Thursday, May 25, 2017

OBEDIENCE: IS IT ABOUT SUCCESS, OR JUST ABOUT TRYING?

How Do You Read the Bible and Life?


In the New Testament we run across the words keep, do, and obey in reference to a proper response to what is good in life or to what God commands. Below are but a few examples. 

  • “If you love me, you will keep my commandments." -John 14:15
  • "Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” -John 14:21
  • "You are my friends if you do what I command you." -John 15:14
  • "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments." -1John 5:2


When you read the above passages, how did you understand the words do, keep, and obey? Let me clarify. When you read the third statement that to be a friend of Jesus requires doing what He commands, did you interpret the word do to mean: feel good about, to unsuccessfully attempt to do, or to succeed at doing? Likely you resonated with the statement and felt good about Jesus' call to do what He commands. This response of yours was good but insufficient because Jesus is calling a person to action beyond just feeling. Do you see yourself as a friend of Jesus? It is good to be Jesus' friend, but have you done what He said is required to be His friend? Do you do what Jesus commands? Think of what you consider that Jesus commands you to do. Have you done it? Do you do it? Has your doing been successful or unsuccessful? In other words, is success in action important to Jesus, or is He simply interested that you put in an effort even though you fail? 

Obedience: Victory or Failure?


In sports competitions, one person or team wins the competition. The winner declares that victory was achieved. The losers declare that they tried to win, but failed. The loser's attempt was unsuccessful. When you think of Jesus' call to keeping, doing, or obeying His commands, have you achieved victory, or been unsuccessful? I suspect that more clarity is needed. First, is Jesus declaring that His friends keep, do, or obey what He desires just when it is convenient, or all the time? Second, does Jesus want us to evaluate success by looking at our effort or the lack of success of others? Many non-Christians have told me that for moral issues, comparison to other people is never good. 

  • Does God desire you to succeed at being righteous, or just that you try to be righteous?
  • Does God desire you to succeed at being holy or only that you try to be holy?
  • Does God desire you to succeed at being free from sin or merely that you try not to sin?
  • Does God desire that you succeed at keeping all His commands all the time, or simply that you put in an effort?


The Standard of Evaluation


It is good for God to desire that you always do what is good. It is not good for God to think or declare that it is satisfactory that you only imperfectly do what is good or only do good part of the time. Thus God's expectation for you (and all other people) is that you always do what is good. No compromises. Do you agree? Are you succeeding at doing good always?

Let's apply this to obedience. Do you agree that imperfect obedience is disobedience? Let's say that God gives you a glass of pure water and commands you to drink all of it. Let's also say that you drink 60% and decide that that is enough for you, and so you don't finish the glass of water. Did you obey God? No you didn't. Imperfect obedience is not good and thus not satisfactory to God. 

Jesus came into this world to reveal what is good. On all moral issues, it is good to compare ourselves and all other people to Jesus. It is never good to compromise that standard of evaluation. Compared to Jesus how are you doing in terms of holiness, obedience, and keeping the commands of Jesus? Are you an obedient Christian? 

Honesty About Confusion


The first step in understanding God's ways is to notice our confusion about what God desires. I have the privilege of living in a culture that is overwhelmingly Mormon. It is a
surprise blessing because they use our words, but with different definitions. This helps us to think more critically about what we believe. As we here are challenged, we at least occasionally realize that we have lies in our own minds. This is a wonderful revelation. Until I notice a lie in my thinking I am unaware that I need to discard it. I witness to hundreds of Mormons annually and in nearly every conversation I hear words something like, "Since it is good to do good, this means that we need to try to do good. God doesn't expect us to be perfect, but only to do our best." People commonly tell me that the commandments are a goal to shoot for, not something to expect success at now. Therefore, I commonly get corrected for telling people that God expects immediate success at doing good, being righteous, and obeying His commands. When I tell them that God always expects perfection now, the conversation opens to the gospel. All people know that I am not perfect, and so how can I so gladly and confidently preach that only perfection counts with God? I preach to myself first this message of perfection now on all topics of the Christian life. I find it in all of life and everywhere in the Bible. Thinking this way makes life a joy and makes it easy to preach non-hypocritically to others. 

Do you preach to yourself first that God expects from you perfection now on all aspects of the Christian life--say holiness, obedience, keeping the commandments, and loving others? If you don't preach perfection now, by what authority do you compromise God's goodness, or what verses or reasoning do you use to correct me to embrace your view that God doesn't expect perfection now--that, for example, He doesn't expect complete holiness now? I have commonly heard Christians (including pastors) talk about obedience, loving others, keeping Jesus' commands and more, and have wondered how they could speak so positively since it was impossible for them (or me) to be succeeding at what they were preaching since what they were saying was clearly about behavior. It is clear to me now that they were not meaning successful obedience but rather an attempt (unsuccessful) at obedience. We Christians know that we shouldn't say try to obey because obedience really includes success. But we have been tricked into a pretense. We mean try but don't say try because that is not good. It is okay to use the wrong words as we express ourselves. But it is deceptive to use good words when we mean something that is not good. God sees the heart. 

The critical issue for you to consider concerns how you use words. It can be painful to be honest, but honesty is important in order to embrace change. When you talk about obedience, doing what is right, or loving others, do you mean success when compared to Jesus, or do you mean just putting in an effort? Is success important to you like it is important to Jesus?


The Next Step: A New Question


If perfection now is God's expectation and imperfect obedience is disobedience, then you need a new question when you read the Bible and when you think about life. I suggest that not asking good questions has us in much confusion in seeking to understand both the Bible and life. If the Bible and life are to be trusted, then either God is confused, the writers of the Bible didn't hear clearly from God, these writers were confused, the Bible has been radically changed all over the place, or you are seriously misunderstanding the Bible and life. Is it possible that you are confused about what Jesus meant by keeping the commandments, obedience, holiness, and much more? Is there even a slim possibility of this? It is true for me. It seems to me that we Christians often talk like God is confused. I suggest that both all of the Bible and all of life are perfectly consistent with God's call to perfection now. The big question I ask myself and I urge you to consider is this: Is it possible that you are confused about what Jesus (or the other writers) is talking about? 

As stated above, my Mormon culture has confronted me much and taught me to daily check myself for confusion. Just because I don't notice any today doesn't mean that it isn't there. My principle it to pray every morning that God would bring to me during the day a Mormon, atheist, or child to say something that would reveal another lie in my thinking, that I might discard it. Please join me in this prayer.

"Do or Do Not, There is No Try." 


This quote by Yoda of Star Wars fame is on a wall at Oasis Books. It gets laughs but also affirmation from everyone I ask about it. Do you affirm it? If you do then it is a wonderful tool to use to cleanse your mind of the polluting affect of manageability--of worldliness--of do and try harder--of the flesh--of human glory--of quenching the Spirit. Yoda's words point to Jesus, since only Jesus succeeded in always doing what is good. 

As you read the Bible or think about your behavior and that of other people, I encourage you to seek to read every verse in light of God's good expectation of perfection now. Think of Jesus. Think of Yoda's words. Learn to notice failure clearly in light of perfection. I predict that you will begin to enjoy the people who previously have rubbed you the wrong way. Also your reading of the Bible will be like a treasure hunt for new riches. It may even feel like you are reading the Bible right side up.

The focus of this post is to tease you to notice that almost certainly your mind is infested with trying where success should be. This is for life and for reading the Bible. I have sought to only hint at fresh ways to understand both. In other posts at this blog you can read my views on what complete holiness now means and the simple way to do it (perfectly), what Jesus meant by the fruit that reveals certainly if a person is a Christian, and much more. Soon I will post an article on how I know why you have done every sin that you have done as a Christian. Do you know? Are you surprised that I claim to know this about you, even if we have never met? Watch for it. Here is Jeremiah's hint (it foretold of Pentecost) "I will fill the priests with abundance, and my people will be satisfied with my goodness, declares the Lord." (31:14)

Let's celebrate God's goodness as our full satisfaction!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND LOVE?

"Brad is patient, Brad is kind, Brad is not envious; Brad does not brag and is not arrogant; Brad does not act unbecomingly; Brad does not seek his own; Brad is not provoked; Brad does not take into account a wrong suffered; Brad does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; Brad bears all things; Brad believes all things; Brad hopes all things; Brad endures all things. Brad never fails." 
-1Cor. 13:4-8, with my name substituted for love

The above is absurd. It would still be absurd if you put your name in the place of mine. Put Jesus' name for mine and suddenly it is not only not absurd, but becomes real and life-giving. This points us to realize that love is about Jesus and not about us. If you are a Christian, then the love of God has been poured out in your heart through the Holy Spirit who was given to you. (Romans 5:5)

This passage is not a command, but rather a description of the fruit of love--perfectly consistent fruit. The command, which comes 6 verses later (in 14:1), is: pursue love. We all are called to not resist this love which is in our hearts. In the moment that you are pursuing love, the fruit of love flows out of you like a mighty river and you look like the above.

The question is: how does a weak person like you pursue love? How do you not resist love? Is it by
  • focusing on proper behavior (the above description of love), 
  • will power (choosing to do the above description of love) , 
  • commitment (committing to do the above description of love), 
  • making vows (vowing to be like the above description of love), 
  • denying your human desires and following Jesus in having only God's desire (and thus doing the description of love), 
  • considering life from God's perspective, that only moral perfection is good? 

Below is Fyodor Dostoevsky's short declaration about love. I find in his statement that each word is carefully placed and each is full of meaning. Ponder each word and especially probe the word see (perceive). Also, meditate on what God intended each person to be. 

"To love a person means to see him as God intended him to be."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

HOLINESS IS A WAY OF SEEING LIFE

Holiness is about being set apart, about being different. 
The question is: set apart and different from what?


Two Ways of Life


There are two sources of wisdom: heaven and this world. We can read about this in the Letter of James. We can also read it in intuitive human knowledge since it relates to what it means to be a person. Holiness is the label for heavenly wisdom. Worldliness is the label for the wisdom of this world. Holiness is the theme of the letter of James and describes the war between these two ways of wisdom. God's wisdom and true holiness are all about perfect love--that only moral perfection is good and that Jesus died to offer it as a gift apart from personal righteousness. Worldliness is all about moral manageability, the compromise of moral perfection. Moral compromise is the lowering of moral standards from perfection. The only reason this is done--consciously or unconsciously--is to honor human striving. 



Counterfeit Worldliness 


Worldliness is a counterfeit way of wisdom. Worldliness is counterfeit holiness. And surprisingly, worldliness declares that there is a worldliness to be avoided. It is what my culture is all about. We Christians don't have a corner on using the word worldliness. My non-Christian friends talk about avoiding it. Since worldliness is a way of thinking, and since it is manageability (rather than true holiness), it declares that moral laziness is the enemy. It declares the the conflict in life is between laziness and moral diligence. Notice that both of these are about human effort. They differ only in degree.


We Live Only in the Present Moment


We live in time in the current moment. As Christians we have our life in Christ outside of time. That life we have in Christ is real. We are called to live that life out in time in the present moment. Even when we make plans for the future, we are doing so in the present moment. Our past does affect out present, but we live in the present moment only. True holiness is thinking God's way about life in the present moment. This include thinking about the past in a good way and thinking about the future in a good way. Proper thinking about life in the present moment honors both the individual aspects of goodness and that goodness is a seamless whole--that goodness is all or nothing. There is great freedom in embracing these two realities: 



  1. We life in the current moment only.
  2. Goodness is all or nothing.
Do you embrace these two realities that are critical if we are to embrace God's wisdom, His holiness?


Counterfeit Holiness


Worldliness is the shepherding of behavior rather than the shepherding of the heart. Worldliness sees falsely that behavior is the point of holiness. This counterfeit holiness sees that behavior can be addressed directly. Every time you are impatient, frustrated, or angry at other people for their behavior--every time--your sinful responses are a result of embracing the worldly wisdom, the counterfeit holiness, that behavior can be addressed directly without going through the heart. 

Jesus declared that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. He then lists bad behavior and bad words. Do you agree with Jesus that the heart is the source of all bad behavior? If you agree with Jesus, then why does bad behavior distress you? Of course bad behavior is wrong, but it is only a symptom of a bad heart. Your distress is an indication that you have been tricked to focus on the fruit and not the root of the problem. The fruit simply reveals that there is a root problem in the heart that needs to be addressed. Why not deal with the root? When I had cancer, the appropriate action was to entrust the surgeon to cut out the cancer. Focusing on stopping the symptoms would have been a foolish solution. In the same way it is foolishness to deal with behavior directly. The heart is the problem and the heart of a Christian is super easy and natural to change. For a non-Christian it is a different story. 

In summary, counterfeit holiness focuses on behavior, dismisses the heart as the source of behavior, dismisses the reality that goodness is all or nothing, and seeks to address behavior (conduct) directly. 

True Holiness Brings Freedom


The Bible writers call for complete holiness now. Peter commands "As the One [Jesus] who calls you is holy, so be holy in ALL you do." (1Peter 1:15) Do you think that it is unrealistic for God to expect you to be holy in all things like Jesus was? Jesus' life reveals clearly what goodness is--total freedom from sin. If God does not expect you to live a good life in all ways, then God's expectation is not good. Let's embrace that God is always good and always expects goodness from all people. Do you notice that Peter does not command holy conduct? He is commanding us in all our conduct (thoughts, words, and actions) to be holy. Do you see the difference? The difference is critical. It is the difference between slavery and freedom. It is very simple once we notice what Peter means. 1) Holiness is a way of seeing life. 2) There are only two ways of seeing life: through eyes of perfection or manageability. 3) In the present moment, God calls us to see (discern, appreciate, honor, consider, regard, perceive, be aware of) every person and situation in the light of perfect love (perfection expected and provided at the cross). 4) Right awareness sets the heart in a good place and goodness then overflows in all directions effortlessly. (James 1:25) 5) Bad behavior is simply an indicator that the person has been distracted from awareness of perfect love. 6) The solution of a sin problem is always a restoration to a vision of perfect love (Gal 6:1). 7) In Summary, each moment of life takes care of itself as the mind is set on perfect love. 



Deeply Rooted False Cultural Bias


Counterfeit holiness is deeply rooted in Western Christian culture which is rooted deeply in Roman culture. The Hebrew and Greek cultures saw that life overflowed from the heart--from the big picture understanding of life in the moment. When the Roman Empire took over from the Greeks it slowly imposed its cultural bias which dismissed the value of the mind and culture. Roman culture declared that right behavior was what was important. It also declared that people know the right things to do and are simply too weak or lazy to do what they know is right. What they need is external pressure to help them make their own right choices. This way of thinking became deeply entrenched in the West. Do you appreciate people pressuring you to make right choices?
This cultural bias suppresses the truth of what it means to be human. In the past 150 years we Westerners have begun to notice the fruit of this bias and to seek to confront it. The light is dawning and clarity is coming. We now make a distinction in child rearing between shepherding the heart and shepherding behavior. We need to apply that distinction to all of life. I ask people if they have ever been manipulated to proper behavior. All have said yes and all have said that they both did not like it and that it was not helpful.

Simple Application


Evaluate yourself. The next time you become aware of having a bad reaction toward someone, ask yourself what you are thinking about.
  1. Are you comparing that person to Jesus, the only perfect person?
  2. Are you rejoicing that the only hope in life for that person is the gift of righteousness provided at the cross?
By the way, by what authority do you think of other people in ways that are not good? 

Renew your mind. Why not simply think of them as God does? We all need to continually renew our minds to God's good vision of all people. I suggest another simple application that has many nuances.
  • When you notice someone fail, be honest and immediately talk to God about the violator saying something like, "Hey God, he shouldn't have done that, he should have been perfect." 
  • When you notice yourself fail, be honest and tell yourself something like, "Hey, that sin deserves death, Good thing Jesus died the death you deserve and has taken all your condemnation." 
  • Thank God often that He is good and and expects perfection from you and all other people. Thank Him that He give the gift of righteousness to all who rest in Christ work on the cross. 
  • When you notice someone sin, thank God that the behavior is just a symptom and that the root problem is that the person has simply been distracted from perfect love.
  • Thank God that He has poured out His love in your heart (Rom 5:5) and made loving others so simple as seeing them through the eyes of perfect love. 
  • Thank God for specific riches you have in Christ. Do this also for Christians who rub you the wrong way. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

DO YOU SEE CHRISTIANITY AS SIMPLE?

"But I am afraid, lest by any means, as the serpent in his craftiness deceived Eve, your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity in Christ." -2 Corinthians 11:3


Christianity Is Christ


The New Testament declares in various places and ways that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the revelation of the Father. This means that we approach God properly by seeing Him in Jesus Christ. To bypass Jesus in approaching God is to approach God in an unauthorized way--in a way that is not good. It is the worship of a false God. Do you agree?

Christianity then is simply the label for proper worship of God, whatever that means. This label is rooted in the name and title of our Lord. Jehovah is the name God declared for Himself for the first time to Moses at the burning bush. Jehovah is good and is the creator and sustainer of life. Jesus means Jehovah brings resolution. Christ is not Jesus' last name as I was self-deceived to believe for much of my Christian life. Christ is Jesus' title and means anointed one. But what was he anointed for? In the gospel of Isaiah we see that the theological meaning of Christ is: Jehovah is my righteousness. Thus Jesus Christ as the revelation of God is full of meaning with His name and title reflecting who God is.

It should be natural then to see that the person, Jesus Christ, is Christianity. When we declare with the apostles various statements that they made, or quote Jesus as having made, we are declaring realities of the universe; we are not merely using words. Words can and do have various and shifting meanings. Words do not determine meaning. Words are simply identifiers used to identify or tag objects. The words: present, gift, bribe, and reward each signify or tag something different . Each of those different things is real. And I suggest that we have been much tricked to drain the meaning out of words. The statement that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life is reality and not merely a doctrinal statement. Paul's statement that Jesus is a person's holiness, righteousness, redemption, and wisdom from God is a statement of reality not merely wishful thinking or sentimentality. Peter's declaration that God commands complete holiness now with Jesus as the standard of evaluation, is not flowery overly optimistic language, or a goad to get Christians to work harder, but is reality. The question that I (you) need to continually ponder is: what is the reality behind the words that I am using, reading or hearing? Since I (and all of us) am easily tricked into shallow or confused thinking, it is not good for me (all of us) to just assume that I or others know what words mean. I see this as the center of the spiritual battle--heavenly wisdom versus worldly wisdom (James 3)--truth versus lies--spirit versus flesh--real versus counterfeit authority--perfect love versus manageability--worship of the true God versus idolatry--honoring others versus dishonoring them. 

In the past few years the above scripture has moved to the center of my thinking and theology as I have begun to scratch the surface in understanding the reality behind the words we Christians use.

"But I am afraid, lest by any means, as the serpent in his craftiness deceived Eve, your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity in Christ." -2 Corinthians 11:3


What is the simplicity and purity in Christ?


Do you agree with Paul's statement that what is in Christ is simple and pure? Do you share Paul's great concern that Christians can be corrupted away from this simplicity and purity? Is it possible that you may have been corrupted away from this simplicity? This is true for me and is my constant spiritual battle. Do you see this corruption to be about the mind or do you see it as about something else such as behavior, commitment, or dedication? If it is simple and pure, then it is possible to explain it as simple and pure. If I can't do it, then the implication from this passage (assuming or trusting that the passage is true) is that either God is confused or I am. I suspect that I, in my thinking, am always the problem. How would you explain that simplicity and purity? Ponder it a moment. Here is my explanation:

Perfect love.

This simple phrase is full of meaning which shines brightly in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The words perfect and love are both full of meaning. Jesus always saw the world through eyes of perfect love, which has two aspects. 1) Jesus always saw, thought, and spoke that which honored the reality that only perfection is good. 2) Jesus always saw, thought, and spoke that which honored His death on the cross as the only place where sin (violation of goodness) is taken care of.

Do you see the simplicity of perfect love? Perfect love implies that:
1. Imperfect righteousness is unrighteousness.
2. Imperfect holiness is unholiness.
3. Imperfect obedience is disobedience.
4. Love is a way of seeing that honors perfection.

God is and commands perfect love ALWAYS--no compromising of goodness. Do you agree that God ALWAYS calls you to ALWAYS love perfectly, ALWAYS be COMPLETELY holy, to perfect obedience, to perfect righteousness? If you don't, then by what authority do you compromise the reality that goodness is perfection? 


The Opposite of Simplicity and Purity


The opposite or alternative to perfect love is not perfect hate, but rather manageability. Manageability is the compromise of perfection. It declares that God doesn't really mean perfection now--that goodness is about striving not about success at being morally flawless. Manageability is the big lie of Satan. It is THE counterfeit. It is the polluting and defiling thing that Jesus and the apostles continually warned against and criticized. Manageability is the leaven that defiles. It is the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. It is the log in the eye that hinders one from seeing clearly the speck in one's brother's eye. It is the flesh--human strength and wisdom at its best--which bears such ugly fruit. It is spiritual blindness. It is what causes stumbling. It is walking in the darkness. It is hard-heartedness. It is what the prophet's called the people to circumcise their hearts of. It is what defiles the flesh and spirit. It is spiritual slavery. It is the wide gate and the broad road to destruction. It is the rocky soil. It is the eight demons that made the Israel of Jesus' day to be far worse than the Israel that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed. It is worldliness, irreverence, and unrighteousness. It is quenching the Spirit. It is the source of all counterfeit spirituality. It is the demonic or worldly wisdom that James warns about. It is the object of all temptation. It is the draw to honor human performance rather than God's goodness. It is looking away from Christ. It is lawlessness--the dishonor of the law. It is the heart of idolatry. It is a way of thinking that mocks God's goodness, but God will not be mocked. Manageability cries out that since it is good to do good, all people need to try to do good. And it is the only thing that Jesus hated, and he hated it so passionately that He died to create a way of life free from it.

Perfect love versus manageability is the titanic spiritual battle which we all are part of every waking moment. The Holy Spirit always cries out for perfect love and always points to the finished work of Christ. Manageability always cries out "do what is right but don't worry about perfection."


The Application of this Simplicity


At conversion every person receives the perfect love of Jesus. It was poured out in the heart by the Holy Spirit. Have you ever wondered why that love flows out of you and me so inconsistently? If perfect love is the simplicity and purity in Christ, then the reason for this inconsistency is simple. Here is a simple example.

Think of the last time that you were impatient, irritated, or angry with a Christian. While you were irritated, impatient, angry, etc., what were you thinking about? Were you thinking that that person was dearly loved by God, covered by the blood of Jesus, fully forgiven, and clothed in the righteousness of Christ? No you weren't. Guaranteed. You were thinking about the behavior or words that you reacted to. Why were you thinking that way? Now let's say that later today you are praying for that same Christian and thanking God that the person is fully forgiven, delighted in by God, covered by the blood, and righteous in God's sight. Now let's say that while you are thinking and praying this, that person sneaks up on you and does that action that got you upset previously. While you are thinking and praying this way, will you have a bad reaction toward that person? I have asked this of many dozen Christians over the years and all have said the same thing with different intensities and varying humorous comments.

I asked it recently of some BIOLA students who were on campus witnessing. One woman laughed and said she often gets impatient with her friends. She spoke in a way that indicated that her recent impatience was still vivid in her mind. She said that in that moment she was not thinking of her friend's identity in Christ but of her bothersome behavior. To the big question she responded as if her mind was slowly opening to a new reality. At first she hesitatingly stated that while she was praying this way she didn't think she would have a bad reaction. She was obviously a new train of thought for her. She slowly gained confidence, eventually smiling and declaring that seeing a person in their identity in Christ would make bad reactions impossible for her--while she was thinking that way. 

