Friday, April 12, 2013

Saint, or Brute

In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.
― Aleksandr SolzhenitsynThe Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956
...justification by faith alone (i.e. being right and accepted by God based on what God has done in Christ) is the foundation for not being a slave of sin. Which is another way of saying that being "under grace" is the foundation for not being a slave of sin... one reason that some people are enslaved to sin is that they feel so hopeless they won't even make the effort to change. That is what the teaching and the reality of justification by faith alone is meant to overcome. So the second reason we see that being "under grace" guarantees that sin will not be master over us is that being under grace means being out from under the kind of guilt that is so paralyzing and hope-defeating, we don't even take up the fight with sin.
 ― John Piper, Free From Sin, Slaves of Righteousness


The essence of dignity is responsibility. Sin takes away our dignity; it makes us feel powerless and hopeless and undignified; the more we sin, the less dignity we have. It's also true: the less dignity we feel have, the more we sin. This is a vicious cycle. The way out of this cycle is to reclaim our dignity. How? By grace, embracing the love of God in Christ. Next, taking responsibility for our sins. Then, living lives of dignified responsibility in service of good and justice. 

I. Evil is: WHERE? Oh, there.

We say, "Evil is out there: in men in important positions, in cruel nations, or in secret diabolical laboratories...." -- no, my friend, evil is IN HERE. In each one of our hearts.
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956
We think Evil involves wide scale atrocities; no, evil can be present in the smallest actions. By one small deed after another, letting ourselves loose, saying, "it doesn't matter if I do this ..." that is how we build our way up to giant scandalous evil. Brick by brick. we lay a path of horrible deeds toward still more horrible deeds.

Ed Welch, A Banquet in the Grave: The actual descent begins without much fanfare. When looking into the Grand Canyon, the first step down seems insignificant. Rather than a huge, noticeable leap of rebellion, addiction is marked by small steps of spiritual casualness or indifference, and a lack of sensitivity to right and wrong. It doesn’t capture our attention; spiritual indifference and apathy don’t attract notice. After all, everyone coasts now and then, we think. What we are doing really isn’t that bad. The trail looks smooth so we ignore the warning signs that seem to be everywhere: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says (James 1:22).”
 Here is how evil rises IN HERE:  in our hearts, then lives.

1) We desire/love wrongly, or the wrong thing.
2) Neglect of Duty (see 2 Sam. 11, David, sitting on roof).
Evil starts with doing nothing when we should be doing something: doing nothing. But remember, doing nothing is doing something.  There is no neutral position; there is no such thing as coasting. Where there is not progress, there is regress. 
3) Our Heart makes excuses (repeated often throughout this cycle).
4) Fantasy: We start to picture ourselves doing evil. Luther said, "We can't keep birds from flying over head, but we can keep from building a nest in our hair." Right here is where we start letting bad birds build a nest.
5) Action: we act on our fantasy. We do something, even if ever so small, to make our fantasy a reality.
6) Guilt: we fell bad about what we did.
6) Despair and Indignity: we feel bad about WHO WE ARE. We are slowly DEGRADING ourselves -- we are stepping DOWN from our proper dignity. We start to call ourselves bad names.
8) We engage a worse fantasy and finally commit worse evil because we now feel that WE ARE BAD, all bad, and hopeless.
9) Our conscience is hardened as we continue to repeat the cycle of 1-8.

The basic pattern is LOVE: NEGLECT: EXCUSE: FANTASY: SINFUL ACTION: GUILT: INDIGNITY. Then, repeat, with the cycle going always in a downward direction. As we get worse, we do worse; the worse we get, the worse we do. And so on, until we spiral down into the oblivion of Hell.
James 1.13-15. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
II. Little Things

The great evils come by way of not attending to SMALL things: letting little sins go. This begins INTERNALLY, in our hearts, in a place no one but we and God may see: in a place God sees even when we refuse to.
I have before me a letter, written to a gentleman in Boston, from a boy in the House of Correction, who got there by trying to live without work. After telling how bad he felt to be shut up in prison, and how bitter his reflections upon his past life were, he says, “I thought that as long as I could live without work, and get my living dishonestly, I would go ahead; but my high life was soon stopped.” Here you perceive that his temptation to be dishonest arose from his dislike of work. But now, he says, he is convinced that the best way to get a living is by honest labor. And so you will find it. There is no one more exposed to temptation than the idle boy. “Satan finds some mischief still    For idle hands to do.” One who undertakes to get a living without work will be very likely to fall into dishonest practices, and get shut up in prison. -- Harvey Newcomb (Get his books FREE).
III. The Death of Dignity 

