Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Purity in the Mind of Christ

How did Jesus Christ respond to lust and temptations against His purity? Hebrews 4:15 tells us that He was tempted like we are, yet without sin. Did this include lust? Probably in some way, yet He never entered into sin. Think about it this way: He endured lust so that our lust could be crucified with Him on the Cross.

Is this too bold a statement? I think not. The thing that must be remembered is that His abject, sheer, unbridled object, love, and joy was His Father's glory. The glory that was also His before the world began (John 17:5). We behold this glory in Christ's face, and are changed into the same image (2 Corinthians 3). How does this connect? Jesus Christ's mind, affection, and will was set on His Father's glory. This is how He was pure: His mind was focused on God. He didn't choose to just resist temptation, He resisted temptation because He though more of His Father. Our mind, affection, and will must be likewise. But why list it in that order?

Dr. Lamansky has been giving lectures on Hamartiology (study of sin) in Systematic Theology 3 for the last several weeks. This last lecture on Monday was really great: our mind is the guardian of our affections. If you're like me, you've heard it for years at the mostly erroneous Basic Seminar. Where the mind goes, the affections will follow. And what your affections are pointed at, that is what you will choose. Thus, the secret to fighting lust, or any other sin, is not to simply "do it." It requires your mind being set on Christ, knowing that your affections will follow (Colossians 3:1-4). Now, this imperative that Paul gives demands a question: what are you thinking about? And then... why aren't you thinking about Christ?

Every man struggles, at varying levels, with lust. It's why Paul said that every man was to have his own wife in 1 Corinthians 7... so that lust wouldn't break out into sin. This may be shocking to women, but it's true. But even more troubling is what Kuiper pointed out: instead of empathizing with others who lust and trying to understand how the deceitfulness of sin works, we self-righteously judge. Years ago I had an epiphany about my relationships with others: every action that a person makes is a reaction to their experiences in life, which often include areas they have been or are deceived in. If someone is consistently angry, it is likely because someone has been angry at them. If someone struggles with lust, it's likely because no one took the time to talk to them or be accountable with them. If someone seems unable to make decisions, it's likely that they've been burned before, or have never been trusted to make decisions. Realizations like these bring compassion.

So what's to be done? First, We must look at ourselves! Allow God to show us who we really are. The hidden sin that is there, under the surface, waiting for the opportunity to strike. After discerning this in ourselves, and realizing that we too are capable of sinning, then we can compassionately help others. An objection might be raised: can we not help others until we have mastered that area in ourselves? No, that's not the point. In recognizing that we have sin, we not only help ourselves by allowing the Spirit to begin His purging work, but we also help others in showing them that 1) we too are imperfect, and 2) we are being changed into His same image, so that 3) they can have an example to change into His image too. This can't be just about telling others how to do right. We must show others how to do right.

It's nothing short of a call to open our hearts, as men, to each other.


No comments: