Throwing Your Life Away

How much are you worth? What price do you put on yourself? How cheaply would you sell yourself to someone?

The questions have a certain silliness about them, because we don’t imagine that we will ever sell ourselves. But in fact we have all done so already. We sell ourselves short all the time.

Compromise

Maybe the word ‘compromise’ will give you another notion of how you sell yourself or throw your life away. When you make a compromise, accepting less than you wanted or demanding less of yourself that you could, you have sold yourself short. You have accepted a lesser bid for your time, your personal authority and your life than you could have asked for. Some people sell themselves short, while others sell themselves out altogether.

What Am I Throwing Away?

Have you ever disposed of something only to realise later that is was valuable to you and you should have kept it. This happens often and can be by accident or by ignorance. Maybe you have thrown something away last week and then discovered that you need it this week. Maybe you thought it was broken but it turned out to be in perfect working order.

When you throw yourself away what is it that is at stake? What are you throwing away?

You can throw away your time, investing yourself in something or someone that is just eating you up for no real purpose. A mother might say to her daughter, “If you marry that man you are throwing your life away.” What the mother means is that the man is of no value and so spending a lifetime as his wife is a waste of the bride’s life.

You can throw away your talents and potential. A father might say, “Don’t study that easy course, because you have enough brains to be doing the hard course and getting a better outcome. If you do the easy course you are throwing your life away.”

You can throw away your personal, moral authority. God has given you the ability to stand on His side and do business with all of His authority behind you. But if you compromise with sin and evil you are throwing away that personal moral authority.

The Bidding Begins

Early in life we find ourselves being asked to sell ourselves cheaply. Bids are made for our attention, time, commitment and so on. Take for example a young man who is asked to compromise his morality by listening to a dirty story or looking at sordid pictures. This will cost him his innocence and make him a slave to immoral thoughts and motivations. Surely he would not want such a penalty.

However, most young men do not understand the cost of their compromise, so they are unlikely to hold back because of proper understanding of the consequences.

What will aid the young man is his conscience and the inner sense that this thing he is being asked to do is tainted. The attitudes and actions of those tempting him will signal that there is something a little shameful or illicit in what is being offered.

Another thing that can save this young man is the instruction of his parents never to allow such offensive things into his life. Wise parents will instruct their children to avoid things that enslave lives.

The Highest Bid

If the young man is reluctant to participate at first he will find that the bidding is raised quite quickly. At first it will simply be temptation to do something illicit. When he declines he will find that the stakes are being raised to include his reputation or acceptance in the group.

Those tempting him might suggest that he is weak by being afraid to participate or they may advise him that he is not fit to be included in their company if he is not a willing participant.

If he further declines, then someone might try to sell him on the excitement that is on offer, or assert their own superiority to the man because they have already participated without injury, and so on.

What is happening in such exchanges is that the bidding for the young man’s soul is rising, until the tempters cause him to yield.

Sold

When the young man gives in he is “sold” out. He has settled on a price at which he will trade off who and what he is for something. In the end he may do what he is being tempted to do, not for the thing itself, such as to view pornography, but to keep the friendships which are now at stake.

By this process people are selling themselves all the time.

Not For Sale

The only ones who are not sold out are those who do what God wants them to do in every situation all the time. Those ones will resist every temptation and threat. They will stand alone and stand for God no matter what the cost.

The book of Daniel records that Daniel and his three friends each did this in various ways. The challenge to ‘dare to be a Daniel’ represents the idea of resisting temptation and threats so that the right thing can be done all the time, without fear or favour.

Sold Cheaply

I can think of several school friends who sold themselves cheaply. They readily bought into sensuality, drugs, lying, cheating, irresponsibility and so on. They did it so cheaply that they received nothing in return. They did not hold out for respect, privilege or gain, but hastily jumped into the slime to slide into shame, addiction and worthlessness.

Many people do this, especially if they are without the protection of loving and wise parents who guide them to wise choices and a wise lifestyle.

The Israelites sold themselves cheaply in the days of Jeremiah. They abandoned God and built broken resources for themselves that did not work (Jeremiah 2:12). They were keen to throw away their true value for that which is worthless.

If people think they are worth nothing they see no problem in selling themselves cheaply. Yet every person is of inestimable worth and should never be sold out at all!

Bought Back

The wonderful news is that the sacrifice of Jesus allows us all to be bought back from the hand of those who have enslaved us or bought us cheaply. The Bible uses the word ‘redeem’ to describe this process of paying the price needed so the item is returned.

Jesus Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.

If you have abandoned your personal sovereignty in a vain attempt to get some gain for yourself, like Eve selling herself for nothing in the Garden of Eden, then you need to be redeemed by the blood of the lamb. That was the price paid for your freedom. Make sure you are bought back from the grimy slavery to sin and are given a fresh start to live as a sovereign child of God who can change the world with His grace and power.

Nobility by Walking in the Spirit

I have pointed out in earlier posts that Nobility is anchored in our creation. Nobility is attached to things based on their birth or some other special quality. There is no more special origin and quality than to be made in the image of Almighty God. We are Imago Dei – made in the image of God.

Thus we are spirit beings, with profound spiritual significance. Our destiny is to express all that God is by our actions and lifestyle. We are to be like God, who is holy, loving, creative, totally faithful, responsible, forgiving, just, and so on. We must also recognize that we are created by a moral God and placed in a moral universe. We are therefore moral beings, accountable to God for what we do with our lives.

At the same time we are ‘flesh’. This means we are made of natural senses that empower us to engage with the natural world in which we have been placed. Those senses can, of themselves, provide us with delight, in taste, touch, sight, sound and so on. Humans, then, can choose to pursue the delight that human senses provide. When they do that they are now living out of their natural, sensual being, rather than their spiritual qualities.

Since nobility is based on our special-ness, when we live out of our spiritual value we have unparalleled nobility. When we live out of our natural senses we lower ourselves to the level of an animal in pursuit of natural experiences.

So, mankind’s nobility is tested by the fact that he is ‘also flesh’, as God described us in Genesis 6:3. Man is not to look out for opportunities to indulge the flesh but is to live by God’s spiritual destiny on his life.

The Apostle Paul put it this way, “do not use freedom as an opportunity to indulge the flesh, but serve one another out of love”, Galatians 5:13 (author’s paraphrase).

The challenge for humans, however, is that their natural senses can become quite obsessed with gratification. This is especially so if those senses have been awakened and indulged.

When the Israelites were fed supernaturally in the wilderness for 40 years they were fed a substance that sustained their bodies, but which did not indulge their appetites. The miracle ‘manna’ would form on the ground each morning and be collected for their sustenance. They made bread and other food from it. The food was physical but its essential quality was spiritual.

The Bible described the manna as “angels food” (Psalm 78:25). Angelic food would be sufficient to feed a spirit being, since angels are spirit beings. It was able to sustain natural bodies because people can be sustained and kept alive by having their spirit fed. Yet spiritual food would do nothing to pander to human appetite, even though it miraculously sustained human life.

As a consequence the people loathed the food, which they called ‘light bread’, and they lusted for meat, onions and other things their taste buds craved (Numbers 11:4-6,21:5). They said “our soul loathes this light bread”. While their body was sustained by manna, their appetites were unsatisfied with it. It did nothing to appease their natural cravings for strong flavours and tickled taste-buds.

The historical experience is metaphorical of the way humanity despises living for spiritual values. In order to walk in the Spirit and live out of our spiritual realities we have to put our flesh to death, dying to natural appetites.

The issue is not staying alive or sustenance, but the human pleasure derived from the natural senses. And therein is the nobility challenge for all humanity. When we turn our focus from the divine to the natural we are the ones who abuse our own nobility and degrade our own existence, selling out our true potential for such temporary and meaningless experiences as the gratification of our human appetites.

