Jim- today I wanted to talk about the various fleshly-minded deceptions that we become entangled in when it comes to our concerns over progressing in our faith. Especially as it relates to our fleshly attempts to decipher sin in our lives. It seems we are very worried about our progress when it comes to sinning and we often end up setting our minds on fixing any trends, tendencies or habits we come to see in the flesh. I actually learned to do this very thing in business practices that I have learned while in the work world. If something is trending the wrong way, well then you get into gear and start fixing it. But what if we were doing this all in vain? What if the Sovereign Lord we serve was in control over even the smallest things having to do with our new life? Can we trust and abide in the Lord through anything?
Now Adam, you must realize that what you’re suggesting might sound very risky to quite a few people, don’t you?
Jim, I REALLY do. I mean I know how it sounds TO ME..for the implications seem to go right off of the cliff from there.
I imagine that you’ve heard a few of the objections put forth by those who have gotten into gear and started fixing those sinful trends. Things like, Are we supposed to ignore the sin we see in our daily lives just because God is in control?
Well yes. We think that this response is something that only “some” would think or say but, in reality it is the ONLY thing that the mind of the flesh can respond with.
So….what if instead of wise sin managers what we really were acting like were deceived victims of fleshly logic, objecting to this grace in Jesus Christ?
Wise sin managers … what an apt description!
Deceived victims of fleshly logic … that’s a harsh possibility to consider, especially in the face of many Scriptures that seem to indicate otherwise. I can remember my some of own objections to what appeared to be flippant grace excuses — which, BTW, I still recognize many so-called grace excuses put forth by the religious mind that are in fact quite bogus.
JIm why don’t you give me a few more thoughts on this…
I’m talking about the excuses that arise from the fleshly, religious adaptations of grace … which is more like a concept of leniency. In other words, as long as we really desire and try to stay on the right path then God will give us some grace options to carry us through the times when we slip up — and that’s all rather relative, mind you.
Yes the obscure “grace” that God gives to us who are on probation. The problem is that it is not found anywhere in the Bible and it is also something that we never know when it applies.
But that’s exactly where religion comes to the rescue!! LOL. After all, there are various religious rituals, like confession, dedication, rededication, communion, Christian service, good deeds, and so on, and they purportedly offer a fresh start or a clean slate. It’s the mentality that God will somehow apply a little more of Jesus’ blood to take care of those times when we fall into sin or stray from the path. So what I’m saying is that the religiously-infected mind of man points to the abusive religious adaptations of grace in order to make its objection toward that which is truly grace.
Jim, you mentioned something about your own objections to grace, and I’m assuming you weren’t just referring to those bogus excuses of the fleshly mind. Can you expand on that?
Sure. Now, keep in mind that this is all relative, but you know how there are those who talk about what they do or what they’ve done … and then there are those who do the stuff the others merely talk about? Yeah well, somewhere in my youth I became more of a doer and less of a talker. My mom and dad were always doing something, always working, always coming up with new ideas and plans … and it most certainly rubbed off on me. They didn’t have to talk about what they did, for what they did spoke for itself. I can tell you that from the perspective of someone who works hard, for God to bestow grace upon the undeserving is quite offensive.
Adam, do you remember the story Jesus told about the workers who only worked a portion of the day and yet received the same pay as the ones who worked all day long in the heat of the day? (yes)
Well, I would have been one of the guys who complained the loudest, I can assure you of that! You see, no matter how you tried to explain it away, it’s just not fair! Others might read that parable and overlook the indicators that really increase the offensiveness that someone like me wouldn’t miss. (Like what?)
Well, like the probablity that the men standing around in the marketplace who didn’t get hired until almost the end of the day didn’t really want to work, especially not while it was hot. Those who really wanted a job were standing front and center. I have a feeling that many of them slept in most of the morning, and others kept themselves inconspicuous until much later. One way or another, the men who didn’t get hired until the end of the day were most likely a bunch of lazy dudes. And they probably went home after one hour’s labor and boasted about how hard they worked…especially in view of the fact that they came home with a full day’s wage.
Adam, apart from God’s grace, I would most likely drift right back into that job description of a “wise sin manager.” After all, I know how to fix that problem of laziness, at least enough to convince myself that I’m not bothered by it. But then again, the intensive introspection of a sin manager would have me battling the ongoing fear of failure, which would cause me to more harshly judge others for my own perceived inadequacies. The judging of others is a coping aid, for it allows me to feel better about myself by comparison. And this all leads to the harsh reality that rather than being a wise sin manager, I would be acting more like a deceived victim of fleshly logic — and my real objections would find their source against the insane grace of a God who gives it to those who do not deserve it.
