Electricity: Part Three – Flipping the Switch

By

In parts one and two we found our identity to not be “sin”; rather, when we sin it is no longer “I”. We found that human effort – making the flesh our strength, rather than Christ – is the very cause of sin. And that God, who is love, and the sole source of other-centered love in the universe, created us to be indwelt and to live in a oneness, a willing co-operation with Him. Romans six speaks of the reality of who we are in Christ – dead to sin, alive to God, that we died with Him and were raised with Him to walk in newness of life. Six briefly introduces the thought that it is Law that gives sin power over us, Law being the human-trying-to-be-righteous-by-it’s-own-strength principle. Seven expands on this Law principle, showing us that flesh striving creates a hamster wheel of try-sin-repent that is endless until we step off it and recognize that “when I sin it is no longer I that sins, but sin which dwelleth in me.” Sin is not essentially “I”. We find that it is by the human self trying by will-power to be the new man that we do what we hate, and don’t do what we desire, and that the new man is that in us which deeply desires to be and do everything that God has for us.

That’s the summary – a few of the mind altering facts of Romans six and seven. How, then, do we go on to Spirit-driven, rather than Law/flesh driven life?

At the end of seven Paul makes a statement; “So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” He again states that the real Paul is the one that serves the law of God; he accords himself with that holy desire within himself, and states that it is with the mind that he serves the Law of God.

How then to serve God’s Law with the mind, rather than striving by flesh-effort to live up to the Law and failing – instead serving the law of sin?

One of the keys is found later in Romans 11 and 12. At the end of 11 Paul goes on into a reverie about God: O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or who hath first given to Him, so as to receive payment in return? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

All things are of the Lord. All. Wisdom. Knowledge. Power. Holiness. Love. Compassion. Kindness. Purity. All things. If He’s the source of all goodness, how much goodness can come from my human effort?

After these reverent statements of praise Paul says this:

I beseech you therefore, brethren (because God is and has everything), by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.

This mind transformation, this renewal, is a major key to walking in the Spirit.

Let’s go back to Romans eight.

There’s no condemnation to those who are in Christ. Hebrews says if the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins, the worshipers would have had no more conscience of sins. They wouldn’t live in sin-consciousness.

To truly trust in Christ and His atoning Blood means we shun the condemnation of the devil. We shut the door on it forever and refuse to live in a sin-consciousness (which all comes from fear and unbelief, which of course is the wellspring of sin). The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus – the inner, living Law, Christ Himself – has set me free from the Law of sin and death. The outer Law, the written code, fulfilled in Christ, is something we have died to and no longer have to strive in effort to keep, because Christ Himself, better than the old covenant, is now in us.

The outer Law could not make us righteous; in fact, it did the opposite. It not only showed us our sins, reminded us of our sins, but it actually was a handle for Satan to use to make us sin more.

God sent His own Son as a man who lived by faith in the Holy Spirit. This perfect Redeemer died as a sinner; we were all put in Him on the Cross, and that Ephesians 2:2 spirit with which we were infected, “the prince of the power of the air that works in the children of disobedience,” that great big me-for-me spirit which was in us and drove us, was put in the body of Jesus Christ through our co-ness with Him. Jesus became sin for us. He didn’t just pay our sin-debt. He became sin. And why did Jesus become sin for us? Romans 8:4 tells us why:

That the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. That’s the reason for God the Father and Jesus Christ going through all that – to call out a people indwelt and in willing co-operation with the Holy Spirit.

Paul goes on:

When we give our attention to the physical, we are controlled by the physical. If we give our attention to the Spirit, the Eternal, the Real, we are controlled by the Spirit, motivated by the Real. A branch can bear no fruit by its own effort; it’s a dead branch unless it abides; if it thinks it can be its own source it will die. The interests of the flesh-life are hostile to God. The flesh – the soul/body – wants comfort, ease for itself; God wants to use the whole man in service to others, in countless dyings and risings to “What my flesh wants,” even unto physical death if necessary.

The flesh itself is merely a means, a container, a cup. It is not meant to drive. A well-trained horse is under the direction of its rider, and response to every whisper of a command. In that, it becomes useful, and is in willing cooperation – through faith in the rider.

