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Posts Tagged ‘sin’

Shutter Island

March 13, 2010 1 comment

***SPOILER ALERT***
DON’T READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is evident within them, because God has made it evident to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

These verses imply that it is unnecessary for the Christian to try to prove the existence of God to people. They would suggest rather that every human being already knows at some level of consciousness or unconsciousness that God “is really there.” The unregenerate, of course, do all they can to suppress this knowledge (Rom. 1:18), although they are never completely successful. It is for this reason that the Bible speaks of the unregenerate person as both knowing God (Rom 1:21, 32; 2:14-15) and not knowing Him (1 Cor 1:21; 2:14; 1 Thes. 4:5; 2Thes. 1:8) at the same time, that is, he knows God is really there but he does not know Him savingly.

Obviously, there is some psychological complexity here: “The unbeliever knows things at one level of his consciousness that he seeks to banish from other levels… he knows God, he knows what God requires, but he does not want that knowledge to influence his decision, except negatively: knowledge of God’s will tells him how to disobey God.”

A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith :  Dr. Robert L. Reymond

Obviously there is some psychological complexity here. When I first read that, I wondered what exactly that looks like. After watching Shutter Island, now I know.  Shutter Island and the Noetic Effects of Sin

Depravity and Rebellion in the fight against Breast Cancer

May 7, 2009 1 comment

I transcribe a lot of footage for work. I have come across some rather interesting comments that I should have been saving in an archive to discuss later. Watching raw, unedited interviews really gives you the chance to hear all the little things about what a person believes, not just the big picture.

Below is a clip from someone interviewed in regards to battling breast cancer, specifically with respect to diet:

Even the language that we use to talk about our lifestyle either has this moralistic quality, you know, “I cheated on my diet. I ate bad food, so I’m a bad person,” you know. Once you fall into that line of thinking, you might as well finish the pint of ice cream because you’re already a bad person. Moralistic things don’t work.

Or what I call these fascist words, like “patient compliance” is a creepy word. It’s about forcing people to change. Or “will power,” it’s all – things that force you to change are not sustainable. Cause what’s sustainable is joy and pleasure and freedom. And so I like the concept of a spectrum because if it’s a diet that you go on, you auto—even the word diet makes you tense up. It’s all about what you can’t have and you must do. That’s not sustainable.

But what I’ve done is to categorize foods into a spectrum from the most helpful, to the least helpful. Cause what matters most is your overall way of eating and living. And to the degree that you move in a healthy direction, you’re going to benefit. You’re going to look better, feel better, lose weight, gain health, have better immune function, and so on. How much you move and how quickly is really up to you.

So if you indulge yourself one day, it doesn’t mean you cheated or you’re bad or any of those kinds of things. Just eat healthier the next. I mean, even more than being healthy, most people want to feel free and in control. It’s human nature. It goes back to the first dietary intervention, you know, when God said, “Don’t eat the apple.” That didn’t work, and that was God talking, so, you know. It’s really about freedom and joy and pleasure. That’s really what’s sustainable.

I find those statements quite revealing in regards to the nature of fallen man. It does not matter what the issue is, man will rebel against authority because all authority reflects God’s ultimate authority over your life and all of creation. Your autonomous will must reign supreme and if anything tries to tie it down, you will defy it, no matter how bad it is for you to do so.

Self-Interest

October 2, 2008 4 comments

Our nation’s current distress has provoked many to consider the sinful nature of man.  Some believe that the problems we are facing are the inevitable result of an economy founded upon self-interest. Richard Dahlstrom, Senior Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, WA says:

What else could you expect from an economic system predicated on the notion that everyone acting in their own self-interests will always lead to a win/win situation. Somehow, I wonder: WWJT. What would Jesus think?

http://www.conversantlife.com/life-with-god/no-surpise-but-wwjt

Dahlstrom is referring to Adam Smith’s “invisible hand.” In his “Wealth of Nations,” Smith said:

…he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention… By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

To put it more simply, he said:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.

In other words, the butcher isn’t motivated by how his meat will help you, he is motivated by the money that you give him in exchange for it. Furthermore, the more money he desires to earn, the harder he works to provide you with whatever you want. Thus out of his own interest he provides for you.

As for the win/win aspect of it, it’s simply the result of a voluntary exchange. The only reason that two people volunatrily choose to trade is because the trade will make both of them better off. No one trades in order to lose. Now, it may be true that they don’t get everything they want out of the trade, but, if they voluntarily make the exchange, it is because they believe they will be better off by doing so. Thus it is a win/win situation.

