01 March 2012

Email From Hell

A friend of mine recently sent me this in an email and I wanted to share my response. I'm going to continue to share with you what Law looks like. What religion tries to teach you, not what Jesus teaches. What most churches preach is not the truth that's in the Bible you read. Like the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it looks good to eat, but it only leads to death and more sin. Read the attachment below first:

Email attachment sent from a friend. Click article for larger size.

My reply (only added Bible references for the blog):

Just read this. I used to think that this was really good stuff, but I see things so differently, now. I’ll have to tell you more about it. Now, all I see is this being more bondage. Satan doesn’t have this kind of influence over us. He actually doesn’t have any power unless we let him have it. This list of things that are “cluttering” our lives are what it’s like to live in the American culture. If you don’t want to be around these things, then move to Mexico. I think this is ridiculous. It’s basically saying that if you participate in one or two (or more) of these too often, then you’re not a good Christian and you’re obviously not close to God. Really?? So, if I do none or very little of these things, then you’ll approve of me being a good Christian? Sounds like to me the author is trying to put the reader in slavery, not Satan. The author is certainly giving much more power than Satan or his angels deserve. Remember, Satan is not the equivalent of God, he’s just one of his angels. He can’t even be held in slight comparison to Almighty God. This kind of writing is what the Pharisees would preach; that to be a good Christian and truly know Jesus, you have to not be involved in any of these things (or very little) because they’re all distracting you from knowing Jesus intimately. The Pharisees worked at being right with God and they followed the law. You can’t do anything right or even close to perfect for God to accept you.

This is the way I see things, now (Acts 17:10-11). This is the truth. You have the Holy Spirit (breath of God) living inside of you. Jesus is living and breathing in your body and soul. He permeates everything about you (every single cell). The Almighty God came down from heaven and now made his home in you (you’re the temple of God) (2 Cor 6:14-18). If you actually believe Jesus lives in you then you must also believe you have all power, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, goodness, healing, righteousness, hope, faith, goodness, love, mercy, grace, blessings, favor, the Word etc living and breathing inside of your body (Gal 5:16-26). You are a Christian (little Christ). You are like God and made in his image (Gen 1:26-27). You have all authority of heaven and earth living inside of you and what did you do about it? Nothing. All you did was believe and accept Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins. You did nothing to deserve it. In his eyes, you’re now perfect. And, it doesn’t matter what anyone else sees because all God sees is perfection. He no longer sees sin. All he sees is Jesus’ sacrifice and his Son living in you. You are made spotless and blameless in his site (2 Cor 11:1-4). Because of his sacrifice, all your sins have been forgiven and forgotten. He did this 2000 years ago. He did it before you were even a thought in anyone’s head.

The more intimate I become with Jesus, the more he reveals to me what I really look like. Clearly, the person who wrote this doesn’t know who they are in Christ. And, Jesus can’t get any closer than he is now so he’s NEVER far away. Being inside someone is as close as it can get (1 Cor 6:19-20). The things of this world , the “clutter,” and Satan are no match for the Spirit inside of you. You are, honestly, invincible and nothing can touch you (Heb 13:20-21). When we don’t believe this truth, we give Satan the ability to lie and cheat us from all God has for us. Satan doesn't limit you and the world doesn’t limit you. You are the one who limits you. You limit what God can do through you because you don’t believe. He’s looking for a willing vessel. Someone bold enough to walk in his throne room and believe he did all of this for you (Heb 4:16). He loves you so very much. You are his daughters and sons. You have the best Father you could have. He will never let you fail. And, you did nothing about it. He did everything and it was all finished on the cross a very long time ago (John 19:28-30).

I hope I don’t sound upset or mean. I just hate this Law that this Pharisee is trying to preach. This is not love and it’s not who you are in Christ. God came to give you life abundantly and true freedom through his grace, not a bunch of rules/law to follow (John 10:6-10). The more you get to know your Father’s heart, the more you’ll become like him. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to filter everything you come in contact with and all the distractions in your life. Go into this world (and the church) in confidence knowing the Holy Spirit can do anything through you (2 Cor 3:1-6).

PS - Nothing can separate you from the love of God, except unbelief (Rom 8:38-39).


Devon L said...

But Dathan. All of the things that link discussed in the Bible too. Yes Jesus talks about how we are free as sons and daughter of God, but He also has a lot to say about how to avoid the distractions of this world so we can better live in that freedom. Aside from teaching about grace, the Bible also teaches us how borrowing money turns us into slaves (Proverbs 22:7), it commands us not to gossip and slander(Psalm 101:5), and it also tells us that we need to take care of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). All of which were talked about in that email you referred to as being written by a "Pharisee". I see where you're going with this blog, but I really feel like you're throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water. You make it sound like you can't focus on your relationship with Christ if you're also focused on living in a way that tries to avoid all the things mentioned above. I don't believe they are mutually exclusive. If anything I believe that by working to avoid all the distractions of this world, it frees us up to better live in the freedom that Christ intended for us all along. And think about it. If I'm right and the two really do go hand in hand, then what you are talking about is a very dangerous viewpoint. How many people could read that and think, "You know what, I'm going to stop working with my finances, relationship, etc. Because I am a child of God." And you know what could easily happen. Those things will begin to become problems that take over their lives, in turn becoming distractions from Christ himself. Now let me be clear, I do believe that God is above our finances, relationships, and such. But if He didn't want us to work on those things ourselves then why would the Bible give us so much advice on how to handle them?

