Freedom In The Thought-Life – Part 4

So here we move on in our understanding of true spirituality in the Christian life.  Basically it is a matter of our thoughts.  The external is the expression, the results.  Moral battles are not won in the external world first.  They are always a result flowing naturally from a cause, and the cause is in the internal world of one’s thoughts.  Inf fact, Jesus emphasized this with great force: You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say Matthew 12:34 NLT.  

It is the internal that Jesus stresses.  The internal comes before the external, and the internal produces the external. It is a matter of cause and effect.   

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus deals with this, too. You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! Matthew 5:21-22 NLT. 

Compare this with 1 John 3:15Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart.  Now we have come a step further.  The thought-world is still first, but here we are told something else.  In relation to morals, the thought is the thing.  Hate does not just lead to murder; morally, it is murder.  Now we are stressing morally, the hate is the murder. 

So far we have taken three steps: first, the internal is first; second, the internal causes the external; third, morally, the internal is central. 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Freedom In The Thought-Life – Part 3

Let’s review Ephesians 4:17-24 as we continue…. 

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 

Now let us notice another element in this that is most important in the twenty-first century, and in the midst of contemporary thinking.  In verse 18 it speaks of ignorance.  Ignorance is in relationship to content; it is not just a spirit of ignorance.  In verse 21 it speaks of ‘the truth in Jesus.’  Truth is content, truth has something to do with reason.  Truth has something to do with the rational creature that God has made us.  The dilemma here in the internal world is not just some sort of gray fog, it is in relationship to content.   

Be renewed in the spirit of your minds’ (verse 23).  This again is not simply a feeling.  It is a matter of thoughts in a rational sense, and with content.  With the objective ‘to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness’ (verse 24). (Schaeffer says “the best translation here is ‘holiness of truth’.)   

This is not just an emotional holiness but holiness in relationship to content, holiness in relationship to thought and a set of things that can be stated as true, in contrast to that which is false.  What is being dealt with here is the problem of internal ignorance in the sense of rebellion, turning from those things that are truth.  (con’t tomorrow) 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Freedom In The Thought-Life – Part 2

Continuing…. 

In Ephesians 4:17 Paul writes:  Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.  Here is the Gentile world, the lost world, our world, today.  They are walking ‘in the futility of their mind.’  Surely this sound like Romans 1: they became futile in their thinking.  This is an inward thing.  This is what is wrong with the world:  the vanity of its mind. 

In Ephesians 4:18 we are given the reason for this: They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.  So we are told that their understanding is darkened; that is an internal thing.  All of this flows from the basis of their rebellion against God.  It is exactly as Romans 1 explains it.  But after showing where ‘the gentiles’ stand, there comes verse 19, with its picture of men who have moved past feeling, They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. So again the order is the same; the internal, then the external.   

Now we are brought sharply to a contrast in verse 20: But that is not the way you learned Christ!  The word ‘learned,’ let us notice, is again an internal thing.   

This is exactly parallel to Romans 12, where in verse 2 we read ‘by the renewing of your mind.’  That is an internal thing, and so is this.  But Ephesians 4:22 is the outward:  put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires.   

The conversation here encompasses the whole set of life.  It is in itself an internal aspect.  Then it flows over into the external.  So this all rests upon verse 20, But that is not the way you learned Christ, which is an internal thing.  The internal thing has internal motion from it: first to internal results, and then to external results.  (con’t tomorrow). 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Freedom In The Thought-Life – Part 1

New Chapter

The next step is to discuss true spirituality in relation to separation from ourselves in the internal world of ‘thought’.  (read the opening line again..grasp the ‘main’ premise therein).  

In Romans 1:22-29, we find an order established.  Introductory to this passage we notice in verse 21: For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  

Here are those who knew God.  We can think of it in terms of the original fall of Adam and Eve, or we can think of it in terms of those many, many times when a culture has known the true God and has deliberately turned away, as is the case in our own post-Christian world.  We see that they knew God, but they became vain in their reasoning.  This is the world of their thoughts.  Then, in verse 22: Claiming to be wise, they became fools.  This is an internal thing; the external is in verse 24: Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.  This is the result.  Thus we see the order; first there was an idea in their thought-life, and then came the outward result of the idea.   

In verse 25 we are told that they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature (created thing) rather than the Creator.  Here is the inward rebellion, and immediately this brought external results as we saw in verse 24. 

Look now at verse 28: And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind (that is, a mind void of judgement), to do what ought not to be done.  Here again is the same order.   

We can say two things about the external act:  the external follows the internal, and the external is a product of the internal.  Thoughts are first, and they produce the external.  This is the order.   

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. Romans 12:1  

Now this is in the external world.  But notice this cannot be separated from verse 2:   

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. 