The alternative to this system of voluntary exchange is force, which is what Dahlstrom and others like him are in favor of. When force is involved, it is not a win/win situation. Someone is losing because they are being forced to do what they would not want to do.

Mother Teresa

Ah, you say, but what about Mother Teresa? Well, I’m convinced Mother Teresa was paid by philosophy professors across the world so they would have something to talk about when they get to the topic of altruism in class. Hitler got a check too as he is the go to when any topic of evil is mentioned.

But was Mother Teresa really motivated by a sense of altruism? A sense of abandoning her own interest for the sake of the poor?

No.

She was deceived by Rome’s false gospel. She spent her life living in the most miserable conditions because she was taught that her personal suffering would bring her closer to Christ. Furthermore, she intentionally deprived suffering people of relief because she wanted to be in a community of suffering.

For more on Teresa:

Mother Teresa’s Redemption
The Myth of Mother Teresa
Penn & Teller on Mother Teresa (a heavy dose of profanity)
Is Mother Teresa a Saint? Part I
Is Mother Teresa a Saint? Part II
The Missionary Position (A Review)

Scripture

That’s interesting, you might say, but my morality isn’t derived from some 18th century economist. My sense of right and wrong comes from the Bible and the Bible says self-interest is sinful.

Does it?

Dahlstrom makes only one reference to Scripture, Matthew 6:33:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

In regards to this verse, he says Jesus would “think we should put the interests of the kingdom before our own.” The error here is that Dahlstrom thinks that the interest of the kingdom is not our own interest. He thinks we should put aside our self-interest for food, drink, and clothing, and pursue something that is not in our self-interest at all. I’m not sure how he feels, but the kingdom of God is very much in my self-interest.

Rather than teaching us to pursue things that are not in our own self-interest, the verse directs us to what is truly in our highest interest.

John Piper has much to say about this:

When you have the notion that high moral acts must be free from self-interest, then worship, which is one of the highest moral acts a human can perform, has to be conceived simply as duty. And when worship is reduced to a duty, it ceases to exist. One of the great enemies of worship in our church is our own misguided virtue. We have the vague notion that seeking our own pleasure is sin and therefore virtue itself imprisons the longings of our hearts and smothers the spirit of worship. For what is worship if it is not our joyful feasting upon the banquet of God’s glory?

Worship: The Feast of Christian Hedonism

By Christian Hedonism, I do not mean that our happiness is the highest good. I mean that pursuing the highest good will always result in our greatest happiness in the end. But almost all Christians believe this. Christian Hedonism says more, namely, that we should pursue happiness, and pursue it with all our might. The desire to be happy is a proper motive for every good deed, and if you abandon the pursuit of your own joy you cannot love man or please God – that’s what makes Christian Hedonism controversial.

Christian hedonism aims to replace a Kantian morality with a biblical one. Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher who died in 1804, was the most powerful exponent of the notion that the moral value of an act decreases as we aim to derive any benefit from it. Acts are good if the doer is “disinterested.” We should do the good because it is good. Any motivation to seek joy or reward corrupts the act. Cynically, perhaps, but not without warrant, the novelist Ayn Rand captured the spirit of Kant’s ethic:

An action is moral, said Kant, only if one has no desire to perform it, but performs it out of a sense of duty and derives no benefit from it of any sort, neither material nor spiritual. A benefit destroys the moral value of an action. (Thus if one has no desire to be evil, one cannot be good; if one has, one can.)2

Against this Kantian morality (which has passed as Christian for too long!), we must herald the unabashedly hedonistic biblical morality. Jonathan Edwards, who died when Kant was 34, expressed it like this in one of his early resolutions: “Resolved, To endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.”

Christian Hedonism

Sin

In his lecture on “The Ethics of Self Interest and Profit”, part of his “Introduction to Economics” series, John W. Robbins points out that self-interest is not sinful. What is sinful is mistaking what is truly in our self-interest. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. It is in our highest interest to do so. Because we are sinful, we think it is better for us to sinfully break God’s moral law and rebel against Him.

I have read much from Robbins on a variety of topics and he has continually brought fresh insight from the Bible to bear on the topics. His method is to start with a topic, then start at the beginning of his Bible and read it all the way through, making note of every passage that has any relevance to the topic. This can be a tedious task, but it is very rewarding.

