Sunday, September 13, 2009

A "Panic Button" on Sin?!?!

I'm down in Bristol this weekend visiting the family and as is usual for a Sunday morning they are out at church while I do the Sunday roast. I was thinking last night actually I should find a good church to attend nearby because I do miss the chance of being in awesome worship and preaching even on a weekend away. Anyway that's an aside. As usual I have had some excellent conversations with my mum and dad. I love them so much for being prepared to listen to their oldest son's latest theological rantings and ramblings!

We got onto talking about the mutilation of limbs as a possible sin deterrent! Dad and I talked through the implications of taking this verse as seriously as some church pastors seem to have us go and he himself said that it's interesting you don't see many church leaders hobbling around with no legs or no arms or eyeless! What then does this verse mean? We talked through the question is there still a responsibility on us (despite the glory of the Cross) to take some radical action to try and stop sinning.

For example Dad proposed that the prostitute who was dragged to Jesus and touched by His grace would have been so scared by the almost-stoning she received that she would have stopped being a prostitute because of that. I respectfully disagreed. I feel strongly that as a Jewess she would have known that she was under threat of the death penalty daily for her actions. If anything she would have felt that what happened that day could have given her a free pass to carry on sinning. "Anyone without sin throw the first stone, He said! Hands off me! You aren't without sin so I can do what I like!". But I don't believe that from that day on she ever was involved in prostitution again. Why? Because Jesus touched her with grace and said "Go and sin no more".

Was that statement an angry command; "I've saved your ass this time - don't do it again you slutty woman?". Not at all. I believe that in that statement there was an empowerment from on high conducting the awesome radically life-transforming glory of grace to her. Once you have seen the tender, loving, intimate eyes of Jesus Christ and heard Him say to you; "Sin no more". Then you won't want to sin! It will be the furthest thing from your mind! Surely that account in the New Testament is the embodiment of "Walk in the Spirit and you will NOT fulfill the lusts of the flesh".

But that question of my Dad's - "Shouldn't we still be doing something radical ourselves to stop sinning?" stuck with me. And it was brought home this morning because I logged on to check my mails and was informed that I was being watched by something called "Covenant Eyes". Intrigued I investigated further and found out exactly was watching my every move. There was something called a "Panic Button" that I pressed (I've never been able to resist investigating interesting things"). I was informed that unless I cancelled the operation within 10 seconds then all internet activity would be cut off and I would have to ring a US number to get reconnected! I thought it would be quite funny to let that happen but cancelled it anyway.

Clearly "Covenant Eyes" is a spy-ware programme that can be installed to monitor activity and hopefully end looking at inappropriate websites such as pornography. I can't quite figure out though who decides what is "inappropriate" and where the line is drawn. And what is more interesting is the disagreements and comments from mainly men - some who have found this programme helpful to curb their activities - and others who feel it is an intrusion. Here's one comment;

"Covenant Eyes has been so helpful to me. the only ones who do not want it up are those who are enslaved to porn and the devil. Repent from adultery and sex outside of marraige or you will end up in the lake of fire. Turn to jesus for salvation and he will enliven your spirit and cause you to hate the sin you once loved and love the righteousness you once hated. He can do it for you, and programs like covenant eyes can help in your battle against sin".

Sounds pretty similar to this guy who calls Ellen Degeneres a sexual pervert doesn't it?

Another guy I read was vigorously defending this programme and said this;

"I pay for my wife to receive a full report of anything that I see on the internet. Not only does it keep me from visiting trashy sites, it gives her the psychological benefit of knowing that I don't. That is not weird ... I choose to give my wife certain information".

Well - sorry but that does seem a trifle weird to me. This man pays a considerable amount per year to send a report to his wife who lives in the same house - why can't he simply tell her verbally? "I choose to give my wife certain information". Why doesn't he "choose" to simply show her the "history" page? And I know - "history" pages can be wiped. But if he can "choose" to send this report whether he likes it or not then why can't he make the choice to not wipe the history or make the choice to tell her what he has done? I think this man doesn't want to stop looking at pornography and the only way he can make this "choice" is to remove the choice of telling her or not.

