Sunday, July 17, 2011

Are Sinful Thoughts Sinful? (part4)

So we have this sad unmitigated reality that the seed of sin is with man from cradle to grave & that a holy God will not avert His eyes from judging all of its outgrowth, down to the very moment of germination. But there is good news! Another unmitigated reality is that there is another seed germinating in the garden of those drawn to Christ. Even more fantastically, this seed is strong enough overpower & eventually destroy the bad seed, & even its bad fruit! Hallelujah! How does this happen?

First off, believe in the eventual triumph of that seed by trusting in the ability of the Master Gardener that sowed it. We did not produce that seed, it was not of human descent, but of God, “lest any man should boast”. So while this fact denies us vanity, it also accords us tremendous confidence; a good seed does in fact dwell within, & it cannot be averted, destroyed, nor revoked (Rom. 11:29)- we indeed “will be saved” (glorification- e.g. Rom. 8:17-30, 1Cor 3:15). But faith in Christ’s seed is key to glorification’s prerequisites- justification & sanctification. We neither “were saved” (justification- e.g. Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:8) nor are “being saved” (sanctification- e.g. 1Cor 1:18, 15:1-2) apart from faith.

Hebrews 11:24-27 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, (25) choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. (26) He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (27) By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.

Therefore, since faith is so basic to being in Christ the pertinent question is- How does one believe to a greater extent?

The Master’s Good seed will grow a good crop, but He, in some part, leaves the when & how much to the due diligence of His fellow laborers. Paul makes the following fascinating statement as he instructs of God’s future fiery-styled judgment of our works:

1Corinthians 3:9a For we are God's fellow workers.

The honest & diligent student of the word knows Paul cannot be speaking of that aspect our salvation known as justification for, as he states elsewhere that one is justified by entirely by faith, apart from works (e.g. Rom 3:28).

Getting down to brass tacks, faith is grown in the most outwardly ordinary ways. True, it is God who delivers the measure of faith, but He does not generally do it by some arcane & mysterious impartation. It is unfortunate that so many Christians think this is the way the Spirit feeds our faith, because they therefore tend to be completely laissez-faire in regards to growing their spiritual maturity. Even reformed-minded believers can fall into this trap when they try to apply the concept of God’s utter sovereignty to the process of sanctification. Since both justification & sanctification are elements of the greater salvation (conversion) experience, some features, like repentance & faith, will be common to both. The Spirit leads all that are His to repent & believe for the purposes of justification, but the further measures of these godly traits are taken up under the auspice of sanctification. Therefore, in reference to justification & sanctification, there is an overlap in regards to the signs of repentance & faith, but not in regards to God’s utter sovereignty. God does all the work of justification Himself, but we are His fellow workers in the way of our sanctification & good works accomplished in Christ. Thus the necessity for Paul to confess our “fellow worker” status as he heralds the news that our diligence will be called to account in a very real way in 1 Corinthians 3...

Uh… uh… I thought God was supposed to do it all” will be the regrettable words spoken by blasé believers on that day when it is revealed how little they have accomplished with all that God has given unto to them.

But of course there is a flip side to Paul’s edifying adjuration in 1 Corinthians 3, & this is directed as a warning to the other extreme- the proud & boastful overachiever. And here again, the phrase “God's fellow workers” is equally applicable; these run into the field without waiting for the Master’s lead, plowing & planting according to their own myopic understanding. They think to themselves “I’m capable of the work, I can do it on my own, I don’t need to wait on anyone else.” Their pride is all that leads them as they run ahead, leading the pack, instead of finding the Master (the Holy Spirit) in order to follow in His lead of producing eternal works likened to gold, silver, & precious stones. These infantile Christians accomplish everything & nothing at the same time.

Their lack of maturity (sanctification) is what hinders them, for increasing faith & repentance at work within them would destroy the fleshly pride that will otherwise surely cause them to be without on the day of fiery testing.

These will indeed drag copious works into God’s courtroom on their appointed day, but a giant fireball will be their only reward for all their proud deceiving diligence, as all their worthless “wood, hay, & stubble” is consumed.

1 Corinthians 3:1-16 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. (2) I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, (3) for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? (4) For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not being merely human? (5) What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. (6) I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. (7) So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (8) He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. (9) For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building. (10) According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. (11) For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw- (13) each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. (14) If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. (15) If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (16) Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?

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