18 May 2001

Humanity on Trial

Submitted by theshovel
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On my way into the Dunkin' Donuts yesterday morning the newspaper headlines caught my eye. “BRAZILL GUILTY!”, it declared in 3” bold letters. Somehow though, I think that part of the headline was already written almost a year ago since this shooting death had been captured on the school's security cameras. The only real news was the jury's decision as to the DEGREE of guilt that would be placed on the 14 year old boy. The defense did not even attempt to prove their defendant's innocence, because the video was shown over and over again to the jury. Instead, their case was presented in order to cause doubt regarding the intentions of a boy who “didn't mean it”. And the jury based its decision of second-degree murder upon that reasonable doubt.

Now, what is it that brought national attention to a murder case in my hometown of Palm Beach County? I wish I could say that murder was a rare thing here in south Florida, but it's not … not even by juveniles. Was it because a boy was tried as an adult? Or maybe that the victim was a young father and a caring teacher killed at the prime of his life by one of his own students? Or was it the novelty of a murder being caught on video?

These things all played a part to be sure, but I think there's much more to it than that. I mean, we're talking about the same place that was in the spotlight a few months ago for holding up the election of the president. You see, in order to grab national attention a story has to somehow relate on a broad scale, for it must touch our lives in a gut-level way.

What I'm suggesting is that we have seen ourselves in this trial, and it troubles us, because we already knew the verdict was guilty. One part of us is angry because an innocent life has been destroyed by an obviously guilty party. We understand this because we have been personally impacted by the senseless deeds of others. We want the responsible parties to pay for the injuries - we want satisfaction. This anger is only intensified when the perpetrators get away with their crimes.

But it's not so cut and dried because we also understand what it is to be that person who is responsible for the evil deed because we have been caught in the act too many times to deny our guilt. Our only hope is to leave reasonable doubt as to whether or not we intended to do the deed, which is a skill we have all honed for as many years as we have been alive. The plea of “I didn't mean it!” has played a major part in all our lives.

There is an internal conflict of interest found in judging a boy who murders a man, for we're confronted with one who WAS innocent having been destroyed by one who SHOULD have been innocent. You see, because we inwardly hold to the innocence of youth, those video recordings destroy our hope for mankind. And if we cannot deny the guilt of the senseless crime that destroyed the innocent, do we take the chance of destroying even the slightest hope of restoring the lost innocence? The basic dilemma of this case is that we put humanity itself on trial, and with all innocence destroyed, the verdict of guilty was a forgone conclusion.

Now, the fact is that we spend much of our waking life caught in one dilemma after the other simply because we forget that humanity has already been put on trial and judged. In this ignorance we fall into trying that case over and over, again and again, in more ways than we would imagine. Or do you really suppose that the unresolved conflicts in your life are so unrelated to that one amazing act around which all human history revolves?

Reconsider the implications of the innocent one taking upon himself all the guilt of humanity and condemning it in his own body as he was judged guilty on our behalf. Reconsider the implications of the fact that the guilty life itself was destroyed in this one man and that his risen life is the only true basis of perception. Satisfaction is found in this, while all other perception is insanity.



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These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: May 18, 2001 by Gregg Hey Jim. I am still digesting this newsletter...I am sensing the truth in your point, and on your heart. Thanks again. I did get confused with the wording in this sentence: "...for we're confronted with one who WAS innocent having been destroyed by one who SHOULD have been innocent." Did you mean to say: "...having been destroyed by one who SHOULD have been guilty."? Talk to you later.

Hello Gregg! No, I meant to say just what I wrote. Now, realize I'm not referring to our thoughts that the boy should have been judged guilty, but to our faltering hopes that one so young should have been truly innocent of even CONSIDERING such a crime. Jim

Jim: I understand your sentence now! Thanks! It is interesting, though...When I first read this sentence, I was reading it in the context of Christ being the "one" innocent and being sent to death by "one" (mankind) who are guilty. I don't know why I read it that way in the first place. Interesting. I'm just kinda slow in reading through your thoughts sometimes. This really speaks to your wonderful, on-going emphasis on "context." To take this note just one more step before closing here...Understanding the context in Bible study is so key, but I personally can still be tempted and deceived to use "understanding the context" as an intellectual exercise (searching commentaries, etc), instead of directly hearing God's heart in His words (which is what I am growing to see "context" to mean). Even "context" is revealed by the life of Christ in me. I hope this tangential note is a little clear. Thanks again for sharing and encouraging us to realize this LIFE. Gregg

