Tag Archives: depravity

My Progress In Theology 5

From my paper “Covenant Theology As Grasped By A Regular Guy”

I think this section is pretty important. I never really thought much about it until I was drawn into CT thought. I suspect it’s a sort of low-level misconception (meaning people sort of tend to assume without really thinking carefully) that our religious practices save us, or at least play a part in salvation in some vital sense. Most commonly, I believe, this is a problem with historical Israel and ceremonial law. Now, it’s an easily corrected view, by pointing to salvation by faith alone, but simply reading the OT isn’t gonna clear this up. That is the NT, the fulfillment of the OT promises in Christ, which explicitely fixes things. If the message were clear enough in the OT, the pharisees should’ve made a very different progress and definitely been a very different group in the NT.

Now, it must be understood that God’s covenants are not administered in a way that saves His people. People are saved by the person and work of Christ. This presents a problem for us when we look at the Law and the Church. Covenant is the promise; Christ is fulfillment of that promise. In whatever administration of whatever covenant (circumcision, nation, ceremony, Law, church), the center of all is Christ Himself.

We tend to assume or presuppose that the Elect comprise all of God’s covenant community. Especially in the New Testament where fulfillment, if taken incorrectly, seems to say that salvation is the mark of the church. This is simply not so. God’s covenant community consists of both regenerate and unregenerate people. Not all of OT Israel was elect, nor are all members of the NT church elect. Not even all of Christ’s 12 disciples were elect (Judas). This situation is because both Israel and the church are houses of people who are in covenant with God, not explicitly regenerate. God expects something from these people (belief and obedience) and so He has dealt with both spiritual conditions equally throughout history. In other words, elect and non-elect within the covenant community are dealt with through judgment.

Elect are judged via Christ’s substitution and non-elect are judged via the absence of Christ’s substitution but both are called, warned, disciplined and served within the covenant framework. Note that Isaac’s sons were absolute indications of this consistency: both sons were included in covenant administration and yet Jacob was loved while Esau was hated. The New Testament includes a similar situation wherein Peter and Judas both betrayed Christ. One was forgiven and the other condemned but both were in the position of disciples of Christ.

I think we tend to be unwilling to accept the idea that God sovereignly chooses those who will believe in Him because of the tension between human responsibility and God’s sovereignty. Though God knows all and directs all, we are still responsible for our failure to uphold His standards. An aside here, we are likewise commended for our good works, which I think is grossly forgotten in this age of false humility and unwillingness to accept this tension. Shoot, I am increasingly amazed at how it seems many of our problems with theology stem from the fear or dislike of the tension maintained in the Scriptures. Already-not-yet and man’s need vs. God’s requirements are biblical but many times we persist as if they are not.

So, back to the subject at hand, election is the name applied to those who are chosen by God to be the recipients of His mercy. Regarding Jacob and Esau, the classic example of election:

This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but salso when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— Romans 9:8-11

I heard not too long ago about the term used in John “draw”

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. – John 6:44

The actual word in the original language is “drag” as in forcefully pull. Christians are not, ultimately, given a choice between God and Hell. Here’s that tension again, choice and sovereignty, but in the end, sovereignty trumps all. Any time it comes down to salvation or destruction, forgiveness, atonement, condemnation or regeneration, either on an individual or gross level, God has the action. He saves, He renews, He destroys, He judges.

God makes His people. This idea validates His promises, unconditional promises that “I will be their God and they shall be My people” which are found throughout the Scriptures, NT and OT.

How does this work in the problem of covenants and whether they are salvific (in whole or in part)? We’ve established that God is sovereign and that His promises are because of His own work. Christ’s atonement, God’s drawing (dragging), those are divine works and only those are ultimately saving works. We don’t contribute to salvation (well, we contribute sin to the equation, but that’s not really part of this mess right now).

So, covenants, specifically those instructions that God has provided within the framework of covenants, do not save. God never once set things in motion that made Him dependent on the proper observation of the ceremonial law in order to save any Jews. To say the Jews were saved by their keeping of the Law is just wrong. God set this up just as a parent sets up rules in the home. Both knew, absolutely, that the ruled would not keep the laws in front of them.

The end of Deuteronomy explains God’s perspective on His chosen nation:

Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel. For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.” – Deuteronomy 31:19-21

Here’s what saves: Christ. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Everything that God instructs and promises must point to Christ.

Okay. Done with that. The next part: The outside of Election. By the outside, I must now define two terms. Visible and invisible. The visible church is all persons who are within the covenant. Israel was the “visible church” of the Old Covenant. Today, the visible church is quite similar: entire families are partakers of the New Covenant. Not everyone in the New Covenant (the church) is saved. That’s demonstrated in Israel, in Jacob and Esau, in the New Testament, throughout history. There is still a place for a “personal relationship with Jesus” which is that relationship which places one in the invisible church.

This is how I can believe that infant baptism is acceptable practice. This is how I can believe that someone who claims to be and acts like a Christian can “fall away” later in life to the extent that he actually condemns his faith and the truth of God. It’s simply too much to assume that everyone who is a baptized member of a local church is a bona-fide regenerate Christian. I sure wasn’t, though raised through 18 years in Christian churches, baptized, “walked the aisle” and everything else. I fell away, into neo-pagan Wicca (plain old witchcraft) for 10 years, denying my heritage and the church.

I do not believe my spot was “reserved” in the pews of a future church. When I apostatized, that was a demonstration of my unregenerate condition. I was still a child of God’s wrath, not a backslidden Christian. My baptism was one pointing to judgement. So what does this mean? It means that covenants are God’s picture frame around His particular people. He has promises and commands built into His covenants as well as signs and seals of membership, of participation, in that frame. It doesn’t mean that those in the frame are all regenerate, but that they enjoy access to all the benefits of the temporal institution of God’s Chosen People. Works the same way today in the NT church as it did in the OT nation of Israel. It looks different, yes, regarding operation of ceremony, administration and symbolism, but membership and status are still the same.

The Hardest Part

The world is filled with darkness and pain. Like the ringing of a great bell in a close space even a beautiful tone causes pain and disorients. The hurt and emptiness claws at us, dragging us down the rooftops to the brink of night, right to the chasm that awaits with its angry maw, silent yet seething with malice.

And the world is liberally peppered with joy. Green and golden days filled with the whispers of voices that reverberate in our memories long after the conversation and the moment depart. Candles and balloons, symphonies and mad embraces that are sometimes desperate clinging or sometimes needful things that halt our very breath.

Both the evil and the blessed are deadly, for they seek to entrap us in themselves, to entrap us in ourselves and we are most often willing captives, as if every one of us suffers from Stockholm syndrome every moment of our lives.

We seek to balance the misery, or overcome it by seeking and acquiring the joy, but cannot overindulge so we season all with bittersweet roots and brambles, hoping to make kinder the pain and avoid the illusion of bliss.

There is a way, to see this whole mess, out of the maze. It is simply to read the pages of our lives in the categories of God’s benevolence and provision and His judgment and warning. He is ringing the bell and conducting the symphony. When we seek the joy that is not illusive, not limited to our short lifespans, we find the lasting rest and peace that upholds us through the pain and despair. We realize that we cannot sort the data, find the meaningful bits nor even discard the extremes without falsely lifting ourselves from sanity. We must discover that only the Creator, the Savior, the Lord of all of this can make sense of it. And then we must realize that He has made sense of it, insofar as our weakness can contain, for us.

Our misery, our depraved sensibilities, our corrupted selves are offered restoration in the form of forgiveness and promise. Our joy is translated from momentary, fleeting glimpses of heaven, into limitless revelation of glory and majesty that is incomparable.

The hardest part is that it all seems to remain the same, afterward. The days bite us, the sun sets, the cold seeks our flesh and our teeth gnash in hatred and spite. The battle over this, however, becomes a fleeting thing as we rejoin our promised forgiveness and covenants week after week, year after year among the myriad others who have turned from their futile corruption to seek Christ who took on our miserable flesh, did all that we could not, and felt the corruption and deadly penalty that all of us should have found at the end of our own rope. He gives us hope, gives us shelter, shakes out our closets and lifts us to dry ground if only we heed His call.