-Still love ya.

Dathan Ellis said...

These are valid points and I want you to weigh carefully everything that I'm saying. Of course, I know you're not just going to take my word for it, which I am proud of.
Honestly, you nailed it. I am saying that if you're focused on doing things right and following the do's and don'ts of the Bible, then you're doing it wrong. I used to do it this way and it's no freedom at all. It's actually called Law and it's slavery. This is what the Pharisees did. They genuinely thought they were following God by doing everything right. But, when Christ came they couldn't even see love and grace staring them in the face because they did not know God's voice or his heart. Christ even proved to them that there's nothing good that they can do no matter how well they followed the rules. True freedom is believing that Christ is the only way. There's nothing you can do to save yourself or even make yourself better. The only person that can is the Spirit. Only he has the ability to transform you into a new person. The Bible's do's and don'ts are here to show us what the fruit of a believer looks like. When a branch is connected to a tree, there is no effort involved for the branch to produce fruit. It's simply connected. This is what Jesus did. He came to bring life and freedom and to connect you to him. Law simply shows us what good and bad looks like, but it only causes us to sin more. You working to avoid distractions is law and only will cause you to sin more. However, the Spirit is powerful enough to make things right in our hearts. Giving people the freedom to know this and become truly friends of God is the only way that's right. Do you believe this to be true is the question? Do you believe that Jesus came, not only to save you, but to set you free from having to do it on your own (law)? You can't mix law and grace. You either follow one or the other. You either eat the easy fruit of the tree of life, or you eat the tree of law (knowledge of good and bad) and constantly fail and walk in shame. I'm tired of being a failure. I have fasted, prayed, tithed, quiet-timed, read etc myself to death and I refuse to do it any longer. Actually, now that I live in freedom, I do these more. My fruit is even better than when I was trying to do it because I'm getting to know my Father's heart. He's giving me new desires. I'm a better man now than I was before and all I did was give up. I gave up trying. I finally rested and asked God to show me his heart. Now, I live in true peace and accidentally do right things because my Savior did it through me. Ask God to show you his heart. Rest in his peace and in the fact that you can't do anything right. And, as you get to know him, watch how beautiful you become.

The email above looks good, but it's full of the law. It tells you what you should and shouldn't be doing. It's saying what you do will separate you from union with Christ. You can't do anything to separate you from Christ, except not believe. Most Christians are still living under the law today and don't even know it. They are the true captives. The people in the world have freedom (to do whatever). The people who know his grace have freedom (knowing Christ can only change them). The people that try to do anything to get right with God are in bondage and are like the older son in the Prodigal Son story.

I pray for you all the time and dearly love you. I am so glad you're in my life.

Devon L said...

For the most part I agree with you, but I still can't help feeling like you've taken this idea of grace to include other things that it doesn't. Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as "The helper" not "The do-er." You make it sound like focusing on aspects of our lives such relationships, finances, etc is wrong, which it's not. These are still good things. What's wrong is when you focus on them outside of your relationship with Christ. The key is to focus on growing closer to Christ so that the Holy Spirit(The helper) can help us grow in all these areas, and again, allow us to live in the freedom Jesus intends for us. You yourself said, "I'm a better man now than I was before." and even talked about how relying on God has helped you produce the fruits of the spirit. Your case sounds eerily like you don't think those things are important at all. I'm beginning to think you believe that Sanctification is something that happens instanly after allowing God to take over your life, and I just don't believe that. I believe it's a process. One that starts when we first put our trust in Him and continues til death... And out of curiosity, Wasn't that entire email about how the distraction of this world are bad. I mean, if the email is wrong, and the distractions of the world aren't bad, then what are they?

Dathan Ellis said...

There's nothing wrong with doing good things like being a good steward, or building healthy relationships, or giving etc. These are all good and we should do them, but they are not what brings us closer to Jesus. They should not be our main focus. When you hang out with drug addicts, you act like a drug addict. When you hang out with evil people, you become evil. When you hang out with successful people, you become successful. When you hang out with loving people, you become loving. You don't have to work at these things. You spend enough time with people and they will rub off. Same with Jesus. You are holy because of Christ. You are spotless because you accepted his sacrifice for your sins. Therefore, you are perfect in his sight. Knowing this should propel you to spend more time with him and get to know his heart and inner thoughts. You don't have to believe this. You don't have to believe that it's this easy. It's your choice. I have been redeemed and I accept it. I'm not bothered by the distractions of this world. Actually, the Spirit filters what the world throws at me. I spend all day talking to my best friend and he actually turns what the world intended for bad, for good. I'm not conformed to this world because I'm not of this world. The world really isn't the true enemy. The true enemy are those in the church that the devil uses to persecute and enslave God's people. These honestly think they're doing good. You're only job is to trust Him. The more you trust him the more you believe what he can do through you. He's not looking for people to do this or that. He's only looking for those that desire to know him and become his friend.

Anonymous said...

This is what I've been telling people for years, you have to be saved and that's all that matters. Once saved always saved. The relationship matters, just believing is all that really matters, grace will cover what you do or don't do.

Dathan Ellis said...

I agree with everything you said, except the once saved always saved. I think anyone can change their mind about believing in Jesus. Like the prodigal son, he was in the family, but decided he didn't want to be anymore. But, he came back. So, what do I know...