Electricity: Part Two – The Either-Or Proposition

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“When I sin it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” With this phrase in Romans 7, Paul divorces his new creation identity from sin. Far from saying, “I sin because I am a sinner (an identity statement), he says he sins because there’s something in him that is “not I.” This “not I, but sin” is the reverse of the great Galatians verse, “Not I, but Christ.” So we find that sin is not basically “I” – and neither is righteousness “I”. This puts our humanity in the middle ground where it belongs, as a vessel, slave, branch – a thing containing, following the orders, and dependent on the life of someone else. Neutrality, not sin or righteousness, is the hallmark of the essential human self.

The born-again believer, one who puts his faith in Jesus Christ, has been freed from the slavery of Eph 2:2, “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience (the Greek word from Strong’s there is apeithia, which means literally, “the unconvinced”). Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and his lusts you will do,” indicating they weren’t following their own strong desires; they were driven by an inner father, a propagator, just as Jesus was driven by His heavenly Father.

The Gospel is an either-or proposition. He that is not with me is against me. There are no half-measures here. If we’re not born-again we cannot see God’s Kingdom because we live in darkness, as children of darkness. Whether that darkness is the black muck of alcoholism and drugs or the more subtly insidious blindness of legalistic religion doesn’t really matter; both spring from the same source, a satanic mindset that is desperately trying to become something in and of itself rather than accepting the life of Christ within itself. That’s the sin of Lucifer, the light-bearer. He rejected the Light, and so became darkness masquerading as false light. He would be his own Source.

Now, I’m not a dualist. Satan is not God’s evil counterpart; he’s a finite created being who has fallen. But there are too many verses dealing with an either-or: two trees (Gen 2:9), two gods (1Kings 18:21), two gates and two ways (Matt 7:13, 14), two kinds of vessels (Rom 9:22, 23), two kinds of sons (sons of the Devil and sons of God), two princes (John 12:31), two women and two sons (Hagar and Sarah, Ishmael and Isaac in Galatians), and even two birds (the unclean raven and the clean dove of Noah) and two kinds of foods (clean and unclean). None of these things mix; there aren’t partially clean foods, a partially false god, a partially-allowed bondwoman, etc. There aren’t vessels of half-wrath and half-mercy.

To the contrary, the Word continually teaches this either-or approach. “For you were (past tense) once darkness; now you are (present tense) light in the Lord…” Not part light and part darkness. We were sons of the devil, as the Pharisees, operated and motivated by the false spirit of Eph 2:2; now, Jesus Christ, through His perfect sacrifice and resurrection, has made us into new creations; He’s made us into sons of God. We were vessels of wrath, but now are vessels of mercy; once slaves of sin, now we are slaves of righteousness. We are inhabited by Christ, “Greater is He that is in you,” or the alternative, “than he that is in the world.”

This is why Paul’s pattern in most of his letters is to write first of identity, then behavior. A rare exception is Galatians, where he goes straight for the throat of the independent-self concept. But in most of his epistles Paul goes on and on about our new identity, what Christ has done, who we are in Him, that we’re kings, priests, holy, perfect, one Spirit with the Lord, that we no longer live but Christ lives in us, dead to sin, dead to Law, and the rest of those jeweled realities.

We recognize our true identity first and foremost, and then see that our behavior will flow from that reliance on Christ within us. “For you were once darkness; now you are light in the Lord. Live, then, as children of light.” In other words, you’re on the top of the mountain of holiness. You don’t have to climb step by step to get there on broken glass and nails to become holy. Holiness Himself lives in you; rely, and if you’re relying your behavior will show hospitality to strangers, love for your wives, respect for your husbands, etc. The Pauline pattern: You are this – so step out in faith and rely on Christ in your actions. Be it.” Be-ing precedes doing; doing does not cause being.

The other way, Romans 7, is to try to act righteously in order to gain the identity. That’s the point of Romans 6-8, Galatians, and the book of Hebrews – and more. Reliance on Christ within us is better than human effort (because it actually works).

At the end of 7 Paul says this: So then I myself serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the Law of sin. Note how he again refuses to identify himself with sin. What does this statement mean? It means when I follow the Spirit within me, when I accord my mind with the truth of being dead to sin, dead to flesh-effort, alive to God, then I manifest or follow the Law of God, which is “love God and neighbor.” That’s living according to my real self in Christ. Conversely, if I follow flesh tendencies as indicators of Reality (thoughts, feelings, reactions to circumstances) then I’m once again thinking I’m an independent “I” that has to be good, effectively cutting myself off from Christ’s power in me. “ In Gal 5:2, Paul says emphatically to believers, “Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.” The power of Christ in us will not come through us – it is not effective and is of no value – if we put ourselves under the Law, under self-effort, under strain and striving rather than sufficiency and rest in Him. We’re often too busy with do-it-yourself sanctification to let Him use us as His vessels.

