I’m Not the Villain Here!

My favorite movie of all time was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched it as a child and with my own children.  One interesting fact that really says much about the quality of the film, is that it is based on a book by Ian Fleming, the former British Naval Intelligence officer and the author of the James Bond 007 spy novels.  The film was only loosely adapted from Fleming’s successful children’s book but the production by Albert R. Broccoli, who also produced many of the Bond films, made the story pop in the screen play.   Dick Van Dyke solidified the success of the film with an encore performance, after starring in the fantastical “Mary Poppins” four years earlier.   Okay, where am I going with this?  Do you remember Baron and Baroness Bomburst?  Do you remember what they hated the most?  They despised children.  To combat the problem of children in their kingdom they employed the Child Catcher.   The scene where the Potts children were hiding at the toymaker’s shop while the Child Catcher menacingly rides into the village in the Kingdom of Vulgaria on his horse drawn carriage with his child catching net still scares me.  Voted by Entertainment Weekly in 2008 as one of the top 50 most vile villains in screen history, the Child Catcher ranked above the Wicked Witch of the West . However, though you may think so after this article, I am not he who hates children.  I love children, but I see them for what they are.  As I began this series, and told you that it was designed not to instruct but to encourage. I knew I would have to tread on a topic that some might think a little harsh.  Just like boot camp, we must be broken down before we are built back up.  Okay, here goes!  Children are generally hated by God before they are loved by God.

Who in their right mind could have hated Jeremy and Jemima Potts.  Just watch the movie and you will see two of the sweetest, most pure, harmless… enough with the adjectives, but you get the picture.  The “Toot Sweet” scene with the lovely Truly Scrumptious was adorable, right.   Of course, they had to be portrayed as such to create the antithesis for the Baron’s and Baroness’ antagonism.  Who would want to injure these adorable little children?  Let us leave the fantasy land and enter the world in which we live.  How do you view the spiritual nature of your children?  Is it from the world’s perspective where, more like the film, children are seen as innocent, not responsible for their imperfections and transgressions?  When a child misbehaves is it sinful or simply childish?  Is your child’s relentless energy or, stated another way, running, talking, wiggling, et cetera, when they’ve been told not to, benign or malignant?  Is their failure to follow instruction foolishness or ignorance?

If you are a follower of Christ, your answers to these questions are very important.  I am aware that there may be some doctrinal differences amongst those who read this blog.  I do not wish to tread on your belief system, as far as, when a child comes to faith or is saved, at least not today.

Let’s work in reverse order of the questions I just asked.  Are your children foolish or ignorant?  Let’s define the terms as we know them to be.  Foolishness is the lack of good sense or judgement.  Ignorance is the lack of knowledge or awareness.  God tells us, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” (Prov. 22:15)  Do you see the desparate situation here.  The soul of the child is enslaved to poor judgement.  Solomon, the foremost child psychologist, does not say that a lack of information is the problem with the child’s behavior.  Neither is it a retention issue. It’s not that he forgot you told him to stop running in the Church building,  so he does not lack the information.  He simply uses poor judgement by choosing what he wants to do over what you told him to do.  For those of us who took a little psychology in college, we could argue the lack of development of the prefrontal cortex, the executive decision or judgement making portion of the brain. All right, props for that observation. The prefrontal cortex is supposedly fully functional by age 25.  I know a lot of foolish adults and my horses don’t even have a prefrontal cortex and they have pretty good judgement. I digress.

Next, is your energizer bunny’s behavior benign (harmless) or malignant (harmful)?  We’ll according to God, if it is caused by foolishness, and in the very next portion of the Proverb he says that “only the rod of discipline” will remove it, foolishness, from him, then it must be judged to be malignant.  God would not recommend the use of corporal punishment for something benign or harmless.  What your children are doing is what Paul called “suppressing the truth by their wickedness.”  Remember, they are not ignorant of the fact that you have told them five times today not to run in the Church building, and five hundred times since they began to understand language.  They know what you told them, they just refuse to do it.  They suppress it.  Read on in Paul’s introductory chapter of Romans (1:19-32.)  Go read it! Several times he refers to the foolishness of men, not their ignorance.  But you say, “This is bad stuff they are doing!  These are some nasty people!”  What does this have to do with my little darling.  Well, little Johnny is capable of all this stuff, eventually. Currently, however, he is included in the same category of them whom God has revealed his wrath upon by the implications of verse 30, “they disobey their parents.”  Now, is their behavior malignant or benign?  Use your prefrontal cortex.  You be the judge because Paul already did.  He called it foolishness.

Lastly, is their misbehavior sin or is it just being children?  If we still have to answer this question then I have failed and you might as well click off. The Westminster Divines defined sin as any lack of conformity to or transgression of the law of God.  I think we can make a sound argument for a sinful condition. Your child is, just like you, and just like the vilest of the vile, a sinner, justly deserving God’s displeasure, and without hope save in God’s sovereign mercy.

This is quite a picture of desperation.  Some may believe that God gives children a pass,  an age of responsibility at which somehow magically, children move form one category of person to another.  Haven’t found that one in scripture yet, but I’m not an exhaustive source.  What I have found is that God has provided a remedy for the problem of sin in our children.  He has also provided that wicked little viper an advocate. You being a godly parent is the most typical means that God grows his kingdom. Your child is born with its own personal priest. Your first duty in the Great Commission is not a mission trip to Uganda, but rather the evangelization of your child, whether they are infants or adults.  Your child has you to lead them to claiming God’s promises as their own and to assist them in inheriting the kingdom you inherited.  Acknowledging that your child is tenuously dangling over the fires of Hell is the first step in invoking the mercies of God in Christ Jesus.

500 Years On: Let’s End the Sale of Self Indulgences

Stephen McAlpine

The Protestant Church could do worse this 500th Reformation year than ending the habit that has gripped so much of the church at the pointy end of the 20th and start of the 21st centuries, namely the promulgation of self-indulgence.

Just as the Reformation was birthed by Martin Luther’s revulsion at the sale of indulgences to build St Peter’s in Rome, how about we put our hand up, and say “Nein!” to what, quite frankly is self-indulgence espoused in the name of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.

1300238760m_splash

Self indulgence by an over-bloated, self-focussed Western Protestant Church that, in the midst of a cultural tsunami, is content with navel gazing; is in thrall to celebrity; and is all too eager to sanctify dodgy methodologies with sub-scriptural, or non-scriptural reasoning.  A bit like those medieval indulgences were if truth be told.

Carl Trueman and Amy Bird made…

View original post 1,293 more words

Do You Reach for the Golden Ring?

The fantastical world of Middle Earth, as discussed previously, is a representation of the state of the world we live in as followers of Christ. The state of the Christian between corruption and glory. The very notion of something or someplace existing beyond time and space stretches our imagination past the point comprehension.  However, a desire to know more is part of the nature of man.  The desire to have or be more is also natural to man but can be sinful.  If asked the question, “Do you desire to be more like God?” how would you respond?  Now don’t you go and get ahead of me, anticipating an ambush.  Of course you want to be more like God.  In fact, God commands it.  Your sanctification guarantees it. Christ suffered and died for it. Specifically what I am asking is in what areas of your life are you to be more like God and what areas are you forbidden to be more like him?

In the beginning God created man holy and happy.  According to the Westminster Divines, the bible teaches that God created man, male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.  Adam and Eve lacked for nothing in the garden.  Every good material and intellectual possession was at the disposal of man.  Being sighted people we tend to visualize all of the illustrations we have seen over a lifetime and paint a picture of life in the garden. Oh, what a lovely, tranquil, happy scene, right?