Lord may your good news reach bleeding ears. May your life bring life to the dead and dying. May your grace uphold your people as you bring more to yourself every day.


Part of following up on It’s All Messed Up, a post from October 2010.

I sure hope this hits you.


I’m not a qualified philosopher. That must certainly affect my reaction to and analysis of the following quotes. I’m also sold out to a view that places a Creator who is directly involved in creating, sustaining His creation and is sovereign over it for His own purposes. I believe that we humans exist here for a purpose and the only possible purpose is that of the Creator’s will.

All that being said (and more but I’m not going to go off into the fields yet), I stumbled upon an idea called antinatalism in some basic research on a particular philosopher. What I saw there was so dismal that I just had to take it on. It is sad, most of all, that men have so fenced themselves that they come to this while claiming to be open to other ways of thinking.

All this is from a Wikipedia article on Antinatalism. I’m aiming for just the quotes and I’ll tackle the entirety of the article in chunks rather than one long post. Bottom line: I don’t see life, birth or death as hopeless. I don’t see that one can manage to cruise through a lifetime with the views in bold.
There is a case in which this is true. Take the guy named Judas, for example.

I’m not able, philosophically, to argue well enough beyond this: The fact that we’re alive seems to me to indicate that death is unnatural. From lightbulbs to battleships, house-cats to dodo-birds, if they cease to work, there’s something wrong with them. Men, being far superior to those things, must have something far more wrong if they die. For anyone to resonate with the quotes below; for anyone to identify with them, I do hope that they are shaken from their slumber and a sense of urgency replaces the despondency.

Sophocles — It is best not to have been born at all: but, if born, as quickly as possible to return whence one came.


The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” — Matthew 26:24, Mark 14:21

In our natural state, the walking dead that we are, we too would be better off not have set foot on this globe. We participate in the desecration of our Creator’s purposes in everything we do. We seek to obfuscate the truth, block all entry into our self-made existence and evade any call to recognize reality.

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment. — Proverbs 18:1

But there’s an answer to this, too, and one which puts a little flame of possiblity to the cold:

I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices — Isaiah 65:2

Heinrich Heine — Sleep is lovely, death is better still, not to have been born is of course the miracle.

The truly amazing thing is that you’re here, observing this phenomenal event and coming up with such a statement. It is a miracle that this world is here around us, that we’re in it and that it persists; hasn’t collapsed ’round our ears due to our woeful dealings with it. Heine clearly forgot all the wonder of life as he lived it. Or, tragedy of tragedies, he failed entirely to notice butterflies, little girls or kittens.

Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? — Psalm 88:12

It might look bad, but Somebody has said it ain’t all crumbs and broken glass:

For there shall be a sowing of peace. The vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its produce, and the heavens shall give their dew. And I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. — Zechariah 8:12

Our liberties are in a box in a TSA warehouse, along with 10,000 nail clippers.

Doug Wilson rocks on this one.

People should speak up even more.

So I’m linking to it in hopes someone else catches the breeze.

Touching Sensitive Areas, or TSA For Short

I think the whole TSA imbecillity is an offense on our privacy and our dignity. It elevates a group of people out of the requirement to act with common decency and respect. It violates any consideration for the sensitivities of people who have been molested, exploited or traumatized by human hands on their bodies. And children? C’mon, man! Kids do NOT need to suffer this insanity.

It’s all over YouTube and the rest of the net. DJP has put up a little bit too:

TSA Grope’n’Porn

FOOEY on this stuff. I’ll drive if I have to. I don’t want MY 5 girls under the camera OR the hand.

So the BIG question: How to render unto Caesar when this really isn’t Caesar’s? I’m not willing to concede that the Gov has employed an acceptable method for waging the war on terrorism.

It's All Messed Up

Everything seems to fail at some point or another. Our successes even seem to rot before our eyes. Our kids not only drive us to distraction but present insanely impossible problems that we as kids experienced (That we somehow have lost the ability to deal with or comprehend somewhere along the way). Our drive and dedication rarely pay out dividends that fairly correlate and when they do, the fanfare and sunshine fade all too quickly. We do the wrong things, hurt people, damage ourselves incessantly no matter how high-and-lofty our motivations. Our motivations, though we believe with all our might to be right, consistently boil down to flawed and self-centered things of frustrating fiats.

Sometimes we have genuine cares for others, trying our bestest to lift them up out of the mire of the world, protect them or feed them the tools to succeed, especially where we are conscious of our own failure. But we fail at that, too. Isn’t it all just a big cycle of failure?

Can you identify, in your life, one persistent quality or action of your own that has a timeline that evades the rot process entirely? I propose that it cannot be done.

IF we start from a fundamentally flawed foundation, we will always always end up with a failed result. Things will not turn out right. The end state will still be flawed, just as the beginning was flawed.

Truth Claim Here: Everything that is wrong is wrong because of sin. Everything that is wrong is wrong because we are sinful people living in a sin-cursed world.

Stupid religious freak. Quit waving it around in public. What you think is right doesn’t have to apply to me because it’s only true for you.

Um. Ima letcha finish, but first: Re-read everything before the IF paragraph again. Is that true or not true for everybody?  For those who are not NPCs, who think and live, do we not see this everywhere? Regarding those we perceive to cruise along, oblivious bastions of success or happiness, do not the observers see the truth that NPCs are walking fail-factories as well?

Yeah, whatever. Just because I don’t have all the answers, and nobody else does, so we mess up. A lot. Nobody is perfect. Nobody is “all that” so there’s nothing we can do about it but keep trying.

This wickedness and evil hasn’t gone away. It’s only got worse. Worse by driving deeper and deeper into our culture and personalities and spirits. In this era, it has so permeated us that we cannot even stop to listen to reason, to the thundering whisper that something isn’t right, much less come to grips with the undeniable fact that I, you, them, we’re all so messed up, so dead wrong, so just plain dead that there is no hope of attaining a recovery.
Yep. Just like a treadmill, it keeps rolling but you don’t get anywhere. And if you fall, it keeps rolling, doesn’t it? There’s no hope. None. All you get to look forward to is another round of going nowhere with no horizon of completion or really living in view.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5

There you go again. You quoted some of that Bible garbage. Why in the world should I listen to that drivel. It’s all a mess of rules and made-up stories and garbage. It has some sick idea of a deity that kills entire races of people, tells people what to do and makes them bow down and submit. There’s nothing worthwhile there and it certainly doesn’t apply to modern day.

Sure thing. Take a second look. Just look at it from the position of what it says about everything being messed up. Look at the incredible descriptions of people who lie, cheat, steal, subvert, corrupt, fail, underachieve, chicken out and pretty much screw up everything they touch. Tell me again that it’s just made up junk. Tell me it doesn’t apply to modern day. Tell me there isn’t a touch of truth in there.

The only document that clearly depicts the condition we’re in is….. Guess!

That’s it for today. I’ll do some more soonly. Maybe this will start reaching out to someone.

If You Love Me

omething I was raised with, at least 20 years with, was the Anti-Economy-Of-Love philosophy. Never never, Ever ever, no matter what, trade somebody for love.  You can’t say “If you love me, you’ll…(do this)”

John 14:15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

John 21:17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

John 14:23-24 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.”

Right. I’m not tossing into the trash the notion that there is no emotional involvement in a love relationship. That would be silly. But there is a call here to produce. God enables our love and empowers our love for him and for others when he calls us to repentance and salvation. True Love is a product and authentication of our salvation.

My point is this, which has been made over and over and it seems still to be very unpopular. Get this: All the advice I’ve heard from Biblical sources regarding loving someone (and I’ve called on a bunch of ‘em over the years), says about the same thing: I have to act in love. Moreover, I’m led to act in love, by God. It’s not a natural thing that just sort of happens and is absolutely not instinctive. It’s a led-by-the-nose activity, and it’s moment by moment, action by action. Yes, it’s spiritual and it’s emotional too, but I can feel all day long and it’s not gonna get me anywhere.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Lemme try this from my perspective at home: If I kiss my Wife that is acting in love. If I get hotheaded and blow up at my Wife that is a product of hate (since I’m in Christ, a product of the hateful, unloving old man, the flesh). Any doubters on that? If I sit around all day mooning over deep thoughts of love for my Wife and do nothing else, what does that get me? Normally that produces an irate Wife who wanted the dishes done.