Gregg, you understand far more than you know in this! You see, even as I originally wrote it I also had it in my mind that Christ is the true innocent one who was killed by a humanity that should have been innocent instead of being guilty. :) « I personally can still be tempted and deceived to use "understanding the context" as an intellectual exercise (searching commentaries, etc), instead of directly hearing God's heart in His words (which is what I am growing to see "context" to mean). Even "context" is revealed by the life of Christ in me. I hope this tangential note is a little clear. » Very much so ... for I hear that you hear the heart of the matter. Your desire to hear the heart of God is obvious from the fact that you heard right through what I was picturing!! Jim :)

Posted: May 18, 2001 by Richard Hi Jim, Just wondering what the following meant: Or do you really suppose that the unresolved conflicts in your life are so unrelated to that one amazing act around which all human history revolves? Richard

Hello Richard, and thanks for asking! :) Since I'm not sure which part you are asking about I will just give you some of my thoughts behind what I'm suggesting, okay? :) Stop for a minute and think about the last unresolved conflict in your life. Now, you don't have to go back very far in order to find one because we experience them every single day. Most of these conflicts we have simply gotten used to and have learned to avoid, but they are still there, hiding and disguising themselves as something else. Tragedy will often cause these conflicts to surface, such as in the trial I based this Shoveletter on, but conflicts are stirred up in many ways: differences of opinion, reflections on your past, insecurities about your future, your significance in this world, your child asking you the "why" behind something you never understood yourself, your inability to find love, etc. So, how do you explain this unresolved conflict to yourself (or to anyone else for that matter)? Now, I have discovered that I am not alone in having attempted to explain these things by anything BUT Christ and Him crucified. Maybe we think that because we "prayed in Jesus' name" for God to take this thing away, or that we went to "church", or that we did some kind of "penance" or made some kind of "promises" to God that we were attributing it to Him, but these are religious substitutes. The fact is that even in these prayers we have related the conflicts to other psychological causes and merely want God to magically remove them. And in our church attendance and in these "penances" and "promises" we relate the conflicts to something we can "undo" by doing something "for God". You see, I grew up going to church, and going to Sunday School, and "serving God" by singing in the church choir and performing certain church functions, and in being "Confirmed" in the church, etc., etc. I understand this religious sense of "serving God". But I had NO idea ... Religion teaches us to put new labels on old clothes, and even though all it gives is the ILLUSION of answers, we are "okay" with it because we are so desperate to resolve our basic conflicts. Keep in mind that people don't need to go to "church" in order to get this religion because it takes on millions of forms and disguises and may be as simple as the ritual of reading the horoscope. The LAST place we would ever look to answer those conflicts is in the reality of Christ, simply because it makes no sense whatever to us that there could be ANY relation between the real stuff of our daily existence and in what He did on the cross. We reserve the "finished work of Christ" to relate to the "God-stuff" in our lives, you know, concepts like "forgiveness", "sanctification", "justification", etc., things which we separate into the "sacred" or "religious" category. The question I have heard over and over again is, "What does the gospel have to do with THIS?" I have heard it in my own reasonings and I have also heard it from many others each time I suggest that the message of Christ has everything to do with everything in our lives. What Christ did in this one act on the cross (which includes the aftermath) relates to the basic premise of all mankind, which is the very definition and identity of what a "human" really is. Our stuggles and conflicts relate to the "lostness" we have suffered from a humanity that has looked for the answers in the emptiness of the life that makes no sense without the reality that makes it truly alive. I remember an old saying, "Christ is the answer, what is the question?". Besides sounding cute, it mostly sounds religious to us, but when taken outside our religious defintions it is true to the very core. I presented the question you asked about in a rhetorical sense to challenge us all to consider how we so quickly pass off the gospel as having anything to do with our real gut-level issues. Did these thoughts help at all? Jim

