LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Thursday, July 12, 2007

To be doggedly obedient


As I sat in Sunday evening service, I felt increasingly convicted that I shouldn’t have brought those John Piper books during his recent two-day $5.00-a-book
(-and-Bible) sale.

Awwww, maaaaaannn! I thought I had pushed that guilt deep enough it wouldn’t surface until at least the next similar temptation I encounter.

Alas, as our minister pleaded on, exhorting his flock to be totally surrendered to God – that niggling thought kept rising: “You are under authority to your husband, by the sanction of God to such order in the family in His Word, and you told your husband that you wouldn’t buy anything he doesn’t expect from you – nothing but food and clothing for your daughter. When you said anything this did not exclude John Piper and other books for religious edification, no matter how much it seems ok at the time. And did it really seem ok at the time?”

This was particularly annoying since just that morning I had nodded wholeheartedly (more whole headedly) in agreement throughout the pastor’s entire Sunday School lesson on why Christians submitting to all God-sanctioned authority in Scripture – in family, church, and government – is necessary.

Yup! There I sat – Christian in church, in word, in deed – oh, except for that little matter of those books I wanted.

Hey, they were John Piper books! On sale!

Sigh.

I knew in my heart that I must confess this to my husband. And slowly I began to realize that it was ultimately (and not just ultimately, but primarily) against God whom I had sinned.

This is a part of Scriptural understanding that had heretofore long evaded me, but perhaps I am slowly beginning to understand:

“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment." – Psalm 51:4

Although it was my husband to whom I promised not to spend beyond his expectations and that of my own initiative, it was the Lord who set my husband’s authority over me – and against God and His standards I transgressed. Because God set this authority to be the rule of my home, it is He Who I disobeyed.

Interestingly, even before I confessed to my husband, my father and I were conversing in the kitchen when I mentioned how it has been a difficult transition for me – having been in the workforce since high school. Even though my husband and I have long been like-minded in spending habits, frugality and aversion to debt, we each always equally had incomes, and therefore, spent freely (not liberally, but freely – without needing to check in with one another). As I explained to my dad that now as a stay-at-home (hoping-to-homeschool) mom, it’s been a transition for me to check with my husband on issues related to spending.

My dad wisely noted that even when both spouses work and bring in an income, that’s how it should be.

I confess that I’m leaning toward that understanding as well – but having been raised by an independent working mother and having worked for decades myself in a culture that promotes self-reliance and shuns submission, I didn’t think much about surrender or accountability to my spouse. We were just always like-minded and that was sufficient for both of us. But God is changing me.

It seems like it’s taken me a very long time (only 46 years, actually, and counting) to get this through my thick skull, but I’m beginning to realize that whatever I am to be – to obey – to do – it is all as unto the Lord. And more than as unto - it is unto my Lord.

Whatever I do or am that is not in line with God’s Word, it is against Him and Him alone because it is His Lordship (and I say and I mean that in all due reverence, not as Free Grace uses the term) – it is His Lordship to which I am beholden.

I am so because I was bought with a price. I am no longer my own. But every day that I awaken and begin my day with my own thoughts before submitting to Him, I thereby choose to feed the old man and quench the Spirit who sealed me as a purchase of my Lord.

In so doing, I am more prone to walk in the flesh that day and serve her, succumbing to wants and desires that although seemingly innocuous are treacherous because they deny His Lordship over my life.

I am beginning to see this as an extremely dangerous place to be – saved without submission, born again but not broken, forgiven but still feeding the flesh. I think it venomous.

If I choose not to walk, talk, live and breathe 100 percent – total and absolute – daily surrender and obedience to my Lord first, then I sin against Him and Him alone, maybe trampling or hurting others in my wake, but ultimately and primarily rubbing (flavorless) salt in His wounds, missing the mark, and grieving the Spirit. And to what end, but my own? A dead end indeed.

Christian, the smallest infraction that you know is serving self before your Lord is rebellion and therefore not small.

I am convinced that there is no Christian growth or sanctification without repentance and obedience.

There is no Savior without Lord.

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42 Comments:

Blogger Gayla said...

Susan, this sort of goes along with what I was talking about in my most recent blog post.

