Fighting Sin Through the Power of the Flesh or the Spirit

Sin is bad; we’re not supposed to do it. How, pray tell, do we fight off sin though?

There are many Christians who think if you just faith enough God will make you not sin, or that you won’t be tempted. There’s a magic moment when you truly call out to God in surrender and the battle is forever over. Sinlessness takes over.

Others think that sin should be fought, that there are actual things we do to defeat sin.

The first option means we do nothing except surrender. God does it all; we’re just passive victors of what Christ does for us.

The second view says we have a part in our own sin battles. That the level of sin in our lives has a direct correlation to our effort to stop it.

The surrender option would be cool, I know why it has a lot of people who believe it. I do nothing and still win! Sweet gig.

The battling view seems more legit, however, both from a practical and a biblical approach.

Paul says we are to bring our bodies under subjection; there are literal physical things we can do to fight off sin. We lay aside the weight of sin, we flee youthful lust. Hebrews says we sin because we haven’t yet striven against sin to the point of shedding blood. Most of us have made peace with sin in our lives. We’re not fighting it as much as we’re covering it so we don’t get caught or look bad.

I think bringing our bodies under subjection is largely something you have to put your mind to and exercise the option. For instance, if your flesh is getting carried away with any number of sins, fasting can be a good route to practice controlling your flesh. Maybe even use it as a punishment for indulging the flesh, make a severer consequence to your actions.

Now, this is where heads explode. “That’s legalism! You’re putting yourself under a yoke of bondage! We have freedom in Christ. You’re undoing grace and trying to overcome sin with works!”

Am I though? How pray tell does sin suddenly stop by me doing nothing?

So if I’m truly tired of a sin I do, how do I get it to stop? Do I just believe more? Surrender more? What does that even mean? How do I go about believing more and surrendering more? What if I already am believing and surrendering, how do I do more of it? Wouldn’t doing more of that be me doing a work?

There is no answer really. All that camp has on their side are increasing levels of doing nothing, which seems entirely weird and hopeless as a strategy.

I’ve run into a number of people who tell me they don’t do anything and now they enjoy levels of no-sin that boggles the mind. I have hung out with these people. I have never been struck by the reality of their alleged sinlessness. Of all the people I know who take the “do nothing to beat sin” approach, they do not strike me as paragons of spiritual attainment.

Yes, there is a pitfall in legalism, just as there is a pitfall in being a lazy bum who does nothing but sit around and wait for Jesus to eliminate their sin struggles. You can attain levels of behavior through sheer will power and discipline. Paul uses the example of athletes striving for a temporal crown as an example.

But Paul’s next point isn’t “So do way less than athletes striving for mastery, in fact, just sit on the couch and do nothing until Jesus magically eliminates your sin battle.” Nope. What Paul says is be like those athletes and do everything to win.

Paul is not a passive person. He attacks. He uses discipline and strategy. I recommend the same thing. I know that’s hard and it would be nice if we could theologically eliminate personal accountability from our levels of sin, but Judgment Day looms and guess what? You will give an account for every deed done in the body whether it is good or bad.

This is a fight worth fighting. It’s why Paul calls it the “fight of faith.” He doesn’t call it the “sit on your butt and do nothing of faith.” I suggest you start fighting your sin by any means necessary, even if it involves you doing something. The entire time you are praying and listening to Scripture. This isn’t some flesh overpowering the flesh thing.

This is the flesh being mortified by the Holy Spirit, it’s having our bodies walk in the Spirit and not fulfilling the desires of the flesh nature. Your body responds either to the flesh or Spirit. Your flesh wants you to sit and do nothing and let sin reign, wait for someone else to take care of my problems. The Spirit wants you to get up and fight with what Christ has given you in the Gospel. Go. Fight. Win.

Charisma Magazine Says You Can Cure Autism

Last week we learned that we don’t need flu shots because of Jesus. This week brings us more good news! Autism has been cured!

That’s right, with a little faith, a little name it and claim it, autism can be a thing of the past.

the Spirit of God taught me years ago with our own son’s deliverance and healing was to first take my authority over a severe autistic spirit that plagued him. I did as He said, and right then and there, the demonic fit stopped and never returned.

You too can cure people of autism if you can be as awesome as this person. Get a load of this line:

The tactics of the spirit of fear are to frighten and cause the parents or others in authority over the child, regardless of age, to back off from the process and to enter into doubt and unbelief. But if you, their caregiver and protector will not falter in your spiritual authority during this process, their deliverance and healing will manifest.

In other words, if your child has autism, that’s entirely your fault for having such pathetic faith.

Wow. How encouraging and edifying. Do you feel the grace and liberty at work?

This is the sort of drivel that passes for doctrinal teaching in our day.

Much charismatic faith healing talk is merely more burden upon already hurting people.

Looking to God for healing is one thing; shaming people with autistic kids because they don’t have enough faith is despicable.

Authors of such articles strike me as Job’s friends. They address somebody else’s pain by lecturing them, telling them they deserve it because their faith is so weak.

We should all be in a state of mourning over the state of the church today.

Gloria Copeland’s Jesus Flu Shot

Gloria Copeland, wife of Kenneth Copeland of televangelist fame, has recently told her people that they don’t need flu shots if they have Jesus.

 

“We all ready had our shot. He bore our sickness and carried our diseases” Copeland slurred. I wonder if Christ’s wounds heal slurring issues?

I’m not mocking her slur. I’m merely pointing out the inconsistency of the message. If Jesus heals all diseases, why does she appear old and show signs of stroke? Why does Ken wear reading glasses? But this sort of logic does not stop the flow of stupid.

“Jesus Himself gave us the flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of flu.”

She staggered on, “By His stripes we were healed. When we were healed; we are healed. So get on the word, stay on the word, and if you say, ‘well, I don’t have any symptoms of the flu,’ well great! That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Just keep saying that I’ll never have the flu. I’ll never have the flu. Put words, inoculate yourself with the word of God.”

Interestingly enough the words, “I’ll never have the flu” never appear in the word of God.

The power of positive thinking does not heal people, nor does it prevent disease. This is pure gibberish.

Meanwhile, they repeatedly miss the clear point of Isaiah 53 and the supremacy of Christ to redeem sinners.

The clear message of “Repent and believe the Gospel” has been replaced with “Don’t get a flu shot cuz Jesus.”

We should all be in a state of mourning over the state of the church.

Hitler, Stalin, and Calvinist Anger

Evolution News and Science Today is an excellent website about the issues of Intelligent Design.

This is not a Christian website. It’s a science website examining issues surrounding the debate between Evolution and Intelligent Design.

They have an article out today about the scientific attempt to deny free will–our actions are genetically predetermined, we have no real choice.

This is secularism’s version of Calvinism.

Calvinism and Secularism both deny free will, the only difference is over who controls our will. Calvinism says God does everything. Secularism says our genes do everything.

In the end, we do nothing. Our actions are our controlling agent’s fault.

Here are some quotes that lead to their point of what happens when we deny free will. Again, this is coming from a scientific, not a religious, standpoint.

But if . . . free will is not real, then there are no innocent people, any more than there are guilty people. There is no innocence or guilt at all, because innocence and guilt only have moral meaning if we have free will. If there is no free will and no innocence and guilt, there are just natural systems (us) doing what natural systems do.

. . . .

Hannah Arendt observed that a hallmark of totalitarian states is the eclipse of the concept of guilt and innocence. In a totalitarian state, masses of people are managed like livestock, irrespective of any imputation of personal guilt or innocence. Hitler didn’t kill Jewish children because they were guilty of crimes. He cared not whether they were guilty or innocent. Stalin didn’t starve millions of Ukrainians because they were individually guilty. He starved them as a matter of public policy, without regard for individual moral culpability.

The denial of free will, and the denial of moral culpability that follows on it, is the cornerstone of totalitarianism. The denial of free will does not, pace Dr. Sommers, herald an era of tolerance and understanding. It heralds an era of human livestock management, and the early experiments based on denial of free will and moral culpability — in Germany and the Soviet Union — have already been run.

Now, I am not saying that Calvinists will turn into Hitler and Stalin. I am saying this plays a part in why Calvinists have a reputation of being angry jerks.

They are not responsible for their angry jerkness. Nor do you have any value yourself to be treated with any dignity as an individual. For Calvinists there are two groups: 1) Evil vile sinners and 2) evil vile sinners whom God chose to love.

This does not, and will not, lead to an agreeable treatment of others. Remember, John Calvin burned a number of people at the stake. Observe his government he ran in Geneva. Does it sound a tad like what this article is talking about?

Pastor Eaten By Crocodiles While Teaching About Faith

First of all, this isn’t funny.

Secondly, I did laugh.

A pastor in Zimbabwe was killed by a crocodile while trying to walk on water. Here is the quote from a deacon that made me laugh:

“He promised he would demonstrate his faith to us today, but he unfortunately ended up drowning and getting eaten by three large crocodiles in front of us.”

One would think this would lead the church members to re-examine their doctrine and understanding of faith. At the very least, it would lead to a search for a new church. But never underestimate the insanity of people in the church.

“We still don’t understand how this happened because he fasted and prayed the whole week.”

It’s a giant mystery.

Come on, church! We gotta do better than this.

UPDATE:
Apparently this story isn’t true. I should have known. That one paragraph was too humorously-expertly written. Bummer, I’ve been had. My typical ironclad confidence in my own brain has been shattered. I may never recover.

Wait, wait. I feel better. I think I’ll go for a walk now.

Snake-Handling Pastor Dies

As you’ve probably heard, Jamie Coots, the star of National Geographics’ Snake Salvation, has died from an untreated snake bite.

Coots is a pastor of a snake handling church. These folk believe that faith consists of taking up rattlesnakes and gyrating poorly to poorly sung blaring southern gospel music.

 

I will admit, this is way more exciting than listening to a sermon. Apparently obesity also shows faith, based on this video posted by Mr. Coots.

“He had one of the rattlers in his hand, he came over and he was standing beside me. It was plain view, it just turned its head and bit him in the back of the hand … within a second,” Winn said.

When an ambulance arrived at the church at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, they were told Coots had gone home, the Middlesboro Police Department said in a statement. Contacted at his house, Coots refused medical treatment.

The justifications as to why have no doubt begun and the foolishness will continue.

Children Killed in Attempted Exorcism

“A Maryland mother and another woman charged with murdering two of the mother’s small children believed they were performing an exorcism at the time of the killing, police said on Saturday.

“The two children, Norell Harris, 1, and Zyana Harris, 2, suffered multiple stab wounds at a townhouse in Germantown, Maryland, Montgomery County Police said in a statement. Their siblings, ages 5 and 8, were injured and hospitalized, police said.”

Demon-possession and exorcism is one of those subject people can argue about. The Bible certainly talks about it, but very rarely is the modern version of exorcism similar to the Biblical model. There also seems to be something the cross did to limit the effectiveness of demons.

One thing I know for sure, you don’t stab people in an effort to exorcise them. Be careful out there. Bad theology kills.

UPDATE: 1/23/14–the woman accused of killing her kids in an exorcism belonged to a church called the “Demon Assassins.” I know churches these days are trying to have stealth names like “Willow Bridge Fellowship” or “The Barn,” but Demon Assassins might be going a bit too far.

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