Posted: May 18, 2001 by Joyce Jim, I read your response to Richard in which you were saying that we are to be relating our conflicts (such as insecurity of the future) to Christ and Him crucified. I'm not sure I get the connection. This hits me where I'm at because of making a decision that affects my security. You have also (in another letter) seemed to deminish the importance of decision making because if we are in Christ, we are in the center of His will. It seems to me insecurity is sin since it isn't trusting, but you have alluded before that we don't sin in light of the gospel and the finished work of Christ. I'm always glad when I see that I have another shoveletter waiting for me. Spiritually they are speaking Life to me, but mentally.... I DON"T GET THIS STUFF! Joyce Hello Joyce! Thanx for posting. :) I would have answered this yesterday, but I've messed up my laptop and can't get online so I'm using my wife's computer until I get it fixed. Well, I'm glad that you are getting the better part between the mental and spiritual aspect of understanding. Life is always much better! :) Ah, yes, decision-making! First, let me go on record as saying that making decisions are very important. Unfortunately though, we have infused the whole concept of "Christian" decision-making with a hocus-pocus following-the-signs bondage. Freedom plays no part in these fear-based obsessions. Ah ... but to make your decisions in FREEDOM is a wonderful thing that breeds a sense of being truly alive and unafraid to confront the choices that lay before you ... and to be able to cease worrying about them. Contrary to all the hype and the superficial appearances, the constant attempt to find the "center of God's will" does NOT breed responsibility, but instead it promotes the same kind of immaturity found in those adults, who after moving away from mom and dad, are unable to make even the simplest decisions without them. If I grew up learning to base my decisions on flipping a coin I would become dependent on those things , especially if I had a support group encouraging me in the practice. If I were to lose my coin I would not be able to function in life because TO ME I would have lost the ability to make decisions. If someone took my coin I would accuse them (out loud or to myself) of taking away my ability to function in life. I would probably assume that they had little regard for the importance of decision-making ... at least, in MY life. Do you see my point? We have gotten so used to this habit that keeps us in fear and bondage that we have projected something on to it that is not true. A coin really has nothing to do with making a decision, instead it removes the decision from us so that we don't HAVE to make it because we are AFRAID that whatever we decide will be "wrong"!! It is a cheap way of staying in immaturity. Yes, this is exactly how I view our "Christianized" rituals of decision-making. We feel a false security in holding the idea that we are seeking what GOD wants us to do, but we are filled with insecurity until we finally "decide" that we have found the decision GOD wants us to make. Have we simply turned Him into our spiritual coin in the process? Remember, the true God produces SECURITY, not insecurity. As far as conflicts go, we have the same habit of false projection. In other words, the REAL conflicts behind the stuff we think of as conflicts are the gut-level factors that are common to all: fear, pride, shame, guilt, etc. The life of God in Christ is always the answer to the real conflicts within us that end up causing so many problems. We might think our problems have to do with whether or not the other person leaves the toilet seat up, but stuff like that is merely one of the ways our real inner conflicts show themselves. If a person was somehow made clean and then had that emptiness replaced by the very life of God, it would make all the difference in the world, don't you think? :) THIS is what God has done in Christ. The message of this freedom is the gospel, the good news, of Christ. I am thrilled to be able to send out another Shoveletter ... especially with such a living response!! Love, Jim Jim, Thanks for your response. I think I can speak for others as well as myself is saying that we are thankful for all the time you spend answering us. I will be especially remembering your comment that "the true God produces security, not insecurity". Your response did raise another question though when you said that our conflicts come down to such things as fear, pride, etc. and that the Life of God in Christ is the answer. I'm sure that is true; but would be interested in your view of HOW that Life in Christ eventually affects the conflict? Joyce

Posted: May 18, 2001 by Anonymous Great question Joyce, good answer Jim. Another great question Joyce Jim, the ball is in your court! You got to be a sport to play sports!!

Now, I gotta warn you here because this will probably sound anti-climatic, but it is the stuff of life! Let's take FEAR, for example. How many of our conflicts would simply not exist without the driving force of fear behind them? The reality of Christ has already removed us from the realm of fear because He has destroyed death. And not just the physical part of it as in when we die, because that is merely the end result of death. We have been taken out of death NOW. Of course, when we shed these bodies that are day by day decomposing we will then realize exactly how free and alive we really were while in these bodies! Our conflicts relate to our fears and insecurities, while Christ relates to US. The message of His freedom is our power because it declares this LIFE to us. Unfortunately, the "gospel" that has been preached by religion suggests that freedom is an attainable goal while the true gospel declares that freedom has already been won through the one man, Jesus Christ. The gospel message tells us to STAND in this freedom and not to be swayed by the former death we had come to know. As long as we are still waiting for "it" to happen we will be living our lives as if "it" is NOT finished. But it IS finished because Christ has accomplished it. His Spirit has made us alive and His declaration calls us to live as those who have been raised from the dead! Joyce (or anyone else), if you have a specific conflict you would like me to address please let me know. Believe me, I understand how unrelated the message of Christ can sound when a conflict is demanding something else. It sounds rather absurd sometimes, huh? :) Jim

