Sunday, September 21, 2008

The true battle comes from within

"When open commissions of sin do humble and abase the heart, and secret inclinations to sin do even break and burst the heart asunder, then the heart is certainly sincere with God. A Christian will readily grant that his God is a good God, and that Jesus Christ is the chiefest of ten thousand, and that the gospel is a glorious gospel…….. But yet he will say, I have such a proud heart, such a hard heart, such a slight heart, such a carnal heart, etc., and I am so vexed and molested with sinful notions, and with sinful imaginations, and with sinful inclinations, and with atheistical risings, and with private murmurings, and with secret unbelievings, and that in despite of all my conflictings and strivings, prayings and mournings, sighing, groanings, complainings, so that I am oftentimes weary of my life. And if this does not speak out Christ within, and grace within, and the Spirit within such a soul, I know nothing. O friends! Remember this once for all, viz., that the main battle, the main warfare of a Christian lies not in the open field, it lies not in visible skirmishes; but his main quarrels and conflicts are most within, and his worst and greatest enemies are them of his own house, they are them of his own heart.

A little grace at first conversion may reform an ill life, but it must be a great deal of grace that must reform an ill heart. A little grace may make a man victorious over outward gross sins, but it must be a great deal of grace that makes a man victorious over inward sins, secret sins, spiritual sins, yea, a thorough conquest of these sins will hold a man in play all his days."
Thomas Brooks.

"A thorough conquest of these sins will hold a man in play all his days." There is the key issue; we feel less because we haven't attained to the place that will take a lifetime to reach. Or we hear a glorious testimony how God delivered a person from the depths of sin, they are now freed from addiction or unbelief, and it seems as thought the battle is won for them but we continue on weakly, slowly, with many upsets and drawbacks. They have won the battle of the “visible skirmish”, but they have just begun the life long battle of the conflict within. Now obviously we shouldn't kick back and accept our weaknesses, but the enemy makes us feel as though we are behind the norm. Not so, at fifty or sixty we will still be in the heat of the battle, still fighting the "ill heart”.

Creepy photo by Gianluca Nespoli.


fcb4 said...

that pic is too creepy...I protest.

FCB said...

Now Eric, don't be too hard on yourself, I think your new 'do' isn't that bad.
Oh, you mean the pic on my blog :)
Yeah, wanted to make sure people didn't pass over this post, so good. I doubt many will overlook it.
Love Dad

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello Fred!

Excellent post laying down the facts very vividly for all Christians to understand and strive to overcome our sinful nature to get close to Jesus.

Many thanks for sharing!

Have a nice day!

FCB said...

Hello Joseph,
Thanks for you comments. I think this post is vivid and a subject that rarely comes up in my church.
God bless,

Mel said...

Fred, I've been enjoying chewing on this post, but hesitating to comment because what I want to say is difficult. But since it appears that more damage has been done by hiding the truth than revealing it over the years, I'll just jump in and let the chips fall where they may. Please feel free to delete this comment if you're not comfortable with it for any reason.

For me, the single greatest symptom and evidence of the depth of my depravity is the fact that I have little to no authentic remorse for any wrong I’ve ever done. I want to feel genuine and passionate remorse, sorrow, guilt, shame – anything – over the sins I have committed in my life, the sins I will continue to commit, and the dark desires of my heart. I’ve never really felt any of those things, at least not much and not for long, even when I was a child.

Sure, I’ve felt regret and fear because of being caught. I’ve felt sorry for myself because of losses of different sorts that my own choices have brought about. But I have never fully felt the weight or severity of the sin in my life, mostly because in my heart I seem to have an excuse or a justification for every wrong I’ve ever committed.

As I read the books, works and words of the “old dead guys” I admire the most, a common theme threads throughout… Each one of them was deeply aware of and horrified by their own sin, the depravity of their flesh, and their hopelessness and worthlessness without God, and many of them continued to feel unworthy of His love and attention throughout much of their lives. Each one was in awe of the miracle of the gospel, which shone all the more brightly to them because they had such an acute awareness of the evil in their own selves that Christ’s blood atoned for.

