED us from the bondage of law and performance-based living? Did you know that he brought us GOOD news? Did you know that he has already justified you by hanging on that cross? Did you know that he has killed you … and raised you up in his own new life? Forget what man might say or think … do you know what God thinks? Love, Jim

Hi, Jim! I believe God told me this not too long ago but would appreciate your opinion: I was begging for help. He asked me why I was so upset. I said because I am living in sin. He said “Kathie what is the fruit in your life? A good tree can’t produce bad fruit.” (Obviously he knew my spiritual life was in the best position ever) I said Yes! But I am such a bad witness of Christianity! He said: Are you such a bad witness? Are you going to stay in the place you are? I said: NO He said: Why? I said: Because I love you. He said: Then the true witness is: I met you where you were at, Loved you while you were there, and lifted you out of there. That sounds like a good witness to me, don’t you think? Kathie

Hello Kathie, It sounds like a witness to the very reality of Christ!  :) I always find it amazing that God can teach us even when we think the written word objects to the living testimony of His Spirit. Your worries are found in the stony words of a stony book. No, this is not a denial of what the apostles wrote … but a denial of our long-standing religious perceptions of what they wrote. You said,

The bible says not to do anything that would make Jesus look bad. Kathie

Ironically the bible shows Jesus “looking bad” in front of lots of people. Consider the fact that when he was hung on the cross it was a statement to the world that this man was damned by God and man. I know the argument is always made that Jesus was different than us in that he did nothing wrong to produce this bad witness, but it is precisely here that we have been taught a lie. The lie is simple. For though we have been made the very righteousness of God in Christ through being forgiven and having received the actual life of God, we immediately begin to view ourselves as that which we used to be. And because we have let the liar convince us of this total rejection of Christ’s work we run right back to a system of performance that supposedly helps us remove the sin from our lives. But you already know this truth, for you have heard God himself, and He has taught you that you are a good tree that can only produce good fruit. But somehow the words in some of the letters have been twisted so that you are constantly examining yourself for sin in hopes that you will not disappoint God by doing it. But somehow – through all your trying NOT to do it – you discover that sin is all you can see. This would make Christ the “minister of sin”. And that he is NOT. The truth of Christ is that for the very first time a person is able to truly live! The fact is that we have gotten so used to the religious hypocrisy that pretends at godliness that we keep trying to compare ourselves to a bogus standard of living. You have been made alive!! At one time you were a “slave of sin” and yet you were made a “slave of righteousness” through Christ’s death and resurrection within you. We often think back to our “life of sin” and will remember particular evil deeds, but the truth is that everything we did was sin … when we lived in sin. Even the “good” was sin because it was a pretense. But now in Christ we are alive for the first time. When Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians he matter-of-factly stated that they had been “running well” and wanted to know who had “hindered them from obeying the truth”. Do you know what “truth” he was referring to? The freedom of life through the Spirit of Christ! The ones who had “hindered” them were some lawmen from Jerusalem who were trying to bring them back under a system of performance. These men caused these believers to begin to justify themselves before God and before each other according to standards and morals. The love that had been freely flowing from them had come to a screeching halt and instead they were judging and condemning one another. And all of this was based upon a religious appearance of godliness.

I can not understand how God can love me while I am sinning and there are so many scriptures of how much trouble you will be in if you learn the truth and continue in your sin! Kathie

I know many of the verses you fear in this respect, and I can tell you that they were not originally written with that intent. Something tells me that, among others, a few verses from Hebrews and some from 2 Peter probably terrify you. These are highly misunderstood letters that have been used by the same legal mindset as being against the freedom of Christ. I’ve written some things on Hebrews that might shed a little understanding on why many “fear” verses have been incorporated into our living relationship with God Love, Jim

Jim,      This is most definitely NOT MORE than I wanted to hear. You speak exactly what Ephesians tells us to do, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but ONLY that which is edifying and will minister GRACE unto the hearers….and be ye kind, considerate and forgiving one another as God in Christ had also forgiven you.” Who would ever be full of that?      Jim, I’ll tell you something. As I wrote that paragraph above the Holy Spirit practically screamed those words back to me. He wants to build me up not tear me down. He ministers GRACE to me. My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is perfected in weakness. Oh Dear Lord, it is absolutely sufficient….man what a relief. Grace: Undeserved favor.      WOW…this is too much. …. and be ye kind, considerate and forgiving one another AS GOD IN CHRIST HAS FORGIVEN YOU…….WOW! Here I am going to be encouraging you to keep speaking and God ministers my words right back at me…OHHH I love it!!! That is not to say to you “Don’t say anymore” because I love your ministering but what an encouragement.      Thanks, Jim. I can tell you that although I have gone over and over this with another Christian friend, I haven’t felt Jesus’ presence, as promised in the bible….when two or more are gathered in My Name, there I will be in their midst…..HE’S HERE!!! Hallelujah.      I REALLY REALLY appreciate you taking this time for me. I pray that God blesses you and encourages you to continue in this ministry because you have been a true blessing for me. Love, Kathie Kathie

Jim,      I just reread your words because I got so caught up in the ministering of the Holy Spirit in that first paragraph of my reply.      You are right!!! I am not making Him look bad! I am making Him look like the loving, gracious, merciful saviour that He is!!!!!! WOW!!!!! Kathie

Guess who AGAIN!      Jim your e-mail reply has sent me into a cloud. OH MY. I can tell you I am amazed at what the Spirit of God has just revealed to me when reading your interpretation of Hebrews.      This is the promised Land:      Sin comes from living under the law. If you are living by your ability…you are going to fail. If you are living under the law you are living in sin because we fail every time.      If you are living in the Spirit of Christ than you are living under grace, God’s undeserved favor. We don’t deserve it but we have it not because of ourselves but because Jesus made it so. If you are living in Christ you are not bound by performance (laws). If you are living in Christ you live according to love because He is love. You don’t desire to do evil things.      So, therefore when I get anxious about my outward appearance I am reverting to being a pharisee and making of no good what Jesus died to give me….freedom right where I am. When I feel anxious, afraid, concerned about my outward condition I am not living in the the Truth of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, gentleness, long suffering, meekness…which is what God is the embodiment of.      The revelation of how much God wants us to enjoy these things is astounding to my natural mind.      WOW! Am I getting it??? Kathie

Kathie!! I am so thrilled and encouraged by all you have shared with me!! I just read our ongoing correspondence out loud to my wife, Sherri, who was also thrilled to hear it!! Real life is so wonderful, and this is exactly what I am witnessing coming forth from you!! Thank you, thank you!!! Hey, I suspect that you would absolutely LOVE the living communication we have going on at the Shovel Shack discussion forum!! And I know they would love what you have to share as well. If you have any time to spare please feel welcome to check it out.  :) Love, Jim

Here is a note from Kathie posted later on the Shack

This is the truth: I didn’t know this was a website about Grace until after Jim and I had these conversations. I was in a cloud again after I realized that was what the ministry was all about because in my correspondence with Jim that was exactly what the Holy Spirit was ministering to me: GRACE!!! What a wonderful witness from the Holy Spirit Himself. Kathie

Here are some edited thoughts from an email I sent related with the “behavior” issue in this situtation. I am keeping the writer’s comments anonymous as was requested, but the content of my response may be beneficial to some who have similar concerns.

