Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

October 25, 2003

Saturday. I should mention something about our small group meeting on Thursday. It went really well, with a good frank discussion of "temptation." We had a newcomer, T., who seemed to really enjoy the time, and it was a great blessing having her. She suffers from cerebral palsy and had to be carried down the stairs, which was a little awkward. She says that next week she'll let us know exactly how it ought to be done, so I'm looking forward to that.

For the last few weeks we've talked about forgiveness and about confession. I've tried to emphasize the importance of "walking in forgiveness," which is of course easier said than done. This has just been the particular facet of the kingdom of God that He has been emphasizing to me lately. To harbor unforgiveness (that phrase may be a churchy cliche, but it's useful) is literally to walk away from the blessings of God. Obedience to God, who calls us to forgiveness, is not an out-moded standard. It is, or should be, our heart's desire.

What I think is that there are many people who are not enjoying the freedom and joy that could be theirs simply because they continue (in some portion of their lives) to cherish some form of disobedience.

And the same goes for confession. I wrote a few days ago that I was going make a point of incorporating confession into my daily quiet time. I think this has been really good for me. And it's not only confession of sins in the strict sense, but talking to God about the temptations and inclinations that I carry about with me and that, when the time is right, seem to spring up like an unruly garden after rain.

I am talking mostly about thought-life here. Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart offers a good understanding of the relationship between thought and action. I don't mean to be prudish or overly-sensitive here, but thoughts very often are forerunners to deeds and like dreams they indicate an inward reality. Perhaps you have not called your boss an idiot to his/her face, but in your mind you've done so a thousand times. What thought-seeds have you been planting in that potentially unruly garden? Seeds just waiting for the proper time to spring up into a corresponding deed.

Well, I had not intended to go on about this: I'm kind of imagining someone saying, Oh come on, Bob, to merely think a thing is not a sin. But I just don't think that's Biblical. Our sanctification takes place on all levels, certainly not least of all on the level of the mind.

Here's an example of the importance of the thought-life in God's perspective: "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever." 1 Chronicles 28:9

Our deeds, our seeking or rejecting, are closely-tied to our thought-life. So much so, that God knows the man by his thoughts, or such is the intimation here of David's warning to Solomon.

Or how about this one: "O Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved. How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?" Jeremiah 4:14

Evil begins in the heart, that is certain. If our thoughts reveal a sinful inclination, whose truth but our own do these thoughts expose? We need to bring our thought-life to God, even those fantasies we've enjoyed so much over the years. We need to reach a point where that which offends God offends us also. Surely the Lord desires truth in the inward parts, says David (Psalm 51:6). We need to lay these things down before the Almighty and ask for cleansing. And indeed ask, with David, that the Lord teach us wisdom "in the inmost place."


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