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Practical knowledge of features - such as lying

I'm not picking on anybody in this post who knows me by my writings or who has had exchanges with me. I'm just making a general statement. Extra-biblical teachings. I get hammered by the usual suspects who think everything is evil that isn't a Reformed confession or the Bible itself. Obviously this is a shallow stance (and pious, and, in fact, man fearing).

Let's take one big subject: features. Features of our fallen nature, and features of a regenerated and restored to an unburied, undistorted image of God nature.

You're just screwing around as a Christian if you stay ignorant of these basic features. If you allow them to stay in the dark they maintain their control over you by default. Systematic theology doesn't go into such things. You can't find a mainstream Christian work that will get down to the practical level and identify and describe these features for you.

You can find extra-biblical sources that will do it though.

How does the Holy Spirit teach? Only via the actual word of God? Then throw out your commentaries and systematic theologies! Right? Right.

The Holy Spirit teaches through general revelation as well as special revelation; and through languages contained in disciplines that are extra-biblical like science, and visual art, and philosophy, and imaginative literature, and history, and music, and any other influence He chooses to teach through. Because it's not special revelation it will be mixtures of wheat and chaff, but that is why the Holy Spirit gives us by degree the ability to discern wheat from chaff. I say 'by degree' because progressive sanctification is a work in progress. We're not made perfect and complete by fiat.

So back to features. What is a basic feature of our fallen nature? How about lying? Yes, that's a basic one. But what do you really know about lying? If all you know is the moralistic stance that lying is not good then you don't know much. The feature called 'lying' has control of you because you don't know it, haven't observed it in yourself, haven't shined light on it, don't know how big or multifarious it is as a phenomenon. And you can't observe it in yourself if you don't have a language to identify it.

Here are some different categories of lying:

1. "No, I didn't get into Dad's favorite cookies." Yet you did, therefore you just told a lie. People's knowledge of lying pretty much ends there. Maybe they have more subtle knowledge such that some lies are 'OK', like, "Yes, honey, you look fabulous in those jeans."

Here are some categories of lying people have no knowledge of and hence practice them with impunity as far as their conscience is concerned:

2. Talking about things when you have little or no understanding of what you are talking about. Everybody does this. It's a form of lying. Though it's not recognized as lying.

3. Inner contradictions in us like when we convince ourselves we are one thing when our actions give us away as being something entirely different. We can see this in other people more easily. It's a form of lying. We don't think of it as lying, yet it is. Lawyers often think of themselves as, and proclaim themselves to be, truth tellers (truth tellers of society!), and often are the most lying bastards that ever draw breath. We have to see such contradictions in ourselves because they are there. "I'm a nice person. I'm not bragging, but I've just always been aware of myself as being nice to other people." Yes, tell that to your female acquaintance that you knifed in the heart that time when you pointed out that she has short legs. That wasn't so nice, now was it?

(It's hard to see this category of lying in ourselves. To do it we have to use the external world as a mirror. We have to make a conscious effort to: see in ourselves what we dislike in others. Because what you tend to hate, or just not like, in other people is often a feature that you have and manifest yourself, but that you are blind to in yourself. It's not always the case, but it's a good clue and worth investigating. It gives you subject matter for self-observation. If you value such an endeavor.)

4. Deep, foundational lies such as thinking you are awake when in fact you are walking around dead asleep in life. (Most everybody thinks they are awake. Especially if you bring the subject up to them. Walk away and they fall back into deep identification with their thoughts and their environment. That word 'identification' is an example of a unique language needed to see such features. I'm not really presenting such a language here, so I can't go into definitions.)

Anyway, see how that feature of our fallen nature - lying - is more deep and multifarious than we ever knew?

Lying is also tied to conscience. At the fall our conscience became buried. By degree, more buried in some people than others, but basically pretty buried for most everybody. It's still there, just buried. As our conscience starts to become unburied we start to see things like lying in ourselves and our behavior. Like when we are talking about something that we don't really know much about, and we pause, kind of look away, and say, "But, actually, I don't really know a lot about that subject." That is conscience making an appearance.

Or, when we see somebody do or say something that really upsets us, or outrages us, or annoys us, and we pause and actually have the thought that we do that very same thing. Or have done it. That is a person whose conscience is becoming unburied, by degree. A person who is also awakening somewhat as well.

So, features. Lying is a feature. A feature of our fallen nature. And we have to know it, see it in all its manifestations and categories, so that we can observe it in ourselves. We have to know the language of lying, so to speak. And we have to have a source for that language. This is what I'm talking about with extra-biblical influences. The Holy Spirit would teach on such a subject, if we are able to be led by the Holy Spirit. And He would direct us to a source for learning such a thing.