So what do I think? Am I saying pornography is okay? No - of course I am not. I spent most of my university years bound up with it. What I am thinking through is whether "Covenant Eyes" is really the best way to go about dealing radically with this form of sinful activity. Having spent four years having a love-hate relationship with pornography - AND having tried every form of radical activity I could think of, I think that;

"Covenant Eyes" is only as good as your desire NOT to look at pornography and the support of the appointed "accountability partner".

If you have any internet experience at all then it won't be hard to skip round some of the filters set up or even disable it. A simple "Google" search showed that some people have already developed downloadable programmes that can wipe any such spy-ware programme off their computers without the "accountability partner" even knowing it.

Or even if pornography on the internet is taken away from the person through this "programme" - then there are still the age-old magazines that can be brought or the X-rated telephone calls that can be made. Or even the clothing catalogues that so many teenage boys resort to. There will always be the temptation of pornography with us. Do I applaud the desire to stop that? Yes. Do I think there's a much cheaper and more effective way to do it? YES!
"WALK IN THE SPIRIT AND YOU WILL NOT FULFILL THE LUSTS OF THE FLESH".

It doesn't say "you may not" or "you will find it easier not to". It says "YOU WILL NOT". Enoch is one of my favourite Bible characters mainly because he demonstrates "walking with God". And suddenly he walked with God and he "was not". Would anyone think he was tempted to lust or use pornography? I highly doubt it - there's not a hope if you are walking with God constantly. Let me say again - I applaud the battle against sinful practices. I really do. But there is a BETTER way!

Stop writing books on lust Joshua Harris. Start preaching on "how to walk in the Spirit". Start demonstrating a life of walking in God encounters and in the Spirit. It's far more than simply "tongues and prophecy" as sadly so many so-called "charismatic" churches have reduced it to. It's all about the Presence and the glory of God! When the Presence and glory of God falls upon you as a person - sin is the furthest thing from your mind. I know something about that too. Not enough sadly - which is why I still sin. But I've tasted it in Hong Kong and other times in my life!

Learn how to walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Sorry. But that's Scripture - the Word of God. And it's that simple. And it's that easy! So let's get learning what it is to walk in the Spirit and how to do it - and all these books, CD's and computer programmes will be redundant!

24 comments:

lydia said...

.........good one!!


'where there is no law, there is no awareness of sin'.
Who wants to live with an awareness of that - shouldn't we be SO free from sin that we don't even need 'accountability' because Jesus has truly set us free. What are we saying when we supposedly have gotten free like the one man,but yet still need things like Covenant Eyes in place. I think people do not trust the power of Christ in them! (how could they when they are so consumed with laws, rules and regulations which smother true love and relationship!)
Was Jesus worried about the woman's sin when the Pharisees brought her before him? Was he worried about it after, did he say 'go get some accountability lady you're gonna need it? NO!! He looked beyond all of that and loved her, not to mention he did not condemn her. The very Son of God did not condemn a prostitute!!! I bet you that set her free in a mighty way!!!

(......and by the way, where were the men she was involved with, why didn't the dang Pharisees drag them along too!!! )

lydia said...

okay, a few more thoughts.......when we as Christians are only focus on growing, or maturing and learning not to sin - we are missing the WHOLE dang point!
Jesus dealt with our sins, and sin natures at the cross, we died with Him on that cross and were raised up in newness of life! We contain HIS LIFE!! We can never be apart from His presence!! How about we focus on HIS LIFE in us (which is what walking by the spirit is) and stop looking at ourselves and the fact that we will sin from time to time.
Does the church at large truly know who they really are thanks to the finished work??????? Or are we still trying to eat from the tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil??

Dan Bowen said...

Interesting point Lydia!!