Posted: May 18, 2001 by Joyce Jim, I appreciate your responses back to me. I only wish I knew what they mean. :) OK, My two main fears are: First, a fear of financial insecurity (having lived somewhat a roller coaster life in that area) with regret over wrong and costly decisions and fear of what the future holds in that area. Secondly, trying to please everyone and much worry over things that I might have said or done that would affect others opinion of me. My question is how can I apply "It is finished" to these things? I'm also not sure I know what kind of freedom you are talking about. Joyce Hello Joyce, thanks for giving me some specifics in this discussion. « First, a fear of financial insecurity (having lived somewhat a roller coaster life in that area) with regret over wrong and costly decisions and fear of what the future holds in that area. » Yes, yes, I understand this fear very well. But what is this fear built upon? That your life consists of your possessions! We think that money brings security, and that the accumulation of money defines success, and that this success is the measuring stick of our worth - but that is all just illusion. What is true life? The reality of the finished work declares it to be the life that is raised from the dead, the life that is unencumbered by the stuff of this life. Am I suggesting that we should try to rid ourselves of our possessions? Not at all, for that is just another bankrupt philosophy that figures since it hasn't been able to find "godliness" with its possessions that it will only find it by removing them. But how do we remove the physical? No matter where we go or what measures we take we are still connected to our skin! The fact is that we have to learn how to function WITH this stuff in the same way we learn how to function WITHOUT it. The "stuff" is not the evil, nor is it the good, it is simply stuff. Life is there, waiting to be seen right in the midst of it ... or in the lack of it. Now, I like my stuff, but my stuff is NOT my life. I like the comforts that it brings, but even in the midst of those comforts I discover that there is a true comfort outside the realm of all the comforts of the world. The true comfort that hides unseen behind the illusions of comfort is that same life that has been removed from the old life of the empty man and brought into the life of the complete man. Do you see how your fears are related to the false assumptions of an existence that struggles to find life and worth in the stuff it can handle and touch and see? These assumptions are reinforced by the religious, institutional mindset of contemporary "Christianity" that demands that you need to "find God's will for your life" IN RELATION to a system built upon this stuff. But your true life is NOT found in relation to this world. But this is where we struggle. Our religious sensibilities tell us we need to be able to relate to this world so that we can relate God to this world, but the relation of God to this world is only found in the one man, Jesus Christ, who is the mediator between God and man. Our false religious mindsets effectively REMOVE us from truly relating to this world and each other in any real way because our "relating" is based upon a system, a mindset, that rests upon the sand! You see, as God removes our blinders so that we continue to grow in this grace of Christ we come to understand not only who GOD is, but also, who WE are. And in understanding who we really are we find that everybody else struggles with the same things ... and we find that we DO relate and understand. What is the "security" you hope to find in the financial realm? Is it the sense of being "responsible" toward God with your money? Or are your fears more connected with what others think about whether or not you are responsible (your first fear might be related to your second one)? Do you see yourself as a failure in the financial area of "stewardship"? Do you really think that if you stored up enough of this world's goods that it could really bring you security? Don't you realize that those who possess the most are also some of the most INSECURE people in the whole world? What is a "successful Christian"? Can we achieve this high calling? Do we lack the "faithfulness" to reach it? Has God judged our lack of faith and/or irresponsibility and taken away our chances of finding "success"? Have we missed "His perfect will for our lives" because we refused to look for it and to continually beg for it "with our whole hearts"? Is it possible that our whole concept of becoming this "successful Christian" is built upon the same lie upon which the whole world strives for "success"? The fact is that we are afraid of failure, and this is really the heart of your second fear. « Secondly, trying to please everyone and much worry over things that I might have said or done that would affect others opinion of me. » The only reason we worry like this is because we are - consciously or unconsciously - holding to some measure of "acceptable performance"! Your sense of financial performance is measured not only by your comfort but by a whole complex standard that changes the whole sense of what "comfort" really is. How we measure comfort and success is in contrast to historical levels of comfort and success. Most of us would judge the comforts and successes of yesterday to be way too primitive and lacking in real comfort by today's standards. And as time moves on we continue to measure success in view of "keeping up with the Jones' ". How do we financially prepare for the future? We simply do what we can with the realization that we may or may not even be here tomorrow. If you are in the position to save or to invest, then by all means, save or invest. But there is no guarantee that the stuff you are saving or investing will be any good by time "the future" rolls around ... but then again, it may be. Your true worth and value is unaffected either way. You may end up being in the position to help those who have need. You may discover that the one you are able to help physically is the one who has the real life to share toward YOU. Maybe you will be able to share BOTH the riches of this world AND the riches of Christ! Life does NOT go according to OUR plans, but to HIS. As far as trying to "please everyone", this is merely illusion too. We don't REALLY try to please everyone, we try to create the illusion that we can actually do it. This is just as absurd as thinking that both sides of a war can somehow come to complete agreement. The only way around the conflicts of warring nations is to COMPROMISE. No one is really happy with the outcome in a war except the one who wins and takes all. Even then, this happiness is tainted by the cost of its gains. Look at this portion of your fear again: « trying to please everyone » There is only one reality of true pleasing, and it is the reality of Christ, and Him crucified, because in HIM the conflict has been resolved. He didn't come to negotiate, He didn't come to smooth out the wrinkles of our conflicts, He came to DESTROY the conflict. He did this by taking the conflict to Himself in His own body and by condemning it in His flesh by His death. He killed the conflict by killing the old life that is in conflict with itself. « and much worry over things that I might have said or done that would affect others opinion of me. » The suggestion of concern about others carries a sense of CARING for those in question, but it is bogus. Once again, I understand this worry, for I come from a fine line of worriers!! My mother has refined the worrying process by which she will lose countless hours of sleep as she worries and prays in hopes of changing things. I am not unaffected by this refined skill, as it can seem so right, so godly, when you're in the midst of it. The worry you have stated is NOT about others ... it is about YOU. Period. You are afraid of how YOU look in view of everything. This worrying enslaves you by forcing your thoughts and actions to conform to what YOU THINK THEY THINK you ought to be saying and doing in order to present yourself in the best light. YOU FEAR THEIR OPINIONS OF YOU - AND THAT FEAR FORCES YOU TO THINK THERE IS SOMETHING GOD MIGHT BE ABLE TO DO TO CHANGE THOSE OPINIONS. But death is the only answer to the opinions of the world, and in Christ we find this answer. While the world and its stuff dies and stays in the ground to eventually decay beyond recognition, only Christ has raised to new life! We have died with HIM and have also been raised to new life in HIM. Already. By the way, don't think that the opinions of "Christians" are any different than the opinions of the rest of the world. All opinion that is based in the logic of the life that passes away is worthless. It judges by what it sees and by what makes sense to it. No one can estimate your life by appearances, for such appearances are deceptive. This doesn't mean that God's life is not manifested, or shown, in this world in a real way, but that when viewed by the eyes of this world even the most incredible revelation of Him is estimated to be evil. And this exactly why Christ was condemned by the most enlightened religious men of the day who thought their opinion of Him was the true and godly opinion. They thought they had determined the "perfect will of God". The ironic part is that in their evil they had INDEED stumbled upon the "perfect will of God" for it was by His will that Christ was presented before them as the innocent lamb to be slain BY the guilty and FOR the guilty. And it is the same today, for in our religious attempts to find the perfect will of God we end up attempting to destroy the very life of God. What does the "it is finished" have to do with your fears? It is the reality that has destroyed the opinions of man, those same opinions that have trapped you into shaping your life around them. Joyce, it is ONLY the opinion of GOD that is true. His opinion of you is not based in what you were or what you say or what you do, but is found in the life of His son who has been raised from the dead. The "It is finished" is the only reality that even comes close to touching those fears that keep paralyizing you and your ability to function as one who is alive from the dead. Those fears keep insisting to you that your life is found in this world and NOT found in Christ. Joyce, the fact is that you DO know this within yourself but the logic of the old life demands that it cannot be true. But it is. The more you see your life in Christ the more this old logic will roar and grumble for your attention. As a matter of fact, when I read your comments to my wife, Sherri, she was amazed at your ability to ask such clear and concise questions. I think the better part of understanding comes to us in the form of asking those questions that so clearly state our confusion. I have come to realize that those times that I have seen so much is during the times that I thought I was the most ignorant! What I'm saying to you is this: you are definitely having your eyes opened during this time that you think they are the most clouded!!! Oh, yes, you are having much reality revealed to you right now ... and I hope you come to look forward to those times where you feel the most confused because that is where the life of God is clashing with the old mindset that has ruled your life from birth and wants to keep you in the dark. Love, Jim

