Last week the students in my Writing Close to the Earth online class read George Orwell's classic essay, "Politics and the English Language." In it ... Read More
When 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.