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
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,
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
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! :)
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.
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
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!