William Law on Right Thinking and Living

Now to have right notions and tempers with relation to this world, is as essential to religion as to have right notions of God. And it is as possible for a man to worship a crocodile, and yet be a pious man, as to have his affections set upon this world and yet be a good Christian.
A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life ch. 1.

A Serious Call was on the initial list of suggested reading offered by Dissidens way back in March of ’05. In fact, it was number 1 on the list. Somewhere along the way I picked up a copy and it joined the ever-growing collection of “books to get to.” His recent post, particularly the last quote, incited me to tolle lege.

Chapter one is a diatribe against the impotence of Christianity. Rather, the impotence of Christians. A pious man is not made or revealed during Sunday services. If a man is not a Christian everyday of the week he is no Christian. If a man does not manifestly have completely separate affections than the best of unbelievers around him, he is simply a better unbeliever–though only marginally so.

Even if you do not have the book, you can read it here. I do not think you can start it soon enough.

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Martin Luther on the Righteous Man, Impatience, and Anger

Righteous people, however, do not hide their iniquity, do not become angry, do not grow impatient when they are wronged; for they do not feel that they can be wronged, since they find no righteousness in themselves.  These are the blessed to whom God remits iniquity and cancels it because they confess it.  Since they do not hide and cover their sin, God covers and hides it.

This is from a comment on Psalm 32:5. I appreciated the identification of the root of impatience as a sense of self-righteousness. He is certainly right. Anytime I am impatient it is because I think I deserve better than this. At the bottom of it all is the belief that I deserve to have all of my desired comforts and amenities when I desire them because I am a good enough guy to deserve such accommodations. Every public sigh and snarl is really a demonstration that I continue to suppress my own exalted opinion of my worth.  It is the public demonstration that I am clinging to my own righteousness instead of Christ’s.

I do not deserve empty check-outs at the grocery store, post office, and DMV.  I deserve the full wrath of God upon my sin.

Yet He forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Selah

Proverbs 18:1 & Lone Bloggers

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He breaks out against all sound judgment.
Proverbs 18:1 (ESV)

This verse was a good tonic for my soul today.  As I read it the Lord seemed to apply it to the world of blogdom.  Particularly the land of blogdom that I live and surf have my scorning.

The first line speaks to that man who stands apart from the congregation. Regarding this first line Keil & Delitzsch state it “denotes one who willingly (Judg 4:11), and, indeed, obstinately withdraws himself.”  As the term is used in the Old Testament it always refers to a physical separation, though an emotional separation can also be involved (Prov. 16:28; 17:9).  So the situation this Proverb applies directly to is one in which a person can be characterized as standing apart.  While it is not advisable to absolutize proverbs, even the biblical ones, the wise son is advised that men do this because of their “own desire.”

Like jealousy, the term desire is both encouraged and condemned in the Old Testament.  The easiest place to see this is Psalm 10 in which the wicked boast of a desire the LORD hates (10:3) while the LORD answers the desire of the humble heart (10:17).  The connotation in Prov. 18:1 certainly seems negative.  Hence, we cautiously may estimate a motivating factor in the actions of lone bloggers: to fulfill some sort of selfish desire.  We are not told what their desire is.  The desires are probably manifold.  Nor are we advised to probe what the desire might be.  As helpful as such an exercise might eventually prove to be.

The lone blogger has separated himself from the assembly of believers and seeks his own desires.  Two actions the Scripture speaks quite clearly against.  In a grave manner.

In so separating himself, the lone blogger breaks out against all sound judgment.  BDB gives the verb a primary meaning of “expose, lay bare, disclose, make known.”  As it is used in Proverbs it is to “break out in contention, strife.”  I admit I have seen both aspects fulfilled.  The lone blogger loves to make things known, air dirty laundry; and to do so in a contentious manner.  I confess to joying in this blood sport.  Of seeing victims thrashed like a chicken in the jaw-teeth of a lion.   But all of this is against sound judgment.

However right the cause, however accurate the diagnosis, Jesus has only promised to confirm the judgment of the two or three gathered in his name.  Whatever else the church may be, the church is also the pillar and ground of the truth.  The one who isolates himself from the assembly has also isolated himself from the Scriptural security of judgment, of loosing and binding.  It will not do to say there are no good churches in my area.  If that were true, and if it mattered that much, you would move to an area where there was a “good” church.  Or you would be an active participant in the attempt to plant one where you already are.

Please pray for me and my family.  We are looking for a church to join and fellowship with.  Pray that in these days I will not yield to the temptation of isolation.  I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”