Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Finding Fault In All But Yourself

Wherever I go I run into people who are more concerned that I "be perfect" than that they be rational. So many people are dysfunctional! I've had people, even Christians, who are always ready to criticize and accuse. Not that I'm without error, but that others don't look at their own reflection because they are blinded by the light of self-indulgence. I use the pronoun "I", but we all have had a taste of those whose own feces is the sweetest aroma!

It's conceivable and even expected that there will be people who don't care for another's personality. Everyone has a makeup which makes them a unique person. That uniqueness can be exemplary or it can be repulsive, or it can lie anywhere in between. Few are exemplary, but many have personalities which are less than pleasurable and certainly undesirable! Why do people choose to have a personality which others are prone to dislike? Maybe it's not their personality, but their spiritual disposition!

Before we look at the latter, let me speak of a person whose nickname is "Grumpy"!  We think of the seven dwarfs when we see that name and Grumpy was, well, always Grumpy! Grumpy took pride in his nickname and made every effort to live up to it! There was one problem: Grumpy claims Christianity!

Being a disciple of Christ is not only a state of spiritual being, but is a lifestyle as well! At least it should be if one claims to follow the most loving being ever to exist! I've taken several personality tests. The intent is to dig deep within to find the method of operation within. After considering the origins of the test to operationalize personality types, I have since refused to take another personality test! Why? In psychology there are multiple types, none even related to what we really are! There are truly two types of personalities and a continuum between them. We all lie between "righteous" and "unrighteous". Although none, besides God, are "good", let me use shorthand and refer to these two boundaries as "good" and "bad".

As already related there are none who are purely "good". That's much as gold. There is always impurity in gold and I've never even heard of 100% purity. Some foreign substances always remain because of the environment and processing contaminants.

Since no one is totally "good" are there those who are totally "bad"? Believe it or not, that is a theological question. It's the first point of the Calvinist concept called "total depravity". Those who are totally depraved have no innate "goodness" to accept "good" on their own. What "good" they receive is because of God's grace. This leads to the fourth point of Calvinism called "irresistible grace". When God elects a person to become a born-again Christian, the totally depraved person play no part in his own salvation. The future Christian is born evil,and is so evil, that free will plays no part in accepting or rejecting Christ.

We are all born with a sinful nature. We are all prone "(born) to be bad", and since we fall to temptation and do "bad" called "sin", are we totally evil? The Calvinist proposition is that we're so evil we can't even choose "good", remembering that "goodness" is defined as God's standards. It's clear that although we're all depraved, it's not "bad" in totality. God-given free-will is a gift, but it's that remnant of "goodness" God let humans retain to make a decision to follow him! (Thank you God for that characteristic which enable man to be human!)

Now I have defined a continuum between "good" and "bad" with everybody falling between. God is the boundary of "goodness" and that would leave Satan as the boundary of "badness".
John 8:44 "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He(the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
Satan (the devil) is described by John as the epitome of evil! That's "total depravity". They get the concept of "total depravity" from the first part of this: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." The insinuation is that since the devil is totally depraved and that you are a son or daughter of the devil, you too are totally depraved.  This thought itself negates God's grace, the focal point of Calvinism. By God's grace, since the days of Abraham, man has had the opportunity to choose grace! We can choose to love God or we can choose to rebel! Abraham chose God, not because he couldn't resist God's grace, but because he recognized truth. He listened to God, God convinced him and he believed! His belief was so strong that he had faith enough to willingly sacrifice his own son to favor God! (Note that Adam had free will too, but it was directed toward sin, not grace).

Abraham had some depravity! He passed off his wife as his sister and lied about it. However, he was receptive to the spirit enough that he discerned truth and believed. Scripture tells us Christians to be as Abraham:
Romans 4:16 "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all..."
Before Abraham we were all sons of Satan. Since Abraham "paid the price" by vicariously sacrificing his son, because of "it is of faith, that it might be by grace". In his heart, Abraham did offer his own son, just as God actually did. By that act of faith, Abraham made available the grace that God always had. God already had the grace to forgive weak men who tried by obeying the law, but with Abraham it became possible to be saved with wickedness residing in men's hearts. God acknowledged that Abram did "good" on his own. He made a decision to obey God in opposition to what Adam did. Man had learned the lesson! Although Abraham did "good" he was not totally good. Because he did "good" he was not totally depraved!

Abraham's disposition lies on that continuum. It wasn't totally "good" because he's not God and it's not totally "bad" (total depravity) because he chose to honor God. His was the "human scale" that is possible for man! On that "good/bad" continuum lies "the faith of Abraham"!

On the other end of the scale is having some, but little faith:
Matthew 8:26 "And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?"
The continuum (including non-Christians) goes from those damned to those who have the faith of Abram. Those damned may still do "good" things (humanists), but they are done for wrong reasons. They are done out of men doing "good" works, in effect trying to deserve God's reward. They are not totally depraved because they are capable of some"good", but God's rewards are not by works, it's by grace. Our hearts must be toward pleasing God. If it's not that's "bad" because we allow ourselves to be deceived by Satan and worship at another altar! Because we fail God on one point we fail him on all because by his justice we fail to love the One who made us! That's a cardinal sin!

On that continnum, then, we have for Christians, boundaries between "little faith" and "faith of Abraham". Those with a critical spirit (disposition) are closer to those "of little faith" than they are to "the faith of Abraham". We are to desire to be not only as faithful as Abraham, but Christlike:
1 John 2:6 "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he (Christ) walked."
Although "the faith of Abraham" is what's reasonable for men, the ultimate goal is to live as Christ lived. It's not possible to attain that goal, but by focusing on Christ, maybe we will get close to Abraham!

"Disposition" is the tendency of individuals to behave and act in certain ways. When we're born our pre-disposition is to do wrong. That's "original sin" and we inherit that from Adam. I find no reference to Adam ever feeling remorse nor repenting! He made excuses. He blamed Eve. Because Adam wasn't made right, we all are born wrong! We're all "bad" at birth.

With salvation, being born again, we are to bury that "old person", the one born in sin and "bad", and arise a "new person", with that pre-disposition to do "bad" changed. With regeneration our disposition is to be toward doing "good", being Christlike! Why then are some Christians pre-disposed to being "bad"?  Maybe it's because they never truly repented, but maybe too it's because they are still deceived by the devil as Adam was! In fact once a person is a child of God, Satan steps up the attacks! Our "free will" is still there. It's not dispensed with because we're saved. We still choose sin every time we do wrong. We don't have to, but it's our choice each time because Christians fail to seek righteousness.

What we see with critical people are those who are not born-again or are born-again and have "little faith". Because they have so little faith they doubt as they're tempted by pleasure and checked by the Holy Spirit. They are so busy considering sin that they fail to choose righteousness! A critical person, even a Christian, needs more God! If we're filled with the Holy Spirit, we no longer will have the critical spirit.

Being critical of others is a way to elevate oneself. It's pleasuring the "God of Self" at the expense of hurting others. Sure, the born-again person has received the Spirit much as the Holy Spirit "remained ON Jesus" for a time, but was that faith enough to be FILLED with the Spirit? It's the difference between being a temporary residence of the Spirit and a temple of the Holy Spirit. Those with a critical spirit have a poor disposition. They are still inclined toward evil because of such little faith. With the "faith of Abraham" they allow that Spirit to come in and they become God's temple! Their disposition changes and they assume a Christian or "good" personality! "Grumpy" is drowned in the water of baptism and "Happy" arises from the water. ("Happy! Happy! Happy!" as Phil Robertson would say!)

The "Happy Christian" no longer has a critical spirit and is no longer self-absorbed. The narcissistic person becomes one who "loves others as he loves himself" and as he exercises the "goodness" by the grace of God, then he is loving God by being obedient; strong in the faith, if you prefer!

Lesson: Be a happy Christian. Critique yourself, but allow the Holy Spirit to check the shortcomings of others, not you! Lose that nasty disposition! It's not "good". Be patient and kind. When the Holy Spirit resides in you, the fruits of the spirit are handed out freely! That nasty personality is lost and people love those who show love to them! It's my hope that the readers reflect on their own personality! Are you self-centered or do you truly show charity to others. Are you judgmental, comparing others to your own standard, or do you apply a tighter standard to others than you do yourself?

Most Christians I know are still "Grumpy". Take a lesson from the dwarfs and be "Happy"! By having a persona exemplified by the Holy Spirit, you will have friends and be loved. That's okay to want others to love you, but others cannot be coerced into love. Love received is because love is remitted!

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