Week 34

These weekly posts show the Triad teachings. Starting at week 1 and progressing through the weeks will help you see the logic of the series.

Continue with God

Now, let’s condense what we  have learned into an easily remembered system: total surrender; (some people will call this “total consecration”, or “complete abandonment”). No matter what you call it, the essence of sanctification is a total trust in God that allows one to surrender to His will. That is, we give ourselves totally to God, for His purpose and will for us. Then we exercise faith to believe He has accepted the offering of our self.

Here is a quote from Hannah Whitall Smith’s book “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life”which illuminates these 2 acts: total surrender, and faith in God that He accepts our surrender:

First, I would say that this blessed life must not be looked upon in any sense as an attainment but as an obtainment. We cannot earn it, we cannot climb up to it, we cannot win it; we can do nothing but ask for it and receive it. It is the gift of God in Christ Jesus. And where a thing is a gift, the only course left for the receiver is to take it and thank the giver. We never say of a gift, “See to what I have attained,” and boast of our skill and wisdom in having attained it; but we say, “See what has been given me,” and boast of the love and wealth and generosity of the giver. And everything in our salvation is a gift. From beginning to end, God is the giver and we are the receivers; and it is not to those who do great things, but to those who “receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness,” that the richest promises are made.
In order, therefore, to enter into a realized experience of this interior life, the soul must be in a receptive attitude, fully recognizing the fact that it is to be God’s gift in Christ Jesus, and that it cannot be gained by any efforts or works of our own. This will simplify the matter exceedingly; and the only thing left to be considered then will be to discover upon whom God bestows this gift, and how they are to receive it. And to this I would answer in short, that He bestows it only upon the fully consecrated soul, and that it is to be received by faith.
Consecration is the first thing. Not in any legal sense, not in order to purchase or deserve the blessing, but to remove the difficulties out of the way and make it possible for God to bestow it. In order for a lump of clay to be made into a beautiful vessel, it must be entirely abandoned to the potter, and must lie passive in his hands. And in order for a soul to be made into a vessel unto God’s honor, “sanctified and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work,” it must be entirely abandoned to Him, and must lie passive in His hands.

So, once and for all, we give ourselves wholly to God. We tell Him that He can have all. We surrender all. Now we must believe He has heard us and has accepted our surrender:

Secondly, I know some will say here, “Ah, yes; but if He would only speak to me, and say that He took me when I gave myself to Him, I would have no trouble then in believing it.” No, of course you would not; but He does not generally say this until the soul has first proved its loyalty by believing what He has already said. It is he that believeth who has the witness, not he that doubteth.”

Once this act of consecration is made, and once we believe He has accepted it, then we exercise patience as we walk it out.

If we do these steps and continue with God we will be changed in this life and rewarded in the next.

Continue with God. Abide in Christ.

 

 

 

 

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Week 33

These weekly posts show the Triad teachings. Starting at week 1 and progressing through the weeks will help you see the logic of the series.

Galatians chapter 5

Galatians can be thought of as a companion book to Romans, and chapter 5 of Galatians has a useful expansion of the command to walk in the Spirit that is outlined in Romans 8.

Here is Galatians 5:

 Walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

So as we daily walk through life, knowing Jesus, trusting Him, and having realized we are dead to sin and alive to God we can see how we are doing by putting our behavior into one of two camps:

1. fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.

2.love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

In practical terms this means walking with God through life “being conformed to His image” and admitting to God when we are falling short and asking for help to improve.

As a person continues to walk and pray, confess and repent, believe and rejoice; they will improve over time. They will be sanctified.

 

We finish next week and Summarize our essays.

 

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Week 32

These weekly posts show the Triad teachings. Starting at week 1 and progressing through the weeks will help you see the logic of the series.

Walk In the Spirit

We are now near the end of our study; but we need to discuss “walking in the Spirit” before we close.

There is that much information right in Romans chapter 8 about walking in the Spirit. But let’s look at what there is. First, we should note that “walking” is a slow, long term form of travel. It is one foot after the other. It is the same motion over and over again. So, what “motion” is that?

It means a daily, hourly, present tense choice to follow God. That may mean his actual personal voice to you that no one else hears, but usually our direction comes from applying what we know of God through our (now enabled) free will.  Romans 8 has a little information on this:

12 “So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh;  for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

This means we have to know God personally. We have to ask for His Spirit, through Jesus, as children of God, heirs with Christ. This comes by faith.

Then, once we know him, we have to “suffer with him”. Now this primarily refers to three things: 1.the price of our witness, 2. trust and patience in adversity, and 3. “crucifying the flesh”.

