Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bittersweet Refinements: Chapter XVII

The following is a rewritten chapter from Bittersweet Refinements.  If you would like to read the entire book, from start to finish and in the proper order, please go [here].

Chapter XVII
Sheltered Lives
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.  No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
With all of the “stuff” hitting proverbial fans all over the place, it is hard to imagine that any of us are leading all that much of a sheltered life.  In fact, it would not be all that unreasonable to naturally think that it seems much more likely that most, if not all, of us were created to be the objects of our Heavenly Father’s wrath—certainly not His affections.  For what has not reached out and bitten someone today will surely take a chunk out of their children tomorrow [Hosea 4:1-14].
Nonetheless, there is more to our lives than what naturally comes to meet our physical sight [2 Corinthians 4:18], and it is in this regard that all of us lead much more sheltered lives than what most are willing to even consider [John 3:19-21].  For we were all created to be our Heavenly Father’s children by faith [Romans 8:16], and He has no desire to see any of us perish [Ezekiel 18:30-32].
In other words, it is in regards to our eternal lives that we are sheltered, and it is about this that 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 is referring to.  For it is written: “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” [John 3:18 NAS]
Yes, many have been led to believe that 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 addresses something much more tangible to the here and now.  For it has been widely taught that our Heavenly Father will not allow His children by faith to be tempted to lie, steal, cheat, fornicate, murder, and all of the rest of those things beyond what they can withstand.
There is certainly plenty to support such a doctrine.  For all in Christ are allowed and enabled to participate in His divine nature [2 Peter 1:3-4], and there is absolutely nothing sinful about that [Psalms 18:30].
There is, however, the matter of just how much we are allowed and enabled to participate in our Heavenly Father’s divine nature while we are still a part of this world that should not be ignored [1 Corinthians 13:12].  For the more highly we want to think of ourselves—even in His only begotten Son, the more in danger of eternal damnation we become [Proverbs 16:18], and this most definitely applies to righteousness—be assured [1 Corinthians 4:7].
Alas, is this not something that the Apostle Peter was made all too painfully aware of?  For even after being delivered from the humiliation of his denial of Christ [Luke 22:54-62] and restored to his position of leadership [John 21:15-19], was he not made to suffer even more [Galatians 2:11-16]?
Yes, it can be argued that the Apostle Peter brought all of his own misery upon himself.  For he had a tendency to be quite impetuous at inopportune times [John 18:7-11], and the density of his hard-headedness is beyond compare [John 21:20-22].
Nonetheless, is it not to miss the point to hold such a position?  For if our Heavenly Father is truly able to shelter us from being tempted to sin by the devil, should He not be able to also shelter us from the wickedness of our own heart [Jeremiah 17:9-10]—naturally-speaking, of course [Isaiah 45:9-12]?
No, none of this will make any sense to those who have not been given ears to hear [1 Corinthians 2:14], but the implications will be undeniable to those who have.  For many have suffered so very much so very unnecessarily [2 Corinthians 10:1-12] because of being accused of not truly being in Christ because of false doctrines based upon the premise that no one who is truly in Him sins [1 Timothy 1:5-11].
Yes, it is written: Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. [1 John 3:6 KJV]
Just like it is also written: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. [1 John 3:9 KJV]
On the other hand, could it not be that what is being addressed in 1 John 3:3-10 is a different kind of sin?  For it truly is as it is written: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.  And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.  This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. [1 John 1:1-10 KJV]
No, I am not here to dispute the fact that all wrongdoing is sin [1 John 5:17], and that the one who sins is subject to eternal damnation [Ezekiel 18:4].  For it has been personally revealed to me that this is indeed true [Galatians 1:11-12].
Nonetheless, is there not another side to this that we would do well not to ignore?  For it is written: All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.  We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.  We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.  We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. [1 John 5:17-20 NIV]
Alas, does that not serve as a further explanation of what 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 and 2 Peter 1:1-4 is actually addressing?  For who from amongst us could stay firm in the faith without the shelter that is provided by our Heavenly Father [Mark 14:38]?
Yes, around and around it could go until the very end.  Therefore, may we all make a close examination of ourselves.  For who from amongst us can honestly say that there is nothing about ourselves that is not perfect in the same way as our Heavenly Father is perfect [James 2:10]?
Certainly not the Apostle Paul after He came to truly know our Heavenly Father in a very close and personal way [Galatians 1:11-17].  For it is written: We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.  So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.  Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.  Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.  And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. [Romans 7:14-8:11 NIV]

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