There is indeed to be a presenting of our bodies, but this has meaning only on the basis of the understanding of the internal.   

Paul speaks here of hot being conformed to this world.  But that is not simply external.  In contrast to this, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, and that is internal.    (con’t tomorrow)

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Freedom From Conscience – Final Part

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.

As we finish the study in this chapter….One thing more needs to be said on this subject: (read this carefully)  But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.  But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 ESV. 

This teaches us that we do not need to wait to be chastened before our fellowship with God can be restored.  God’s chastening is not a punishment.  The punishment is altogether dealt with on Calvary’s cross.  It is a correction to bring us back to fellowship with himself, and we do not need to wait to be chastened before our fellowship can be restored.  The chastening of a child of God does not have a penal aspect.  That was finished on the cross.  There is no double jeopardy when the holy God is the Judge.  Our guilt is gone, once and forever.  Therefore if we judge ourselves, we are not chastened.   

Consequently we may read these two verse backwards.  And that is, God is not going to have us condemned with the world, so he will chasten us.  But if we judge ourselves, and call the sin sin, and bring it under the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, then he will not have to chasten us.  This is what Paul was urging upon us.  It is overwhelmingly better not to sin.  But is it not wonderful that when we do sin, we can hurry to the place of restoration? 

So God means us to have, as one of his gifts in this life, freedom from a false tyranny of the conscience.  Most, if not all, Christians find that the first step in the substantial healing that they can have in the present life is the substantial healing of the separation from themselves that is a result of the Fall and of sin.  (We are never fully all we were created to be prior to new birth ‘in’ Christ…the full realization of ‘self’ is understanding that we were created, wired, designed, purposed, intended to be in fellowship with God, to have God through the Spirit live inside us..to make us whole man, to complete us).  Man is first of all separated from God, then from himself, and finally from his fellow men and from nature.  The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ will give an absolute and perfect restoration of all these things when Jesus comes.  But in the present life there is to be a substantial healing, including the results of the separation between a man and himself.  This is the first step towards freedom in the present life from the results of the bonds of sin.   

(I will be away from the computer until Monday, Jan 10th😊) 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Freedom From Conscience – Part 10

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.

Continuing from yesterday…. 

For myself, through the twenty years or so since I began to struggle with this in my own life, I rather picture my conscience as a big black dog with enormous paws, which leaps upon me, threatening to cover me with mud and devour me.  But as this conscience of mine jumps upon me, after a specific sin has been dealt with on the basis of Christ’s finished work, then I should turn to my conscience and say, in effect, “Down! Be still!”  I am to believe God and be quiet in my practice and experience.  My fellowship with God has been supernaturally restored.  I am cleansed, ready again to resume the spiritual life, ready again to be used by the Spirit for warfare in the external world.  I cannot be ready until I am cleansed, but when I am, then I am ready.  And I may come back for cleansing as many times as I need, on this basis.   

This is for many Christians the point of reality.  All of us battle with this problem of reality.  Men go to strange extremes to touch reality, but here is the point of it:  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1 ESV.  

This is the point of reality for me personally.  If I lay hold upon the blood of Christ in faith, reality rests here, not in trying to live as though the Bible teaches perfectionism.  That is no basis for reality; that is only a basis either for subterfuge or despair.  But there is reality here:  the reality of sins forgiven; the reality of a certainty that when a specific sin is brought under the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is forgiven.  This is the reality of restored relationship.  Reality is not meant to be only credal, though the creeds are important.  Reality is to be experienced, and experienced on the basis of a restored relationship with God through that finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.  (con’t tomorrow)  🙂

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Freedom From Conscience – Part 9

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.

Martin Luther, in his commentary on Galatians, shows a great understanding of the fact that our salvation includes salvation from the bondage of our conscience.  It is, of course, natural and right that as we become Christians our consciences should become ever more tender.  This is a work of the Holy Spirit.  However, I should not be bowed down by my conscience year after year over sins that are past.  When my conscience under the Holy Spirit makes me aware of a specific sin, I should at once call that sin sin and bring it consciously under the blood of Christ.  Now it is covered, and it is not honoring to the finished work of Jesus Christ to worry about it, as far as my relationship to God is concerned.  Indeed, to worry about it is to truly not understand the infinite value of the death of the Son of God.  The true reality, the fact, is that my fellowship with God is restored.   

Now there may be a price yet to pay for my sins in regard to the rules and laws of society; there may be a harm to individuals that I have to deal with.  These things still have to be faced.  We will consider this later.  But as far as my fellowship with the Father is concerned, God says it is restored upon the basis of the value of the blood of Jesus Christ.  And if his blood is of such a value as to bring a rebel and a sinner from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s dear Son at justification, what sin is so black that it cannot cover it? 