Realize that the above series of emails all took place within one evening and the following afternoon. In other words, Kathie went from “I can’t believe God could love me” at 1:40 pm to “I’m totally blown away by the real freedom of Christ” by 4:00 pm. Now, I was obviously thrilled with Kathie’s replies … and some may be likely wondering why I didn’t get into her behavior, or why perhaps she wasn’t being “convicted” about her situation … or something of that nature? But what if the real “behavior” going on in her life had more to do with her having lived a lie for years because of her false perceptions? In other words, we might think that “proper behavior” should immediately cause her to remove herself from her present situation and go back and try to repair the former one. But what if real freedom in Christ really brings sanity so that the most pressing behavior shift was the recognition of her own living of the lie for the past many years? You see, it was insanity that kept her living in what was probably a psychological divorce. Her jumping into another relationship was probably a product of that insanity, and so she found herself totally isolated wondering what the heck she was going to do next! Are any bothered by the fact that her agony over her present situation was removed by the freedom of Christ? I know it has often been taught that such turmoil might be the work of God so that a person will “turn from their sin” … but what if that is simply the work of law and condemnation? What if her sensing of this freedom had only to do with the real stuff behind the condemnation … and nothing to do with a lack of concern toward sin itself?

Here are some thoughts I had written before sending this reply:

The very meaning of “behavior” is intricately connected with our perceptions, and as a society built upon many Biblical and moral concepts we have come to view behavior as an outward compliance. Sure, we would love to see some real inner motivation behind the outward show, but we speak of this need for real connection between the inward and outward because we know that it’s not there for the most part. My point here is that we need to address the real stuff of the heart because otherwise we’re only validating the lie of the world. When we’re living according to the blindness of this world, even the religious forms of it, we will address behavior because we believe it is the bottom line reality. But it’s not. How can it be when we have only learned to conform to the illusion that we’re actually “doing the right thing” when we know we’re acting against our own beings by doing what others expect of us? When we become confident in the true reality of our beings, having been set free by Christ, we can finally begin to deal with ourselves in truth, and not by trying to keep the illusion going.

You know, this situation may not turn out as we might think it ought to, but what if the “right” behavior doesn’t include going back to the husband who “is not pleased to live with her”? No doubt she has a lot to reconsider in her life in her present situation, but the only sane way she can approach it is to see herself in TRUE freedom, and not from suffering according to God’s “displeasure” with her. Jim

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Comments

Jim, do not situations such as these alot of times produce children who then suffer because of irresponsible actions of the parent? A child born in a situation such as this might then have to loose one of their parents to a break-up, then go into another one of the parent’s relationships, then another, etc. Just as a homosexual’s or promiscuous person’s actions can affect many other people’s lives by spreading disease and such. When a person is in sin, it not only affects their life, but others too, and so often children’s lives who have no say-so in the matter. Just look at society. Mostly it is the children who suffer as a result of parent’s sinful actions. It is because of society’s rules that some (not many these days) try to do the right thing by children. Do we just tell them the rules don’t matter? If it feels good, do it? What about the children affected?
theshovel's picture

Hello friend,

I understand your concerns, for many children have suffered as a result of some poor actions by their parents ... and in turn, many bad parents are simply children who also suffered because of the actions of their parents. This is the way of a society that lives according to some very strict rules, a society that produces children who learn to despise the rules of their parents, and yet will still profess valuing the same kind of rules, a world that lives in sin. Why should we restrict our view of what it is to live in sin when those who work so hard at keeping up the show also live in hypocrisy? After all, who really teaches their children that the rules don't matter other than those who stand by the rules they themselves don't keep? Maybe we should pass on to our children something other than the charade that has been accepted for generations. I suggest that we speak to them of true life with an honesty as to the failings of living by law. Let's tell them about a real life that doesn't have to hide behind religious hypocrisy.

Jim

Jim, There are so many things I could say about your response it is mind boggling! lol “After all, who really teaches their children that the rules don’t matter other than those who stand by the rules they themselves don’t keep?”-Jim Yes! Isn’t this such a gut level reality in our world here? I see this hypocrisy in the legal mind all the time. The fleshly heart is so arrogant in this. I love how you have lifted the rug that so many stand on and say “what’s the problem”? The law is live and well my friends. Stop looking for it in the obvious.