I don't "do" pornography anymore. It just doesn't do it for me! But I must admit once I was aware of this computer software "watching me" - I must admit I found myself wondering whether there were certain sites it would flag up or block. And would I get away with it!

Law stirs up sin!!

Dan Bowen said...

I've just seen this quote of Terry Virgo's. I love the simplicity of it.

"But you need not fall. You have the power to overcome this enemy".

You don't need to spend thousands on sypware programmes and hours in accountability bullying groups and strategies to "not" fall. Grace teaches us to say "No!" to sin!

We just simply need not fall! We have the POWER to overcome this!

lydia said...

True Dan.......but here's what I wonder, what if life isn't about whether we sin or don't sin, have victory or failure, but instead our life is about something much greater!! What if instead of defending grace to other christians (namely legalistic ones) we told them about the union life we now have in Christ, and how God created us because he wanted us so he could express his love and share relationship, what if what really matters is that we enter into that love circle started by the Trinity and inherit WAY more than we could ever know or contain and that then would overflow onto others and so on and so forth...............

Just thinking out loud here, cause I really don't think life in grace is about proving whether or not we can succeed in life, by grace of course - oh it is a byproduct absoulutely - I just think this life in Christ is way more wonderful than most christians know or have tapped into............why aren't we all reveling in it, rather than fussing around with worry that we will slip up here and there?!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

There seems to be a horrible middle realm...which actually isn't a middle realm. This follows on from what Lydia was saying.You know when you put a plug into an old socket and it's not quite in. You know you plugged it in, but nothing's happening. You go back, and sure enough it's not quite in!
So you tap it in further and there it is...light, or radio, or hoover or whatever! Now works....

Well isn't it interesting that Paul says in Romans 8:6 "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires."
If we are just thinking sin or not sin, or sin and good works...we still don't really cut it. You know, porn or not porn. When to set the mind on what the Spirit desires is so much more than not sinning. It would be like Noah spending all his time battling porn on Babylon tablets or something...when his calling was to build something that had never been built, for a calamity of the type that had never even happened before(I mean what's rain when it's at home)with blueprints that could never be tested out first, with materials they didn't own, but had to go and cut down, and all of a size that was simply giant!!!
And actually we are in something similar. As much as God wants to deliver me from lust during my Christian walk...He actually didn't whisper much about that...most of what He has said to me is stuff like...
Believe for a boat(that is Church) that no one has ever seen before, no one has a clue how to build, on a scale that is worldwide, sufficient to save an innumerable quantity of people, with a blueprint that nobody else is using (3rd level) ready for calamities that have never happened yet in the whole of human history. These were literally the sort of prophecies we were getting in Grimsdells Lane Amersham around 1973-5. Perhaps not those exact words...it was fuzzier then. So we are saved then, yes by the work of Jesus, but day to day by getting caught up with the Holy Spirit's largescale projects. He doesn't seem to understand the word little - except perhaps in the context of something like an acorn, which begins little, but has all what is contained within it to grow unimaginably stupidly BIG.

Luke said...

Hello Dan,

I am the Internet Community Manager for Covenant Eyes and I just wanted to say that I am in complete agreement with your comment: “Covenant Eyes is only as good as your desire NOT to look at pornography and the support of the appointed accountability partner.” Well said. This is exactly right. Covenant Eyes was designed for those willing to be held accountable.

I completely agree with your emphasis on Galatians 5:16, the call to walk in the Spirit. I just wrote a post on this very concept. You can find this on the Covenant Eyes blog:

http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2009/07/07/how-holy-lust-trumps-unholy-lust/

However, Covenant Eyes is not a spyware program. You can read about the differences between accountability software and spyware, written by my friend and co-worker:

http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2008/04/30/accountability-software-vs-spyware-what-is-the-difference/

I feel your thoughts about sending Internet-use reports to one's wife deserve comment. For many people, surfing the Internet in isolation (all alone or secretively) is a sinful ritual that leads perpetually to more sinful actions and thoughts. For many men and women, this ritual of anonymous Internet use is the place where sinful desire is conceived (James 1:15), thus leading to more sin. When the anonymity is taken away, this eliminates the ritual. Thus, for many men Covenant Eyes isn't something that comes in handy only when they've sinned and want to confess; it is something they have put in place to prevent the ritualization of private Internet use, which for them is a sin they desire to repent of and avoid.

