Excellent Article On the Current Issues Surrounding Sanctification and Justification

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Backwoods Presbyterian, Aug 13, 2011.

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  1. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I don't have a problem with that idea but the way you stated it earlier (theoretical, possible) are not helpful ways of viewing it. I obviously employ reason as GNC fro what is revealed. It is when it is used to speculate beyond revelation that I have a problem with.


    ---
    - Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  2. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Rich, could you explain more how what you are saying is consistent with what John Owen says below (I'm sure it is, I'm just getting confused, and in a way that tends to make me feel distressed: as if there is grace available for my perfect resistance of sin, but the problem is that I'm not doing enough; yet I can never do enough, or anything at all, apart from that grace). If this would be better in a different thread so as not to introduce an easily confused lay-person's confusion into this one, could you please move it? Thanks.

    (from his commentary on Psalm 130, exposition of vv 1,2)

    (I love what he says later on, that 'This is the great mystery of the gospel in the blood of Christ, that those who sin every day should have peace with God all their days . . .')
     
  3. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Words of great comfort, dear sister, the contemplation of which 'maketh the water to stand in mine eyes'.
     
  4. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Those theological books are the best tearjerkers.

    'Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you will find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.' When I read statements like those above that speak of this rest, and the meekness of our Lord, I want to obey; for I want to obey Him.
     
  5. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I think they are complimentary ideas Heidi. Don't take anything I've written as implying that our status within the CoG is threatened by our obedience to God's Law. By faith we are transported into the Kingdom of the Age to Come. We are enemies of God no more and not enslaved to sin and its power. We are in Christ and united to His Covenant-keeping perfection.

    Our battle with sin is not as those who live under the threat of the Curse of condemnation for our disobedience but as those who are adopted children of the heavenly Father. Our relationship to sin is not one in which we go before God as our condemning Judge but as those who are children who are grieved when we bruise the Head of Him who has already been judged for our sin.

    Thus, Paul first establishes us as justified in Christ and then goes on to speak about what that vital union produces within the family of God. Christ, Himself, produces within us the fruits of sanctification and our hearts beat with an ever increasing desire to obey our Father and resist the sin that we are tempted by. We fail, for sure, but the encouragement is that Christ is working within us toward His holy ends. When temptation leads us into sin we aren't to despair but go to the Father with the confidence that our sins are forgiven in Christ and that He has given us means of grace to renew the battle that wages daily and constantly.
     
  6. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Rich that is most helpful, thank you.

    Could you clarify one further thing? My impression (which is probably a misimpression) was that you were saying there is sufficiency of grace in the Covenant of Grace to preserve us from all sin; but our wills are too divided to make use of it; and in this gap we must make an effort. Owen seems to be saying that a sufficiency of grace to preserve from all sin was involved rather in the Covenant of Works where there was no pardon for sin, and in the Covenant of Grace there is not such a sufficiency as to keep us from *all* sin, but certainly such as to keep us from heinous sins, and absolutely from falling away. However it is not necessary for there to be such a sufficiency, because there is pardon. In this situation attending the means of grace become the most important 'effort' we make, or rather the simple hand we hold out to receive, both pardon and grace for obedience. I am sure that your view does actually comport with this last part, because I have heard you made such statements (and greatly profited from them). But I am confused as to how your view as I've understood it could wind up at the same place as Owen's. Again, I'm sorry if this is a 'side-trail'; but I am very appreciative to understand better.
     
  7. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The Catechism begins by saying that "Repentance unto life is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God." Whatever repentance is in its own nature, it begins as a work of divine grace. No doing on man's part is made the condition of the grace and life promised in the covenant.

    Please allow me to try to explain the difference in the light of your use of "antecedent, concomitant, and consequent conditions," although it should be observed that this terminology properly belongs to the subject of justification. Since justification is a part of the "life" promised in the covenant of grace I think we can utilise it for the purposes of this discussion.