Guilt drives us on; we do a "little" evil which we excuse - but we know, afterward, there is no excuse. So, we begin feel we have no dignity; little acts of evil do just this: they take our dignity. Having no dignity, we figure, "Why not do more evil? I'm worthless anyway." Gradually, we feel enslaved to sin and evil; so, we enter further into the slavery. The power of sin is in the law which brings the guilt of sin (1 cor. 15.16): the guilt of sin brings with it the leveling of dignity. Those who have no dignity are bound to act like it: i.e. in undignified ways. 
“Evidently, evildoing also has a threshold magnitude. Yes, a human being hesitates and bobs back and forth between good and evil all his life. He slips, falls back, clambers up, repents, things begin to darken again. But just so long as the threshold of evildoing is not crossed, the possibility of returning remains, and he himself is still within reach of our hope. But when, through the density of evil actions, the result either of their own extreme danger or of the absoluteness of his power, he suddenly crosses that threshold, he has left humanity behind, and without, perhaps, the possibility of return.”― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, books III-IV.
Spurgeon, Despair Denounced:
Worse than this, despair makes a man ready for any sin, for there are many that say, “I can never go to Heaven, therefore I will take a good swing, here, and get what pleasure I can while it is within reach.” Have I not heard them say, if not in words, yet in their actions—“There is no mercy for me and I may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb. I will go the whole hog, now I am at it! I will, at least, know the heights and depths of sin, as there is no chance of mercy for me”? Ah, and when Satan takes a man in another temper, he tells him that God will never forgive him—and the poor creature sits down in sullen rebellion, murmurs, thinks hard things of God, wishes he had never been born—and curses the day in which it was said that a man child had seen the light! Then he will be filled with blasphemous thoughts and it may even come to pass that he rushes into self-destruction and takes a leap into sure perdition! How many have been driven by despair to the knife and to the halter, or to a watery grave, I cannot tell! But this I know, that if Satan can once fill a man’s mind with that, and make him say that God is not true, that the Gospel is not true, or at least not true to him, then the enemy glories and cries, “I have him, body and soul! I can do anything with him, now.” 

IV. The Resurrection of Dignity

Sin makes us feel undignified; this indignity then leads us to more sin; however, when we begin to feel our own dignity -- and the dignity of our smallest actions -- we begin to act in dignified ways. 

So, we need to reclaim our DIGNITY before we can get out of the clutches of sin. This is, first, done by taking RESPONSIBILITY for all the evil we have done up until now. Or, to use Biblical language: confessing our sins to God. Agreeing, that is, that God was right and we were wrong. Here, we stop making excuses. We admit it was our fault; we were to blame; no one 'made' us do anything; we did exactly what we wanted to do. We sinned, and fell short of who we should have been as dignified creations of the living God. We were wrong. 

As my friend Ed once said, there comes a time when we need to say, "We've sinned enough."

Theodore Roosevelt, while Commissioner of the NY police department, abolished the black mail scheme current among police officers by re-instilling dignity:
While the deadlock paralyzed to considerable extent further progress of Roosevelt's policy, it did not undo the very important results which had been achieved. Not only had the practise of blackmail been to a great extent banished permanently from the force but there had been created throughout its members a distinct morale which had been almost totally lacking when he entered upon his duties. This had been accomplished not only by making appointments and promotions on merit and fitness but by prompt recognition in all cases of individual service which displayed courage and devotion in the performance of duty. Every man in the force had become convinced that faithful performance of duty was certain to receive quick recognition and full reward—that promotion was sure along that line, and that it could be obtained in no other way. The members of the force discovered that the Roosevelt policy was securing for them what they had not formerly possessed,— the respect of the public, and this knowledge gave them the most powerful of all incentives to upright conduct,—a feeling of self-respect. When he resigned from the Board in April, 1897, Roosevelt left in the Department a force that had to a large extent undergone a moral transformation. It had received a large transfusion of members who had come into it under honorable conditions, free from all debasing characteristics, and who owed their presence to their personal merits and not to the favor of bosses and not to the payment of money ... Appointments and promotions were never again made on the basis of boss favor and cash payment alone, but mainly on merit, and the levying of blackmail as a general police practise was never resumed.
Joseph Bucklin Bishop, Theodore Roosevelt and His Time Shown In His Letters, Vol. 1, pg. 64-65.