Eliminating the desire to sin is an act of the Spirit within us. In the Spirit's power, we clothe ourselves in the Lord Jesus. All the while we are to give no opportunity to the flesh (Romans 13:14). For many men and women, Covenant Eyes is one of the ways they give the flesh no opportunity.

Luke said...

Lydia,

You asked, "What are we saying when we supposedly have gotten free . . . but yet still need things like Covenant Eyes in place."

In one sense I agree. Some might easily use certain means to avoid temptation in legalistic ways, in ways that don't trust Christ for His redeeming power. It is Colossians 2:21 all over again.

In another sense, many use Covenant Eyes out of sense of obedience, not legalism. They trust Christ to transform them from the inside out, but want to avoid any sense of pride that assumes they are above temptation. Covenant Eyes serves as a continual reminder that as long as they live in this age, they are surrounded by temptations from without and the tendency to rebellion (Romans 7:21).

Of course God transforms us. Paul wrote extensively on that. He reminded the Corinthians they had been washed and renewed by the Spirit, even in their sexual practices (1 Corinthians 6:11). But right after this he counsels them to have a sober view of their new found freedom, to not use it to engage in unbeneficial, habit-forming, or world-centered activities (v.12-13). He tells them to flee sexual immorality in light of the cross (v.18). For many men and women, Covenant Eyes is one of the ways they flee.

Dan Bowen said...

Hi Luke,

Many thanks for your gracious comments. I trust my meandering thoughts in no-way imply a criticism of your radical desire to help (especially) men with this issue on the internet.

I think the one thing we can ALL agree on is that the issue of pornography is a problem, and that it should and can be dealt with.

Our only disagreements may be on method I suspect.

You mention in your last comment about Paul telling the Corinthians to "flee". Indeed he did. But I would suggest that the context of the book was the apostle speaking to a church that had indeed taken grace to excess. They were living in license believing that how they lived didn't matter.

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones once questioned if many churches, if any, would be in that position today!

I suspect that there are very few Christian men around who are boldly claiming it doesn't matter what images they look at on the internet. Those that are stating such things probably won't be reading such blogs as ours!

The majority of men dealing with pornography feel trapped by such desires. And that is where the glory of the gospel comes in! Grace teaches them to say "no" to sin. They don't need panic buttons if they understand grace truly. Or they shouldn't need panic buttons!

For if someone is truly consumed with the wonder and majesty of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross and the resulting glory of fellowship and intimacy with God in freedom and without guilt, then what joy or satisfaction would a few images of naked or semi-clothed men or women bring compared to that!?!!??!

As John Piper says - such truth would cause them to "dance" away from such temptation and into the arms of their wives.

Luke said...

Dan,

You and I certainly on the same page in regard to theology on this matter. I completely believe the gospel empowers us to "dance" away from temptation. I full agree that the gospel liberates us from the dominating power of sin.

For many men who start using Covenant Eyes, they are only beginning to come to terms with how the gospel should liberate them from their addictions. They are growing in grace. Getting CE is a decisive action, in a series of decisive actions, to flee from flagrant sin in their lives. Over time, amidst a longer-term sobriety, they begin to turn the gem of the gospel to see how its light reflects and refracts, experiencing more of the liberation the gospel promises. In these early stages of freedom the liberation CE offers is merely Galatians 6:1-2 and James 5:16 in action.

You are correct: shouldn't the Lord be our "panic button"? Should we flee to Him amidst temptation? Yes. The man who's always hitting his CE panic button and never turning to the the grace that trains him to say 'no' is not growing in grace.

