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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Asceticism or the leading of the Spirit?

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RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Hi Compton,

I hesitate to make this one point as it has been heavy on me for a few days now. it seems to me that in the ordinary course of our Christian lives that life itself and the persecutions that accompany a truly righteous life will go a long way in keeping us where we need to be with God. Paul listed his troubles enough to kill a person. It seems to me that the times when we are not real active in the work or times are 'good' that a danger surfaces.

In the case of the Monastics it seems that their "coming out from among them and being seperate..." in the literal sense of the word actually created the need for the afflictions they imposed upon themselves. The world did not lay stripes on their back- so they laid them on themselves. This is truly madness if you think about it. It would be like a football player running into walls to bruise himself up to appear he had been in the game. It's pretense.

If we really get about the Lord's work I'm sure we will have plenty to contend with. I was recently terribly ill for about 2 weeks strait and found that it had an effect on me even deeper than fasting. I found that I am so weak and really need to toughen up.

What makes a great man as they say, "TROUBLE." Not self induced- but real life trouble.

I recall a statement I heard once, "My, I am so proud of my humility." I think about that in response to your post. God help us!




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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/8/11 11:04Profile
Compton
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Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


 Re:

Quote:
it seems to me that in the ordinary course of our Christian lives that life itself and the persecutions that accompany a truly righteous life will go a long way in keeping us where we need to be with God.



I certainly agree with this.

I've learned from my wife, that true poverty of Spirit is often accompanied by a joyful heart, that is alive and hopeful in Christ. The desire to suffer, is quite a different thing then the desire to serve.
Quote:
If we really get about the Lord's work I'm sure we will have plenty to contend with. I was recently terribly ill for about 2 weeks strait and found that it had an effect on me even deeper than fasting. I found that I am so weak and really need to toughen up.



I always thought this was the purpose of Paul's line of thinking from the passage Dohzman brought up. If there is a "self-induced suffering per se...it may be in the athletic training sense. (Paul didn't want to sit on the bench.)As we've heard, "No pain, no gain." In athletics,the pain of physical suffering is for the ultimate gain of physical victory. On the other hand, I could also suffer physically by eating nothing but Doritos, and drinking only soda for one month! There would be pain and misery for sure...but I would be unfit for service.

MC


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Mike Compton

 2005/8/11 11:25Profile
InTheLight
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Joined: 2003/7/31
Posts: 2730
Phoenix, Arizona USA

 Re:

Quote:
The desire to suffer, is quite a different thing then the desire to serve.



This reminds me of something I read from Oswald Chambers just yesterday...

[i]Choosing to suffer means that there must be something wrong with you, but choosing God’s will— even if it means you will suffer— is something very different. No normal, healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he simply chooses God’s will, just as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. And no saint should ever dare to interfere with the lesson of suffering being taught in another saint’s life.[/i]

In Christ,

Ron


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Ron Halverson

 2005/8/11 11:48Profile
RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Thanks for sharing that Ron. I believe that about sums it up.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/8/11 12:00Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, whenI have preached to others,I myself should be a castaway. (I Corinthians 9:27)


Yes, this was always our inevitable destination but this discipline is not disconnected with what some have described as 'asceticism'. 'adokimos' literally is 'without approval'. In common use it meant 'not having passed the test' and so 'not a legal coin' 'an disqualified horse' and of persons 'discredited' or 'reprobate'.

In what sense then did Paul positively want to be 'accredited' or 'approved'; not in his acceptance with Christ clearly. That would be justification by achievement. This is part of a passage which abounds in metaphors from the public games. He exhorts his readers to run without distraction in order to obtain the prize. These were not the modern olympics with a gold, silver and bronze but the ancient games with a laurel wreath for the winner and nothing for 2nd, 3rd or any other position; the 'crown' of verse 25 is 'stephanos'; the victors' laurel wreath.

Paul was very free with athletic illustrations, particularly free if we remember that the Pharisees hated the public games as being one of the main ways that the Greek world had infiltrated their brand of Judaism. (Historically, the desire of upwardly mobile Jewish families to be accepted as 'sophisticated' Greeks included their participation in the games. The competitors in the games performed naked which identifed the orthodox Jews. The 'liberals' began to abandon circumcision and even submitted to painful operations to disguise their circumcision; they wanted to be 'like the other nations'.)

One occasion of Paul's use of the games metaphor is in his use of the word 'strive'. 1Cor. 9:25 And every man that [u]striveth[/u] for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
Col. 1:29 Whereunto I also labour, [u]striving[/u] according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
Col. 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always [u]labouring fervently[/u] for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
1Tim. 6:12 [u]Fight[/u] the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
2Tim. 4:7 I have [u]fought[/u] a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: This is the word from which derive 'agonise' but original focus is not pain but concentration of effort. It used of Christ's fierce concentration of effort in Gethsemene. (Luke 22:44) Again the biblical focus here is of effort rather than pain. The word means to contend for victory with every ounce of strength available. The Colossians reference is a good place to start; Paul is plainly referring to his 'calling' rather than to personal salvation. In none of these references is personal salvation in view but rather 'calling'. 9 times in this one chapter Paul refers to 'the gospel'.

The same ideas come through in “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” (2Tim. 2:3-5, KJVS) So putting these ideas together it seems that Paul has his personal calling in view in 1 Cor 9, rather than personal security. This certainly fits the context of 1 Cor 9 which is Paul's refusal to submit to things which would obstruct his calling.

