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, September 27, 2007

God’s commands

I have noticed that some of God’s commands are exceedingly difficult – if not downright impossible – to achieve on our own.

Take for example the top two:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

And love your neighbor as yourself.

Not to mention the all-time-favorite “Love your enemies.”

Who does these consistently?

When we walk in the Spirit, certainly it is done, but we are prone to not rise in the morning and simply get up in the Spirit.

So I’m thinking that to live God’s commands as He says to do, we must daily ask Him for the qualities we need to do them. However, it doesn’t say in Scripture “ask God for what you need to do what He commands,” does it? Still, I think it’s necessary to ask Him. What do you think?

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Blogger mark pierson said...

Susan, for starters, Eph. 5:18 - And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,... Or, in otherwords, be being filled. Also, Col.3:16 - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord; Or, Romans 12:1-2 - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

September 27, 2007 10:11 AM

Blogger mark pierson said...

Or, 2 Cor. 3:18-But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

IOW, as we meditate on God's word the Holy Spirit does the work of transforming us into Christ's image.

September 27, 2007 10:14 AM

Blogger Susan said...

transformed by the renewing of your mind

I noticed this in a comment of yours the other day, Mark, which was a needed reminder to dwell in the Word. But I think too that we need to ask God in prayer for His Spirit, don't you? I keep having to ask Him to pluck from me all that is, well, me, and my selfish interests, and ask of Him in His mercy to fill me with Himself.

Don't you find this necessary to do?

September 27, 2007 10:28 AM

Blogger mark pierson said...

Susan, that was point in bringing up Eph. 5:18 - And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,... Or, in otherwords, be being filled.

September 27, 2007 10:37 AM

Blogger jazzycat said...

Absolutely. I think in prayer we should ask for all the attributes that are required for being faithful. Pray for more courage, compassion, understanding, perseverance, holiness, and to be filled with the Spirit. In my case I should pray for much forgiveness for neglecting to do those things as often as I should.

Thank you for reminding us of this need.

September 27, 2007 10:52 AM

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

You do not need to ask for those qualities.

The Christian is a partaker of the divine nature. She is indwellt by the Holy Ghost and a created in Christ to be perfected in His image.

The key to holiness is to see ourselves as dead to sin and risen with Christ. We have a new idenity in Him, so we are no longer our old selves but a new being.

This calls for moment by moment faith in the sanctifiying work of Christ.

God Bless


September 27, 2007 10:54 AM

Blogger mark pierson said...

Matthew, I see where you are coming from, and agree. However that "This calls for moment by moment faith in the sanctifiying work of Christ." that you speak of, wouldn't that be akin to what I say in bringing up Romans 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:18; Colossians 3:16?

September 27, 2007 11:05 AM

Blogger mark pierson said...

Susan, Matthew *does* bring up a good point about our position in Christ. This is something you and I talked about long ago in email. Calvary Chapel is weak on this. "Positional thinking" is key here. What happens the day you lose the zeal you obviously have now? Will you crumble into remorse and doubt about your stand before God? I *do* see a danger here.

September 27, 2007 11:25 AM

Blogger mark pierson said...

I know you no longer attend there. Perhaps it would be good to systematize your personal theology so as to not go into depressions and doubts about your stand before God. I still sense some Calvary Chapel thinking in you.

September 27, 2007 11:29 AM

Blogger Marcian said...

Maybe this is too simplistic, but I find myself more prone to not loving others (or God) if I haven't started the day with the very least prayer and reading scripture. How much more powerful is the Word of God Himself to admonish us? Scripture memorization is also key for me. When the Holy Spirit has something to bring to mind, it's almost a double whammy to keep me in line.

But, yeah, I fail. As JD wrote on my blog about this: Thank God for the Gospel!!!

September 27, 2007 11:36 AM

Blogger Even So... said...

Augustine prayed, command what you will, grant what you command...

September 27, 2007 12:00 PM

Blogger mark pierson said...

Our gaze is to be fixed on Christ, not ourselves. As we look to/at Him the Holy Spirit does the work. Yes, I fail in my obedience, but I can't let that take my eyes off of my total dependence on Christ. The battle is His as well as the victory through Him.

September 27, 2007 1:19 PM

Blogger donsands said...

"But if you be led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."

The law has no dominion over the born again new creation in Christ. We are clothed in His righteousness. We are as righteous as we can be, for we died with Christ, and we live in Christ.

So, the law kills, but the Spirit gives life.

As the branch can not bear fruit alone, so to the believer needs to abide in the vine, and this is abiding in HisWord, then genuine love, the love the Holy Spirit has brought and placed in our hearts, will be our fruitful life for the glory of God.

The key I think is abiding by faith in the Lord and His Word. And this is by faith. Praying always that my flesh is weak, but He is strong.

When the law accuses and terrifies, then we can say, "I was crucified with Christ, and am dead to the law".

I now live in the Spirit by faith.

And the flesh wars against the Spirit, they are in opposition to one another, so that you can not do the things that you want to.

"It is impossible for you to follow the guiding of the Spirit in all things without any feeling or hinderance of the flesh; nay, the flesh will resist and hinder you, that you cannot do those things that gladly you would. Therefore, when a man feels this battle of the flesh, let him not be discouraged, but let him resist in the Spirit, ... I will by faith and hope lay hold upon Christ, and by His Word I will raise up myself, and being so raised up, I will not fulfill the lust of the flesh." -Luther

September 27, 2007 2:03 PM

Blogger Susan said...

There are a lot of good thoughts here, and I greatly appreciate them all.

Mark, I'm sure I do waver between years of man-centered (a la Calvary Chapel and other churches) preaching - and newly found Reformed thinking.

I liked Daniel's recent post on his blog regarding the imputation of Christ's righteousness; his presentation of it was new thinking to me. Kind of like God's sovereignty was new to me in light of Reformed thinking. Not that previous man-centered theology didn't expound God's sovereignty, but it’s much more to the Reformed believer. Likewise, I knew of Christ’s imputation, but the way Daniel presented it was new.

I believe I am positionally found in Christ, and I am dead to self. My life is hidden in Him. And yet… I don’t rise every day dead to self in the flesh. I find that I need to ask God to help me – before I get out of bed. To help me live for Him this day. To ask Him to help rid me of my flesh – my self – my iniquities in my heart. Yes, He has given me a new heart of flesh replacing that ol’ heart of stone, but I still need to ask Him to (1) pluck out from me the sin in my heart and replace it with a love for Him that He desires and (2) to live for Him in His perfect will to His good pleasure this day.

It also seems that with some issues I need to keep asking Him over and over again. Some iniquities lie deep. And I keep asking God to take them away. Perhaps I’m not “doing it right” or perhaps some other iniquity is in the way of which I’m unaware. Perhaps like Daniel’s previous story – when he did some “little” thing like forgiving someone and then the cloud was lifted. But, see, even the forgiveness I believe I need to ask for from God – I think in my own dead self, I am unable. My flesh is weak and He is strong. I think it’s something He grants to me, not unlike repentance and faith.

I don’t think I question my own standing before God since it is Christ in me in Whom I can rest. It’s not that. It’s my own self.

Matthew, I agree with everything you said except for the first part. I find that I do continually need to ask God to give me qualities of Himself that He desires in me. I just don’t find them “naturally” – as it were.

September 27, 2007 4:10 PM

Blogger mark pierson said...

Susan, please beware of becoming toooo introspective. I've been down that alley; I know you have too. You know the results - despair, defeat, depression, etc...

Because you are my friend I shall plead with you not to go there again. I remember some of your testimony, and how you have become discouraged before... DON'T MAKE THAT SAME MISTAKE AGAIN!

Look at all the time you've spent looking at your sin; time that could have been spent beholding Christ's glories, and having the Spirit transform you.

Please, please be careful.

September 28, 2007 7:40 AM

Blogger mark pierson said...

Susan, I've been around all kinds of weight-lifters, whether power-lifters or body-builders. In each case evalutions are made as to where one stands when one is considering an upcoming contest. Let's go with the power-lifters for starters. In the weeks before a contest he will see how much he can lift, just to get a feel for where he is at strength wise. If he is smart (and the smart ones are the only ones that win) he will use that one workout as a exploration of his abilities. Again, if he is smart, when he observes his strength levels and discovers he has some ground to make before the contest, he will quickly put the discouragement behind him and immediately devise a workout program and diet program that would best get him ready for the contest in the shortest amount of time. He does not sit and ponder how far short he is; there's no time for that. Why should athletes have it all over Christians when "training"?!

September 28, 2007 8:04 AM

Blogger donsands said...

"He does not sit and ponder how far short he is; there's no time for that."

Good word for us.

The true Christian sometimes condemns himself/herself when we do something wrong.

But God says: "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and understands all things." 1 John 3:20

Jesus drank the cup, every drop. What a gracious Savior.

September 28, 2007 9:40 AM

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Mark, I am convinced that the Green Letters occupies a proud place on your bookshelf!

September 28, 2007 10:24 AM

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Susan, if you keep asking for the qualities that are yours by virtue of the new birth, you will never exercise faith in what Christ has done for you in sanctifying you.

September 28, 2007 10:26 AM

Blogger mark pierson said...

Honestly I've never heard of "Green Letters". Care to open my eyes?

September 28, 2007 10:33 AM

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Miles Stanford's book on sanctification and Christian growth.

You quoted Miles Stanford on Unashamed of Grace a while back and I assumed that was the Green Letters you were quoting.

September 28, 2007 10:41 AM

Blogger Daniel said...

Susan, your comment induced me to write a quick post on faith at my blog.

September 28, 2007 11:00 AM

Blogger Susan said...


Thanks. I'll go there now.
I'm struggling over this (obviously). And I see two views represented here (Jazzy - and Mark's/Matthew's) - all of whom I respect. And I don't know what to make of all this.

Btw, I posted a comment to your eschatology post just minutes ago, based on Mark 1:5 (in which the word "all" is used twice - but doesn't necessarily mean "all").

September 28, 2007 11:06 AM

Blogger mark pierson said...

Daniel says, "The just shall live by faith? What is faith??
Even if you are not an evangelical Christian, you may have heard the quote taken from the second chapter of a book called Habakkuk (in the Old Testament of the bible) that says, "The just shall live by faith".

The passage is a little difficult to understand if one doesn't really know what the words "just", "live" and "faith" are talking about. Now, I intentionally say "doesn't know what the words are talking about" as opposed to "doesn't know what the words mean because by now if you are able to read this you surely have defined these words long ago. Yet it is their meaning that interests me in this post.

The just for starters does not imply that there are people on the earth who practice some higher moral ethic and are therefore regarded as just. The "live" does not refer to the common day moving about without dying, and the faith does not simply refer to believing a thing to be true. Which is not to say, as some might imagine, that I am about to argue that the text means something entirely foreign to the words found in it - no! I do not say that. But rather that these words are pulled together to make spiritual and not natural points, and though they could not have been knit together any clearer, yet spiritual truth is not discerned because we have mighty intellects, but because we ourselves are spiritual who are in Christ.

I tend to be long winded about these sort of things, but I am opting for an abruptness this morning due to time restraints. For that reason I may not be as clear as I should like - but I will accept that as a possibility and forge on.

The "just" refers to those who shall live through the judgment, just as the "live" refers to being in full possession of one's life on the other side of judgment (justice). Faith refers to the path through that judgment - we pass through judgment by faith.

Our intellect however can sometimes spin its wheels here though. What is faith? How do I bottle it? I want more of it, what do I do???

Well, first and foremost, let's talk about what happens when you go about doing religious stuff without faith. Even a cursory skimming of Paul's epistle to the churches in Galatia provides the answer: you tend to try and build a bridge to God by your own effort. That is what faithlessness looks like. It isn't (necessarily) that
you run away from the church and do as much evil as you can, nor is it (necessarily) sitting with your knees tucked up into a ball and rocking back and forth in the cellar weeping because you just can't make yourself believe it. It can be those things, but more often I believe faithlessness plays itself out in empty religious activity.

I won't paint a picture about what empty religious activity is - I will let God's spirit do that. You who are reading will know what is revealed to you, if this teaching is indeed a spiritually true thing.

I mention what faithlessness looks like to give a more clear description of faith. We tend to think of faith as "believing" in some vague sense, and when we want more faith, we tend to think we need to "believe" more acutely or perhaps with more perspiration. Let me in one sentence describe faith to you, and let the Spirit be glorified if you understand it:

Faith is trusting that no matter what your walk looks like, GOD WILL SEE YOU THROUGH IT TO THE OTHER SIDE OF JUDGMENT.

That is all there is to it.

Really, that is all faith is. It is trusting that God is going to see you through to the other side.

The heart that wonders how many commandments it must keep in order to be certain of salvation does not understand grace - it does not understand faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen. It is -not- the evidence you find in your works, it is not a substance that can be examined as such, it is a resolve in your heart that contrary to what your flesh might imagine - God is going to finish in you what He has started.


September 28, 2007 11:21 AM

Blogger Susan said...

I want to thank you for your concern and love as a Christian brother in expressing all that you have here. Also for your wonderful memory regarding my testimony. It's a blessing to have you as my brother.

I did go to Daniel's post and comment there.

By the way, I understand your concern about the "danger" of dwelling on our sin and shame. I also don't want though to become casual in my faith, trusting God to the neglect of my own obedience. Know what I mean?

September 28, 2007 12:08 PM

Blogger Susan said...


I want to let you know as well that I am deeply appreciative of your counsel here. I mean that most sincerely. I thank God for you.

September 28, 2007 12:09 PM

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

You are being nice, Susan.

September 28, 2007 12:18 PM

Blogger Susan said...

It's true.
I read your comments not only as general theological issues, but as genuine concern for my well-being spiritually here.
Whether or not that is the case, that's how I read it and even if it's not the case, I still took what you wrote to heart and pondered these things deeply.
So for that - and whatever modicum of care you do have for a sister in Christ - I am appreciative and thank God for you. I do.
Just wanted you to know.

September 28, 2007 12:25 PM

Blogger Susan said...

And Jazzy,
I read your comments as understanding exactly what I meant, and agreeing to some extent - so that made me feel not so out of line or place in my questioning this here. Thanks.

September 28, 2007 12:26 PM

Blogger mark pierson said...

"I also don't want though to become casual in my faith, trusting God to the neglect of my own obedience. Know what I mean?"

Ahhh! You're gonna give me an ulcer! Please be careful. I've been there before, and so have you. You're on a BAD trail here, Susan.

Your brother,

September 28, 2007 1:53 PM

Blogger mark pierson said...

When you crash, and you unfortunately will, I'll be here for you to talk to. I'll be in prayer...

September 28, 2007 1:56 PM

Blogger Daniel said...

She better crash now Mark, or we will have to stone you to death. :^)

September 28, 2007 2:07 PM

Blogger Susan said...

Maybe I didn't phrase this well, Mark. I just mean that I'm not to neglect my own obedience and just take my sin casually - I *didn't* mean that I'm relying on my own obedience to save me or that I shouldn't trust God fully and wholly.

But I don't doubt that you completely understand where this thinking comes from - and no doubt there are vestiges of Calvary Chapel (and/or any man-centered teaching) thinking competing in my grey matter.

I appreciate your prayer. I do. It's desired and cherished. I so need wisdom and understanding.

I'm so afraid of my own thoughts - and I hate them. And yet, I know, only God could be revealing the wretchedness of them to me. So why isn't He removing them from me? Why do they come back? I think Daniel's recent comments on his blog are helping me understand why. I need to rest in Christ and trust God's hand (and timing) in these matters. Confess my sin and not lean on my own understanding, but acknowledge Him in all my ways and He will set straight my path.

September 28, 2007 4:24 PM

Blogger jazzycat said...

I am not sure I understand everything everyone is saying, but I don't think there is anything wrong in praying for wisdom, understanding and other attributes in greater measure. I know I pray for a greater measure of spiritual attributes.

September 28, 2007 6:01 PM

Blogger mark pierson said...


September 30, 2007 11:03 AM

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Good stuff, there, Mark.

September 30, 2007 3:52 PM

Blogger mark pierson said...

I can admire Bock and Blaising (in fact, I just bought Bock's commentary on Acts), and their version of Progressive Dispensationalism. I saw some good stuff from Stanford here; but......

September 30, 2007 8:13 PM

Blogger Daniel said...

Stanford was one of my earliest reads as a Christian. I think I still have a copy of the complete Green letters (green letters plus four other books bundled in one) lying around somewhere - or maybe lent out, as I haven't seen it in years...

October 01, 2007 8:30 AM


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