Philosophy

February 18, 2014

Judgment or Intoxication: Part 1—Sobering Grace

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Written by: Duane Covrig
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 Legalism and licentiousness are the most common ditches that Christians face in their walk with Jesus. These two concepts test the ability to stay steadfast in the faith. I have experienced both ditches with a fair share of legalism. This could be due to a long- held belief in morality or a case of vulnerability. Whichever, legalism recognizes the role of personal effort in an individual’s life which goes without gainsaying.  However, God has redeemed man from the sinful nature.

Therefore, I constantly strive to rely on God’s promise of sanctification by delving into his words. This upholds God’s love, futility of legalism and acknowledges God supremacy for growth. To completely overcome the fear of legalism, I preach the gospel and read Christian literatures such as Messiah by J. D. Thomas or Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel, Larry Crabb’s  The Pressure’s Off, and Douglas Cooper’s old works and his more recent works such as Living in the Light. All these purge some pretty deep “foolishness” in my life and remind me of just how interested God is in my well-being and that of all in this world.

The devotionals by Dwight Nelson and Jon Paulien and others inspires me  about God and the Christian life  each day. I have also re-read some of Morris Venden’s classic books or Dick Winn’s If God Won the War and His Healing Love. All of these  wash my mind and find a better trust in God’s character in a world where there are two extremes. These extremes have become the norm: angry legalism stealing people’s joys while they bitterly work for God’s acceptance, or licentiousness, where people intoxicate their minds and bodies with bad “juice” that distorts their judgment of reality.

Coming closer to Him helps us see how seriously deceived we have been by Satan.

. Lately, I have realized my penchant for legalism, I have been amazed on the drunken stupor mesmerizing billions that keep them away from a walk with God. They get stuck in a lust box or a legalism box, separated away from experiencing God’s sobering grace. Those who find helpfulness and redemption in His word are few. That is why they are referred to as a remnant. They want to follow Him and hang around others who are following Him. They are born into a new family. Participating in a community of grace (the church) and in that process learning new moral thinking which liberates them from disastrous  smallness that characterizes much of thinking of the world.

But most are rejecting their experience of this grace. I was talking to a friend recently who stopped back at a church after a long absence. He told me he left early. He said it was boring and it didn’t meet his needs. Maybe that was true. But, another possibility is that he didn’t feel his need and had lost the taste for God, church and the true Christian life. Like a person who snacks on  sweets and meats, good food doesn’t taste nearly as good. The taste buds are changing in the world, and sound doctrine and good advice and loving words don’t sound like that to the carnal mind.

We see intoxication all around. When people watch 30 or more hours of sports and news and sitcoms, of course they are not going to think church or the disciple’s life is meaningful. These are desensitizing them to spiritual things.Sober grace sounds boring or too serious by comparison. It probably sounds like Noah preaching about the need to find shelter from the coming rain in the Ark when no rain was even slightly apparent.

Like a person who snacks on  sweets and meats, good food doesn’t taste nearly as good.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” John 3:36. Intoxicated people just don’t know they are drunk. So behind the legalism and the licentiousness is a lack of sound judgment–a view of the world deeply informed by loving truth: truth that is truthful and full of compassion and love.

I believe Adventist were raised up to articulate that judgment: The Hour of His Judgment called forth in Revelation 14. We have a sober message of an everlasting grace, but the scoffers are drunk and causing others to get drunk with them. Judgment is NOT about judgmentalism or legalism, but  about facing lies. It entails finding the sober and amazing rescuing power of Christ to deliver us from darkness into light. But if you want to cling to darkness, then the stupor is something you want more than the grace.  (see Micah 7:9, John 8 and John 9, and 1 John 4:9 for the delivering passages of judgment.

But the world loves darkness–some legalism but mostly licentiousness–more than the light of judgment. Hamilton notes that God’s salvific work and the glory of Who He Is comes through in the judgment work of scripture. He works in, through, and by judgment and THAT IS THE CENTRAL unifying theme of scripture, according to Hamilton

The Adventist church was raised up to be a people of sober judgment.

