time for the ‘big kid’ class

Posted: March 25th, 2010 | Filed under: life | 21 Comments »

By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! -Hebrews 5:12

I was taught that my sin put Jesus back on the cross. The guilt of putting Him through that torture again and again was crushing. I fought with everything in me to avoid causing Him more pain. My life was built around avoiding sin and avoiding the cross at all costs. When I failed to uphold the standard, I had to go back to convincing myself that the sacrifice Jesus made could be for ‘this sin’, too.

In order to avoid that guilt, I would find ways to justify my actions in the ‘little’ things. If I could justify them in my own mind, then it eased the guilt I felt. I learned to believe that tight reigns and small boxes were reserved for the most holy. I considered myself able and practiced my Christianity intensely. All the while, I knew I was still a work in progress.

I never realized that guilt dressed up like humility and my ‘humility’ made me proud.

Guilt means that Jesus isn’t finished, humility is what I owned while pride eroded everything I did.

I was depending on my own strength. I was exercising to be stronger. It all depended on me to keep Jesus off the cross.

So come on, let’s leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on “salvation by self-help” and turning in trust toward God. -Hebrews 6:1

I never saw the truth until I did something that I couldn’t justify, couldn’t ease with an apology and couldn’t undo. No amount of moral strength could earn my way back to the pedestal I put my character on.

We no longer need to make sacrifices for our sins. Jesus isn’t re-crucified every time someone sins. If that were the case, He’d never get off the cross.

He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. -Hebrews 10:9-10

If you are using a moral code to keep yourself ‘right’, then you do not believe that Jesus was enough. If you are using a set of standards to to keep yourself ‘pure’ then you are your own savior.

He’s more than the giver of the ‘clean slate.’ I see these people walking around with a checklist of failures and going to the ‘Big Eraser’ every Sunday. How can you grow beyond the basics if you can’t get passed the sin? How can you graduate from nursing on the easily digested to the Biblical jerky you have to chew on a while if you’re constantly having to go to square one?

If you have the basics down: understanding baptism, the Holy Spirit, the resurrection and who Jesus is means it’s time to move forward.

God helping us, we’ll stay true to all that. But there’s so much more. Let’s get on with it! -Hebrews 6:3

It’s time to stop sucking your thumb.

If you believe that you can reach a point where you won’t sin, then you’ll never get passed the ‘preschool fingerprinting exercises’ of faith. If you believe that God cries and Jesus dies every time a person falls, then you’ll never get on the other side of the baby gate.

‘Getting passed the sin’ is done by believing that Jesus died once for all. If you really believe that His one time sacrifice was enough, then the forgiveness is yours for eternity. If you don’t believe that, then you’re not a ‘believer’. You’re not a ‘believer’ because you don’t believe in the one thing that could save you.

If you’re having a hard time believing that you are forgiven and if you can’t trust in God’s grace, then I’m at a loss. There is no simpler way to put it. It’s like pouring water into a bucket with holes. Or using filtered water on a field of weeds. If you’ve heard the Truth and say you believe it, even to the point of being able to recite it, but it still slips away, then you need to pray against the religious teflon you’ve accumulated. You’re like someone who forgets what they look like after they’ve glanced in the mirror (James1:22). If you believed it the first time, you wouldn’t have a problem believing it now. No one can believe the Truth and then have to beg God to give you your eternal life back. He doesn’t rescind His promises if you step off course. If you believe your ability had anything to do with your salvation, then you don’t know the Truth and I’m not sure who you’re begging.

Once people have seen the light, gotten a taste of heaven and been part of the work of the Holy Spirit, once they’ve personally experienced the sheer goodness of God’s Word and the powers breaking in on us—if then they turn their backs on it, washing their hands of the whole thing, well, they can’t start over as if nothing happened. That’s impossible. Why, they’ve re-crucified Jesus! They’ve repudiated him in public! Parched ground that soaks up the rain and then produces an abundance of carrots and corn for its gardener gets God’s “Well done!” But if it produces weeds and thistles, it’s more likely to get cussed out. Fields like that are burned, not harvested. -Hebrews 6:4-8

A fisherman throws the baby fish back in the water. They’re not ready to be used for food. The water carrier throws the bucket with holes away. The farmer cusses at the field of weeds and burns them up. I don’t think this is to say you’re a waste of time, but just that you’re not ready yet. You’re holes have to be fixed.

