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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
  • Marco Gonzalez

    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « Choosing to Believe and Luther's Bondage of the Will | Main | Understanding 1 John 2:2 »

    Scratching the surface

    J.W. Hendryx

    Our society has become increasingly characterized by a victim mentality ... ... and this became even more painfully obvious to me after returning from living in Asia for 10 years. The cultural contrast in this respect could not be more stark. The most obvious place in our society that we see this are the endless frivolous lawsuits that take place every day. But it begins at an individual level and I have been thinking about what some of the causes of this are. I have concluded that one of the largest contributors to the victim mentality is popular psychology. It tends to view most personal problems as the result of the way we were treated by our parents when we grew up. We are simply victims that just need to look inwardly at self and our childhood and we can begin to solve our issues, as the prevailing wisdom goes. But may I suggest that this seems to be a VERY superficial way of looking at the nature of things.

    Consider this: when you squeeze something, what is inside tends to come out. If man were by nature good, then when he was squeezed we would expect only good to come out. If he is by nature corrupt and wicked, then we would expect dirt to come out. As we know, the Scripture asserts that our life apart from God is a polluted well, so when that water is brought up to the surface we can only expect to find polluted water. No doubt there is good intermingled since we were created in God's image, but a little bit of pollution has poisioned whole well. This is why the excessive introspection of popular psychology can only point to symptoms but not the disease. Left to himself, man remains the same and will never, of himself, issue fresh water, so to speak.

    If you doubt this logic, consider this: Jesus was squeezed from all sides, more than any of us will ever be, and yet, what came out was living water ... that which is true, beautiful and good. What happens to us on the outside does not make us who we are, it only helps reveal what is already there. So the solution is not excessive introspection or having a psychologist only tell you that you are the way you are because of some traumatic childhood experience. This will only lead to a victim mentality, a society that shirks responsibility and always looks for someone to blame. Sound familiar? This is where we live folks and it needs to be exposed for the fraudulent religion that it is. Don't buy into it but let your mind be transformed by the word of God.

    The solution is to take the advice (or command, rather) of Jesus Christ to take ownership of our sin ... Confess it and abide in Him. We will never defeat the world, the flesh or the devil of our own fleshly powers. They are all stronger than us by nature. But in Christ we are impregnable against such things because he has already overcome them. As we learn to abide in Him rather than wallow in our selves while gazing at our own navels, then, in His presence, it exposes us for who we really are and there is a Hand to pull us out of the mire. We have no hope save in the mercy of Jesus Christ alone. Chrisitanity is not a moral improvement or behavior modification program. It is about taking off the old self and clothing oneself with Jesus Christ. Its about replacment, not self-help. Psychology cannot save you, nor can your weak will. Take hold of Christ and yield to His providence in all things. Drink at His well daily, and then, when you are squeezed, a well bubbling up to eternal life will spill out and overflow to those the Lord puts in your life.

    Posted by John on November 8, 2007 11:32 AM

    Comments

    "Confess it and abide in Him."

    How do we abide in Him?

    Hi Ava

    It appears that those who are most focused on their own spirituality may appear outwardly to be spiritual ... but the Scripture tends to do the opposite of what we would expect. Those who have almost forgotten about their own spirtuality because their focus is so exclusively on their union with Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished are those who are growing and fruitful. Historically speaking, whenever the we are focused on OUR OWN spirituality that focus will eventually exhaust itself on its own resources. Only when we forget about ourself and focus turn to Jesus Christ will our life be nourished by the ongoing resources the Spirit brings to us from the fountain of all true godliness, the Lord Christ.

    "Just as the sinner's despair of any hope from himself is the first prerequisite of a sound conversion, so the loss of all confidence in himself is the first essential in the believer's growth in grace." - A.W. PINK

    The gospel must not only take hold of unbelievers but Christains as well. We will only bring forth good if our source for life is Christ. We need to remind ourselves daily that in Jesus Christ, God is not treating us as our daily sins justly deserve. We feed on Christ moment by moment and don't find our justification elsewhere.

    Good post. I find it interesting that, consistent with "victim" mentality, whenever we are accused of something (rightly or wrongly), the initial reaction is usually, "I didn't do it...he/she/they did!" accompanied by the finger pointing elsewhere. In stark contrast is the disciples' response without the benefit of modern psychological conditioning when Jesus told them that one of them would betray Him: "Is it *I*, Lord?"

    I most definately agree with you about the secular mode of introspection. You are right - it shows only symptoms and not the solution.

    What I have read of the Puritans has shown me that they too were very introspective. They saw the symptoms and of course knew the cause -- sin. Yet they also knew that the solution was union with Christ. This is what makes many of the writings of the Puritans so practical. They show how we can use Biblical introspection to realize how we have sinned and practice true repentance (not merely confessing sins but turning away from them).

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