I long to feel that, to live in that truth, to be humbled and emptied by it so that God can fill me up and overflow through me authentically. I’ve tasted the type of joy I’m hoping for, and it was awesome and addictive! I wanted to stay in that place for the rest of my life and on into eternity. But I was cheating, because I had sought the end product without first walking the road of a person broken in the face of their own guilt.

I pray with all my heart that God will do these works in my heart. I pray that my pride, my cold heart, and my stubbornness will not make it necessary for Him to go to extreme measures to accomplish this, and that my family won’t have to suffer too much in the process. May He have mercy on me.

FCB said...

Hi Mel,
I appreciate such a candid post. And, of course I would like to have the perfect cordial of rememdy, but it is doubtful I could, even if I had a lot more information, but you are in good hands, Jesus is leading you step by step.
I'll generalize some, and maybe something will stick.
I think those that feel the greatest remorse are those that have most deeply hurt the ones they love. When we see pain in those we love, caused by our choices, it grieves us and though we know we are forgiven, we never forget. Nor should we. Repeating great offenses is doubly pain laden.I think by far the largest part of our past sins have the consequences hidden from us. We go on never knowing what we have done to others. It would be an overwhelming sight to see all at once. I'm pretty sure that God will allow us to see sin's consequences where it is necessary and if He chooses to do so, one moment of illumination will be all that's needed. I never try and second guess the Lord, He opens up things as we need them, and those, when we are ready to understand.
God rears us in the faith one line at a time, and that over a lifetime. You have mentioned more than once that God is teaching you about important issues, probably best to follow His lead, and when you hear of the way others have felt, not to worry. God only knows what secret sins they have been delivered from and you may never feel the way they do. We are to seek Him and He will take care of the rest. He won't leave anything undone in you, though it may not look the same as others. I think we need to just be ourselves, with our own personality and temperament. God knows what each of us needs, and when.

I think the Puritan culture was completely different in some ways from ours. They could go on for months over something we dismiss immeidately. Not to discredit them but they had little to compare themselves to. In light of what we know about people we might simply tell them to stop obsessing! 'for crying out loud, God will forgive you for choosing to buy pants with a zipper instead of the traditional button fly.' :)

These emotions you speak of and think you lack, are ones that come in the prayer closet and not something we seek but something that God reveals if necessary. We just trust and obey, finding our hope in His joy and love. His is not a heavey yoke of guilt and doubt. He uses Godly sorrow to bring us to repentance, but when repentance is done, the sorrow is lifted. We may hold on to guilt, but that's not the Spirit. He is guiding us in the way of life, and if we are in the way, remorse should be incidental.

So, that's my first blush and if it is way off, no matter, He will show you your way.
Trusting Him for all,

fcb4 said...

I think the butchering and humiliation of Christ on a stake outside Jerusalem is all that is needed for the cleansing of sin.

In fact nothing we can manufacture, conjure, pray for, attempt to emote, punish ourselves with or resolve to restitute, will ever come close to adding to or taking away from a bloody roman cross.

It is God's work...not ours.

To attempt to add anything but faith...opens Pandora's box.

Repentance in whatever form is the gift of is freedom from the gnawing terror of a life wasted, spoiled, dragged through the muck and mire.

You are blessed to be able to live a life without a deeply imbedded sliver of sin consciousness embedded in the unaccessible recesses of your inner consciousness.

I think the fact that you feel what you evidence that repentance has moved through the heart and mind.

The closer you get to the Sun the more blind you get.

Grace erases more than it reminds...because in the are still thinking

Mel said...

Thank you both for your thoughtful, inspiring words. I've been wrestling with this issue for months now. God has spoken to me through your words. I will try to let go - by His grace I WILL let go - of the guilt I feel for not feeling guilty. :) And I'll be grateful to rest again in His finished work with peace and joy.