The Endless Pursuit of Perfection or (Already Perfect, But Being Made Holy)


Luke writes in Hebrews 10:14, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” He also speaks of being made perfect with the saints that went before us in Hebrews 11:40. Hebrews 10:14 can be a very confusing verse. How can we be perfected yet still be in the process of being sanctified?

The ESV Study Bible’s notes say, “Perfected for all time does not mean that believers are now already sinless, but that Christ has fully earned their perfection. which will certainly be applied to Christians in God’s good time. The eternal perfection (see 11:40, 12:23) of the saints stems from the once-for-all-nature of Jesus’ sacrifice. Hence, believers look to Christ and not to themselves for a cleansed conscious, full forgiveness of sins, and total flawlessness in the future.” As for those who are being sanctified or being made holy it says, “The Greek present participle allows for the idea of progressive sanctification in this life and/or present positional sanctification of the believer as one who from the start is deemed perfectly holy.”

Now, I think that to begin to truly comprehend and get a decent grasp on what it means to be made perfect we must go to Hebrews 2:10 which says, “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” The Founder of our salvation is Christ Jesus. If He, Himself, was made perfect through suffering, not that he was sinful, but that He fully obeyed then shouldn’t we expect as His followers, whom He is sanctifying, to suffer? Shouldn’t we expect to endure things that will cause us to suffer in some sort of fashion? Isn’t suffering a bi-product of being made perfect and holy?

James writes in his epistle, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

But I also love how St. Paul says it in Romans 5, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

We all have sufferings and burdens to bear. Christ Himself has called us to bear our crosses.

There’s a connection between the suffering and the sanctifying.

When we endure trials, sufferings, and tribulations we can identify with the One who was perfected by suffering on the Cross.

Maybe, too often, we look at our suffering as something bad, just another part of fallen humanity.

But maybe, perhaps, suffering is a sacrament………

That suggestion may be ludicrous, but perhaps there’s truth in the pain.

The Catholics call a sacrament “a rite in which God is uniquely active”.

The Anglican Book of Common Prayer speaks of sacrament as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible Grace”.

If suffering brings about our perfection and sanctification then isn’t that a sign of something holy taking place within us. Yes, suffering is usually the external things of life, but that outward suffering leads to a inwardly perfecting of who we are in Christ.

Suffering is a sacrament.

It

Is

HOLY!

We are suffering like the Founder of our faith suffered. We, by our suffering, are being spurred on towards sanctification and holiness.

Christ death brought upon us the inward and invisible Grace of which The Book of Common Prayer speaks.

GRACE

SUFFERING

SACTIFICATION

PERFECTION

They all tie together. It’s by that grace that we are allowed to be perfected and made holy. And by that suffering we are spurred on toward refinement in Christ.

It is in suffering that grace is most active….

The activeness of grace brings about holiness and perfection.

I think this poem by an unknown author says it all:

Stepping Stones

The Lord came to me like a dream one day and asked, “Why do you sorrow?”

I answered, “Lord, my life is so full of pain, I can’t face one more tomorrow.”

The Lord sat down beside me, and gently took my hand.

He said, “Let me explain to you and then you’ll understand.

Each sorrow is a stepping stone you must surmount each day,

And every stepping stone you climb is a sorrow that’s passed away.

The road of life is a mountainside, with crevices in which to be caught,

But as you struggle on your way, I, the Rock, will lend support.

Every stepping stone you climb, makes spirit and heart grow strong.

Exercising character and faith this road seems painful and long.

The way is paved with stepping stones, to uplift your heart and soul,

Though difficult, they aid your way, to a City paved with gold.

I know that you are tired, for I too have walked this way,

My sorrows did they multiply, but I cleared the stones away.

I left my rock to lift you up, I left behind my story.

To give you strength to make your climb, to that special place in glory.

And never fear, the Rock is here, You’ll never climb alone

Surmount life’s sorrows, continue on, For they are but stepping stones.

If you are currently involved with a trial or time of suffering, take heart from the words of our dear brother Saint Paul:

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.”

Move forward knowing that our Lord, The Suffering Servant, fulfilled His complete perfection through His suffering.

