26 Jan 2005

Using my freedom to do what I want

Submitted by theshovel
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Hello Jim, I hope you get this and hopefully answer me back. I had corresponded with you in the past about 4 years ago or so, and was on your forum a couple times. Anyways, I am starting to grasp (sort of) the fact that Christ is my life and that I am truly free in Him. I was always afraid to just rest in His grace because I was afraid that I would use my freedom to just do as I wanted. Well, lately that is what I have been doing. And I have found that I have no desire to do "church things" but I do have a lot of desire to go listen to bands play, drink beer, just relax and stuff like that, and have done so, not drinking to excess like I did in my BC days though. And it scares me because now I am starting to think maybe I was never saved. Certainly these aren't the kinds of things Jesus wants me to do?! And why am I doing these things after having been away from them for so long? I know that in Romans Paul says to "reckon yourself dead to sin", but I am so conscious of my sin. What advice can you give your poor sister? I hope to hear from you. thanks, nancy

Hello Nancy,

I am so glad you took the chance and wrote me. It is good to hear from you again. :)

No desire to do church things, eh? I'm guessing by the way you've contrasted this with your newfound desires you assume it must be sinful to no longer want to do those things. And then, you assume that your desire to relax and enjoy local music must be sinful. What if having reckoned yourself dead to sin is the very reason you no longer desire to do church things? In other words, what if the whole concept of "church things" now represents condemnation and bondage to your inner being? Sounds to me as if perhaps you are inwardly recoiling from the law of death and condemnation that has held so much sway in your life.

Now consider how your former church-things perspective intimidates you into viewing the simple enjoyment of life as being sin. It is not Christ who would convince you that you are a sinner, it is the law that does that. That is why you have this consciousness of sin in your life.

And you know what? This law/sin consciousness is what tries to convince you that you no longer belong to Christ. It will also force you to view your whole life according to sin and law so that this legal consciousness will twist those simple pleasures into something they are not, and they will lose any real joy to you. Make no mistake, it is not freedom but instead it is the legal mindset that will cause the loss of control that destroys your simple enjoyment of life.

Stand firm in the freedom of Christ and don't let the law convince you that you are the sinner it wants you to believe you are. Remember, you are dead to the legal form of righteousness you used to find in church things, you are now alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let love replace those "things" you used to hope in.

I hope to hear back from you,
Love, Jim

Thanks for answering me back. I've been reading a lot on your site lately. Think I'm starting to understand you, scary huh?!!
Do you really think its fine for a believer in Christ to just chill and relax, enjoy a cold one (in moderation of course)?? I know that its not sin according to the bible anyway, but it seems that someone who proclaims to belong to Jesus would not want to do these things. Shouldn't I be out trying to win the lost over to Him or something? Or at least want to.
My wanting to do these "worldly" things bothers me more than me not wanting to do the church things! I realize that church things don't save me or commend me to God or make Him love me more than He already does.
I really want to know,know,know, that Christ IS my life. I no longer live but Christ lives in me. I am dead to sin (even if it appears anything but dead). Aaargh. Nancy

Hi Nancy!

I'm glad you find some kind of crazy kind of understanding to this insane grace! haha! What do you suppose causes us to regard chilling and relaxing with a cold one to be so evil and so foreign to anything Jesus himself may have done with his disciples? Okay, okay, maybe they didn't always have the luxury of having COLD ones, but he sure understood the connection of alcoholic beverages during feasts and the like ... without the connotation of evil.

Did you ever consider that "worldly" may better describe the activities of the legal church than the other way around? hmmm? :)

Looking forward to more! :)

Love, Jim

How so?
Also what I struggle with is this: Salvation is a free gift from God, unconditionally loved by Him no matter what, accepted by Him totally only because of what Jesus did for me - BUT (there always seems to be a but) in light of all He has done for me should I not desire to serve Him?
I don't. I know serving in a church is not the only way to serve God, I could be serving Him in countless other ways, but it seems like I am all about me. The focus is on me and what I do or don't do. I don't want to be this way. By faith I want to walk in what God says is true of me, that I am dead to sin and alive in Him. He is my life. But it seems like I live in the 7th chapter of Romans.
Sometimes it all seems unreal and it scares the fire out of me. I am really scared to die because I am not at all sure about my destiny any more. I'm afraid I'll get there and God will say that I wasn't His. I feel like I have to believe all the right things or be damned. And who in this world knows all the "right things"? That is why there are so dang many denominations. Everybody thinks they have it right. And who does really? Nancy

Hello my friend, Nancy,

We hear the word, "worldly", and assume it speaks of doing the things the world does, and then come up with a list of things such as hanging back and relaxing to a band while having a brew. The "Church" has told us that for years, but if you follow history a short bit you'll discover that the Church has to keep redefining what worldly is. Back in the '70s it was "worldly" to play music that had any kind of a beat that sounded like Rock and Roll. But that has changed. However, that which is worldly has remained the same down through the centuries.