Paul then says that those who are in the flesh – not “following” or “after” the flesh, but in the flesh – cannot please God. He then defines those who are “in the flesh” – in other words, completely given over to their fleshly desires – those who do not have the Spirit of Christ. They cannot have faith in Jesus Christ, and apart from faith it is impossible to please God. And the Hebrews writer reiterates that for the believer, Christ is in us, that although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness, and it will direct our body and give life to it.

So – we are debtors to the Spirit, not to the flesh. Through the Spirit – that is, through faith, reliance on God, on what He says about who we are in Christ – we put to death the deeds of the body, all that misuse of our bodies and souls that formerly ran and drove our existence. We abjure fleshly effort, false religious holiness and labor the labor of faith to enter His rest. We fight a great fight of afflictions against the Devil, who will say, “You aren’t holy. Look what you just did. You aren’t one with Christ. How could you have said that?” and all the million monotonous, boring, lame arguments against the Word of God. Interpret reality by your experience. Interpret the Word by your performance. That’s Satan’s smoke and mirrors.

The Word says what it says. We’re under new Management.

As we trust in this indwelling Power, He flows. I’m a king. I’m holy. I’m one Spirit with the Lord. Christ Himself is my life. He is the Shekinah in this earthen temple. I am bought with a price. I am washed, cleansed, a vessel unto honor. I am a light bulb and He’s the electricity. And as we accord ourselves in faith with what He says, the lights come on.

This trusting is a moment-by-moment choice. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (teknos – full grown sons. In other words, mature). This is what the Lord says: Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; it’s leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

Two trees. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Do-it-yourself holiness, Romans seven, dependence on one’s own strength, resulting in a parched landscape, a salt land where no one lives. Loneliness. Desperation. He won’t see any prosperity when it does come; he’ll be too busy condemning himself for being a dry tree. The second Tree – the Tree of Life. Christ. Reliance on Him. Outer circumstances won’t matter; this Tree can take the heat and drought because it has deep roots by the stream. It never fails to bear fruit.

We choose.

Reliance on Christ, renewing our minds as to our new identity in Christ, is a major key in the struggle. And as we’ll see later in Romans 8, the recognition of God’s love and power is a major player in the spiritual battle

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he’s not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin’ on audiences around the world, he’s taking care of his donkey named “Trash” and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


18 Comments

  1. Jennifer McCallister

    Hi Ron,
    There is a book entitled, “Two Trees in the Garden.” I don’t remember the author. It has been several years since I read the book. It is the only other time I’ve heard the “two trees” mentioned in the same context as your article. I believe this teaching is vital for Christian growth. AND unfortunately, most people have it upside-down and backwards! We keep eating the fruit from the wrong tree!
    I used to think, “As long as I’m striving to do right, I’ll be ok. As long as I’m striving!” So, when the inevitable failures came, I’d strive harder!
    What a wonderful relief to discover the key is not in striving at all, but in resting! The years of “strife” were not wasted for they have taught me how helpless I am to be or do anything good without His Spirit!
    Jen

  2. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Jennifer,

    “You should at least be trying!” I’ve heard that one many times.

    Strife isn’t wasted. I used to think George MacDonald legalistic. But as I grew I realized that all his talk about obedience was to drive us to the source of ability to obey – Christ Himself. All that legalism becomes a powerful engine as we come down to that crucial point of honesty with ourselves: “I cannot be ‘like Christ’ in any way, shape, or form by this rule-keeping method.” I hated the word ‘obedience’ for years because I feared it; I knew I couldn’t measure up. Now I know that real obedience is “the obedience of faith”; that is, the obedience that springs from reliance or trust in Jesus Christ. I trust, and obedience follows. If obedience doesn’t follow, I’m not trusting. It really comes down to something as simple as that. Faith in Christ – the grabbing-hold-of-God’s-promises kind of faith – produces obedience. Intellectual assent to certain ideas about Christ can’t save or sanctify anyone. Faith is the open heart toward God which allows Him full rein (and reign) of the human vessel; horse and rider can move as one if the horse trusts the rider and moves with the rider’s purposes; the horse, if well-trained, feels the rider’s every movement. The horse, with a willing cooperation in faith with the rider, can then move to a much higher level of purpose and meaning in his horse- universe than if he were just roaming aimlessly wherever he felt like going and getting fat eating all the rich grass.

  3. Jennifer McCallister

    I see what you’re saying, it isn’t the knowledge or “teaching” that is vital, but rather the practice of faith. I’ve understood and accepted the “idea” that faith in Christ is my only salvation, yet I’d describe myself more like a “mule” than the well-trained horse in your illustration.
    How well I know the “effort wheel” is useless, but the knowledge of its uselessness doesn’t get me off! What I seek is the ability to kill the stubborn life-long habit of self-effort and begin trusting and obeying.
    Jen

  4. Stacy Grubb

    Jennifer,

    I think the most frustrating thing of all is when you finally realize that you’re on the hamster wheel, but you keep putting one foot in front of the other, anyway. No doubt about it, I was unknowingly on that hamster wheel for years. I felt the burden of the self-effort and the helplessness of not understanding how to just “be better.” I knew what I was “supposed” to think, do, say, etc, but how woud I make it my nature to think, do, and say those things? All I’d ever fully grasped was that I was a vile sinner, saved by the grace of God. Now, I’m gaining a deeper understanding of what it actually *means* to say I’m saved (meaning, the part about actually being a changed living creature, not just what I’m saved from after death) and, while that helplessness carried its own frustration, I constantly shake my own head in disbelief that now I supposedly know better, yet struggle to employ what I’ve learned. And then I say, “Duh…quit ‘trying’ to employ it!” So, I think to myself, “I’m back to that self-effort thing,” and then it hits me…”Gah! I’m still on that durn hamster wheel.”

    Stacy

  5. Jennifer McCallister

    Thanks Stacy!
    It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who struggles with the “hamster wheel.”
    I’ve been thinking about the “wheel” and reflecting over twenty-six years of trusting Christ (not only for salvation from the devil, sin, death, and hell, but with my whole heart, and my whole life. I do “delight myself in the Lord!”) So, the question is “How could I still be on that ‘durn’ hamster wheel?”:
    Perhaps, by faith, I should say, ” I am trusting Christ, I am moving forward, and I am NOT on the “hamster wheel”.
    I only imagine I am when I measure my performance against my notion of what Jesus would do. My action does not always agree with my idea of how Christ would act. My speech is not always the same as my idea of what He would say.
    I’m pretty sure satan likes to make us see sin where there is none.
    A friend of mine felt guilty because she had “blown up” at a man in her church. The man had displayed a self-righteous attitude toward a kid in their youth group. When she apologized for yelling at him, a door was opened for a much needed calm discussion on a subject that had been closed to her before the episode. I believe she reacted out of love for the kid, and exactly as the Spirit led her. She felt condemnation over the incident because she reacted in anger and she thought Christ wouldn’t act that way. I reminded her of the time Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple.
    There have been many times I thought I’d made big mistakes, and found that God worked through them in very unexpected and interesting ways. I’m not saying that His Spirit ever causes us to sin (lying, stealing, idol worship, etc.) I don’t believe sin can reighn where Christ’s Spirit dwells. However, I do believe that He can use even the things I call my “imperfections” to work His perfect will in me.
    If I may quote a line from the famous song writer, Ron Block “the problem lives in what I see, A separate Him outside a separate me.”
    I think we’ve been measuring ourselves against a faded picture of Christ, when in truth, the clearer image of His face is “in the mirror on the wall!”
    Lack of brevity would be one of those “things I call my imperfections!”
    Sorry, for being so long-winded!
    Jen

