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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Today I Am an Executioner

Colossians 3:5-10 (ESV)
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

There was a time when I drank alcohol. I drank a lot of it. One night I was in my apartment and the Spirit of God came upon me. I was alone, found my Bible in the closet and was soon being convicted of my sins. No one else was around. I had no other influence. I just fell under conviction and began confessing my sins and asking the Lord to restore the joy of my salvation. (I really didn't know what that meant. I actually asked the Lord to take me back.) I asked the Lord to never let me forget that night so that I would never come back to it again.

I know that there are sometimes that I get impressions from the Lord and there are sometimes there are specific commands. After asking the Lord to remind me forever of that night He very clearly said, "Go pour out all of your alcohol."

My first reaction was to say, "How about I just drink all of it tonight?" There was silence and I knew that wasn't the right response. So, I went downstairs and poured it all down the drain. I have never had any alcohol as a beverage since then. (Some cough syrups and mouthwashes contain alcohol.)

For the longest time I told people that I didn't drink because of my commitment to the Lord. It was true and is still true. It keeps reminding me of the night that I made a new commitment to Him. Not so long ago I thought of a different reason. I simply don't want to drink anymore. The desire is just not there. While I am cautious of declaring a sinful act dead, I believe this one is, at least, on life support.

We are to put sin to death, not lock it up and feed it bread and water. It is to be executed so that it cannot break loose. It is more than a refusal to participate. It is a refusal to act like it is alive.

Death often means that we take the body and bury it. Most of the time have a ceremony to give closure to that life that was once lived. Maybe the key to putting away my drinking was the ceremony of pouring it all out. I declared it dead that night. I haven't even gone by the grave to visit it.

Now, wouldn't it be nice to say that all my sins were put to death on that night so long ago? The truth is that I am still putting to death sin. The sentence has already been passed. The sin has been judged guilty. Execution is the only way it will no longer cause havoc in my life.

My drinking problem isn't the only sin that no longer bothers me but I still have a long way to go. I am being changed by the grace of the Lord.

But, today I am an executioner.

(Please note that I am not condemning those who have a drink of alcohol. I am often with people who have a glass of wine at dinner. I don't indulge with them but I don't condemn them either. My problem was that I never had a moderate amount. I wasn't an alcoholic but I also never controlled it either.)


sirnorm1 said...

I had my last alcoholic drink in 1979. I asked God to take away the craving and I would not buy any or accept it when it was offered. I was delivered that day and have not had a craving since. God is good.

Anthony Chia said...

Today I am an executioner because I have embraced His perspective

The text of Col 3:5-10 was definitely talking to believers; it is right there, staring at us, in verse 7. We know the Apostle Paul also wrote, in 2 Cor 5:17, that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation”. What does it mean that, we on becoming a believer are a new creation?

The full verse of 2 Cor 5:17 does read this: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! Despite the last phrase, there is no INSTANT wipe-out! The mind or heart is removed and replaced by a new mind or heart, or that our old body is replaced by another body, none of these things happens. Also, our spirit is NOT chucked away and replaced by another spirit! There is nothing pointing that something natural, of the man like his parts (anatomy) or functions (physiology), is taken away.

The existing composite (of us, Man), when it has become different, the previously existing composite can be said as old; and that (composite) which exists, because change(s) was(were) introduced, is then referred to, as new. We should never teach to the extent that we are like a house with everything in it, completely razed to the ground, and a new house replaces it, in an instance!

What is changed, then? One of the 3 changes is the value-system or perspective with which we view things (from 2 Cor 5:16 - we no longer are to view things from the worldly point of view).

A perspective or value-system is NOT anatomy (body parts), and it is NOT physiology (not a function). The function of thinking or meditation is NOT changed; it is the perspective with which we think with, is changed. But how is the perspective changed - still plugged to the old? No, plugged into the another (the new), or is it we are kind of being plugged into a new receptacle of perspective that we get to influence (through our exercise of volition) what gets in there, to form the basis of our perspective or value-system for future thinking and decision-makings? The texts of Eph 4:22-24 and Col 3:5-10 (which Ps Prentis quoted in his article) gave us clues what happened in this change.

Eph 4:22-24 touches on way of life, and said that we are to put off the old, and put on the new. What defines one’s way of life? The attitudes of his mind. It is possible from here, that we say that the “old” and the “new” self, was referring to the attitudes of the mind. Paul said the attitudes of the mind needed to be made new. Why? Because the attitudes from pre-conversion period, they were being corrupted by deceitful desires. What shapes the attitudes of our minds? It is perspective or value-system.

Paul talked about his concept using such terms as “putting on” and “putting off”. What this signifies is that there is element of volition to be exercised by the believer; it is NOT the person cannot, as in impossible to, think or do otherwise. For example, one can be of lazy or diligent attitude. It is NOT he cannot but be diligent. So, what are we talking about, attitudes or perspective (or value-system)? Like attitudes, perspective or value-system is often talked about as, one to take on a certain perspective; again, the connotation is that there is the volition element; we choose, NOT we have no choice, like it is pre-programmed.

We are talking about perspective or value-system and attitudes; the relation is that perspective or value-system shapes our attitudes. I think it is NOT incorrect to say, perspective or value-system is external, and so, the phrase, “to take on”, until internalised.


Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

All non-believers have a pre-disposition towards worldly perspective or value-system, even from birth. The way I understand this pre-disposition thing, is that, it resulted from the hold Satan has on the volition or free-will of Man, from the Fall, in the Garden of Eden. Our volition or free-will is completely wrestled back from Satan, by Christ Jesus, from His victorious works on the Cross. Believers are liberated from this hold. They are now free to put off the worldly perspective and take on the godly perspective or values of the Kingdom of God. The new “reservoir” of perspective is started, but what goes in there, the believer does have an influence due to he is able to say yes, still, to worldly perspective that he was used to.

The scenario for many people tended to be like this (a metaphor): You have an animal confined in your back-garden compound for a long time, and it roams in there, feeds there and shits there, accustomed to the environment. Now, if you open the gate of the compound, and allow the animal to go free, into the forest behind your house; the animal may NOT go, or it takes a while before it go embrace its freedom, and live in the wild. The zoologist may even say that (for certain animals) the animal would have difficulty surviving, because it still sticks back to the perspective it was accustomed to, from the confine. Scripture speaks of this, in a number of ways: 2 Pet 2:22 - pigs returning to the dirty mud, and dogs, to their vomits; Col 3:5-10, we have taken off our old self with its practices, and so, NOT to return to them, the perspective, the attitudes (“old self”) and its practices - the whole lot of it – (v5) sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, and idolatry, and (vv8-9) anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy speech, and lying.

The overall counsel of the Word does NOT just indicate we just need to stop there – NOT going back to the old perspective or value-system, attitudes, and the practices from such. But why? Because it is NOT, as some preachers erroneously suggest, that we are instantly be fitted with a full version of godly perspective or value-system which automatically leads us to the practises (like purity, love {God’s kinda of love} and godly desires, and peace, joy, long-suffering, self-control, kindness and goodness). Yes, all of that, the perspective or value-system, is to make us “be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24), but it we have to download and install, metaphorically speaking, the bits and pieces of the Kingdom’s perspective or value-system, which God has them ready, in His Word and in the Holy Spirit.

Whether you want to picture it as, as you quarantine the malwares of old, you install the new “godwares” in the same hard-disk or reservoir of value-system or perspectives, or you are filling a new hard-disk or reservoir (of value-system or perspectives), it is you got to volitionally get yourself (through the exercise of your free-will) “renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created you” (Col 3:10 KJV). Please it is NOT (1) you continue to go back to the malwares and use them, and (2) you have been wiped off the malwares (you are wiped off the sins, but NOT the “malwares”), and that you can only be operating with “godwares”. No, NOT the moment you become a believer, you become operating with the Kingdom’s value-system or perspective (“godwares”). You got to imbibe, and then you operate from it. So, please, there is a lot, a believer, especially a new believer, got to do, NOT like the overly grace preachers would like us to believe, “just be, being”; it is you don’t think of cruising, until you come to speed; and we work to get up to speed, not just bask to get to speed.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Craig Godfrey said...

I praise God that alcohol has never had it's claws around me - even though I grew up in a culture where it came a close second to breathing.
But if only I could say the same of the countless other sins / shortcomings / indulgences / strangleholds in my life. I think it's time to dust off the electric chair again.

We expect our Pastors to be perfect, often forgetting they are sinners saved by grace, just like us.
Thank you for not preaching at the lectern of self-righteousness like some do.