May we always seek to count it all joy in hard times and know that it makes us perfect and complete…

Lacking nothing!

Shalom,

Jonathan

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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

The dawn of yet another year of educational endeavors is upon us. Johnson Bible College had its first day of classes today, the first day of my Junior year. I was walking back from class this afternoon and was listening to Brett Dennen’s song World Keeps Turning. Brett sings, “Everything you have today soon could be gone away. Yesterday I had no sorrow, here today and gone tomorrow.”

Everything we have today soon could be gone away! That prompted me to become very philosophical and to ponder upon this life that is but a vapor. Life is indeed short. The ignorance of youth is that we tend to ignore this very profound and very true scenario.

We don’t see that life is so fragile, so short. Everything that means something to us, everything that is dear to our hearts, and those we love could be gone tomorrow. We could be gone tomorrow.

Life is short.

But Brett’s lyric prompted me to examine more closely the philosophical side of what he is saying. He mentions how EVERYTHING can be gone today then mentions how he had sorrow that was here today, but gone tomorrow.

There’s a tie between that.

We can as quickly lose the things that hold us back in life, that tie us down, that burden us. And shouldn’t we want to lose those things? If life is temporal shouldn’t we want to throw off all that hinders us from living the abundant life that Christ came to give us (John 10:10).

Sorrow, sadness, worry, death, struggles, sins, heartache, or anything that holds us down from living life fully and enjoying the kind of abundant life Christ gives MUST go!

The life that Christ came to give is not a life in the physical, not by what I gather. It is an abundant spiritual life which then in turn effects the physical, emotional, mental, and social.

The world keeps turning….

Are we going to live life abundantly as it turns? Or are we going to be weighted down by things that prevent us from obtaining an abundant life?

God is faithful. Even though we are struggling in this life there is hope always. He insures that the world does indeed keeping turning. Life goes on. What we are enduring today can be gone tomorrow. Genesis 8:22 says, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

It’s a earthly portrait of God’s faithfulness to bring about the seasons.

We are the humanly portrait of God’s faithfulness to bring His people through the tough seasons of life. We are His magnum opus, His most epic masterpiece.

If He is faithful and just to bring about the seasons of the earth how much more so would He be faithful and just to bring us through the winters of life into the spring that is erupting with polychromous life?

All the sorrows and struggles of this life are here today, gone tomorrow.

God is faithful to bring us through the winter.

He doesn’t long for us to live in winter, but winter serves a purpose for growth and formation.

We endure it for but a season.

So I wanted to right this not only as a general encouragement, but also for the new year of academia that has begun for those of us at JBC. With school comes many stresses, worries, pains, and struggles. So to those who read this remember that when it gets hard and sorrow comes to the door to shake it off and let it go. The world keeps turning. God’s faithfulness is reliable. He will bring us through.

And for those I wrote this towards as just encouragement and for the students we all must remember the same concept:

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning,” as Psalms 30:5 reads.

What’s here today is gone tomorrow!

Shalom,
Jonathan

The Myth of Legislative Morality

The Myth of Legislative Morality

Greetings, I have decided to title this The Myth of Legislative Morality in honor of one of my favorite theologians and writers, Dr. Greg Boyd. To begin let’s define morality. I prefer these two definition of morality:

1. The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.
2. A system of ideas of right and wrong conduct: religious morality; Christian morality

Now, I am approaching this blog from the view point of definition number 2. Christian morality or also known as righteous or holiness. I am not talking about the standards of right and good conduct from a worldly standpoint.

So can we legislate righteousness and holiness? Let’s explore it a little.

All laws are based on some sort of code of ethics or on a higher transcendent Being. Here’s a great quote by writer Gary Burger to address this that I found in doing some research on legislating morality:

“We must then ask what system of ethics and morality is the best one to base our laws on. We have two broad choices. One is a system that says moral values are created by people in their own context of community, culture and time period. In other words, moral values are relative to the situation or group or time period. The other one is a system that says moral values come from one source that transcends all individuals, cultures, communities and time-periods. The major battle going on in our legal system today is over which of these two systems should be the basis of our laws. Therefore, we should be asking, which system is the right one to impose on people through laws?”

