Thursday, October 27, 2016

Illusions of Free Will

I am firmly convinced that one of the crowning achievements of Satan's rule over mankind is the muddling of the reality of free will. We, as sinful men and women have bought into a free will lie. We have suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, and thus perverted the beauty of what free will really means.

We fervently affirm the reality that we have this free ability to do whatever we desire. To seek after that which brings us joy and pleasure. We cling tightly to a reality that God desires us to be supremely happy, and that He would never interfere with that which brings us fullness of joy. And here is the good news, those truths are pretty solid. The problem comes with the twisting that has been placed in our mind on the reality of this free will... We are free to seek after joy, but we do not control the source of that joy. We are free to seek after the desires of our heart, but that which holds the place of desire in our heart is not our choice.

The heart of the natural man seeks joy and fulfillment in the realm of the natural man. Thus, our free will to seek after that which we desire is irredemptively (which may not be a real word) directed away from God. We make choices and decisions, freely, that seek after that which we think will bring us joy, peace, happiness, and they do those things, they satisfy. We used to tell the lie that these things never satisfy the longings of our heart, but I think we should stop. The heart of natural, sinful flesh, is fully satisfied in the carnal joys of fleshly living. It is not a lack of satisfaction, rather a lust for further gluttonous indulgence that perpetuates sin in the natural man. And our "free will" will never break us away from this cycle. Our will is free to seek after our desires, but our desires are not ours to determine. We are hopelessly left in a self-seeking, pleasure-drenched, slow and eternal death, seeking deeper levels of fleshly satisfaction.

But God...

After the counsel of His own will, and according to His plan, desire, and grace, God intervenes. He does not interfere with our fee will, but He replaces the sinful desires of our heart of stone and places within us a new heart of flesh. Etched into this heart is a singular, new desire: the Glory of God. This new desire begins to permeate our very being. Our free will remains unchanged, we still are free to seek that which will most satisfy the deepest longings of our heart. But the desire of our heart has been drastically changed, not by an act of our will, but by an act of Sovereign Grace that sits well outside of the scope of human ability. We find that what brings us the deepest levels of joy, peace, happiness, and satisfaction is seeking after the glory of God. Our will remains as free as it ever has been, and God desires us to use that freedom to find new, creative, beautiful ways to display His glory for the world to see. This exchange of hearts brings us to understanding, opens us to the redemption of our souls accomplished by Christ, lights in us a desire to know Him and make Him known among the nations. The will does not change, but the desire does. And we see that the satisfaction we found in our old heart, though it felt so deep before, was so pathetically ill-informed of the depth of the glory of God.

As John Piper says: "God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him."

Monday, October 3, 2016

Drink black coffee

Coffee is an interesting little bean. When properly processed, roasted, and brewed it releases a complex mix of flavors and sensations that shine unique clues about where the bean comes from, how it's fruit was handled, and gives a glimpse into the nature of its cultivator. Everything you need to know about that bean can be found through the sipping of the cup.

This is what goes through my mind as we study through Revelation 17, as the great prostitute of Babylon sits with her golden cup. In the cup is a brew of immorality and abomination mixed in with a wine of the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, the blood of the prophets and saints. I'll admit, my mind took off in a different direction as I was thinking through this passage as it had been preached.

The prostitute takes pleasure from and enjoys the intermingled flavors of immorality and abomination mixed with the righteous blood of the followers of Christ. These flavors cannot come together naturally, they must be opposed to one another. From the perspective of the one drinking, immorality and abomination must be the sweet sugar and the smooth cream added to what has to be the comparatively bitter, astringent righteousness of the coffee of the blood.

From this view, the stronger, richer, and fuller the coffee is made, the more of her "sweetness and cream" must be added. She pours in more and more abomination, adds another heaping spoonful of immorality, trying to stifle the flavors of the coffee. She cannot stand the flavor notes of  the righteousness of the redeemed that she has killed and will continue to kill. But the cup is hers to drink. She must drink it in full. As the blood continues to build through her destruction, she pours out more destruction, creating the cyclic nature of the current age. The culmination of which will see her cup overflowing with such debauchery and decadence that many will taste of it and claim it to be delicious because the bitterness of righteousness is so muted that surely this brew is as it was always intended to be. The natural man is a sucker for a sweet drink, even if part of him feels it may be destructive to his reality.

The Christian, however, does not desire the smooth, sweet creaminess of the whore's brew. We desire the hot, black wonder of the righteousness of Christ which can only be found outside the cup of Babylon. We seek the undefiled, intricate, and subtle differences found in the pure cup. We desire for our lives to be poured out into a brew that is distinct to the soil we were cultivated in, that shows the care of the cultivator, and the richness of the love that caused us to grow. We look for our tree to bear a fruit that is unique, filled with a flavor that is singularly our own, yet that is united to trees that bear a similar fruit. We want to be filled with notes of flavor so significant that when the prostitute drinks of our blood, she knows it is from our veins and that it was born of the work of Christ. We want to be the reason she feels that her cup requires more of her "sweetner" and and extra dose of her "cream".

The righteousness of the people of God's innumerable multitude will and should taste bitter to those who desire the unrighteousness of the Babylonian brew. Our righteousness should be such that more immorality and abomination must be added to attempt to mute our flavors. And, if I understand Paul, this should see contradictory to those who desire sweetness, it should seem absolutely foolish to those who have not been given a desire for the taste of the pure goodness of God.

Christian, drink the dark, black coffee of the glory of God. Taste the notes of his goodness and beauty. Seek to be cultivated by His hand. Live your life in a way that will alter the taste of the cup being consumed by our adversary. You are not called to taste like the world.