But over time a man's relationship with the software changes. Some men might get rid of the software after a season. However, many keep it on their computers as one more tool in their relational tool belt, as one more help in their relationships in the body of Christ as they live out the "one anothers" of Scripture. They genuinely believe Christ has set them free and experience a daily, rock-steady freedom. But they have also come to find the wisdom in having others in their life who will ask them the hard questions, who are there as means of grace to help spot sin they don't even see.

David Powlison mentions this in his chapter in Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, "Making All Things New: Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken" (p.65-106). He writes on page 97:

"Lots of people have broken with pornography and never gone back. You learn the joys of righteousness, the deeper pleasures of a clear conscience and honest relationships. You learn to say no to yourself. You get more interested in good things. You care about people, and sin just doesn’t have as much room to insinuate itself into your heart. Some practical tools can help, too. A friend who will look you in the eye, ask a direct question, and expect an honest answer can help you. You can set up Covenant Eyes software (www.covenanteyes.com) to monitor your Internet use and email a report to a friend."

Overall, I agree with what you are saying. I believe Christ set us free by the power of the Spirit, but I also believe the progressive sanctification the Spirit brings about, in part, happens in the context of the church, His temple. Thus, if many find CE useful in maintaining and growing their relationships in the body of Christ in this technological age, then we are happy to provide that service.

lydia said...

Hi Luke,

I appreciate what you shared here and I have a myriad of thoughts in response as well as on this topic in general - so I hope you don't mind my lengthy reply.

First of all I simply cannot state strongly enough that true freedom will not come unless we are taught who we really are in Christ and that we are dead to sin, and dead to the law. I am not opposed necessarily to things such as Covenant Eyes per se, but I can't stress enough how such 'disciplines' as these will not truly transform or even prove helpful truly unless a man knows who he really is.
You see much of the church world believes that they are still rotten to the core, which of course is not true. They are dead to sin and alive to Christ! They can trust HIS life within them. Temptations will come absolutely,(even Christ was tempted) but Christ is our victory over every temptation. I am not sure what you mean about the 'sense of pride' that we are above temptation. I think we can have a confidence in Christ knowing we can choose to get our flesh out of the way and let him live through us. And even if we do slip up, not be condemned,but know His grace is sufficient. Why can't we instead say our confidence is in him? And even when we don't see the actions line up, rest in His all surpassing transforming power.
I have seen Covenant Eyes used as a bandaid for deep issues that never got addressed simply because the issue for many is believing the truth and letting it set them free. Why not preach the Gospel all the more boldy? Why not tell folks to go read Ephesians and find out who they really are?
I am not sure that knowing that someone is watching my internet activity, albeit that I have agreed to allow this (simply cause that is how it is set up) would prove to grant me true freedom. I'd say I would avoid temptation due to being humiliated or out of fear. God is not pointing out our faults so why do we focus on our behaviour and actions, when God sees the heart??

Anyway, I have a billion and one other thoughts on this topic as a whole, not sure if this is the time and place to unload them though. Thanks for listening!!

lydia said...

okay a few more thoughts..........may I add that when God sees our hearts now, he sees them as He sees Christ, perfect!! As He is so are we in this world!! Do we believe this??? We have the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We do not have a sin problem, because Christ obliterated sin at the Cross! Dealt with it once and for all! If we are having such sin struggles it's not because we need to be fixed or changed - we were completely made new. The problem lies between our ears - what do we really believe about ourselves? It's like the slaves who were freed did not all accept their freedom right away alot of them stayed on as slaves. We are no longer slaves to sin,but to righteousness. We do not need a tool belt armed with a 'means of grace' - we are clothed with Christ! Is he not enough?? I don't want a 'means of grace' I want the person who is grace - Jesus! Only he can live through me a life worthy of the Gospel! I choose to believe in these truths of who I am and the more I do, the more I act like who I believe I am!!!!!
Why do we overcomplicate the freedom we have in Him? Why do we think we need to help God along? Are we not trusting that He is enough?? If you want to be obedient, then believe this truth and trust God? His truth dictates, not our circumstances or anything else............

lydia said...

here is a quote that sums up my thoughts from above, talking about overcoming sin, my dear friend Jamie nailed it when she said;

'we are given the power to overcome only in as much as we trust Christ's overcoming'

Jamie said...