  6. Stacy Grubb

    Jennifer,

    I completely agree that God uses our imperfections to serve His greater good. I can’t remember now which post it was under (likely it was under part two if this “Electricity” series), but there was another discussion on God’s infinite power as opposed to Satan’s limited power and how God uses ALL things for His own will. Satan certainly believes that he often has God by the hair of the head, but that’s far from the truth. In reality, Satan, darkness, evil, etc, are all things that God uses as a tool to achieve His own ultimate goal. It’s said all the time that certain tragedies were “blessings in disguise.” I can think of many of my life’s tragedies that worked themselves out to my advantage in the long run. But the truth is, everything – ALL things – are blessings, whether we can connect the dots from tragedy to blessing or not. We are told, “In ALL things, give thanks.” It’s hard to imagine thanking God as you watch your house go up in flames. “Thank you, God, for allowing my every earthly possession and trinkets from my past to be destroyed in this fire that leaves me homeless.” That seems so counterintuitive. At best, you may be able to look on the bright side: “Thank you, God, that none of my family was lost in this fire,” but that still doesn’t follow the command of giving thanks for ALL things. The connection, of course, is that ALL things first go through God and His love, therefore, we should give thanks for ALL things.

    At this point in my life, I’ve found my greatest progress to be in the form of neutrality. When things go “wrong” (MY idea of wrong, of course), often my first response now is that of, “Whatever.” It’s not where I should be with it (giving thanks), but it’s a step in the right direction, I reckon (moving away from unbelief).

    I’m glad you quoted that song as it’s one I’ve listened to a lot lately and it has both given me a bit of clarity as well as shown me what questions I need to ask in order to find the answers that I need. I won’t say that I’ve been taught wrong since it’s very possible that I was told right, but learned it wrong, but the idea of a unified force (God+me) was somehow in my head as being self-righteous or too big for my own britches. I thought it was thinking awfully highly of myself – a lowly sinner – to claim to be working in conjunction with the likes of God. I don’t know how to explain it, really, other than maybe I was just around too many disbelievers who viewed that mindset as being “holier than thou,” and their ideas crept into my own ideas. Like I said, I got the fact that I was a sinner saved by grace. I didn’t get the fact that I was a new creation, though. I was living in that hamster wheel of just knowing that I was a sinner and would always be a sinner. It made me thankful for God’s grace and my salvation, but did little to make me a useful tool or a worthwhile “cup.” So, I very much had the separate Him and separate me mentality. I thought to do otherwise was to be on a high horse. To say that I could see Christ through me just left a “who do you think you are, little girl?” taste in my mouth. It’s only been within the last couple of months that I’m realizing how wrong I was and, more importantly, WHY I was wrong.

    Stacy

  7. Stacy Grubb

    Oh yeah (can you believe with that novel I just posted that I forgot to mention something?), the “faded picture” of Christ that you mention is often one of the biggest snags in the hamster wheel. It’s not only faded, but it’s a watered-down version from the start. Movies, paintings, etc, have for years portrayed Jesus as a small, frail, soft-spoken, diminutive little guy who just went around being meek and bullied. I have to think that even that physical representation of Him would be way off-base, considering that he was a carpenter during a time when there were no power tools and very few tools of convenience. A person couldn’t do that sort of hard, physical labor for a living and be a wimpy nerd. And as a public speaker, I don’t think He would’ve had much success if He barely spoke above the soft whisper that actors often use in their interpretations. He has largely been reduced to the “God is Love” image. If we are measuring ourselves against that unrealistic, low-emotion version of God, then we are sure to feel like failures. As you pointed out, it’s easy to feel like you’ve done something horribly wrong just for becoming angry. Sure we have to behave ourselves when we are angry, but the emotion itself or a reasonable reaction to the emotion, isn’t a sin or a fall from grace!

  8. Jennifer McCallister

    Stacy,
    Up until this morning, when I posted my novel, I wouldn’t have said that about “seeing Him in the mirror on the wall” either. I felt the same way you did, exactly- “Who do I think I am?!” To say anything other than ” I am a poor, insignificant, dirty rotten, sinner- saved by the amazing grace of Jesus.” would be blasphemous at best. That is the mentality which was ingrained in me from childhood.
    Now, I can see the danger in staying in that mindset. It just doesn’t line up with what God says about me! To keep saying that is to call God untruthful. And we are to “let God be true, and every man a lyar”
    God has been driving the message home to me in a number of ways, one being Ron Block’s posts and music, another being our preacher’s messages. He keeps saying, “Let our speech line up with what God says. Say what God says.”
    God says: I’m a new Creature in Him. I am. He says, I’m a king, I AM. He says we are More than conquerers. We are. He says, All things work together for good. IT DOES! He says, He will supply all my needs- I have everything I need!
    Another thing our pastor says, “Saying what God says is not bragging on one’s self. It is glorifying God.”
    When we stay in the “hamster wheel” of self effort we are saying the same things the world says “I am a confident in my own human abilities and do not need anyone but myself. I am self-sufficient. I can do anything that I want to do. I can be what I want to be if I try hard enough.”
    You will never hear the world saying, “…I don’t have to be someone.”
    You won’t hear the world say, ” I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” and “It is HE that hath made me and not ‘I” myself.”
    When we say what God says about us, we are not giving ourselves “credit” but rather we glorify God for the completed work of the Holy Spirit in us.
    Stacy, I’ve enjoyed our novels, and pray that God will continue to renew our thinking so that we may have “the mind of Christ” to trust more fully in what He says about us.
    Jen