But it seems the scoffing from other Christians about the hour of His judgment have made Adventist bashful in sharing the truth of  judgment. But it is clear in Paul’s writing that God is working toward a climax and that is related to His Judgment which will be through His Son (Acts 17:28-30). It seems part of the Adventist work was to help people get sober in and through the judgment and dispel Satanic lies.

But it seems that even believing in Satan is know longer a very “cool” thing for religious people to do.We are losing our soberness by the minute.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 notes that Satan is active as He “deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” The Adventist church was raised up to be a people of sober judgment (not judgmentalism. See T. D. Cooper on that topic). That soberness requires a breaking of the sleep, the stupor, the drunkenness. I realised this recently when singing Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress They ring with a bold faith. A sober reality. They are designed to brace the soul for the warfare of life.

Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress is sung the world over as a rallying call for Christians hope and action. Tinged with a fighting spirit, to some Luther’s bold phrases and battling call seem outdated, at best displaced for another time and place, and at worse a bit paranoid. To a self-help, internally focused, peace-seeking society, they carry more of a grudge than a hope. “Though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us.”“For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate, On earth is not his equal.” “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; The body they may kill.”What’s happening Martin?

Why all this focus on sinister forces? What is this fixation with property theft, family abandonment or torture and bodily harm? Was Martin Luther tormented by his own shadows?Those who think so, miss the gradeur of this song—its firm grasp that are only hope is in Christ.. They also miss the soberness and judgment in the lyrics. But most seem ready to deny the conflict, to excise out the references to shadowy forces and to ask for more intoxicating ideas.

The reasons: Our Ancient Foe doth still sick to work us woe. His craft–the two ditch model–is alive and well.“I send you out as sheep among wolves” is the sobering truth.They are going to feed on you. Watch out. Stick together. Stay awake. And where was Luther’s demons coming from. Most from within the Roman Catholic church. The same place most of his strongest supporters also came from. A little jog through history reminds us that just as he had a reason to hammer out this song, so do we. He was persecuted and dogged by verbal attacks, attempts on his life, and the engaged character assassination that is designed to wear down the soul. Fighting against the fear, this is not a song with a grudge. It is one with a focus.

Martin Luther knew what the wrath of the Roman Catholic church was like. I wonder how many still feel that wrath. To some, Christians, peace and security abound, and these fighting words seem a bit displaced. A bit paranoid, defensiveness, on-edge, even unable to move on with a new 21st century faith. Far from being a trip into legalism, judgment properly understood creates the force to break the spell of Satan. Reading Daniel and Revelation brings a truth about God as one in control of this Great Battle. Wanting God to be our Judge (Daniel means “God is my Judge”) is a testimony the church has against the intoxications of Babylon and other nations.

Far from being a trip into legalism, judgment properly understood creates the force to break the spell of Satan.

So I am starting a series that will contrast the work of God’s judgment to the powerful influence of intoxicating influence. This time, it was telling how God has helped me stay away from legalism and perfectionism, the intoxication that comes from false religion. The rest of the series will look at grace killers that rob us of other forms of sober judgment.

  1. Part 1—Grace Soberness against legalism.
  2. Part 2—Entertainment—killing us softly with his (Satan’s) voice. Why movies, TV and music can kill our souls.
  3. Part 3—Alcohol
  4. Part 4—Gluttony, Obesity, and Laziness—Do we still see the damage these create.
  5. Part 5—Materialism & Greed—the deceitfulness of riches (we always think we need more).
  6. Part 6—Sexual perversion (it’s in our eyes, ears, but especially in our minds)
  7. Part 7—Fear, Force and Compulsion (regulation as intoxication).
  8. Part 8—Self-Sufficiency and Self-Righteousness (back where we started with legalism)

God: help us to pray and eat and live and work like Daniel so we can live under your reign and live in the reality that you are our Judge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legalism and licentiousness are the most common ditches that Christians face in their walk with Jesus. These two concepts test the ability to stay steadfast in the faith. I have experienced both ditches with a fair share of legalism. This could be due to a long- held belief in morality or a case of vulnerability. Whichever, legalism recognizes the role of personal effort in an individual’s life which goes without gainsaying.  However, God has redeemed man from the laws of sin.