We have many opportunities to 'not harden our hearts' when we know the Holy Spirit is prompting us. Some things may seem like "little" or insignificant things, but in our obedience to those things, we are more deeply conformed into the image of Christ.

Great post and thoughts!

July 12, 2007 10:16 AM

 
Blogger only1way said...

thx for making yourself vulnerable to us Susan--you are right -- we treat the Christian life like a fruit tree--we pick those areas that we want to be submissive in and the rest we turn our backs to and walk away--I am convinced that the devil has wrought his worst attacks in the home--the word "submission" has become a dirty word in the church -- but --- wives are commanded to do just that with their husbands -- thx for bringing some respect back to it.

July 12, 2007 10:34 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Thanks. This really wasn't 'fun' to share with others, but I'm guilty of it more often than I'd like to admit.
It's also the first time that I recognize where that verse in Psalms actually made sense to me. It was quite a revelation to me that our sins are always only against God, since He set the standard (for lack of better term coming to mind) and it is against Him we transgress.
I never understood prior to now the "against You, only You," but I'm beginning to.
I confess it's a wonderful thing, even though painful to the pride. Mortifying the flesh hurts a wee bit, but the joy in understanding the closer walk with God that results from obedience is, well, words can't describe.
Gayla, never hesitate to share future sales either. I know that I shall be tempted again - in various and sundry ways, but I'm not worried. He's conforming me. Daily.

July 12, 2007 11:17 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I should add that I did confess to my husband and he was very understanding and forgiving.

July 12, 2007 11:19 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I also offered to my husband that I could call Piper's organization to try to cancel the order (since they're pretty much all back-ordered due to volume of orders from that sale), but my husband said I can keep the books.

*insert tiny squeal of delight here*

July 12, 2007 11:21 AM

 
Blogger Baptist Girl said...

Hey Susan,
Thanks for sharing,it is good to be able to relate to one another.

Cristina

July 12, 2007 12:38 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

I very much liked this post... Thank you for sharing Susan.

July 12, 2007 12:50 PM

 
Blogger Dawn said...

Susan, God has been dealing with me on these sorts of things lately, too. I remember the first time I did something like this. It was after I quit working. Part of the time I worked outside the home we didn't need my income so that income was completely discretionary. We didn't think twice about buying most things. Well, when I quit working I knew I couldn't spend as freely as I'd been used to doing.

On my first shopping spree after I'd quit working I knew that I'd over done it. I felt guilty and hid some of the items I'd bought. (I think it was several pairs of shoes.) I'd heard of my (non-saved) co-workers doing such things and was sort of appalled. Here I found myself doing the same thing and was shocked to find I was capable of that sort of chicanery. I did fess up.

Then I graduated to not hiding it, but not telling him about certain purchases and he'd find out when I wore it or used it.

Now, when he knows I'm out shopping he'll sometimes ask how much I've spent. I've made a game of it and tell him he's on a need to know basis and he doesn't need to know. That makes him laugh and I try to change the subject. Sometimes I'm successful and sometimes he presses me until I tell him.

I've never spent to the point that we can't pay for the things I buy, but I think it is the spirit behind it that is so wrong. My husband never tells me what to do, but I know he sometimes feels that I buy lots of things that I don't really need (I've got clothes with the tags still on them that I've never worn) and that the money would be better off in our savings account. He's right of course. And I've gotten so much better, but that's not good enough. I need to stop and submit.

We've never really had the submissive type of relationship. We've always been co-equals and we rarely have disagreements. I'm sure some of it is because he is very easy going and even if I did do something he disliked he wouldn't really say much about it. When he does say something about my spending or something I'm contemplating buying he's very delicate and says something like, "Think about it, do you really need that? Are you really going to use it?"

Anyway, God has been dealing with me on these issues and I haven't quite grasped that it is God and God alone whom I've sinned against. I know the word says that it is God and God alone. I've always felt that it was both the person and God I've sinned against. It has only been lately that I've really tried to understand that scripture. For an inkling I get it, but then it goes away. Maybe I'm not looking at it right. I'm sure more prayer about it would bring it completely to fruition. Maybe it's that I've wronged the person, but SINNED against God?

I haven't read your post Gayla, but I'll pop over there to read it. I'll keep you two in prayer over these issues.