  9. Jennifer

    Hi Jennifer and Stacy
    I just wanted to comment to you Jennifer, that God is doing the same thing for me.
    Through Ron’s music, hearing his testimony and my devotions, I feel the Lord is presenting a new way of thinking to me as well. I’ve learned I’ve been on the “hamster wheel” too and I’m slowly learning how to get off and stay off of it. I feel it hit home when I”m at church and our minister brings a message that is based on Romans 6,7 and 8 last week and then followed up w/a message last week on being happy,joyful and being what God desires us to be.
    I”m thankful for finding this group and reading everyones ideas and input!
    Blessings!

  10. Jennifer McCallister

    Hi Jennifer,
    When I first heard the songs from “The Doorway” It took me several listens through to feel I had the meaning. As it turned out, it has taken several months to fully understand.
    I’ve often wondered how many people would “get it” if they listened to the CD. We do have a couple of friends who love Ron Block’s music, but the majority of Christians we know just wouldn’t have a clue. ( I hope I’m wrong)
    Anyway, it is nice to meet another soul who has taken the lyrics to heart and is experiencing a renewal of the mind. Isn’t it wonderful the way our Lord confirms His message to us by sending it from several directions?!!
    Blessings to you,
    Jen

  11. Jennifer

    You’re right Jen..
    I really enjoy listening to Ron’s music and reading on here b/c his thoughts and perspective on things is so deep, but so easy to grasp.
    A lot of people listen to the music for the enjoyment value, but many don’t really listen the the words. I think it’s a blessing how Ron has stepped out on faith and really put his beliefs and his heart into his music to be a living testimony to others. The message is there, we just have to recieve it.
    J

  12. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Jennifer, Jennifer, Stacy,

    I just read in E.M. Bounds this morning, “The one prominent characteristic of the experience into which believers are brought through prayer is not a life of works, but of faith.”

    “Too much authority cannot be attributed to faith, but prayer is the scepter by which it communicates its power.”

    “Faith grows by reading and meditating upon the Word of God. Most, and best of all, faith thrives in an atmosphere of prayer.”

    “Never cherish the delusion that you are a martyr to fear and doubt. It is no credit to any Christian’s mental capacity to cherish doubt of God, and no comfort can possibly derive from such a thought. Our eyes should be taken off self, removed from our own weakness, and allowed to rest implicitly upon God’s strength. ‘Cast not away your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.’ A simple, confiding faith, living day by day and casting its burden on the Lord each hour of the day will dissipate fear, drive away misgiving, and deliver from doubt.”

    One of the things that is hitting me in Bounds is the necessity of being specific in faith and prayer. Not just a general trust in God’s goodness or character, but making the choice of the will to faithe in God’s specific promise for our particular temptation at the moment, or difficulty, etc. This is why knowing our identity is so important. When I feel the fog of the devil closing in as a situation or circumstance hits me, saying, “You are weak; you are nothing; what good have you done?” I can agree with my Adversary quickly. “You’re correct. In my humanity I am weak, I am nothing. But Christ is in me, as my Strength, my All. Though I am weak, in my oneness with Him I am strong; though I am nothing, in my union with Him I “can do all things. Of mine own self I can do nothing. But He accomplishes good through me when I trust Him.” This sort of specificity is crucial; it’s the very kind of faith God is looking for.
    Best,
    Ron

  13. Jennifer

    That is so true…Our message at church this AM coincided somewhat, in Ephesians. Our pastor spoke on how to grow spiritually into a mature christian, not one who sits back and never initiates or accepts any growth in his/her walk w/the Lord.
    He spoke how we have to love others and ourselves to overcome obstacles in our way, read and pray over our devotions and time we spend reading our Bibles each day…etc.
    I can see how this all ties in, I’ll have to look up the book you’re referring to.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Blessings,
    J

  14. Stacy Grubb

    Ron,

    I’m realizing, now, that for years, I wasn’t discerning the difference between an, “I am who I am because of Who lives in and through me,” and an, “I am who I am because of me,” attitude. There was a time when I believe my youth and inexperience played a role in me taking on the beliefs and ideas of others, and that ultimately made me feel like I was being judgmental, closed-minded, holier-than-thou, etc, like many Christians are accused of being by non-believers, for believing that I was made something better than I was when I became saved. Many people were put off by, say, “All things work together for good for those who love God.” I said that once and was countered by a girl who wanted to know, “Well, what about for folks who *don’t* love God? Are you saying things don’t work together for me?” At the time, I didn’t know what to say. I guess it could’ve opened the doors for discussion, but I knew her challenge wasn’t one of truly wanting to know where I was coming from by adding the “for those who love God,” to that. I basically just said, “Well, I didn’t say it, God did…so take your issues up with Him.” I’m literally overjoyed to be moving away from that mindset of…well, really feeling guilty for believing that I have a Higher Power working through me. I am becoming unapologetic for viewing myself as a changed creature. That has removed a big inner struggle from my life and, in doing so, has allowed me to advance forward whereas I’d really stagnated for years because of my guilt and identity crisis. I no longer fear being called closed minded if “closed minded” means that I believe what the Bible says. We had a guest speaker at our church a few years back who said, “Don’t be so open minded that your brain falls out.”

    Now, when accused of being self-righteous, I know it is because the accuser doesn’t see the difference between me believing that I’m great and me believing that Christ can do great things through me if I allow it. Many may say that’s just getting caught up in semantics, but I believe it is part of that crucial need for specificity.

    Stacy

  15. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Stacy,

    I’ve often heard the “it’s just semantics” thing. The reality is hating our humanity is one of the ways sin gets a foothold. I’m a cup – a vessel – a nothing in and of myself, weak, helpless, unable to do any good thing. That’s a right self-estimation; the human self is capable of nothing, and created to be so.

    Through that right self-estimation of our cup-ness (also known as humility), we gain a place where God can show us His strength. Otherwise we think it’s us being good or being bad, and then fall into pride or condemnation. It’s as if a horse directed by a rider began to believe he was responsible for all the directing and taking pride in never getting lost.
    Best
    Ron

  16. Stacy Grubb

    “The reality is hating our humanity is one of the ways sin gets a foothold.”

    Yes, and this has been made obvious to me now more than ever. It’s amazing to me how realizing one thing after another makes them all come full circle and connect (making a wheel we can hitch a ride on and actually get somewhere). This, for me, ties back into the discussion of fences and self-effort. To be ever-aware of our sins through fences is to revere and fear them. To hate our humanity is to be ever-aware of our sins. Our sinful natures, afterall, are what we hate. To embrace what we can allow Christ to do through us – istead of “humbling” ourselves with constant reminders of what undeserving sinners we are – conquers sin, fear, and weakness. No fences (or velvet ropes as I view them in my mind), no fears. That’s the freedom in faith. Years ago, my dad wrote a song with a verse that said, “Every now and then, I’m tempted with sin/By the one of the world and his army/But greater is He Who is living in me/And the ones of the world cannot harm me.” I am *in* this world, but I’m not *of* it because of He Who lives in me. Through Him, I’m already victorious over the things of this world. No fences, no fears.

    Stacy

  17. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Stacy,

    Right – it is false humility to go around sin-conscious. Not only that, it’s a slap in the face to the One who cried, “It is finished,” and to Paul, who said, “And you are complete in Him.” That sort of sin-consciousness, where we go around thinking, “I’m sinning. I’m always sinning. Why? Because I’m a sinner” becomes a rationale for more sinning.

    To the contrary, “It is God’s will that you should be holy.” This holiness is only burdensome to us because we think “I’ve gotta do it,” when really it is Christ who is our holiness – not positionally or “in God’s mind” but actually, a present-tense, here-and-how holiness that is totally accessible to us at any time through the channel of faith. If we are tempted to unholy attitudes or actions, we can recognize our oneness with Christ – that He is living in us in an indivisible union through which everything that He IS belongs to us, and everything that we are as vessels belongs to Him.

    But in order for this communication of His life to flow we let go of an independent “I” that has to perform, and we recognize that it is Christ Himself in us who is our Life. We also let go of the idea that there is an independent “I” in us that runs around and commits sin.

    Righteousness is the possession and character of one Person, God, expressed in His Son, Jesus Christ, and given to us as our own possession not as a thing to be possessed but in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

    Likewise, sin is the possession and character of one person – Satan. He is the originator of it; he was the one who said, “I will be my own god; I will rule myself.” Jesus said to the self righteous, “You are of your father, the devil, and his lusts you will do.” They weren’t doing their own lusts, but Satan’s.

    1Jo 3:2-10 illuminates this:

    “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.”

    After this passage John delineates what it looks like to live from Christ. It is loving in deed and in truth, not just in words. But it is really Christ loving through us. “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.” As we rely, believe, trust, exercise faith in the name – the power, authority, uniqueness, identity – of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, we love one another. Because it is His love coming through us.

    Think about it – John here flies in the face of much modern theology of “I sin because I’m a sinner.” Believe me, I used to live in that consciousness on a constant basis – the life of Romans 7. John is here showing why a believer cannot sin and feel ok about it. It’s because we are committing spiritual adultery, having a form of godliness but denying it’s power by saying “Jesus died to pay my sin debt” and then not relying on His indwelling Life.

    When we sin, we are really allowing our humanity to be used by the devil for his sinning.

    When we ‘righteous’, we are allowing Christ to live through us.

    Behavior is produced by the identity we are believing in, relying on – the identity we are “giving ourselves to,” if we want to use God’s symbol of the marriage union.

    As blood bought, blood washed believers, when we give ourselves to the sinner-identity, we are committing adultery with Satan, with the subsequent fruit of it: Sin. We are saying, “I am an independent self. I choose good and evil.” And what happens with that false identity is that Satan gets his marionette strings hooked into us and works us like puppets (from the outside in, since we are believers). We are committing spiritual adultery when we sin.

    When we give ourselves over to the One who gave Himself for us, believing, trusting Him, relying on Him and the new Name we have been given in this marriage union – His very own Name, with all it’s attendant authority and power, love, security, worth, and meaning – when we give ourselves to this One, He begets righteousness through us.

    That’s the essential fact on sin and righteousness. They do not originate in us. We give ourselves to one or the other in Satan or Jesus Christ, and they produce through us.

    Again, this is not dualism. Satan is under Christ’s feet. Defeated. But God wants us to appropriate that defeat at the Cross by faith – by relying on Christ. We take “a willed share in our own making,” as George MacDonald said. That willed share is Faith.

    Best,
    Ron

  18. Stacy Grubb

    Ron,

    Thanks for that very insightful reply. I spent the day mulling some of the things you said around in my head yesterday and I was particularly drawn to what you said about whoever is born of God not being a sinner. Several months ago in Wednesday night Bible study, we were discussing the story of the woman accused of adultery in John 8 and one of the guys at church asked what Jesus meant in verse 11 when He said to the woman to “Go, and sin no more.” To be honest, I don’t believe a clear answer was given because the person who brought it up was asking because of an earlier conversation he’d had with a man who believed that the woman literally went and never sinned again for the rest of her life and I think the response in the study focused mainly on that belief. But I’ve thought about it a lot since then, wondering what exactly *was* meant by that statement. So, when you referenced that passage in 1 John, I immediately thought of, “Go, and sin no more,” and wondered if that was the answer I’d been looking for. Am I off-base or out of context with that?

    Thanks, Ron.
    Stacy

If you have a Rabbit Room account, log in here to comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *