Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Growing in Christ Part 7

Although doctrines insisting that as children of God we need not repent, break ties with sin, or escape the corruption that is in the world through lust are increasingly popular, there is nothing Biblical about them.

These are doctrines fashioned by men, for the flesh of men, and have nothing whatsoever to do with the God of the Bible or the clear separation He demands of those who are called, saved, and sanctified.

As I was pondering Peter’s introduction to his second epistle, I was struck by his word choice when it came to discussing the corruption that is in the world.

‘Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

The one word that I underlined then circled in my Bible as I contemplated this handful of words is ‘escaped’.

To escape is to break free from confinement or control. There is no possible way the word escaped can be used in a positive manner, or seen in a positive light.

When we broke ties with the corruption that is in the world through lust, when we endeavored to surrender our hearts to Christ, we broke free – we escaped.

The corruption that is in the world is not the vacation destination the devil makes it out to be. Sin is not fun but for an instant, then the consequences of the sins we willfully commit haunt us for the rest of our lives.

With the help of God, and through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we escaped, we got free, we broke loose, and only when we forget the prison that sin is do we begin to entertain the idea of returning to it again.

I’ve counseled individuals battling drug addiction, alcohol addiction, nicotine addiction, addiction to pornography and a score of other addictions that kept them ensnared, hopeless, and joyless.

With God’s help they were able to break free, to escape, but not all who escaped remained free, for they returned, and willingly so, to the prison they once inhabited, and freely took upon themselves the shackles which had once ensnared them.

Some of them would call after a few months and ask for prayer or counsel again, and when I’d ask why they had returned to the mire, why they had taken up the thing they had so desperately ought to escape once more, the unanimous answer was, ‘because I forgot how bad it was. I kept remembering the highs, but never remembered the lows.’

It’s a good thing to remember from whence we escaped. It is a good thing to keep at the forefront of our minds just how destructive, debilitating, and hopeless sin truly is, that once we have been freed, we would not return to the shackles.

2 Peter 1:5-7, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”

‘But also for this very reason’

What is this reason Peter is referring to? The reason is the fact that we’ve been freed, and that we have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

What Peter is saying that because you have escaped corruption, because you have escaped the prison of sin, you must automatically seek to grow in God, the knowledge of Him, and the will of Him.

Before he begins to outline what are essentially the building blocks of ongoing spiritual maturity, Peter admonishes to give all diligence in pursuing these things.

Since the word diligence means careful and persistent work or effort, we understand giving all diligence to mean that we spare no effort in our pursuit of amassing these building blocks of spiritual growth which Peter goes on to outline.

There was an urgency, and an admonition to press in and be tenacious in seeing these things out in Peter’s phrasing. He didn’t say if we had the time, if nothing was pressing, if we weren’t too tired, or if we just needed a change of pace we should seek after these things. He said we must give all diligence in adding to our faith which is the foundation of our spiritual house, and the first prerequisite when attempting to add on anything else.

It is common knowledge that when attempting to build a house you begin with the foundation. You make certain the foundation is stable and sure, you make certain it is strong enough to bear the load of the rest of the edifice, then you begin to build, brick by brick, stone by stone, until your house is done.

Faith is that foundation, and if our faith is strong, then we can proceed to build upon it and add to it, maturing our spiritual man and growing in Christ with each thing we subsequently add to the foundation of faith we’ve established.

Hebrews 11:1-3, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
That is both the most succinct and the most revelatory definition for faith in the entire Bible, and it is the one thing that serves as load bearing foundation for the rest of our spiritual construct.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

I have heard that it is a psychological coping mechanism to only remember the good and shut out the bad. If someone is traumatized enough, their personality fractures so that they can not have to remember the bad. You can't be positive in life if you always dwell on the negative. This is why postive reinforcement works better than negative in training someone.

This is probably why it is so easy to return to past sins. Like a dog returns to its vomit, a fool returns to his folly. You have to be smarter than a dog and use some insight to keep from repeating the same mistakes.

Maybe Peter is offering a plan that will accomplish this. If you have a little faith, then add some virtue to it to keep it from being ignored due to all of the good memories of past ignorance. Once you have some extra virtue added to your faith, you can patch that up with extra knowledge. Then it just builds up with different add ons until you get to love.

By adding virtue, I think it means that you determine it in your mind that no matter how you feel, you just will not do something that you know to be wrong. Faith made you stop and virtue can keep you from going back.

Peter probably had to deal with this since he went back and renounced Christ 3 times. It is very easy to slip back if you don't have a set of rules in front of you to keep you from thinking it is okay.