I return to the question, Do you desire to be more like God?  If your answer was yes, then you join some famous company, for so did our first parents.  The problem is that we are, as were Adam and Eve, mutable creatures. We are subject to change.  The first change in all of the history of mankind was from being content to covetous. The story of man’s contented state is a very short story. Where we most constantly need to be more like God, and yet have the most difficulty and often the least willingness, is in the area of contentment. We are taught from birth to be achievers.  In the venerable words of David Lee Roth, in the Van Halen hit “Dreams,” we are told, “Reach for the golden ring, (notice that ring theme again) reach for the sky.  Baby just spread your wings.  We’ll get higher and higher.  Straight up we’ll climb.” Not one of my favorite Van Halen tunes, but the video was a great recruiting tool for the Navy, which featured the Blue Angels aerial performance.  Really cool stuff.  The lyrics are not about flight in that sense however.  The message is that if you are dissatisfied with your current relationship, follow your dreams, flee from your commitment and find that perfect love. Discontent?  Then listen to Satan and follow your covetous heart. Not that Van Halen is Satan, despite what your mother said.

 

God is perfectly content in himself and he is immutable.  Therefore he cannot be discontented.  One way to be more like God is to practice Divine contentment.  If I may, let me plug a book. It’s my blog, I can do this. “The Art of Divine Contentment” by Thomas Watson can be had from Amazon for the price of a latte.  About seventy pages of some of the rarest jewels you will find outside of the Bible.  Don’t be turned off by the 17th century English.  The rarity is magnified by the beauty of it.

Returning to Tolkien we remember Sauron, who was the evil dark lord, the Darth Vader of “Lord of the Rings,” was the creator of the ring of power, which was the central theme of the story.  Sauron was also a servant of Morgoth, the representation of evil in many of Tolkien’s works. There is little doubt that these characters alluded to Satan and his various manifestations.  Theories for what the ring symbolized for Tolkien vary.  However it is clear that the ring derived its power from it’s creator.  What was the nature of that power?

This power allowed the ring to reach inside of those who had it and draw out their most base elements of covetousness.  Rings are by definition symbols.  They, like all adornments, speak for the wearer.  This ring however spoke to the wearer.  It had a life of its own and that life was part of its creator.  When Satan spoke to Eve in the garden, he appeared in the likeness of a creature that, like the ring, should not have been speaking.  Do you see the similarities to the stories?  Satan appealed to the same thing the ring did, man’s discontent.  Look at the chink in the armor that Satan’s arrow pierced.  Look at what he said to Eve.  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5)  In other words, man, you are not satisfied with the lot you have been dealt, God has not given you everything he could, he has made you less than himself, less than you deserve and you desire to be like him, in the sense that you know what is best for you.  In order to accomplish this, do exactly what God says not to do, follow you heart.

Gandalf, the prophetical wizard, warned Frodo of the ring’s power.  The warning was, do not succumb to your desire to do that which I tell you not to do in order to gain what you desire.   He told him not to put it on.  Though, pragmatically, the ring delivered Frodo and Bilbo out of some tight spots with the wearer’s power of invisibility , but the consequences were negative.   The power of the sin of discontent lies at the heart of all of our sin.  Satan does not make us sin, he merely dangles before our eyes that which we believe God has denied our possession of.  He puts before us the idea that we are our own gods.  We desire to be like God, masters of our own destiny.  Our hearts are idol factories, and the first and most dear idol they create is self esteem.

I challenge you to spend a little time thinking about the relationship of sin and discontent.   Do this exercise.  Name a sin and consider the motivation for that sin. You will always find discontentment and covetousness is not only present with that sin but is the motivation for it.  I think that you will be able determine that the tenth commandment is violated in conjunction with every other commandment. This can be a rather dismal experience, like a hike through Mirkwood when the forest was sick.  However there is a bright light at the end.  Christ has delivered you from the power of the ring.  That does not mean that you will no longer experience discontent.  What this means is that he has made you able to be content (Phil. 4:13) and that you are no longer condemned if you are not(Rom. 8:1).

 

 

 

A Meeting of the Minds

In my last post I remarked how I had a fascination with God’s providence.  My morning devotions today took me back to my old friend Thomas Boston.  If you followed my posts in the past, you remember that I regard him to have been the greatest preacher who ever lived.  While still working through his posthumously published 12 volume “Complete Works,” at the end of a sermon he preached at Ettrick, Scotland, July 7, 1728, on 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight,” he drew some conclusions that really struck a chord with me.

Obviously the doctrine taught here is that the Christian’s walking is a dependence on what God has promised to be the appropriate way, as opposed to by sight which is the appearance things make to their sight, senses, and human reason.  In other words Boston says that we should “walk like men of another world.”  Why should we do this, beside the fact that God tells us to?  We are to do this first because when we are born again we literally become aliens.  Thus we then live in a foreign land, and where we are going is Heaven, where Christ is.  So far Boston was teaching fairly basic doctrine.  In his wrap-up to the sermon was where the fun really began.  In his second point to confirm the doctrine he states, “Thus the Christian’s life is distinguished from that of the Saints in Heaven and that of the wicked, as he is in a middle state betwixt the two.”

So you may say, “Ok, where’s fireworks and the crescendo?”  You may see where I’m going with this post.  If you do, then you may be as weird as I am.  If you don’t, then you are probably quite normal, and just don’t have the time spend following my line of thought.  However, if you read my post a few days ago, “Faith to See Beyond the Shire,” I was pointing out this very topic.  Our world view should be distinctly different than those around us because of the nature of our citizenship.  We literally are living in, not only, a foreign country, but a foreign world.  In God’s perfectly good providence he brought together two trains of thought I had been riding onto the same track, in the same direction, and the same time.  These are Boston’s middle state and Tolkien’s Middle Earth.  For me this is simply magical.

Let me breath. Ok, I’m better now.

What is this place that we live in?  By sight, it looks like a familiar place, what I called my Shire.  But when the scales fall from our eyes, by regeneration and sanctification,  what is revealed is Middle Earth, Tolkien’s fabled world.  Some pundits on Tolkien simply want to make Middle Earth an old world continent, sort of a mystical archaic Europe, with the Hobbit’s Shire as a representation of England.  However many believe, from Tolkien’s perspective, Middle Earth was conceived as the setting for his tales by the Old English, pre-Christian, language translation of the word “middengeard,” the everyday world between Heaven and Hell.

If you surf around the internet you will find endless material about the symbolism of Tolkien.  Some of it some pretty strange stuff.  I prefer however to have fun with finding in Tolkien the symbolism I recognize in the world we live in. Tolkien’s stories symbolized the world God has temporarily set us in.  Nothing in Tolkien’s Middle earth was what it appeared to be.  Both animate and inanimate morphed from apparent to obscure.  Lust of the eyes, the flesh, and pride were always the downfall of the characters.  Entropy was placed in motion with no hope of reversal accept for divine intervention.   Even the good were powerless against evil, barring some propitiation. I could go on indefinitely, but you can get the picture.

As you walk through Middle Earth, whether you are descending to the depths of Mordor, with the flames all around you, trying to rid yourself of your precious sins, or you are merely tending your garden in the Shire, feeling sheltered from danger, beware, things are not as they appear.  You live and walk with the triune God constantly providing faith in his promise of deliverance to your true home, eternal life with him in Glory.

 

 

 

Supernatural Blindness

My upbringing was, at least from my perspective at the time, fairly normal.  My siblings were much older than I, so from my formative years on, I was the only child in the household.  We had the basic TV channels, radio, and the monthly periodicals.  However, there was little time for those things because I was busy playing.  That’s right, using my imagination to make up for the lack of all the stimuli children have today.  When I think back, I remember vividly the world I created for myself.  Adventures pretending with the aid of toy guns, action figures, and usually whatever involved getting dirty.  What I don’t recall is much imagining anything supernatural.  I suppose the fantastical was just that, fantasy.  We were taught not to believe in magic, otherworldly creatures or powers.  I’m not sure where Santa and the Easter bunny fit in, but certainly goblins, ghosts, and dead people coming to life at Halloween were taboo.  We could do the Halloween stuff of course but it was just for fun, not real.

I guess we have just become such an enlightened society that the supernatural or metaphysical is just a distraction best left to the fringe groups like “Wiccans” or Native Americans.  Just for kicks, have you ever considered that those who dabble in the otherworldly may have an advantage over most “rational” human beings in legitimizing the truths of scripture? In fact it was not that long ago that the belief in the supernatural was the norm. To believe in the literal creation accounts all the way to the destruction of the earth as we know it, not by man made climate change but by God’s own version of global warming, would have been the norm just a few generations ago.  In a previous post, entitled State of Grace: Part 1,  I discussed this same topic as it relates to regeneration or being born again.  I won’t repeat myself but I recommend you go back and read that post after this one.

I realize there can be a fine line when we enter the world of supernatural phenomena.  There are always dangers, especially for children, when exposed to the horror and destruction that is often associated with these topics.  For instance, as a teenager I saw the movie “Amityville Horror.”  Let me tell you, that was my first and last horror flick.  On the peer level it was cool to go to these movies and be frightened.  Though some of my macho guy friends claimed not to be, but their dates were, and that was good for them.  I however was shaken by the evil spiritual power, death and destruction.  There was an innate sense of the possibility of the reality of it all, and I wanted no part of it.  I am not promoting horror movies, Steven King novels, nor the “Long Island Medium” series, but rather just permitting yourself to open the door just a crack to see what your level of belief is.

We will never know for sure what Tolkien really believed about what he wrote.  What he did believe in strongly was that the tales told for thousands of years before the Christianization of Europe were not just the result of ignorant people making up fantasy.  There was an element of truth in those Viking legends, those Druid rites, and  the Elvish tongue.  Good verses evil, redemption, reprobation, powers of darkness and light, and promised messiahs were all story lines of peoples long ago who had never seen a bible.  Tolkien was well aware of the story of the Tower of Babel and the subsequent confusing of languages and the dispersal of the people of earth, or Middle Earth, as he penned his words.  The elements of truth contained in this ancient lore was passed on from generation to generation from the foundation of the world. In fact, if you believe the bible, these stories were told by the descendants of Japheth, Noah’s son. Oh by the way, if you are of European descent, these were your grandparents.  The tribe of Japheth migrated from Asia to be the first Europeans.  These are your family’s tales.  Tolkien wanted it to live on, not as fact, but not as fiction either. He devoted his life to it.  During a time when it was believed that the Renaissance was the beginning of quality literature in Briton and that Shakespeare was the bomb, Tolkien fought for the tale tellers who went before them.

What I am proposing here is not only enjoying a good story, but also examining what you believe concerning the mysteries of God.  Don’t be led down the path of the higher critics of the bible, which leads to tearing out the supernatural aspects as if they are merely the remains of ignorance from another age.  The fantastical tales of a primitive and scientifically bereft people, may actually be more advanced and accurate than what we believe to be truth today.

 

 

 

Faith to See Beyond the Shire

I introduced to you the inspiration for this and the next few posts, JRR Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and the “Lord of the Rings” series, in my last post.  You might say that I am a big fan of Tolkien due to the fact that one of my cats and one of my dogs are named Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee.  Although I encourage you to read Tolkien the movies are wonderful too.

If you are familiar with Tolkien and C.S. Lewis you know that they have been somewhat controversial in Christian circles.  Lewis, most famous for “Chronicles of Narnia,” has been credited for the allegorical nature of these works.  Tolkien and Lewis were friends, members of an elite literary society known as “The Inklings,” and colleagues at Oxford University, but due to their religious and sometimes heated philosophical differences and personal struggles, a rift between them brought years of coldness and prevented collaboration, which could have been the recipe for a literary machine.

Let me be clear, my use of Tolkien’s stories is not intended to imply that his work is Christian allegory.  Tolkien himself stated in a forward for the American printing by Ballentine Books, “As for the inner meaning or message, it has none. It is neither allegorical nor topical.” Rather my intention is to use something that I enjoy, and is innate in mankind, that is, story telling, to inspire thought about the truths of our Christian faith.  I am not alone in this quest as many have gone before me.  I eagerly await the release of “The Messiah Comes to Middle Earth,” by Phillip Ryken, president of Wheaton College and former Pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia.  Ryken describes the story as containing “Christian symbolism and meaning.”

As followers of Christ, being created in his image, and being remade more and more like him, each of us can be read like a book.  Our behavior and conversation should overflow with Christion symbolism and meaning.  Although Tolkien describes his work as “the desire of a tale-teller to try his hand at a really long story that would hold the attention of the readers, amuse them, delight them, and at times maybe excite them or deeply move them,” he leaves out what maybe the most eternally important benefit of his efforts.  This story makes you think about the real story,  your own journey within and beyond the Shire.

The Shire was basically the region and home of Bilbo and Frodo.  The village of Hobbiton, in the heart of the Shire, is the setting for the opening of the books.   The book vividly describes the fantastical scene of how the Hobbits live.  Even more so, the cinematography of the film, set in New Zealand, is amazing.  Agrarian, natural, and  peaceful tranquility is the feeling you get from what you see with your eye.  I would probably want to live in a hobbit hole, eat six meals a day, tend my garden and sing songs of peace and harmony all day long.  Wait, I think I am a hobbit!  But the reality is not always what you see. You have heard the expression “in your minds eye.”  This saying was coined long before science determined that about seventy percent of the cognitive workings of the brain are associated with sight.  In some ways sight is a handicap. People blind from birth are a testament to the untapped sources of the brain.  Their storage and recall ability is far better that those with sight. The fact that what we see is constantly bombarding our minds, we do not have the mental capacity to process and rectify all of the information we are receiving. As I have mentioned before,  being raised in the era when ADD wasn’t cool, I was not diagnosed or should I say labeled.  How ever I am easily distracted.  I’m kind of like the Pink Floyd “Comfortably Numb” line that goes, “You are only coming through in waves.  Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying.”  I have a new practice when I am listening to someone speak.   For instance when the preacher is speaking or reading scripture, I close my eyes to avoid the distraction of his visible appearance, mannerisms, or facial linguistics, smile, frown, etc., and the possible distraction of other visual stimuli such as words on a page or things around me.  This works for me, though most think I’m sleeping.

The Shire was Bilbo’s and Frodo’s safe place.  To see the image portrayed in the story, whether described in words or picture, it is easy to see why.  However this place, home to the Hobbit, or the comfort of our safe place, wherever that may be, is not home to the Christian.  Bilbo would eventually come to this conclusion.  We must as well.

2 Corinthians 5:7 is one of those often misused passages of scripture.  “We live by faith not by sight.”  Although there is truth in the abuse, for instance, when we apply this verse to the making of basic decisions every day.  If you apply it to general obedience to God’s word such as making a decision to obey God even though we do not see the wisdom in it, you are not wrong to do so.  However the true context of the verse is about eternity, heaven.  In the first five verses of this chapter Paul had been describing the fallen condition of man dwelling in the world and how heaven will be the correction to this broken inglorious situation.  In verse seven he advises the Corinthians not to base their lives on their earthly condition, what they can see, but rather to live with the knowledge of his promise, what they cannot see.  In fact he tells them that their faith is the giving of the Holy Spirit, their guarantee.

We often like, like the Hobbits, want to cling to and give great value to this world and the things in it.  I do it every time my mind drifts to what it sees.  It is the things that are invisible, the promises of God, the deposit of the Holy Spirit, that escapes my reality.  As followers of Christ we will travel through dark and dangerous adventures outside of our Shire.  When we become homesick, and truly that is what we are, we must not visualize the conceptual picture of earthly tranquility but rather trust that what we cannot visualize is our true home.

 

Imperfect Sanctification

Oil and water do not mix.  We often use that phrase to describe a condition of contrary principles.  Within the life of a regenerate man their are the contrary natures of the old and new man, the flesh and the spirit.  There exists a mortal combat between good and evil, where a victor has already been determined but the battle must still wage for a time.  In the previously discussed work by Thomas Boston, we saw the fourfold state of man’s nature explained in detail.  Here we will look briefly at the period of the regenerated man that is commonly referred to as sanctification.  According to Boston, this is an imperfect sanctification.

In his letter to the Church in Galatia, Paul addresses the problem directly.  “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” (Gal. 5:17)  As we are being renewed by the Holy Spirit into the new man, the old man is being destroyed.  However, while we live in this world neither is complete.

This being said, how do we deal with this imperfect condition.  Paul actually answered this question before he presented the quandary.  “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Gal. 5:16)  Well, I’m sure even the Galatians response was much like ours.  Easier said than done, Paul!

To help us better digest what Paul was saying I will provide some commentary from the Reformation Study Bible on verse 16.  First, the Holy Spirit dwelling in a believer is a sign of the inheritance to the covenant promises given to Abraham.  Secondly, the Spirit’s presence is a sign that in the final day, God will declare the believer to be righteous.

As we discussed in an earlier post, a common mistake we make when considering our sanctification, is putting too much emphasis on works.  We must not discount works, for Peter makes clear that they are evidences of our faith.  We also must not overweight works as evidence.  The mortification of the old man and the increase of the new produces greater belief in the promises of God.  Belief is evidence of sanctification being made perfect.  I once heard a great teacher say, “The greatest sin of all is not believing what God says.”  Conversely, the greatest good would be believing.

What Paul was telling the Galatians is that you combat the problem of sin by believing the promises represented by the Holy Spirit in you.  Just test yourself.  When you sin, were you aware of the Spirits presence and witness to your sin?  We could go on indefinitely with tips and exercises to help with this matter of awareness, but rather let us look at some facts Boston gives to help sure up our faith.

Christ tells us that the very fact that we are aware of our sin and that we want not to sin is a start to our faith.  Evidence of our being renewed is a hatred of sin.  Counting this struggle as joy is way to embolden us for the fight.  Our desire to struggle against our old nature is proof of the promises.

The unregenerate are not without struggles of their own.  The unbeliever has a perfect lack of sanctification.  Their struggle is between desires of the flesh and the fear of punishment or retribution.  They perfectly desire what is sinful and if they desire what is good they only wish to avoid the consequences of the evil.

Boston calls the old man a “troublesome guest.”  The fleshly desires of the sin nature are unwanted by the believer.  They are like a chronic affliction that, though it may wane, it will wax again.  The promise is that the affliction of sin no longer has dominion.  This pathogen that has raged now is being conquered by the Holy Spirit’s antigen.

This miraculous healer is unknown to the world.  Though there are many imposters, the fact that you know this One is proof of his reality.  There are many religions, some even called Christian, that profess to have the answers to perfecting your sanctification through rational and pragmatic practices.  They cannot accept the simplicity of the work of God because they cannot know him.  In John 14:17, speaking about the Spirit, Christ says, “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him, nor knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”  Therefor, living in the Spirit is about knowing of him.

If you are in a period of doubt, or have a dim view of your sanctification, take heart.  The Spirit conveys fresh supplies of grace.  The promise of the perfecting of our sanctification makes even our imperfection a blessing.  Your struggle is proof of the promise.