July 12, 2007 2:06 PM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

"I am convinced that there is no Christian growth or sanctification without repentance and obedience."

I can certainly agree with that.

July 12, 2007 2:23 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

The real upside for this obedience is that wives probably fare better than by being independently stubborn. Kinda like husbands fare better as they show more love toward their wives.

Jazzycat has some of these things figured out as she plays me like a fiddle!

wayne

July 12, 2007 3:53 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I don't know many (or any) people who understand the blessings of obedience without having to learn it firsthand.

Daniel, thanks. My post really is just a small echo of your posts as of late re: repentance and lack thereof. My pastor cited your post on the heart of unrepentance, btw, in Sunday evening's service.

July 12, 2007 6:08 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Dawn,
I think we've all done that - not admitting to spending more than we know we should have or than would be acceptable to our husbands, so we've hidden x,y, or z when we've gotten home.
And isn't that really like hiding from the Lord? Basically pointless, like Adam and Eve "hiding from God" in the Garden. It's still sin.
I'm not pointing a finger at you here or any example you gave. I'm just talking about the whole issue of supposedly "little" transgressions - or those "justifiable" to us in our own minds. They're really not little at all if they are disobedient to God's sanctioned order in the home.

July 12, 2007 6:17 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Matthew,
I'm glad we're in agreement on this particular matter.
I have to wonder - without Christian growth or sanctification, what's the point?
(I'm not trying to provoke any long discussions or anything - really I'm not. I just have to wonder that without it, really, what's the point?)

July 12, 2007 6:21 PM

 
Blogger ROD WILLETT said...

How about just having a prior agreement with your husband that you can buy books or other things once in a while? At some point in your marriage there should be an element of trust between the two of you that doesn't focus on the small things. Now if you had purchased a car without discussing it, I would feel differently.

July 12, 2007 11:09 PM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Susan, the point of Christian growth is that we become ever more closely united to God in Christ, submerging our humanity into His divine energy. And the glorious future for us is to share in Christ's sovereign rule over the universe as celestial beings.

We are created in Christ to be a new kind of divinized humanity.

God Bless

Matthew

July 13, 2007 3:46 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Matthew, Please take us through, point by point, with scripture what it is you are saying here...

"submerging our humanity into His divine energy. And the glorious future for us is to share in Christ's sovereign rule over the universe as celestial beings.

We are created in Christ to be a new kind of divinized humanity."

July 13, 2007 7:44 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Maybe later. I am basically talking about our union with Christ and its cosmic implications.

July 13, 2007 9:17 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Rod,
That's a really nice idea.
I tend to go "black and white" on these kinds of things - that is, I don't want to cut myself a little slack cuz I know my "old man" too well. It's a good idea nonetheless for some folks.
I think you're right that that element of trust is important. My husband does trust me - probably mostly because I have come to him with this same confession now and again - mostly for books.
This time, however, I realized it was an infraction/sin against God. And God alone. That's the way I'm beginning to understand it, anyway.
And as such, it was far more serious than I previously realized.
Thankfully, I have enough books now to keep me busy for a loooong time. I have way more "stuff" than I need, and quite often I look around and think it's time to scale back.
"Stuff" is a distraction from my true priorities, which don't get my attention if I focus on the "stuff," which includes books.

July 13, 2007 9:31 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

...submerging our humanity into His divine energy...a new kind of divinized humanity...cosmic implications.

Like Mark, I found your language interesting here, Matthew, particularly for someone who favors the KJV to the (near) exclusion of other translations.

July 13, 2007 9:38 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Why is the Star Trek theme in my head now?

July 13, 2007 10:41 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Mark,
Resistance is futile.

July 13, 2007 11:01 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Susan, thou art Borg?

July 13, 2007 11:23 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

With all this recent talk of acquisition I would have thought Ferangi

July 13, 2007 11:28 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Something closely related to this thread of which I'm becoming aware is the difference between the expectations we bring into a marriage based on what we know and understand from watching our own parents and the standard of holiness God describes in Scripture.

As I was cleaning the floor this morning, that came to mind as I started to clean some air conditioning vents, when the thought crossed my mind, "You know, this is really a man's job."

Boom! The very next thought on top of that was, "It's a servant's job, and you are My servant." Man, if I wasn't already on my knees, I would have dropped to them. Or should have.