Consider, though, how the activities of the "Church" often stem from worry and fear and guilt and "spiritual" greed and contention and competition, etc. In other words, we've been trying to live and to serve God after the manner of the world. Worldly.

Eating and drinking are simply what they are. We may find certain substances - or the excesses of those things - harmful, and may decide to be smart about how we consume them. The excesses are not caused by the substances, but by the emptiness of the flesh as it drives one to keep hoping that satisfaction/filling can be found in the physical world. Truth be told, the "Church" has taught you to do that very thing, for that is how it has taught you to "serve" God ... aka "after the flesh".

No wonder, we as believers find ourselves driven to seek satisfaction in the works of the flesh, for this is the basis of how we learned to serve God according to flesh-driven religion. No wonder we have so often come to fear the harmless substances instead of recognizing the true "worldliness" of that old empty life - from which we were saved - that would have us look for life in things instead of in Christ himself. Perhaps in rejecting the very manner by which our former flesh-religions demanded we should serve God and instead standing firm upon the only reality by which we DO serve God we can find the freedom to enjoy a simple life.

Bottom line: I want to start living again. When I was lost in my sin I didn't have the damn struggles I do now. Nancy

You know what? In your emails, you put forth the perception that you are so "worldly" and self serving and not interested in God, and yet what I hear is so much from a heart made alive and set free. :) You say you have no desire to serve God, and yet I hear the anguish of one who desires only that. It is only reasonable that you will have the severe struggles you do as long as you try to serve God based upon fleshly motivations of fear, guilt, shame, greed, etc.

You need to realize that the seventh chapter of Romans describes a bogus place! That was Paul's conclusion. However, through such bogus-based experiences we are taught by God the futility of serving God according to law - for by the law we only serve the flesh - and where our real life is found - which is Christ.

Thoughts? :)

Love, Jim

Christ is my life. Question: How should Christ's life look? Is He just my life as I go about everyday life doing everyday things? We all know how religious life "looks." Church 3 times per week, outreaches, tithes, witnessing, etc. etc.We know that "true" religion should consist of taking care of widows and orphans (which I don't do) How do I know that I am allowing Christ to actually be my life? A part of me "gets it" - but another part cries out - There must be something I have to do! And I know that's not true either. Nancy

Hi again!

How should Christ's life look, eh? :) It looks like YOU as you walk in freedom! He indeed is your life as you go about your everyday life doing everyday things. How do you know? Just live ... and listen. Listen to your own heart in the midst of your struggles so that you hear the pure desire of God's spirit show itself despite all the opposition from the world around you as well as from many of your own crazy thoughts. Listen with the ears of life to those you come in contact with and you will come to realize that you hear beyond the facade created by words and actions.

Also realize that Christ is your life whether you "allow" him to be your life or not. It's not about him getting your permission. No doubt you will experience times of great and joyful willingness and times where it all seems to go away, but don't let yourself be fooled into false assumptions based upon what seems to be. For the times of trial are just as "spiritual" as the times we wish we always experienced.

The "true religion" written of by James that you mentioned has been horribly ripped out of James' letter. It was not a formula on to "how to live the Christian life" but a rebuke to those who pretend they can keep the law. If you follow the flow of his writing you will see that he divides his statements to reflect the pretentiousness of those who glory in keeping principles (but don't) as well as the reality of those who have been made alive by the Spirit. These are the same distinctions you and I have been referring to regarding the pretension of "church things" vs miraculous life in Christ. Those who judge by appearances will despise that which they believe is beneath them ... and quote Scripture to support themselves. During that time in their religious history those who paraded themselves as "spiritual" had learned how to Scripturally get around the menial tasks of taking care of their parents (remember Jesus' criticism on this as well). They also found it less than "spiritual" to deal with children, which definitely ruled out somebody else's abandoned kids. I think James may have used a well-known scriptural quote in his letter about widows and orphans to present the contrast (as did his half-brother, Jesus) to show how hypocritical it was to build a self-righteous case upon Scripture. The point is that REAL life, which James called "TRUE religion" - you know, the everyday kind of stuff we deal with in relation to others that we often wish we could get away from - is what the Spirit of God leads us into. It is only our assumptions and expectations of what we think it OUGHT to be that makes it all seems so much less than the stuff of God.

It's not that doing is unimportant, but that true doing comes from true LIFE. In the flesh we put "doing" up on a platform so that we could rate ourselves according to how we fared. This is the mind of the world. When we think in terms of what we have to do we are thinking after the flesh. The religious mind has only taken the stuff of the world and made it "holy" by forcing a divine justification upon it. We've done it in our Churches for years and years. Fleshly religious logic takes its stand upon activities because that is the only way it can comprehend true life. It will do everything it can to convince those who truly live that they are not, and it will do so by using stated duties to make its case.

The life of God that has been put within our hearts has made us truly alive. We live. Funny thing is that those who are alive - those who come to realize they have no "doing" upon with to stand and boast - are the only ones who truly "do". Never let religious logic convince you that "activities" and "duties" will ever cause true doing. God's life in us is what truly "does". Stand in his life and his freedom!