I learned about lying from Fourth Way material. Or the language of the Work, mainly in the books by Ouspensky. Now, is that a source that is all wheat and no chaff? As stated above, only special revelation is all wheat and no chaff (especially if you are reading the King James Version, and I'm not kidding). But we don't draw back from everything because there is chaff in it. Here's a good rule too: learn what you can from everything; join nothing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it enough just to recognize these hidden types of lying or is there something specific that we need to do about it, assuming it's possible that we can do anything at all. Based on the types of lying you have written about pretty much everything I say and do is a lie, I guess that comes back to our fallen nature and that it (the lying) probably couldn't be otherwise due to our fallen nature.
Also, how does this type of extra-biblical undertaking fit in with the the teaching of Jesus Christ.

June 15, 2012 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

We are to mortify our Old Man. Our old Adamic fallen nature. To do that we have to identify 'features' of that old, fallen nature.

As for lying and the teaching of Jesus Christ, I believe that the 9th commandments, thous shalt not give false witness, and everything that is contained in that command regarding lying in general speaks to the teaching of Jesus.

Definitive sanctification is monergistic, but prgressive sanctification is synergistic. Once regenerated by the word and the Spirit we are *able* to make effective efforts to mortify our fallen nature and cultivate and bring alive our new nature.

But to do this, practically speaking, we need to identify *features* so that we aren't just talking about it, or living in some imaginary realm where we think we are actually doing something, and actually doing it. And certainly the faith is not about being no-effort passive. That gets back to the doctrine and *fact* of regeneration. Once regenerated a person has not only *ability* to make efforts, but *responsibility* to make efforts. And of course such efforts are the fruit of justification not the cause of it, it goes without saying.

June 16, 2012 at 2:09 AM  
Blogger c.t. said...

More directly to your question:

>Is it enough just to recognize these hidden types of lying or is there something specific that we need to do about it,

In some cases just *seeing* such a feature at work in us is enough to change us, because I presuppose a regenerated person who *wants* to cultivate their new nature and mortify their old nature. But it is really powerful to just get knowledge of something and then actually see it in action. That can actually be enough to get control over it.

The practical thing with these features of our fallen nature is do they have control over us, or do we have control over them? Their great advantage is we don't even know about them. We don't have a language for them to be able to identify them. So they are residing in darkness within us doing their thing and we are victims of what we are blind to. So by identifying them we are shining light on them. That is more than half the battle.

But yes, we also have to, to some degree, go against such features. If we know about something like that we don't want to continue to indulge it.

This gets into the subject of self-will vs. God's will acting down through us. You can actually pray about such things, going against such features once you learn of them. But if you are actively indulging such features *after* you learn of them and have even observed them in yourself then you are blatantly sinning at that point, so yes you do have to want to go against indulging them. But once regenerated that should be something you value doing.

June 16, 2012 at 2:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...because I presuppose a regenerated person who *wants* to cultivate their new nature and mortify their old nature."

I can see this being key to it, you have to want to do it and see the need for it otherwise it would be like trying to overcome a sinful habit simply because someone told you too.

The type of lying you are refering to seems so ingrained with everthing that its almost impossible even just to see it to start with. Not only that but one minute I'm trying to see the lying and the next I'm involved with some other activity which has nothing to do with my wish to see my lying. What seems to be missing here is a strong connection to our Father. During those times I feel a connection to God I am able to maintain a certain level of watchfulness over my sinfulness but this certainly is not a constant. I think this will increase as with any skill will increase in quality given practice.

This verse came to mind.

Matthew 13:12
" For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath."

June 17, 2012 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

An element in it, though, in my experience, is conscience plays the role of waking you up to your lying. As conscience gets unburied, by degree, it is what alerts you and confronts you when you are doing the thing in question.

So we're not just reliant on our slow intellect to be a watchman over everything.

And then just having the features identified in language plays a huge role on its own. Sort of at a different area of the whole process.

June 18, 2012 at 6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see what your saying about the awakening of a conscience. Does that connect in anyway with a Fear of God or are they different ideas/traits. Without filing it under some broader category I don't see where 'awaking of a conscience' is refered to biblically. Can you provide any references?

June 18, 2012 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

Most everything positive would connect with the fear of God rather than the fear of man. Having said that I wouldn't necessarily connect it with the awakening or unburying of conscience per se. Here are some references:

Tit 1:15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

Heb 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

I use the word 'unburying' of conscience. It's something that occurs with regeneration. By degree. The way the Spirit works even before we ever read the Bible, but are being led in that direction. Certainly after as well.

The Bible is clear that just as the mind is darkened prior to regeneration, conscience as well is not as it was prior to the fall. So this implies that conscience becomes something that isn't defiled or darkened, or buried once regenerated by the word and the Spirit.

In Thomas Boston's Human Nature in its Fourfold State there are almost 150 references to conscience in the sense that I am talking about it. That's as biblical a treatise as there is. We can get from the Bible such doctrine without needing to have some verse exactly stating the doctrine like a systematic theology would. In fact, that's what systematic theology does.

June 18, 2012 at 8:07 PM  

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