Chronicles of Diversity

Building sanctifcation, Part 2
August 16, 2006, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Weekly Columns

16 August 2006; Volume 8, Issue 25

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Since we live in an age of conspiracies and counter conspiracies, we might think that the tensioned link between Romans Chapter 7 and 8 is a plot to undermine established American Evangelicalism.

I was reading an article last week that stated that two of the featured people were revolutionists, not revolutionaries. Trying to find out the difference, I launched a small information insurgency into the internet. As best I could determine from the context, a revolutionist is less violent, more politically correct, but still seeking substantial change in the culture. That could be secular, religious or a combination of the two. Revolutionists however, are still seeking a new world order, just like revolutionaries.

Within Christianity and much of evangelicalism, there is a growing clamor for a new Reformation of the church. This is in part because much of Protestantism has become no different doctrinally, and just as decadent as the Roman Catholic church of Luther’s day. These people may call themselves reformers or reformists, attempting to bring about a modern Reformation.

While I may be somewhat an out spoken individual on some of these points, I do not believe we need a new revolution or a new reformation, what we really need to do is get back to the basics, not create something new and better. King Solomon perhaps said it best, “Their is nothing new under the sun, and everything is nothing but vanity.”

We all seem to run around humming the song, “Your so vain, you probably think this song is about you.” The problem is of course the old saying, “When you point your finger at someone else, three are pointing back at you.” The revolutionary concept of our day however, is that we no longer believe that this is true. In our current age we may believe that those three pointing fingers really don’t mean me, or perhaps they point that I am truly three times more intelligent, hence it isn’t vanity at all, but simple superiority.

So fitting within that superior concept, I have adopted the title of “Reformationist” as opposed to a reformer or a reformist. A Google search returns only a little over 600 hits for a reformationist, and a great many of them attributed to “the Reformationist” not me, but a distinct individual. Again as I have defined the term a reformationist, they are uniquely different from the masses of reformers, reformists, revolutionaries, or revolutionists. The reformationist, does not seek to develop new revelations of a higher order, but to accentuate the basics. In this case the essential doctrines of the historic Protestant faith.

So what separates the Reformationist’s movement from all the vain attempts to move Christianity in one direction or another? The key lies in Paul’s unity in writing the book of Romans, and specifically the tension between Chapters 7 and 8. The specific point being anyone who tells you that he or she can differentiate between, the work of God on the one hand and the work of his own fleshly vain desires is not telling the truth, but is succumbing to the control of his own vanity.

Virtually all the time these so called sanctimonious insights are based upon redefining works under the law as the basis for us rising to God’s holiness. “I don’t do these things and neither should you.” But where is the grace and the true diversity of human possibilities?

However, Paul doesn’t separate the things of the spirit from the things of the flesh. He succinctly states that the things we do for God are so encompassed by sin that we can’t tell where the flesh leaves off and the work of the Spirit begins. As stated last week when you try to develop that distinction you move from resting in Christ Jesus’ righteousness and rest upon your own understanding. In that process you lose the power, to truly live a life without condemnation as stated in Romans 8:1. Therefore over time, you must work harder and harder to fulfill the law’s requirements, eventually becoming legalistic. Then you try to place your burdens on others, who wisely reject this notion, leaving you without friends, which you further justify as persecution.

Something so simple we have spun so many ways that we have a world full of bad revolutionaries, lousy revolutionists, poor reformers, and mediocre reformists, and virtually no awesome reformationists.

If you haven’t gathered it already this distinctiveness of reformationists is just an attempt to show that whatever handle we may put on what we do is not so important, what is important is that we really are incapable of fully understanding our motivations in virtually everything we do.

This concept of moving beyond human reason, is not something that comes easy to western culture and individuals. It contributes greatly to what radical Islam considers the “great satan” that they are trying to destroy. They can truthfully see that there is no room for God in what we call grace, but the distinction is between western atheism and Islamic theism. If Allah, or God is not the center of your life, them by definition you can not be a religious person. But they too are motivated by the guilt of not resting in Christ’s finished work, because they do not understand, they can not truly contemplate a gospel that seems to rest on materialism rather than God. In that bondage they seek to make converts forcefully to Islam, and when the whole world accepts that concept the Islamic work will be completed.

There are probably countless distinctions where we honestly can not determine the difference between our fleshly nature and where God’s Spirit prompts us. Recently in my own life two of those predominate, one is with anger the other is with the concept of waiting on God.

About a month ago a semi-truck from one of the large grocery chains moved into the lane of traffic I was driving in and took off the drivers side mirror. Accidents do happen in the world. I don’t know the reason why the driver moved into my lane, but instead of admitting his mistake, or even saying that he didn’t think he was in my lane, he stated that I was trying to cut in front of his truck to pass a bus.