I think that when it boils down to it that we all agree that morality, whether it is a standard of right and wrong or the religious system, does indeed come from a transcendent being, which we know to be God. As CS Lewis says, “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” Burger says of Lewis:

“He realized that there was not only a transcendent law to which every man appeals but also a transcendent Law-giver. This Law-giver had to be perfect in every way in order to know what perfect justice is. This Law-giver also had to be a living and intelligent personal being with perfect knowledge of all things. Why? No impersonal force could think up what perfect justice means.”

Burger goes on to clarify that when wronged even an atheist will appeal to moral absolutes. He says:

“It is telling when we observe people to see which system they really believe in regardless of what they say they believe in. What happens when the person who says he believes there are no moral absolutes is the victim of a crime? If they are consistent with their stated belief they would really have no right to complain. The judge should say, “The suspect believed he was doing the right thing in robbing you to support his drug habit, and you believe he was wrong to do it. To what standard of right and wrong outside of yourself are you appealing to when you say he is wrong and you are right?” Merely by stating he thinks the suspect is wrong he has confessed that he really does believe in an absolute standard of right and wrong that transcends him and the suspect. The fact that everyone does this reinforces our conclusion that moral values come from one source that transcends all individuals, cultures, communities and time periods.”

So we got that out of the way. We know that the morality comes from something higher. Morality, holiness, and righteousness all come from God. But I think where we Christians all differ is our approach to introducing people to that transcendent Creator of morality and His commands for holiness and righteousness.

Now, I could be wrong about this, but for the most part Christians advocate legislation that is in direct agreement of their morality, their sense of righteousness and holiness that comes from God. Because laws are designed to control a person’s behavior from the outside? So if we legislate with what we find to be true righteousness and holiness we are doing what is right and good.

Lets get theological if we may.

We all know that with Christ the fulfillment of the OT Law was complete, and we no longer have any adherence to the Mosaic Law; at least I think theological we are all in agreement about that. If not, I dont’ want to argue that. BUT what I’m saying is that even the Mosaic Law was set up by God to control from the outside and show what sin was. It operated much like laws of society and of a nation do. In fact it was the laws of a society and nation. The nation of Israel.

But with the Mosaic system there was no changing of the hearts. The Law operated from a external stand point, but there was no factor operating from the internal standpoint.

Now comes Christ….

With the fulfillment of the OT Law complete and Christ dying for our sins, since the Law showed us what sin was, Christ can now give the promise of that internal Prompter of good, the Holy Spirit. He even gives the promise of Himself coming inside of our hearts to transform us from within to do what is good and right by the Holy Spirit. I John 3:24 says, “This is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” That transformation is something the Law was never able to do, which Paul makes very clear in his first letter he ever wrote, Galatians. He wrote in Galatians 3, “For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.” He also said in Galatians 2:21, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

So by grace through faith Christ comes to dwell within us. Charles Finney says:

“The Spirit of Christ, then, or the real Deity of Christ, dwells in the truly spiritual believer. But this fact needs to be spiritually apprehended [understood], and kept distinctly and continually in view. Christ not only in heaven, but Christ within us, as really and truly inhabiting our bodies as we do, as really in us as we are in ourselves, [this] is the teaching of the Bible, and must be spiritually apprehended by a divine, personal, and inward revelation, to secure our abiding in Him.”

And we find that once we invite Him into our hearts by the Spirit that we are to be conformed to the Image of His Son, which Paul address in Romans 8.

I wrote a previous blog about the sanctification we endure as believers. Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

So it is very clear that the OT Law did not bring about righteousness, but that only Christ dying, coming to dwell within us by the Spirit to transform us and continue to sanctify us is the only way to bring about righteousness and goodness.

We also have the promise of the work started in us being completed in Philippines 1:6.

