Monday, February 11, 2008

What Every Christian Needs

by Michele Rayburn

NOTE: The following was written in response to a discussion about a prominent Pastor known for his course, foul language in the pulpit.

"Filthy speech puts those who are guilty of it among the chief of sinners, and to them will certainly be meted out a terrible vengeance in that day when God shall solemnly curse those who have so glibly cursed themselves."
-Charles Spurgeon, "A Great Gospel For Great Sinners"

[There seemed to have been some confusion among believers as to whether Spurgeon was speaking to believers or to unbelievers, that is why I said the following:]

Charles Spurgeon appears to be speaking to the unbeliever about his sin in this particular passage.

But what is the solution, the remedy, for the believer? What this Pastor in question needs is what we all need because we all sin just like him. James reminds us that "no one can tame the tongue".

Galatians 5:16 says:

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."


Galatians 5:25 says:

"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."

I think that part of this Pastor's problem might be, like so many of us, that he was raised in a legalistic sin-focused church and was never truly grounded in the knowledge of God's grace and of spiritual living, but instead was taught to stop sinning in his own strength rather than relying on God to work that work in him by His Spirit.

I think his sin problem may be a backlash, a rebellion if you will, to the legalism that says "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch..." (Colossians 2:21)

In context, Colossians 2:20ff says:

"If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!"... in accordance with the teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence."

What is the Biblical solution then?

Colossians 3:1-11:

"Therefore if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is...not on the things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God...Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed...and in them you once walked, when you were living in them...put them all aside: anger, wrath...abusive speech. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him...Christ is all, and in all."

And Isaiah says:

"You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You." (Isaiah 26:3)

I like to paraphrase it by saying that God didn't say to keep your mind stayed on sin. He said to keep your mind stayed on Him!

I was looking at a blog called "Herescope". And it said a very interesting thing in an article entitled "The Dominionism of Sin" (Aug. 4, 2007):

"This blog [Herescope] spends a considerable amount of time examining and exposing the swift rise in our age of the false doctrines and practices of Dominionism.

"Indeed, it is human nature to seek human solutions to overcome the fallen nature of man. And that, in brief, is precisely the temptation of the heresies of Dominionism.

"Dominionism promises that mankind can better himself, perfect his nature, change societies, cultures and governments; and even reverse the effects of the Fall, build the kingdom of God on earth, bring Jesus back as King, and restore Paradise.

"It is easier to look outwards at the world and try to fix it than to look inwards at the heart. For it is the heart, and the dominion of sin over the heart, that truly must undergo transformation."

And that really sums it up for me. We can try to tell people what to do, do, do all day if we want to, but it will not change the person's heart unless he is told how to be, be, be.

It may seem easier to tell people what to do, but it cannot change the heart. There will usually only be a temporary fix, if anything. Only God can change the heart, and, with regard to a particular sin, that may take time...and in many cases, a lifetime.

The biggest problem with sin in the Church is that too many of us do not know who we are, so we don't know how to be. And until we do learn who we are (in Christ), and how to be (in the Spirit), we will not be able to control what we do, because that control can only come from God's Spirit, not by "the will of man".

As we learn who we are, and how to be, and our focus is on Him, He will control our sin, by His Spirit, and in His His perfect timing.

Who Are We In Christ?

"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light..." (1 Peter 2:9)

And we are Saints. Paul never said "To the Sinners who are in Ephesus..." He called us what we are, not by what we sometimes do.

Now, go and "be" that Saint by walking in the truths of who you "are".


dec said...

Thanks Michele.

God didn't say to keep your mind stayed on sin. He said to keep your mind stayed on Him!

Often when we rebuke someone's sin, we leave the impression that they should work harder not to sin. That's the atheistical method of mortifying sin! We have a God, who sanctifies His children. Seek Him always.

Mark D. Vilen said...

This reminds me of much of the recovery movement in the modern church. They ask God to help them "work the steps," or some other program. They are really teaching self-effort, sort of "reinforcing the flesh." Most in these groups (myself included at one time) do not know their identity in Christ---they still wrongly see themselves as sinners with a sin nature. Thanks for pointing out the truth of who we are!


Michele Rayburn said...

dec and Mark,

Thanks so much for your comments. I'm glad that you have found this helpful in your walk with the Lord.

The Scriptures are filled with things that are conducive to being filled with the transformed by the renewing of your mind, set your mind on things above, whatever things are noble...just...pure...lovely...of good report...meditate on these things, put off all these: anger, wrath, blasphemy...put on the new man...above all these things put on love...let the word of Christ dwell in you richly...(Colossians 3:1-17).

In all these things we're being led to keep our mind stayed on the Lord and the things of the Lord.

To keep our mind stayed on sin would surely drain us of our spiritual strength, and leave us empty and vulnerable to more sin. "...the strength of sin is the law"(1 Cor.15:56).

Who we are in Christ and how to walk in the Spirit are the two sides of the new creation that we now are. It's my hope and prayer that this will be taught in our churches.

In His Love,

Only Look said...

Thanks sister for encouraging us in this wonderful truth. You and Terry are an incredible blessing.

Michele Rayburn said...

You are a great blessing, too, Brian. And I find your blog inspiring and refreshing every time I go there.

In His Love,