30 December 2012

Thinking with a Renewed Mind #11

It is important for us to realize that before we are corrected by God about a matter, it is emphatically natural for us to think errantly. Of course, when we think about it. We serve God with our mind, as Paul confesses, but our flesh carries about the body of death which shall be replaced when Jesus comes back. That which is rooted in old nature is natural to the old nature. In practical life, we make things too complicated for easy assimilation, and this complication should be a warning sign.

So how is it that we do not see the plain truth in the moment prior to God's revelation ?

We do not see what God corrects us about prior to His intervention because anything we know is revealed to us in His graceful sanctification of our new creation mind, spirit and soul. We are new creations; God's workmanship. We do not dare build upon that which God does not supply according to is plan, do we?

Some folks approach knowledge of God, of the truth, as if we ourselves discover God; as if we renew our own minds, or act of our own faith which we drum up like the proverbial pulling oneself up by one's bootstrap. This is really sad, my family. These views of God are Anthropological not Theological. We all have moments where this too is our approach, but we do not learn this way from Jesus or God the Spirit.

Paul writes of Judgment Day, where hay, wood and stubble are burnt away. Would God provide you materials such as these to build with? Absolutely not. What a poor view of God one would have if this was their view, true? I'm afraid that is true, and I'm afraid we all think this way on occasion.

This illustration Paul uses indicates the origins of the precious, eternal materials which are to be built upon the sure foundation. We either submit or we do not. We either die to ourselves or we do not. There is no half-way for us, God has not allowed that option for us. In fact, in Revelation Jesus says the lukewarm make Him want to "spew", "hurl", unceremoniously dispatch from His mouth.

How do we end up in this place? By not offering ourselves as living sacrifices unto God, by Jesus Christ our High Priest, empowered by God the Spirit; and by having our minds renewed.

As humans we readily conceive the building of 'mental constructs', including the famed Memory Palaces of renown. The process of renewing our mind can not be the process of our throwing data into the back of our minds hoping some of it sticks.

We may memorize Scripture for a variety of reasons. I've heard it said by teachers that this way we provide Scripture for God the Spirit to dig up for us in a moment of need. In fact I've used this justification myself when I was younger in the faith.

We do not have to help God bring Scripture to mind for us, we need to read the Bible and understand what we read before we start memorizing. But memorization allows for comparison and competition, judging value piecemeal.

In my writing this paper, I tried to recite the books of the New Testament even though I have made no attempt to do so in over 39 years. I was able to get them all although not in order after Hebrews. Because I've been studying the Scripture it flowed fairly well, with no conscious effort. Our awareness of the word of God needs to be learning the practical revelation of truth in Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Memorization of books, book order, apostles' names, can very well end up being wood, hay and stubble. Rather than this, we should be teaching and encouraging each other and the children is the basics: a survey of the Old Testament based upon age and awareness.

For example, if a person just came to faith and has never read the Bible, the last thing we need to do is put this person in a class of mature adults. Whereas if we have a 13 year old who has spiritual awareness of a mature believer, then we shouldn't confine the 13 year old to his peers by age but by spiritual maturity.

As a personal example, I'm going through my studies for finishing my associates in one year. There were a series of clear indications from God that this is what I need to do. It is a demanding schedule, but I have no time to waste. If I get involved with an indepth Bible study that does not point to my coursework, am I building with combustible or eternal material? Just because I'm studying for a bachelors of theology doesn't mean I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

Another example is one we are all familiar with, those folks who are distracting themselves with too many activities in the Church to where they are visitors and strangers to their neighbors and sometimes even family. This is building with wood, hay and stubble. If we are supposed to be working on our marriage, but instead work on committees for mission, worship team and other activities - then I'm not being obedient.

What we ourself label as God's will and/or God's work may not be so. Sometimes it may even be intentional inactivity which is God's will for us. Compare Him saying "be still and know that I am God", and "He has told you O Man, what is required; to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God."

Ours is an interactive living relationship with God and others. Prescriptions for and codes of behaviors tend to be stifling to persons who are supposed to be in love of God and through that love of others as if they were more worthy than ourselves. We kknow there is need for training and education, yet beyond these there is the vibrant call to be who you are becoming by the grace of God in all its expression.

It was the compulsive and cultic-ritualist Jews who had prayers for every moment and action, who had formats, codes and regulations refined beyond what is written to show how holy they were compared with others. These they elevated above faith and mission which they were called to provide for the whole world. Form is easy to excel in, whereas function can not be faked before it is exposed before too long.

To have the form of godliness but denying the power thereof is not the description of faithful disciples of Jesus. It is descriptive of the product of a fallen, worldly, unrenewed mind. It is the exposure of a proud self who will not submit to God.

And before we look at others, as if "but Lord, what of these?", we need to examine ourselves to see if we remain firm in the faith. We stand or fall based upon the foundation of our confidence in God. We either have faith that Jesus provided all that is necessary for life and faith (and so much more) or we believe somehow that we are adequate in ourselves now that we've been given a hand-up instead of a hand-out.

Who is kidding here? We are all beggars in one view, but another we are all spiritually dead prior to being born of God (see John one).

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