I was hoping to dig into Romans 8 but felt impelled to talk more about the end of 7. In 8 Paul explores in more detail what living according to the Spirit really means. In 9 he shows that Spirit-directed life leads to the expression of God’s nature through us – “my life (and even my salvation if I could give it up) for others.”

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.


15 Comments

  1. Stacy Grubb

    Ron,

    I like that you pointed out the fact that Satan is not the evil counterpart to God. I think it’s an almost romantic notion that folks like to put on the idea of good vs. evil, love vs. hate, peace vs. war, God vs. Satan. In all examples but the latter, there is an element of one end of the spectrum vs. another. But to say that Satan is the antonym of God assumes that he holds the same power, but uses it to do bad things. I take all comfort in knowing that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    In the past couple of weeks (once just last night), I’ve been approached by some people in my life who are very important to me. Both are going through inner struggles that stem from “living in Romans 7.” One is a bit misguided in her faith, the other confided in me that her Salvation has been a sham all of her life. She’s professed to be a Christian since childhood, yet never felt that to be true in her heart. Living in Romans 7 is one of the things that is holding her back from accepting Christ today. She believes, but she’s not ready to give up her desire to submit to temptations in her life. She enjoys her sins and doesn’t want to “work” at omitting them. It grieves me. I love this person much more than I love myself. I pray that she will realize that the change of heart must come after accepting Christ, because without Him in there, she will only be using her own fleshly effort; just waiting on the day that she’s ready to “be good.” That day will never come on her own. She’s wanting to clean up her life first, accept second. All that to say, I started reading your discussions on the subject pretty recently and I feel like the reason why showed itself last night when she made that confession to me. I wasn’t so very elequent trying to repeat some of the things I’ve learned from you, but I had to thank God for leading me to your writings when He did. I thought the biggest blessing was the difference that it’s made in *me*, but last night opened my eyes to the fact that God used you so that He could use me (and I’m sure I’m not the only one with that story to tell). As clumsy as I was trying explain fleshly efforts and Christ reliance, I would’ve never known to even bring it up without what you share with us.

    Stacy

  2. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Stacy,

    It is a good thing to truly know the Devil as “God’s errand boy.” Though he does what he does unwittingly, everything done by Satan is merely another move in the sovereign plan of God, who has chosen to use the evil doings of the faithless fallen ones to weave a greater good. Thus Paul has the audacity to say that “all things” (not some things) work together for good to them that love God, and that God works “all things” (not some) after the counsel of His own will. There is comfort in that, in knowing that nothing comes into our lives which is not first filtered through the love of God. Sometimes His plan seems jagged to us, but the weight of eternity and what He has planned for us is hard to grasp; we are like children who, though they can’t see the end of their father’s will, choose to trust Him and so through that trust do as He says with a good attitude.

    Christ-reliance is spread through “good infection” (CS Lewis’ term). That way of effort, performance-based holiness, is from Satan’s mind. That’s where the world lives, climbing the ladder of achievement and attempting to gain identity through it. We continually see people who have climbed to the top of that ladder get into drugs, alcoholism, and whatnot because it proves empty every time. And if some are fooled by the climb, the deception produces pride and arrogance.

  3. Jennifer

    Another great, enlightening explanation…Thanks Ron!
    Looking forward to reading your next post on Romans 8…but appreciate the depth you’ve gone into on Romans 7…I feel like a lot of that was for me, and has helped me understand a lot more and be able to put a lot of things that are happening in my life into perspective.

  4. Aaron Roughton

    Ron,

    The thought that everything that “comes into your life is first filtered through the love of God” makes me nervous. I understand that God can use all things for good, including the results of my sin. But does that mean that things that enter our lives by way of sin are filtered through the love of God? In all his sovereignty (and out of love for us) he has chosen to allow us to rebel against him. And the results of our rebellion can be devastating. And God can use even the most horrible of those results for good. But does that mean that his love desires us to experience those results in the first place? Or would he rather we never rebelled and instead chose to abide?

