To Keep You From Doing Your Will

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:17 ESV)

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:13-25 ESV)

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
(Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar. (Psalm 51 ESV)

The greatest fear of David was that God would take from him the Holy Spirit. Of course, what he meant by that can be summed up in the NT teaching of:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Recently in a sermon on the Lord’s prayer my pastor taught in principle that there is no “lump sum grace.” I have called it carte blanche grace. Historically, it is more or less known as imputed grace, “the force,” if you will, which is assistive and can be cashed in at anytime if one so wills. But there is no such thing, according to Scripture, and thus the prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” This has been considered to be merely petition for daily provision of food, or those physical needs which sustain our biological life. But, there is a greater meaning, for man does not live by bread alone. If we look at David’s Psalm we will see the very pattern of the Lord’s prayer including that God’s will be done. If we look to Paul, we also see the very same. That in everything, we are so dependent upon God’s provision, Paul makes clear, that it is only in the mind where we can truly serve the law of God, for our sin is ever before us. Because we are in the flesh, it must be according to the Spirit that the deeds of the flesh are put to death. He wars for us. Therefore, we pray, you kingdom come, your will be done, because our will is opposed to his and so we cannot do what we please even if it pleases him, but only according to his good pleasure will we do anything. David’s life, he says in Psalm 139, was written for him, even the very words of his mouth, and in fifty-one, also, the very words of the lips are formed by God. He speaks as one who wants to be carried, not as one who carries. Born along by the Spirit, David proclaims, is every moment of every day a dependence upon the providential care of God’s meticulous design. Even his very words. So, he prays that God will not take the Holy Spirit from him, for that would spell catastrophe.

Daily provision might further be explained as all that pertains to life, not just the physical, but the spiritual as well. We see in the petitions at least four other parts- forgiveness of sin, contriteness, submission, and deliverance. The whole is predicated upon God’s sovereignty as our Father, enthroned in heaven, transcendent, whose kingdom is coming into being by his will. And why? Even though the closing doxology is not found in the majority texts, it appropriates the invocative doxology in that it is God’s eternal kingdom, by his power, for his glory, in which he has decreed his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What does this have to do with depravity?

As David acknowledges, and as the Lord’s prayer does also, it is God, who by the Spirit grants all things, sustains all things and determines all things. This day’s provision reminds us of the creation narrative in Genesis. When we read that we cannot do as we will, it comes as a shock to most believers. Why, they say, has God regenerated us, but leaves us unable to do what he commands? That is not quite accurate, we do what he wills. That is the point. If it were left to our wills we would not do what he commands. Instead, he works in us the willing and the doing of his good pleasure, not our own. He creates in us a new heart, upholds our spirit as we do and that ability is by the moment sustained by his power.

We find in us always the allurement of sin, even as believers. So, Paul says, even if we wanted to do good, we are unable because evil is present in us at all times. So also, when we do not want to do evil we find ourselves unable in our own strength to resist. It makes for a wretched existence except for the proviso that Paul offers in Christ. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians that we have been given the mind of Christ and his Spirit that we might understand the things of God. In Romans, Paul explains that it is in the mind where we serve God. At all times, believers are unable except as God enables. Thus we must pray, give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us, this very day. Even when we do good, it is tainted with sin. The greatest of saints still has enough evil in him to make another devil, it has been said. If and when there is true righteousness done by us, it is the Spirit who has done it, for we are sinners at our core.

Then how is it that when we are commanded to do good, we do at times? While it is true that we have been given a new nature, the manner of that gifting is often left undiscussed. So much so that we find the lump sum grace idea fills the void. We are told that the graces God has imparted are ours to use as we will, denying the Spirit’s sovereignty in them.