A short cut is to simply start with a concordance. If we look up the word profit, we get a few results that are worth discussing:

1 Samuel 12:21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.

Here we are instructed to turn to God because He can profit us, unlike the kings Israel sought after instead of God.

Proverbs 3:13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.

We are to seek wisdom because we can profit from it, because it is in our self-interest.

Proverbs 11:4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.

This verse illustrates Robbins’ point above. The riches of this world do not profit anyone in the day of wrath, but those who trust in Christ profit from His righteousness. Thus we are to seek Christ, not riches, because it is in our self-interest.

Next we come to perhaps the strongest verse in support of Dahlstrom:

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

This would seem to be an airtight argument that we should not do anything out of self-interest. But let’s continue reading the passge:

25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

Here, again, we see that it is not sinful to act out of self-interest. What is sinful is thinking that gaining the whole world is in our highest self-interest.

1 Cor 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Paul is appealing to self-interest. In fact, Paul condemns these actions that are devoid of love precisely because they do not profit.

Renewing our Minds (Rom 12:2)

Dahlstrom closes his note by saying: “If Christians, who have the very words of Christ about money refuse to altar their view of self-interest economics, how will the rest of world do?”

To that I say, if Christian pastors, who have the very words of God about everything in life, refuse to transform their minds, how will their sheep do?

I pray that God will give us all wisdom as we seek understanding from His Word.

Who is Ray Boltz’ God?

September 30, 2008 10 comments

One of my last posts was called Who is Matisyahu’s God? In it, I explained that Matisyahu is not worshiping the God of the Bible because Jesus says anyone who claims to believe what Moses said but rejects Him, does not actually believe Moses.

I hope this does not become a regular series, but a recent event has triggered a similar question to be asked of Ray Boltz. If you don’t know who Ray Boltz is, take a peek at the music videos below. He’s won 3 Dove Awards and was a huge Christian artist in the 80s and 90s. Well, if you have not read, He recently announced that he is gay in an exclusive interview with Washington Blade. You can read it here: http://www.washingtonblade.com/print.cfm?content_id=13258

In short, what the interview reveals is that Boltz told his family a few years ago, divorced his wife, and moved to Florida to anonymously dive into fulfilling his homosexual desires in the gay community there.

For those not familiar with Boltz, take a look at the following videos. I think it’s worth taking a close look at his songs in light of his interview. Please read the interview before continuing.

Watch the Lamb


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVjxmOzsgp8

This very emotional song ends with:

Daddy, daddy,
What have we seen here,
There’s so much
that we don’t understand

I believe these words apply to Ray Boltz as much as the children in his song.

The Altar


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpOhdC131xk

This song is a tribute to the “altar call” prevalent in so many places. I’m sure you’ve experienced them before. It’s generally a very emotional setting with music playing, calling you to come to the front of the church and “accept Jesus into your heart.” Boltz’ song is a drawn out plea for people to come forward and use the altar to solve their problems and change their lives. The following lines are repeated throughout:

The time has come to give them (struggles) to the Lord
That’s what this altar is for

Now, one thing that strikes me about this is that I’m not sure what altar he is talking about. I don’t have an altar at my church. Furthermore, there is hardly any mention of altars in the New Testament. However, there are a lot of references to altars in the Old Testament. If you want a deatiled description, read the book of Leviticus. Here is one such passage:

Leviticus 4:22 “When a leader sins, doing unintentionally any one of all the things that by the commandments of the Lord his God ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, 23 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish, 24 and shall lay his hand on the head of the goat and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the Lord; it is a sin offering. 25 Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering. 26 And all its fat he shall burn on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. So the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, and he shall be forgiven.

This seems to be somewhat similar to what Ray Boltz is singing. If we have sinned (or have struggles, burdens as Ray Boltz refers to it), then we are to bring it to the altar and offer it to the Lord. He says that’s what this altar is for. But the problem is that there no longer remains an altar for Christians to come to offer what they have. The most an altar is mentioned in the New Testament is in the book of Revelation where it is described throughout John’s description of heaven as being before the Father.

Christ’s Finished Work

Many of you at this point would simply remind me that Boltz is talking about Jesus, not Old Testament altars. Well, I know he is, sort of… The problem is that Ray does not understand Jesus or His work on the cross. Hebrews 10:11-14 says:

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Christ offered His sacrifice at the altar of His cross. The Father accepted it as a worthy sacrifice and Christ was raised as a result. Christ’s work is finished. There is nothing we can add to Christ’s finished work and as a result, there no longer remains an altar for us to use on earth. Jesus is not, as Boltz sings, waiting for you to come to the altar and offer yourself. He has offered Himself and now He sits at the right hand of God.