I must to do those things. NOW, when I do kiss my wife (or help her or say good things to her), my feelings of love are built up. It’s an exercise and the good results, God’s blessing of my good works, are an improvement in the environment around me, in love and my ability to love. When I think of her in a loving way, the practice of love must coincide. I don’t feel love and then completely fail to act on it. The same is true with my good works in other situations. All good works (all in love) are a product of and for God, his glory! That is why he says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Before we are in Christ, it is possible to do “good” things, however they are not acceptable to God since they are not good things for him. The good that a non-believer does may be noble or kind or morally right, but it is not spiritually or faithfully right. We have not love therefore we are not in him and we cannot do for God or men what he calls us to do. We are demonstrably unable to love prior to God’s intervention in our lives as our Savior.

“Well, he is totally incapable in the sense that all his actions are defective, good though they may be in many ways, because they are not prompted by a love of God, and by a concern for the will and glory of God” – Great Doctrines of the Bible By Martyn Lloyd-Jones p-208 (© 2003 by Bethan Lloyd-Jones)

Another point in the Bible: God is love.

1 John 4:8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

It doesn’t say anywhere that man is love. God calls man to love him but doesn’t give one way to do so other than to keep his commandments. Since it’s shown elsewhere that we are incapable of loving him (or anybody else) on our own, there’s no other way to look at this. We can’t love without God; we must love if we are in Christ. As sinners saved by Grace, we still are not “automatic” in our authentication of love. This is always a process of change for a Christian, since we’re being sanctified and will be glorified in the end, which should return us to our former state of love between us and the Father.

Now, on this idea that Man cannot love: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/qna/freewill.html

This article on free will outlines how incapable of goodness, including love (the highest goodness) man is. Calvin is quoted therein:

“We deny that choice is free, because through man’s innate wickedness it is of necessity driven to what is evil and cannot seek anything but evil.”

There’s no reason to think that we can do so without God’s intervention which only starts at salvation. There’s no reason I can see that we immediately become not just capable of love, but actually loving, when we are saved. Capable, yes, loving, no. I believe I am convinced that our choices to love, enabled by God, cultivate the spiritual and emotional sort of love that we desire.

The definitive (for me) passage on love is in 1st John 4:7-12

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

We authenticate love in action. It’s an if-then statement as well. Authentication is the same as proof. We prove our love by our deeds, by our way of life, not by just saying we love.

Therefore, to teach someone how to love, and this brings us right back to the beginning and my original point, we teach the economy.

If you love me: do this. I love you: I do this. I can’t possibly say I love you if I don’t act on it. You can’t possibly love me if you don’t act on it.

God does and proves it.

Now, we’ve been told to control our emotions, that “gut feelings” and sentimentality are not the way to interpret the Bible or determine God’s will for our lives. I believe that this “Love is an action” idea fits in right here.

Upon my salvation, God set in me the path to loving him which was John 14:15. I was set to keep his commandments, which are mobius strips of love and obedience to him and my fellow man. If I did what he said, which he has made me to do, which I have consequently chosen to do, I will show my love for him, and therefore I will want to do more and therefore love more and so on. Practice makes perfect.

I have really hard times determining how to love and how to tell others how to love. I have a tough time with my kids especially. I even have trouble understanding the right way to love and encourage love in my Wife. This long, tangled thought process is making sense to me in light of my practical experience with love in my life. There must be a call to act out love. I need to both do loving things for my family and teach them the point and value of doing loving. Love isn’t a vague, intangible as the romantics make it out to be (and I ought to know, being one). Love is very tangible. It’s not just a choice, it’s a mandatory doing of good works as found in the Word.

And God’s word seems to provide all the evidence for it. Here are some more passages:

Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Exodus 20:4-6 You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

God shows love in many cases and it’s just not some feeling we get, it’s a fact we receive every time. He gave his son in payment for the debt we could not pay. He called out Israel though Israel had no lovable qualities. He provides common grace which goes even further than restraining his judgment and wiping the slate clean right now. Common grace allows people to find joy and sweetness in a cursed world with their cursed minds and bodies. Common grace keeps cursed people from reaching the full potential of their curse during the course of their lives.

Tim Challies’ book, “The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment” in chapter 3 confirms my thoughts as well. He clarifies that Discernment is not some sort of mystical Gift. It can certainly be a Spiritual Gift, meaning a God-given talent for being really good at discerning, but he is clear that none of us are going to be discerning at all if we don’t practice and study and pray and do all the other things required of us. Though God is the foundation, motivation and guiding factor of our ability to discern, we get there via the work in and application of the Word and with the Holy Spirit’s direction. The same is true of love. We all get love; we all need to act out love, and sometimes God puts among us one who is really excellent in their capability of love. Nonetheless, there’s work involved in developing a loving character. I’ll play my favorite tune again real quick:

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect

We know that the reference to renewing our minds is not some eastern meditation thing but that literal study, application and meditation on the Word, prayer and fellowship with the brethren. It’s an instruction we have, not a state of being when Paul says “Do not be,” and “be.”

This makes it hard to be discerning without work. Same thing in loving.


From Bible Study tonight:

The simple 1 page of notes I took:

What you must APPREHEND, not just COMPREHEND:

  • The Holiness of God, who is Just and Perfect.
  • The Depravity of Man, who is helpless and guilty.
  • Man’s need for atonement, a perfect sacrifice that satisfies the death penalty.
  • God provided that satisfaction in Christ, purely a gift, purely grace.
  • God is sovereign over EVERYTHING, man is sovereign over NOTHING.

Conviction precedes repentance.

Apprehension is comprehension applied as Truth.

Read these passages

  • Acts 2:41-42
  • Galatians 5:22–24
  • Ephesians 2:8-9
  • Jeremiah 17:9-10
  • John 14:21-24
  • John 8:42-47
  • John 10:25-27
  • 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

The greatest outworking of faith is obedience.

Deuteronomy 5:17-21 Facing Charges of Murder

nd the point of the last five commandments is to deal severely with the well developed sense of pride and selfishness all we sinners have. Each of them direct us to abstain from the chief sins that are a result of the pursuit of our personal, Godless agendas.

“You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

The first murder was done in anger, of course, but we’ve determined already that pride had to do with it. One who is not God-centered in his view of himself and the world will exhibit tendencies to react sinfully, and absolutely selfishly to the impact of his actions and those of others. The impact of Cain’s actions, along with what happened to Abel, grew hatred and jealousy in Cain. I envision Cain stewed in God’s rejection of his sacrifice, hating how his brother was “better than him” and that Abel had done well in God’s sight.

I’m going to chase a rabbit here, but it’s a good one with lots of meat and might be worth coney stew.

Here’s the catch.

We tend to get spun up, jealous, angry and vengeful when we are caught in the wrong and try to defend our actions to ourselves and others. We become defensive and spiteful when we perceive our reputation or character is slighted, especially if we have done wrong. Our status, our pride is our most prized possession. We’ll fight like cornered cats to protect our self image, regardless of the validity of the real or perceived attack.

Children react and move more overtly than adults, but they haven’t developed the incredibly efficient circuitry to really spin up that jealousy whirlwind that so consumes adults. Kids are raw force, where adults are calculating, patient and careful. That being said, the process from jealousy to its fruits is very apparent in kids. Adults tend to bottle everything up, conceal and essentially protect themselves from being “caught on tape” most of the time (though in current society, adults seem to be leaning more toward the childish version).

We can see the process best in school age kids, I think. When one is praised out of a group, that child tends to become ostracized by the others. This is especially true if that one child was the only one doing the right thing or if the praise is repeatedly focused toward that one. The term “teacher’s pet” is used in the adult world today, but without quite the vicious connotation as in elementary school. The teacher’s pet was frequently the nerd, outcast or goody-goody that most kids hated because he was better than they were (or at least perceived to be so). Though superiority wasn’t always the case, often it would be. The pet did things the right way, according to the standards.

I read Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, and there is a lot of use of this effect for purpose. Ender, the main character, is a 7 year old boy who has been selected to be the greatest military strategist and commander in history. He’s been monitored since he was a baby by the military to see if he had the mental prowess, the moral character and all the other things it would take to be a great general (or admiral, as space stuff is usually considered naval in nature).