Dear Jim, Thank you for such a very long and detailed response, and for the encouragement that the confusion can actually be the process of climbing out of it. Although I may be decieved, my financial fears don't seem so much to be in the area of fear of not looking successful as it is fear of some day not having enough of the basic necessities to live, like shelter and food. This would be even harder for you to understand if you knew where I live and what I have to eat. As we've been discussing it now, it is starting to seem kind of silly. I'm going to think more on your comment, "those fears keep insisting to you that your Life is found in this world and not found in Christ". I'm starting to wonder if I have a lack in comprehending what having my life in Christ really is. There was something else that surfaced in my mind after I sent my last email and you mentioned it in your response. It was about how I have had strong teaching on the "perfect will of God". I was taught that there is a good and then acceptable and then a perfect will of God and that the perfect one is the one we are to strive for and that we can thwart His plan of what He wanted for our lives when we step outside of that will by either not doing the right thing or by doing the wrong thing. I feel I can accept things that come along so much better if it is just something that happened that was God's doing (knowing that it must just be His will)rather than something that I feel I caused or ruined (and that was not His will). Not sure I understand your comment where you said that, "in our religious attempts to find the perfect will of God, we end up attempting to destroy the very life of God". Because it is a holiday week-end and we have guests (Wes and family), I may not be doing justice to all of your response to me, but will be going back to it again. I still feel in the dark with my ability to comprehend all of this, but hopefully the light is cracking in a little more. Thanks. Joyce