The critical question is this. Why did she declare that it would be impossible for her to have her typical impatient reaction if she were seeing her friend through her identity in Christ? One dear Christian friend suffering from long term depression said that it would be impossible for anyone to have a bad reaction while seeing the violator through identity in Christ. How does he know this about you and every other Christian?  

The testimony of these Christians is what I see in the scriptures. 1) When you see a person through eyes of perfect love--that perfection is required now and that perfection is provided as a gift now and always in the death of Christ--while and only while you are seeing that way--it is impossible for the works of the flesh (bad reactions, evil, sin) to come out of your heart toward a person who is mistreating you, even while you are being mistreated. Actually not only do bad things not come out, but good things overflow naturally from your heart, and in abundance. 2) All your sinful reactions are a result of you seeing life through eyes of manageability. Point one is walking in the Spirit and point two is walking in the flesh. It is that simple.

The surprise in the Christian life is twofold: 1) that what is in Christ is simple and pure, and 2) that we all are too weak to do anything except resist the work of God in our hearts. His work is always perfect love and it is His work not ours. We are called and commanded to maintain and grow in a razor sharp vision of perfect love. The one and only way that you can resist perfect love overflowing all the time from your heart is to get distracted from a vision of perfect love. That distraction is by definition manageability. It has a multitude of forms.

If you doubt my words that it is actually this simple, I suggest an application for you. The next time you are irritated, impatient, or angry with a person you think to be a Christian, ask yourself what you are thinking about. Is it God's viewpoint of perfect love or some form of manageable behavior? Try this experiment many times to confirm it to yourself.

If you are convinced that my words are true and you are discouraged at how easily your get distracted from this vision of identity in perfect love, I would suggest an application for you. Today begin thanking God for details of your identity in Christ. Feel free to thank Him often for this. Then as other Christians come to mind, thank God for some aspect of their identity in Christ. Pray for the Christians by name. Especially do this with the Christians who rub you the wrong way. The more you do this the faster your mind will be renewed. As you do this often, you may be surprised at how quickly your mind runs to identity when you see a Christian fail. This is not about ignoring moral failure, it is about seeing moral failure God's way, through the eyes of Christ--that only His death resolves sin. You may find yourself surprised that you actually like the other Christians and are happy with them even while they are mistreating you. It is not that you are dismissing their sin, but you are no longer playing judge. In that moment, you are their advocate and are delighting in them because of Christ's work and not their own good behavior.

Summary


God calls all people to always to do what is good. Let's agree that that is perfect love. That perfect love was poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit at conversion (Romans 5:5). We are called to continuously set our hope totally on the grace (perfect love commanded and provided) revealed in Jesus Christ, (1Peter 1:13) and to be continually renewed to that new simple vision of life. (1Peter 1:14) We are called to goodness, to in every waking moment have the mindset of perfect love. Having that mindset in the moment makes behavior in the moment to be fitting and beautiful. This simplicity is what holiness is. Thus the call to perfect holiness NOW in all behavior is THE good, simple, easy, natural, beautiful-fruit-bearing call to see life in the current moment through perfect love. (1Peter 1:15) We all live in the current moment.   

Let's be honest about our place in the universe. Let's be honest that we are weak and our problem is that we are easily tricked into pretending that we are strong. Let's be honest that only perfect love counts with God. Let's be honest that Satan is a counterfeit Jesus. Let's be honest that it is easy to get tricked away from seeing ourselves and all others through eyes of perfect love. Do you want to see the simplicity and purity of Christ? Wonderful. This is a good desire. Take the baby step in the current moment of seeing through the eyes of perfect love yourself, those you interact with, and those who come to mind. In the next moment do the same. When you find you have been distracted, simply look back to perfect love. That is the full resolution for your failure. It is so simple and good that we ought to be always celebrating that simplicity and goodness.