With Christ we have a perfect standard. His flawless character is that standard. And with that perfect flawless character He shows us that deep down we want perfect moral goodness. And only by His sacrifice and promise of the Spirit do we receive that. With Christ we receive that internal prompting of what is good and right. Also, known as the Fruits of the Spirit. We no longer need the law to tell us what to do because we have that internalized sense of what is right and good because of the Holy Spirit’s dwelling within us helping to bring Christ spiritually transformed within us. (Now, I do think that Nomos, the Law, can still be used to steer us in the right direction at times. Romans 6, 7, and 8 are great chapters about Sarks, Nomos, and Nooma, but that’s for another time.)

Now, if we have that internal sense of right and wrong because we have Christ dwelling in us it is our concern that others discover the sacrifice of Christ and come to relationship in him and be baptized into the Holy Communion of the Saints and to invite the transformational Spirit into their hearts.

It seems to be that the Law was concerned about the external, the appearance. But our Gracious Lord is concerned with the heart. Look at how many times he flipped the Law on its head by saying that if you look lustfully at a woman you have committed adultery or that if you hate you have murdered. Our Lord is concerned with hearts.

Which leads me to my point of if we are seeking only to legislate against those things with which we morally disagree then how can that change people’s hearts? How can that introduce to them the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ? How can seeking to win a cultural and political war ever really introduce people to Christ and His righteousness when in essence it is forced upon them? A professor at JBC once told me this: “If you want to get rid of something like abortion or gay marriage you must first change people’s hearts.”

For me seeking to legislate is merely a sweeping under the rug of the real concern, people’s hearts. It’s like cutting a weed off at the top and not addressing the root.

And this for me is where Dr. Greg Boyd is so amazing. His argument that Christ’s message was not to gain the political upper hand nor to win the culture war, but to simply serve. Even Christ Himself said he came to serve not to be served.

So it’s in the administration of morality that we Christians disagree I think. Some advocate what Boyd calls the power-over approach which yields the sword (political power).

I, however, advocate the approach that Dr. Boyd and I both believe to be the approach that Christ himself preached and that is the power-under mentality that says I want to come under ALL people in love, justice, peace and service. I want to serve them as Christ would. I want to show them the goodness and love of our Savior through acts of service not through acts of coercion by a political system for acts of coercion have never brought about real change within anyone.

It is in the power-under approach that I believe hearts can indeed be changed. And IF hearts are changed then Christ comes to dwell in those hearts if they invite Him, so making it that those people now have a internal sense of morality and what is right and good in the eyes of God. They have the Spirit dwelling within them now transforming to the image of Christ. Sanctifying them.

So again, the question of can we legislate morality? I think that is too broad of a stroke, but demands a more specific answer. If by the first definition of morality then yes, I think we can legislate standards of conduct and ethics, which one may or may not see as influenced by a higher being. But those standards and ethics, like the OT Law, work only with the external. However, I am not condoning a view that suggests we forsake all laws of the land in order to focus on hearts. That would be chaos. Laws of the land are good and indeed serve a good purpose of protecting us from murderers, thieves, and rapists. I do not condone doing away with laws of the land. We need that first definition of morality whether it comes with the influence of the Divine or not. We cannot exist in anarchy.

But if we are operating under the second definition of morality, which is the holiness of God and His righteousness then no we cannot legislate that. We can influence and instigate holiness and righteousness through loving acts of mercy, kindness, justice, peace, love, and service. It is clear that the only way to have righteousness and holiness is by inviting Christ into your life as your Lord and Savior allowing for Him to send His Spirit to dwell with you transforming you. It is the internal prompting of good.

Christ told us to go and make disciples not win political battles and cultural wars. Winning those things is not spreading the Gospel and winning those things will not make converts of anyone. It is only by becoming more like Christ and being a servant and loving ALL people that the Gospel is ALIVE. And only by that will righteousness and holiness be obtained.

I don’t know if that makes any sense at all, but it’s the best I can muster to my side of the discourse. You may not agree with my stance, as I dont’ with power-over approach. But one thing is for certain, politics will never change people’s hearts. Laws will never change people’s hearts. It’s a myth that we can legislate the kind of morality that Christ brings when we invite Him into our hearts. But here is a interesting take by Gary Burger on a all too familiar story:

“Christianity offers something that no other religion or philosophy offers. Jesus offers to come live inside of us and change us so we have the internal motivation to do what is right whether or not there is a law about it or not. This is what happened when a guy named Zacchaeus met Jesus (Luke 19). Zacchaeus was a tax collector for the Roman Empire. He was told how much tax to collect from people. He had to collect this amount and give it to the authorities. Now it was typical for a tax collector to bring his ‘friends’ with him to your house and collect more than the official amount. The Romans would look on. As a result they were wealthy and hated. I guess they would rather be wealthy than popular. One evening, Jesus and a large gathering of people were eating supper with Zacchaeus in his house. (Jesus invited himself to dinner.) I wish I could have been in on the conversation Jesus and Zacchaeus were having to know what Jesus said to the man. All of a sudden, Zacchaeus stands up and says, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ What did Jesus say to him, ‘Zacchaeus give back all the money or I’ll turn you into a toad’? I don’t think so. And it probably wasn’t just what Jesus said but who Jesus is. Zacchaeus found himself in the presence of Someone with a flawless character who showed him that deep down inside we really want perfect moral goodness. Zacchaeus internalized the desire to do good. He didn’t need a law to force him to do it.”

In essence morality is no longer about laws, ethics, or standards from the external prospective. Morality is now, by Christ own doing, an internal matter. No matter how many laws we make or legislate the root of the problem is still someone’s heart. We can seek to control by external means, but Christ has called and equipped us to work with the internal. Just think if we spent half as much energy we do on seeking the political and cultural upperhand on actually focusing on the internal issues of the heart what the US and the world would look like. Let’s start following the radically beautiful kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the One whose focus is hearts.

A good friend of mine here at JBC summed it up like this:

“True morality can never be legislated: no, a character that truly reflects the heart of the God of infinite holiness must flow out of heart filled with God Himself. As such, a life pleasing to God must flow from Him and to His glory. It’s a matter of allegiance, not external piety.”

I hope I have justified my arguement coherently. Whether you agree or not I hope you enjoyed reading and were possibly challenged.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,
Jonathan Anderson

The Myth of Legislative Morality

The Myth of Legislative Morality

Greetings,

I have decided to title this The Myth of Legislative Morality in honor of one of my favorite theologians and writers, Dr. Greg Boyd.

To begin let’s define morality. I prefer these two definition of morality:

1. The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.

2. A system of ideas of right and wrong conduct: religious morality; Christian morality

Now, I am approaching this blog from the view point of definition number 2. Christian morality or also known as righteous or holiness. I am not talking about the standards of right and good conduct from a worldly standpoint.

So can we legislate righteousness and holiness? Let’s explore it a little.

All laws are based on some sort of code of ethics or on a higher transcendent Being.


Here’s a great quote by writer Gary Burger to address this that I found in doing some research on legislating morality:

“We must then ask what system of ethics and morality is the best one to base our laws on. We have two broad choices. One is a system that says moral values are created by people in their own context of community, culture and time period. In other words, moral values are relative to the situation or group or time period. The other one is a system that says moral values come from one source that transcends all individuals, cultures, communities and time-periods. The major battle going on in our legal system today is over which of these two systems should be the basis of our laws. Therefore, we should be asking, which system is the right one to impose on people through laws?”

I think that when it boils down to it that we all agree that morality, whether it is a standard of right and wrong or the religious system, does indeed come from a transcendent being, which we know to be God. As CS Lewis says, “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” Burger says of Lewis:

“He realized that there was not only a transcendent law to which every man appeals but also a transcendent Law-giver. This Law-giver had to be perfect in every way in order to know what perfect justice is. This Law-giver also had to be a living and intelligent personal being with perfect knowledge of all things. Why? No impersonal force could think up what perfect justice means.”

