Standing by the Play-World

By

enchantress.jpgWhen we reach out in faith and desperation to take hold of what we are in Christ, there’s an explosion of desire in our hearts to see God’s Kingdom advanced in the lives of those around us. The truth is we no longer live – that old man is dead, and now we’re to live by faith in God’s stated Facts.

God wants us to jump headfirst into total reliance on who He is and what He says about reality. When we plug that cable into the power outlet, we’d better watch out. Life change happens, first in us and then, as others connect to God through us, it happens in them as well. Christianity is meant to be spread by contact – Lewis called it “a good infection.”

Christianity is a choice of the will: Am I going to rely on God and His promises? Or will I exercise faith in what I feel, see, think, hear, experience? That’s the bottom line. One choice will produce life and light and power and change in us, causing us more and more to be in experience who we really are in Christ.

The other choice leads to a waste. 1Cor 3 is a sobering warning to anyone who tries to build on the foundation of Christ in himself with the wrong building materials. Only faith, reliance, and trust build with gold, silver, precious stones. Anything less – hedonism, sin, and even good works done from mere fleshly effort – is to build with wood, hay, and stubble. The man himself shall be saved, yet as a refugee escaping through the flames with nothing to show for the one earthly lifetime we’re given for all eternity. Wood, hay, and stubble will burn up in the Consuming Fire. This temporal “experiment” will never be repeated; we have one single lifetime to build a Devil-may-care reliance on God and His Word, because in eternity we will be able to see Him face to face. “Blessed are they which have not seen, and yet believe.”

The choice is clearly laid out in Scripture. We can trust God in total reliance – or not. We can limp along struggling with the same besetting sins year after year after year, never really addressing that it’s our unbelief and fear keeping us on that hamster-wheel of try-sin-repent-try-sin-repent. The Devil discreetly laughs and, like the Witch in The Silver Chair, keeps throwing that sweet-smelling magic powder on the fire, thrum-thrum-thrumming his hypnotic rhythms, and cooing, “There’s really no power in Christ. It’s all just a dream. See? You just sinned again, you sinner. Interpret reality by your experience. You’re a sinner, unholy, not a new creation. Where is this ‘new man’? Your old man has come off the Cross…” Thrum-thrum-thrum. “There is no Aslan.”

Those condemning, limiting voices in our heads come from a single source; they are the subtly enchanting arrows of the evil one saying, “There is no Narnia, no Overworld, no sky, no sun, no Aslan,” as they drive home to the heart through our lack of battle-vigilance. And so we fall under his spell, where his Romans 7 deathtrap is the only reality we believe in. We’ve got to stamp out that drugged fire of the Liar with our bare feet like Puddleglum continually until it lessens to gain some clarity both for ourselves and for those around us. We combat his lies by saying, “As it is written…” and relying on those Facts, period. Puddleglum defiantly says, “…I’m going to stand by the play-world.” We stand by the unseen “play-world,” damning the Devil’s lies because God says Narnia is Real, and wake up.

This isn’t condemnation, a works-trip, or a prompt to more effort; in fact, it’s the opposite, a desire that we as God’s people should take Him literally and walk in the recognition that He cannot lie. That’s what He is looking for. What I’m saying isn’t new; it’s straight-up Bible, no-chaser, repeated through the centuries by countless saints of Jesus Christ.

The “Christ died to pay our sin-debt” gospel that God merely imputes righteousness to our “account,” is a half-gospel. It’s a neat little side-step to interpret reality by experience rather than by the Word; it short-circuits God’s love from coming through us. It says nothing of the imparted power that God has placed in us; that power in us is His very own Self. Jesus died to save us from our sins themselves, from being a selfish, sinning kind of people; he didn’t merely release us from the consequences due our sins. He reversed the curse and made us into a holy people.

The real Gospel is a radically life-altering truth that we are to receive by faith and then walk in by faith. Jesus became sin for me so that I could become the righteousness of God in Him. As a result of Romans 6, the Father and Son have made their abode in us by the Holy Spirit. That’s power in its most basic and pure form – God, in us, ready to live through us if we just rely. That’s why Paul says “the Word of God…is exercising its [superhuman] power in those who adhere to and trust in and rely on it” (1Th 2:13, Amp). When we rely, the Lord makes us “to increase and abound in love toward one another, and toward all men…to the end that he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness…” (1Th 3:12,13, KJV). Faith connects us to the limitless power of Christ in us, causing us to increase and abound in love toward one another. “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness…” (1Th 4:7,8, KJV). Faith connects us to Power; that Power increases Love, and Love, if we continue in reliance on the Spirit, loves God and neighbor.

But we’ve got to keep the chain in proper order, the horse before the cart. Much of modern Christianity is either about striving to behave “properly,” or mere intellectual assent to ideas about God. Legalism, or “grace” where there is a lot of the Devil’s condemning self-talk allowed in our consciousness resulting in very slow life-change.

