Saturday, December 15, 2007

Thought For A Sunday

Taken from Dying To Self by William Law...

Barnabas - There is no need of a number of practices or methods in this matter. For to die to self, or to come from under its power, cannot be done by any active resistance we can make to it by the powers of nature. For nature can no more overcome or suppress itself than wrath can heal wrath. So long as self acts, nothing but natural works are brought forth, and therefore the more labor of this kind, the more the self life is fed and strengthened with its own food.

But the one true way of dying to self is most simple and plain. There is no need of arts or methods; no cells, monasteries, or pilgrimages; it is equally accessible to everybody; it is always at hand; it meets you in everything; and is never without success.

If you ask what this one true, simple, plain, immediate, and unerring way is, it is the way of a patient, meek, humble resignation to God This is the way to die to self; it is nowhere else but in this state of heart.

John - The excellency and perfection of these virtues I readily acknowledge; but how will this prove the way of overcoming self to be so simple, plain, immediate, and unerring as you say? Is it not the teaching of almost all men and all books, and confirmed by our own sad experience, that a great deal of time, and effort and a variety of practices and methods are necessary, to the attainment of any one of these virtues?

Barnabas - When Christ was upon the earth, was there anything more simple, plain, immediate, unerring than the way to Him? Did scribes, Pharisees, publicans, and sinners need any length of time or exercise of rules and methods before they could have admission to Him or have the benefit of faith in Him?

John - I don't understand why you ask the question. How can it relate to the matter before us?

Barnabas - It not only relates to, but is the very heart of the matter. I refer you to a patient, meek, humble resignation to God as the one simple, plain, immediate, and unerring way of dying to self, I refer you to Christ Jesus the Lord. You can as easily and immediately, without art or method, by the mere turning to the Christ within you in simple faith, have all the benefit of these virtues, as publicans and sinners by their turning to Christ could be helped and saved by him when he walked among men.

John - You mean that simply by turning to Christ within is as certain and immediate a way of my being possessed and blessed by these virtues as when sinners turn to Christ to be helped and saved by Him?

Barnabas - Yes, I would have you strictly to believe this! And also to believe that the reasons why you are vainly seeking and never attaining these virtues is because you seek them in the wrong way; in a multitude of human rules, methods, and contrivances, and not in the simplicity of faith in which they who came to Christ immediately obtained that which they asked of Him.

"Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." How short and simple and certain a way to peace and comfort from the misery and burden of sin! So what about all the rules and methods and round about ways to be delivered from the power of sin, and to find the redeeming power and virtue of Christ? Will you say that turning to Christ in faith was once indeed the way for men to enter into life and be delivered from the power of their sins, but that all this ended when Pilate nailed Jesus to the cross?

How strange to suppose that Christ, after having finished His great work, overcome death, ascended into heaven, with all power in heaven and on earth, has become less a savior than He was before! How could He bring less help to those who by faith turn to Him now than when He was clothed with the infirmity of our flesh and blood upon earth? Does He have less power after He has conquered than while He was only resisting and fighting with our enemies? Or does He have less good will to assist His Church, His own body, now that He is in heaven than He had to assist publicans and sinners before He was crucified? And yet this must be the case if our simple turning to Him in faith is not as sure a way of obtaining immediate assistance from Him now as when He was upon earth.

When Christ was upon earth nothing was more simple, plain, immediate, and certain than the way of coming to Him. There was no length of time, no rules or methods to be observed; all who came in the simplicity of a faith that knew it could not help itself, and turned from itself to Him, found immediate access and relief. And now that Christ is in heaven and has taken His place on the throne of grace, there has been no change in the way to come to Him; now that we cannot see Him, more than ever the way to Him and to be helped by Him is a way of faith. Faith in Him can bring an immediate and effectual deliverance from self.

He is able to deliver them who trust in Him from the dominion of self. His exaltation to the throne calls us to a confidence and assurance such as those who were with Him never could have had. Let your heart be strengthened with the faith that He who is mighty to save can save you from the dominion of self, and that faith in Him is the one simple, only and immediate way to obtain this deliverance.

But do not be mistaken as to how this deliverance comes. Many think that it comes by the death and entire removal of self. This is not the way. The death of self is something very different from the death to self which God's word holds out to you. When Jesus died to sin, He did not slay sin in the sense of annihilating it. Sin is still living and reigning in all who submit to it. He died to it so that it had no more power to tempt or persecute Him. You are partakers of His death to sin, and to self, in which sin works; and the healing he now gives is the power of His death to sin and His living unto God in such a way that He frees you from the dominion of self. Now you are living in Him and His life is released to flow out through you.

And now, you may have accepted this gift of deliverance but still feel the need to have opened up to you what it implies and how you can fully enjoy it. Or you may want more insight as to how you can more fully possess this blessing. The important thing is to turn at once, even this moment, to the Christ who dwells within you as the one and only most certain deliverer from the power of self and sin.


John - It seems to me that you have stepped aside from the point. The question was not concerning turning to Christ in faith but whether my turning in faith and desire to patience, meekness, humility, and resignation to God would bring about the release and change as fully for me now as faith in Christ did for those who were his followers upon earth.

Barnabas - As a matter of fact, I have stuck closely to the point before us. Let's suppose I have given you a form of prayer in these words; "O Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world . . . " or, "O Bread that comes down from heaven . . . " Would you say that this was not a prayer to Christ because it did not call Him Jesus or the Son of God?

John - Yes, this is a prayer to Jesus, the Son of the living God! Who else but He is the Lamb of God and the bread that came down from heaven?

Barnabas - Well answered, my friend. When I exhort you to give up yourself in faith and hope to patience, meekness, humility, and surrender to God, I am pointing you directly to faith and hope in Jesus, the Lamb of God who is the perfection of patience, meekness, humility, and surrender to God!

Would you not say that a faith that makes you hunger and thirst for these virtues is a faith that makes you desire to be delivered from self by Jesus, the Lamb of God? So, therefore, every sincere desire, every inward inclination of your heart that presses after these virtues, and longs to be governed by them, is an immediate, direct appeal to Jesus, is worshiping and falling down before Him, is giving up yourself to Him, and is in itself the very perfection of faith in Him.

Hear the words of Christ Himself: "learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart; and you shall find rest unto your souls." It is clear that to desire patience, meekness, humility, and surrender to God is the same thing as to learn of Christ, or to have faith in Him. This is the one simple, short, and infallible way to overcome or be delivered from all the evil and burden of self expresses in these words, "And you shall find rest unto your souls."

This simple tendency or inclination of your heart to sink down into patience, meekness, humility, and surrender to God is truly dying to self. It is leaving all that you have to follow and be with Christ. It is your highest act of faith in Him. It is the most ardent and earnest declaration of your cleaving to Him with all your heart and seeking for no other salvation but from Him and in Him.

Therefore all the goodness, pardon and deliverance from sin that ever happened to anyone by looking to Christ is sure to be had from this state of heart which stands continually turned to Him in a desire to be governed by His spirit of patience, meekness, humility, and surrender to God.

Another Baltimore Bus Assault

There's been yet another gang attack on bus passengers in Baltimore. Once again a pack of black teens has beaten two whites, apparently for the crime of being white.

The Maryland Transportation Authority took three days to release photos of the attackers and is not treating the attack as a hate crime but rather as "simply...a common assault."

Well, it seems that in Baltimore such assaults certainly are common. We return to a question we asked the other day about the Sarah Kreager beating: If seven white kids had beaten two black men for riding a bus how long would it take the authorities to release photos of the assailants and for the media to be screaming about the horrific bigotry that underlies such an atrocity?

There certainly is a double standard when it comes to interracial crime in our country, and until all such crimes are treated with the same social opprobrium bitterness and seething resentments are only going to increase. This is not how to produce racial harmony. Nor does it augur optimism for the future of race relations when a story like this can appear in the paper and everyone who reads it knows the race of both perpetrators and victims without having to be told anything more than that it was interracial.

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin reports that the authorities are going to try as adults some of the thugs who beat Sarah Kreager. I wonder if Al Sharpton will organize a march to protest the injustice of it all.

One last thought. Maryland happens to be a difficult state in which to obtain a concealed weapon carry permit, but I wonder how long that will last as more people get fed up with living in fear.


Waterboarding Abu Zubaydah

For those interested in the controversy surrounding the resort to torture in general and waterboarding in particular an ABC interview with former CIA agent John Kiriakou may prove instructive. Kiriakou doesn't like it, he'd prefer we not do it, but nevertheless, not only does he claim it is effective but in some cases it's morally necessary (my gloss on his words).

According to Kiriakou waterboarding has been employed in only a handful of cases, one of which was that of Abu Zubaydah, a high ranking al Qaeda terrorist caught soon after 9/11. Zubaydah was subjected to the sensation of drowning for 35 seconds after which he told the interrogators everything he knew and the intell was used to prevent dozens of terrorist attacks and save perhaps hundreds of lives.

The question those who believe torture to be absolutely wrong have to be asked is why they think it wrong to subject a mass murderer to 35 seconds or less of physical discomfort, after which he is perfectly unharmed, in order to save his victims from being blown to bits. What moral calculus could possibly lead us to conclude that it is better to let perhaps hundreds of women and children be ripped apart by shrapnel than to induce a gag reflex in their would-be murderer for 35 seconds?

UPDATE: Ramirez weighs in on the waterboarding debate:

In point of fact, as Kiriakou explains in the interview, no water even enters the person's nose during waterboarding.