On his first day, heading off in a rocket to the military combat school, the first thing his sponsor did was isolate him. Ender was immediately able to grasp the nature of null gravity, and was the only one of all the kids on the rocket to do so. This would’ve been fine and dandy, with no issues, but the commander on the flight noticed it and not only called Ender out in praise for his superiority, but also chided the other children in comparison to Ender. This served to isolate Ender and make all the other kids begin the trip to despising him.

The intent of the commander was very purposeful. Ender, if isolated, would come to rely only on himself for success, and would grow independently from the others. And Ender was exactly the superior mind and spirit that the commander praised on the ship. This public praise and comparison to other kids was repeated a few other times in the battle school while Ender and the other kids were being trained.

All this, both Ender’s excellence and the special treatment from the military directors of the school, served to alienate him from nearly every other kid. He became the best combatant, the best tactical leader and even the best teacher in the entire school, and the jealousy abounded. Especially, the older kids who were around 12 or 13 years old, about to graduate and far more seasoned than Ender, could not abide Ender’s superiority. They hated him. They despised him and were jealous beyond petty rivalry.

Near the end of the Ender’s time at the school, several of the boys, led by one who was in the lowest bracket of intelligence and talent in the school, plotted to ruin Ender. They did the standard bully-in-the-locker-room routine and intended to beat him up real good. They wanted to restore their superiority in their minds and in Ender’s, and make sure everyone knew they were better than Ender.

It didn’t work out. Ender had learned a lot (this was about 3 years into his training), and in his isolation (he’d figured out that the leaders introduced and tolerated this mean stuff on purpose), he had realized that if he could only rely on himself for survival or success, that he needed to become absolute in his dealings with challenge.

So rather than try to run (impossible anyway), Ender coldly calculated the battle with the older boys, manipulated the leader so that it would be a one-on-one fight (usually bullies like the “hold him while I hit him” tactic) and proceeded to savagely defeat his opponent. Ender’s philosophy of this fight was simply to win the fight and then win all the other future fights all at once, right here, because he might never get another chance at a face to face scenario. So he was vicious, ruthless and exacting in his fighting. He ended up killing his opponent, though he didn’t know it.

It’s a very sobering story. It’s also extremely important to consider for many reasons. I recommend reading the whole book.

But let’s start with a little bit on temptation:

“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:12-15″

The culture in which we live today is one of murder, or at least one of potential murder. We live in a spiral of death, of annihilation. All things not of God lead to destruction. At some point, every act of murder, adultery, theft, false witness and jealousy boils down to a root of selfishness. Eventually, every product of selfishness boils down to a result called murder. Pride, or selfishness, is the source, for we are all too self-righteous, self-centered and self-promoting to even consider acts of God’s righteousness on our own. And all of those unholy qualities lead to death. We cannot ignore this.

Here’s a truth. I believe in the concept of total depravity. I lean toward Calvinism in my understanding of God (through experience with God, not assent to Calvin, just in case there’s another label-hater reading). All people are depraved. They don’t have a shred of Godliness in them. I do not mean absolute depravity, though, in which each of us is the complete fulfillment of the potential depravity we can reach. That’s silly. God would’ve wiped the slate and done away with us all were we all absolutely depraved. But the fact that we are not absolutely depraved right now does not eliminate the possibility that we could proceed on the course to the depths of our miserable natures. There are plenty of horrid examples of the absolute depraved potential of people in the news and in history.

Here’s what happened to the boys in the battle school. They were left to themselves with no moral guidance. There was no lesson in cohabitation with other people other than the fact that the children were made to live together and work together. The leaders who emerged were either those who had an innate sense of social conduct or were of the old warlord stock, with all the bullying, manipulation and coercive skills needed to make a functional team out of chaos. There was no God, no representative of God (church community, fellowship, pastor, Bible) to bridge the gap between depravity and the concept of Godliness.

When left to its own devices, sin becomes consuming, eventually all-consuming, and devours our potential goodness (that which God finds pliant to His will). Sin, specifically what I believe is the root Sin of selfishness, becomes the center of our lives and eventually leads to destruction. As the unsaved world is heading toward ultimate destruction, individual lives are constantly, by ones and twos and even whole groups, already meeting that destruction, daily.

