Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"I Am Wrecking Ball" says the Lord

I am learning something new about the Christian faith. There are two parts.

First, the power granted the children of God is mighty, if only we would utilize it.
I know this is true because we have such passages that speak to the immeasurable blessing of God's favor for empowerment:

"Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Just as it is written,
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35-39).

The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Rev. 3:21)

Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Rev. 12:10-11)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:3-10)

I read this last one and teared up because I find it to be the most significant and glorious truth in all of history; how is it that an utterly undeserving people, worthy of nothing but wrath, should find the riches of God's grace lavished upon us, those children He adopts? If you do not know the depths of wisdom and weight of such a statement, I pray you do. I pray your hunger to know such freedom and grace captivate your whole being, down to the deepest recesses of your soul. I would love to talk about it with you if you do not know this God, who is more than generous with His love and grace to the contrite in spirit.

But I digress. The power of the children of God, those heavenly citizens of God's Kingdom whom currently experience eternal life on earth, the abundant life... the power is infinite.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)

Lord God, Jesus Christ, I pray that your disciples would realize the authority given them by the indwelling Spirit inside them! Your work on the cross has annihilated the strength of sin and death once for all, and if only they would live in accordance with your ways, abiding in you, would this world know and see you for who you are: most majestic and glorious, worthy of all praise! Jesus, your Kingdom come more fully now, through your people. I ask this by the authority given me as a child of God in Christ, Amen.

The second part is this:
The schemes of the Enemy to deter the Children of God from godliness are most prevalent and captivating, if only we would recognize them.

For if we did recognize these schemes, and utilize our inherited authority in Christ, the whole world would marvel at the greatness of our God, for we truly would be salt and light to the world (Matthew 5:13-16). The Triune God looks small and inconsequential because the Regenerate don't nearly represent Him as they are intended to. The Imago Dei in humanity has been restored and enhanced by association with the Crucified Christ, if truly the saint remains in God.

I speak boldly and what can appear arrogant because I recognize the need in me to treat this for what it is. Absolute truth and not merely quaint belief based on blind faith. If I treat it as genuine factual knowledge, eventually I will be able to own its significance deep down. Right now, it rests gently on my heart, and may detach, if the Enemy has his way. I want it engraved, so I choose to treat it as bona fide knowledge.

I want to share a story from my week that finely illustrates what I talk about here.
I continually wrestle with the notion that I am not, and fail to do, good enough, in part because I do things I do not want to do (e.g. watch a lot of TV)... Or do I watch so much TV because I feel like such a failure, thus buckle under defeat? This is a thought that is ever present in my mind. I'm sure all of you have some thought that you cannot shake. This one has been mine. This also may come as a shock, as it does not mesh well with the high esteem given above to the children of God. Nonetheless, it continues to be my experience.

With that in mind, consider how I interpreted this week these Bible passages:
"If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free... Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:31, 34-36)

"Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin." (Romans 6:4-7)

It would appear, from my experience and thought process, that this freedom (free indeed) and newness of life spoken of was not my experience. I was left feeling more defeated than ever. Perhaps Jesus never freed me; it, after all, is conditional in its tense. Perhaps my spiritual death in Christ did not take.

I left my devotional time in the Word in a bad spot. You see, I wanted desperately to know success. Enduring success, not just sparse, intermittent victory. I wanted long-lasting and final dominance over sinful ways.

Enter my mentor. I share my frustration and depression. You know what he asked me? "How long do these Biblical truths play out in life?" Essentially, I was asked if I genuinely thought these were instantaneous events, or a life-long process. I had to answer the latter, because that is what seems to be the overwhelming testimony of Paul and other Scripture, even the collective experience of the Church. Even Abraham and Moses and David were works in progress.

I left my meeting with my mentor wiser, but not any happier. Why was I not content with that answer? Why did I still long for victory, now, happily ever after?

It hit me later that day as I worked to take captive every thought, especially this one.

You see, I thought that if I could exercise authority and victory over sin and find freedom from its enslaving bondage, then I wouldn't have to burden God with my failing as much. I wouldn't have to rely on Him for security as much.

I hope you caught the error.

Also, I wanted victory now, and had grown horribly impatient with the process of sanctification because I convinced myself that such results were expected in reality... At least, that is how resolution is depicted on television. Wait, is television not reflective of reality?

Are you beginning to see how crafty the schemes of the Enemy are? Satan will use the very phenomenology of television to distort our perceptions of reality, aiming to discourage and deter us from the truth and beauty of Scripture. I selfishly framed my perception of reality around lies, covertly implanted by the enemy. Satan will use our sinful flesh, hungry for satisfaction, the evil world full of its dominating forces and powers of darkness, and his craftiness and half-truths to raise up speculations and every lofty thing against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Here is the truth.

The Christian is in possession of divinely powerful weapons, capable of demolishing fortresses. In Christ, the Christian destroys those speculations and lofty things raised up against the knowledge of God, taking captive every thought to the obedience of Christ, who is Truth.

There is power in the Christian to be more than a conquerer. That power is God himself. We confess that the very Spirit that rose Christ from the dead dwells in us, and that same Spirit leads us to all truth (John 16:13). God is our wrecking ball, mighty in battle to level the fortresses of deceit and wicked contempt brought against humanity.

The LORD is a warrior;
The LORD is His name
(Exodus 15:3)

LORD Jesus, the Great I AM, One with the Father, Yahweh: Great is your Name in all of creation! I adore you for who you are. I do not even need to mention what great deeds you do for your people, you inherently are beyond my comprehension of all that is good.
I confess my failure. I am but dust. And yet your grace is enough to turn this dust into your son. Amazing grace! Thank you, hallelujah! Do not keep this truth from my heart. Strengthen more my gratefulness of your love for me. Truly, who could be against me? Not even myself! Help me and others to dwell richly in these thoughts of how precious you are, Lord. As I act justly, allow me to know your sense of justice and righteousness, that what pleases you. As I love your mercy and kindness, guide me in ways in which I can display mercy to those who need to see your better way. As I walk humbly with you, will you illumine this dark and evil world to see just how precious your grace is toward a depraved humanity? This is my desire. Your Kingdom come quickly. Amen.

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