That’s not what Paul preached. His message was Power-in-weakness, a desertion of flesh-effort for radical reliance on God’s indwelling Holy Spirit to produce extreme life-change. If we concentrate on reliance, the rest follows. A branch doesn’t bear fruit by exertion. It trusts specifically in the Tree’s ability to give it all that it needs, resting in that, and the flow of sap through it just happens. Our behavior follows our willed reliance on our real identity. When we listen to the devil’s lies we live from them; “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

God calls us to a life of power, adventure, risk. We are kings, priests, holy, blameless before God, one spirit with the Lord. Dead to sin. Dead to Law (what a relief – Christ is now our inner Law of love). New creations. The old is gone, the new has come.

We put off the old man and put on the new by relying on these things as Fact. “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God” (Rom 6:11, KJV). We count it as a done-deal and stand by Aslan, stand by the play-world and claim it as our own by faith. Let God be true, and every man (and especially the Devil) a liar.

 
   

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.


11 Comments

  1. Molly

    Thanks, Ron. Your posts here speak so eloquently to the Christian walk I’m attempting that all I can do is sing along with AP, “Lord, I believe, only help my unbelief…”

  2. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Molly,

    In our choice of faith we aren’t responsible to make ourselves feel differently. All we do is affirm God’s Facts – we confess with our heart, mind, mouth, that God’s Facts are more real than the present circumstance that seems to contradict them. So often we think faith has something to do with making ourselves feel a certain way, but it doesn’t. Faith is a committed choice to trust God–a choice that spits in the face of what we feel, think, see, hear, and experience.

    It is hard sometimes in the hurricane of our emotions about a situation to make that committed choice – but nevertheless, that’s the crux, the bottom line of the Christian life. “Is God a liar, or is He telling the truth?” Many of those old hymns – I Surrender All, Faith is the Victory, and devotionals like Streams in the Desert constantly harp on this singular theme – that God is truthful, keeps His promises, and that our part is to radically rely on His promises in the face of anything that would call Him a liar.

    Notwithstanding much of modern Christian writing, that’s what God is looking for. That’s our part. We trip and stumble over it sometimes, but in every situation we have to make that choice – that’s our ‘willed share in our own making,” as George MacDonald put it.

  3. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Molly,

    Er..brevity…I’m working on brevity. In our fast times people sometimes see a long article and think, “I don’t have time.” I have gotten better at editing since RR began – this article was even longer when I started.

  4. Molly

    … a nearly perfect lunch hour: My Ron Block smart playlist, and the Rabbit Room. Don’t apologize, Ron. Sometimes with the longer posts, I’m more apt to go back and re-read repeatedly, thereby letting whatever God intended me to get sink in deeper/better/more often. If I really need brevity, I’ll read Proverbs–LOL.

  5. Jen McCallister

    Hi Ron,
    For several years, I’ve had a phrase which I’ve repeated many times to my kids (7 and 14) It is this “Beware of the other ditch!” When our family is having a discussion an some spiritual pitfall, I’ve feel it important to stress the possibility of an opposite “ditch” just as trecherous. I believe the two opposing views held by most of my Christian friends is a perfect example of the ditches on either side of the straight and narrow road. The one group says, “Choose a list of rules, follow them to the letter. If you succeed, become self-righteous and make everyone miserable, but if you fail, beat yourself!” The others say, “Nevermind about sin. Nobody is perfect. All is forgiven. Hooray! You are free to live any way you like!”
    The one thing the people in both ditches seem to have in common is fear. They are plagued by fears of all sorts. I guess that’s because regulations and perfect church attendance are no substitute for the peace which can only be found up on the narrow road, you know, where you push yourself aside- all your thoughts ambitions etc. and let His Spirit lead.

  6. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Jen,

    I’ve lived all three – as a child and young teen I had a legalistic concept of God. At 17 I learned about grace, that God saves me not for what I do and don’t do, but through trust. I went through my twenties with that concept, but didn’t realize I was trusting God for my salvation and finances but little else. I trusted largely in myself to get self-worth, security, meaning, etc, until I had a big inner crash around 30 yrs old. It was then that I learned who I am in Christ – the Biblical statements on identity were lifelines to God’s love and power. Now I trust Christ not only to save me, forgive me, and take care of my finances (those are both ‘givens’ to me now); I trust Him to live in me, through me, as if it were me living. I see Him, for the most part, in the mirror – at the root and ground of my being.

    I characterize the ditch as a drunk man falling of a horse, getting back on, and then falling off the other side. We’re drunk on “independent I”; when legalistic, we think we are an independent self that can keep ourselves from sin by human effort (and a little bit of “God’s help”). When we fall to license, we think we are independent selves that can continue to sin that grace may abound.

    In either case, independent self is a lie. People are never independent selves; we’re either in the condition of Eph 2:2, or we are a Christ-indwelt self. If Christ-indwelt, we have a choice to rely on Christ as our life or continue to believe we are independent, autonomous selves – which is a solid footing for the devil to put his hand inside the puppet and operate it, resulting in the Romans 7 lifestyle. But we can’t stay there (in legalism or license) forever, or we’ll end up being the wood, hay, and stubble believers of 1Cor 3 – when we die we will be as refugees escaping from a burning house, with nothing to show for a lifetime of legalism or license. A sobering thought. I’d rather submit to and rely on Christ, because reliance on the Spirit is life and peace. His indwelling perfection in us, if we rely on Him, begins to come more and more through our actions and attitudes in daily life – resulting in the righteous life that God desires us to live. Sanctification is both a one-time gift and a process; by one sacrifice we are made perfect forever, and through that inner Perfection which is Christ Himself placed in us we are being made holy in our attitudes and actions. Our part in the equation is to trust.

  7. Jen McCallister

    Ron,
    I’m struggling with my “self” that wants to keep control. I wake up and say ” Lord have your way today!”
    I think, “Today I will rest in Him. I will be obedient in my thoughts and actions.” Then I there is always something that throws me right back into my habit of do it by myself, my way.
    Deep down I know He’s going to “complete this work in me” But, right now, I can’t see Him in the mirror. I’m trying to forget my “self” and quit analyzing, but I’m doing it now! Fourteen years ago, I wrote a song which expressed my desire for “More of Him and less of me”
    I realized then, the only way to peace and happiness and LIFE is resting in Him. But today, I feel further from achieving the goal in my song than I did when I wrote the words. Any insights on HOW to give it all up 100%???

  8. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Jen,

    The problem is always in the little phrase, “I will.” We all jump to that occasionally, because the world screams “Just do it! Will it! Willpower!” Even in something as basic as faith or submission, whenever we generate an “I will” we are setting ourselves up for failure. That’s Satan’s main line – to get the human self trying to see itself as a separate self, having to will obedience, or will rest.

    But the question is this: Who am I?

    In truth you and I died with Christ. That old, striving “I” died. That old “I” was a union between the spirit of Eph 2:2 and our humanity. Many of the Pharisees were filled with that spirit; Jesus said, “You are of your father the Devil, and his lusts you will do.” Whose will were they following? They thought it was their own will, but was it?

    Now we are new creations in Christ Jesus. Our only job is to hand over our human will and say, “Not my will, but Thine be done,” to say with Jesus, “I can do nothing (nothing!) of myself; the Father in me does the works.” Then we release all to God. We don’t strive to hand over our will; even if we don’t feel willing, we say, “Lord, I give everything over to you and submit to you. Work your will in my life no matter what the cost. But I don’t feel willing.” As Norman Grubb once said, “Just be willing to be made willing.”

    Concerning feelings – our feelings are going to flop around, Jen. But they are created as followers, not leaders. When we make the choice of faith, our feelings will eventually follow.

    The choice of faith – it is a choice of the will. But consider this difference:
    I WILL choose faith today in every moment!
    or
    I am relying on Christ in this present moment.

    One sets up human strength. The other releases all concept of human strength. That’s living in the Now.

    I have an upcoming article on RR about cleaning out my basement. I finally realized I don’t have to “clean out my basement.” I just have to do one thing in this moment. And then another thing in the next moment. And then another thing in the next. As I have done this with my basement (a huge job, since it hasn’t really been done in seven years!) I have found myself going from strength to strength, never running out of steam, quitting, or getting frustrated. All I need to do is the one thing, right then. The next moment will take care of itself, just as this present one is taking care of itself. Paralysis is gone as I recognize the importance of this immediate moment and let go of the future.

    Everything comes down to this:
    Am I a human self, by itself, trying to cope with life – with God’s help?
    or
    Am I a human cup, indwelt by the Triune God, given everything I need for life and godliness in Christ?

    The former says “I must strive to become…”
    The latter says, “I am.” I am one with Christ. I am dead to sin. I am holy. I am dead to the Law – no more human striving to become good. I trust that Christ in me is my righteousness.

    The difference is in our perceptions – and ‘as a man thinketh in his heart, so IS he.” We manifest what we believe. Even though I am one of the Christ-indwelt, I can still choose to believe lies.

    A separate “I”, trying to will to follow, obey, trust.

    Or

    An indwelt, saved, sanctified, justified, holy I, kept by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    One is an endless wheel, a treadmill of trying.

    The other is life and peace.

    We choose. It is a choice of the will. But not will-power. Just a letting go, thinking we’ll fall – and we end up flying.

    I hope this helps.

    Best,
    Ron

  9. Jen McCallister

    Thanks! If there is one thing I’ve learned through my own efforts, it’s that I can do nothing! I’ll have to trust Him in me.
    I’ll be looking forward to reading the upcoming article.
    Blessings,
    Jen

  10. Jennifer Davis

    SO ture! We get all caught up in everything around us, we’re all TOO busy. Like you said,” I finally realized I don’t have to “clean out my basement.” I just have to do one thing in this moment. And then another thing in the next moment. And then another thing in the next.”
    I found myself thinking that today…Thanks Ron.

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