I sympathize with Ender, of course, as most would who have read the book. Ender was special in that he had an extremely overwhelming gift of intellect and the capability to understand things in his youth that adults have trouble grasping in their age and experience. Ender was a genius and not one of the autistic variety or idiot-savant. He was a fully functional mastermind, even in his youth.

His family was a perfect training ground in moral or social dilemmas. His brother and sister were just as fantastically gifted as he was. The difference between the three was critical, though. Ender’s brother was devoid of moral character (I know this is a fuzzy term, but bear with me). Ender’s sister was immensely sensitive and sympathetic.

The brother was vicious and manipulative. He intuitively knew the weaknesses of people and understood the methods by which he could control people via their characteristics. The sister was just the opposite, able to get what she wanted, motivating people by playing on their sympathies and desires and being able to use collaboration in order to create results that not only satisfied her, but served her subject as well. One sibling was a controller and the other was a builder.

Ender was torn between these two. The brother hated him. The sister adored him. Neither was able to truly manipulate Ender as they could others, since Ender was their mental equivalent. The sister protected Ender from brother, and brother tormented both. This, I think, is Ender’s sole source of any moral “conscience” in the book. In the battle school, he despises the way the military commanders manipulated him into isolation and allowed the crises of bullies and other insanity to build Ender into the warrior they wanted. Ender hated the rivalry that became murder around him, and absolutely hated the conflict between people, the way others related to him and each other in a context of superiority, dominance and reputation. Ender was the best humanistic attempt at Christian character that could be devised without God.

Unfortunately, Ender is a false presentation. A sinner, left to his own devices, like Ender, is not going to get anywhere. Sure, everything may look like cake and ice cream, but hell still awaits, arms wide and appetite unsatisfied. Humanity lauds the self-motivated, self-reliant man. He who can make moral decisions and attain success, be kind, considerate and wise on his own is the ideal man. Ender’s Game supports this idea that independence and excellence are the goal for mankind.

Christians must know that this is a false reality. We cannot depend on ourselves for anything. We cannot trust ourselves as Ender grew to trust himself, or as the other characters in the book trusted Ender (at the end). We have but one trustworthy source of become the ideal man.

So the rabbit trail has petered out (no pun intended).

God is opposed to murder. We are, as a race, agreeing with Him in word, but not in truth. Our selfishness breeds hate, every time. 1st John 3:14-15 puts everything clearly, not as a proclamation, but as a statement of FACT.

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

God told us not to murder. We should realize that the Ten Commandments are written as if a classroom rules list for little children. To understand God and His ways, and then understand the world’s mode of operation we should ultimately grasp that, properly, we have no need to adhere specifically to the Ten Commandments. Get this: I am not saying we can ignore them but that we advance from the simple (see spot run) to the real concept behind the Commandments and thereby keep them not as rules but as a comprehensive way of life because of our New Nature In Christ. We should know, must know, that our sin leads to death. Not just our own death, but the death of our relationships, the death of other people, the death of our effects, everything either in one or two aspects or all at once.

Self-righteousness leads to Jealousy leads to anger leads to action leads to destruction leads to guilt leads to Self-righteousness leads to Jealousy leads to anger leads to action leads to destruction.

There are all sorts of variations of this model, but they’re all essentially the same.

  • Covet = hatred
  • Theft = hatred
  • infidelity = hatred
  • Hatred = murder

They all boil down to the concentrated base ingredient: selfishness and they all result in the same distilled product: death.

The opposite of this, what Ender needed, what all the other children needed in the book, was Christ. They, We, need the insertion of the only opposing element to our natures. We need God’s nature impressed over our own. God does not act in ungodly ways, is righteous and loving and absolute. We must understand, accept and pursue His nature, replacing our miserable absolutes with His divine absolutes. Only then can we adhere to the spirit of the Ten Commandments. The goal should be to outgrow the simplistic, codified List of do/don’t do items and live in the real, fundamental commands Christ provided for our New Option, abiding in Him.

“Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘Which is the fist commandment of all?’

“Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.'” Mark 12:28-31″


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