Hi Joyce, I want you to know that I enjoy corresponding with you. :) Thanx for all YOUR time in writing and asking questions!

I find it very interesting how three qualities of God's will - good, acceptable, and perfect - would be taught as if they were three different categories of God's will. Only the natural mind could come up with something like that. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:2 Now, the verse before this one mentions a "living sacrifice". I have done a study that might help you better understand what I'm writing here. http://theshovel.net/living-sacrifice

What are these teachers thinking? Why in the world would God have Paul write about three LEVELS of plans or blueprints that He wants believers to discover? This sounds like a distinction the rich young ruler was making who called Jesus "good" where Jesus made a point to say, "Why do you call me good, there is none good, but God?".

I know the word "good" is often used in a comparative sense, but I sure don't think that God would be using it to describe any kind of a lesser quality concerning His will. How absurd!! God's will is all three at the same time: GOOD, ACCEPTABLE, PERFECT. To divide them up to describe three levels of God's plan and then to say that we should all strive for the "perfect" will is to suggest that God is schizophrenic or something.

I find it ironic that the teaching on finding God's perfect will falls into conformity with this world: "Be all that you can be! Join the Army!" The world is VERY familiar with this concept that Christians think is the height of "godliness". But Paul wrote, "Be NOT conformed to this world!" So, how do these teachers think that their approach is so different from the world? Now, I KNOW how they get around it, they claim that since their formula is found within the Bible then it must be godly. Big mistake, considering the Pharisees thought the same thing.

The contrast to conformity with the world is found in "the transforming of the mind". Hmm, now correct me if I'm wrong here, but the word "the" in front of "transforming of the mind" turns the whole phrase into a NOUN. In other words, the phrase is either a person, place or thing ... and NOT a verb. Do you see the difference? This phrase is always looked at by those who teach their bogus "will of God" doctrine, as if it was an "action" we are supposed to perform. This concept has even been carried over into the "grace" teachings. The logic that says by reading God's book enough will cause us somehow to "renew" our minds seems to make a lot of sense. But "renewing" is not something that we do, it is the miraculous that has already happened.

So, what is it describing? A REALITY. It is "the renewing of the mind", which is what has happened to us in Christ in that we have been given a NEW MIND in Christ. The VERBS in the sentence are "be conformed" and "be transformed". Guess what? They are "passive" forms of those words. Passive means that the action is NOT done by the subject (that would be US). The conforming is done by the fleshly mind. The transforming is done by the miraculous work of God by which our minds have been renewed. The question always comes down to this: If WE can't do this thing then why would Paul present it as he did?