As I consciously say ‘Thank you’ to God for a completed work, my conscience should come into rest.  (con’t tomorrow) 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Freedom From Conscience – Part 8

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.

I have found it extremely helpful that when a man has accepted Christ as his Savior, he should bow his head and say “Thank you” to the God who is there—“Thank you for the completed work”.  Undoubtedly men have been saved and have gone away not consciously saying ‘Thank you’ but how wonderful it is when a man has seen himself as a sinner, and has understood his lostness, for that man to have accepted Christ as his Savior and then to have bowed his head consciously to say ‘Thank you’ for a work that is absolute and complete.  It is usually when the newly-born one thanks God that the assurance comes, that he comes to rest in certainty and in peace.   

It is the same in restoration.  There is a continuing parallel here.  If we have sinned, it is wonderful consciously to say, “Thank you for a completed work,” after we have brought that specific sin under the finished work of Christ.  While not absolutely necessary for restoration, the conscious giving of thanks brings assurance and peace.  We say ‘Thank you’ for work completed upon the cross, which is sufficient for a completely restored relationship.  This is not on the basis of my emotions, any more than in my justification.  The basis is the finished work of Christ in history and the objective promises of God in the written Word.  If I believe him, and if I believe what he has taught me about the sufficiency of the work of Christ for restoration, I can have assurance, no matter how black the blot has been.  This is the Christian reality of salvation from one’s conscience. 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Freedom From Conscience – Part 7

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.

Continuing… We are speaking of Restoration:  the blood of Christ has meaning for me in my present life when I have fallen and my peace is gone.  Restoration must be first upon the understanding of what Christ has done for us in this area, and then beginning to practice this moment by moment.  It is not a mechanical process; the meaning of the work of Christ in our present life is to be consciously acted upon.  But the base is the finished work of Christ in history.   

How glad we should be for Christ’s story of the Prodigal Son.  Here is one who is a son and yet has gone deeply into sin, down into the mire.  Scripture makes it plain that he has not just sinned a little, even in the world’s view of sin. He has sinned the ‘big’ sins.  Yet the father stands waiting when the prodigal returns, his arms ready to close about him.  The blood of Christ can cleanse the darkest sin.  There is no sin so great that our fellowship cannot be restored, if we humbly call it sin and, through faith, bring that specific sin under the blood of Christ.  When my heart condemns me and cries ‘You have done it again,’ I am to believe God again as to the value of the finished work of Christ.  There must be death, we have seen, before there can be resurrection.  But on the basis of the victory of Christ, resurrection should follow death.  The Christian life never ends on the negative.  There is a negative, because man is a rebel.  But it does not end there; it always goes on to the positive.  As my body will one day be raised from the dead, so I am meant to live a resurrected life now.  

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Freedom From Conscience – Part 6

At present, we are working with the light of truth presented by Dr. Francis Schaeffer from his book True Spirituality where we are discussing the basic considerations of the Christian life, or true Christianity.

In our study, we have seen earlier that there is a parallel between justification and sanctification, that is, between becoming a Christian and living a Christian life.  The first step in justification is that I must acknowledge that I am a sinner, that I am justly under the wrath of God, and that I cannot save myself.  The first step in living the true Christin life is that I must acknowledge that I cannot live the Christian life in my own strength or in my own goodness.  The first step of restoration after I have sinned is in exactly the same line:  I must acknowledge that my specific sin is sin.  There are not three different principles; there is one principle in these three places, because we are dealing with the same God and basically the same problem.  But neither in becoming a Christian, nor in fruit-bearing as a Christian, is the first step enough on its own.  In each of the three situations, I must then raise the hands of faith for God’s gift in that place.  And when I, a Christian, have sinned, it is only the finished work of Jesus Christ in space, time, and history, back there on Calvary’s cross, that is enough.  It is only the blood of Jesus Christ that is enough to cleanse my sin as a Christian, and it is only upon the basis of the blood of Christ that the spot is removed.  I must bring the specific sin under the blood of Jesus Christ, by faith.  So it is the same thing again; here is the active passivity which we have already discussed.  We cannot do it of ourselves, but neither are we sticks or stones.  God has made us in his own image, and he will always deal with us on that ground and in that relationship.   

Now just as in the conscious area of sanctification as a whole, so here in restoration; everything rests upon the reality of the fact that the blood of Christ has meaning in our present life, and restoration takes place as we, in faith, act upon that fact in specific cases of sin.  After we become a Christian we must learn the reality of the meaning of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, in our present life, and consciously begin to act on it.  We must have knowledge and practice of the availability of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ in the present meaning of our life.  The reality of it rests upon the knowledge of what Christ has purchase for us—not only in taking us to heaven, but in the present life—and then begin to act upon this in moment-by-moment faith. 

Thoughts developed or used directly from the work of Schaeffer, Francis. True Spirituality . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc