DON’T Let Sleeping Dogs Lie-Part 6: “The Devil Made Me Do It!”
Welcome marathoners in and for Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 4:7) Exhausted, depleted from running the Godly, good, and being-a-blessing-to-others race? Welcome. Sit. Relax. Let’s feast.
Feast of the Heart exists to help bring about Christ-centered “reformation, revival, and constructive revolution” (Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City) so that God will be glorified and people blessed.
Reformation… we seek to abide by and serve up the true truth, pure doctrine of the Bible
Revival… we seek to model biblical Christians living in word and deed
Constructive Revolution… we seek to spread the true gospel right where God has planted us with urgency, compassion, and radical self-abandonment
Series Preface: If You’ve Not Yet, Please Take a Moment to Remember the Context of “DON’T Let Sleeping Dogs Lie”
[In part, “The Proverbial saying, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” means we should avoid interfering in a situation that is currently causing no problems—but might do so as a result of “interfering”, speaking up, shedding light, judging between right and wrong, or making an uncomfortable, revealing observation in any way, shape, or form.
Please spend some time chewing on this claim: a) In a culture where [radical, unresolved] emotional ambivalence—defined as “the coexistence of opposing attitudes or feelings toward a person, an object, or an idea; warring, contradictory, incompatible emotions remaining unresolved in a person’s spirit; particularly complex emotions characterized by tension and conflict that is felt when someone experiences both positive and negative emotion simultaneously”—is the NORM… b) the vast majority of people make an unspoken covenant between each other to “Let sleeping dogs lie.”… Or, in other words, AVOID bringing up ANYTHING that reveals the rampant and disturbing emotional imbalance, warring in BOTH party’s spirit. Breaking this pact can be accompanied by high relational risks.
Discomfort, dissonance is the enemy of the emotionally unintelligent, worldly, conflicted human being. This is why we’ve invented 10,000 different ways to distract ourselves. So, we agree with one another: let’s not stir one another up! Rather, just let sleeping dogs lie. And yes, regarding this dilemma, the church has taken on the same attributes as the world: Don’t go bringing up “the messy stuff.”” (John Dozier, The Training Table, November 8, 2017)]
We’ve poked at some interesting and challenging sleeping dogs like,
“God Loves Us Unconditionally”
I pray you have you been awakened in some way?
The Sleeping Dog for Today’s Feast at the Training Table: “The Devil Made Me Do It!”
First: From Within the Church
Right off, let’s dispel, for the most part, something aligned with our Sleeping Pup for today: By and large, in the way the vast majority of normal church folks, leaders in the Western Church show up every day, THE DEVIL has little cause to pay any special attention to us… let alone Full-Nelson, drag us into doing immoral, anti-God, or church, self, or people-harming things. How so?
Because, I’m afraid, so many folks in the Western Church don’t pose any particularly big, long-lasting threat to the devil, AND so much harm being done to the Christian faith, church is being done by the very folks who lead the church [by poor leadership] and attend [by being poorly led]: The devil really doesn’t have to put himself out due to the fact that so many modern-day, nominal, church-going, church leaders/consumers are doing just fine on our own—in undermining the relevancy and effectiveness of the church.
The Senior Devil said to the Junior Devil, “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” (C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters)
So much dysfunction, disunity exists in the church that it’s a problem perpetuating itself. Understandably, this is a broad and dangerous accusation. I don’t make it lightly. Even though there are many, the following is just one resource to provide an example of what I’m referring to from within the church:
FIVE CHALLENGES: Church Leaders Share 5 Challenges and 5 Opportunities Facing the Church
The challenges facing the church and the world today are many and multifaceted, but which of them represent, from the perspective of The Gospel Coalition’s leadership, the most troubling threats to the church’s health and the most significant obstacles to the gospel’s advancement? Here are five [the details are supplied via the above www link, “Five Challenges”]:
2. Division in the Church
3. ‘Evangelical’ Identity Crisis
4. Poorly Formed Christians
5. Extremes of Pietism and Partisanship
Now, without going into the details of what the above threats entail, and how much they harm both the church leaders and the laity, suffice it to say they consist of a form of “illness from within”: The worldliness of the church, whereby the devil simply has to watch the internally-driven momentum sustain itself. Again, by and large, the devil’s personal, urgent, actual involvement in many hearts has already been done; the slippery slope began to slope and get slippery decades ago:
So many churches, the folks therein, are running on their own steam of wrong-headed/hearted false doctrine and are largely-antinomian… albeit highly resistant strains of legalism, works righteousness, certainly exist as well.
If we look around the planet where really dramatic activity of The True Gospel advancement is being done… that’s where the devil is spending his time—attacking like a prowling lion those Kingdom advancers who are a real threat to the anti-Christ! Remember, the devil’s two main objectives are to keep unbelievers unbelieving, and believers ineffective. AND, even though Satan is “the prince of this world,” all of the devil’s activities are keep on the tight and trustworthy leash of God’s Sovereignty!
Here’s a humbling yet true and loving accusation, exhortation for far too many folks who might claim, “The Devil Made Me do It!”: We’re giving ourselves FAR too much credit. How so? Because most of the folks who make a claim of this kind don’t realize [or are suppressing the fact] that their own Sin nature and habitual sinning is causing them to go off the rails… NOT the devil’s direct involvement in their lives.
Next time a hint of the thought, “The Devil Made Me do It!” crosses our mind the first thing we should consider is what is the sin beneath the sin in MY OWN situation and heart? How can I know and mortify the sin? Who in my faith community will I enjoin to help, encourage, exhort, and abide with me? Yes indeed: a sustained focus on the fruitfulness AND the sinfulness of our faith-walk will eventually get us on Satan’s radar screen… which is a good sign!
We have to be radically reformed [invest in the Bible as God’s inspired doctrine of True Truth], radically revived [commit to a deep knowledge, friendship with, and obedience to the Holy Spirit], and radically committed [to the culture as a constructive revolutionary]… TO EVEN GET ON SATAN’S RADAR!
Second: From Outside the Church
This will be brief: If anyone has not been born again, and is FOR God,—reasoned by non-contradictory logic, design—he or she serves what is anti-God, or the sin nature which has yet to be propitiated by Jesus Christ in regeneration, conversion, and by faith alone. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.'” (John 14) Until any person be saved he or she is in servitude to, a) this world, b) his or her own sinful desires, and/or c) the devil.
Jesus said, “I and the Father Are One” (John 10:22-30)
“At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
I’m afraid that if anyone doesn’t know Christ, he or she can’t help but be on the side of darkness… as The Light has yet to enter into the heart.
“It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” (C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters)
Make Your Assurance Sure Today!
And then get on with our Christian calling by means of:
Reformation… seek to abide by and serve up the true truth, pure doctrine of the Bible
Revival… seek to model biblical Christians living in word and deed
Constructive Revolution… seek to spread the true gospel right where God has planted us with urgency, compassion, and radical self-abandonment
Loving the Trinity by means of Bible-saturated, sacrificial, evangelical service helps keep us on both extremes of the Gospel: We realize we’re MORE SINFUL and yet MORE LOVED. Short of being, staying on both extremes of the Gospel, we only have one choice: BEING IN THE MIDDLE-LUKEWARM. And the lukewarm Christian is not just a real yawner for the devil… the unbeliever AND the lukewarm Christian is actually an ally of the devil.
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