This is the message Dywen Lauren brings to her readers in Chapter Four of Has Grace Been Abused? Backing up what she says with scripture, the author argues to convince the reader that whatever cannot exist in the Light in which God lives, cannot be accommodated in the life of one who claims to be a Christian believer.
From the scriptures and with frank self-revelation, Lauren leads the fence-sitting Christian to a place of conviction that light and darkness cannot exist together; that grace does not excuse darkness in one's life.
God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth., she quotes from 1 John 1:5-6 (NIV).
Darkness, she points out, is the absence of light.
Lauren sets out to demonstrate that one's mind plays a part in either smothering or turning on the light of Christ in one's life. In pursuit of this endeavour she highlights the importance of what one thinks about.
“When our mind is filled with the things of God, our heart takes delight in the things of God, and we do the things of God. However, when our mind is under the captivity (and imagination) of the passions of our flesh, then our heart will go astray, and we will engage in (worldly) things to gratify our flesh,” she writes.
That, Lauren says, is why “God instructs us to exercise the power of self-control... to guard our thoughts, our reasoning, and the (type of) knowledge that flows in and out of our mind.”
She contends that the grace of God empowers Christians to overcome their flesh; that it enables them to stay in tune with God by having the mind of Christ. She makes the case that this is the opposite to excusing and accepting the sins of the flesh and thus falling short of the grace of God provided to overcome them.
It is when the Christian is focused on God and His grace for every situation they face, that they can overcome, she argues. But if they remain focused on the sin and the habit in which it has trapped them they will descend into a sense of inferiority and unworthiness, she tells her readers. This is what Paul means, she says, when he speaks in Romans 8 of the absence of condemnation that comes from walking after the dictates of the Spirit of God, and not after the dictates of the flesh.
She again quotes Paul, from Galatians 5:16: But I say, walk and live (habitually) in the (Holy) Spirit (responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit); then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).(AMP)
Eph 23 tells the Christian to be renewed in the spirit of their mind, she points out, and adds that this is done by attention to the Word of God. The Christian must make a decisive dedication of body and soul – mind, emotions and willpower – to be guided in all things by the Word of God, resisting conformation to the patterns of the world, Lauren says. The Word, she says, will wash, renew, and fill the Christian's mind with truth.
“Until our mind is renewed with the Word of God, our flesh will dominate and lead our spirit.... will control our body and dictate our actions.”
Lauren highlights the lessons she says are to be learned from Jesus' response to the temptations in the wilderness. He demonstrated God-consciousness, she says, in that He quoted the Word of God in response to everything with which He was tempted.
To be God-conscious is to adhere to and be conformed to God's Word and God's commands, Lauren says.
The author quotes preachers who have said that many believers have a born again spirit but not a born again mind. She points to the mind as a battleground, and says it depends very much on what one feeds into it as to the result of the battle – whether victory for the devil and the Christian's defeat, or the Christian's victory in Christ.
“Just as we accept Jesus Christ as the Lord of our lives, we must accept the Lordship of the Word in our lives, for the Word is Jesus. The Word is our life. We must act in accordance with and upon the Word,” she says.
Having laid that foundation, in the next chapter Lauren introduces a concept one would suppose to be new to many readers. Quoting Romans 10:4, where Paul spoke of Christ as the end of the law, she cites Arndt and Gingrich's A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament to uncover further nuances of meaning of the Greek word telos, translated end. This opens Paul's statement to new meaning, she says.
Arndt and Gingrich point out that in the more than forty times it is used in the New Testament, the word telos is translated end in only a few places. In most instances it is translated aim, purpose, goal, outcome, result or consummation.
What Paul was saying, she contends, is that Jesus Christ is the goal at which the law aims; that He Who is the One and only Way to righteousness is the goal; that the perfect law of God was consummated when Jesus Christ came as Saviour and Messiah. The law directs and leads one to Jesus Christ, the Christian's goal, she says.
To prove her assertion that this explanation is consistent with and supporting of other New Testament scriptures about the law of God, and accurately reflects the teaching of Jesus Christ, the author leads the reader to Galatians 3:24-25:
Therefore, the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
The NIV translation of that verse also harmonises perfectly with this new understanding of Paul's meaning, she says:
So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
By trusting and obeying Jesus Christ, one is offered the law’s righteousness by faith, which is God’s righteousness, Lauren says. Believers who cling to Jesus Christ, adhere to His commands, and obey and submit to His Will are justified by Christ to have the right standing and relationship with God, she concludes, and adds:
"Do we then by (this) faith make the Law of no effect, overthrow it or make it a dead letter? Certainly not! On the contrary, we confirm and establish and uphold the Law". (Rom 3:31 AMP)
Book overview Part I: here
Book overview Part III: here
Has Grace Been Abused? is published by Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson USA, and can be purchased on Amazon and Koorong bookstores.
(Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)