Burger goes on to clarify that when wronged even an atheist will appeal to moral absolutes. He says:

“It is telling when we observe people to see which system they really believe in regardless of what they say they believe in. What happens when the person who says he believes there are no moral absolutes is the victim of a crime? If they are consistent with their stated belief they would really have no right to complain. The judge should say, “The suspect believed he was doing the right thing in robbing you to support his drug habit, and you believe he was wrong to do it. To what standard of right and wrong outside of yourself are you appealing to when you say he is wrong and you are right?” Merely by stating he thinks the suspect is wrong he has confessed that he really does believe in an absolute standard of right and wrong that transcends him and the suspect. The fact that everyone does this reinforces our conclusion that moral values come from one source that transcends all individuals, cultures, communities and time periods.”

So we got that out of the way. We know that the morality comes from something higher. Morality, holiness, and righteousness all come from God. But I think where we Christians all differ is our approach to introducing people to that transcendent Creator of morality and His commands for holiness and righteousness.

Now, I could be wrong about this, but for the most part Christians advocate legislation that is in direct agreement of their morality, their sense of righteousness and holiness that comes from God. Because laws are designed to control a person’s behavior from the outside? So if we legislate with what we find to be true righteousness and holiness we are doing what is right and good.

Lets get theological if we may.

We all know that with Christ the fulfillment of the OT Law was complete, and we no longer have any adherence to the Mosaic Law; at least I think theological we are all in agreement about that. If not, I dont’ want to argue that. BUT what I’m saying is that even the Mosaic Law was set up by God to control from the outside and show what sin was. It operated much like laws of society and of a nation do. In fact it was the laws of a society and nation. The nation of Israel.

But with the Mosaic system there was no changing of the hearts. The Law operated from a external stand point, but there was no factor operating from the internal standpoint.

Now comes Christ….

With the fulfillment of the OT Law complete and Christ dying for our sins, since the Law showed us what sin was, Christ can now give the promise of that internal Prompter of good, the Holy Spirit. He even gives the promise of Himself coming inside of our hearts to transform us from within to do what is good and right by the Holy Spirit. I John 3:24 says, “This is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” That transformation is something the Law was never able to do, which Paul makes very clear in his first letter he ever wrote, Galatians. He wrote in Galatians 3, “For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.” He also said in Galatians 2:21, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for<sup value="(A)”> if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

So by grace through faith Christ comes to dwell within us. Charles Finney says:

“”The Spirit of Christ, then, or the real Deity of Christ, dwells in the truly spiritual believer. But this fact needs to be spiritually apprehended [understood], and kept distinctly and continually in view. Christ not only in heaven, but Christ within us, as really and truly inhabiting our bodies as we do, as really in us as we are in ourselves, [this] is the teaching of the Bible, and must be spiritually apprehended by a divine, personal, and inward revelation, to secure our abiding in Him.”

And we find that once we invite Him into our hearts by the Spirit that we are to be conformed to the Image of His Son, which Paul address in Romans 8.

I wrote a previous blog about the sanctification we endure as believers. Hebrews 10:14 says, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

So it is very clear that the OT Law did not bring about righteousness, but that only Christ dying, coming to dwell within us by the Spirit to transform us and continue to sanctify us is the only way to bring about righteousness and goodness.

We also have the promise of the work started in us being completed in Philippines 1:6.

With Christ we have a perfect standard. His flawless character is that standard. And with that perfect flawless character He shows us that deep down we want perfect moral goodness. And only by His sacrifice and promise of the Spirit do we receive that.

With Christ we receive that internal prompting of what is good and right. Also, known as the Fruits of the Spirit. We no longer need the law to tell us what to do because we have that internalized sense of what is right and good because of the Holy Spirit’s dwelling within us helping to bring Christ spiritually transformed within us. (Now, I do think that Nomos, the Law, can still be used to steer us in the right direction at times. Romans 6, 7, and 8 are great chapters about Sarks, Nomos, and Nooma, but that’s for another time.)

Now, if we have that internal sense of right and wrong because we have Christ dwelling in us it is our concern that others discover the sacrifice of Christ and come to relationship in him and be baptized into the Holy Communion of the Saints and to invite the transformational Spirit into their hearts.

It seems to be that the Law was concerned about the external, the appearance. But our Gracious Lord is concerned with the heart. Look at how many times he flipped the Law on its head by saying that if you look lustfully at a woman you have committed adultery or that if you hate you have murdered. Our Lord is concerned with hearts.