    I’m not arguing, I’m just working through this. The concept of sin and consequence is a lot easier for me to grasp than love and consequence. In fact, my quest for righteousness has, to some degree, been for the purpose of pain avoidance rather than out of the wellspring of love for God. Certainly not ideal.

  5. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Aaron,

    We can’t read white letters on a white page. Light needs a dark background; think of all the nuances of shade an artist uses.

    Without the human race falling into sin, grace would not be apparent. God has purposed to use the Devil as an unwitting errand boy; “Those who will not be God’s sons become His tools,” said George MacDonald. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He made man, made woman. He placed the two Trees in the Garden. Since He knows the end from the beginning, He knew Eve would take Satan’s bait. Why didn’t He show up and rescue her, or give any prompt to Adam?

    God knew exactly what was going to happen, since He is omniscient. He created the first man and woman knowing full well they would fall, since Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

    This doesn’t mean God authors sin. He gives freedom, and creatures in their freedom choose to misuse it. But He “means evil for good.” Joseph said, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good,” and later Joseph says, “It was not you (his brothers) that sent me here to Egypt – it was God.” He saw God working in all things and even in the completely evil actions of his brothers.

    Job – Satan took God’s bait (again, God’s omniscience knew that he would) and ran off to wipe out Job. This was meant by God to purify Job of the last little bit of self-righteousness.

    There are other passages in the OT that are odd. God says, “Who will be a lying spirit in the mouths of the false prophets for me?” A spirit speaks up and says, “I will.”

    Imagine what this world would be like without any suffering at all.

    We’d never experience hatred of evil.
    We could not choose to love even though we felt like hating the person.
    No one would ever go on a mission trip.
    Without the potential of suffering courage cannot be exercised.
    Jesus would never have been born.

    The Devil is our resistance training.

    A sword has to be heated to white hot levels and then hammered out on the anvil again and again before it gains an ability to be trusted by the swordsman.

    God is building a people He can trust to never do what Lucifer did. They will become the Bride by seeing firsthand the results of Lucifer’s mindset: “I will be like the Most High.” That mindset can be summed up in one word: Separation. “I am a separate being from God with my own purposes and wants and desires. Not Thy will, but My will be done.”

    That’s the mindset we as believers have got to burn out on. That’s the source and wellspring of sin in the believer: “I am a separate self who must find fulfillment, worth, meaning, security by my own devices.” Rather, the mature believer sets his mind in this way: “I am an indwelt cup who has been given everything I need for life and godliness. Worth, meaning, security, fulfillment – all are mine, here and now, in Christ, because I am a new creation, Blood bought and washed son of God, an heir of righteousness.” These truths must be eaten and digested and become part of us.

    Adam, in his original state, was not a sword but just an untempered hunk of metal.

    Is it my will that my children make wrong choices? No. In my father-feelings I want them to make right choices and undergo no suffering. If this feeling is given its head it is called “spoiling my children.” In such a case they stay as babies, expecting everything, learning nothing. Suffering induced through consequences for actions produces a good harvest in the end. Now, I’d rather they always made right choices. But quite often some of the greatest pastors were some of the worst sinners.

    Truth – Reality as defined by God in His multi-dimensional seeing – exists to our finite minds as paradox. Adam and Eve chose to disbelieve God (the first human sin). Their choices have worked out the predestined plan of God to purify a people who will trust Him and rely on His word no matter what.

    You mentioned, “In fact, my quest for righteousness has, to some degree, been for the purpose of pain avoidance rather than out of the wellspring of love for God.”

    This is untrue of any believer, deep down. Now, on the surface, in your soul-life, you may have some fear/unbelief issues somewhere that the Devil uses as a handle. He may get you to have mixed motives. But as we get more and more in contact with who we really are in Christ, and who He is in us, we see a love for God and neighbor begin to explode outward in and through us. That love is the implanted Christ in these human temples.

    We’ve got to get past self-consciousness to see Him in ourselves. But in order to do that we have to “be no longer conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” That mind renewal is simply according our minds with what God says about reality, regardless of what we feel or think about it. When we start doing that, we see that our “false motives” and all that are just a bunch of devilry designed to keep us in the old-man consciousness.

    Best,
    Ron

  6. Jennifer McCallister

    Hi Ron,
    Great article Ron! I always enjoy reading the posts and the comments.

    Our family enjoyed your music at the Feed and Seed. We regret we were
    unable to come on Sunday evening as well. Thanks for the pep
    talk to our son. I haven’t seen him playing video games since- he’s been practicing his music instead!!

