I have addressed, many times here at my blog, the particular doctrinal issue you raise, but I will address it again now.

The gist of your doctrine comes from the influence of Calvinism, which teaches that faith in Jesus and obedience to God are two separate things, as well as that God is the sole actor in all we do and believe.  However, Calvinism, which masquerades as Christianity, is a false belief system and not the true Gospel, for it does not line up with the whole counsel of Scripture, but instead comes from the imaginations of men.

When we claim to be abiding in the Truth –the Truth being Jesus (John 14:6), His teachings (8:31-36), the Light (1:4,5 & 3:19-21), God’s Word (17:17), and the Spirit (16:13 // 1 John 5:6), we will be abiding in obedience to God.  Stepping into the Vine (Christ –John 15:1) who is Eternal Life (1 John 5:20) is done by an action on our part:  Faith.  “If you have faith…”  (Matt. 21:21)  “If you believe…”  (v. 22)  “To all who received Him…” (John 1:12) by repenting and believing (Mark 1:15) and then solidly continuing in the true Gospel (1 Cor. 15:2 // Heb. 3:6,14,18) –which is the Gospel of obedience (John 14:15-23 // Rom. 6:16-18,22 // 1 John 2:3,4)– these are the ones who have the Spirit of both the Father and the Son.  (John 14:15-23 // 2 John 1:9)

God has already enabled the world to accept the Truth (John 3:16-21 // Rom. 1:18-20 // Heb. 2:3) so that all are without excuse (same verses), and Christ too has drawn all people through His atoning sacrifice.  (John 12:32)  God enables and woos, but humans are the ones who must, by their own will, take the step –the action.  God does not force us to receive Truth, nor does He withhold it from anyone’s grasp.  He presents the choice, persuades us, and helps us.  But we make the choice.  The gift of choice is presented to us throughout God’s Word.

You say, “…[I]t sounds like you are saying that we receive the Spirit by being obedient or obeying the 10 commandments etc, and that we can act righteously by ‘our own decision kinda thing’…”

I teach that those who take action to seek and obey God (rising to the amount of Truth they’ve been given –John 3:21a), are the ones to whom God gives His Spirit, His power, and His Eternal Life, for this is what the Scriptures do teach.  (Jer. 29:13 // Matt. 7:21-23 // Luke 11:9-13 // Acts 1:4,8 // Rom. 2:7)  Indeed, God gives His Holy Spirit only to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32), for He does not entrust Himself to just anyone who believes in Him.  (John 2:23,24 & 8:31)  Jesus taught that those who love Him do obey His commands (John 14:15), and that those who obey His commands will be given the Counselor (v. 16) –that is, the Spirit of Truth.  (v. 17)  But to believe without obedience to His will is to believe in vain.  (Matt. 12:50 & 19:17 // 1 Cor. 15:2 // James 2:14-26 // Titus 1:16)

Jesus stated it plainly:  “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching.  My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”  (John 14:23)  1 John 3:24 states it as well:  “Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them.”  Therefore, it is only the type of faith (in Jesus) that is obedient to God’s commands, that opens the doorway through which the Spirit comes –and remains.  (John 15:6,10)  But God, who knows each person completely (2:25), is the one who chooses the time and way He births a person to be “born from above” (3:6,8) as a totally new creation.  (2 Cor. 5:17)

You say, “And we don’t become righteous through our own efforts or resolutions. So it is as we submit to the Holy Spirit (by crucyfying/denying the flesh and submitting to the Spirit (as we walk in the Ark – Abiding in the Vine) that we can be Christlike when tempted not to be so (or to give into the flesh), not by making a mental decision on how to react, because that could very well be the efforts of the flesh to try to be righteous.”

So we can choose to submit to the Holy Spirit and crucify the flesh, yet we cannot make commitments, decisions, efforts, or resolutions –even though 2 Peter 3:14 tells us to “make every effort to be found spotless…”?  Well, God’s Word does tell us to do these things –beginning with making mental decisions:  “Set your minds on things above…”  (Col. 3:2)  “Take every thought captive to be obedient to Christ…”  (2 Cor. 10:5)  “Think about…”  (Phil. 4:8)  “…and do not think about…”  (Rom. 13:14)  “Renew your mind…”  (See 12:2)  “Fix your eyes [mind] on Jesus…”  (See Heb. 12:2)  “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled…”  (1 Peter 1:13)

I could go on about what actions (works) we are commanded to do.  But let’s take that last verse.  Who is the one being told to prepare one’s mind?  Who is being commanded to be self-controlled?  Is the Spirit through Peter commanding Himself to take action?  Or is He commanding Christ-followers to do so?  We can see from the next verse, as well as the next, and several verses after that as confirmation, that God’s obedient children are the ones being commanded and reminded about what to do.

It is a fallacy to teach that we are not the ones who must choose to enact the Spirit’s character, gifts, and power.  Gal. 5:24 says that we are the ones who have crucified our sinful nature.  Eph. 4:22 says, “You were taught… to put off the old self…”  Col. 3:5 commands us to “put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to our earthly [sinful] nature”, while verse 8 commands us to rid ourselves of sinful nature actions and attitudes.  2 Cor. 13:11 tells us to “Aim for perfection.”  Phil. 3:12,13 exhorts us to “press on to take hold”, to forget what is behind, and to strain for perfection and the prize.  1 Cor. 9:25 exhorts us to engage in “strict training”, while verse 27 informs us that this will mean we must beat our body into subjection to our will.  –Our will which has, in turn, been subjected to God’s will working in us (Phil. 2:13) as we work out our own salvation.  (v. 12)  In light of such verses, it is truly sad when false teachers rebuke others for giving Spirit-led counsel from God’s Word on practical ways to better “train ourselves to be godly”!  (1 Tim. 4:7)

1 Tim. 6:11 tells people of God to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith…”  How are we to exhort one another in ways to accomplish this, if all we can teach is, “Do nothing, but let God do it all”–?  Yet this is indeed what you are trying to teach from your words I’ve quoted above, including when you say, “In regards to your post on June 21, 2012  – Decide – , I just wanted to say we have to be careful of not trying to ‘perfect in the flesh’ what was begun in the Spirit.”  Later you quote Gal. 3:2,3, 1 Cor. 7:19, and Rom. 2:29 & 7:6, yet we know that these passages are teaching us that we cannot obey two masters –the Old Testament Law and Christ– but instead only Christ.

Faith in Christ and obedience to Christ are synonymous.  John 3:36 and Heb. 3:18,19 are just two places that reveal this, while Heb. 4:11 warns us to “make every effort” to enter God’s rest so as to not fall by being disobedient.  You are unwise to teach otherwise; but as for me, I will be as the servant to whom the Master “entrusted His property” (Matt. 25:14) and who “went at once and put His money to work and gained five more.”  (v. 16)  Because it is to this servant, not to the one who hides the talent he’s entrusted with, that Christ will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your Master’s happiness!”  (v. 21)  But to the one who didn’t work to bear fruit, He will say, “You wicked, lazy servant!”  (v. 26)  Because of his laziness and disobedience, the little which that servant has will be taken from him (v. 29), and he will be thrown into Hell.  (v. 30)

We’d best heed 1 Tim. 4:16:  “Watch your life and doctrine closely.”  For only if we do, and continue doing so, will we save ourselves and our hearers.  (same verse)  It is up to us.

with love,
[written 6/22/12]

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