Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Discipline of Delusion (part 2 of 3)

   For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work…the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.  (2 Thessalonians 2:7and 9-10, NASB). 

         To the faithful you show yourself faithful;
    to those with integrity you show integrity.
         To the pure you show yourself pure,
    but to the wicked you show yourself hostile.
         You rescue the humble,
    but you humiliate the proud.  (Psalm 18:25-27, NLT).

It should not surprise us that we often struggle long and hard to understand God and Scripture; what should surprise us, and even disturb us, however, is finding an evil and unbelieving heart in our bosom long after our conversion.  A reprobate is one that is “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Unfortunately, many of us must yet drink the cup of suffering down to the dregs before obtuseness is removed from our disposition; our stubborn refusal to obey truth opens our hearts to entrenched delusion and an illusory walk with God. God is gracious and patient, however, and bears long with us, carrying and comforting us well beyond the measure of deserved or actual justice.
Apostasy and reprobation are both forms of a callused conscience that will dull the mind and desensitize the heart; those that become thus are without excuse; enough light has been given to have changed them.  The fact that Christ does not change them is bound up in their own misconceptions of who He is; their projection of some preconceived and unalterably held belief cements their intractableness.  But entrenched impurity that stubbornly refuses to be extracted by the agency of truth will eventually permeate the entire disposition and will become that one’s signature characterization.

Men and truth were designed to synchronize and consubstantiate down to a molecular level, but men must be impelled to bend toward truth and not expect that truth should bend toward them.  Scripture is inerrant, not us, or even our view of it; we must ever humbly submit to God’s Word and expect it to reprove and correct us often.  Those He loves, He disciplines.  Because many will not admit that they are inherently incorrect, however, both factually and dispositionally, they never let God or His people use Scripture to reprove, teach, correct, or train them in righteousness.

It is supposed that one would tire of eating the fruit of their own way; this is a method of  God, and is the discipline of delusion.  The never flinching “backside” or “hinder parts” of God absorbs every blow administered to it by our ignorant and feeble strikes which are asserted from our persons, our unbending mindsets.  He never yields, however, and never will; it is obligatory upon us alone to change our minds and attitudes (the very definition of repentance).  It is also further hoped that we would rather seek His face than assert our own person anyways.  Remember, the Lord turns away from sin, not towards it; if His “hinder parts” are what we constantly run up against, we would do well to question ourselves rather than God.  “To the wicked you show yourself hostile” and to the stubbornly unrelenting You turn Your back (Psalm 18:26).

If our experience is one of never seeing His face, of poor growth in this Way, then we ought to judge ourselves rather than God, other people or other constructs of Truth and theology.  It is obvious that we are mistaken, misshapen and misaligned when His face is never seen; we, indeed, “miss” the mark and every point of instruction when we fail to know Him via the expression of His visage.  He desires to lead us with His eye upon us, but He will lead us with railing rebukes and harsh circumstances if we remain stubborn and unrepentant.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7, KJV).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Discipline of Delusion (part 1 of 3)

For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.  (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, NASB).

I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.  (Isaiah 66:4, KJV).

The discipline God uses to perfect the image of His Son in us is as myriad as circumstance, and the most profound and elemental circumstance is that of being saints who sin just like sinners do.  Until we learn to habitually walk in our sainthood we stumble, fall, and fail often; the disillusionment that follows this experience must be corrected properly if we are to be ultimately successful.  But disillusionment might just as likely correct misconceptions as lead to further disillusionment and eventual delusion.

Too often disillusionment becomes the seedbed of delusion; and delusion is insidious because the process of disillusionment should expose the underlying bedrock of reality and uproot any attempt by us to save ourselves.  Despair over ourselves and our dilemma is a normal and healthy realization as long as we do not also despair over God’s ability to save us from ourselves.  Delusion is flowered disillusionment, or said another way, an entrenched illusion.  Disillusionment makes everything fuzzy; delusion snaps it back into focus, but in an abbreviated and false way.  

Oswald Chambers, in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest (July 30 entry) said this under the heading “The Discipline of Delusion” (yes the title of this essay is taken from him):
Disillusionment means that there are no more false judgments in life. To be undeceived by disillusionment may leave us cynical and unkindly severe in our judgment of others, but the disillusionment which comes from God brings us to the place where we see men and women as they really are, and yet there is no cynicism, we have no stinging, bitter things to say. Many of the cruel things in life spring from the fact that we suffer from illusions. We are not true to one another as facts; we are true only to our ideas of one another. Everything is either delightful and fine, or mean and dastardly, according to our idea.  The refusal to be disillusioned is the cause of much of the suffering in human life. It works in this way—if we love a human being and do not love God, we demand of him every perfection and every rectitude, and when we do not get it we become cruel and vindictive; we are demanding of a human being what he or she cannot give. There is only one Being Who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Why Our Lord is apparently so severe regarding every human relationship is because He knows that every relationship not based on loyalty to Himself will end in disaster. Our Lord trusted no man, yet He was never suspicious, never bitter. Our Lord’s confidence in God and in what His grace could do for any man was so perfect that He despaired of no one. If our trust is placed in human beings, we shall end in despairing of everyone.

Delusion is like Alzheimer’s disease: the ones that have it are unaware that they have it, and the weight of the responsibility of their persons ends up being laid upon others.  The only difference is that those that suffer from Alzheimer’s are presumed innocent and to be pitied, whereas the deluded are those that have spurned the Truth and are to be rebuked.  If we maintain a false image of God even in light of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, we will eventually be given over to our caricatured version of Him.  There will be no deliverance from this monstrosity of your own making “till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing” (Matthew 5:26, KJV); eventually we reach the limit of our imagination and when it does it invokes insufferable malaise.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Brightness of His Coming (part 3 of 3)

God, who is a consuming fire, and vehemently jealous, can only be endured by those protected by baptism.  The fire beneath the flood (both judgments combined) is a compound judgment: a judgment unto condemnation for any residue or lingering sin not put to death, not repented of, and a condemnation unto victory to the whole of those who are dead, but resurrected (a flame beneath a flood, a fire with nothing more to consume; this is the picture of a Christian walking in the Spirit, walking in resurrection life).  Flesh was condemned to a watery grave at the flood; spirit is the fire which cannot be quenched by floods.

For the wicked and unrepentant it is like this:

“Just as the darnel (weeds resembling wheat) is gathered and burned with fire, so it will be at the close of the age” (Matthew 13: 40; Amp.).  Those who are fencing me in raise their heads; may the mischief of their own lips and the very things they desire for me come upon them. Let burning coals fall upon them; let them be cast into the fire, into floods of water or deep water pits, from which they shall not rise.  Let not a man of slanderous tongue be established in the earth; let evil hunt the violent man to overthrow him [let calamity follow his evildoings]” (Psalm 140: 9-11; Amp.).  He has bent His bow like an enemy; He has stood with His right hand [Jesus Christ] set like a foe and has slain all the delights and pride of the eye [carnality]; on and in the tent of the Daughter of Zion He has poured out His wrath like fire [He loves us with a jealous love, and that love has the effect of being angry at our outerman to condemnation while being happy at our inner man to victory at the same time with the very flame of who He is by His intrinsic nature]” (Lamentations 2: 4, additions mine; Amp.).

For the righteous and repentant, contradistinctively, it is like this:

Because the…commandment was urgent and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame and sparks from the fire killed those men who handled Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  And these three men…fell down bound into the burning fiery furnace.  Then Nebuchadnezzar [saw] four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they [were] not hurt! And the form of the fourth is like a son of the gods!  And the satraps, the deputies, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered around together and saw these men—that the fire had no power upon their bodies, nor was the hair of their head singed; neither were their garments scorched or changed in color or condition, nor had even the smell of smoke clung to them.  (Daniel 3: 22-27; additions and subtractions mine; Amp.).

Just like the flood came from both heaven and earth, so shall the fire be.  It will be thrown down from above (“And the fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun; and it was given to it to scorch men with fire”—Revelations 16: 8) and erupt from beneath (those ministers of His walking in Holy Ghost and Fire upon the earth); God and His ministers both will be fire, and will be walking about like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the “fourth” one within, and upon this furnace-of-affliction earth.  We, along with our God, will be judging mankind by simply being who we are.  Our God is a consuming fire; we are too.  Finally,

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will vanish (pass away) with a thunderous crash, and the [material] elements [of the universe] will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.  Since all these things are thus in the process of being dissolved, what kind of person ought [each of] you to be [in the meanwhile] in consecrated and holy behavior and devout and godly qualities, while you wait and earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the [material] elements [of the universe] will flare and melt with fire?  (2 Peter 3: 10-12).