December 6, 2011

Mortify sin already! Or forfeit the name of Christ!

No, really I did see someone say almost exactly that today.  Someone who considers himself to be a pastor/teacher and online blogger.  His exact words were:

"Mortify sin, or stop calling yourself a Christian."

I have to wonder exactly what Bible these guys are reading.  I told him I think it's this one:
"for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."

In the course of this back and forth he informed me that Jesus is not going to obey the New Testament for me.  Huh.  The way most Reformational Christians read the Bible, they find that Jesus DID obey the entirety of the law in my stead. Not only did he expiate, he propitiated.

So, as Jesus said, it is FINISHED. Τετέλεσται

I'm not going to argue with Jesus on that anymore.

I would like to know if this guy has fully eradicated sin from his life?  Because if so he should write a book and tell us all how it's done.  It would save so much confusion.  If  he has not, then I would like to know at what point have we gotten 'enough' sin taken care of that we can make these sorts of pronouncements about the eternal state of other people who claim to be brothers and sisters in Christ?

I was also informed that antinomianism is as much a threat to the church today as it ever was.  I agree.  But this approach is about as useful and sensible (from a Biblical standpoint) as democrats who want to tax us all into eradicating poverty.

This guy seems to have fallen for the lie that the antidote to antinomianism is law and the antidote to legalism is grace/gospel.    Tullian Tchividjian (among others) has been dealing with this falsehood for a while now, and doing it splendidly.  This is something Luther was keenly aware of as well and confessional Lutherans are very well versed in.  (and I would wager it's part of why they're often called antinomians by those who buy into this performance based sort of Christianity.)

So when you see someone post something like "MORTIFY SIN - OR STOP CALLING YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN" (i.e. if you aren't living the victorious life, you must not be saved) the other way.  At least, as far as listening to them as an authoritative teacher. Instead, feel sorry for them and pray for them, because they're still on the ratwheel of works/law based sanctification. Looking to themselves for assurance of salvation and for the motivation behind sanctification.  Unfortunately many of these end up falling into great sin, depression, or burnout before they realize what they are doing to themselves and their loved ones.  These are the ones who betray to all that really, privately, don't believe they're still bankrupt before God.  Or, at least not as bankrupt as that guy over there who's not mortifying sin properly.

"We don't really believe we are still bankrupt"

The Roman Catholic system had all kinds of ways that we could put forth effort to mortify our sin.  And it did nothing for anyone.  It had a form of godliness, as many still suppose.  There are innumerable forms of this approach to pleasing God (or whatever they'd call it in any given religion).  It is encompassed in every religion and sect except true Biblical Christianity.

A good thing that came of this though, and something good always does when I argue with someone.  It drives me to the word, and drives me to find new resources for good teaching.  I finally got around to subscribing to Tullian Tchividjian's Coral Ridge podcast due to an article of his I read this afternoon.  Not sure why I hadn't already.  So now I'm listening to his introduction to the book of James series, called "The gospel of works" which is I think 14 parts.  After that comes the series “Pictures of Grace” mentioned in this excellent article (which I read this afternoon) by Tullian:

Law without Gospel leads to licentiousness
"As Martin Luther said, “Sin is not canceled by lawful living, for no person is able to live up to the Law. Nothing can take away sin except the grace of God.” The law is impotent–it has no strength, it has no power, it offers us nothing. Sinners already are powerless to obey the demands of the law, and the law offers them no assistance–absolutely none." - Tullian Tchividjian
In the intro to the James series "Gospel of Works" by Tullian, he quotes from Jerry Bridges' book "Transforming Grace"
‎"Having trusted in Christ alone for our salvation, we have subtly and unconsciously reverted to a works relationship with God in our Christian lives. We recognize that even our best efforts cannot get us to Heaven, but we do think they earn us God’s blessings in our daily lives. Our expectation of God's blessing depends on how well we feel we are living the Christian life. We declared temporary bankruptcy to get into His kingdom, so now we think we can and must pay our own way with God. We were saved by grace, but we are living by performance."
Another excellent resource, worth listening each week, but in particular this one:
White Horse Inn: Repentance and Personal Transformation
It seems like they have been hitting this note wonderfully for years now.  I think I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of episodes that struck me as less than good.  Usually it's when they are interviewing  a non-Christian or apostate and don't challenge them much.

This is what happens when you use the law to motivate someone to good works such as the mortification of sin:
“While I regarded God as a tyrant I thought my sin a trifle; But when I knew Him to be my Father, then I mourned that I could ever have kicked against Him. When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so, and sought my good.” C. H. Spurgeon
If you are on the treadmill and weary, rest.  Stop trying to please everyone around you. You are forgiven in Christ.  Go to him  and partake of his table and be strengthened.  Hear the words that remind you of his perfect work on your behalf:

"Our crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ, who has now bestowed upon you His holy body and blood, whereby He has made full satisfaction for all your sins, strengthen and preserve you in the true faith unto everlasting life."