V. A Life and Death Matter: Our Lives Matter

Why do men get lost in sports teams and sulk after their 'team' losses? Why? Why do we read gossip magazines/sites? Why?Because we want to be part of something; we feel our lives are uninteresting and insignificant. We desire to be drawn up into a drama. We want our lives to matter; we want the little things to count big. Well, they do. They count eternally.
The press can both simulate public opinion and miseducate it. Thus we may see terrorists heroized, or secret matters, pertaining to one's nation's defense, publicly revealed, or we may witness shameless intrusion on the privacy of well-known people under the slogan: "everyone is entitled to know everything." But this is a false slogan, characteristic of a false era: people also have the right not to know, and it is a much more valuable one. The right not to have their divine souls stuffed with gossip, nonsense, vain talk. A person who works and leads a meaningful life does not need this excessive burdening flow of information.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
VI. Two Roads: Saint or Brute

What does it mean to be just? To be, good? What is the path that leads to a just and good life? How is that path different from a life of injustice and evil.

The road to goodness is tread, tiny step by tiny step, by responsible action in the little things; the road to badness is tread, tiny step by tiny step, by irresponsible inaction in the little things. The road to goodness leads, for whoever treads it, to being a saint; the road to badness leads, for whoever treads it, to being a brute, a monster.

The line between good and evil is, this very second, poised on each of our hearts. It is not just the large corporations, or demented kaisers, or terrorist cells, or countries bent on war, that are capable of evil. Each one of us -- no matter how insignificant we think we are -- is caught up in the drama of good and evil. And so, we are significant. Each one of us is, this day, further along the road to good or evil than we were yesterday. And whether we travel the highway of righteousness, or the byway of wickedness, we will be further still tomorrow.
If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956
There's an illusion current which goes like this: being just means ME (and only me) not stealing, murdering, or otherwise damaging others or their property: basically, me not breaking the law. Being "good" means minding my business and doing the best I can to live up to my own private moral code. This standard of good is awfully weak, awfully selfish; this standard of justice is awfully low. Such standards imply we have no responsibility beyond self; no responsibility to our community at large; no responsibility when witnessing an unjust deed. Such a disposition guarantees evil, around us, will remain; such a disposition guarantees evil, within us, will have domain.

If we want to be truly genuine agents of goodness and justice, we need to take more responsibility.

Responsibility For Me

First, more responsibility for ourselves. Life is not, "what happens to (us)." Life is the culmination of choice after choice either for, or against, evil: for, or against, good. In decision after decision, "the die is cast," and this means there are consequences (again, good or evil) for our action, or inaction. We are moral players in the universe whether we like it or not; we are tossing the dice of our decisions day after day.

Responsibility For Thee

When an evil happens right before our eyes... what do we do? 

The just man knows he can't be silent; he must do something, or say something -- why? "Silence gives consent."

Everyone clamors for rights; rights are the province of the entitled. But, the reality is, rights are always least available to those who most need them, i.e. those who need protection. The strong and wealthy clamor for rights, at least in part, because they want to avoid responsibility. They want to be protected from the weak and destitute: from the people who actually need protection. It is not difficult to locate the oppressed; look for those who don't have enough rights to ask for rights. Look for those who lack the power to defend themselves, and have no one to defend them: the elderly, widows, children, the poor.

 Hispanic immigrants are presently being vilified as dangerous intruders against whom we need increased protection whilst, every single day, such immigrants are paid less than a living wage, and exploited in countless ways (ex. enslavement in the sex trade). Does the average American citizen really need protection against immigrants? We have the voice, the power, legal resources, and financial capital on our side: we need protection from immigrants in the same way that a hammer needs protection from a nail. 