    Now, on the subject of the devil being created by God- I have a scripture:
    Isaiah 54:16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.
    17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

    I like verse 17!!
    Yes, God made the devil, and He knew (as He knows all things) that evil and sin would contaminate the human race, but He had a wonderful plan- IN the midst of the darkness, His precious jewels would shine. In fact, it is the pressure, heat, friction, etc that causes God’s children to come forth shining!

    I can sympathize with Stacy and her concern for the friend who believes she must straighten up and live right before she can “be a Christian” I have a relative who quit church and stopped professing Christ as her Savior because she says “I can’t live it, and I’m not going to be a hypocrit.”

    My anology for folks who think the “doing” comes before the “being” : Setting a nice clean pig out with the sheep toTRY to follow the Shepherd does not make it a sheep! AND a sheep doesn’t become a pig when it falls into a mud puddle! I’m a homeschool mom, I’ve found ways to simplify!

    Jen

  7. Aaron Roughton

    Hey Ron,

    Just wanted to say thanks so much for the response, but especially for the encouragement. I have a tendency to wallow in the “devilry designed to keep us in the old-man consciousness” when I’m bumping my head against a spiritual ceiling (right now it’s fear). It’s just easier sometimes.

    I’m still chewing on your response…frustrated…because it’s all stuff I know…and all stuff I think I believe. It’s even stuff I’ve applied in some areas. But as John Ortberg says, there is what you say you believe, what you think you believe, and what you do. And it’s what you do that demonstrates what you actually believe. When it comes to fear, I say one thing about God and do another.

    I’ve been at this a long time, and it’s almost embarrassing to have to take a hard look at my faith and say, ” When am I going to stop being such a spiritual sissy?” So your words that that’s exactly where the devil wants us provided a refreshing outlook.

    Thanks again for taking the time.

    Aaron

  8. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Aaron,

    We all have areas in our psyches where we have been programmed through various circumstances with fear and unbelief. There is no condemnation for that. I’m just coming out of 16 years in a band realizing I’ve “wasted” a lot of time in not developing my own career (recognizing that God doesn’t waste anything, and He “restores the years the locusts have eaten”). We can look at ourselves, our past, and feel we’re stuck, that we’ve blown it, etc. Or we can recognize that God “works ALL things after the counsel of His own will” and that He has meant everything in our lives for good – even the Devil, even when we fall into sin (not that He is responsible for it – we are, because we have failed to rely on Him. But like letting my kids blow it and endure the consequences, it’s a learning experience).

    But here’s the thing; you and I have nothing to do with the past anymore. What we have to deal with is this exact moment we are passing through. And in that moment we can make the choice. We can know what the choice is; we can study the choice; we can talk about the choice. But the bottom line is each one of us can make the choice right now, in whatever area we are struggling, to trust the Lord Jesus Christ and His indwelling power that is beyond anything we can ask or imagine – that power that makes us complete, whole, holy, kings, priests, sons of God, slaves of righteousness, new creations. We can grab hold of that promise right here and now – we can’t do that in the past or the future. That’s where Lewis says, “The present is all lit up with eternal rays.” And Missler – “NOW is where time intersects eternity.”

    Also, any kind of self-condemnation is devilry. Once we begin to grab hold of God’s statements of fact (I no longer live, but Christ lives in me; I’m dead to sin, dead to Law; I’m holy, etc.) we eventually start to recognize self-condemnation as an attack from outside (Devil trying to get a foothold with the arrows of Eph 6).

    I had an attack of devilry the other night, laying in bed thinking about something I’d thoughtlessly said (though without malice). A little bit of self-condemnation began to creep in as I continued ruminating on it (something I’d already confessed and repented and thanked God for cleansing). As the self-condemnation crept in I started thinking of other times when I’d been thoughtless, and the condemning feeling was getting bigger. Suddenly the Lord spoke in my heart and said, “To let a little bit of condemnation in is to open the door to the whole thing.”

    I slammed the door. I want nothing to do with Romans 7 anymore.

    That’s one example of how the devil tries to destroy our reliance on Christ and steal our joy. We’ve got a choice – not a choice of effort or striving, but of faith. Am I going to rely on God, or not? And we have that choice every moment, even after a lifetime of fear. Believe me, Aaron, I’m making the choice every day regarding my own career, realizing I have put everything into the one basket of the band I’m in and haven’t enlarged the borders of my own unique vision. It’s been a total leap out of the comparison game and into “God has things for me to do, and whom the Lord calls He enables.”

    Best,
    Ron

  9. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    I forgot to say one more thing –

    Faith is an act of the will. We often think it is mere knowledge, but as Morpheus said, ‘There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” It’s further complicated in that we can trust God in one area, say with finances, and totally disbelieve Him in another, like with our music, or children, or relationships. But as always, we find a promise that fits our need, grab hold of it, and step out in faith – in other words, we step out our door acting as if the promise is TRUE.

    Ron

  10. J

    Along w/Faith, don’t we need to pray for Grace? Where do you see that fitting in the whole picture?
    It’s amazing how God works, but as I read your posts here, I”m able to apply them to my life and I feel like it’s a small step forward…stepping through the door. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve accepted Christ and given my life over to him, it’s the small things that I”M allowing to stand in my way of total reliance of Christ being indwelt in me.
    Anyway, back to my point, as I read your posts here, I read and study on my own and then as I went to a different church last sunday, guess what the message was about? Romans 6,7 and 8.
    He spoke on the indwelling spirit of God, how we have to allow him to work through us, step out on faith and believe , and to make sure we’re living for the Lord. He mentioned Grace, and that’s where my question lies.
    He said, “How many of you know the Lord, but feel you’re not living just exactly where you need to, you’re not doing all for the Lord that You think you should OR you’re not letting the Lord work through you?”
    Wow…God works…he spoke to me…like I always say, it’s another puzzle piece to where I need to be in my walk spiritually.
    I look forward to your thoughts……

  11. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    J,

    We have God’s grace – His unmerited favor, His power on our lives. We “have everything we need for life and godliness.” What we need, then, is to faithe – to actively trust God by a choice of the will. Not will-power in works-effort, but making the choice of the will to rely on God’s stated Facts and wholeheartedly trust His character to perform that which He has promised.

    Rather than pray for grace as something I haven’t been given, I thank God for grace – for that abundant, all-encompassing provision that bought me, washed me, indwelt me, and now drives and empowers me. Grace will lead me home.

    God is patient with us; He knows we are dust. He knows our frailty and inherent weakness from the inside – because not only did He live here as an ordinary man empowered by the Holy Spirit, but He also created us to be weak containers – apart from Him we can do nothing, and when we will and act in faith, and good works follow, it is really God in us willing and acting according to His good pleasure. Grace is what makes all this possible – God’s unmerited favor, His power to us-ward.

  12. Aaron Roughton

    Ron, a couple things. First, to your point about faith being an act of the will…I remember reading (just barely) the first chapter of Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship where he describes Peter sitting on the edge of the boat. He says that he could no more have stepped into the water without first believing than he could have simply sat on the edge of the boat and rested in that belief as “faith.” Faith is acting upon what you believe. I think the same is true of courage. Courage is doing what you explained that you are currently doing with your musical career…making the choices moment by moment to trust a loving God in the face of fear. Or as John Wayne put it: “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”

    This brings me to the next thing. You mentioned the way that we compartmentalize our faith into different areas…finances, security, service, passions…There are different disciplines that help us to trust God in different areas. The most concrete example I can think of is the discipline of giving. If you desire a more generous heart, follow God’s commands on giving. In my own life this has been an area where God has worked miraculously through my willingness to be obedient. For some reason this doesn’t translate into a freedom from fear in other areas. So my question is this: What concrete things bring about trust and freedom from fear in general? Is it just the daily choices to do what God wants you to do in every area? Or is it throwing yourself intentionally into situations which are decidedly uncomfortable or scary?

    What I’m afraid of (go figure) is that freedom from fear comes through trial by fire. In otherwords, there will be pain involved. Of course that’s simply un-American! I wrote a song a year ago called If There Was a Giant. It was my cry for God to wrap all of the things I was scared of or worrying about into one big “giant” for me to fight. I was just ready to get it over with so I could see God victorious and get on with it. And yet I find myself again bumping into that same wall…singing that same song…not with anything specific…there’s not a choice that I’m facing that requires courage. It’s just a realization that it’s the main barrier to complete freedom in Jesus for me.

    Again, thanks a lot for the responses and the time you’ve put into them. I know it’s precious.

