Lamar on Life

From a Christian living in a Gulf country. The Middle East, Arabic, understanding Muslims, outreach to Muslims are to be addressed. In addition, thoughts, reflections, and book reviews will be posted.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

2. You can sin and not know it.
Peter Lord says that this one is also false. He points out that the indwelling Holy Spirit’s assigned task is to convict us of sin. He asks, “Can the Holy Spirit live with me all day watching me sin and say nothing about it?”
This one is a little more difficult for me. I think I generally agree, but there are times I believe when we sin and don’t pay attention to the Spirit’s voice, and we thereby fail to recognize our sin. Our hearts are very tricky, and if we aren’t walking in the Spirit we will fail to recognize sin.
But what is meant by “conviction by the Spirit” whereby our sins are pointed out to us? Many times the voice that we think is the Spirit convicting us is not actually the Spirit at all. It is a voice of condemnation. The difference can be discerned in two ways:
1) It is general rather than specific, pointing out a general lack of character or “holiness” but not indicating a specific sin.
2) It is a voice that puts you down instead of showing you the way to restoration. It can leave you feeling discouraged and hopeless rather than showing how you can confess, make restitution, and be restored.
This voice of condemnation may be from your own psyche, or from those around you, or from the enemy of our souls, “the accuser of the brethren.” In any case, the Spirit’s work in you is to “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13) The Spirit’s work is not to leave you in Romans chapter 7.
There is also the issue of maturity. Maturity is something that comes as we submit to God’s discipline, training, and instruction. As parents we don’t expect a baby to be unselfish. We don’t say, “We love little junior, but he is very rude and inconsiderate. He keeps insisting we set aside our agenda to cater to his every whim -- even in the middle of the night! We never expected to get such a sinful, evil baby.” And so as it is with junior, there is a lot of room for growth in us, even after the new birth and transformation of our nature. Behavior acceptable for an immature Christian is not the same as what is acceptable for a mature one.
Do you feel that you can not please God? Well, it could be one of two things. Romans 8:8 says, “Those controlled by the sinful nature can not please God.” This is true of anyone who “does not have the Spirit of Christ.” They can not please God. Or, another possibility is that your feelings are tricking you. God may indeed be “rejoicing over you with singing,” but you are listening to other voices.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Here are my thoughts on the quiz questions, starting with number one.

1. A good description of a Christian is a “sinner saved by grace.”

Peter Lord says that this one is FALSE. This phrase appears nowhere in the Bible, and while it may be an accurate statement, it is an inaccurate description. In other words, it accurately describes what happened to you, but it is does not describe who you are as someone whom God has transformed into a new creature. The Bible ofetn describes Christians as saints - “holy ones.” He points out that the emphasis on still being a sinner is contrary to how God describes who you are now. But what about those who say that Romans 7 describes the Christian life? Paul writes, “I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.” and “What a wretched man I am!” But is this really how Paul describes his spiritual condition? Or rather, is he describing the human condition in general? Romans 8 makes the answer clear; vs. 9 for example, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit...”

I agree whole-heartedly with Lord (and THE Lord as well, I believe). I think Christians hang on to this description of themselves as a “sinner saved by grace” for several reasons -- it sounds humble, it keeps them from being disappointed with themselves, it seems to give all credit to God for their salvation, etc. However, what it reveals is unbelief and a partial rejection of the full salvation of Christ, akin to the sentiment revealed in the old bumper sticker, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” Our great salvation is much more than forgiveness; it is a complete transformation. Those who refuse to believe this truth will also refuse to walk in it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Peter Lord, a writer and pastor from Florida, gives a quiz at the beginning of his book, Turkeys and Eagles. Take it and tell me what you think. The first 9 are True or False questions.

1. A good description of a Christian is "a sinner saved by grace."
2. You can sin and not know it.
3. It is normal for a Christian to sin every day.
4. A bad thought is a sin.
5. It is easier for a christian to sin than to do right.
6. The closer we get to Christ, the less we will be tempted.
7. We get closer to Christ through acts of righteousness.
8. Sainthood is attained by only a few Christians.
9. To be tempted is a sign of inward sinfulness.
10. How many sins have you committed today? (You may approximate.)
11. How many acts of righteousness have you committed today?
12. How righteous is Christ on a scale of 1-100?
13. How righteous are you on a scale of 1-100?