We clamor for rights; not many clamor for responsibility; responsibility is the province of the just. By not taking responsibility, first for ourselves, and then, for the moral decisions around us, we are practically and positively choosing injustice. We are making a decision, like the tossing of a die, which must some time or other land in the real world. As we go along, as the die is cast, our character is cast; we are not just choosing good or evil: we are becoming, increasingly, good or evil.

Richard Baxter was right: there are two, and only two, roads: "Either be a saint, or you will certainly be a brute." The path to being a saint involves, with every step, responsibility; the path to being a brute involves, with every step, irresponsibility. The saint is willfully stubborn about doing good; the brute is willfully stubborn about doing nothing.

To not condemn is to condone. To speak not for the weak is to give voice to the strong, and the strong only. To go along with evil is to commit a positive evil. We ought to speak and fight and flail and protest and stand up all day long -- "if necessary for years, if necessary alone" -- in the face of evil. Otherwise, we will one day have to look in the mirror and face, in our own reflection, the face of evil.


From an earlier post on this blog, but relevant here:

Respect for God is the first building block of respect for self because respect for God instills a sense of responsibility within our hearts: God sees and knows everything; He is just, and I must one day give an account for every deed: even the ones no one else knows about.. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; it is also the beginning of self respect. Self respect means treating ourselves, and demanding that others treat us, with dignity. Self respect involves the sense of knowing, "I am something. I matter. What I do matters." But dignity is not cheap. Dignity comes from responsibility; thus, Kings and Queens are the most dignified persons in the world. Their dignity comes from the fact that they are responsible for many things. Once we start thinking that we are a bad actor (in the sense of a phony) playing a bit part, reciting cliche lines, in a play written by ourselves, we will lose our sense of self respect. Self respect comes from the sense that I am an actor (in the sense of a real agent of action) who has real choices which result in real consequences now. These choices will be judged at a real God on the judgment day and have real consequences in eternity. Self respect begins with the sense that I am not a zero in the universe whose actions don't matter. I am, rather, either the hero, or the villain, of a dramatic tale which echoes into eternity. The question is not, "Does my life matter?" It does. I will, whether I like it or not, make a difference in history; the question is, for good, or ill.