    "Antecedent" means a condition which must go before the promise as a means to an end; "concomitant" means a condition which must accompany the promise and without which the fulfilment of the promise cannot be expected; "consequent" refers to a condition which must be the inevitable result of the thing promised. Faith is an antecedent condition. It is the means or instrument by which justification is appropriated, or made one's own. Repentance is not a means of justification but a necessary accompaniment because without turning from sin there is nothing to be justified from and without turning to God there is nothing to be justified for. Good works is a consequent condition, which means that they are the necessary effect of being justified by faith, or, as our Standards teach, they are the "fruit and evidence" that a person is in a state of justification. If good works are consequent conditions, or necessary effects of being in a state of justification, it is obvious that "doing" cannot in any sense be regarded as a means to being justified.

    To apply this to the clause in question -- In "Do this and live," the word "do" is being made a means to the life that is promised. It is being presented as an antecedent condition. It is only the phrase, "Live and do this," which properly presents the state of affairs under the covenant of grace, because doing is the effect of the life that has been freely granted.

    Throughout the Standards "life" precedes "doing" in all the fulness of salvation. We have already noted how "life" precedes the action of repentance in the working of the Holy Spirit to produce repentance in the elect. The same applies to the gift of faith and to good works. Faith is also wrought by the Holy Spirit and the word of God (answer 72). With respect to good works, Larger Catechism answer 32 is perhaps the clearest statement on the importance of holy obedience in direct relationship to salvation and eternal life. Even here the obedience is the effect of the work of the Holy Spirit, who has been given to the elect "to enable them unto all holy obedience." Whatever is said about the necessity of obedience in this answer is guaranteed by the work of the Holy Spirit which precedes and produces it.

    This is a covenant ordered in all things and sure. The promise is sure to the heirs of promise. Let's be on our guard against introducing an element of uncertainty into God's eternal counsel.
     
  8. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    Rich-

    That was rather condescending don't you think? How is publicly categorizing me as childish, party spirited, uneducated, gospel confused, and a stubborn know it all, in the best interest of either of us or of having a civil conversation? Or how can that be construed as "trying to help me"?

    I can take correction or receive help, but that was excessive and insulting. I find it sad that somebody actually rated an admonishment towards someone as helpful. I think the word is "schadenfreude"?

    Do you have an email I can contact you at? I could not find one on your profile page. I'd rather contact you in that manner than spare myself another public shaming by responding here.

    (This is not sarcasm)
    I genuinely apologize if I have bothered anyone with my ignorance and unworthiness to attempt to contribute here. I thought this was a place for honest discussion, but lately, more and more my attempt at discussion has rubbed people the wrong way, and I just don't feel like I fit in. I can't seem to articulate my thoughts very well, and I seem to do so in a way that causes some on here to read me uncharitably on a consistent basis. I wish I wasn't so bad at articulating. Its embarrassing. I do apologize for all this and if I have confused anyone due to my lack of ability.
     
  9. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I know this is a long answer but I think the answer if found in differentiating between the Covenant of Grace, properly speaking, and what Christ's role as Mediator of it is:

    Faith is what secures our interest in Christ. We are in Christ as we have faith in Him. Full stop. Our obedience does not secure our interest in Him but our faith alone.

    Notice, though, how Christ is said to work in us faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable us unto all holy obedience. This is part and parcel of our interest in Him. Our works are not the condition of this blessing but, because we are in Him by faith, Christ works these things in us. It is definitive.

    We can unpack what Christ's mediatorial work looks like a bit more. Remember, these things Christ executes as our mediator in the CoG. We obtain interest in Him by faith:

    Notice, again, what Christ is securing for us definitively by His grace. He is securing our sanctification.

    Don't read anything I'm writing as confusing whether or not our sanctification ultimately rests on us. It is definitively secured by Christ. Chapter 13 of the WCF discusses Sanctification (which, is again, part of what Christ secures for us):

    Note, then, there is no conflict between the idea that Christ secures the blessings of the CoG for the Elect AND that as King and Mediator, one of those many blessings is that we would be sanctified such that the body of sin in us is destroyed more and more. That involves our wills and, as such, Christ works through the means of exhorting us through His Word to be renewed in our minds.
     
  10. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Thanks again very much Rich. I understand then, from what both you and Rev. Winzer say, that this power to sanctify me is effectual -- it involves my effort, but as a 'consequence' not as a condition. I *will* make the effort because I have died and risen in Christ. The power involved in that certainty is more than the power of my own gratitude, which is still my own work (and as such, is really a 'consequence' of Christ's). It is the power that raised Christ from the dead.