Now as best as I can understand his explanation of the event, we must move him well beyond just an ordinary truck driver into the realm of at least Super-hero. He must have been able to read my mind, (while driving a small Saturn, I was trying to pull in front of his big tractor with a 54’ long trailer, so that I could pass an equally large bus stopped at an bus stop over a block away).

Not only was this driver a mind reader, he also had xray vision. From his elevated position in the cab of the truck, not only could he see that the front wheels of his tractor were in his lane, (because he must have seen the line striping), he also could see my car, which during the time of the incident and because of the traffic was all the time out of his normal vision (because of the engine cowling and the tractor’s engine). Also because of this supernatural vision gift, while I was in front of his mirrors, I presume he could also see that I was in his lane.

Needless to say I was furious with his tale. Not only was my integrity being challenged, the driver was lying to the extent it would have been humorous, except to the damage to the mirror of my tiny little Saturn. I sent a well reasoned response to my insurance company and later to the Risk Management person of the food chain, stating that because of their drivers negligence I expected them to fix my drivers side mirror, (total insurance replacement cost including tax, $111. and change, well below my deductible.)

After not hearing from the Risk Management person for a couple of weeks, I sent him and email asking what was up. A few days later I got a letter from him, (of course dated the day before I sent the email, but taking two days to get from Bellevue to Seattle), stating that they had agreed with their mind reading driver, I was at fault.

Needless to say I was even more angry. Since they are a self insured company, and having spent more than a few years in corporate America, I understand that it costs a lot of money for them to write a check of any size. I further understand that it also costs money to investigate properly any incident. I also checked with the state Insurance Commissioner and found out, because they are self insured I would have to file a claim in Small Claims Court.

I fired off a very terse letter response to the Risk Manager, along with a copy to my insurance company, again restating my claim, and decided to let it rest at that, at least for the time being. After all, I can only spend so much time fighting over a $111. claim, even on the basis of the principle of the thing.

Now the question I have to ask myself is how much of my response is the result of righteous anger for being falsely maligned and how much was based upon my own flesh wanting to get those guys? I really don’t know especially in the context of the tension between Romans 7 & 8. Furthermore having to listen to my own preaching, I better just let it rest in that tension and see what might happen henceforth.

Interesting, Monday afternoon I got a call from my large insurance company. After reading all my responses and I presume talking with the food chain representative, they realized that if they also do not rebut the other driver’s description of the accident, as my insurer they will be responsible to the damages to the tractor, which is a tear in the fiberglass at the back of the tractor’s front fender (again showing that their driver was accelerating from behind me) probably well in excess of the price of my mirror. So I had the opportunity to again state my case and position against the food chain.

So where this will lead I do not know, but I did my part, either in my flesh, or as Godly anger, I surely can not differentiate, for as superior I may think I might be most of the time, I surely am not that good at any time.

There is a Godly anger, one of the most interesting is in 2 Kings 2:24 where two bears mauled 42 youths after they had mocked Elisha. In anger even Jesus overturned the table of the money changers which can be read in the three gospels.

Even more complicated in proper discernment of the flesh and Spirit, is the concept of waiting on the Lord. On the one hand you have this Biblical concept, on the other side you have your fleshly nature to be slothful and also just many of the distractions of this life which seem to fill all of our days.

I am in Spokane, not really knowing other than building my small house on my property what I need to do to move out of Seattle. While everything seemed to be moving rapidly forward while I was over here last month, once I returned to Seattle, nothing seemed to be going forward, and my return was delayed by the mirror incident and things beyond my control for a couple of weeks.

Things look naturally that there is not enough time and money to do anything significant up there this year, but I also feel even more strongly that I need to move from Seattle as soon as possible. So here I was waiting on what might occur and really not feeling that anything else I had found really fit within this scenario. Then yesterday there seemed to be progress in the two areas that seemed to be the significant hold ups.

Until yesterday, I have been occupied by what I call 2 hour jobs, that take all day. The question in the context again of Romans 7 and 8, were these jobs even necessary to begin, or were they a way to just procrastinate instead of focusing on the task at hand? I am really incapable of judging any of it in the proper timing context. At least I didn’t take a nap, but was I diligently waiting on the Lord, or was I simply wasting time to keep occupied?

I hope these last couple of week’s incidents taken from my life, have given you an reformationist concept of how you can be your natural self and not beat yourself up by not being able to keep God’s law or even your own laws consistently.

In the midst of the active mirror problems, I was reminded of Walt Disney’s, Davy Crockett line, “Be sure you’re right and then go ahead.” But changing the metaphor slightly, you better be sure your job is to drain the swamp, before you walk in amidst the alligators.

The substance of the power from freedom from condemnation in Romans 7 and 8, is contained in resting completely in Christ’s justification of your sinful flesh that can be probably best contemplated from the promise of Isaiah 55:8,9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

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Building sanctification; PDF link: