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Double Jeopardy

We’re often told that Christians shouldn’t beat themselves up for their sins and yet so many do it. Maybe that’s because the advice has been understated. Maybe we should go one step further to say that Christians mustn’t beat themselves up for their sins.

I’m reading Watchman Nee’s The Normal Christian Life for the umpteenth time. This quote reminded me today why this book is a classic:

What then of our attitude to Satan? This is important, for he accuses us not only before God but in our own conscience also. “You have sinned, and you keep on sinning. You are weak, and God can have nothing more to do with you.” This is his argument. And our temptation is to look within and in self-defense to try to find in ourselves, in our feelings or our behavior, some ground for believing that Satan is wrong. Alternatively we are tempted to admit our helplessness and, going to the other extreme, to yield to depression and despair. Thus, accusation becomes one of the greatest and most effective of Satan’s weapons. He points to our sins and seeks to charge us with them before God; and if we accept his accusations, we go down immediately.

Now the reason why we so readily accept his accusations is that we are still hoping to have some righteousness of our own. The ground of our expectation is wrong. Satan has succeeded in making us look in the wrong direction.

Our salvation lies in looking away to the Lord Jesus and in seeing that the blood of the Lamb has met the whole situation created by our sins and has answered it. That is the sure foundation on which we stand. Never should we try to answer Satan with our good conduct but always with the blood.

King of Pain

Remember the song, “Doctor My Eyes” by Jackson Browne? For you younger folks, here is a link to his performance of it:

http://youtu.be/pCTYxIsLThA

I believe this song accurately describes life in a fallen kingdom.

I’ve been thinking today about our amazing capacity for denial. Somehow we’re able to hurt, be hurt, or see hurt and just go on with life. Maybe we do this because grieving takes too much time. Or perhaps we fear that should be begin to mourn we will never stop. So, we “pinch it off.” We justify harmful actions, minimize them, or just ignore them. We do this but not without cost. When we bury hurt or regret, a part us gets suffocated. The shell which protects our vulnerability also imprisons our sympathy. We find that when we want to cry or at least should cry, we can’t.

Sadly, the one negative emotion which continues to seep out is anger. Because we’ve buried the hurt itself, the anger which seeps out manifests itself in ways which are disassociated from the original event. Subtle digs on others, quiet disdain, and outright abuse all perpetuate pain as anger widens its influence through others who will then deny their hurt. Can we really believe that the prevalence and predictability of this dynamic is attributable solely to psychological factors? I would like to suggest an alternate theory.

I believe that a malevolent spiritual entity insinuated pain into the stream of human society and that through denial he continues to proliferate it. Why? Because he exerts control through extortion and blackmail. To borrow now from an eighties’ song, Satan is the “King of Pain.” Every repressed hurt becomes a handle by which the devil and his agents can lead people around. By participating in denial, people unwittingly submit to Satan’s control in their lives.

For support of this idea, consider Jesus’ words from John 14:30 regarding Satan’s influence, “I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me (literally, he has nothing in me).” Jesus never sinned therefore he had no secret shame or repressed guilt. When wronged, Jesus readily confronted and/or forgave therefore he carried no repressed offense. The life of Jesus was the “in-breaking” of the kingdom of God.

So how do we check out of the kingdom of pain and into the kingdom of the Son once we’ve yielded to our enemy? In the second sentence of his great sermon on the nature of his kingdom, Jesus spoke these words, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” With all of the pain in our fallen world, there is a danger that mourning could consume us. We don’t have to be afraid. Jesus promises comfort. We can talk with him and each other about the ways we’ve been hurt and caused hurt. In this way, will we overcome the King of Pain.