This has occurred elsewhere in my marriage, since my husband is a farmer (large-scale agricultural operation) and when off work he spends more time outside of our immediate yard area, whereas I grew up in the suburbs and things that my dad would normally do, my husband's mother took care of (yardwork, mowing, etc). Since I knew that, it was never an issue with me, although in my heart I may have wished it were otherwise. I don't begrudge it, but I wished otherwise and therefore was not as wholehearted a servant in my doing these chores. In the back of my mind, I would think "it's a man's job."

I'm learning that my mental expectations about such things from my growing-up years and observations of my parents' models as husband and wife are worldy. Because they're the familiar and comfortable, they can be detrimental.

It's the Lord's standards of holiness on which I must dwell. The things required of us are just that - things (whether a.c. vent cleaning, mowing, weeding, serving, etc), but the heart as we do them is key.

It matters little what chore I do. It matters a lot my obedience and Whom I serve as I do them.

July 13, 2007 11:30 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Mark,
f'shizzle
:-)

July 13, 2007 11:31 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Susan, the Trinity has been theologically defined in the language of Hellenistic philosophy. I have no objection to that. I am happy to use Hellenistic terms in defining the work of salvation.

Mark, Star Trek seems to be very popular among Reformed bloggers.

"submerging our humanity into His divine energy."

We posess eternal life. Our eternal life is the life of God, His energy outworked in the love and grace of creation and redemption.

That divine energy was eternally shared between the members of the Triune Godhead before the creation. As redeemed sinners, we now share in that divine life through grace.

We participate in the divine life. We are partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

1 John
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

2 (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

3 that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

This divine life is perfect holiness and righteousness.

It is unfortunate that our righteousness is seen by many as simply a right legal standing.

Rather in Christ we share in God's vital holiness. Through our union with Christ we are holy as He is:

2 Corinthians 5
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Phillipians 3
9 and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:


This is not just a matter of justification, but sanctification too. In Christ we are 100% sanctified when we receive that gift of eternal life. By faith we can enter into the reality of that perfect holiness and experience the heavenly life that we are created in Christ to experience.

Ephesians 4
24 and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Romans 6
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Galatians 5
16 ¶ This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25 ¶ If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Living this life is a life of abundance and leads to ever deeper and more intimate union with God in Christ:

John 10
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.


John 14
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

1 John 3
24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

"And the glorious future for us is to share in Christ's sovereign rule over the universe as celestial beings."

The faithful Christian is to share in Christ's rule:

2 Timothy
12 if we suffer, we shall also reign with him:
if we deny him, he also will deny us:

When our Lord has put down the kingdoms of this world, He shall reign with His saints. They share in His glorious position.

"We are created in Christ to be a new kind of divinized humanity."

The Christian is a new man, a new creation. His position is wholly heavenly, of the next world, not this one.

Positionally, we are blessed with Christ in heaven and seated with Him (Ephesians 1:3, 2:6).

In our resurrction, we shall be like Him, sons of glory, with bodies of a spiritual nature (! Cor 15:39-51).

We are a celestial aristocracy. Though we as earthly men are a little lower than the angels, in Christ we are raised to the heights of the universe and if we are faithful, we shall be raised yet further into the divine glory.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

July 13, 2007 12:06 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

It is unfortunate that our righteousness is seen by many as simply a right legal standing.

I agree, Matthew.

In Christ we are 100% sanctified when we receive that gift of eternal life.

I'm not sure I understand you here. We're not 100 percent sanctified here on earth. We need the Holy Spirit and NT gospel and epistles' guidance for ongoing sanctification.

Yes, we are "in Christ," but here on earth, we're still being sanctified daily.

July 13, 2007 12:24 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

"In Christ we are 100% sanctified when we receive that gift of eternal life."

We believe because we have been sanctified - 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thess. 2:13.

July 13, 2007 12:49 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Susan makes a good point. We belong to Christ- positional sanctification- but there IS a process of becoming more Christ-like while on this earth. 2 Cor. 3:18; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 4:11-16 speak to this.

July 13, 2007 12:53 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

In 1 Peter 1:2 and 2 Thess. 2:13 the Holy Spirit separates us from the world unto obedience to Christ's gospel firstly, and into a life time of obedience thereafter.

July 13, 2007 12:56 PM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Yes, our condition is not the same as our position.

We have to daily enter into the sanctified position we have in Christ by faith, by reckoning ourselves dead to sin and putting on the new nature we posess through Christ.

July 13, 2007 1:50 PM

 
Blogger Theo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 13, 2007 2:55 PM

 
Blogger Theo said...

Susan wrote:
"Although it was my husband to whom I promised not to spend beyond his expectations and that of my own initiative, it was the Lord who set my husband’s authority over me – and against God and His standards I transgressed. Because God set this authority to be the rule of my home, it is He Who I disobeyed."

Dear Susan:
Well said! How amazing and true that when we sin against authority that we recognize as appointed by God, we sin not against that holder of the authority, but God himself.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I find them insightful and helpful in my own struggle to not only confess what is right and true but to do what is right and true.

Humbly, your brother in Christ,
-- Theo

July 13, 2007 3:02 PM

 
Blogger Gojira said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 13, 2007 3:22 PM

 
Blogger Gojira said...

"submerging our humanity into His divine energy. And the glorious future for us is to share in Christ's sovereign rule over the universe as celestial beings.

We are created in Christ to be a new kind of divinized humanity."

Matthew has done gone Eastern Orthodox on us. Are you a god yet Matthew? "The Son of God became man, that we might become God." Essense and energy. Mark pegged it right -- Star Trek. Matthew would you please explain to me just how you intend to give Theosis a Free Grace flavor? Watchman Nee did it, and it was interesting to see how he did it. It would be extremely interesting to see how you can do it to a Free Grace beat.

July 13, 2007 3:35 PM

 
Blogger Gojira said...

Correction: Watchman Nee did it. Should be: Watchman Nee did it with his very unique theology.

There, that's better.

July 13, 2007 3:37 PM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Doug, you are theologically literate.

Yes, I am advocating a similar docterine to theosis.

I am afraid I have never read anything by Watchman Nee, so I cannot say how close he is to me. I expect there are a lot of similarities.

The Eastern Orthodox tend not to talk so much about men becoming gods; they tend rather to speak of man becoming God, or more accurately one with God.

Teh key problem with the Eastern Orthodox view of theosis is in seeing deification as a process in which man must work.

I rather see theosis as being acheived at regeneration, whereby we posess a new divinezed nature and participate in the life of God.

However, we do not fully experience this position without mortifying the flesh and appropriating by faith our heavenly sanctification.

The ultimate realisation of the Christian's theosis is in His inheritance of the kingdom of God eschatologically where shecomes to exercise sovereignty over creation on the throne of Christ (Rev 3:21).

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

July 13, 2007 5:50 PM

 
Blogger Gojira said...

Matthew,

"Doug, you are theologically literate."

I try to hide it.

Thank you for a very interesting post, Matthew.

July 13, 2007 6:31 PM

 
Blogger Dawn said...

Susan: "They're really not little at all if they are disobedient to God's sanctioned order in the home."

Amen, Susan. I'm beginning to realize this more and more.

July 13, 2007 6:56 PM

 
Blogger Dawn said...

Susan: "I'm learning that my mental expectations about such things from my growing-up years and observations of my parents' models as husband and wife are worldy. Because they're the familiar and comfortable, they can be detrimental."

But don't you think that if you're both in agreement with such things that it isn't necessarily a sin to not want to do them? And that if you do them to please your spouse as a bonus then, great!? (Not trying to be argumentative here.)

July 13, 2007 7:03 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

But don't you think that if you're both in agreement with such things that it isn't necessarily a sin to not want to do them? And that if you do them to please your spouse as a bonus then, great!?

Forgive me, Dawn, I don't understand your question. Can you rephrase it for me? I'm a little dense today; It's been a busy week. Thanks. (And I didn't think you were being argumentative. :-)

July 13, 2007 7:56 PM

 
Blogger Dawn said...

Susan, you're not dense, it's probably just me not being able to explain myself very well. I can't seem to rephrase it succinctly so it's probably best that we pretend I never made that comment. :-)

I hope you get some well needed rest.

July 14, 2007 12:38 AM

 

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