Therefore, I constantly strive to rely on God’s promise of sanctification by delving into his words. This upholds God’s love, futility of legalism and acknowledges God supremacy for spiritual growth.

To completely overcome the fear of legalism, I preach the gospel and read Christian literature  such as Messiah.by J. D. Thomas or Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel, Larry Crabb’s  The Pressure’s Off, and Douglas Cooper’s old works and his more recent works such as Living in the Light. All these purge some pretty deep “foolishness” in my life and remind me of just how interested God is in my well-being and that of all in this world.

The devotionals by Dwight Nelson and Jon Paulien and others inspires me  about God and the Christian life  each day. I have also re-read some of Morris Venden’s classic books or Dick Winn’s If God Won the War and His Healing Love. All of these  wash my mind and find a better trust in God’s character in a world where there are two extremes. These extremes have become the norm: angry legalism stealing people’s joys while they bitterly work for God’s acceptance, or licentiousness, where people intoxicate their minds and bodies with bad “juice” that distorts their judgment of reality.

Coming closer to Him helps us see how seriously deceived we have been by Satan.

. Lately, I have realized my penchant for legalism, I have been amazed on the drunken stupor mesmerizing billions that keep them away from a walk with God. They get stuck in a lust box or a legalism box, separated away from experiencing God’s sobering grace. Those who find helpfulness and redemption in His word are few. That is why they are referred to as a remnant. They want to follow Him and hang around others who are following Him. They are born into a new family. Participating in a community of grace (the church) and in that process learning new moral thinking which liberates them from disastrous  smallness that characterizes much of thinking of the world.

But most are rejecting their experience of this grace. I was talking to a friend recently who stopped back at a church after a long absence. He told me he left early. He said it was boring and it didn’t meet his needs. Maybe that was true. But, another possibility is that he didn’t feel his need and had lost the taste for God, church and the true Christian life. Like a person who snacks on  sweets and meats, good food doesn’t taste nearly as good. The taste buds are changing in the world, and sound doctrine and good advice and loving words don’t sound like that to the carnal mind.

We see intoxication all around. When people watch 30 or more hours of sports and news and sitcoms, of course they are not going to think church or the disciple’s life is meaningful. These are desensitizing them to spiritual things.Sober grace sounds boring or too serious by comparison. It probably sounds like Noah preaching about the need to find shelter from the coming rain in the Ark when no rain was even slightly apparent.

Like a person who snacks on  sweets and meats, good food doesn’t taste nearly as good.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” John 3:36. Intoxicated people just don’t know they are drunk. So behind the legalism and the licentiousness is a lack of sound judgment–a view of the world deeply informed by loving truth: truth that is truthful and full of compassion and love.

I believe Adventist were raised up to articulate that judgment: The Hour of His Judgment called forth in Revelation 14. We have a sober message of an everlasting grace, but the scoffers are drunk and causing others to get drunk with them. Judgment is NOT about judgmentalism or legalism, but  about facing lies. It entails finding the sober and amazing rescuing power of Christ to deliver us from darkness into light. But if you want to cling to darkness, then the stupor is something you want more than the grace.  (see Micah 7:9, John 8 and John 9, and 1 John 4:9 for the delivering passages of judgment.

But the world loves darkness–some legalism but mostly licentiousness–more than the light of judgment. Hamilton notes that God’s salvific work and the glory of Who He Is comes through in the judgment work of scripture. He works in, through, and by judgment and THAT IS THE CENTRAL unifying theme of scripture, according to Hamilton

The Adventist church was raised up to be a people of sober judgment.

But it seems the scoffing from other Christians about the hour of His judgment have made Adventist bashful in sharing the truth of  judgment. But it is clear in Paul’s writing that God is working toward a climax and that is related to His Judgment which will be through His Son (Acts 17:28-30). It seems part of the Adventist work was to help people get sober in and through the judgment and dispel Satanic lies.

But it seems that even believing in Satan is know longer a very “cool” thing for religious people to do.We are losing our soberness by the minute.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 notes that Satan is active as He “deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” The Adventist church was raised up to be a people of sober judgment (not judgmentalism. See T. D. Cooper on that topic). That soberness requires a breaking of the sleep, the stupor, the drunkenness. I realised this recently when singing Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress They ring with a bold faith. A sober reality. They are designed to brace the soul for the warfare of life.

Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress is sung the world over as a rallying call for Christians hope and action. Tinged with a fighting spirit, to some Luther’s bold phrases and battling call seem outdated, at best displaced for another time and place, and at worse a bit paranoid. To a self-help, internally focused, peace-seeking society, they carry more of a grudge than a hope. “Though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us.”“For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate, On earth is not his equal.” “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; The body they may kill.”What’s happening Martin?

Why all this focus on sinister forces? What is this fixation with property theft, family abandonment or torture and bodily harm? Was Martin Luther tormented by his own shadows?Those who think so, miss the gradeur of this song—its firm grasp that are only hope is in Christ.. They also miss the soberness and judgment in the lyrics. But most seem ready to deny the conflict, to excise out the references to shadowy forces and to ask for more intoxicating ideas.

The reasons: Our Ancient Foe doth still sick to work us woe. His craft–the two ditch model–is alive and well.“I send you out as sheep among wolves” is the sobering truth.They are going to feed on you. Watch out. Stick together. Stay awake. And where was Luther’s demons coming from. Most from within the Roman Catholic church. The same place most of his strongest supporters also came from. A little jog through history reminds us that just as he had a reason to hammer out this song, so do we. He was persecuted and dogged by verbal attacks, attempts on his life, and the engaged character assassination that is designed to wear down the soul. Fighting against the fear, this is not a song with a grudge. It is one with a focus.

Martin Luther knew what the wrath of the Roman Catholic church was like. I wonder how many still feel that wrath. To some, Christians, peace and security abound, and these fighting words seem a bit displaced. A bit paranoid, defensiveness, on-edge, even unable to move on with a new 21st century faith. Far from being a trip into legalism, judgment properly understood creates the force to break the spell of Satan. Reading Daniel and Revelation brings a truth about God as one in control of this Great Battle. Wanting God to be our Judge (Daniel means “God is my Judge”) is a testimony the church has against the intoxications of Babylon and other nations.

Far from being a trip into legalism, judgment properly understood creates the force to break the spell of Satan.

So I am starting a series that will contrast the work of God’s judgment to the powerful influence of intoxicating influence. This time, it was telling how God has helped me stay away from legalism and perfectionism, the intoxication that comes from false religion. The rest of the series will look at grace killers that rob us of other forms of sober judgment.

  1. Part 1—Grace Soberness against legalism.
  2. Part 2—Entertainment—killing us softly with his (Satan’s) voice. Why movies, TV and music can kill our souls.
  3. Part 3—Alcohol
  4. Part 4—Gluttony, Obesity, and Laziness—Do we still see the damage these create.
  5. Part 5—Materialism & Greed—the deceitfulness of riches (we always think we need more).
  6. Part 6—Sexual perversion (it’s in our eyes, ears, but especially in our minds)
  7. Part 7—Fear, Force and Compulsion (regulation as intoxication).
  8. Part 8—Self-Sufficiency and Self-Righteousness (back where we started with legalism)

God: help us to pray and eat and live and work like Daniel so we can live under your reign and live in the reality that you are our Judge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of us feel pulled to extremes in our walk with Jesus.

Legalism and licentiousness are the most common ditches that Christians must steer clear of in life and a walk with Jesus is the only way to do that.

These two ditches test our faith to stay steadfast to him.

Sadly, the damaged parts of my life show I have experience time in both these ditches.

Maybe its my desire to be moral or my desire to please others, but the legalism ditch has been especially tempting.  It starts out trying to inspire me to do more for Jesus and then I end up convinced I must do more to keep him happy or attentive. I have learned there always will be more and more to do, but that God has taken up the concern to improve me and I can enjoy just hanging around Him as my change agent.

To help put warning strips near the ditch of legalism, I typically stay focused on the gospels, and reading books like the Messiah by J. D. Thomas or Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel, Larry Crabb’s The Pressure’s Off, and Douglas Cooper’s old works and his more recent works such as Living in the Light. All these help me purge some pretty deep “foolishness” in my life and remind me of just how interested God is in my well-being and that of all in this world.

The two most common ditches that get a Christian off the path: legalism and licentiousness.

The devotionals by Dwight Nelson and Jon Paulien and others give me bursts of insights about God and the Christian life for each day. I have also re-read some of Morris Venden’s classic books or Dick Winn’s If God Won the War and His Healing Love.

All of these help me wash my mind and find a better trust in God’s character in a world where the two extremes have become the norm: angry legalism stealing people’s joys while they bitterly work for God’s acceptance, or licentiousness, where people intoxicate their minds and bodies with bad “juice” that distorts their judgment of reality.

Coming closer to Him helps us see how seriously deceived we have been by Satan.

Lately, although I know my own penchant for legalism, I have been amazed on the drunken stupor mesmerizing billions that keep them away from awalk with God He seeks. They get stuck in a lust box or a legalism box, separated away from experiencing God’s sobering grace.

Those who keep finding helpfulness and redemption in His word are few. That is why they are referred to as a remnant. These want to follow Him and hang around others who are following Him. They are born into a new family. Participating in a community of grace (the church) and in that process learning new moral thinking which liberates them from disastrous  smallness that characterizes much of thinking of the world.

But most are rejecting their experience of this grace.

I was talking to a friend recently who stopped back at a church after a long absence. He told me he left early. He said it was boring and it didn’t meet his needs. Maybe that was true. But, another possibility is that he didn’t feel his need and had lost the taste for God, church and the true Christian life. Like a person who snacks on  sweets and meats, good food doesn’t taste nearly as good. The taste buds are changing in the world, and sound doctrine and good advice and loving words just don’t sound like that to the carnal mind.

We see intoxication all around. When people watch 30 or more hours of sports and news and sitcoms, of course they are not going to think church or the disciple’s life is meaningful. These are desensitizing them to spiritual things.

Sober grace sounds boring or too serious by comparison.

It probably sounds like Noah preaching about the need to find shelter from the coming rain in the Ark when no rain was even slightly apparent.

Like a person who snacks on  sweets and meats, good food doesn’t taste nearly as good.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” John 3:36

Intoxicated people just don’t know they are drunk.

So behind the legalism and the licentiousness is a lack of sound judgment–a view of the world deeply informed by loving truth: truth that is truthful and full of compassion and love.

I believe Adventist were raised up to articulate that judgment: The Hour of His Judgment called forth in Revelation 14. We have a sober message of an everlasting grace, but the scoffers are drunk and causing others to get drunk with them.

Judgment is NOT about judgmentalism or legalism, but it is about facing lies. It is about finding the sober and amazing rescuing power of Christ to deliver us from darkness into light. But if you want to cling to darkness, then the stupor is something you want more than the grace.  (see Micah 7:9, John 8 and John 9, and 1 John 4:9 for the delivering passages of judgment.

But the world loves darkness–some legalism but mostly licentiousness–more than the light of judgment.

Hamilton notes that God’s salvific work and the glory of Who He Is comes through in the judgment work of scripture. He works in, through, and by judgment and THAT IS THE CENTRAL unifying theme of scripture, according to Hamilton

The Adventist church was raised up to be a people of sober judgment.

But it seems the scoffing from other Christians about the hour of His judgment have made Adventist bashful in sharing the truth of  judgment. But it is clear in Paul’s writing that God is working toward a climax and that is related to His Judgment which will be through His Son (Acts 17:28-30). It seems part of the Adventist work was to help people get sober in and through the judgment and dispel Satanic lies.

But it seems that even believing in Satan is know longer a very “cool” thing for religious people to do.

We are losing our soberness by the minute.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 notes that Satan is active as He “deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

The Adventist church was raised up to be a people of sober judgment (not judgmentalism. See T. D. Cooper on that topic).

That soberness requires a breaking of the sleep, the stupor, the drunkenness.

I realised this recently when singing Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress

They ring with a bold faith. A sober reality.

They are designed to brace the soul for the warfare of life.

Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress is sung the world over as a rallying call of Christian hope and action.

Tinged with a fighting spirit, to some Luther’s bold phrases and battling call seem outdated, at best displaced for another time and place, and at worse a bit paranoid.

To a self-help, internally focused, peace-seeking society, they carry more of a grudge than a hope.

“Though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us.”

“For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.”

“Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; The body they may kill.”

What’s happening Martin?

Why all this focus on sinister forces?

What is this fixation with property theft, family abandonment or torture and bodily harm?

Was Martin Luther tormented by his own shadows?

Those who think so, miss the gradeur of this song—its firm grasp that are only hope is in Christ.. They also miss the soberness of the judgment them. In Christ, in that the little word is our only safety in the conflict.

But most seem ready to deny the conflict, to excise out the references to shadowy forces and to ask for more intoxicating ideas.

The reasons: Our Ancient Foe doth still sick to work us woe.

His craft–the two ditch model–is alive and well.

“I send you out as sheep among wolves” is the sobering truth.

They are going to feed on you. Watch out. Stick together. Stay awake.

And where was Luther’s demons coming from.

Most from within the Roman Catholic church.

The same place most of his strongest supporters also came from.

A little jog through history reminds us that just as he had a reason to hammer out this song, so do we.

He was persecuted and dogged by verbal attacks, attempts on his life, and the engaged character assassination that is designed to wear down the soul.

Fighting against the fear, this is not a song with a grudge. It is one with a focus.

Martin Luther knew what the wrath of the Roman Catholic church was like.

I wonder how many still feel that wrath.

To some, even Christians, peace and security abound, and these fighting words seem a bit displaced.

a bit paranoid, defensiveness, on-edge, even unable to move on with a new 21st century faith.

Far from being a trip into legalism, judgment properly understood creates the force to break the spell of Satan.

Reading Daniel and Revelation brings a truth about God as one in control of this Great Battle. Wanting God to be our Judge (Daniel means “God is my Judge”) is a testimony the church has against the intoxications of Babylon and other nations.

Far from being a trip into legalism, judgment properly understood creates the force to break the spell of Satan.

So I am starting a series that will contrast the work of God’s judgment to the powerful influence of intoxicating influence.

This time, it was telling how God has helped me stay away from legalism and perfectionism, the intoxication that comes from false religion. The rest of the series will look at grace killers that rob us of other forms of sober judgment.

  1. Part 1—Grace Soberness against legalism.
  2. Part 2—Entertainment—killing us softly with his (Satan’s) voice. Why movies, TV and music can kill our souls.
  3. Part 3—Alcohol
  4. Part 4—Gluttony, Obesity, and Laziness—Do we still see the damage these create.
  5. Part 5—Materialism & Greed—the deceitfulness of riches (we always think we need more).
  6. Part 6—Sexual perversion (it’s in our eyes, ears, but especially in our minds)
  7. Part 7—Fear, Force and Compulsion (regulation as intoxication).
  8. Part 8—Self-Sufficiency and Self-Righteousness (back where we started with legalism)

God: help us to pray and eat and live and work like Daniel so we can live under your reign and live in the reality that you are our Judge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of us feel pulled to extremes in our walk with Jesus.

Legalism and licentiousness are the most common ditches that Christians must steer clear of in life and a walk with Jesus is the only way to do that.

These two ditches test our faith to stay steadfast to him.

Sadly, the damaged parts of my life show I have experience time in both these ditches.

Maybe its my desire to be moral or my desire to please others, but the legalism ditch has been especially tempting.  It starts out trying to inspire me to do more for Jesus and then I end up convinced I must do more to keep him happy or attentive. I have learned there always will be more and more to do, but that God has taken up the concern to improve me and I can enjoy just hanging around Him as my change agent.

To help put warning strips near the ditch of legalism, I typically stay focused on the gospels, and reading books like the Messiah by J. D. Thomas or Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel, Larry Crabb’s The Pressure’s Off, and Douglas Cooper’s old works and his more recent works such as Living in the Light. All these help me purge some pretty deep “foolishness” in my life and remind me of just how interested God is in my well-being and that of all in this world.

The two most common ditches that get a Christian off the path: legalism and licentiousness.

The devotionals by Dwight Nelson and Jon Paulien and others give me bursts of insights about God and the Christian life for each day. I have also re-read some of Morris Venden’s classic books or Dick Winn’s If God Won the War and His Healing Love.

All of these help me wash my mind and find a better trust in God’s character in a world where the two extremes have become the norm: angry legalism stealing people’s joys while they bitterly work for God’s acceptance, or licentiousness, where people intoxicate their minds and bodies with bad “juice” that distorts their judgment of reality.

Coming closer to Him helps us see how seriously deceived we have been by Satan.

Lately, although I know my own penchant for legalism, I have been amazed on the drunken stupor mesmerizing billions that keep them away from awalk with God He seeks. They get stuck in a lust box or a legalism box, separated away from experiencing God’s sobering grace.

Those who keep finding helpfulness and redemption in His word are few. That is why they are referred to as a remnant. These want to follow Him and hang around others who are following Him. They are born into a new family. Participating in a community of grace (the church) and in that process learning new moral thinking which liberates them from disastrous  smallness that characterizes much of thinking of the world.

But most are rejecting their experience of this grace.

I was talking to a friend recently who stopped back at a church after a long absence. He told me he left early. He said it was boring and it didn’t meet his needs. Maybe that was true. But, another possibility is that he didn’t feel his need and had lost the taste for God, church and the true Christian life. Like a person who snacks on  sweets and meats, good food doesn’t taste nearly as good. The taste buds are changing in the world, and sound doctrine and good advice and loving words just don’t sound like that to the carnal mind.

We see intoxication all around. When people watch 30 or more hours of sports and news and sitcoms, of course they are not going to think church or the disciple’s life is meaningful. These are desensitizing them to spiritual things.

Sober grace sounds boring or too serious by comparison.

It probably sounds like Noah preaching about the need to find shelter from the coming rain in the Ark when no rain was even slightly apparent.

Like a person who snacks on  sweets and meats, good food doesn’t taste nearly as good.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” John 3:36

Intoxicated people just don’t know they are drunk.

So behind the legalism and the licentiousness is a lack of sound judgment–a view of the world deeply informed by loving truth: truth that is truthful and full of compassion and love.

I believe Adventist were raised up to articulate that judgment: The Hour of His Judgment called forth in Revelation 14. We have a sober message of an everlasting grace, but the scoffers are drunk and causing others to get drunk with them.

Judgment is NOT about judgmentalism or legalism, but it is about facing lies. It is about finding the sober and amazing rescuing power of Christ to deliver us from darkness into light. But if you want to cling to darkness, then the stupor is something you want more than the grace.  (see Micah 7:9, John 8 and John 9, and 1 John 4:9 for the delivering passages of judgment.

But the world loves darkness–some legalism but mostly licentiousness–more than the light of judgment.

Hamilton notes that God’s salvific work and the glory of Who He Is comes through in the judgment work of scripture. He works in, through, and by judgment and THAT IS THE CENTRAL unifying theme of scripture, according to Hamilton

The Adventist church was raised up to be a people of sober judgment.

But it seems the scoffing from other Christians about the hour of His judgment have made Adventist bashful in sharing the truth of  judgment. But it is clear in Paul’s writing that God is working toward a climax and that is related to His Judgment which will be through His Son (Acts 17:28-30). It seems part of the Adventist work was to help people get sober in and through the judgment and dispel Satanic lies.

But it seems that even believing in Satan is know longer a very “cool” thing for religious people to do.

We are losing our soberness by the minute.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 notes that Satan is active as He “deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

The Adventist church was raised up to be a people of sober judgment (not judgmentalism. See T. D. Cooper on that topic).

That soberness requires a breaking of the sleep, the stupor, the drunkenness.

I realised this recently when singing Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress

They ring with a bold faith. A sober reality.

They are designed to brace the soul for the warfare of life.

Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress is sung the world over as a rallying call of Christian hope and action.

Tinged with a fighting spirit, to some Luther’s bold phrases and battling call seem outdated, at best displaced for another time and place, and at worse a bit paranoid.

To a self-help, internally focused, peace-seeking society, they carry more of a grudge than a hope.

“Though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us.”

“For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.”

“Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; The body they may kill.”

What’s happening Martin?

Why all this focus on sinister forces?

What is this fixation with property theft, family abandonment or torture and bodily harm?

Was Martin Luther tormented by his own shadows?

Those who think so, miss the gradeur of this song—its firm grasp that are only hope is in Christ.. They also miss the soberness of the judgment them. In Christ, in that the little word is our only safety in the conflict.

But most seem ready to deny the conflict, to excise out the references to shadowy forces and to ask for more intoxicating ideas.

The reasons: Our Ancient Foe doth still sick to work us woe.

His craft–the two ditch model–is alive and well.

“I send you out as sheep among wolves” is the sobering truth.

They are going to feed on you. Watch out. Stick together. Stay awake.

And where was Luther’s demons coming from.

Most from within the Roman Catholic church.

The same place most of his strongest supporters also came from.

A little jog through history reminds us that just as he had a reason to hammer out this song, so do we.

He was persecuted and dogged by verbal attacks, attempts on his life, and the engaged character assassination that is designed to wear down the soul.

Fighting against the fear, this is not a song with a grudge. It is one with a focus.

Martin Luther knew what the wrath of the Roman Catholic church was like.

I wonder how many still feel that wrath.

To some, even Christians, peace and security abound, and these fighting words seem a bit displaced.

a bit paranoid, defensiveness, on-edge, even unable to move on with a new 21st century faith.

Far from being a trip into legalism, judgment properly understood creates the force to break the spell of Satan.

Reading Daniel and Revelation brings a truth about God as one in control of this Great Battle. Wanting God to be our Judge (Daniel means “God is my Judge”) is a testimony the church has against the intoxications of Babylon and other nations.

Far from being a trip into legalism, judgment properly understood creates the force to break the spell of Satan.

So I am starting a series that will contrast the work of God’s judgment to the powerful influence of intoxicating influence.

This time, it was telling how God has helped me stay away from legalism and perfectionism, the intoxication that comes from false religion. The rest of the series will look at grace killers that rob us of other forms of sober judgment.

  1. Part 1—Grace Soberness against legalism.
  2. Part 2—Entertainment—killing us softly with his (Satan’s) voice. Why movies, TV and music can kill our souls.
  3. Part 3—Alcohol
  4. Part 4—Gluttony, Obesity, and Laziness—Do we still see the damage these create.
  5. Part 5—Materialism & Greed—the deceitfulness of riches (we always think we need more).
  6. Part 6—Sexual perversion (it’s in our eyes, ears, but especially in our minds)
  7. Part 7—Fear, Force and Compulsion (regulation as intoxication).
  8. Part 8—Self-Sufficiency and Self-Righteousness (back where we started with legalism)

God: help us to pray and eat and live and work like Daniel so we can live under your reign and live in the reality that you are our Judge.



About the Author

Duane Covrig
I teach leadership and ethics at Andrews University. I am a Seventh-day Adventist eager for the Second Coming of Christ and positive about His judgment hour work (Rev 14:6-12). I use that reality to understand morality and ethics.




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