Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Thinx 16: Self Analysis















Seven deadly sins
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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Thinx 15: Spiritual Insanity

So, what I think may be from my self, from the world, from the devil ... or from God. The skill then is in being able to discern and act accordingly.
"'And we are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.' But when [the Pharisees] heard this they were cut to the quick and were intending to slay [the apostles]." -- Acts 5:32-33
From the Pharisees point of view, these apostles were cheeky beyond all measure. Imagine inferring that they had not obeyed God! Why, they obeyed him perfectly in all matters of the law. How dare anyone suggest otherwise? As for this Jesus fellow, he had broken the Sabbath countless times, so who was he to parade himself as a paragon of virtue? So what that he had healed even someone born blind? The fact was he did not keep the law and the traditions and thus was beyond the pale, beyond listening to. The only thing he was fit for was destruction lest he turn the people away to his blasphemous and disobedient ways.

The fact was that the Pharisees were beyond reasonable argument. They had pushed God too far and he had washed his hands of them, giving them in full the blindness they had tried so hard to attain and maintain. Only to one or two had he shown any mercy.

The apostles on the other hand had no illusions about their own self-importance or their own ability to keep the law or their ability to please God by their own efforts. They had been thorough-going sinners and knew it -- why else would Peter in Luke 5.8 tell Jesus to depart from him? They knew only too well where they had been and where they stood before God and knew that their only hope was in Jesus, who alone could set them free from sin, from death, and indeed from themselves. The apostles were repenting and believing. They were sane, fully aware of who they were, where they had come from and where they were going.

The Pharisees, by contrast, were spiritually insane.

And yet how easy it is to become just as spiritually insane. How easy it is to be deluded by self, social system and Satan. How easy it is to get wound up in a whole bunch of rules that end up attempting to substitute for wholehearted obedience to God.

I need to be on guard always, watching lest I fall into the same insanity that afflicted and ultimately destroyed the Pharisees.

Thinx 14: Enemies

It seems sometimes I am fighting against myself ... and losing.

Why is this so surprising? Hasn't God said that we have three enemies? The last is the Devil (though powerful he is not our primary foe, yet gets the most credit for our woes); the second is the world (the anti-God or apathetic-to-God social milieu); and the first, the chief and yet the most disregarded, the flesh (our fallen self-centered nature*).

Yes, I am fighting against self, yet am so lacking in self-awareness that I don't realise I'm in battle until after I've lost.

* from Three Enemies of the Christian Life, an editorial in the Brethren Revival Fellowship website at www.brfwitness.org

Thinx 13: Lostness

Luke 19:10 "For Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Funny how only those who know they are lost get found and get saved. Those who have no idea as the reality of their lostness have no time for Jesus on their schedules. (Though God is merciful to us all and at least tells us, if we have ears to hear.) Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, enough to climb a tree and look silly doing so. He knew something about himself, enough to know that he needed to see Jesus. Maybe he knew he was lost. Maybe he knew he needed saving. Maybe he just wanted to see Jesus. Really, really, wanted to see Jesus. Enough not to care how stupid he looked climbing a tree.

Luke 18:25 says that it is easier for a camel to go through eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. And this surprises the disciples no end. So here then we have Zacchaeus. A rich man. (Luke says he's rich.) From the Jews point of view he is blessed of God to be rich and well on his way to the kingdom of God and yet he is not. Rather, he needs Jesus and seems to know this. Note too that he brings forth the fruit of repentance -- that is, his conversion results in real changes in behaviour. Not so many public conversions in this and the last century where a lot of noise and media hype is made of conversion but no fruit comes.