Well, of course you are right. We, as parents DO live in hypocrisy when we teach our children to live by rules because we do break all the rules ourselves. I get that, but arent we to discipline our children? Teach them right from wrong? Are you saying we should just let children do as they please because rules are bad? Should we provide birth control for our teenagers, let them drink and have sex in our homes so they don’t do it out on the streets, and such as that? What about little children? They have a tendency to be very selfish and need guidance on how to treat others and such? hence…rules. I’m really trying to understand what you are saying here. Please answer my questions specifically, if you don’t mind, so as to help me. I appreciate you talking to me!
theshovel's picture

I'll be heading out the door to go to work in a few minutes, but I wanted to pass on an article you might appreciate. It's called How do you raise children by grace?.

Jim

This is EXCELLENT: “. and some may be likely wondering why I didn’t get into her behavior, or why perhaps she wasn’t being “convicted” about her situation … or something of that nature? But what if the real “behavior” going on in her life had more to do with her having lived a lie for years because of her false perceptions? In other words, we might think that “proper behavior” should immediately cause her to remove herself from her present situation and go back and try to repair the former one. But what if real freedom in Christ really brings sanity so that the most pressing behavior shift was the recognition of her own living of the lie for the past many years? You see, it was insanity that kept her living in what was probably a psychological divorce. Her jumping into another relationship was probably a product of that insanity, and so she found herself totally isolated wondering what the heck she was going to do next! Are any bothered by the fact that her agony over her present situation was removed by the freedom of Christ? I know it has often been taught that such turmoil might be the work of God so that a person will “turn from their sin” … but what if that is simply the work of law and condemnation? What if her sensing of this freedom had only to do with the real stuff behind the condemnation … and nothing to do with a lack of concern toward sin itself?”

“The very meaning of “behavior” is intricately connected with our perceptions, and as a society built upon many Biblical and moral concepts we have come to view behavior as an outward compliance. Sure, we would love to see some real inner motivation behind the outward show, but we speak of this need for real connection between the inward and outward because we know that it’s not there for the most part. My point here is that we need to address the real stuff of the heart because otherwise we’re only validating the lie of the world. When we’re living according to the blindness of this world, even the religious forms of it, we will address behavior because we believe it is the bottom line reality. But it’s not. How can it be when we have only learned to conform to the illusion that we’re actually “doing the right thing” when we know we’re acting against our own beings by doing what others expect of us? When we become confident in the true reality of our beings, having been set free by Christ, we can finally begin to deal with ourselves in truth, and not by trying to keep the illusion going.-Jim Amazing words here brother…if I could recommend to someone in this day and age something that would directly bring out the Gospel of Christ in writing, I would point to this. Thanks, Adam

Good stuff! But I must say talking to you guys is like talking to a politician. VERY general. Isn’t that what most of the presidential candidates do too? LOL. All except Ron Paul! Go Ron Paul! How to apply to specific real life situations, you don’t seem to articulate very well. And that’s where I was really needing help. Oh well…. I do get your “general” concept though. Just got to figure out on my own what that looks like in every day life, I guess. Thanks for replying to me! Very kind of you to take the time.
theshovel's picture

Hello dear friend,

I am not ignoring your last comment but had planned to get back to you on it. Today has been a very busy and intense day, from morning until now. Today is our Shovel Audio recording day, and I spent a lot of time in preparation. I just got a few minutes to write something, but now my granddaughter has requested my time to go bury a dove she had rescued from the clutches of a neighborhood cat. I'll write some more later.

Jim :)

Hello “Visitor”, Yes very busy we are! It’s not fair! lol- In fact I personally work two jobs plus of course we both write and produce the weekly audio program. Not to mention we both have families to attend to. In Jim’s case he actually has two grandchildren he is involved with on a daily basis. I have to admit I personally didn’t even see your questions above! Sorry about that. Hey I totally know what you mean about the being very ‘specific’ thing. That demand was actually what I heard coming up in my mind about every five minutes while being under the influence of so much law. I so much thought it was all up to me as to how I handled, advised and administered all of the reality of God in my life and others. The good news though is that it actually isn’t up to you OR me. Christ has set you free from having to be right and make all the perfect decisions this world convicts us of.[with all it’s standards] Having said this, the question “what do YOU want to do” probably sounds like total willy nilly huh? If you are in Him, Jesus Christs heart of love is in YOU. Don’t let the worlds religious approach convince you that through Him you do not know all things. For they are written in your heart. Christ has taken the judgment out of the way so that you can go make the decisions you want to make in life. He is not the minister of sin, He is freedom from it. However focusing on sin in yourself and others is simply the work of the effect of the law in you and I. If you are not proposing some hypothetical situation in your example above but rather are struggling with some real situations, then I encourage you to walk through it relying on the complete perfection you have before God. Whether you speak a word of encouragement to your kids or put a rule down that will keep the peace at your home, do it in view of the freedom purchased for you in Christ Jesus and the new heart He Himself is in you. Have you ever listened to our audio program by chance? There are some very good ones you might be encouraged by. Love, Adam PS: I am sure Jim will ad some thoughts too.
theshovel's picture

Adam, I almost missed this before heading out to work. Excellent words, my brother. :)

Jim

Oh sorry, didnt mean to bug you guys for answers. I know you must be very busy and I do appreciate your time and your help. I thought the answer from ‘Luvin’ was my reply and I felt it was good, but very general. I have done quite a bit of reading on your website, and I seem to read that same ‘generalness’ in most of your answers. –Maybe it’s just me. I am a very practical person and seem to need to know how to apply advice to my own situations. But, again, I sure appreciate your time. Jim, I read the article you suggested and what I hear you saying there is to go ahead and have rules and discipline with children, but at the same time be teaching and explaining to them that rules are not good as we become adults, that as believers we are not under the law, but have freedom in Christ. Is that what you are saying? Have I understood correctly? Again, thank you so much for your time! And please answer as you have time. No rush at all. Thanks!
theshovel's picture

Hello dear friend,

I also found Adam's answer very helpful. I know so much of what you've read here sounds so general, especially in view of the non-ending advice from those who seem to enjoy telling people what to do. LOL! Most of the time, what I sense as being needed is less of the so-called practical advice and more of the reality of the good news of Christ that sets people so free that they discover they already know what to do.

As far as the Law goes, it is not bad ... but it is not made for those who have been made righteous in Christ. So yes, you are understanding me correctly. We have learned so much about not needing rules to govern us by having gone through the time when we needed them to keep us in line. We have had the love of God brought into our hearts by his Spirit, and this love far surpasses anything we ever hoped to achieve by trying to live by rules. Yes, we will have to impose rules upon our children to provide the temporary motivation until they come to recognize the love of God for themselves.

Jim

From someone who has greatly benefited from Jim’s “general” concepts, I would say TRUST that you can live by the LIFE of Christ within you and you don’t need Jim (or anyone) to give you principles or rules. And any rules you “lay down” for children will come from your heart that has been transformed by GRACE/LOVE and can be viewed as part of the all things that God causes to work together for good and lead our children to see that living from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (laws) is death!! Rules and laws are for those who do not live off the tree of LIFE (whom indwells us and we are in union with) and we can see how good rules are doing in our society :( I had to quit being a trail monitor where i asked people to please keep their dogs on a leash for everyone’s safety because men and women got so VERY nasty with me (and I’m just “a little old lady”); and not to mention the numerous times we all probably are almost killed by drivers that aren’t following the rules. Jim, hope you don’t mind me adding my two cents here. I so appreciate that in all your writings that you do point us to trust the Life of Christ in us!! Debi
theshovel's picture

Debi,

I was thinking how blessed it was to hear you testify to the freedom of living by the life of Christ. So no, I do not mind in the least. Rather, I thank you. :)

Jim

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The habit of isolating Jesus' words and stories from one another is the main reason our twisted versions seem plausible in the first place. source