Which leads me to my point of if we are seeking only to legislate against those things with which we morally disagree then how can that change people’s hearts? How can that introduce to them the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ? How can seeking to win a cultural and political war ever really introduce people to Christ and His righteousness when in essence it is forced upon them? A professor at JBC once told me this: “If you want to get rid of something like abortion or gay marriage you must first change people’s hearts.”

For me seeking to legislate is merely a sweeping under the rug of the real concern, people’s hearts. It’s like cutting a weed off at the top and not addressing the root.

And this for me is where Dr. Greg Boyd is so amazing. His argument that Christ’s message was not to gain the political upper hand nor to win the culture war, but to simply serve. Even Christ Himself said he came to serve not to be served.

So it’s in the administration of morality that we Christians disagree I think. Some advocate what Boyd calls the power-over approach which yields the sword (political power).

I, however, advocate the approach that Dr. Boyd and I both believe to be the approach that Christ himself preached and that is the power-under mentality that says I want to come under ALL people in love, justice, peace and service. I want to serve them as Christ would. I want to show them the goodness and love of our Savior through acts of service not through acts of coercion by a political system for acts of coercion have never brought about real change within anyone.

It is in the power-under approach that I believe hearts can indeed be changed. And IF hearts are changed then Christ comes to dwell in those hearts if they invite Him, so making it that those people now have a internal sense of morality and what is right and good in the eyes of God. They have the Spirit dwelling within them now transforming to the image of Christ. Sanctifying them.

So again, the question of can we legislate morality? I think that is too broad of a stroke, but demands a more specific answer. If by the first definition of morality then yes, I think we can legislate standards of conduct and ethics, which one may or may not see as influenced by a higher being. But those standards and ethics, like the OT Law, work only with the external.

But if we are operating under the second definition of morality, which is the holiness of God and His righteousness then no we cannot legislate that. We can influence and instigate holiness and righteousness through loving acts of mercy, kindness, justice, peace, love, and service. It is clear that the only way to have righteousness and holiness is by inviting Christ into your life as your Lord and Savior allowing for Him to send His Spirit to dwell with you transforming you. It is the internal prompting of good.

Christ told us to go and make disciples not win political battles and cultural wars. Winning those things is not spreading the Gospel and winning those things will not make converts of anyone. It is only by becoming more like Christ and being a servant and loving ALL people that the Gospel is ALIVE. And only by that will righteousness and holiness be obtained.

I don’t know if that makes any sense at all, but it’s the best I can muster to my side of the discourse. You may not agree with my stance, as I dont’ with power-over approach. But one thing is for certain, politics will never change people’s hearts. Laws will never change people’s hearts. But here is a interesting take by Gary Burger on a all too familiar story:

“Christianity offers something that no other religion or philosophy offers. Jesus offers to come live inside of us and change us so we have the internal motivation to do what is right whether or not there is a law about it or not. This is what happened when a guy named Zacchaeus met Jesus (Luke 19). Zacchaeus was a tax collector for the Roman Empire. He was told how much tax to collect from people. He had to collect this amount and give it to the authorities. Now it was typical for a tax collector to bring his ‘friends’ with him to your house and collect more than the official amount. The Romans would look on. As a result they were wealthy and hated. I guess they would rather be wealthy than popular. One evening, Jesus and a large gathering of people were eating supper with Zacchaeus in his house. (Jesus invited himself to dinner.) I wish I could have been in on the conversation Jesus and Zacchaeus were having to know what Jesus said to the man. All of a sudden, Zacchaeus stands up and says, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ What did Jesus say to him, ‘Zacchaeus give back all the money or I’ll turn you into a toad’? I don’t think so. And it probably wasn’t just what Jesus said but who Jesus is. Zacchaeus found himself in the presence of Someone with a flawless character who showed him that deep down inside we really want perfect moral goodness. Zacchaeus internalized the desire to do good. He didn’t need a law to force him to do it.”

I hope I have justified my arguement coherently. Whether you agree or not I hope you enjoyed reading and was possibly challenged.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

Jonathan Anderson