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Friday, August 25, 2006

What do you believe?

My understanding is that you contend that men act according to their affection. I contend that men act according to their beliefs regardless of their affection.

Two men have a great affection for God and desire to have everlasting life. One man believes he can please God and achieve everlasting life by being a suicide bomber and the other believes that only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ will he inherit eternal life. Each have the same desire but act according to their belief.

Two men have a great affection for God and a great desire to do His will. One believes that Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost and has appointed that, through faith, the action of His body be toward that end. The other man believes he will automatically do the will of God by virtue of his new nature as determined by God prior to the foundation of the world.

In each case above one man will act contrary to his affection because he believes a lie.
I have also observed that too often people are taught to “act” in an acceptable manner through a system of positive and negative consequences. This is especially true of women in our society. This type of “training” can result in a non-thinking (inconsiderate) individual who only seeks to know what acts are socially acceptable and which are not. This person will likely become pretentious and perform socially unacceptable actions in secret.

The behavior of an individual is a result of their system of beliefs. We act on what we believe. In the previous example the individual comes to believe that inappropriate behavior is based solely on the will of those in authority and will often develop a personal value system where power and control (authority) are absolute necessities for happiness. The psychological tools used to enforce this authority are deceit, manipulation, fear and lust. This is the way that seems right unto man the ways of which are death.

History offers us many examples of this system and gives testimony to the inadequacy of this type of training. Inappropriate behavior is a consequence, not the problem. If we are to properly love anyone we must help them become educated, not trained. Often it may be necessary to take immediate action with an individual in order to prevent harm, however if we fail to identify the belief that was the root of the behavior we can most surely expect it to continue. This is especially true in our selves.

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21 Comments:

Blogger dorsey said...

Supremely interesting topic, Kc.

Of particular note is the fact that, in most traditions of the Christian faith, we are taught that our natural inclinations are purely evil. Our beliefs are cast in direct opposition to our affections.

If we act according to belief (which I'm inclined to think we do), inappropriate behavior (sin) is simply the manifestation of unbelief. On some level, even though we know it goes against what we profess, we do it anyway, Our transgression betrays the solidity of our confession, revealing what we truly believe.

The guy who said, "I believe. Lord, help my unbelief," understood.

8/25/2006 06:48:00 AM  
Blogger nathaniel adam king said...

I may just not be getting this whole issue at all...but I don't understand how you can say we do not act according to our desires, but rather according to our beliefs.

If I believe that God is pleased when I go to church, and therefore I go to church, would you say that I acted upon my belief here?

Hopefully you would, and I would agree with you. But hopefully you would not say that I only acted upon my belief here. For there was within me a desire to please God. I want to please God therefore believing that He is pleased when I go to church, I go to church.

Consider the opposite, if I believed that God is pleased when I go to church, but I didn't give a rat's bum whether God was pleased or not, would I go to church? If I desired only to please myself through sex and drugs and alcohol, would I really act upon my beliefs of knowing that God is pleased when I go to church and therefore go to church?

This then is where I am confused. If a person does desire to please only theirselves through sex, let us say, and therefore has as much sex as possible, I would say that their actions are based upon their desires. Their desires to please themselves.

But you have said actions are based upon belief, very well, in this situation, what belief is in play? What does the sexaholic 'believe' that would influence his behavior? Perhaps he believes that sex will fulfill his needs, but once again we are faced with a desire for his needs to be filled.

8/25/2006 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Don't make it about semantics. How about a less polar example? Say I profess devotion to Christ, but don't admit all my income at tax time. My confession of faith is, of course, based upon my desire to please God (understanding that, semantics aside, desire cannot be completely divorced from belief). Likewise, my transgression of the tax code is rooted in my desire to hang on to my money. The issue here (as I understand it) is the conflict between my desires, and what my behavior ultimately says about what I believe (what I really believe, not what I say I believe).

When I make a choice that contradicts what I claim to believe, then what do I really believe?

8/25/2006 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Adam, you said, “If I believe that God is pleased when I go to church, and therefore I go to church, would you say that I acted upon my belief here?

Hopefully you would, and I would agree with you. But hopefully you would not say that I only acted upon my belief here.”


I would indeed say you only acted on your belief. Your desire determined your intent to please God but your decision to do so was based soley on your belief that by going to church you please Him.

“Consider the opposite, if I believed that God is pleased when I go to church, but I didn't give a rat's bum whether God was pleased or not, would I go to church?”

This points to value, which is a critical aspect of reason and reason is what sets us apart from all other forms of life and is the only means of faith. If you fail to place value on whether or not God is pleased then the knowledge of what is pleasing to Him is wasted on you. Your decision then is based on the belief that pleasing God is of little value.

The remainder of your comment centers on the void in our life when we fail to do God’s will. God created us for a purpose and when His purpose is not accomplished in us it leaves a void, which we believe can be filled through other means.

Dorsey that’s a good point but again I would point to value in this situation. I may truly believe that honesty is critical to pleasing God but at the moment place more value on keeping my money.

8/25/2006 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Without trying to turn this into the chicken or egg debate that it could very easily become, value is a component of desire, and even desire is founded upon a belief.

Nonetheless, I may believe that financial integrity is critical to pleasing God, but if (in that moment) I place more value on keeping the money, my desire has superceded my "belief." Or did it? Clearly I must have believed that, despite the dissonance between my action and profession, to hang on to the money is somehow valid. In other words my belief that integrity is critical is not absolute.

I'm not saying that's a good thing, but it's the boat that we are all in together. No one is immune from this inconsistency.

8/25/2006 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Ryan S. said...

A conservative by the name of Richard Weaver wrote a book called Ideas Have Consequences? and it decried the implications of modern ideologies, which in the case of Marxism, fascism, etc. is often little more than a secular surrogate for religion.

Ideas do indeed have consequences! What are the implications for the Christian, and what he/she belives? That's a pivotal question that Christians should meditate upon if they take the call to discipleship seriously.

Though, I don't think sinful men are by any means consistent in what they believe, and how they act on those beliefs, regardless of their beliefs. Obviously, some beliefs don't mesh with reality or human nature, but those beliefs still have consequences for those who act on them.

8/25/2006 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse I honestly have not considered that value is a component of desire. I will need to chew on that one, thanks. Even in being component would you say our values are determined by desire or are they determined by faith? I’m trying to identify the import of reason in determining value.

Ryan, it’s good to have your thoughts here brother. I’m glad you brought up integrity. With respect to the believer I think our integrity is proportionate to our walk. The more we identify with Christ the stronger our integrity. He alone is perfect and unchanging.

Did I mention that I feel like a minnow in a sea of whales? ;-)

8/25/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Casey,

I don't know what you are saying here.

We often perform actions contrary to out beliefs. Any time we sin we are behaving in rebellion to our faith.

James is clear that when our faith is not accompanied by works that faith is dead. Many people believe things that they don't act on.

Well why?

I was examining my sin life a few nights back. I was grieving over my sin and wanted to spell it all out to God, be absolutely transparant.

Every time I thought of a sin and confessed it, I tried to think of the attitudes I had which facilitated or participated in the sin. Sometimes I would have to go back a few sins. But they would always end up with either selfishness or pride. And come to think of it, selfishness may just be a subset of pride.

For some reason though, selfishness was the end. I found that most of my sin (if not all) comes from my selfishness.

Now I have a very well articulated belief system and am a man of great convictions.

When I sin I do so contrary to my faith, my beliefs.

Some anti-intellectual may say "well you must not really believe". I would say "You must not know what it means to believe".

I believe that diet and exercise can save me from the deadly consequences of heart disease. Although I eat O.K, there is much room for improvement. As far as any consistent exercise goes, well, there ain't much.

This is what James would call a dead faith.

But
faith - works = faith
as
a bicycle - a rider = a bicycle

We often act contrary to those things which we believe.

Antonio

8/25/2006 07:19:00 PM  
Blogger curious servant said...

AS I get older I seem to lean more and more on the love aspect of faith. That when I love, when I'm loving, kinder, I seem to be following my Lord more closely.

But I can appear to be an excellent Christian simply by following the sociaal guidelines of my church. The problem there is that the social guidelines come with so much stuff that even my speech can be filled with terms and consepts that an outsider not only would not understand, but would feel a foreigner.

This places walls between us and the world.

When i pay close attention to how my language changes when I am in a church setting, the phrases I use, the terms I use, I realize that I am in danger of making my faith a matter of being in a social club rather than being the hands and feet of my Lord.

8/25/2006 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger nathaniel adam king said...