Love, Jim

Comments

“The life of God that has been put within our hearts has made us truly alive. We live. Funny thing is that those who are alive - those who come to realize they have no “doing” upon with to stand and boast - are the only ones who truly “do”. Never let religious logic convince you that “activities” and “duties” will ever cause true doing. God’s life in us is what truly “does”.”-Jim What an excellent[and rare] statement regarding our true standing in the Life of Christ! We KNOW this on the inside but the fleshly, pushy, moral logic of our former existence in death[connected to worry,fear and legality]constantly, and I mean constantly seeks to derail the ‘logic’ of Christ Jesus in US. This statement on it’s OWN is describing a miraculous standing. The legal mind may not be able to say or rebut this powerful statement of reality head on but, it can at least throw one last jab that would seek to wreck and distort what was forged for us through Christ Jesus. It will throw questions of timing and ‘proof’ and other outward judgments to try and get our minds off the steadfast reality of Jesus Christ. Just when we have grabbed hold of this the suggestion is made : “yeah but, how long must you wait on God for true good to come about?” “Is He really doing anything at all? God isn’t in this…” “Why don’t you ‘help’ God out here, he doesn’t seem to have been with you in this?” “You have GOT to work out what god works in ya know?” “If people could only SEE what is being produced IN you, maybe you could just jump in and PROVE it to them”? “Speak up for yourself! Don’t let them think NOTHING is going in within you! PROVE yourself…prove it! Get active and SHOW Christ in you at work”. “AHHWW, I doubt Jesus Christ is even doing ANYTHING in you, look at all the mistakes you make..” Or the clincher .. “Look you have the desire..just PUSH it out on your own…fruit is the PROOF to everyone that God is doing His thing in you! So what if God has testified that it is both His WILL AND WORK in you[both to will and to work for His good pleasure], you can just cut the corner and get the ‘willing’ part out there on your own! I mean you have the desire right? Just push it out, just HELP the fruit come out. God’s timing? Yeah, that’s over rated..that isn’t even real Adam don’t listen to that stuff..that is just an excuse to be lazy..bla bla bla…Just go live life in Christ out on your own…forget about your will…besides, it’s supposed be about ‘not my will but thine will be done” right? Just move it forward, just one more push..what will it hurt? Come on, the world is not going to wait around for you Adam. The Lord I am sure is going to get impatient with you… after a few months of this voice what do you think happens to our confidence in Christ? Do you think we are all that different from Abraham? How does his story teach us or testify to us what we might expect from the Spirit of Christ in us in our day? How about the spirit who is from the world? Remember , Paul himself was the one who mentioned Abe not me. Yeah I know what you are thinking…you are listening to the same demands of the flesh I was just thinking. This CAN’T be that miraculous! Jesus isn’t supposed to be THAT real. This whole “Life” thing is being taken WAY too far. YOU gotta do something…it is up to YOU to get the fruit of your life out there. It is up to you to grow and to understand…all that other stuff is just hocus pocus stuff and can not be regulated, tabbed, or taught even..so what good is it? Let’s just put the words of Christ on OUR efforts and will and CALL IT Christ so we can say we at least did something. Then we can shut them up! We can satisfy them. Aha! But, the flesh is NEVER satisfied. They will ALWAYS judge outwardly and call you ‘passive’ or ‘lazy’ or ‘unproductive’…every scripture is turned into a ‘how to’ and ‘application’ like we learned how to do growing up in the world. If we don’t comply then the accusation comes at us : ” are YOU[said with pointed judgment] then just saying let us do evil that grace may abound!!?” What kind of question is that? Were does that kind of question originate from? If God is for us, the were does this questioning come from? Did not the law keepers in Jesus day have a similar tone? Love, Adam

..further more..what if..just what if the accusation that seems so common from the fleshly mind directed at the Christian who seems to be taking a break from activity and doing a good deal of ‘sitting around’ isn’t just witnessing someone who finally gets to take a friggin break?!! I mean it takes ENERGY to go around and pretend you can squeeze out what only the Father can produce. Maybe the rest they are finally engaging in is LONG over due! Does anyone ever notice that Jesus did go up to remote places alone to be with the Father in the Gospels??? Yeah, he wasn’t doing any walking or talking during that time. Scary thought huh? Just a thought here…

The “true religion” written of by James that you mentioned has been horribly ripped out of James’ letter. It was not a formula on to “how to live the Christian life” but a rebuke to those who pretend they can keep the law. If you follow the flow of his writing you will see that he divides his statements to reflect the pretentiousness of those who glory in keeping principles (but don’t) as well as the reality of those who have been made alive by the Spirit-Jim You know I see this all the time today. The whole world is following after the law and asking us to join along. They wont let you play in any ‘reindeer games’ unless you perform that which it wants us to do. The hypocrisy in the world is that in their pursuit of law, they try to justify themselves and yet deny the reality we actually HAVE in Christ. Thank God that when we fall into their[yes THEIRS] hypocrisy we stay CLEAN and very quickly have an inner testimony that this is not the true life we were called to! Adam Adam

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