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March 2013 - Rules to Break

Rules to Break

Lately I have been enjoying Jonathan Fisk’s book Broken: 7 “Christian” Rules Every Christian Should Break as Often As Possible.  It is has been a very illuminating book that describes seven rules that Christians think are “Christian”, but in fact are various flavors of the same Lie that the devil uses to get you to take your eyes off of Christ and trust in a false religion that robs you of your true hope and comfort in Christ, and can even lead to the total destruction of faith in Christ unto eternal condemnation.  The “Lie” of satan always goes back to Genesis 3: “Did God really say…”.  The Lie is always to deny or twist the Word of God, and thus to doubt and not fear, love, and trust in God alone. It is to get your eyes off of Jesus to your eternal ruin.

Fisk writes:  Let’s begin by understanding that there is only one attack the devil uses in his war to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ. It’s an attack he uses over and over again, but it is just one attack. The one-and-only attack the devil uses to destroy the Church is to remove Jesus. This is the devil’s first rule.

But there is only one way to remove Jesus, and it’s not the way that most people think. As far as the devil is concerned, it’s perfectly cool to have a picture on the wall of a guy in a white bathrobe with long brown hair and a beard. It’s even perfectly cool to call that guy in the picture “Jesus” and tell all the children that this “Jesus” guy loves them. The devil doesn’t care whether you keep that picture up or take that picture down, because the devil’s first rule is that he must remove Jesus— not just some idea about some imaginary guy named “Jesus,” but the actual, real Jesus. There is only one way to do that: remove the actual, real Jesus’ words.

The devil’s first rule is to get us to forget all the things that the real Jesus actually said. The best way to do that is not to take down all the pictures of that long-haired guy walking through fields with some sheep, but to start replacing His words with other words. Our words. Other spiritualities. A counterfeit Christianity. By slowly leaching away the real Jesus’ words and replacing them, one by one, with his own, the devil can eventually lead us into worshiping a guy named “Jesus” who is not actually there… He’s learned that there’s more than one way to put a little spin on the same deception. He dresses up The Lie in new clothes, and he gives The Lie a new name. And at the drop of the hat, he can do it again. And again. And again.

                For example, one of these flavors/forms of satan’s lie (to deceive and mislead you) that Fisk lists is mysticism, or the worship of emotions.  By “worship of emotions”, I mean the trusting in, relying upon emotions, your feelings as a basis of God’s communicating to you, guiding you, reassuring you.

Fisk writes:  Mysticism has found many ready listeners in American culture because American culture is a melting pot of trying to feel good. Humans have always made feeling good a high priority, but in our age we have made it an art form. Both Christians and non-Christians alike spend most of the waking day trying to feel good. When we feel bad (which happens a lot), we begin casting around the market for something new to consume in order to try and feel better. Once we find an answer, we remain as diligent in trying to make the feeling better last as long as possible. This is our way of life. It is our economy, our national pastime, and our greatest export.

We believe, teach, and confess that the key to happiness is managing discomfort by increasing good feelings instead, and we are so successful at it that we’ve also come to assume God approaches religion the very same way. Why wouldn’t God want me to be happy? Why wouldn’t God want to meet my needs, take away my cares and worries, and lift me up? Why wouldn’t a truly good God want me to find Him by learning to feel the goodness of His presence? It only makes perfect, heartfelt sense. For this reason, all over America, every week, a vast number of the most well-meaning of us congregate in special houses that we have built for the sole purpose of trying to feel God together… We go to our churches in search of a better feeling, and when we find it, we believe we have found the real presence of God.

Later Fisk adds: The Bible never tells you that the path to finding God lies hidden within positive experiences. It’s not that Jesus has a problem with hearts or emotions in general; after all, He created them. But He didn’t create them in order to speak to us through them. That was why He created words.

I echo those thoughts and feel very strongly about it (J).  Yes emotions and feelings are natural, and can be very powerful.  They are a gift from God.  But they are NOT how He speaks to us! Instead, He gives us The Word.  His Word.  The unchanging Word that we are to trust upon above all else.  No matter how we feel (and feelings change so frequently), no matter what the devil may say, nothing changes what God says of us because of the work of Christ alone on the Cross alone, and what He has given us through the Word attached to the water of our Baptism. 

That was just one form of the Lie satan regularly tells us.  Fisk mentions 6 other forms in his book that perhaps I will discuss in the future.  But suffice it to say, that though the devil is very skilled in his craft, and has multiple attachments for his weapon of deceit, rejoice that your Lord has overcome him for you.  By God’s grace, listen and trust not in the opinions of men or the world, no matter how right they may “feel”, but solely rely upon the Word of God He has given you in the scriptures.  This is the Word that exposes you as a poor miserable sinner, completely dead in your sin, but saved from that condemnation totally and solely by the gracious work of God through His Son Jesus upon the Cross and the empty tomb, where He alone has satisfied Justice and proclaims you clean and righteous in His sight for the sake of Christ.  And this righteousness and salvation is given to you through the faith He creates and sustains in you by His Word (and visible Word, the Sacraments) alone!  This is a truth that does not change no matter what the devil may say our how you may feel, or what you do.

 

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