We often hear of the now not yet reality with which Scripture characterizes the situation of the believer in this between times as we await the appearance of our Lord. As believers we know God, or better, are known by him, and by that know ourselves to be sinners even as Scripture declares us saints. In speaking of the Spirit’s work, Paul says that it is the Spirit who endows, it is the Spirit who works, and it is the Spirit who will sanctify. To state it succinctly, it is the Spirit who is restraining evil in us while working the willing and doing of good deeds from the first repentance and faith to the final transfiguration at the Lord’s appearing. Calvin speaks of the Spirit of regeneration when he speaks of the new heart, and Ezekiel tells us that the new heart which we have been given is His Spirit. Or as Paul has said, God has given us his Spirit that we might understand. Or, out of the heart flows the issues of life, or, with the heart one believes. David’s plea becomes understandable, then, if God were to remove the restraining power of the Spirit, he would again fall to the temptations which caused him to steal, kill, and destroy. So, also, with us. If God does not prevent us we will do the will of our flesh.

There is then a mystery about the new man which seems to go along with 1 Corinthians 15. That, for now we exist as perishable. That, we are corruptible in thought and deed cannot be denied. It is only in the resurrection where it is said that we will be incorruptible. But, we are told to now consider ourselves dead and alive in Christ, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. Then it is now, also, where we are dead in trespasses, he makes us alive in Christ, by the Spirit. For what is impossible for a dead man, God has done by his Spirit when he raised Christ from the dead. Though now it remains that we are in and of ourselves, dead, unable to do the good we want, or to resist the evil we do not want, by the Spirit we have been set free so that in the mind we serve God while in the flesh we serve sin. In all ways we are set free in Christ Jesus who for us was condemned so we are not. Knowing that we have been set free is the private property of the spiritual man, who alone desires to please God. Those who are unspiritual cannot. Indeed, they refuse to.

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?”
“O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:50-58 ESV)

What we must note in this passage is that it cannot be solely speaking of the material, but of the immaterial, as well. For the material cannot sin, nor is it inherently sinful, even though it is subject to the effects of sin which plagues the creation. Beside, the context is found in the beginning of the chapter, speaking of the resurrection, that we who were dead in sin were made alive in Christ. We find here that sin’s effect is death and it is the law which empowers it. We sin. And when we do we are judged and we die. We are not left there. What we also find is that the victory over the powers of sin and death has been granted us through Christ. That it is against him we have sinned, that judgement begins with the household of God, that we are being disciplined as sons, that we are made alive in him, that we are granted in him to declare his righteousness and not our own, is all owing to the fact that we are depraved from the womb, and that having our sins blotted out by him, it is even his doing that our lips will sing his praises. What God has done in us through Christ we proclaim, not what we have done. It is that Gospel which David exalts when he says that he will teach sinners God’s way. Sinners, like himself. The victory belongs to Christ, for sinners cannot please God.

The fact that the believer remains in a state of depravity throughout his life is found everywhere in Scripture, it is thus we find in both the OT and the NT, that it is the Holy Spirit to which we must look if we are to do at all any labor which is not in vain. It has been granted us to not only to believe but also that we may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus, to the glory and praise of God alone. The good work begun in us by the Spirit is completed by him and not by us through our flesh. The Spirit began it, it is the Spirit who works it, and it is the Spirit who will bring it to completion all for the glory of God through Jesus’ work on our behalf.

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. (1 Peter 4:1-6 ESV)

No Good Christians

This sanctification is throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life: there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh…

Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure; yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them…

…and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they can not endure the severity of God’s judgement…

…Yet notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him, not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

via Tabular Comparison of 1646 WCF and 1689 LBCF.

Derek Thomas, (opens MP3) who will be here in Cheyenne for a weekend conference at Northwoods Presbyterian, explains how depravity is in every part a wholly corrupting influence, even as believers.

How then can we bear such a burden?