    I confess to still having some confusion on the subject but that much being clear is very helpful and is the part I need to know on a daily basis. If I think that if I could only do more, I could have more grace, and if I could only do enough, I could have perfect grace -- that is a terrible bondage; because my own doing, even as you say that which is motivated by gratitude, is my own work -- and that is just never, never, never enough.
     
  11. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    So, if the power at work enabling me to not sin is an active, definitive, divine grace, then what do we make of our failures to resist sin? We wouldn't say that our wills somehow trumped the Spirit's power; how do we describe what's going on? If we say there are times when we love sin more than Christ, isn't God's sanctifying grace supposed to make us love him more, to prevent such division of heart to occur?
     
  12. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor


    See, this is why I need to read/study the Westminster Standards more.
     
  13. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Allan,

    I think there is a difference between being condescending and confrontational. I confronted you because you made sweeping generalizations that were uncharitable. You can PM me if you are interested in further dialog. I don't intend to shame you but you came out of the gates on this thread terribly strong against what you thought others were doing wrong (you even accused me directly of caricature of WSC position). It would be one thing if you came in with a tentative position admitting that you had something to learn (as we all do) but you come with with guns blazing and then you seem shocked that people are telling you that you're being careless with the weapons you are firing off. I am constantly aware of my own failings of being impatient with others and I admit (and repent of) being impatient in my reply to you but PLEASE read what you wrote both initially and in response to my first post and ask yourself if you are presenting yourself as a humble inquirer or are sweeping up a wide swath of people and essentially accusing them of FV or theonomy or other things.

    Grace and Peace,

    Rich
     
  14. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    We make of the failures to sin that God is pleased to make our sanctification in this life imperfect. Christ will fully conquer sin and death when He comes again but, for now, He calls us to obedience and it is the means of exhortation that we obey. It is not God acting for us but us willing and doing by His power. We are not to live by the decree but by what is revealed and we are commanded to resist and to love Him more. He doesn't leave it to theory as to where this fount of grace is found and it isn't found by demanding of God that He explain to us why He isn't doing more to prevent us from sinning if He really is powerful enough to keep us from doing so.
     
  15. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Romans 7:14ff comes immediately to mind. There is something irreconcilable in this experiential conflict between delighting in the law of God and finding another law at work in my members. The hope of deliverance does not come from fleeing the scene of conflict in order to take higher ground (higher life teaching, getting out of Romans 7 into Romans 8); nor is it to be found in giving up and playing dead (as in the pietistic idea of Let go and let God); but in bearing the griefs and burdens of the war and in looking to the great Victor who has promised to bring to completion the triumph which He has initiated -- "thanks be unto God through our Lord Jesus Christ." In other words, accepting the irreconcilable reality is fundamental to the ultimate conquest in which promise becomes experiential reality.
     
  16. steadfast7

    steadfast7 Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks Rich and Rev. Winzer for your insights. It's clearing up for me that the struggle with sin itself, which must have an element of loss, is part and parcel of the very means that God has been pleased to employ in our sanctification.
     
  17. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Reverend Winzer,

    Is there not a sense where we are commanded and warned to be doers of the word that we may abide in the Covenant of Grace also though. Not as though God owed us anything but that we are warned to abide covenantally and faithfully lest we stray. Of course it flows out of Live and Do this but their definitely seems to be a 'Do This and Live' warning also. Not as though it is attached to justification but to our sanctification and walk with God, as dear children who may be disciplined.

     
  18. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

  19. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    From the open letter:
    Who, among the Confessionally reformed, is actually stating the issue this way? The critic created is as fictitious as the character she is writing to.

    I sincerely hope that they don't have William Evans in mind as if his concern can be boiled down to an injunction that people need more rules to live by.

    As I noted earlier, a party-spirit approach to this dialog where concerns are boiled down to talking points that don't resemble the actual concern doesn't help us in what I consider an intramural debate. It paints criticism in the worst possible light as if it is all a choice between legalism and grace. I would hope that we can, as brothers and sisters who claim a Reformed confession, can wrestle together with what each side is emphasizing to see where we agree and where we believe certain emphases are clouding the issue of what the implications of Christ's work has for the believer.

    EDIT: I just realized that this post is before William Evans article so I don't want to be guilty of assigning any motives here that never existed. I also want to add that the Open Letter does contain elements of what Union with Christ by faith produces in terms of love and power to deal with indwelling sin. As I stated before, there is not complete disagreement on these issues but it is sometimes a matter of how people are framing the issue or treating imperatives as if they all belong to Law.
     
  20. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

  21. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    Rich-

    I sent you a PM. I was only hoping to send you a longer response clearing up where you have gravely misinterpreted me and why I thought your response was not helpful but rather destructive. I observe other places where this debate was being had, and I see both sides, regardless of disagreement, giving eachother the benefit of the doubt.

    Here I will briefly respond to your last post since I continue to be misrepresented without being given the respect of being asked if I am even being understood correctly in the first place. I do detect a double standard.

    First of all, Rich, I am not an idiot. I know the difference between confrontation and condescension. Confrontation gets to the point, condescension elevates self over another at the expense of the other's dignity.

    I would like to point out that I was not making sweeping generalizations. I was giving a context for the question I was asking. A question I was asking with the goal of sharpening my understanding. I don't know why you missed that, or didn't bother to ask a follow up question for clarification rather than assume the worst of me. Why couldn't you have stuck to the issues rather than drag in your opinion of my incompetence in your eyes?

    In the article the OP referenced, statements were made that were a misrepresentation of the position being criticized. Subsequent responses on Ref21 also made that observation. A poster earlier in this thread also continued the misrepresentation. If you will notice, in one of my first points to you, I made it clear that you do not make that misrepresentation, but that there are others who do, and you subsequently pointed this out yourself. So it is confusing when you tell me I came in with guns blazing towards a wide group of people and that you agree there are those who caricature each sides position, and then act as if I don't know what i am talking about even when I am agreeing with you and pointing out that I am not referring to you. I believe that if you would have allowed me to clear up your misunderstanding on this initial point, you would not have been so strident and presumptious throughout.

    I was also not given the chance to apologize for any misunderstanding I had of what you were trying to say. At one point I did misread, as you pointed out, one of your statements. I thought you were making a caricature, but then realized that what i thought you were saying was incorrect on my part. We were actually speaking past eachother. I wish I had had the chance to clear that up before the cloud of anger was thrust upon me. Couldn't you have just tried to talk it out with me instead of barking at me?

    I think where you got lost is in regards to two things: you assumed I was not coming in humbly as an inquirer, and you confused that separate part of my post with an attempt to correct, not you, but those who were continuing a caricature that you yourself admitted was inappropriate.

    To say that I am essentially accusing the critics of FV is way off base. Thats a huge leap! Where did I do that, or imply that? I certainly don't think that at all! I was simply pointing out that the criticisms come from certain groups, but i never said that all of these criticisms are the same, or even that those groups were connected.

    I was not making a sweeping generalization, and I did not make an accusation. I was asking for those who do make the caricature to prove it. My point was "how many times does one actually have to say what 'you' are falsely accusing them of not saying, before you will take them at their word that they are actually saying it?" Also, I was speaking from my experience that those are the diverse groups that have had the criticisms of WSC. So I was asking if there were other groups that I didn't mention, and if so, who, so that I could personally try to understand the criticisms from a clearer perspective. I fail to see how giving the perspective that I am coming from is equivalent to having a childish party spirit.

    I think you took some things personal that I never directed at you, in fact I even made that clear, and you assumed too much about what you thought I was saying and too much about what you think you know of me. If you had just tried to talk it out with me instead of condescendingly and presumptiously insult me, then I would have had the chance to apologize for any misunderstanding and also had the chance to clarify all the misunderstandings on your part.

    I think my longer response will help you see this more clearly.

    Thanks.
     