It is the same legal hesitance as the mind Paul outlined in Romans. It ignores the reality of Christ [working] in you. Let those objections fall away!
The irony in all this is that selected portions of Paul’s writings are also used to support the objections made to the very reality of grace he himself was constantly criticized for. However, as you just suggested, the thing that answers all those objections is the reality of Christ (working) in you.
He is REALLY working in you. Your legal attempts to “apply” Him are stirring up the sins!
Some of you might be having great difficulty with the idea that any attempt to apply Christ to your life could actually cause more sins — even those considered legalistic in nature. I understand how it might sound absurd, for I can still be caught off guard by the compelling arguments in the world around me. And in case you’re thinking that there’s no Biblical evidence of such an absurd idea, consider the following two statements made by Paul:
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, Romans 5:20
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 1 Corinthians 15:56
You know, if you were to discover that your trusted doctor had been prescribing poison instead of medicine, you would instantly realize why you had been getting sicker instead of getting better … and I’m pretty sure you would never, ever take his poison again. Maybe if you were to discover how much poison had been shoved down your throat under the premise that it was Christian, you might not be so gullible to keep opening your mouth for more.
So what are we picturing? What ARE “pictures of sin”? Well what is projected in your mind in times of failure? Perhaps it is a tearful Jesus? A disappointed Jesus? Angry Jesus?
I think of the actual pictures of Jesus that have been painted or drawn depicting Jesus with expressions intended to haunt us toward an emotional state that might motivate us and/or curb our sinful tendencies.
I’m sure most have seen the vivid pictures of Jesus’ face in anguish with the crown of thorns on his head causing a trickle or two of blood to run down his face. Put that together with the quote “…it’s the least you should do…”
Or how about those pictures of the mild-mannered Jesus with the halo around his head reminding you of how different he is than you. That one might tell us that he’s far above us, but it also gives us a convenient excuse as to why we can’t perform as well as he did. We should expect many shortcomings, and this is why we need “grace” for our obvious lack of halo-related pitfalls.
But how about a JOYFUL Jesus? Rejoicing in the truth about you?!
I think many of our listeners would love to hang onto that one for more than the space of a praise and worship service, but I think we’ve been so inundated with a fleshly, religious perception that we only allow ourselves a random or temporary self-esteem boost found in such a positive picture. We might rejoice in it for a while, but should we dare to let too much grace carry us away over the edge into the abyss of an ominous uncontrolled freedom? As long as we persist in the ongoing examination of our lives for any and every hint of sin or sinful tendency, we’re going to ground ourselves according to that which is earthly-minded. So Adam, is there a Jesus-related picture of sin that has haunted you?
For me personally it has always been an “eye rolling” Jesus who would look to me and be thinking “man here he goes again-going backwards-destroying all the good work I have built in Him”.
An eye-rolling Jesus, eh? I’ve also seen that one in my mind. You know, I suspect that these images have been drawn from our own past experiences, for we’ve seen those expressions of either approval or disapproval from our parents, our teachers, our preachers, or some other authority figure. Do you have any early memories of an eye-rolling authority figure in your life?
But can things TRULY be this way in our Sovereign Lord? What will happen to our countenance when we are offering up pictures such as these to the table of our minds? What will happen when we offer it to God? Is it truth? Is He supposed to rejoice in these things?
When we are counting on-banking on an outward “make sense” life of Christ, how much of the POWER of God is at work in that fleshly employment? Why are we expecting powerful in that? Victory? What is it we are picturing in our minds?
Maybe I was afraid I would be called out for claiming things I hadn’t really done because I do remember my desire to impress people with real hard evidence. Anyhow, somewhere along the line, I began to recognize the excuses people made for not having done what they said they’d do, and yet continue on to make even more false promises or claims … and others would STILL believe their BS. And if you’re thinking that I’m only talking about religious men, think again — for politicians, healers, and salesmen get away with the very same thing.
I have to wonder how many who have read my writings or who have heard me speak of grace might also assume that I use it to do as little as possible. I mean, I’ve received more than a few responses from those who have denounced me as such. After all, with such a heavy belief in a life under grace—not law, it might seem more appropriate that I would use it as a divine excuse. Grace versus works, right? And yet when it comes to actually getting things done, I probably run circles around most. And