The Christian’s Conflict
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 12 Monday
The lesson focuses us on the conflict between the carnal nature and the spiritual nature, read first paragraph,
“The struggle that Paul describes is not the struggle of every human being; it refers specifically to the inward tug-of-war that exists in the Christian. Because humans are born in harmony with the desires of the flesh (Rom. 8:7), it is only when we are born anew by the Spirit that a real spiritual conflict begins to emerge (John 3:6). This does not mean that non-Christians never experience moral conflict; they certainly do. But even that conflict is ultimately a result of the Spirit. The struggle of the Christian, however, takes on a new dimension, because the believer possesses two natures that are at war with one another, the flesh and the Spirit.”
What do you think? What is this battle about?
16 So I tell you plainly: Live by the methods and power of the Spirit and you will not practice the selfish, survival-of-the-fittest methods. 17 For the selfish nature desires to promote self at the expense of everyone and everything else and this is exactly the opposite of the Spirit of love, and the Spirit of love desires to promote the good of everyone else at any expense to himself. The selfish nature and the Spirit of love are diametrically opposed to each other, so that if you follow the Spirit of love you will no longer do what your selfish nature wants. 18 Therefore, if you practice the methods of the Spirit, you no longer need to be quarantined and supervised by the written law. Galatians 5:16~18
How do we experience this?
Because of Adam’s sin, we are born wired with fear and insecurity. Our brains are out of balance. We are wired to watch out for self, survival of the fittest. The New Testament speaks of dying to self, of having our brains rewired. In the Old Testament David wrote a Psalm that describes this process.
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want
- God is watching out for me and I don’t need to worry about where my support with come from. He will provide all my soul needs.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters
- He will first provide soul nurturance, support, sustenance to strengthen me and prepare me
He restores my soul
- He will heal my inner man, cleanse my conscience, and restore my individuality
He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name sake
- He will lead me in the path which restores me to righteousness, the path that makes me right inside, like He originally intended, so that He and His ways will be glorified in my life
When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me.
- He, then, after providing for me, strengthening me, cleansing my conscience, removing my guilt, restoring my individuality, leads me in the path to ultimate righteousness, the path which is through the valley that feels like I am going to die. The valley in which self surrenders and is crucified, the valley which frees me from the domination of fear and selfishness.
Your rod and staff comfort me
- He comforts me with his shepherd’s rod and staff, which is used by the shepherd to beat back my attackers, and lift me out of the ditch when I fall
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies
- With my critics and accusers and enemies all around He provides me a rich bounty of spiritual food to strengthen and develop my soul
You anoint my head with oil
- He provides His Spirit to enlighten, cleanse, renew, and give wisdom
My cup runs over
- My heart, renewed, cleansed, and freed from fear and selfishness runs over with love for God and my fellow man
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life
- Living a life of love results in goodness and mercy following in my wake wherever I go
I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever
- And, having been recreated by God I will forever be a living stone in the Lord’s heavenly temple!
This is God’s plan, to heal and restore us, in reality!
What counterfeits exist in the world to God’s plan to overcome through the Spirit?
- Eastern mysticism, what does Eastern mysticism offer and why is it becoming so popular in the west?
We are wired with fear and insecurity because of sin. Fear results in activation of the stress pathways, which result in multiple health problems like ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, irritability, depression, dementia etc.
Eastern religions have as a primary part of their worship experience focused meditation in which the mind focuses on emptiness and nothingness. Such meditation results in calming the fear circuitry and thus results in improved physical health.
Because eastern meditation is documented to provide measurable positive effect on health it is making inroads into the west and Christianity.
Strengths of Eastern Meditation:
1. Multiple studies document it has beneficial health effects, reduces heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety, improves depression, better recovery from illness, less pain after surgery.
2. Improves attention, concentration and performance in school
These results are better than what is experienced by traditional Christianity – why?
Because traditional Christianity teaches a false system of beliefs infected by Imperial Rome, with an imposed law, imposed penalties, punishing and wrathful God, all of which incites fear and activates the fear circuits of the brain resulting in worsening physical and mental health.
Fear inducing religions, activating fear circuits, inflame the system – as soon as Adam and Eve sinned they ran and hid because they were afraid. Perfect love casts out fear. The Christianity taught by Jesus was a love based Christianity, which removed fear. But Christianity, after being infected by Imperial Rome’s imposed law and government concepts, became a beastly religion of power, might, threats, and projected this concept onto God who is a cruel judge, who must use His power to torture and destroy.
Such concepts are damaging to mind and body.
If eastern meditation is inconsistent with God’s principles then why do we see positive health benefits and what are its weaknesses?
The way the brain is wired is that the prefrontal cortex is designed to calm the fear circuits. Eastern meditations result in activation of the prefrontal cortex, with subsequent calming of the fear circuitry, and thus the positive benefits seen above because of the decreased activation of the stress cascade.
But, the problem is that this mediation
- It doesn’t enhance understanding of God’s universe, provide insight into the human dilemma, or bring truth into the mind.
- It doesn’t bring us to a knowledge of God, His methods, principles.
- It doesn’t result in the death to “self” and the experiencing of a new heart and Christlike character.
- It doesn’t resolve the distorted beliefs with the truth.
- It does not create a trust relationship with the Creator
- It promotes a greater self-centered focus on one’s own ability to heal and fix oneself
- It doesn’t recreate the Spirit Temple into God’s dwelling place, useful for God to enlighten and shine through with saving truth in a dying world.
- Thus, its function is to stunt the growth of the individual, impair true enlightenment and avoid the experience of unity with Christ.
- It undermines individuality for the transcendent experience of unity with cosmos.
- Eastern mysticism also fails to understand the real problem, what is wrong with us, and thus its interventions come up short.
From our perspective, we understand God’s law of love as the design template of life, and sin is lawlessness, or being selfish and out of harmony with God’s design. We understand that in us there are two antagonistic principles at war, other centered love and survival of the fittest.
We understand that conversion is not the process of meditation to calm the fear circuitry, but following our Shepherd into the “valley of the shadow of death” in which we die to self.
This is a time of great anguish and anxiety – (Jacob’s night of wrestling, Gethsemane, Peter after his denial, David after Nathan confronted him etc.). It is in this anguish, as we confront the truth, intelligently, wrestling with our own selfishness and ultimately surrender to Christ that we experience His love, supernatural regeneration, a new set of motives in the heart and freedom from fear based living.
Few Christians experience this because they have accepted the false system of legal payment instead of God’s plan of recreation and regeneration of heart. Thus, the Eastern philosophies, which have the ability to actual cause calming of the fear circuitry is experienced as more “real” and beneficial in our life today than traditional Christianity, because traditional Christianity has been infected with a false “remedy.”
Because if you don’t have that heart change it doesn’t really matter what rules you are keeping.
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