Dorsey, you said:

Likewise, my transgression of the tax code is rooted in my desire to hang on to my money. The issue here (as I understand it) is the conflict between my desires, and what my behavior ultimately says about what I believe (what I really believe, not what I say I believe).

The issue is a conflict between some of your desires and what your behavior ultimately says about what you believe.

For you concede that you have a desire to please God and a selfish desire. If you claim to believe in God, and yet do not give to God, then you are proving that your desire for self is greater than your desire for God, and you are calling into question, by your actions, your 'belief' in God.

I think that you say it quite well Dorsey, when you say:

understanding that, semantics aside, desire cannot be completely divorced from belief

I would agree completely. However, I do not know if Kc would. While I would say that the strongest desire is the motivational force behind your actions, I do not know if I would say that it is the only motivating force. If I believe in God, and yet have no desire to please Him, then I am not going to act in a pleasing manner toward Him. But likewise, if I desire to please God, but believe that He is pleased when I have rampant sex, then I am going to act accordingly. Either way, I am acting according to my belief and my desire. It just so happens in the second case what is truth is that my desire to please self is conveniently boosted by my false-belief concerning God.

I think the problem is that people recognize that they have other desires, and since they do not always act according to every desire, they then take an illogical leap and assume that they never act according to a desire.

Even in the scenario Kc provided (I think it was at the pub), wherein he desired to please his children, but believed that their wants were not the best for them therefore not giving them what they want, even in this scenario we wouldn't say that Kc ignored every desire, only that he did not obey his desire to please his children. We would still say that Kc acted according to his belief, yes, but likewise according to his stronger desire to have what is best for his children, rather than what makes them filled with ephemeral happiness.

8/26/2006 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger nathaniel adam king said...

Kc, you said:

I would indeed say you only acted on your belief. Your desire determined your intent to please God but your decision to do so was based soley on your belief that by going to church you please Him.

I do not understand this at all. Perhaps it is because I sometimes desire to go to church and please God, even when I do believe that going to church pleases God.

Would you likewise say that when a person believes that accepting Jesus as their LORD is the right thing to do, that they do not do so out of a desire to do the right thing, or a desire to love God?

I think it is a both/and situation, whereas you seem to be positing an either/or. I choose vanilla icecream not only because I believe it is the best flavor, but because I desire it above chocolate.

If you fail to place value on whether or not God is pleased then the knowledge of what is pleasing to Him is wasted on you. Your decision then is based on the belief that pleasing God is of little value.

The knowledge may be wasted on me...that is not debated. I may choose to not please God, and believe that pleasing Him is of little no value, but why would you say that I do not do so because I desire not to do so?

8/26/2006 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger nathaniel adam king said...

As much as it pains me greatly, I'm going to have to agree with Antonio in his comment.

For the Christian, myself specifically, I know what is right. I believe that it is right to be faithful to God. I believe will all my heart that this act is sinful. But sometimes I ignore my beliefs, or acknowledge them and do not act according to them, all because at the moment my desire is to please myself, and sometimes it is so great that I willingly would rather obey it than I would obey my belief in what is right.

8/26/2006 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Antonio, I am making a rather poor attempt to give my practical understanding of how it is that the just shall live by faith and how I see that contrary to the philosophy of determinism which states that all believers will “eventually” live just lives by virtue of foreordination.

I would agree that we often perform actions that are contrary to our “core” beliefs but I understand that to be nothing less than a rejection of those beliefs, if only for the moment. At those times we are deceived and believe lies resulting in actions that are contrary to our core beliefs. Even willful sin is centered on lies.

I would also agree that certain beliefs dictate inaction as well but again I would contend that our determination of what or what not to do and say is based on what we believe at that moment often even regardless of what we know but refuse to consider.

To be honest I have a chicken and egg problem regarding the origin of my sins and go back and forth between perceptions based on idolatry or self-righteousness however it may well be that self-centeredness is at the core of each of these.

I too reject the concept of “true faith” with respect to everlasting life as it totally contradicts faith in Christ. Belief in Christ does not determine what we will say or do but is the acceptance of what God has already said and done and just as grace is given life by His Word so our faith is given life by our works. It is important to me to understand that even though my dead faith would not change what He did that without my works my faith is useless and my physical life could easily be disposed of leaving me no hope of any reward in Him.

As in all things I truly appreciate your wisdom here.

CS, you said, “...when I love, when I'm loving, kinder, I seem to be following my Lord more closely” and I think your experience clearly illustrates the necessity of the believer to submit to Christ’ command to love God and each other. I believe it impossible to follow Him and not His example.

I think that being an educator you can easily see my point concerning the necessity of education over training. Jesus showed us how to live when by rights He could have just commanded us to live that way without any illustration at all. I think this is exactly what we do when we refuse to take the time necessary to disciple and disciplship is literally impossible outside of fellowship.

I completely sympathize with your realization. I even suspect this is at the core of Denominationalism.

Adam, the fact that you find agreement with Antonio is almost enough to make me concede. ;-)

In regard to your comment to Dorsey I would not say that desire is necessarily divorced from belief but I would say it is quite common as illustrated by the suicide bomber. There is absolutely no reason to believe that this act would please God and yet this man believes it does.

“I sometimes desire to go to church and please God, even when I do believe that going to church pleases God.”

In this instance your action, desire and belief is consistant but I’m sure you will agree that is not always the case yet, at those times as well, it is your belief that determines your decision to act. This is not to say that your motives are always rooted in your belief system as it is often the case that we justify our beliefs in order to have them conform to our desires. This is why it is so important to place more value on what is true than on what we desire.

“Would you likewise say that when a person believes that accepting Jesus as their LORD is the right thing to do, that they do not do so out of a desire to do the right thing, or a desire to love God?”

I need to make an important distinction here. Only believers are commanded to sanctify Christ as Lord (1st Peter 3:15) as it is impossible for a non-believer to do so. The belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God is requisite to submission but does not guarantee it. I would further say that the desire to submit is inherent to the spirit man but the decision to submit to Christ is centered on the existent belief in His election by God and though consistent with the desire of the spirit man is totally opposed to the desire of the flesh man. The act of submission is not then a matter of desire but a decision on the part of a believer to sanctify Christ in their heart and crucify the desires of the flesh.

8/26/2006 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Casey write:
----------
Belief in Christ does not determine what we will say or do but is the acceptance of what God has already said and done and just as grace is given life by His Word so our faith is given life by our works. It is important to me to understand that even though my dead faith would not change what He did that without my works my faith is useless and my physical life could easily be disposed of leaving me no hope of any reward in Him.
----------

This brother, is true wisdom. I could not agree more!

If only all in Christendom understood things this way!

Although I disagree that we must necessarily for a moment disregard our beliefs, for example when we sin, I do see something happening there. But I would call it affections trumping beliefs.

Thank you for your insight and perspectives here. They are appreciated.

Antonio

8/26/2006 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Antonio, thanks for the encouragement and kind words. You are a great blessing to me. I will rest on our disagreement for the moment. ;-)

8/27/2006 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Great post and comments, KC.

I especially agreed with this one:

Did I mention that I feel like a minnow in a sea of whales?

8/28/2006 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Thanks sis but did you really have to highlight the fact that I'm so out of my league here? (hehe)

8/29/2006 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

No, KC, I meant I often feel like a minnow in a sea of whales!

8/29/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

That's an invalid feeling on your part. ;-)

8/29/2006 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

WOW! Your post and ALL the very well articulated comments, to me, are a well thought out explaination of Romans 7.

19For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
20But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

Our LORD says somewhere; 'My people perish for lack of knowledge'

I believe you are so right on KC, education is key to believers living a life pleasing to God. Without faith its impossible to please Him.

IMO this where the rubber meets the road in the conflict between Free Grace and those who adhere to a doctrine of perseverance unto good works. God said MY PEOPLE perish, they are still His people even though they destroy their lives because they lack knowledge and live fruitlessly. This doesn't blaspheme the soverignty God. To me this only magnifies His purity in dealing with man according to the image He was created in.

But the bottom line today is: Adam and Antonio are in agreement on a point. AND there is nothing freezing over as far as I can tell. :)

9/01/2006 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Hi Kc!

Your blog looks really great:)

About your topic...

I actually think some people tend to be more guided by their convictions, and others by relational issues. But both would fall under the rubric Jesus left us with, that where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also. Ie we tend to go with one main passion... and build beliefs and relationships (fellowships) around that core passion. Granted that our passion is necesarily dependent on what we believe is true.

And I don't think the Lord meant "heart" as in emotional center but as in center of the inner person's inner consciousness, for lack of a better term.

God bless.

9/05/2006 10:54:00 PM  

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