Friday, December 7, 2018

Chapter 2: Struggling on the Inside ("Put To Death So That We Can Live")

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Chapter two of my book Faith that Sees Through the Culture is the rest of my attempt to connect with anyone confessing Christ, and yet discovers -- in those self-disclosed moments of honest reflection -- that their lives are nevertheless fraught with undulation and sometimes, even despair. How can this be? Scripture proclaims with a clarion ring: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation" (2nd Co 5:17a), so how can we experience so much that does not feel like a new creation?

Many are misled by enthusiasts who present Christian conversion as a cancellation of all insecurity; an expiation of all doubt. After all, doesn't St. James teach that we should not doubt when we pray? Of course he does (Jas 1:6). So, what do we make of this? Maybe we are defective Christians. Maybe we are not Christians at all as the devil would have us think.

He is a liar.

In accord with the new creation, the new man who walks by faith, then it is true: this one confesses and prays and praises with all confidence. The new creation knows no doubt. This one prays with assurance because their prayers do not depend on personal sincerity, but upon the promises of God; and HE is completely reliable and trustworthy. This is why the new man has certainty, because God in His grace in Christ can be counted on to cover our doubt, so that the only thing reaching the ears of our Heavenly Father are prayers -- holy and pure -- without doubt. Christ has made them so.

When the Christian prays, therefore, this is faith expressing itself. At the same time, there is the old man, the doubting man, the skeptical Adam, the sinful flesh, the carnal nature...not only does this aspect doubt, but it resists God and fights against God. This is how I discuss it in the book:

The world and the devil bombard us and fight against our faith in Christ. And then the Lord comes to our aid, and we make it worse: we fight Him; we resist Him. The Lord then does something we might not expect. He takes this one making it worse and slays him. And in this case, He lets us drown. Then, with His almighty power and in the most tender mercy and love, He takes the one who is drowned and brings him back to life; He raises us from death; He gives us a new life. We are "born again," "born of the Spirit" (John 3:3-7). We cross over from death to life (John 5:24). The water containing the Word in Holy Baptism drowns the old rebellious life, it saves (1 Peter 3:21), and it raises a new person at the same time. We die and rise all in the same event (p. 39).

When we come before God, in Christ the old doubting one is covered by Christ; and the new believing one comes forth to pray with an open lane to God with all doubts removed.

This, however, is easily forgotten, so that sometimes even before we step foot into the culture to live as God's children and witnesses to Christ, we become paralyzed by our doubts, and our self-condemnation. If you have ever felt this way Christian, you are not alone. But know this: your doubt and all other sin is covered by the blood of the Lamb, and now you are clean before the Living God. Go forth with faith that confesses Jesus. He is your confidence. He is your new life. He lives in and through you and all His people.

Let us go into the culture as God's new people, as His Christians, His disciples, and as His priests. Indeed, these last three points -- Christians, disciples, and priests -- are the basis for chapters 3, 4, and 5. Knowing who we are in Christ; thoroughly understanding our new status and identity is key to living effectively in the culture. This invigorating reorientation is how we proceed to live in faith that sees through the culture.

In Christ's Service,

Dr. Espinosa

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