“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.” 
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“At what point, then, should one resist? When one's belt is taken away? When one is ordered to face into a corner? When one crosses the threshold of one's home? An arrest consists of a series of incidental irrelevancies, of a multitude of things that do not matter, and there seems no point in arguing about one of them individually...and yet all these incidental irrelevancies taken together implacably constitute the arrest. ” ― Aleksandr SolzhenitsynThe Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956
“It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes... we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions - especially selfish ones." - Alexander Solzhenitsyn” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. "One word of truth outweighs the world.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
From Charles Spurgeon, Am I My Brother's Keeper?
The unfriendly impudence of Cain is an indication of the state of his heart which led up to his murdering his brother; and it was also partly a result of his having committed that terrible crime. He would not have accomplished the brutal deed of bloodshed if he had not first cast off the fear of God and been ready to defy his Creator. Having committed murder, the hardening influence of sin upon Cain’s mind must have been intense, and thus he was able to speak to God’s face what he felt within his heart, and to say, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” This goes a long way to explain what has puzzled some persons, namely, the amazing calmness with which great criminals will appear in court.
I remember having heard it said of one who had undoubtedly committed a very violent murder, that he looked like an innocent man. He stood up before his accusers as calmly and quietly, they said, as an innocent man could do. I remember feeling at the time that an innocent man would probably have not been calm. The distress of mind felt by an innocent man for being under such a charge would have prevented his having the coolness which was displayed by the guilty individual. Instead of its being any evidence of innocence that a man wears a shameless front when charged with a great crime, it should by wise men be considered to be evidence against him. The guilty person may seem to be dispassionate and unmoved because he had already been so unfeeling as to dip his hand in blood.
Oh, dear friends, let us avoid sin, if only for the evil effect which it has upon our minds. It is poison to the heart. It cripples the conscience, drugs it, puts it to sleep; it intoxicates the judgment, and puts all the faculties as it were into a state of drunkenness, so that we become capable of a hideous bravery, and a blind impertinence, which makes us mad enough to dare insult God to his face. Save us, O God, from having our hearts hammered to the hardness of steel by sin; and daily keep us by your grace sensible and tender before you, trembling at your word.
It must be emphasized that, whether the judgment be that of the Lord or that of men, it is fundamentally dynamic. Basically judgment is the process whereby one discerns between the right and the wrong and takes action as a result. There is dispute between two, a determination as to the rights of the matter, and then―action. The dynamic character of the word must be stressed. It is not an intellectual activity carried out in academic detachment. It is not an exercise in balancing evidence. It is an activity of discrimination and vindication. He who does mishpat (justice) seeks out the wrongdoer to punish him, and the righteous to vindicate his cause. 
Judgment is not confined to legal matters. Indeed, we could go so far as to say that the really significant use of judgment begins when it is separated from all legal and governmental functions and applied to conduct in general. Judgment is a quality of action. Again and again men are urged to ‘do judgment and justice’, to ‘judge justly’ and the like. These are not exhortations to enter the legal profession. 
- Leon Morris, The Biblical Doctrine of Judgment
...the Independent Council of the Official Labour Party, or the Independent and Official Council of the Labour Party (I have got quite nervous about these names and distinctions; but they all seem to say the same thing) began their manifesto by saying it would be difficult to assign the degrees of responsibility which each nation had for the outbreak of the war. Afterwards, a writer in the "Christian Commonwealth," lamenting war in the name of Labour, but in the language of my own romantic middle-class, said that all the nations must share the responsibility for this great calamity of war. Now exactly as long as we go on talking like that we shall have war after war, and calamity after calamity, until the crack of doom. It simply amounts to a promise of pardon to any person who will start a quarrel. It is an amnesty for assassins. The moment any man assaults any other man he makes all the other men as bad as himself. He has only to stab, and to vanish in a fog of forgetfulness. The real eagles of iron, the predatory Empires, will be delighted with this doctrine. Perhaps you think the whole thing was a huge conspiracy of Russia, with France as a dupe and Servia as a pretext. Very well. Then blame Russia; and, to the extent of your influence, you may be preventing great Empires from making racial excuses for a raid. Perhaps you think France wrong for feeling what you call "revenge," and I should call recovery of stolen goods. Perhaps you blame Belgium for being sentimental about her frontier; or England for being sentimental about her word. If so, blame them; or whichever of them you think is to blame. Or again, it is barely possible that you may think, as I do, that the whole loathsome load has been laid upon us by the monarchy which I have not named; still less wasted time in abusing. But if there be in Europe a military State which has not the religion of Russia, yet has helped Russia to tyrannise over the Poles, that State cares not for religion, but for tyranny. If there be a State in Europe which has not the religion of the Austrians, but has helped Austria to bully the Servians, that State cares not for belief, but for bullying.
- Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) (2000-04-01). Utopia of Usurers and Other Essays (Kindle Locations 726-733). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition. 
If there be in Europe any people or principality which respects neither republics nor religions, to which the political ideal of Paris is as much a myth as the mystical ideal of Moscow, then blame that: and do more than blame. In the healthy and highly theological words of Robert Blatchford, drive it back to the Hell from which it came. Crying Over Spilt Blood But whatever you do, do not blame everybody for what was certainly done by somebody. It may be it is no good crying over spilt blood, any more than over spilt milk. But we do not find the culprit any more by spilling the milk over everybody; or by daubing everybody with blood. Still less do we improve matters by watering the milk with our tears, nor the blood either. To say that everybody is responsible means that nobody is responsible...
Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) (2000-04-01). Utopia of Usurers and Other Essays (Kindle Locations 733-740). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

From, A Man For All Seasons,

Sir Thomas More: Not so. Not so, Master Secretary. The maxim is "Qui tacet consentire": the maxim of the law is, "Silence gives consent."


Sir Thomas More: You threaten like a dockside bully.

Cromwell: How should I threaten?

Sir Thomas More: Like a minister of state. With justice.

Cromwell: Oh, justice is what you're threatened with.

Sir Thomas More: Then I am not threatened.


Jones and Butman, Modern Psychotherapies, 158ff,
In a powerful way, a person’s behavioral acts often are diagnostic of the inner condition of the “heart” or unified core of the person. As Christ said, “By their fruits you will know them (Mt. 7.16).” So behaviors are not atoms unconnected with the heart; they are often (not always) evidence of what lies in the heart. If we deny that persons are unified beings, then there is no one to hold responsible for sin, no unified person to be redeemed and sanctified or punished, and sins are just behaviors which occur in a person’s body or in his or her actions, but are unconnected to the person per se. Atomism is thus unacceptable...


From John Piper, Free From Sin, Slaves of Righteousness:

Now today's question is: Why does being "under grace" guarantee that sin will not master us? Notice the logic of verse 14: "Sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace." This is a promise: "Sin shall not be master over you." It is not a command like "Thou shalt not kill." It is a promise of what must be and will be for all who are under grace. We can tell this because verse 14 is given as the basis of a command in verse 13: "Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." That's a command. Now verse 14 adds the reason: "For sin shall not be master over you."

This is the striking way that New Testament ethics is structured. "Don't let sin master you, because sin is not going to master you." If that strikes us as strange, which it does at first, it's because we come to the Bible with our man-centered bias toward self-determination. In other words, we come with the bias that if the Bible tells us to make a choice (like "don't present your members to sin"), then in the moment of that choice we, not God, have the final say. And if you come with that bias – that genuine, responsible choice means ultimate self-determination – the connection between verse 13 and verse 14 will probably make no sense. Don't yield to sin (verse 13) because sin will not be master over you (verse 14).

But if you learn from Scripture to see the sovereignty of God and the real responsibility of man in such a way that God is ultimate and decisive, then this is the way you will learn to talk about the choices of the Christian life: I choose not to let sin reign in my body, because God is at work in me and will not let sin reign in my body (see Philippians 2:12-13; 3:12; 1 Corinthians 5:7).

...In other words, justification by faith alone is the foundation for not being a slave of sin. Which is another way of saying that being "under grace" is the foundation for not being a slave of sin. And the point I made some weeks ago was that one reason that some people are enslaved to sin is that they feel so hopeless they won't even make the effort to change. That is what the teaching and the reality of justification by faith alone is meant to overcome. So the second reason we see that being "under grace" guarantees that sin will not be master over us is that being under grace means being out from under the kind of guilt that is so paralyzing and hope-defeating, we don't even take up the fight with sin.


Steven L Childers on Emotionalism

A second counterfeit remedy we must avoid is what we will call passivism or emotionalism. The
inordinate focus of the passivist is on the emotions. The passivist believes that he can make no real
contribution to his spiritual transformation except to relinquish control of his life to God. The way the passivist believes he must deal with his unchanged heart is just to “let go and let God.” Passivism teaches that the Christian’s secret of a happy life is to “let Jesus live His life through you” or have a spiritual experience that will somehow catapult you into a higher or deeper plane of spiritual maturity. This understanding of the Christian life can easily lead you to spend your entire life chasing one false hope or experience after another in search of “something more” to make your faith more fulfilling. The result is almost always an ankle-deep emotionalism. The Bible teaches that God has made us in his image with a “trinity of faculties” (Owen 1976, VI:213,216, 254, VII:397) which include
the mind, the will, and the heart or the affections. Our emotions play a very important role in that human heart. The heart is presented in Scripture as the very core of our being, the seat of our mind, will, and emotions. However, the human heart is not portrayed in Scripture as being the same thing as the emotions. In fact, Edwards’ word for what we now call emotions is actually“animal instincts” (1984, I:245- 261). While we must learn to affirm the legitimacy of human emotions in our worship and walk with the Lord,we must be cautious to avoid the error of the passivist, allowing our emotions to have an inordinate influence on our walk with God.

J.C. Ryle on Jesus words, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door... (Luke 13:24)."

Make every effort" teaches that laziness towards Christianity is a great sin. It is not merely a misfortune, as some fancy--a thing for which people are to be pitied, and a matter for regret. It is something far more than this. It is a breach of a clear commandment... He knows full well, that so long as you do not "make every effort," you must come at last to the place where the destroying maggot never dies, and the fire that is never quenched. Be careful that you do not come to this end. I repeat it, "you have only to do nothing, and you will be lost."


I listened to a lot of imaginative radio shows, especially one called Chandu the Magician. I’m sure it was quite junky, but not to me. Every night when the show went off the air I sat down and, from memory, wrote out the whole script. I couldn’t help myself. Chandu was against all the villains of the world and so was I.

- Ray Bradbury

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