    Aaron

  13. J

    And we are weak containers…b/c I just can’t seem to get it straight on my own…God keeps bringing all this to the table, presenting it all to me in so many different ways…
    Thanks for taking the time to answer my post..
    Oh and on a side note…

    You said, “I’m just coming out of 16 years in a band realizing I’ve “wasted” a lot of time in not developing my own career (recognizing that God doesn’t waste anything, and He “restores the years the locusts have eaten””

    I personally can see the bumper sticker and campaign slogan, “Block for President”…We need some one with their head on straight and with the spirit of the Lord leading them to lead our country…
    Just kidding,,,but in all honesty, I”m so thankful that you take your time to minister to the hearts of so many through your music and your thoughts on here.
    My daughter Gracie, is getting her tonsils out on Monday and for her “surprise” I went and got her a new CD player for her room for all the down time she’s supposed to have, so from my little four year old’s room, I hear “Faraway Land” blasting…You’re even ministering to young hearts. She loves your music (knows all the songs by heart) and I’m so thankful for the messages in your songs, b/c it prompts discussions b/t us.

  14. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Aaron,

    When the Hebrews finally entered the Promised Land (after years of unbelief!) they had to deal with the inhabitants, not en masse, but one group after another. Some of the Canaanites made deals with the Israelites; others were just wiped out.

    It’s important to realize that there is no such thing as generalized fear. When we get right down to it, fear is very specific. For instance, a relative is afraid to fly, and a little less afraid to drive. To me that translates into a fear of death (a healthy fear if we don’t know Christ). My musical stepping-out involves ditching fear – fear of not being “good enough” in certain areas (a comparison mind-game). These fears in me were implanted early on as I didn’t feel “good enough”; when I began playing music the fear just translated right on into my musical life. God dealt with my self-worth “not good enough” in the mid-nineties; He has just recently (in the past two years) finally dealt with my “not good enough” fear in certain musical areas.

    So – no inhabitants of the Promised Land en masse; no fears, or unbelief, or sinful attitudes in us are general. They are all specific, and must be specifically dealt with. The way through, as with the Hebrews, is faith – the labor to enter His Rest. That’s the real deal. We take up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and we take up our Shield of faith (after putting on the full armor of God). Then we march out in faith and in defiance of anything we see inside ourselves; instead, we claim this inner landscape of “I” for Christ because it has already been bought and paid for – and Christ Himself is the enforcer of the title deed.

    That’s what God wants – Calebs and Joshuas. As my old pastor used to say, “The uncommon man.” One who will take God at His Word and step out as an act of the will in action, sustained by the confidence that when God says a thing, He cannot lie. God wants us to move from the little children stage where we’re centered on forgiveness and Father (really still centered on ourselves to a large degree), into the young man stage where we become strong in Christ and overcome the Wicked One. And then we can move into the father stage of Christian experience, where we are begetting sons and daughters because we “know Him who is from the beginning”; in other words we see God working in all things and in/upon all people; we ask of God, and He gives us what we ask for because we are faith-ful and we ask in order to bless others.

    It all starts with the Cross, of course. Grace. Forgiveness. Father. And then Father says, “OK, time to start growing.” Growth hurts sometimes. In 1991 I prayed “Work Your will in my life, no matter what the cost” from Tozer. The cost seemed high at times – but from where I sit it was totally worth it, and I continue to pray that prayer and add others to it as well – “When I stand before You I want to hear ‘Well done.’ Do whatever You have to do in my life to achieve that end.” Because that’s the bottom line – death, and then standing before Christ. We all know we won’t be standing there in our works of human effort, bragging about all we did FOR Christ; those who do that will prove by their words that they didn’t know Him. “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” We’ll be standing there, having trusted in His righteous sacrifice to save us; let it be when we stand there before Him that we also trusted in His indwelling Holy Spirit to be the power within us to fully take the Promised Land of our humanity for His glory and His Kingdom. That’s the labor of faith – not a works trip, but a continual, committed reliance on God and His Word, no matter what our feelings say, no matter what the world or Devil throw at us. And we don’t make deals with the inhabitants within us – unbelief, fear, sinful attitudes. That was Saul’s sin in not wiping out the Amalekites and their king. That kind of compromise only leads to more trouble later on.

    Best,
    Ron

  15. Aaron Roughton

    You’re right. Fear is specific. Maybe the scope of the things I dread is so large that it feels general sometimes. I’m sure this is not the place for me to lay out and work through my specific fears. But this has been an encouraging discussion that directly complements some studies our small group is working through. I look forward to the next step of obedience that I’m asked to take as a faith building step into the arms of a loving God.

    “Trust and obey
    for there’s no other way
    to be happy in Jesus
    than to trust and obey.”

    Thanks for your time Ron. I’ll look forward to the fruit of your obedience with your musical talent.

    Aaron

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