Finally, note that Ray’s song about the altar is a song about us. It is not a song about what was done at the true altar. It is not a song about Christ. It is a song about us and about changed lives.

Lives are being changed
And those who call upon Him
They will never be the same

I read a great commentary on such songs:

People view their Christian walk and struggle as awaiting some “second blessing” to be delivered from further temptation and sin. The gospel of grace that announces Christ’s righteousness and not our own is rarely preached from pulpits. Even the song “Thank You” is a song of the victory theology that permeates the “Christian” music scene.

Christianity is viewed as something that “works” or it doesn’t. What kind of “testimonies” are on display with respect to sin? “I was delivered from alcohol and never desired another drink” or “I was gay and now I like women because God healed me completely”. Those who never hear the true Gospel but simply hear the stories of victorious living by those who “dare to be a Daniel” are left hoping, week after week, that if they try really hard or “really let go this time” that they’ll break through and their sincerity of effort will deliver from sin.

http://www.puritanboard.com/f51/ray-boltz-comes-out-closet-37519/

Feel the Nails

Another of Ray’s songs reflects this lack of understanding of the Gospel.


One of the blogs I read made a post about this song one year ago, long before any news about Ray broke. The link no longer seems to be active, but the blogger said:

I can appreciate the fact that he does not want to grieve the Lord thorough sinning. I also like the way that he emphasizes God’s holiness. However, note the chorus and verse 2. Anyone whose read Hebrews knows the book emphasizes the following truth repeatedly: But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…( Heb 10:12). Does He still feel the nails? No. Does He hear the crowd shout Crucify, again? No. Does He re-live the agony He felt on that tree? No.

http://reformedmafia.blogspot.com/

Now, it is true that I am being very critical of these songs. In all honesty, there is much worse music out there (theologically speaking). Boltz at least mentions Christ’s blood and the idea of appeasing God’s wrath in His songs. However, I am being very critical in an attempt to understand how it is possible for someone to sing these songs their whole life and then end up like Boltz is now. It is true that he could have simply been singing these songs without believing them. But it may also be true that he fully believed them, yet they did not accurately communicate the Gospel to him.

The Interview

In his interview http://www.washingtonblade.com/print.cfm?content_id=13258 , Ray said “I’d denied it ever since I was a kid. I became a Christian, I thought that was the way to deal with this and I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years and then at the end, I was just going, ‘I’m still gay. I know I am.’ And I just got to the place where I couldn’t take it anymore … when I was going through all this darkness, I thought, ‘Just end this.'”

Notice that he says he chose to be a Christian, not because he was convicted that he was a wretched sinner in need of a Savior, but because he thought Christianity solved life’s problems. He looked at Christianity as the best 12-step program out there. Note that he still does not believe he is a sinner in need of a Savior.

He continues: “”That evening (a concert) had a profound impact on my life,” he says. “I realized that this was the truth and that Jesus was alive … that’s really where I made a commitment to Christ. I decided I could be born again and all of the things I was feeling in the past would fall away and I would have this new life.””

Again, he says his reason for professing to be a Christian was to get rid of the feelings he was struggling with. He also misunderstands what it means to be born again. He thought it was something he could make himself do. Nobody can make themselves be born again.

How can a man be born when he is old?

John 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

At the end, Jesus shows us that we cannot control the process of being born again by explaining the work of the Holy Spirit like the wind. The Holy Spirit sovereignly blows where He wishes, regenerating the hearts of whom He pleases. We hear the sound, we see the changed life, but we cannot determine where it came from or where it is going next.

Also, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he should understand this because it is not a new teaching. Nicodemus, someone who was an expert in the Old Testament, should have understood Ezekial 36:

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Thus, regeneration, being born again, is the work of God. It is not something we do to ourselves. We cannot remove our own hearts and replace them with new ones. Note also that a result of being born again is a desire to walk in God’s statutes and to obey His rules.