Did I say THAT?!? Dang. That must da been the Spirit talking. :)

Great post, Dan. Always a pleasure.

Luke said...

Dan and Lydia,

I completely agree that freedom is found in Christ alone, that knowing who we are in Christ sets us free from the law of sin. Much of the church does believe so strongly in the strength of sin we negate the freedom of the gospel.

I take issue with the idea that we “do not have a sin problem.” Don't get me wrong: I fully believe I am a new creation in Christ, but I still await for my full adoption, I groan inwardly for it, I await eagerly my final resurrection when I will be made like Him. Complete newness, body and soul, awaits me. I do not have it now. No one does. Of course knowing our new identity is crucial to freedom in the here and now. Paul deals squarely with this in Romans 6-8 and Ephesians 1-3.

Dan, you asked, “Why not preach the Gospel all the more boldly? Why not tell folks to go read Ephesians and find out who they really are?” This is exactly what we do on our blog at Covenant Eyes. I encourage you to look through all the gospel-centered resources we provide there. We hope to equip and encourage the church to do march forward as God's people, living in holiness. For instance I just did a book review for When Good Men Are Tempted, by Bill Perkins, all about how a new identity in Christ sets us free. Ironically, men like Bill, nor biblical counselors like David Powlison, think using Covenant Eyes is a denial of our freedom or our new identity. It sounds like you don't necessarily either, as long as CE isn't a bandaid to cover the core issues. I would totally agree.

Lydia, I know what you mean when you say you don't want a means of grace, you want the person who is grace. However, the person of grace, Jesus Christ, has always used means to facilitate our sanctification: the word of God and the people of God are tools in the Spirit's hands. A disciplined understanding of and meditation on the Word in rich discipleship-community is what God commands for our growth in grace. It is in the context of a Scripture-entrenched church we learn who we are in Christ.

I'm not trying to be argumentative for the sake of feeling right. I just don't like it to see Christians develop a wrong attitude of Jesus-and-me-ism. In our highly individualized age it is easy for us to believe all we need is the Spirit of Christ in us, and ignore the teachings about the Spirit of Christ among us (i.e. his church).

I too have many thoughts on this, but perhaps this isn't the best place for discussion on these thing.

jul said...

Wow, interesting discussion. As many of you know, this is an issue I have dealt with in my own marriage, not through my personal struggle with porn, but my husband's struggle with it (as part of a greater obsessive struggle with lust). He did all the accountability stuff, including special software that was designed to track his internet use and notify me by email. I don't wish to say anything negative about Covenant Eyes specifically, it's obviously providing a service that people want to use, so great!

In our personal experience, none of that stuff worked. That's because law doesn't work to change us and the idea of accountability is law based. The law holds us accountable for our sin, it 'counts' our sins, adds them up, distributes appropriate punishment for them. But in the New Covenant we are not longer accountable for our sin because Jesus settled our sin accounts on our behalf, bearing every punishment and curse, wiping our sin record clean and depositing perfect righteousness into our account as a completely free gift. Anyone who does not learn to reckon themselves alive to Christ and dead to sin through understanding the full gospel of grace will continue to live to varying degrees under law which will continually provoke and empower sin.

Part of the Powlison quote Luke mentions highlights a lack of understandig of the new covenant gospel...

" You learn the joys of righteousness, the deeper pleasures of a clear conscience and honest relationships."