  22. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Ya know. It might be useful to see if we can pull up a list of where some of these statements concerning law and gospel are made. Statements that others do not have much appreciation for such as gospel obedience. I for one seemed to have heard some propagate a gospel / law distinction that is Lutheran and not Reformed. I call it Modern Reformed Thought. I do not believe it is of the Reformed tradition. Also something that has been propagated is that the gospel message is something that is confused and only has to do with a an outward work. I just don't have the energy to do it right now. I have been sick for a few weeks and feel very worn out. Sorry. A lot of what I have picked up was from the Heidelblog which is defunct now and Office Hours interviews with Van Drunnen and Horton. Also their books are great resources for what it is being said.

    RAS,

    Your first post did seem to come across kind of strong and party spirited. We have been discussing this topic for a few years actually. I believe you can view a lot of the exchange that went on between adherents of both thought on this forum.
     
  23. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Which camp do you place me in Allen? I want to see if you know me. Be Careful not to place me in the Theonomist's camp to quickly or any of the other camps. And you must obviously believe all these camps are aberrations to truth. Yeah, you came across a bit strong and party spirited. JMO.
     
  24. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    Brother, I do not place you in any camp. Why would you even ask that? I have stated above that I did not have a party spirit when giving a context from my own experience to give perspective of where I was coming from and to ask a question for my further education. I don't even know you, so why are you testing me to see if I do know you? What is the point? Please explain how your question is not party spirited?

    It is hard to believe, that people who keep giving me this interpretation of what I said, are giving me the benefit of the doubt and are reading closely, when they aren't even paying attention to a small detail such as consistently spelling my name wrong.

    I can't keep explaining myself if nobody is willing to give me the benefit of the doubt when I do so. Thats a stacked deck that makes me look like I can't admit fault even though I have admitted fault at certain points. On top of explaining myself here again, I have read my first post over and over Randy, and it is curious that my opening statement is passed over where I try to make clear that I am not asking out of provocation but rather genuinely. Why are people trying to read my motives despite my explanation of what I meant, and on top of the fact that I admitted I may not have articulated as well as I intended? When am i going to be forgiven for being an imperfect articulator? When I admit what everyone seems to want to hear; that I had bad motives? Where is the grace and mercy for a fellow brother in Christ?

    I am not going to be baited anymore. It is clear that an apology, an explanation, or whatever else is never going to be good enough. I have admitted my faults. I keep hoping to be able to come back to this thread and speak to the topic, but whether I assert my opinion or defend myself, I have a stecked deck against me either way.

    Sorry again everyone, for my part in this thread.

    Psalm 18:14
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2011
  25. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Strawman it is. With the exception of genuine moralists and legalists I don't know who actually states the issue this way, even among those who are not confessionally Reformed.

    Because Elyse Fitzpatrick is a Biblical Counselor and because so much of this debate has played out in various intramural debates in the Biblical Counseling field over the years, my guess is that the target is Jay Adams and those who tend to agree with his approach. It is an approach that is often derided as "behaviorism" by the "grace based" and "Gospel centered" folks.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011
  26. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Allan,

    I am asking you because I am one who disagrees with some of the stuff and people you name. And since I disagree with them on these issues I might land in one of those camps you name. I just wanted to know which one you might have thought it was. I also know that a lot of these things have been answered in past threads. I believe you have even been involved in some of those discussions. So I find it quite odd that you are asking for clarification. I am not sure why you desire the clarification in light of your participation. Are the past discussions just bleating air? This issue seems to be tied together with many discussions concerning what the gospel is, the law / gospel dichotomy discussion, and the radical two kingdom thought. They seem to have a fountainhead of where they are mostly coming from. This isn't anything hid under a bushel.

    I have some disagreement with some of the things I have heard concerning what the Gospel is because I think I see some dangers. Does my disagreement lend me to party spirit? Maybe. BTW, I work with people on both sides of this issue. So I wouldn't really liken myself to have a party spirit.

    I agree with Rich here.
    I don't believe a deck is stacked against you. I do know you have interacted on this subject here before and all you have to do is go back and check out what both sides have said. There are distinct things being said. Especially in the books, blogs, and comments. The disagreements aren't over nothing.

    Edit....
    Sorry Allan, I am getting things mixed up. My comment about stupid was wrong. I do believe Rich was very good at explaining to you what is going on in his first and second response. I am not sure if he is being condescending or confrontational. I do believe it is a situation of confrontation though. Sorry for my comment on your idiot remark. But I don't believe Rich is being condescending. I know he wants you to understand. I think it would be better if you and I both took some time to listen a bit better. This is not an easy topic but you have participated in it before. The blog that this OP is referencing is somewhat of a proof that things are being said and either they are being understood correctly or they aren't. It evidently is a topic worth understanding and working your way through. I do not think the critics are unsophisticated nor are they just willy nilly nit picking. They are coming from some good seminary backgrounds.

    http://katekomen.gpts.edu/2011/01/klhortonian-theology-and-mosaic.html

    http://www.kerux.com/pdf/Kerux.24.03.pdf

    D
    r. C. P. Venema did a good article also in the Mid America Journal.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011
  27. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Thus, I'm accused of elevating myself at the expense of your dignity Allan. I'm saddened that this is the main thing you take from my remarks. I hope others can see more to it than that but I am grieved that this is all you read in it. My stated intent remains but I will endeavor to express myself better in the future.
     
  28. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Thanks for that link.

    From A Question of Balance? Some Final Comments on Sanctification and the Role of the Law - Reformation21 Blog, William Evans notes:
    He articulated well how the "Gospel=indicative" or "Gospel as justification" emphasis actually ends up muting aspects of our confession where it is nearly impossible to reconcile WCF 19.6 with some of the statements that the Law can
    As I was going to bed last night I was reading this article and it dawned on me why the issue saddens me at a certain level. On the one hand, I appreciate the motivation that some have to guard against any sense that we are accepted by our works or stumbling into legalism. There is also the danger that our theology is guided by an obsession with guarding against antinomianism.

    I think the problem is that when you boil the Law/Gospel distinction between types of words (imperative or indicative) then when one insists that it is only the Gospel that brings life, then we're sort of stepping away from the fact that it is not the ideas presented in the Gospel about what Christ has done but that it is Christ Himself that brings life and impels us. You see, I don't have a problem with the idea that the Gospel brings life and the motivation and power to view the Law anew but my understanding of the Gospel (from the Confessions) is not insisting that the Gospel is simply limited to the indicatives about what Christ has accomplished. It has a richness to it that includes all the graces that flow from Christ's mediatorial work as our Covenant head.

    Thus, when Sean gets to 19.6 in his rejoinder, there seems to be an inability to see how the laws threatenings could be an evangelical motivation for obedience. If I'm tempted to cheat on my taxes, for instance, what if one of my motivations is that I might lose my clearance and my job and, therefore my house, and imperil my family by financial ruin? Christians are motivated by these "threats" all the time. The consequences of behavior motivate them not to sin at times. Owen, in his book on Sin and Temptation has an extended section on how these (among many different kinds of motivations) are of the Lord and impel us to resist temptation.

    You just don't ever hear those kinds of motivations emphasized any more. If the Gospel is abstracted from our union with Christ by limiting it to the discussion of whether we're commanded to do it or whether Christ did it then the only thing we could ever say motivates or impels us is reflecting on what Christ has done. Where would the fear of the Law's threats fit in such a schema? Would our fear of the temporal consequences (broken relationships, lost jobs) that motivate us to obey at times be a sign of our faithlessness? Should we learn to never think in such categories because they are not born out of the Gospel's power (again limited to statements about what Christ has done)?

    This is sad to me and actually extremely bothersome. I agree with Sean Lucas that here is an example where these emphases are not merely minor but play out in very consequential ways. Where the WCF tells us of the blessings that the laws threats and commands are to us, the emphasis mutes these and causes the believer to doubt whether such motivations are even appropriate or may belong to a slave mentality. Where God, as our Father, has blessed us in the moment with an internal fear of the temporal consequences, we don't thank Him for the providence of keeping us from sinning but instead attribute the motivation to our carnality and the need to mature beyond the fear of temporal consequences. Where I see a multi-faceted and rich appreciation of the implications of our union with Christ in our battle against temptation in the works of Owen and in our Confessions, I see a laser like focus on a few facets at the expense of the others. When is the last time you've been exhorted to thank God for the sanctifying power of the Law?
     
  29. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    Well said Rich.
     
  30. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Amen rich!
     
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