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

We all know the temptation to reach out and steady the Ark of God when by all appearances God’s providential care of his promise is about to fail. What an error it is to reach out, however, and touch what alone belongs to God. His sanctification of us, is alone his work, a work given to the Spirit by the Father on the account of Christ’s perfected work on our behalf through Jesus our Mediator and High Priest. Hear the writer of Hebrews:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)

He is there now, ever making intercession on behalf of the saints. The throne of Christ is now our home, nestled in the Holy of Holies. We have boldly entered there through the veil of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, who is our holiness. Other than that, we have nothing with which we can stand before God. No holiness, no hope:

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:12-14 ESV)

This then is your spiritual service of worship, that knowing yourself to be a sinner, you offer yourself as a servant of Righteousness, to obey him and not your flesh. The problem, however, is that we often think we have achieved, and when that happens, we either display the woeful effects of Christian Pharisaism, going on for what is often a long time in our self-assurance and exaltation above others, or we fall to despair in the hopeless morass of seeking to please God by our own efforts.

The unfortunate case with much Christian depression is found in those who live under the heavy hammer of self-sanctification. There is a hopeless futility in laboring to no lasting good, exercising the external man, perfecting only the white-washing of the outside of the sepulchre. Inside is still a dead man’s bones- Christian bones. The inward circumcision of the heart is a fine work, accomplished by the Sword of the Spirit, not the bloody mess of hammering out ones own circumcision of the flesh by the flesh. It is a finished work, too, one that is becoming evident, though it may seem ever so slow in the life of one who has made God’s hand the wielder of the Machaira and has laid down his own blunt instrument. Slow, but the inevitable promise is that when we see him, we will, without doubt, be like him.

The fact is, that if it were not for God’s restraining grace in the life of believers, we would fare much worse than we do. It was his Spirit who raised us while we were dead and gave us life while we were yet sinners. And it is his Spirit that continues to work in us the willing and doing of his good pleasure. Indeed, the Spirit wars against the flesh, so that we do not do as we will. And it is a good thing that we do not have free-will. If it were not for the Spirit, all Geenah in us would break out. Even in the world we find the Spirit is now restraining evil, 2 Thessalonians 2:7, and just so, he works in us the very same, restraining the evil that we would be, but with a precious promise attached:

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 ESV)

As the confessions rightly acknowledge, all good that we do, which has any standing before God, is done by the Spirit. All the good we do, in as much as it is we who do it, is sin-mixed, for the same reason that before we were regenerated we could do nothing of which God approved, for it issued out of a nature wholly against the righteousness of God. We, who have no righteousness of our own, can do no good, by the very definition, that we are without righteousness. We have received a righteousness which is not of our doing, not of us, which does not issue out of our being, and all of what it does, from our first inkling of faith and repentance towards God, and the subsequent exercises of good works, whatever is acceptable by God is not a righteousness that is our own, but a righteousness which is found in Christ and works through us by the same Spirit which raised him from the dead. So it is written, that by his resurrection we are given newness of life to walk in holiness.

As Ezekiel relates:

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.(Ezekiel 36:22-27 ESV)

Paul finalizes the hope:

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

It is he and not we who do good. In our hearts we honor Christ the Lord as Holy, alone, by the Spirit, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in us. For it is not we, our works, nor our righteousness that we exalt, but the hope of the ages promised before time who has made us fit for good works that we might walk in them. We do not have a righteousness of our own, but a righteousness which is from God, and by God, to the glory of God alone. That’s why we sing:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyes shall close in death,
[originally When my eye-strings break in death]
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Illegal Aliens, Professional Pedophilia, No Borders, One Big Incest U S Family

This redefinition of childhood innocence as “fantasy” is key to the defining down of the deviance of pedophilia that permeated college campuses and beyond. Drawing upon the language of postmodern theory, those working to redefine pedophilia are first redefining childhood by claiming that “childhood” is not a biological given. Rather, it is socially constructed—an historically produced social object. Such deconstruction has resulted from the efforts of a powerful advocacy community supported by university-affiliated scholars and a large number of writers, researchers, and publishers who were willing to question what most of us view as taboo behavior.

Postmodern theorists are primarily interested in writing that evokes the fragmentary nature of experience and the complexity of language. One of the most cited sources for this is the book Male Intergenerational Intimacy: Historical, Socio-Psychological and Legal Perspectives. This collection of writings by scholars, mostly European but some with U.S. university affiliations, provides a powerful argument for what they now call “intergenerational intimacy.” Ken Plummer, one of the contributors, writes that “we can no longer assume that childhood is a time of innocence simply because of the chronological age of the child.” In fact, “a child of seven may have built an elaborate set of sexual understandings and codes which would baffle many adults.”

Claiming to draw upon the theoretical work of the social historians, the socialist-feminists, the Foucauldians, and the constructionist sociologists, Plummer promised to build a “new and fruitful approach to sexuality and children.” Within this perspective there is no assumption of linear sexual development and no real childhood, only an externally imposed definition.

Decrying “essentialist views of sexuality,” these writers attempt to remove the essentialist barriers of childhood. This opens the door for the postmodern pedophile to see such behavior as part of the politics of transgression. No longer deviants, they are simply postmodern “border crossers.” . . .

Obama Spits In The Face Of God: Merry Christ Mass Sodomy: Be Calm And Carry On

Obama spits in the face of God as Hillary forces other nations to become like Sodom. In the recording you will hear an interesting question. What was it like in Sodom leading up to the visitation? You understand the parallel, don’t you? I have argued, that to allow the orientation is to submit to it. In other words you cannot justify not engaging in the activity once you have accepted it as a viable alternative. Saying you don’t engage in the activity is quite different from saying you wouldn’t. There is a totally different reasoning that goes in to either one. The first admits at least a willingness to participate as a finding that the permission of the activity is right and good. The second finds something repugnant about the activities and impermissible. Using the people’s money to force other countries to fornicate, in a way makes everyone in the U.S. like Sodom.

Keep calm and carry on.

What’s A Christian Got To Do With Black Friday’s Violent Narcissistic Greed?

Across the country on Thursday and Friday, there were signs that tensions had ratcheted up a notch or two, with violence resulting in several instances.

via Information & News from TCPalm.com (Stuart, FL).

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24 ESV)

You Are The Idols Of Your Heart

The love of God teaches us to repent of our “need for love,” seeing it as a lust, receiving merciful real love, and beginning to learn how to love rather than being consumed with getting love.

via Idols of the Heart and “Vanity Fair” | CCEF.

Denying self is central to the call to repentance. Too often what is called repentance is focus on legalistic minutiae when the real idol is you.

Repentance & Personal Transformation, White Horse Inn

Occupy This Frankly

Pyromaniacs: Open Letter to the #Occupy Movement.

 

…we define poverty in an opulent way…  because we’re greedy.

That’s right: the problem is not that “they” are greedy – whoever “they” are (the bankers, the capitalists, the stock traders, but apparently not the movie moguls, the actors, the politicians and pop stars) — but that we are greedy…  There was a time when we would say it isn’t “fair”, but today we say it’s actually an injustice — as if “justice” has anything to do with us getting something we didn’t actually earn.

So I say all that to say this: your problem… is actually in your own heart — and your accuser is… the billions who look at you incredulously and see you complaining that you have a silver spoon in your mouth rather than a platinum one. Your problem is the problem of all mankind, which is sin.

Queen Marine Your Future Has Been Seen

Grinnell College dorms: Where gender doesn’t matter | The Des Moines Register | DesMoinesRegister.com.

You might wonder where DADT was leading. Long ago the slippery slope was warned about. From being sold out by the psychological community in the 70′s to the wholesaling of sexual perversion on campus, we’ve come a long way, baby, down hill. It won’t be long, now, until Queen Marine becomes a reality.

Brought to you by Unisex, were everything comes out the same in the end.