Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Getting To The Mountains

I've been reading Romans, puzzling over it.
There's a disconnect.
Not in the bible - in my mind.
Kiev just asked me a question that pretty much sums it up.

"Is it possible to be truly sincere if you aren't always sincere? How can you truly love Jesus if you are always going back to yourself and ignoring him?"
How is that possible? Are we deceiving ourselves about our salvation?
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
So if we aren't saved, we know we can't be doing things that are even remotely pleasing to God. If I am redeemed, though, what of my works are pleasing to God? Does Jesus' death make everything I do pleasing to God? He is my righteousness, in heaven, seated at the Father's right hand, but it seems like I should be making an effort of my own, in return for his love.

I'm not an accomplished theologian and I feel like I'm getting in way over my head, but maybe you can feel some of my confusion. I'd love to hear your comments on any of this.

Later in the chapter it says,
16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
The Christian life is one that requires discipline, but it's not the grouchy kind. I like to think of it as a love relationship (it is, actually). Would I begrudge waking up early if I got to see the one I loved? If it meant that I'd have an extra twenty minutes in private with them, to tell them all my thoughts and plans, tell how much I loved them and ask their advice on things in my life? If I did begrudge waking up and when I went to talk to them, I was falling asleep, it would make them wonder how much I actually loved them.

How much do I love God? Do I love him enough to sacrifice- anything, really? Am I willing to give up watching that TV show that I know isn't good for me spiritually? Am I willing to be deliberate about memorizing his precious words? I don't want to sound legalistic, here. I do believe in the perseverance of the saints. Once I'm saved, I'm always saved. Nothing can separate me from Jesus' love. (Read the rest of chapter 8)

On this earth, I will always struggle with sin (Romans 7:19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me).
This is depressing because something in my heart of hearts wants to love God with the kind of perfect love he has, with the faithful, ever-abiding, stronger-than-death love that he is.
I won't ever be able to, in this life.

But that should never stop me from doing my best to attain to that. Think of loving God as a infinite range of mountains (this is similar to something Pastor Piper said). I can sit there and say, "Wow, wouldn't it be a great thing if I were able to climb all those mountains?"

Or I could go and start to climb the very first one.



  1. Whoa. Thanks for writing this out! The last part especially helped me with questions I've been having for a long time. We can't just sit around and wish we were something more than we are, we have to instead make that first step. We must climb that first mountain. If we don't make an effort to escape the grasp of sin, we will never be free of it. However, we can do all things in Christ who gives us strength (Phillipians 4:13). If we ask God for help, then nothing we do in His name will defeat us.
    It is so amazing to think that God understood our inability to be perfect as He requires, and made a way for us to still be with Him despite our incredible weakness.
    Thanks for the encouraging post!

  2. We can't reach perfection in this life because of original sin, which makes our human natures imperfect- if we could always be perfectly pleasing to God in everything we did, and entirely perfect always, then we wouldn't need salvation. That's why he died for us- because we need it. That's always nice to remember, when you start feeling like nothing you ever do is enough. It's about learning how to be pleasing to God- and the fact that we want to be pleasing to him pleases him, even though what we do is so small. Just because you've said yes to the straight and narrow way doesn't mean you've gotten to the end of it, just that you hope to eventually- but don't let yourself get down about how little what you can do is. I heard a quote once, "Reach up as high as you can, and God will reach down the rest of the way." ^_^