Monday, July 10, 2006

Evil's Unknowing Push Toward Christ & Odd Nerdrum Certainly Is

[The Christian method]is not, 'Set about imitating Christ, adopt His moral ethical teaching, and try to put it into practice'. It is not, 'Get away and become a monk or a hermit'. But just where you are in the midst of the world, with evil and sin rampant round and about you, and everybody and everything doing all they can to discourage you and to drag you down, just as and where you are, 'Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand the wiles of the devil.' It is not retreat, it is not escape, it is not attempting something that is impossible. No, it is this supernatural, miraculous Gospel that enables us to be 'more than conquerors' over everything that is set against us.D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Return of the Sun Odd Nerdrum, 1986

Yesterday, David stopped in medias res and said "Do you think we're under attack?" It was a weird question knowing him whose philosophy has always been that the flesh causes enough trouble in and of itself without any help from Evil. I thought about it, though, and I tend to think we are.

It seems that everyone we know (or at least many of the people we know) have experienced great loss or upset over the past few months. Our hearts are heavy as we consider all the suffering going on in our little church. And what are we to make of this? For the small Smith family, it is making us take to prayer with renewed vigor. We feel a compulsion to run to Christ like little chicks seeking shelter under the pinions of their mother as the hawk circles overhead. We know that no trial comes to us except that it has first come through Christ. We are encouraged to think that he uses these trials to bring us to himself, not to cut off our hope.

I love the hope exuded by Lloyd-Jones in this quote, but it makes me wonder what defense we have against Evil if we do not run to Christ, run to prayer and to scripture reading and abandon the faith we have in our own pitiful logic. Can't Evil warp and twist our own thoughts to work us woe? I think it can and does. Oh, without Christ revealed to us in Scripture daily, we have no hope. We respond to him in prayer and grow stronger. A friend of mine recently confessed that he doesn't care about the Scriptures and doesn't read them. I wonder how he avoids being overcome with darkness. I know that I could not. I know that I do not. And this drives me Home.

Dawn Odd Nerdrum, 1990

Do you remember a time when you arrived at the absolute end of yourself? I do. It's a memory that sticks with me even as it fades with the passing years. I remember being absolutely poured out and empty before God like a sad little lonely little wrinkled balloon. I was totally without defense. My logic, my status, my physical strength had abandoned me. I know there is no strength apart from Him. I know it and my prayer is that I would not forget how desperate a person I really am. So often, suffering answers that prayer, but I know that if I am compelled by suffering to seek Him, he really is at work in me.


Robert said...

People use this metaphor of "the flesh", and I wonder if they know what they mean. I think ultimately, there is a tradition of gnostic leaning even in presbyterian church history. (mostly out of a reaction to the abuses of asthetics... not like SBC or petacostals though) I think we train ourselves to read into scripture an individual struggle with sin. Yet scripture states (ultimately) "our stuggles are not with flesh and blood, but with principalities etc...". ...and Peter says, "Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes..."

I guess the "divine conspiracy", if you will, is that God uses evil to accomplish his will, including the sactification and perseverance of the saints.

susan said...

Oh dear. While we (Smiths) do believe in a struggle against the rulers of this world (Evil), we are also compelled to believe that we struggle against our sin nature individually and personally. Paul describes this struggle in Romans 7:22. He speaks of the "law of sin" that "dwells in his members." This is what David meant by the "flesh." I'm pretty sure he knows exactly what he means by that. He doesn't tend to say things otherwise.

Of course our struggle isn't with the flesh and blood of our fellow man, but with Evil who instigates discord, but I also believe in the struggle that exists between the delight we have in the law of God and the sin nature that inhabits our members. (And will, until glorification.)

So, the distinction is between "1.flesh" (our bodies) and "2.flesh" (our inborn sin nature.)

If you say that you're struggling against the first flesh, that's gnostic. To say that you struggle against the second means you are being sanctified. To say that you don't struggle at all means you aren't regenerate.


Robert said...

"Peta"-costals: Those who speak in tounges of cows and dance in the spirit of wolves.