If you’re going to a ‘Big Eraser’ every time you fall, then you might want to consider to whom you’re submitting, because it’s not Jesus. Jesus doesn’t keep an eraser. He throws your stinking slate away.

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us… -Hebrews 6:18-20



21 Comments on “time for the ‘big kid’ class”

  1. 1 Emily said at 4:14 am on March 25th, 2010:

    Amen!! I'm chewing on that jerky!!!

  2. 2 Brooke Luby said at 5:10 am on March 25th, 2010:

    My heart feels light and free as I read this. Thank you, thank you. Please keep writing. Don't ever stop. The church needs this so bad.

  3. 3 Serena Woods said at 5:43 am on March 25th, 2010:

    Emily: i love jerky. 🙂

    Brooke: We need to help get people off the religious 'short bus'.

  4. 4 Jodie said at 9:05 am on March 25th, 2010:

    I love jerky to! Pass me the meat!!

    What a word picture! Religious teflon that the truth won't stick to… Contrast that with Jesus, who wants to take us by the hand and lead us into all the truth there is.

  5. 5 April said at 9:46 am on March 25th, 2010:

    We never reach a point where we don't sin. Sin is inevitable. I just know something is seriously wrong when we reach a point where we are at home with our sin and so comfortable that we enjoy our sin and feel no need to repent. Sin reeks. I've been there. My dad reminded me me gently the other day of something I needed to walk .. ahem.. run away from and leave in the dust… lay at Christ' feet. I am so glad he brought my attention to it. Now that is sweet redeption… and true love… someone showing me, honey, you are sitting in filth…

  6. 6 April said at 9:52 am on March 25th, 2010:

    sorry, that's redemption.. not redeption. 🙂

  7. 7 Serena Woods said at 10:07 am on March 25th, 2010:

    For a Christian: sinning is inevitable, yes. 'Sitting in your filth' and 'being at home in sin' and 'enjoying it' is impossible because:

    People conceived and brought into life by God don't make a practice of sin. How could they? God's seed is deep within them, making them who they are. It's not in the nature of the God-begotten to practice and parade sin. -1 John 3:9

    We know that none of the God-begotten makes a practice of sin—fatal sin. -1 John 5:18

    You will sin, but you will not be able to continue because it's not who you are. If you are able to make sin a lifestyle and 'enjoy it' then you, according to scripture, never were a 'new creation' with 'God's seed' in you.

    1 John 1:6 says that a person can claim to know the Truth, but when they continue to stumble in the dark, it's evidence that they don't.

    If you're stumbling in the dark, then you don't know the Truth. If you don't know the Truth, then you need to learn it. It's not condemnation: it's a lack of understanding. They don't know the Truth. That's why they're not free. They need to learn the basics because they never 'got it.'

  8. 8 April said at 10:20 am on March 25th, 2010:

    I am talking about sinning over and over and not repenting (sitting in filth). That is possible, I've done it. I agree that you will not be able to continue if you truly are a Christ follower… I am simply saying how grateful I was for my dad to show me something that I was enjoying that was sin. It reeked, ya know? I needed him to say something.

  9. 9 Jen said at 10:55 am on March 25th, 2010:

    This blows me away and I love the way you responded to the post above.

    'It's impossible for those who have been brought to life by God to make a practice in sin.'

    If the scripture says it's impossible, then it's impossible. Who argues with scripture?

    I love the freedom of those scriptures. I 'get it'!!

    I needed to read this today. My brain needed stimulation!

  10. 10 April said at 11:48 am on March 25th, 2010:

    I feel misunderstood. 🙁 My dad pointed out something in my life that was not honoring God. I appreciated him doing so. That is all I was saying.

  11. 11 April said at 12:12 pm on March 25th, 2010:

    If a professing brother or sister "does not live according to [apostolic teaching]" (2 Thes. 3:6), he or she must also be confronted and urged to mend their ways.

    -my dad confronted me, and I am so glad. Again… that's all I was trying to say.

  12. 12 Erin said at 12:17 pm on March 25th, 2010:

    April, I don't want to make you feel bad, but I do see that along with the story about your dad, you also contradicted the scripture that says 'it's impossible' by saying it IS possible because you've done it. Thus: the story about your dad.

  13. 13 April said at 12:32 pm on March 25th, 2010:

    I don't feel bad, just misunderstood.

    please explain what Paul was saying in 2 Thes. then? …he or she must be confronted and urged to mend their ways…

  14. 14 Serena Woods said at 1:06 pm on March 25th, 2010:

    April: I do see how the others have read your words.

    The entire letter to the Thessalonians was written to address the parylizing fear of failure in some of them and laziness in others. Fear of failure and no 'drive' is evidence that they don't understand the message of the Gospel. This post is about the message of the Gospel. The verse you quoted from Thessalonians refers to correcting those who don't understand it.

    Here are some verses that you can study to understand what that verse in Thessalonians means and how it actually compounds the message of today's blog, even the comment section.

    'Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.' 2 Thess 3:6 ESV

    …having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. -2 Timothy 3:5-7 ESV

    'Idle people' are those who hear the Truth, but never grasp it. They say they are 'believers', but they're not. They talk a lot, say all the right things and seem to have an answer for everything, but they don't 'get it.'

    It talks about that in a few verses after the one you quoted:

    For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. -2 Thessalonians 3:11 ESV

    It's very difficult for someone who thinks they know the Truth to be challenged by the actual Truth to the point of submission. It usually evolves into a struggle of wills between the listener and the messenger. The messenger gets dismissed as a heretic and the listener feels attacked. That's why we are told to avoid them. The message gets clouded by human emotions.

  15. 15 April said at 1:18 pm on March 25th, 2010:

    "That's why we are told to avoid them"- avoid who? the professing believer who thinks they know the truth?

  16. 16 April said at 1:20 pm on March 25th, 2010:

    oh.. I see- having the appearance of godliness but denying its power.

  17. 17 Dan West said at 1:27 pm on March 25th, 2010:

    Could not imagine it said any clearer than that. Wow.

  18. 18 April said at 5:34 pm on March 25th, 2010:

    hi. me, again… just want to check in with the "class" and say that my husband helped me through my confusion. there was a time when I appeared to be "happy with sin" making sin my lifestyle… but after he asked me certain questions I realized that I was convicted, I knew it was wrong. that's the diff. Christ follower= conviction. 🙂

  19. 19 April said at 2:04 am on March 26th, 2010:

    hey, not to beat this thing to death or anything… but John Piper explains it so perfectly in his sermon (on Mark Driscoll's blog) about killing sin. he says, "you must be skilled at killing your own sins. This is dangerous language here, so be careful. Don't think about other people's sins. Don't think about how people wrong you. Think about your own sins. That's what Paul is talking about. Verse 13b: "But if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of [your!] body, you will live."

    John Owen on Mortification of Sin

    The great teacher of the church on this doctrine is John Owen. Nobody has probed it more deeply, probably. He wrote a little 86-page book called Mortification of Sin in Believers. "Mortify" means "kill" in 17th century English. Today it just means "embarrass" or "shame." But Owen was talking about this verse – in fact, his whole book is an exposition of this verse, Romans 8:13. He put it like this: "Be killing sin or it will be killing you."

    My mother wrote in my Bible when I was 15 years old – I still have the Bible – "This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book." Now Owen says, based on Romans 8:13, "Be killing sin or [sin] will be killing you." We will see that these two mottos are very closely connected, because Romans 8:13 says that we are to put be putting sin to death by the Spirit – "If by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live" – and what is the instrument of death wielded by the Spirit? The answer is given in Ephesians 6:17 – "the sword of the Spirit, the word of God." This book will keep you from sin.

    that's all… I could not sleep last night, so watched his sermon. Good stuff!!

  20. 20 Julie R. said at 9:55 am on March 26th, 2010:

    Serena, truly enjoyed reading your blog entry AND the discussion that follows in the comments. Sometimes I feel like I am starving for the meat of the word, because I have been attending churches where the people are drinking milk like its all there is… I am literally looking for sustenance in other areas such as your blog and several others, then I can use what I've read as a springboard for my own study. Thanks again.

  21. 21 Serena Woods said at 10:05 am on March 26th, 2010:

    That's awesome, Julie. 🙂

Leave a Reply