True Spiritual Growth – By Bob the Pious

25 10 2012

    When I was a member of the word of Faith charismatic cult many years ago we were big into “positive confession.” One thing we regularly confessed was that “we were the righteousness of God in Christ.” Our confession was we were now righteous before God and thus that was all we identified with. It is laudable to understand our position in Christ and to act accordingly. There is also nothing wrong with confessing or praying back to our Lord what He says we are because of what Jesus Christ has done.

    As I consider this practice today I see how unbalanced it is and the danger inherent in attempting to build on such a shaky foundation. What is missing is the other “dirty little secret” that all the positive confession sects (PCS) ignore is the reality that they are also sinners in need of forgiveness almost moment by moment if they truly saw their condition before our holy God. The PCS build within their minds an image of themselves a righteous people by their repetitive verbal or mental affirmations of how perfect they now are. Their sinful actions are diminished by redefinition and spiritual status. Obviously, a righteous person will act righteously and eschew and avoid sin so when they do sin they must redefine their sin as “a mistake,” or the result of a lack of mental renewal (Rom. 12) and thus not any sort of spiritual sin. Sin has become to them something akin to more of a misstep along the highway of holiness (Isa. 35:8). Ask these people if they are sinners they will automatically respond “no we were sinners saved by grace, but now we are the righteousness of God in Christ.” These folks believe they have become spiritually elevated to the place where they no longer have a “sin consciousness.” False teachers including Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Jessie Duplantis, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Fred Price, Charles Capps, Marilyn Hickey, Kenneth Hagin, Benny Hinn, Paul & Jan Crouch, Jerry Savelle, Robert Tilton and a host of other liars all declare to have achieved this level.

    How blind these poor souls be. How stygian the darkness they call light! Millions of souls have sought refuge beneath the fetid wings of this lie which as Saint Irenaeus, may his memory always be blessed in our minds,
patron saint of all Heresy-hunters said:

They also overthrow the faith of many, by drawing them away, under a pretense of [superior] knowledge, from Him who rounded and adorned the universe; as if, forsooth, they had something more excellent and sublime to reveal, than that God who created the heaven and the earth, and all things that are therein. By means of specious and plausible words, they cunningly allure the simple-minded to inquire into their system; but they nevertheless clumsily destroy them, while they initiate them into their blasphemous and impious opinions respecting the Demiurge; and these simple ones are unable, even in such a matter, to distinguish falsehood from truth.” Against Heresies, Preface.

This so called superior knowledge and spiritual attainment is exactly the opposite. When God’s people become hardened and dead to their own personal inherent sinfulness and sinful actions (with their repercussions) they are FAR from God, not closer to Him. Their delusion is so deep they actually believe they are in close communion with the one Who is holiness personified, one who will not even tolerate a garment “spotted” with the flesh (Jude 1:23). They fail to understand the God whom they pretend to worship is the same God who consumed Nadab and Abihu (Num. 26:61) for offering strange fire, worship not ordained by God to Him in their own “novel way.” God changes not (Mal. 3:6) and He still rejects profane worship today.

The sickening reality of our sin must not be diminished by our pretending it is some reality apart from our own. Our sin must be dealt with a brutal honesty, we must “own” it in order to confess it and receive forgiveness from our Lord. Ignoring sin leads to a hardening of the heart and a deafness to the Spirit of grace. This is the great danger of an unbalanced “confession” of righteousness.

The more we enter into the genuine presence of the Lord the more acute our awareness of personal sin should become. His light always exposes, confronts and destroys our darkness. Jesus manifested a little of His glory on the boat with Peter and how did Peter respond? “Depart from me for I am a sinful man,” (Luke 5:8). Peter’s sinfulness was made manifest by the presence of Christ. Job’s response was the same as many other prophets in the Old Testament when they encountered the Living God. Let me be quick to note that in these divine encounters our God is merciful in His response to those with whom He deals.

The years of my spiritual pilgrimage have taught me this —- the closer I get to the Lord, the more He shows me of myself, and it is not a pretty picture as I see myself accurately in the mirror of His Word. As I study the Bible, meditate on His Word and worship the Lord, the enemy comes to steal what I’ve been laboring over and it drives me to my knees and back into the Word and meditation and worship. Luther knew this well and taught the same regarding the struggle of prayer. As we mature spiritually the more clearly we begin to see ourselves in the light of the Scriptures. In order to walk humbly with our Lord we must have an accurate understanding of ourselves . . . which God alone can grant, and He does so willingly to all who ask.

Fallen man has never needed to think highly of himself, he would kill God and usurp His throne if given half the chance. This idea that having a “sin consciousness” is demonic as the cultists claim is simply a lie from the pit of hell. I have learned that as I see myself in the light of God’s Word and in His presence at the altar I am driven to cry out “Kyrie Eleison” Lord have mercy on me —- and you know what? He does! Selah.

Advertisements




A Good Kind of Selfishness —- by Bob the Pious

25 10 2012

    Whenever I attend our worship services I go with the personal expectation to receive some form of blessing for my Lord. What some might say? You greedy pigboy, how dare you come before the King without gift! What shall I give to God? What work shall I dare hold up to His beneficent gaze? All I have to offer are my sins and what little good has been accomplished in my life is surely because of His gracious Holy Spirit’s (apart from Me, you can do nothing
John 15:5) power.

    So it is with this in mind, that I come with my mind set to receive a blessing from my Lord. This is a great truth found in our Evangelical church, the knowledge that we come to receive from our Lord in worship. We have nothing to offer, but our sins and then our unending thanks and praise for His absolution. If this is not enough, He then feeds us with His Word and nourishing each according to their faith. For this we give Him thanks, but no He is not even finished then. Now He comes to us hidden in/with/under bread and wine and feeds us with nothing less than His true Body and Blood. Glory upon glory is being heaped upon us during this entire encounter with our Risen Savior. After, thanking Him for granting us forgiveness and life in the supper He speaks one more time through our pastor and speaks truly performative
language in proclaiming Aarons blessing over our lives.

    How can anyone leave who has such an encounter (I know of no better word) with the King of glory and fail to come away spiritually changed? If we are growing, then we are changing and we go from faith to faith and glory to glory (see 2 Cor. 3:18). Some may be alarmed and look to themselves and wonder if they are growing. To those people I say “go outside and place your hand against a living tree. As you touch it can you feel it growing? No, but if it is alive then it is growing whether you feel it doing so.” God’s blessings include forgiving our sins, one may feel relieved of their burden or not, the fact remains they are forgiven by Christ for the sake of the penitent. I do not want to parse the degrees of “blessing” which are as varied as the needs of humanity right now. What I am talking about is the value of having a hunger, and expectancy when coming before our Lord in prayer, study, worship, and vocation. I call such a desire for blessing a “good kind of selfishness” inasmuch as we all should remain perpetually hungry to be with our Lord in prayer, Bible study, worship and godly fellowship.

    He who hungers and thirsts for righteousness SHALL BE
filled (Matthew 5:6) — but I must come hungry to His table and I try to do so. If I leave as I came, then there was something wrong with me, I did not eat what was set before me, and yes at times this does happen to my loss. “Stay hungry my friends” and you hunger will always be satisfied to His eternal glory and your eternal benefit.