Monday, July 6, 2009

Obey or burn

"Obedience". A word Christian religion (or any religion, for that matter) is fascinated about. I have searched the Bible looking for the various techniques to implement obedience as I began my serious Christian walk. Later on, I found this verse : "train yourself to be godly" ( 1 Timothy 4:7). I heard it over and over from a radio preacher and every single time I listened to his sermon, I used to get all motivated. Motivated to 'train' myself to be godly. I figured out that, what is lacking in my Christian life was nothing but a strict, hard-core obedience. if I can make that happen, I would be the most happiest person in the world, I thought.

I pictured myself as a person preparing for an Olympic race. The preacher kept on preaching about the pain, struggle and commitment each Olympic medal winner goes through before they get to their final race. He said, its all worth when we win.

I wanted to win the gold medal. You know, at the time of judgment.

I considered Bible as my coach. I looked for instructions - moral, spiritual, social, behavioral, even dietary guidelines (there was time in my life I stopped eating pork). At any cost, I had to win in the final analysis.

As I jumped through each loops of obedience, I felt so good. I felt proud about myself. I felt proud about my religion. As a result of being strong, committed and ultra self-righteous, I started looking down on people who didn't obey like I did. You know, those sinners! I knew they were going to burn in hell. I couldn't wait to see that.

I had this picture in my mind that God is going to weigh all our obedience on a scale and then make a decision about our eternity.

Can you relate to the never ending cycle of self-analysis? Analyzing each thoughts, decisions and actions. It is a pre-occupation with self. If you had to watch my life, the destructive narcissism was so evident in everything I said and did.

In all my vigorous 'godliness-training', I missed the whole point. Each day, I was dragging my filthy rags to God and making myself a fool for missing out His love and the forgiveness provided on the cross. I labored from the OT premise of "master-slave" mentality and terribly failed to see the beautiful, new covenant-based "Father-son" relationship.

Each time I declared my righteousness through obedience, I was making the cross of Christ a mockery.

Within few years, I was burned out. I felt miserable like hell. As I failed more and more in my attempts to obey, my self-righteousness started turning into self-hatred. The more I failed, the more I felt like rejected by God. My question was, I am genuinely trying to obey His tenants, why is he letting me fail?

It was a never ending cycle of self-righteousness, arrogance, pride, self-pettiness and depression.

I don't want to go there anymore. I am learning to live from the Life within. I want to to be internally driven, not externally. There are no abilities residing in my flesh to live a righteous Christian life, so I leave it to Jesus who lives in me. I am going to trust Him to do it for me, through me. After all, he has called us to a rest (Sabbath rest), not to a struggle.


Jamie said...

My most favoritest post!! Can't we all relate?? I won't tell Ryan about the pork though... LOL!


Bino M. said...

Jamie - Thanks! Have you ever wondered, what if all Christians in America stop eating pork? :)

I have always wondered what those 600+ laws were. Recently I found a list on free believer's site: All 613 Commandments.

theoldadam said...

NO ONE obeys. Not one.

The law (in preaching) out to be used as a mirror to point out that we need a Savior.

It should never be used in order to 'make people better'.

When the law is used to condemn (yuo failed to live as God demands you live) a poverty of spirit, or humility should come about.

Then the gospel, handed over freely (NO to-do lists) makes alive again through that Word of forgiveness. It refreshes us, brings us new life.

I think that is proper Law/Gospel.

jiaeenn29 said...

AMEN!! =) I love this post. That was what I tried to do. But I've rested since 05/07/08. Praise the Lord!

Bino M. said...

Steve - Thanks for stopping by!

Bino M. said...

jiaeenn29 - I am glad you liked the post. Thanks for visiting!

theoldadam said...

Thank you, Bino!

Joel B. said...

"...the destructive narcissism was so evident in everything I said and did."

"Each time I declared my righteousness through obedience, I was making the cross of Christ a mockery."

I hear ya, and you're right on! That's religion for ya. Anything that we glory in or rely upon other than Christ's finished work is making a mockery of the cross!

Bino M. said...

Joel - As the book of Hebrews says, it is "insulting the Spirit of grace" (10:29). Unfortunately, so many Christians, when they boast about their obedience, that is exactly what they are doing...

Rich said...

The Jews said regarding 'this Jesus' we will not let him rule over us!
Many within Christendom are saying from their hearts re: this Jesus, we will not let Him rule from within!

If we're not possessed of Christ, what does it matter how beautiful our profession is?

As a man thinks in his heart, so IS he.

Bino~I loved what you shared...thanks!

Ike said...

". . . the holiness without which no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

"No unclean thing, nothing that defileth or is defiled, shall ever be brought into the glorious presence of this holy God. There is no imagination wherewith mankind is besotted more foolish, none so pernicious, as this, that persons not purified, not sanctified, not made holy in this life should afterward be taken into that state of blessedness which consists in the enjoyment of God. There can be no thought more reproachful to his glory, nor more inconsistent with the nature of the things themselves, for neither can such persons enjoy him, nor would God himself be a reward unto them. They can have nothing whereby they should adhere unto him as their chiefest good, nor can they see anything in him that should give them rest and satisfaction, nor can there by any medium whereby God should communicate himself unto them, supposing them to continue thus unholy, as all must do who depart out of this life in that condition. Holiness, indeed, is perfected in heaven, but the beginning of it is invariably and unalterably confined to this world, and where this fails, no hand shall be put into that work in eternity."

John Owen, Works, III:574-575.

Bino M. said...

Rich - As always, I appreciate you coming by and reading my posts...

Bino M. said...

Ike - How are we purified? How are we sanctified? Where does our holiness come from?

No unclean thing, nothing that defileth or is defiled, shall ever be brought into the glorious presence of this holy God.


That is why Christ Jesus came down, gave us this gift (of righteousness) so that HE can present us blameless in the sight of God.

Joel B. said...

Amen Bino! If it's up to US to maintain our holiness, or to maintain a life that is free from being 'unclean' or 'defiled,' then we're toast! If the finished work of Jesus hasn't already accomplished it, then nothing else will!

Ike said...

Ike - How are we purified? How are we sanctified? Where does our holiness come from?

Ezekiel 36:25-27, "Then "I" will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; "I" will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from your idols. Moreover, "I" will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and "I" will remove the heart of flesh. "I" will put My Spirit within you and cause (make) you to walk in My statutes, and you "will" (not maybe) be careful to observe My ordinances.

"He" who began a good work...will finish it. If there is no work of sanctification in a persons life...they are lost.

Matthew 7:21, Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord,Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

Bino...if you study Matthew chapter is saying that of all the people who "emphatically" (Lord,Lord) call Me Lord....of these people....only a "few" are genuine. Go to verse 23 "DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS".

Don't turn this around and say that I am talking about a "works" salvation....but those whom the Lord has saved by grace through faith..."will" as a lifestyle...obey their Lord. Too many people (I'm not saying you) have a buddy relationship with Jesus. God's Word says that we can call Him our friend...IF we obey His commandments (John 14:15). How do we do it.....we don't...He does it by His grace.

Matthew Campbell said...

Ike, you imply Bino is saying that we continue sinning as we used to. Bino isn't arguing against obedience and you know that.

All we are trying to say is obedience comes from a foundation of grace. Obedience is simply faith expressing itself through love.

This is no different theology. We're just reaffirming what you heard at the beginning. We're repeating exactly what Romans says. And you are asking the exact question Paul assumes people will ask. "Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?"

The answer is: How can we? We are slaves of righteousness. We were once slaves to sin (we loved to sin) but now we're slaves to righteousness (we love to do good works).

It isn't about fear of hell. If you are still doing things from fear, then your works and zeal are not based on a proper knowledge of God.

Joel B. said...


In regards to this talk you're talking... are you Jesus' friend?

Ike said...

Matt...all I did was quote Scripture. Bino knows me well enough to realize that I try to create some thought to a well balanced view of what the Bible teaches. I personally am a calvinist....although that is often very misunderstood. I also think the greatest mission field is the American evangelical church which has reduced salvation down to a few spiritual laws that you must know and a superstitious pray. do not have to "defend" Bino...I consider him a brother in Christ and we do disagree in some area's.

Joel...from what little I know about will not agree with my answer. When I sin...and I do...I confess that sin. I believe that a genuine christian will continue in confessing and continue to repent. So I would answer your question with a yes. And in regards to you saying "my" talk...for the most part I quoted Scripture.

Bino M. said...

Ike -

I don't think Matthew was trying to defend me or anything. I think he was addressing one of the major opposition against the message of grace - that somehow it promotes licentious sinning. I don't know why so many Christians are so sin-conscious. I think sin-conscious people are very insecure. Or may be it is their insecurity (in God's love) what makes them so sin-conscious. They still can't believe god loves them on the sole basis of Christ's redemptive work (not on the basis of what they do or don't do).

I see your zeal for obedience and I am not against obedience. The issue is how is it achieved? The essence of my post, which is in the last paragraph is this:

I am learning to live from the Life within. I want to to be internally driven, not externally. There are no abilities residing in my flesh to live a righteous Christian life, so I leave it to Jesus who lives in me. I am going to trust Him to do it for me, through me.

You see that, Ike?


You said "I believe that a genuine Christian will continue in confessing and continue to repent."

Well, I believe a genuine Christian will continue to rest in the fact that their sins are already forgiven and thank God for the same in all their life.

Joel B. said...

Ok, Ike, if you think that 'confessing your sins' and 'repenting' ('changing your behavior') is going to do something that the blood of Jesus didn't already do, and you really want to hang your salvation on that, then I guess I can't stop you.

Joel B. said...

To clarify what I mean, now that I have a bit of time to write, all of our salvation hangs upon the blood of Jesus, not upon our changing our ways or 'confessing' sins.

True repentance... metanoia... means "to change your perspective, to adjust your thinking." "Repent (metanoia) and believe the gospel." As for 1 John 1:9, we seem to see it as some formula for getting God to forgive us each time we sin. We think that if we confess (which is usually taken to mean "admit" or "concede"), then God will come in and cleanse us and forgive us. Truth is, we have already been cleansed and forgiven of ALL sin, and there is no 'confession' or 'repentance' that can add to what has already happened.

My question about how well you're doing gets to the point of what I think Jesus was doing in Matthew 5 through 7, and many other places in which He was talking to those who were under the law, not to Christians. Paul later revealed the truth that "whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped and the whole world become guilty before God." Jesus used the law perfectly, as it was intended to be used. To stop mouths, and to show the world its guilt. The Sermon on the Mount, which magnified the Law, is not a "Christian" teaching. It's a "law" teaching. It led TO the cross, but ended at the cross.

And so if anyone talks the talk of Matthew 5 thru 7, I'm sure as heck curious as to how well they actually think they're doing! Hopefully it will lead them to the end of themselves, so to speak, and turn to faith and trust solely in the finished work of Jesus, and not to what they can add to it, including "repentance" and "confession."

We are now Jesus' friends because all the laws and commandments have been fulfilled in Him and He LIVES IN US! The fullness of God lives in us, by faith, not by what we've ever done. We have become partakers of the divine nature, not by our works or 'repentance' or 'confession of sins,' but by faith alone in the finished work of Jesus.

Matthew Campbell said...

Well said, Joel.

The whole of the sermon on the mount as Joel said, is meant show people the futility of attaining righteousness through the law and simply by amplifying the law, Jesus stopped the mouths of all those who made their boast in it.

Indeed, whoever hears Jesus' words and does not do them is like a man who built his house on the sand.

The point is simple: You better be perfect if you insist on keeping the law.

"Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law?"

"If your right eye causes you to sin, PLUCK IT OUT" or else you're going to face the judgment of God in hell. "The soul that sins shall die".

The law doesn't allow for second chances. It doesn't allow for people to try their best. It only allows for perfection, and rightfully so.

If you are under the law, you are under the consequences of breaking it.

Joel B. said...

Wise words, Matthew. I can 'see' and 'understand' why people default to looking at the Sermon on the Mount as a "Christian" teaching. After all, it was Jesus, their Savior, who was doing the talking.

But after so long I began looking at the absolute impossibility of anyone actually following through on all that was being said, and I also realized that I know NO ONE who is standing on the "solid ground" of following all that Jesus was saying. Either there is an elite few who can actually do it, and heaven will be virtually empty, OR it will all be based upon nothing less than the finished work of Jesus!