God's Will, Biblical Instruction, and Passivity
This Q&A came from a response to this Shoveletter
Jim - to some degree i think you are wrong. I don't think that being regenerated means that every thing i do say or think from this point on is smack dab in the middle of God's will. Why then would we need the Spirit to lead us? We wouldn't! Why then would we need the scriptures to instruct us? We wouldn't! I'm sorry if this is not as easy as we all want it to be or thought it would be, but being in Christ does not mean that we become passive beings that automatically can do no wrong - or automatically do what is right. While our righteousness is a gift, imputed to us by virtue of being in Christ, there still has to be an active participation on our end to perform "what is His good, pleasing and perfect will." It's not something we even automatically know, but that must be discovered as we are obeying (active) the command to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. You're saying this all occurs as a mystical sort of occurence, or perhaps an imputedness, but i think you are wrong. I think God wills in us and works in us to will and to do according to his good pleasure, but that is still something that he performs by working in our WILL. We are required to engage our WILL with our beings and our environment in order to see this come to pass. Heather
Thanx for writing and for not being afraid to say what you think. More than anything, I want those who hear what I say to be encouraged to consider Christ and His finished work as having everything to do with their everyday life. So, know that I am not upset by the fact that you might have disagreements with me. :)
Now, I can tell that you are a thinker, so I am writing this to you in that manner. Please don't get offended as if any of this is an attack in any way. It isn't. It is meant to provoke you to take your thoughts and follow them through, okay? I realize that I can and have been wrong many, many times. If I am wrong in any of this it wouldn't be the first ... or last time. Here's what I want you to consider: are the things you take issue with me on something that I have actually SAID ... or are they ASSUMPTIONS you have projected on to me?
I don't think that being regenerated means that every thing i do say or think from this point on is smack dab in the middle of God's will.
Are you objecting to whether or not the following is true?
He who began a good work in you will PERFECT it UNTIL the day of Christ Jesus Philippians 1:6
I'm sure you would say 'NO!' ... am I correct? Would you agree that, at least, in THIS sense we are in the middle of God's will? Or can we keep THIS work from happening? I'll be honest with you, for years I agreed with the concept of Philippians 1:6 on paper, and yet often wondered how it could be true based on what I had experienced. But these perceptions were based on what is seen and on the logic of the world and therefore have no real bearing on how He does what He does to make this a reality in our lives. But it still left me with wondering how it could work if I mess up too much.
If your objection is about the rightness vs. wrongness of your decisions and doings then you have made an assumption about what I am saying. For I don't suggest that you might not be making some very unwise or stupid choices in your life. Does that surprise you in view of what I wrote?
Why then would we need the Spirit to lead us? We wouldn't!
If the center of God's will has to do with what Philippians 1:6 claims, then you'd better believe that it couldn't happen if the Spirit wasn't actively involved in the whole process! Are you with me? You probably wouldn't disagree with that, would you?
Now, IF the will of God is more akin to the secret plan He has for your life and the leading of the Spirit is more like what the Spirit does to let you in on the specifics of that plan, then I would agree with your logic (I'm using the word simply as a fitting progression of thoughts).
Why then would we need the scriptures to instruct us? We wouldn't!
I have some questions and thoughts for you that may seem to be OFF the issue, but, in fact, have everything to do with it. Okay?
In what sense do you think we need the scriptures to instruct us? Following your logic here seems to indicate that you view the scriptures as instructions in the same sense of rules, principles or laws. If you are like me - or, for that matter, like most who struggle with issues of grace - then you have asked yourself a question just like this many times. Where do we draw the line between Law, laws, principles, rules, etc? If the Bible is a book of rules for you and me to follow then how are we any different from those under the old covenant? The reality of the old is that it could be (and was) broken; the reality of the new is that it cannot be broken.
Do we NEED the Bible to tell us what to do? Think before you answer. Think before you assume. Do we know the truth or do we not know the truth? Have we been given the mind of Christ (the Spirit) or have we been not given it? Are we as Israel who was given the Law because they did not know the mind of God? What is the difference?
I'm sorry if this is not as easy as we all want it to be or thought it would be, but being in Christ does not mean that we become passive beings that automatically can do no wrong - or automatically do what is right.
Have I said this in any way ... or is it just that you see no other alternative to explain what your logic concerning the will of God doesn't follow? Are you familiar with the common accusation that was made about Paul? They said that he taught that it was okay to do evil in order to bring about good. But did he? But do you understand WHY that accusation made so much sense in their logic based on what Paul said and wrote? Scholars still quote Paul's writings today as examples of this error. Those false assumptions only bear witness that there is a fundamental distinction between the logic of God and the logic of man.
And yes, I am saying that this issue is forcing you to follow the logic of man so that you can hang on to your assumptions. Believe me, I understand this well, for I have butted my head against the wall enough times to remember the confusion of that logic. Remember, it is this confusion that keeps you trying to figure out how to find God's will, isn't it? When you replied to what I wrote a few weeks back you were hoping for a new insight because you sense that in most things you really don't know what He wants you to do ... weren't you? And as you followed my letters you were quickly becoming disillusioned with my insight because I wasn't giving you what you thought you needed, true? And since it didn't fit within the framework you've learned you assumed that I must hold to the passive theory, huh? I sure didn't say anything like that.
Passivity. That is a fear, isn't it? Why do you think that it is brought up so often? I hear it all the time ... haha, no, you're not the only one! Do you know what is so odd about this claim? I've had many come to me because they tell me they have been affected by what I am DOING (There is no question in my mind that God is doing this through me ... excuse me if I don't play the humility game) and yet some of these same people who have been convinced that they are not doing God's will take issue with me claiming that I am teaching passivity. Doesn't that seem a little odd to you? Hey, this is NOT about me. This is the projection of the fear of inactivity put upon me.
The Spirit is ACTIVE. We were saved FROM a life of TRYING to gain the sense of doing something important, and INTO a life where the LIFE-GIVING Spirit is the empowerment of our lives. I see it happen all the time in those who are sick of TRYING because of their history of failure in the whole area. We began this new life NOT by trying or doing, but through the free gift of God. It makes no difference that the world mocks the whole faith thing, the fact remains that the power of God began working in us ... and for the very first time in our lives truly GOOD stuff began happening through us ... we actually started LIVING as TRUE HUMANS (that which has God for its source). People saw the difference. They commented on it or maybe just silently marveled at it. We didn't try to take credit for it ... that is until some spiritual leader taught us how to reproduce these things in our lives. What a crock, huh? We figure that if we could do it once, we could do it again ... and we reverted to the games of trying again. And we began, once again, criticizing those who didn't perform up to what they should be.
If you hold on to the belief that YOUR obedience to His COMMAND is what causes you to walk in His will then you are reverting to the Law.
(PS. please feel free to question any and all that I've written, okay?) :)
Hey Jim- I was just going to write you (before I got your letter) and let you know that I still love you and still enjoy the shovel, I just disagreed with you. I'm glad you brought that up in your letter that we can disagree and all, cause to me being able to toss around an issue and disagree passionately with each other is a sign that relationships are strong and working as they should. So no, I'm not offended and I don't take your reply as an attack, and I hope you know that my disagreement wasn't written in that spirit either. I'll reply to your actual letter later. Love in Christ Heather