Emotional Altar Calls

It is worth noting that what Ray calls his conversion experience took place at a large concert in the Jesus Movement. There was most likely a large emotional emphasis at the concert to make a decision for Christ. Consider this in light of his song “the altar” that we discussed above. He was probably assured by those putting the concert on that he was saved if he said a prayer. Thus he was assured throughout the rest of his life that he was saved because he could point back to that moment. In contrast to this, Jesus says in John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments... 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” This does not mean that only those who perfectly obey the commandments are Christians. What it means is that a hatred of sin and a desire to obey Christ’s commandments are the marks of a Christian, not a profession or prayer that may have been prayed.

I would highly recommend listening to Paul Washer’s sermon on Matthew 7:21-23 (though please take not of the concerns I express in the comment section of the video on youtube) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cncEhCvrVgQ

*side note, the article says: There was some exploration of “ex-gay” therapy though Boltz never attended an “ex-gay” camp or formal seminar.
This is not the biblical way of dealing with sin. Christian “therapy” is discipleship. It is being sanctified by the Word in a local church setting. For more on this I recommend the ministry of Martin and Deidre Bobgan.

A New Understanding of Sin

“I had a lot of questions [about faith], but at the bottom of everything was a feeling that I didn’t hate myself anymore, so in that sense I felt closer to God.”
Compare his attitude with that of the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14.

Is Ray Boltz Saved?

So, does Ray Boltz show the marks of a Christian?
Is he remorseful of his sin?
Does he desire to obey Christ’s commandments?

You might say yes. He spent his life trying to overcome his homosexual desires. That may be true, but that does not mean he saw those desires for what they are – an offense against God.

Psalm 51:
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

51:1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

David committed adultery yet he says that his sin was against God alone. Our responsibility is to God. Ray saw his desires as something he didn’t like and didn’t want to have, not primarily as an offense against God. He saw his homosexual desires as a bad habit that God could cure him of, not as a heinous sin that a just God must punish.

So is he a Christian? Is it possible for him to have once been a Christian, but not anymore?

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.
(Note what Scripture says here and compare it with Boltz when he says that his homosexual desires are from the Father, therefore they are ok). 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

Thank You

I think watching this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzhFyNp3Ja8 shows us something important. These words are being sung by a man who does not, and did not while he was singing, love Jesus.

Consider the words of Christ:

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Here is a good blog post about Ray: Thoughts About Ray Boltz Declaring His Homosexuality

John Owen – Overcoming Temptation and Sin

November 28, 2007 Leave a comment

I’ve been reading the newly revised and edited version of John Owen’s “Overcoming Temptation and Sin” (1656) and thought I would share a few passages.

For info on Owen: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Owen_%28theologian%29

Romans 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (ESV)

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (KJV)

“Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world.”

“If, then, sin will be always acting, if we be not always mortifying, we are lost creatures. He that stands still and suffers his enemies to double blows upon him without resistance will undoubtedly be conquered in the issue. If sin be subtle, watchful, strong, and always at work in the business of killing our souls, and we be slothful, negligent, foolish, in proceeding to the ruin thereof, can we expect a comfortable event? There is not a day but sin foils or is foiled, prevails or is prevailed on; and it will be so while we live in this world”

“There is not the best saint in the world but, if he should give over this duty, would fall into as many cursed sin as ever did any of his kind.”

“It is our participation of the divine nature that gives us an escape from the pollutions that are in the world through lust; and, Rom. vii. 23, there is a law of the mind, as well as a law of the members. Now this is, first, the most unjust and unreasonable thing in the world, when two combatants are engaged, to bind one and keep him up from doing his utmost, and to leave the other at liberty to wound him at his pleasure; and, secondly, the foolishest thing in the world to bind him who fights for our eternal condition, [salvation?] and to let him alone who seeks and violently attempts our everlasting ruin. The contest is for our lives and souls. Not to be daily employing the Spirit and new nature for the mortifying of sin, is to neglect that excellent succour which God hath given us against our greatest enemy. If we neglect to make use of what we have received, God may justly hold his hand from giving us more. His graces, as well as his gifts, are bestowed on us to use, exercise, and trade with. Not to be daily mortifying sin, is to sin against the goodness, kindness, wisdom, grace, and love of God, who hath furnished us with a principle of doing it.”

“yet sin does so remain, so act and work in the best of believers, while they live in this world, that the constant daily mortification of it is all their days incumbent on them.”

“The root of an unmortified course is the digestion of sin without bitterness in the heart. When a man hath confirmed his imagination to such an apprehension of grace and mercy as to be able, without bitterness, to swallow and digest daily sins, that man is at the very brink of turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

“If the Spirit alone mortifies sin, why are we exhorted to mortify it?… It is no otherwise the work of the Spirit but as all graces and good works which are in us are his… He does not so work our mortification in us as not to keep it still an act of our obedience… He works upon our understandings, wills, consciences, and affections, agreeably to their own natures; he works in us and with us, not against us and without us; so that his assistance is an encouragement as to the facilitating of the work, and no occasion of neglect as to the work itself.”

“An unmortified lust will drink up the spirit, and all the vigour of the soul, and weaken it for all duties. For, —

1st. It untunes and unframes the heart itself, by entangling its affections. It diverts the heart from the spiritual frame that is required for vigorous communion with God; it lays hold on the affections, rendering its object beloved and desirable, so expelling the love of the Father, 1 John. ii. 15, iii 17; so that the soul cannot say uprightly and truly to God, “Thou art my portion,” having something else that it loves.”

“(re: sin) It breaks out and actually hinders duty. The ambitious man must be studying, and the worldling must be working or contriving, and the sensual, vain person providing himself for vanity, when they should be engaged in the worship of God.”

“As sin weakens, so it darkens the soul. It is a cloud, a thick cloud, that spreads itself over the face of the soul, and intercepts all the beams of God’s love and favour. It takes away all sense of the privilege of our adoption; and if the soul begins to gather up thoughts of consolation, sin quickly scatters them”

“Mortification prunes all the graces of God, and makes room for them in our hearts to grow. The life and vigour of our spiritual lives consists in the vigour and flourishing of the plants of grace in our hearts. Now, as you may see in a garden, let there be a precious herb planted, and let the ground be untilled, and weeds grow about it, perhaps it will live still, but be a poor, withering, unuseful thing. You must look and search for it, and sometimes can scarce find it; and when you do, you can scarce know it, whether it be the plant you look for or no; and suppose it be, you can make no use of it at all. When, let another of the same kind be set in the ground, naturally as barren and bad as the other, but let it be well weeded, and every thing that is noxious and hurtful removed from it, — it flourishes and thrives; you may see it at first look into the garden, and have it for your use when you please. So it is with the graces of the Spirit that are planted in our hearts.”

“Mortification prunes all the graces of God, and makes room for them in our hearts to grow. The life and vigour of our spiritual lives consists in the vigour and flourishing of the plants of grace in our hearts. Now, as you may see in a garden, let there be a precious herb planted, and let the ground be untilled, and weeds grow about it, perhaps it will live still, but be a poor, withering, unuseful thing. You must look and search for it, and sometimes can scarce find it; and when you do, you can scarce know it, whether it be the plant you look for or no; and suppose it be, you can make no use of it at all. When, let another of the same kind be set in the ground, naturally as barren and bad as the other, but let it be well weeded, and every thing that is noxious and hurtful removed from it, — it flourishes and thrives; you may see it at first look into the garden, and have it for your use when you please. So it is with the graces of the Spirit that are planted in our hearts.”

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Liberal Christianity and Sin

November 28, 2007 Leave a comment

“According to the Bible, man is a sinner under the just condemnation of God; according to modern liberalism, there is really no such thing as sin. At the very root of the modern liberal movement is the loss of the conciousness of sin.

The conciousness of sin was formerly the starting poitn of all preaching; but today it is gone. Characteristic of the modern age, above all else, is a supreme confidence in human goodness; the religious literature of the day is redolent of that confidence. Get beneath the rough exterior of men, we are told, and we shall discover enough self-sacrifice to found upon it the hope of society; the world’s evil, it is said, can be overcome with the world’s good; no help is needed from outside the world…

… It joins forces with the collectivism of the modern state to obscure the individual, personal character of guilt. If John Smith beats his wife nowadays, no one is so old-fashioned as to blame John Smith for it. On the contrary, it is said, John Smith is evidently the victim of some more of that Bolshevistic propaganda; Congress ought to be called in extra session in order to take up the case of John Smith in an alien and sedition law…

…The change is nothing less than the substitution of paganism for Christianity as the dominant view of life. Seventy-five years ago (as of 1923) Western civilization, despite inconsistencies, was still predominantly Christian; today it is predominantly pagan… Paganism is that view of life which finds the highest goal of human existence in the healthy and harmonious and joyous development of existing human faculties. Very different is the Christian ideal. Paganism is optimistic with regard to unaided human nature, whereas Christianity is the religion of the broken heart.”

J. Gresham Machen : Christianity and Liberalism

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