It should be obvious, but after years and years of religious influence on our whole "Christian" mentality we are faced with a reinterpretation of every concept we read in the Bible!! The point is that the NEW MIND "hears" this reality from the contrast. What I'm saying is that we have been given ears to hear this reality ... and it is POWER to us. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for IT is the power of God to salvation to ALL WHO BELIEVE." Romans 1:16

What is this "conformity" based on? LAW. The whole letter of Romans was Paul's case of the inability of the law to bring about any kind of righteousness, but instead that it is the same basis of operation by which sin operates in the world. Paul declared the miraculous intervention of God through Christ as being the only reality of righteousness. As Paul is pressing his conclusions to his letter in chapter 12, he is begging these believers not to take heed to the lie of the world's logic that teaches us that we can perform righteousness.

"Be not conformed to this world" is not talking about refraining from following the world's current vices, but is referring the very MOTIVATION of the world: law. Instead, BE TRANSFORMED! How? By "THE RENEWING OF THE MIND"! No, no, WE do not renew our minds, but instead we are living in the reality of its being done. This is the gospel calling to us to stand in the power of God through Christ in opposition to all the formulas of the religious world as they scream out for us to "CONFORM"!!

We come up with all kinds of formulas that seem to "make sense" to us so that we can "participate" in this thing, but isn't it odd that we have to come up with these formulas that aren't even mentioned in the text itself? We say things like, "we need to be willing", or "we need to have 'active faith' ", or we use the concept of "reckoning" as if it was some kind of Christian magic formula (which ends up being nothing but the same old concept that WE need to do this "something" so that we wll effect our growth in Christ. And in all this, we overlook the miraculous.

Paul's gospel message somehow calls to us with the reality that declares the righteousness of God to us. It tells us that it is INSIDE US because of His Spirit. It confirms to us that miracle of "the renewing of the mind" effects the most basic changes within us. It tells us to simply stand in this reality, to simply present ourselves AS THESE LIVING SACRIFICES that we have been made through Christ. It tells us that we are ACCEPTABLE to God.

« Not sure I understand your comment where you said that, "in our religious attempts to find the perfect will of God, we end up attempting to destroy the very life of God". »

In the same way the Pharisees followed their fleshly logic, as they "followed God" using the written words of God, we end up doing the same thing when we try the latest "spiritual" formula in order to try to bring some kind of "righteousness" into our lives. We end up hurting one another under the feeling that we only want to "help" them to follow us into this "sure thing" that will bring us "closer" to God. It is what happened among the Galatians as they were lured by the deceptions of the religious leaders who were intimidating them to get circumcised. Paul wrote to them wanting to know, "What has happened among you?". He told them that they WERE "running well" but that someone had "hindered" them. This "running well" was the miraculous effects the life of the Spirit of Christ in them was having toward one another as life and love was happening among these former ungodly people. The religious push was for them to perform this token ritual because it was the "scriptural" thing known to be the mark of "the children of Abraham" - Jews. In falling for this lie these former pagans began living like they used to live before they even knew the true God through Christ. What was happening among them is that they were challenging one another to achieve their own "spiritual" level. This is nothing different than what we have in the world as each one claims to be better than another ... and with all this being "better" we injure one another to no end. Well, dinner is calling me now. Love, Jim

Jim, I really appreciate your responses. I hate to be imposing on your time like this, but also believe that what you said on the site is true, that truth is worth the dig. It helped when you pointed out about how it makes God look if he has three separate wills. Somehow I hadn't thought of that. I've always understood the Christian life to be a process.... the reason why we're still here. You're saying everything is already done. Then why am I here? If I already have a new mind in Christ, as you are saying, then why am I struggling with all of this? Can't get to it right now, but will be interested in reading what you have written elsewhere re: living sacrifice. Thanks again. Joyce

Posted: May 18, 2001 by Richard Hi Jim, You wrote, « and I hope you come to look forward to those times where you feel the most confused because that is where the life of God is clashing with the old mindset that has ruled your life from birth and wants to keep you in the dark. » If this is true then I must be BIG time blessed! Praise God for the confusion!! The life of God is clashing with the old mindset, Richard


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