117.0 - Normal vs Abnormal: The true path of the redemptive work is a bright path of immediate elevation for the believer. It is a logical, understandable path of cooperation and participation on the believer's part. And, out of that cooperation and participation grows a strong and intimate, every day relationship to the Father, the Savior, and the Holy Spirit. This is the normal result of following the true redemptive path.
However, over time a very attractive, but false, path has become popular. Indeed, this "Revised Gospel" is bogus; and, it leaves the believer empty and defeated. But, it is, indeed, deceptively attractive. So, for a time, let's define and discuss "The Sad Path" in an effort to expose its deception and its devastating consequences.
The changes to the authentic Gospel, which we are about to discuss, could actually be traced historically, but we will not do that here. We will simply expose the issues.
Also, please note, these corrupted ideas regarding the redemptive agenda are so subtle that they are all but transparent. Because of this, they have already gained wide acceptance across the whole of the modern Church.
Something so widely embedded is not easily challenged; but, in fact, it is easily exposed. So, I will expose it. Then you, the reader, will decide what is your correct course.
117.1 - The Essential Idea: The foundational belief of this deceptive approach to redemption is easy to grasp. It simply contends that, "The sin motive always remains dominant over the faith motive." In other words, mankind, even redeemed mankind, is not capable of rising above the sin impulse and its outward expressions in his daily lifestyle. This is the Prime Tenet of this "revised gospel."
This idea is then extended to the conclusion that if man is not capable of rising above the sin impulse, a just God cannot and does not require him to do so. So, the believer comes to think that the work of Christ makes him or her, entirely "non-responsible" with regard to sin. Non-responsible here denotes a state in which the believer is simply unaware of a compelling responsibility.
This truly is an accurate description of the widespread condition across the modern Church. A vast segment of the contemporary Church embraces the non-responsible idea. And, this impact cuts across most all denominational lines, in their grassroots membership, if not in their theology books. So, the modern church has largely come to believe that, even for believers, disappointing God is just part of the daily human existence, and to be generally expected.
117.2 - We Must Rethink It: It is easy to see the influence that the non-responsible approach has had on our thinking in the modern Church. In previous sections, we have already looked at the true nature of some key concepts in the redemptive plan: Sin, Faith, Grace, Righteousness, and Love. But notice how those concepts are often reshaped by the non responsible approach to redemption.
It goes something like this: "Because I, even as a believer, cannot live above purposeful sin, then grace has to mean mercy. And, righteousness has to be always and only imputed. And, God's love has to be always and only unconditional. And, faith can require no expression in works. These things have to be true, because these definitions leave me without responsibility for my failures, which is the only way for me survive divine scrutiny."
Obviously, if one believes that the sin impulse always dominates over the faith impulse, then this careful redefining of key terms must occur in order to enable the non-responsibility of the believer. But, all of these re-definitions are either misleading, partial truths or complete errors.
117.3 The Original Expectation: Certainly, in order to substantiate the idea that a believer is not held responsible or accountable for his or her sinful realities, a radical revision to the original Gospel becomes absolutely necessary. This is true because the original redemptive plan never held any expectation that a believer would peacefully coexist with dominant sin in an atmosphere of non responsibility.
Rather, the ancient and authentic expectation was the careful conquest of sin, in both its inner and outer forms, as discussed in previous sections. So, when we subscribe to the idea of a defeated coexistence with sin, it changes everything.
117.4 The Norm Of The "Revised Gospel": We can look to the writings of Paul for a perfect picture of what this revised redemptive plan considers the normal and unalterable human condition. We briefly looked at this passage earlier. Again, Paul says in Romans, chapter 7:
"For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."
The condition that Paul describes here is what might be called "Incorrigible Sin." The picture that he paints is exactly the circumstance that the non-responsible approach would tout as the normal human condition, even for a believer.
In fact though, this is a very abnormal condition. And, Paul shows in the very next chapter of Romans, chapter 8, how the believer is wonderfully delivered from this deplorable condition.
So, let's explore to its conclusion this "wretched" condition that Paul describes. Let's do this, not only to expose the errors of this revised gospel, but also because it affords us the opportunity to bring together previous ideas in a very lineal way.
117.5 The Carnal State: "The Big In Between": What is really being described in chapters seven and eight of Romans is the spectacular deliverance of the believer from the domination of sin, by the Living Christ, . But, Paul begins where we are reading in chapter 7 by simply describing the dilemma that requires that deliverance.
There, he shows the condition that exists before the believer experiences God's full remedy for sin through his or her spiritual baptism into Christ. Obviously, it is a frustrating state. So, it prompts Paul to cry out in a vicarious way for all in this condition, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"
The condition that Paul is describing is a state that has come to be called the "Carnal State" or "Carnal Christianity." He actually provides something of a label for it, himself, when he says, "For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin ..." Again, this is the state of the believer between the time of conversion and the time of his or her spiritual baptism into the Living Spirit Christ.
Paul goes on to describe this state more fully in chapter 8 when he says in verse 5 and following, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God." So, as we've seen, indeed, the "evil twin" lives.
117.6 The Dominance of Sin: Taking all of this together, we can understand several things about this carnal state. First, we understand that this is a state in which the believer is still being primarily governed by what Paul calls, "the law of sin which is in my members."
This is Paul's way of referring to the sin instinct, or the essential sin motive, or the subconscious sin attitude. These are all just terms for the same inner sin essence that we have already discussed at length in previous sections - that inner thing that opposes us on The High Path.
The result of this defeating subconscious sin is the frustration and helplessness that he describes. Again, he says, "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."
117.7 The Conscious vs. The Subconscious: So, again, on the most primary level of her heart, the believer who is in this condition is still being governed by the impulse of self-determination. And, even though she chooses to serve God on the conscious level, yet the disciple is defeated on this subconscious level, where she is powerless to exercise control. So, though it has been driven from legitimacy on the conscious level, sin continues to rule at the subconscious level where the believer is without real resource.
117.8 The Consequence of Carnality - Death: In the verses from chapter 8, Paul also describes several consequences that attach to this condition of latent sin. He indicates that, if left unchecked, this subconscious sin essence will ultimately bring death. He says, "For to be carnally minded is death..."
117.9 Enmity With God: Further, he says that it is this subconscious sin that constantly brings stress and difference between the believer and God. This is true because, down deep, in that uncontrollable subconscious region of his heart, the believer is still in rebellion against God. Paul also indicates that this is the reason that he can never please God.
He says, "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
117.10 Torn Between Two Governments: It's no wonder that Paul would describe this condition as "wretched." In this carnal stage, as we have seen, the believer is literally being torn between two inner governments. Essentially, as Paul describes, the believer can see the high road of faith; but, this dominating subconscious sin voice forbids him to walk it.
117.11 God's Purpose Served: A Time of Humbling: While this is obviously a difficult period for God's child, we have already seen that God does use this experience to his redemptive ends. This becomes a time of separation and humbling for the believer. It is during this time and through these experiences that the believer is confronted by his base inner nature, emptied of himself, and prepared to receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
Again, as the followers of Christ allow the Savior to lead them through this time of personal exposure, they are able to recognize their own inadequacies. Through these discoveries, they become depleted of confidence in their own self-sufficiency. And, as Paul describes, in this humbled state, the believer begins to cry out for deliverance. So, Paul cries out for us all, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"
117.12 The Answer Does Come: Ultimately, it is this humbled, desperate, insistent, consecrated cry for help that the Spirit Christ responds to. Jesus describes this insistent plea very well in Luke, chapter 11. There, He encourages the believer to stubbornly ask and seek and knock until the answer comes in the form of this liberating Baptism of the Spirit.
Jesus says there, "... ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened... If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"
And, Paul celebrates this deliverance in chapter 8 of Romans where he says, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
117.13 It's God's Call: But, before we further explore God's answer for this carnal condition, let's consider some final thoughts concerning the carnal state. We should note that the carnal state has no predetermined end. There is no set time frame for this condition.
Again, the length of the carnal state is largely controlled by two factors: the effectiveness of the separation and humbling process, and the intensity of the believer's pursuit of God's Spirit.
A casual investment on the part of the disciple can perpetuate this state indefinitely. And a complete unwillingness to experience this "personal wilderness time" will certainly have the same effect.
In any case, however, the end point is entirely determined by God. The personal Wilderness Phase is finished only when He says it is finished. We are humbled, and empty, and consecrated, and ready to receive the Spirit of Christ only when God thinks we are.
117.14 The Alternatives Are Not Good: The alternatives to achieving this completion, however, are not acceptable, at all. A believer who becomes, as Jesus once put it, "offended," and refuses to work through the difficulty of this humbling time, will inevitably choose one of two courses. He or she will fully succumb to the pressures of subconscious sin and return to a course that is entirely self-determined.
Or, the believer will remain suspended in this carnal state indefinitely, unwilling to invest at the level required to succeed. In this case, the believer continues to consciously subscribe to the Lordship of Christ, but remains subconsciously enslaved to the self-serving agenda of his or her subconscious carnal self.
117.15 The End Result Is The Same: The end is the same in both cases. It is death. In the first case this punishment is due to an outright return to self determination. For whatever reason, the "offended" believer determines that "it just isn't worth it," and consciously returns to a self directed lifestyle. It may not be an ugly lifestyle. But, it is still self-guided and it will, therefore, draw the judgment of God.
In the second case, where the believer balks at the required investment, but does not entirely retreat, still, God's judgment comes. This happens because of the subconscious defiance that remains unaddressed. So, either way, the existence of a dominant sin value, whether on the conscious or the subconscious level, draws the same judgment from God, ultimately.
117.16 Go On Child: Of course, the obvious implication is that it is simply unacceptable for the believer to retreat, as a matter will, from the redemptive process. Rather, the disciple is expected to move through this "big in between." The intent is that the believer would experience a successful completion in the Living Christ, ultimately coming to an undivided heart that is fully and consistently faith expressive.
117.17 A Successful Completion: Now, we move deeper into chapter 8 of Romans to discover this successful completion for the believer. Here, Paul begins to fully describe the liberating answer to this agonizing carnal condition. In doing so, he completely discredits the idea that man is hopelessly consigned to the sin impulse.
He begins with a celebratory statement. He says, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! " Then he sums up the old condition: "So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."
117.18 Promise Kept: Captives Free: Then, he starts to expose the full wonder of the Savior's work. He tells us that, as believers, we are no longer condemned. But notice, this freedom from condemnation comes through responsible, faith expressive behavior, not the lack of it. Paul says it is because we walk after the Spirit, not the flesh. He says that this Spirit enrichment has set us free from the dominating law of the sin instinct.
He says it this way, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
117.19 Why The Law Couldn't Work: Paul also shows us why the law could not adequately govern the human heart. He indicates that the law depended on the voluntary cooperation of the flesh, the carnal subconscious nature. As we have seen, this will never happen because the carnal mind is ever the antithesis of the godly mind.
So, those subconscious, selfish appetites defeat us in exactly the way that Paul described in chapter 7. But, now he exposes the better remedy - the Christ's empowerment of the believer through His Spirit. He also says that this remedy is so successful that we are able to keep, not just the letter, but even the righteous intent of the law.
He says, "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
117.20 The Stark Difference: Then, Paul continues to expose the stark difference in the creature before and after the deliverance offered by the indwelling Christ. He also speaks of how very indispensable the divine merger is to the believer.
He says, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
"So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His."
117.21 Confirmation of "the Quickening": Now Paul confirms that we can conquer the latent sin impulse through the Holy Spirit. He says, "And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life [a daily vitality] to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, 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." [Brackets added] Then Paul concludes: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God."
117.22 So, What About the Non-Responsible Thing: Obviously, what Paul describes in these chapters is not a defeated believer who is consigned to a hopeless coexistence with dominating sin. Rather, he describes the graceful deliverance from that condition, a deliverance which is immediately available to the believer.
So, it was never God's plan to give up on the human potential, dismantle the impact of His moral laws, and remove from us all responsibility for our behavior. His plan has never been about an acceptable "broken-ness."
Nevertheless, the message of the modern, pop gospel, this "revised gospel" of non responsibility, encourages the believer to be spiritually lazy and nonparticipating. It places all responsibility for his success on the Dying Christ; while it virtually ignores the significance and promise of the Living Christ.
In doing so, it would leave the believer unempowered; and indicate this state to be normal. In this way, the believer is left "uninvested" when great investment is actually called for. This is not the God Agenda. It is the plan of His adversary.
This is not the Gospel of Christ. It is the gospel of the antichrist.
John gives us the litmus test that exposes this false gospel in his first epistle when he writes, "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world."
Jesus Christ does, indeed, live in the flesh - first, as our Messiah to suffer the Cross. But secondly, He lives in the flesh, literally within our flesh, to empower and renew the believer. In effect, this revised gospel denys that reality, entirely.
117.23 An Odd Reversal Of Thought: Nevertheless, by embracing the gospel of non-responsibility of the believer, the modern Church has come to the oddest reversal of thought. Consider this. As discussed, in large numbers, across the Church, we have come to embrace two significant thoughts. First, we have come to believe in and be comfortable with this idea that even a believer in Christ cannot circumvent the sin impulse or it's real expressions, even for a single day.
Then, when we add to that, the tenacious contention that our faith needs no expression in works to be validated, we come to a very awkward extension. It is this: "Sin must be a necessary expression in the believer's daily life, but faith need not be."
What a sad gospel we have come to with such an up-side-down belief system. What a sad message to offer to a needy world.
The approval of a peaceful and/or comfortable coexistence with dominant sin is not really to be found anywhere in the writings of the New Testament. Nor is an invisible faith described or approved there.
These are recent philosophical inventions of modern pop theology and preaching. And, while such teachings may momentarily create an easier and more self indulgent religious pursuit, they will certainly not take us down the path of real relationship with God, nor past His judgment. This is but the Sad Path of self-delusion.