The word translated 'buffet' is literally to give 'black eye' but this has the sense of a process rather than a single blow. The word is used in “Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she [u]weary[/u] me.” (Luke 18:5, KJVS) which plainly does not mean a literal black eye. The purpose of Paul's 'striving' and 'buffeting' is to maintain 'temperate-ness' in all things. The word temperate really signifies 'self-control'. This is the sense in which Paul refers to his body; he is steadily determined that his body will not be in control, but under control. This is a process rather than a single act. His metaphors are vigorous but they are surely not to indicate physcial violence any more than the judge feared the widow would exert physical violence in Luke 18.

So we have, I think, a clear target; self-control. But we have no indication here at all of the method of this process. There is no hint here that Paul submitted his body to physical violence but only the metaphor that as an athlete kept his body in a continual state of readiness for race, so Paul, kept his own body under control in readiness for the 'contests' which His Lord had prepared for him. His body would be his servant, never his master; 1Cor. 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

Now then, (in consistency with the metaphor) how do we keep our body, which Paul refers to as a weapon of war in Romans in peak preparedness to be instantly available for the Master's use.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/8/11 14:42Profile
RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Hi Ron,

Quote:
“Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she [u]weary[/u] me.” (Luke 18:5, KJVS)



I am trying to understand here why exactly Paul was wanting to 'weary' his body. The flesh is already 'weak'. I am supposing he means here to weaken the tendency to yield to its own natural lusts. It is 'weak' to do anything contrary to self-preservation. The former passage quoted seems to also indicate that he wanted to keep the body in subjection in order to keep it from rising up somehow and causing him to become disqualified from the race.

[i]Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.[/i] (II Timothy 2:5 NASB)[/i]

A. What can happen that the body might cause us to break the rules?

* Could a Samson like phenomena take place?
* Could our indulgence into worldly things hurt our testimony?
* Could Paul's receiving of offerings have hurt his influence or brought a reproach on the Gospel?
* Could those things which we do that are 'worldly' be [i]sanctified in the eyes[/i] of the world because we participate in them?
* What are the 'rules' for a [u]M[/u]inister of the Gospel?


[i]Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,...[/i] (Hebrews 12:1)

I have interpreted this passage to infer that we are actually running a race of obedience and 'sin' is always trying to catch us and knock us down. I see a progression here. Running in obedience to God can be 'beset' when we allow certain weights in our lives that slow us up and give place for the enemy to tempt us and cause us to stumble. As Ron mentioned the Greeks at one point in their history actually ran nude before an all men audience. I once made the statement to a crowd that the knew that the difference between winning and loosing might have been something as simple as a loin cloth. They were going to out run disobedience or else. They were not going to be 'easily' beset by any sin. They had taken measures to lighten up their load so as to run unabated into the perfect will of God. And in so doing- that sin which could have 'easily' beset them is kept at a safe distance because of the metaphorical increase in their power to weight ratio.

B. Is laying aside 'weight(s)' pedantically termed asceticism?

C. Are the famous last words of a compromising minister, "I can handle this?"

D. Is the final issue our grieving of the Holy Spirit as did Samson and our little subtle refusals to rid ourselves of things as the Holy Spirit preemptively warned us?




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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/8/11 15:23Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
I am trying to understand here why exactly Paul was wanting to 'weary' his body. The flesh is already 'weak'.


I think the emphasis is on the continuation of the process. Continual application to the matter in hand. The widow persisted in her attention to the judge and Paul persisted in his attention to keeping his body as the junior partner in his human-ness. The widow gave the judge no respite and Paul gave his body no respite.

This is the thing about the body; give it an inch and it will take a yard. The body was created to be our servant and Paul is determined to make sure it knows it. This is not masochism but discipline. I had an old friend who once testified that whenever he decided to fast his body would instantly indicate all kinds of reasons why the fast should start later and be shorter. He said when he decided to fast for 3 days and his body protested, he would say 'another word from you and will be 4 days'. He reckoned that usually quietened it down. :-D

Our body of course is only weak in respect of spiritual capacity. In many other ways it can be very strong and sometimes its strength of purpose and the energy with which it puts its case needs to be addressed.

I am aware of Chamber's position on these things, and am one with it. There is a very beautiful F W Faber hymn about the will of God which was a favourite of Tozer. I distrust Faber; the hymn has a verse
He always wins who sides with God,
To him no chance is lost;
God's will is sweetest to him when
It triumphs at his cost'

This is mysticism. Faber wore hair shirts and practised flagelation. God's will is not 'sweetest' when it hurts most; that is masochism. God's will is sweet - period (or full stop as we say over here) it's value is not measured by the pain it causes.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/8/11 16:01Profile
RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
He said when he decided to fast for 3 days and his body protested, he would say 'another word from you and will be 4 days'. He reckoned that usually quietened it down



Thats funny. All this time I have wanted to say something like this; "keep it up flesh and I'm going to blister your hyde." I just could not bring myself to say it. :-P

Quote:
This is mysticism. Faber wore hair shirts and practised flagelation. God's will is not 'sweetest' when it hurts most; that is masochism. God's will is sweet - period (or full stop as we say over here) it's value is not measured by the pain it...



Again, if I could characterize what seems tome to be counterfeit Spirituality it would no doubt be asceticism + mysticism. Yet would I not throw out the baby with the bath water in either case. I just think that in both cases it leads to a 'do nothing' sort of spirituality. Where genuine spirituality is boots on the ground manifesting the love of Christ among the people. well done thy good and faithful servant was not addressed to those who tarried as important as tarrying is. Getting alone with God and practicing spiritual discipline is of the utmost importance and our ministry flows from there- but it cannot be allowed to stop there.

What am I talking about? the whole 'atmosphere' in worship that I talked about yesterday smacks of mysticism? True?






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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/8/11 16:10Profile





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