This quote implies that righteousness and a clear conscience depend on our overcoming sin, sinning less. That is a lie. Not saying Powlison is trying to lie! He shows a very common misunderstanding of new covenant righteousness, he is talking about old covenant righteousness that is dependent on our obedience. Our righteousness is NOT dependent on our performance AT ALL. Our clear conscience is NOT dependent on our performance AT ALL. Our righteousness is dependent only on the obedience of the one man Jesus, and our clear conscience comes by way of his shed blood, ane is neve gained or maintained through our behaviour or work or effort in any way.

Once a man (or anyone) truly begins to believe this, that even in the middle of their sin they are perfectly righteous throught the free gift of God's grace and there is not guilt, fear, shame, or condemnation for them then they will begin to walk in true freedom. Freedom that says, yes, I can look at this if I want, but if I don't want to I don't have to. Don't be shocked by that statement! Do you honestly know of any Christian man who WANTS to be bondage to porn or sexual sin??????? This point is proven by the fact that a program like Covenant Eyes is so wanted and used!

As I've said many many times before, the first time my response to one of my husband's confessions of 'failing' once again in regards to porn was "Don't you dare give in to condemnation for one second!!!" it made such a difference in his life. For the first time we both got it! There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Jesus Christ!!! Not "there is not condemnation for those who don't sin". Sin has been dealt with once and for all, the only enemy left for Jesus to deal with when he returns is death. That's Bible...

Sorry for the long rant, you knew I'd have something to say here hehe.

Jamie said...

Oh, I'm a lazy dawg...ditto, Juls!!!!!!!! ;P

With this added: Luke sounds sooooo persuasive, so wise, so good intentioned. He, also, sounds dependent on FLESH. I'm sorry, the power of our flesh is not our strength, no matter how well-intentioned. Our death and Christ's life in us is what we can rest & depend on to KEEP us. We do not keep ourselves. We have a NEW GARDENER in the garden; He is a PERFECT HUSBAND. He keeps us. We DO NOT husband ourselves. Grace doesn't need our little bit extra.

Dan Bowen said...

Hi Luke,

I am finding this conversation really helpful and stimulating - and don't really want to interupt other than to say - the context of this blog (bearing in mind you have just come across me!) is that I do feel this is a place for discussion.

I know much of the Christian church doesn't like or appreciate discussion of issues like pornography. Certainly not to have men confess it's an issue!

So please be assured that coming from someone who used to struggle with pornography (a LOT!) - I feel I have a lot vested in this discussion. So please - discuss away!

One practical question, I'm intrigued with.

If say I was struggling with a temptation to pornography on my computer and I had "Covenant Eyes" installed and pressed the "Panic Button" - then rang the number to reconnect my internet .... what would the person on the other hand (one of your employees I'm guessing?) ask?

Would there be any awkward questions I would have to answer?

Jamie said...

Been thinking...here it is...good flesh or bad flesh...is still FLESH...dependence on flesh is SIN! How ironic. This "helpful" THING is SIN. That tree in the garden had TWO sides: GOOD & EVIL. Unless you're eating fron the OTHER TREE: CHRIST, you are sinning. God has FORGIVEN that, no issue there, but to TEACH Christians to look at their walk instead of Christ is just dad-blamed WRONG! Unbelief is sin. Are you saying that the life of Christ CANNOT PRODUCE righteous behavior, Luke? That His lfe needs our help? More than just our belief?

janelle said...

Dan, you are so right when you say that it is as simple as saying "no." I think most Christians, however, don't find it that easy. Certainly you know how that is, and I DEFINITELY do. I think essentially what CE does is offer a way of honesty...because the husband can lie to his wife about his activity, but will find it harder to do so if he is held accountable. Like Luke was saying, its only a tool. Its not THE way to avoid porn. To ultimately avoid it you must resolve NOT to by the power of the SPIRIT. That is the only way we say no to sin.

We can't underestimate the importance of accountability. It's an essential part of the Christian life; its not THE way we say no to sin, but it keeps us honest and humble where our tendency is to conceal.