The price of our witness in our culture is not as bad as in other cultures, but we can nevertheless face some persecution, from neighbors, co-workers and fellow Christians.

Trust and patience in adversity is a major theme in the New Testament. For example:

“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1).

“Perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” is another way to say “sanctification”.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings.” (1 Peter 4).

It’s nice to remind ourselves at this point that He does not let us tempted beyond our ability to endure.

Lastly, we suffer as we “crucify the flesh”. Even though sin is “dead”, we still face temptations, and we have to deny our lower desires. It is not a sin to be in a war.

We can get a good idea of how to “walk in the Spirit” and “crucify the flesh” from a study of Galatians chapter 5.

 

 

 

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Week 31

These weekly posts show the Triad teachings. Starting at week 1 and progressing through the weeks will help you see the logic of the series.

New Life

“When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:20-23).

In our old life, before we found Jesus, we were “free in regard to righteousness”. That is, we didn’t have to obey God. But what did that result in? Shame and death. But now, in our new life I have the power to obey God, and I have been set free from sin and can progressively become more Christ-like. I am being sanctified.

Now, does this mean that I will never sin? No it doesn’t. It means I will sin less. Over time I will sin less and less. Remember verse 19?:

“19 For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.

So, now, in Christ I am “free from sin”. I am “dead to sin”. “sin shall no longer have dominion over me”. I will make steady progress.

Will my progress always be upward bound? Will I never go backwards? No, you might fall back into sin. And, when you do you will have to confess your sin and (again) “seek those things above, where Christ (and the new you) are seated”.  You will again need to exercise faith. You will have to go back to Romans 6 and, again, “realize you are dead to sin”.

But for the most part, yes, this is a progressive increase in Holiness. A new life. A life of victory.

Let’s join Paul now in Romans chapter 8, where he sums up our new situation: New life in the Spirit:

“8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Prior to finding Jesus, prior to my being born again, my will power was insufficient to obey God. I was a slave to sin. But now, my will has been enabled, and if I “walk in the Spirit” the “just requirement of the Law” will be fulfilled in me. That is, I will be able to obey God, I will be able to resist sin, I will get progressively more Christ-like. I will be sanctified.

So, now I need to learn how to Walk In the Spirit. 

 

 

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Week 30

These weekly posts show the Triad teachings. Starting at week 1 and progressing through the weeks will help you see the logic of the series.

We Are Dead to Sin

Chapter 6 of the book of Romans explains to us that we are now (in Christ) “dead to sin”.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For he who has died is freed from sin. 8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

So what does it mean to be “dead to sin”? It means that now, in Christ, I do not have to obey the sin within me. I do not have to serve Satan. I am free from the power of sin. It does not mean that I am free from temptation. It does not mean that I don’t have to resist temptation. It just means that I can now refuse to sin. He goes on:

“12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

This means that in Christ I am a “new person”. I have been “born again”, born a second time, and the “new me” is risen with Christ and is in the heaven.

Now when I “see” this fact, when I have a revelation of who I am in Christ, then I realize that I no longer have to sin. I can now choose to obey. This comes “by faith”; that is, as I embrace and accept God’s truth and walk in this new life.

“15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.”

We will continue next week by looking at how we can live this New Life.

 

 

 

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Week 29

These weekly posts show the Triad teachings. Starting at week 1 and progressing through the weeks will help you see the logic of the series.

The Enabled Will

Romans chapters 6-8 contain a wonderful truth. These 3 chapters move directly through everything we have covered so far.

If you review the previous 28 weeks of essays you will see that we started with the normal human will. That is, we said that humans have free will and that we must use our will to choose to follow God and not follow Satan. However, we have found that because of the power of sin in this fallen world, and the darkness and blindness within us, that we need healing and deliverance before we can obey God. This is the message of Romans 6-8.

For example, in Romans chapter 7, Paul reveals that outside of Christ, in himself, (that is, in his lower self), using only the power of his will, he cannot obey God:

“I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law (of God) is good. 17 So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! ” (Romans 7:14-24).

So, what is he saying? He says that he has discovered what God wants by studying the Law of God. That is, he read the Bible (for him that was the Old Testament: Moses, the Psalms and the Prophets) and in these writings he discovered who God is and what He wants from us. He “delighted in the Law”, and he wanted to do good, but he could not. Instead he ended up doing evil. He could not obey God just because he now knew what God wanted. And just because he wanted to do good, and agreed with the Law, didn’t mean he could actually obey it. Why not? Because he normal human power of choice, his human will, was “captive” to the sin within him. Sin is stronger than human will power.

This slavery to sin only leaves us with one conclusion: “I am a wretched man”. When I finally realize who I am outside of Christ I will see that I am wretched.

Now, thank God, Paul goes on in verse 25 to declare that he has been delivered from this powerless state by Jesus:  “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my new mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

In other words, now in Christ his will power has been enabled and empowered to obey God. He has power over the sin within him. He is free from the power of sin.

He had already explained this new power in chapter 6, and it is to chapter 6 that we must next turn. We must look at how we are now (in Christ) dead to the Law of Sin and Death. We Are Dead to Sin. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Week 28

These weekly posts show the Triad teachings. Starting at week 1 and progressing through the weeks will help you see the logic of the series. 

Face Your Pain

The main reason that a person must endure dry periods in early contemplative prayer is that a person must begin to “see” themselves. That is, by enduring the pain of removing external distraction a person begins to face inward pain. The person then usually begins to see who they are as a “sinner”; that is, outside of Christ. When we “see” ourselves outside of Christ; that is, when we see our “lower nature” we will be appalled. As Paul said, “I know that in me, that is, in my lower nature, there is nothing good”. Paul really knew this because he experienced it. He saw it firsthand.

Do you realize that hidden inside of you there are negative desires and emotions?  Usually a person will avoid feeling things like shame, insignificance or despair.  But it is only by finally “seeing” hidden things that a person can become free of them. And it is only in a prayer dialogue with God that power can found to become free. Contemplative prayer is much more than introspection. It is a conversation with God in which He reveals things in us that are hindering our spiritual development. In silent prayer we see things that were previously hidden to us and as our spirit groans inwardly we turn to God for help. We allow God to expose things to ourselves and as they are exposed, and as we admit them to God a healing occurs.

These are spiritual experiences. They are more than mental knowledge. For example, I may realize from reading the New Testament that Paul stated that “in me, that is in my flesh, dwells nothing good”. He then goes on to say “wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death”? I may appreciate from this that I also have a lower nature and that in this lower nature “nothing good is present”. I may understand that Paul suffered anguish about this condition; and yet I may never add up 2+2 and get 4: that is, I may never realize that I need to suffer anguish about my sin nature in order to get free from sin.

I have to suffer the full revelation of my sin nature in order to be free of sin. That is why many of us (nearly all of us) know in our mind that the Bible declares that we are “free from sin” and yet are still engaging in “besetting sins”. We call these “addictions” and “dysfunctions”. We trace the psychological wounds that led us to our current inability to be inwardly free and spiritually healthy. But we are not really free. We continue to fall into the same sin over and over again. Why? Because head knowledge alone is not transformative.

It is only when we actually “see” and feel the hopeless state of our sin nature that we can begin to get free. Only when I understand that I am trapped in a sin can I begin to get free.

Often times a person who is illuminated about his/her sin nature feels like they are waking up from a dream. Many people realize they have been lying to themselves; and when they finally see the truth their relationship with God changes dramatically. They no longer hide sin from themselves and others. They pray about their true state and admit it to God. This opens great grace and transformation: “humble yourselves in the sight of God and He will give you grace.”

Next week we will look at how facing our pain, and seeing the depth of our need, can free us to receive a revelation of who we are inside of Christ. We begin to actually see that we are raised up with Christ in His resurrection. This allows us see our “new self”. When we can see our old self and our new self we finally realize that we can change. We actually know that we have a choice.

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Week 27

These weekly posts show the Triad teachings. Starting at week 1 and progressing through the weeks will help you see the logic of the series.

Silence and Solitude

When Jesus told His followers to “enter into their prayer closets” to pray, what did He mean?  In the monastic tradition prayer was (and is) usually conducted in silence and solitude.

The first step is to minimize external distractions. Usually that means finding a location or activity that is free of interruptions. A prayer closet, a prayer room, chair, etc. Some people pray in their car, but please, not while driving. If you tell me that you are practicing contemplative prayer in your shower then I want to see your water bill.

The next step is to do things like turn off your phone, clear your schedule, have your children attended to by others, etc. In short, arrange things as best you can to remove interruptions and distractions.

Now, you will discover that when external distractions are removed you begin to have new experiences. Sometimes you may feel peaceful and rested. But usually you will discover that you have an inner world that has been making a lot of noise. The quieter we make our external world the noisier becomes our internal world.

Sometimes you will have appropriate distractions. For example, you may remember that you have to do this or that as soon as you are done praying. Well, you may have to interrupt your praying to write yourself a reminder note about some duty. You may have to get up and do something you forgot to do. Fine. Get everything done, clear your books and return to prayer.

One problem is that we want. and expect, that if we enter into in silence we will “hear” God. We expect a sense of peace, or beauty. But most people are not able to easily sense God when they place themselves in silence. However, the truth is that any time someone steps away to seek God they have already entered a Holy Space. God is present, and connected, but they can’t sense it. So, the first thing that you have to do is ask yourself if you believe God is present. Many times a person will have to decide to continue contemplative prayer based on faith. That is, a person will have to eventually say to God something like this: “I believe you are present because I have come to Jesus and he said that he will allow me to come to your throne of grace.”

Thus a person should persist in seeking even without an immediate sense of God. With time, their faith grows and they begin to realize that God is present; and transformation begins to occur. Their lives begin to improve.

As a person continues in the discipline of silent prayer he/she will usually begin to encounter painful memories. Next week we will begin to look at how painful memories and painful realizations about who you are can lead to inner healing, purification and transformation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Week 26

These weekly posts show the Triad teachings. Starting at week 1 and progressing through the weeks will help you see the logic of the series.

Contemplative Prayer

One the best methods for gaining transformation is “contemplative prayer”.

There are 2 groups of people who address this subject: the Catholic monastic, and the burned out Protestant minister.

There are many Catholic monks (and nuns) who have written on contemplative prayer. In this New Day Monk website you can read some of their work in the Mystic Blog section and you can read some about their personal history in the Monkipedia section.

A good example of the “burned out” Protestant minister approach is found in Peter Scazzero’s book “The Emotionally Church”. In this book he chronicles his journey into burnout (eventually “hitting the wall”)and through that crisis into discovering a new way to pray (and listen) that brought him rest and success. Here is a quote from his book that hints at the value of contemplative prayer: “Most leaders shipwreck or live inconsistent lives because of forces and motivations beneath the surface of their lives, which they have never even considered…. The longest journey of any person is the inward journey…pioneering new parts of my self – the good, the bad and the ugly” (pages 72, 75).

Since Contemplative Prayer is such a large topic we will take some time to explain it.

Let’s start with a simple description (from the Monkipedia section of this website) of this type of prayer:

The modern (and also post modern) use of the term “contemplation” usually refers to thinking about something.  Thus for example, a person might be said to contemplate marriage. In another instance, I might tell you that I have been contemplating the size of the universe. Thus in contemporary use the term “contemplation” is used in a similar way as the term “meditation”.  So it might be said that a person has been contemplating the universe, or meditating on the size of the universe, and these would be similar activities.

 

The premodern (or medieval) use of the term was different however. Catholic monks, nuns and mystics used the term contemplation to refer to prayer states (communion with God states) that were beyond words and thought.  Contemplative prayer is thus contrasted with discursive (verbal) prayer. Verbal prayer (intercession; making requests; petition) is understandable and can be said to be in the realm of the mind.  Of course, normal prayer is still  spiritual, and still has elements that cannot be understood, but for the most part we would say we understand it and can communicate it.

 

Contemplative prayer, in contrast, does not use many words. It is, instead, a non verbal form of communion with God. Thus, the contemplative is describing an experience with God, not necessarily thoughts about God, or words spoken to God.  Contemplation is often described as closeness to God.  It may be said to be an experience of the presence of God. A contemplative might say they “hear” God or “see” God, but it would be a spiritual use of these terms; and thus they would not usually mean that they heard words or saw visions.

In short, contemplative prayer is a (mostly) wordless “loving communion” with God that opens the heart and “ears” to “hear” God directly. Perhaps it would be closer to say that it opens the heart to feel God’s thoughts.

This is a discipline that people learn, and it usually starts with an introduction to the main methods used; and central to all these methods is the topic of next week’s essay: Silence and Solitude.

 

 

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Week 25

These weekly posts show the Triad teachings. Starting at week 1 and progressing through the weeks will help you see the logic of the series.

Transformation

There is one last stage in complete sanctification, at least there is one more stage available: and that is to be transformed. Now, all along we have been looking at how God changes us: moral reform, inner healing and deliverance. And these changes we have been talking about involve both our role and God’s role. But now, in this last stage our role becomes one of resting and waiting on God, and His role becomes one of transforming us. You might say that now that the work is done we can enter “into heaven” while still on earth.

Consider this verse: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:18.

Imagine looking into God’s face, beholding His glory, and thereby being transformed, into His likeness. To become Christ like.

Of course, all along our journey, from justification through sanctification we have been becoming more Christ like. More loving, more moral, healthy, dedicated, etc. But now we want to rest, to bask and to “glow”.

How can we rest in God and see His beauty?

Next week will begin to examine one of the ways that people have discovered transformation.

We will introduce the concept of Contemplative Prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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