Do you consider yourself to be a person who doesn’t need to watch his behavior? Or do you believe that God is working in you and “works” are a demonstration that you have true faith? George Smith
Sorry for such a delay in responding, but this came during my hurricane downtime. I do remember having seen it while hooked up temporarily at my mom’s house, but it got lost behind everything else. Thanks for reminding me. Okay, now to some excessively long answers to some rather short questions! :)
Do you consider yourself to be a person who doesn’t need to watch his behavior?
The funny thing about watching my behavior came to me slowly over the years. For though I would judge my behavior as being of the flesh or of the Spirit (or should I say bad or good) I found way too many exceptions that caused me to wonder if some of the bad might not be truly good and some of the good actually of the flesh. Of course, this created even more confusion over the whole behavior-centered way of life.
Oh, it’s not that freedom becomes a means for those who are of the Spirit to get away with fleshly works, instead that is the delusion of the fleshly mind, especially as it’s inflamed with its own righteousness. The life of Christ doesn’t think that way, for it cannot even conceive of such a delusion. The mind of the Spirit is life!
Now, there is a habit that has been forced upon those of Christ by which many begin to assume that fleshly reasoning might be answered according to a logic that ends up being of the same mind … only it doesn’t appear to be the same because it is enforced with good Scripture verses and fantastic sounding Christian principles. Some of that logic has come to the conclusion that behavior can’t tell us anything and so we should avoid any behavior-flavored suggestions (Biblical or otherwise).
Through behavior, I have come to recognize much of the deception of the fleshly mind, especially in relation to the ongoing struggle to justify myself according to appearance. In Galatians, Paul wrote about the works of the flesh as being obvious. He went on to declare such simplicities as contention, strife, jealousy, hatred, and the like. The truth of the matter is that these effects had been stirred up among them, not by freedom in Christ but by resistance to or (as stated) by falling from that freedom through the works of the law.
Now, the irony here is that by law they had returned to their former behavior-centered existence (though they were not originally those of the law) only to have it backfire on them. It didn’t make any difference, because their former life estranged from the God of Israel’s promise turned out to have emanated from the very same elementally-based premise as that of Israel under the law. The law doesn’t care.
Now, not only were those fleshly works in evidence among the Galatian believers through a striving to be a bit more righteous, but Paul told them that it had also threw them off their non-behavior-centered behaviors:
You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7
You see while they were not judging themselves by their behaviors they somehow behaved themselves according to the Spirit; but as soon as they turned themselves to judge their behaviors according to the weak and beggardly elemental principles of the world which had been brought to bear while trying to justify themselves by the law they in fact began to behave accordingly.
But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Galatians 4:9
And to many of them it looked pretty good! Paul simply brought it to light that their pretty good behavior was just a mask to cover the works of the flesh. They were biting and devouring one another while thinking they were advancing spiritually!
Or do you believe that God is working in you and “works” are a demonstration that you have true faith?
You know, I’ve heard this question many times before and used to say, Yeah, that’s it, but the fact is that it now only sounds somewhat contrived. I’m not saying that it’s necessarily contrived to you in asking it, but it seems to be presenting a sense of grasping for a statement that sums everything up. Know what I mean?
God is working in those who belong to him. Those works in him are a credit to his working. The demonstration, though, is more times than not a proof to the one who judges to be evil. As it was with Jesus it still is. He was judged a sinner by the very workings of God in him. So are we.
The true faith part can so easily suggest merely a rightness of belief, and often does. God’s workings in us are simply a demonstration of himself. :)
Jim, Thanks for your reply. I have read through most of the stuff you have posted on your site, and have found myself agreeing more then disagreeing in regards to your thoughts. Actually, I used much of your writing on the supposed “Judgment Seat of Christ” with my Bible study group, which for the most part was positive. I have struggled over the years with this whole aspect of demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit type behavior in ones life, which, I have been told, thus assures that we are truly children of God (2 Cor. 13:5). Demonstration of the works of God in one’s life is supposed to be the proof of actually being a Christian at all, and as you have already addressed in your reply to my Galatians question, “demonstration” may not be readily observed as godly behavior to the “fruit inspectors” observing us. Yet, lately I have received a lot of flak, when I tell others, that I am the epitome of grace in respect to negative behaviors I possess and the Body of Christ in general. You know, statements like “that’s a cop-out” and “you are just making excuses” for yours and their bad behavior. Jim, I truly believe in the sovereignty of God in salvation and in our sanctification, but where does one draw the line, between legalism and antinomianism? In Christ Alone, my only hope, George, 7/1/2005
I didn’t post them here, but George and I had other discussions that are posted elsewhere (though I may not have included his name because some articles were posted anonymously, especially the following couple years after our hurricane damages).