14 Feb 2010

Counterproductive work of the law

Submitted by theshovel
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Hello Tim!

I really appreciate you taking the time to give me such a wonderfully detailed account of your past experiences. And I mean, wonderfully. For it expresses so well the counterproductive work of the law as pushed by what calls itself “Christian”. At one time, the connection went right under the radar, but anymore I cannot help but notice the hand-in-hand relationship; had we not been so blinded by the natural mind of man, its obviousness would have been unmistakable. This description is great:

What’s amazing is that over the course of the next 7 years I excelled in both progressively getting more and more entangled into an addiction, as well as studying the Bible fervently, mainly because I loved the Word, but at the same time I was in a mad dash to “knowledge” my way into holy living. Unfortunately the more I learned, the more I read, the more condemned I felt. Tim B

When you were stuck in this vicious cycle, you could not see its clear connection, could you? Nor could I. Just like you were told, I also received religious explanations for my behavioral problems. I just figured things would eventually clear up as long as I continued “serving the Lord.” Although our teachers made sure we knew our salvation could not be put into jeopardy, we had our own formulas that helped explain what we needed to do to make sure we didn’t lose our “rewards”. It interesting to observe how the very same principle gets inserted into very different approaches to Christianity, don’t you think?

I am familiar with the 12-step program through friends who have gotten involved over the years, as well as with a drug program my youngest went through for a full year. Being a program for teens, it condensed the twelve steps into seven. I’ve heard many Christians justify the basic premise or many of the individual steps of it, but the program is just another legal way to deal with life and addiction. I can tell you that I was scrutinized by a few of the leaders who thought they really had it together. I don’t question many of their understandings of how an addict thinks and operates, but when it comes down to it, they offer no salvation from addiction, only a temporary reprieve that is based upon the addict’s continual resolve to not give in. And this perfectly describes legalistic Christianity.

He would say, “If we believe we are an addict, then we will think like an addict, and we will act like an addict!” Tim B

And this is the heart of the problem, isn’t it? You cannot go to a meeting without having this perception reinforced as you hear one after the other introduce themselves, ending with “…and I am an addict.” The bondage known as Christianity believes there is only deliverance from sin as long as the participant continually owns up to his being a sinner. We both know plenty of verses that are used to keep this lie alive.

Thank you so much for writing. It means a lot to me that you took the time to do this. You are right about being so blinded by the flesh earlier on in my life. It really is all new to me—this idea of being saved, and continuing to live by the Spirit. So much of my life has been performance driven, there is still a residual fear there (I guess this takes time), that I am wrong and that I am in error even now. All I know is that the more I accept my identity in Christ and trust solely in him for my salvation and my sanctification, the more inner joy I feel and the less I feel a pull or a desire for pornography. It truly is amazing. As far as rewards, we never talked about rewards. In fact, I didn’t even hear of such a thing until a couple of years ago. I need to learn more about that one.
Tim B

Well, without the concept of salvation hanging in the balances, fleshly Christianity still needs a sense of something hanging in the balances. And so, rewards or lack of them create a similar motivation.

What I was taught is that my salvation only if I obey and that included everything, from the way we dressed, to the way we worshipped, to baptism by immersion, no musical instruments, the church being organized a certain way, and on and on and on, and certainly no ongoing issues with pornography. It is amazing how much more emphasis was placed on perceived “correct” church ecclesiology than on personal holiness. Of course, none of us would know if there was any real genuine holiness because no one was transparent with each other. We all kept our “private” lives to ourselves, came to church, said all the perfunctory, “How are you’s” and “I’m fine’s” and went home. Those who tried to get help (like myself numerous times) were told to read the Bible more and pray more, and that I need to DO a lot more, come to church more, do acts of service more, more more more, .etc. The more I failed and the more I continued to do the behaviors, the more desperate I felt, the more lost I felt, the more I felt I was destined for hell. Tim B

Yeah, there’s not much of a reason for revealing anything in a climate where it will all be scrutinized so closely, is there?

Thank God I am no longer in that kind of bondage. I am more in a search out and see kind of place now. I am seeing things from so many new perspectives and the joy I get when I ponder the work of Christ and what actually happens to us through his death have me so fascinated. I want to know more and more. And the amazing thing is that as I read scripture, yes there are those passages that don’t make any sense due to my background and not understanding how certain presumptions line up with older presumptions, but the grace and joy in freedom is indescribable. TimB

That is exactly what drove me, as well. I left so many questions sitting on the back burner, so to speak. I pretty much decided that I would probably come to understand many of those things later on. What I discovered was that many of the questions just faded away simply because I came to see the futility and nit-picking nature of so many of them. However, as I saw Christ as being central to everything, many of my questions came to be seen in view of his life. And the context has so often become so clear that I don’t know how I could not have seen it. But then again, fear and insecurity influences everything it touches.

Something you said sparked something to my memory the other day. You said, “The bondage known as Christianity believes there is only deliverance from sin as long as the participant continually owns up to his being a sinner. We both know plenty of verses that are used to keep this lie alive.” I am assuming you are referring to the institutionalized, commercialized, performance-driven, flesh-controlled church that makes up most of American Christendom today, right? I remember that gentlemen at 180 also saying, “If we believe we are a sinner, then we will think like a sinner. And if we think like a sinner, then we will act like a sinner. There is a reason why Paul calls people sinners before Christ, and he calls them saints after they are saved. We are saints who sometimes commit sins, but our identity (who we are from God’s perspective) is a saint in Christ Jesus. Tim B

Yes, I speak of the religious shadow that has assumed itself to represent Christ. Just think of the many ways we have had it hammered into us as to our sinner status. If you dare to mention grace, it will be pounced on with the usual cautions and fear. There’s always the “Yeah, but…” Of course, I realize that some “grace” people can be just as Pharisaical with grace as are those who have done the same with doctrines and rules. I even knew a man who considered himself a “Grace Pharisee”. For grace as concept, no matter how wonderful its origins, is still just a concept. But grace is not a concept, for it that which came through Jesus Christ. Never let one concept merely be replaced by another.

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Random Shovelquote: Christ in us (view all shovelquotes)

Life in Christ is all about Christ in us and us in Christ because of what He did on the cross and through His resurrection. I will claim no institution of man, religious or otherwise.   source