Oh, FYI, I don't use CE. We used to as a family, but it really does seem to be more a useful tool for those who actually do struggle with porn. On the other hand, I've known people who it worked for, at least in the sense that it was a major deterrent.

Luke said...

@jul

Perhaps I'm reading Powlison wrong here, but when he says, “You learn the joys of righteousness, the deeper pleasures of a clear conscience and honest relationships,” I'm taking him to mean we “enjoy” our life in Christ the more we are progressively sanctified, not that we must sin less to be cleansed and forgiven. That's why he uses the word “joy.” We might have the Spirit within, but we don't often experience consciously the joy He brings. We experience instead His hand of conviction, a conviction beckoning us to repent and run toward the joy of knowing and savoring Christ. We don't need to make ourselves clean in order to experience the joy of forgiveness, but we do experience ever-deepening joy as we are sanctified by His Spirit.

It's like Jesus stated to His disciples in the upper room: When He would appear to them after He rose again, their grief would be turned to joy, and it would be a joy no one could take away. All the same he commanded them to pray in His name to make their joy “complete” as they experienced the answered prayers resulting from their new covenant relationship with the Father (John 16:16-24).

Sinning less does bring more joy, because implied in sinning less is a more conscious awareness of the love and benefits of Christ.

@Jamie,

I'm failing to see where I've said Christ cannot produce righteousness behavior. Can you clarify? I'm merely saying Christ uses means like the Word and the church (not to mention other things) to sanctify us. Please share with me from the Word of God why you believe Christ doesn't use these means. I'm just trying to understand the nature of your objection.

@Dan,

Good question. When a CE Member calls to have his Internet turned back on, our customer service reps are quite professional. No personal questions are ever asked. It only becomes personal if the Member offers personal information. Even then we try not to play the role of counselors. That would be unwise our our part. People use the panic button for other reasons other than a mode of “panic.” Some use it when they are going to be away from their computers for a while and want to block others from using it.

Jamie said...

>We experience instead His hand of conviction, a conviction beckoning us to repent and run toward the joy of knowing and savoring Christ.

Excuse me???

When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

Uhhhh, Christians are convicted of righteousness, not sin. And God doesn't need the Church doing what He isn't.

RE: Your Question

Ummmm, no, God used the cross to sanctify us. We are sanctified by being indwelled by Christ, not by our PERFORMANCE!

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Luke said...

@Lydia

The verse you just quoted regarding conviction (John 16) said the Spirit convicts of righteousness, yes, but also "sin" and "judgment." The same Greek word (elegchō) is used multiple times in the Bible to speak about the reproving sin (Luke 3:19; Ephesians 5:11; Titus 1:13). I fail to see what you are talking about when it comes to conviction.

Yes, of course the cross sanctifies us (Hebrews 10:10), but God uses other means to bring about progressive sanctification:
1. His Word of truth (John 17:17; Ephesians 5:26)
2. Faith (Acts 26:18)
3. The Spirit (Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11)
4. A Christian spouse (1 Corinthians 7:14)
All of these examples use the same word. Again, I really don't know where you are getting your ideas from.

lydia said...

Luke,
I think you meant to direct that @ Jamie :) But anyway, the verse she quoted, the Holy Spirit convicts the WORLD of sin (not the believer), once you have been convicted in that way and come to Christ, the Holy Spirit will ONLY convict you of the gift of righteousness!!!
As for the sanctification issue, it's all of grace, the more we see Christ the more we see our own identity, the more we are confident Sons that walk like Sons! It's from the inside out, not the outside in. And it's Christ in you the hope of glory! It's a salvation based on faith (believing in the finished work) from first to last. It starts by grace and finishes that way.
Yes God uses all things together to work for HIs good - but if we seperate out sanctification as a process and try to figure out all these 'means' well have fun with that - I happen to believe Jesus when he answered the disciples question, what must one do, to do the works of God? BELIEVE IN THE ONE WHOM HE SENT!!!
Peace to you!!!