Let me put it another way. We are made in the image of God, imago dei. So we have divinity stamped in our being. This is the basis of our highest nobility. Yet we are made with natural senses that can feed appetites of lust and self-gratification. When we bring out body under control, and die to our fleshly appetites, living to fulfill spiritual destiny, we achieve our highest nobility. When we abandon spiritual focus and seek gratification of our appetites we degrade ourselves and can totally destroy any self-worth within us.

The Bible truth of our special creation by a loving God to whom we are accountable, is a solid basis for appreciating our nobility. The lie of evolution, baseless in science, defying proof or even a workable theoretical base, yet pushed as essential dogma for acceptance into many corners of western society, strips humanity of its nobility.

I call you to rise to your true nobility. I call you out of the trough, where the pigs wallow. You are created for much higher destiny and nobility than the pub brawl, seedy back alleys, hollow halls of human vanity, vain and baseless ambitions of self importance, and so on. You are created for the throne room, where your mentor, the Living God, waits to tutor you in eternal authority and global significance.

Fellow noblemen, please stand. Stand in the presence of God. Stand in your created destiny. Stand in your nobility. Stand against evil. Stand in freedom from human appetites. Stand in the glorious liberty of the children of God. Stand, because He has called you to stand for His glory.

The Lost Taste of Sex

I’ve talked a bit about how we lose the taste for things, so now I’ll turn your attention to sex. (I smile at this, since some people already have their mind turned too far in that direction.) I have pointed out how people end up unable to enjoy the natural flavours of life and of God’s glory, because they have become addicts to sensual stimulation.

One of our problems is that we adapt to the stimuli, so anything that is tantalising becomes normal as we continue to experience it. We can find ourselves adding more sugar, more salt or more spice, because we keep adapting to the flavour sensation we have created.

Another problem is that we must avoid crossing moral boundaries. We are moral beings and many of the things our body craves must be kept within moral bounds as well. If we indulge a human appetite we become a slave to their thing. Our body then makes demands of us and will not be satisfied unless we indulge it. We are in a moral bind. What was supposed to simply be a delightful additional experience becomes a slavery and an acid hole in our being.

In our sensualised western culture we are constantly prompted to indulge our appetites. In so doing we begin destroying our taste for those things and we come under the power of the sensuality. We find that we are spoiled for the ordinary, not because we have transcended the ordinary, but because we have damaged our taste buds and can no longer taste the flavours God created for us.

So, how does this apply to sex?

Most westerners do not know how to enjoy sex that is not sensualised. Sex has been so immersed in pop-culture sensuality that many people think their sexual experience is a failure if it just ordinary.

Sex is packaged for us in song, books, movies and TV programs as a highly sensualised experience. Pornographic or sensualised images, eroticised stories, voyeuristic entertainments and immoral lifestyles have so swamped our appreciation for sex that most westerners are permanently damaged goods.

In my Straight Talk on Sex seminars I point out that sex is often fused with adrenalin in the experienced of sensualised people. Those people don’t want sex without the accompanying adrenalin rush as well. The taste of sex has been lost to them.

I recall talking with a new Christian who had recently dealt with his pornography problem. He had begun to use pornography to give himself a sexual excitement. However, the consequence was that he found himself unable to enter into natural sexual relations with his wife. He finally resorted to keeping pornography beside his bed and using that to get himself worked up enough to be able to have intimacy with his wife.

The wife in that situation felt horrible demeaned. She felt that she was so deficient as a woman as to be incapable of attracting her husband’s sexual interest. The problem, however, was not with the woman but with the man. He was spoiled for the ordinary. He could no longer enjoy the natural and sweet intimacy God gave him in his marriage. What he had indulged in, in order to give himself an upgrade in his sexual excitement, actually did the very opposite. It ate holes in his sexuality.

Thankfully, through becoming a Christian, this man dealt with his sin and addiction.

The devil’s deal just never gets any better. He keeps promising the earth and delivering mud. He promises excitement while he is stealing your ability to taste anything at all.

If you have been damaged in the ways I describe in these posts, I encourage you to deal with the issue. You are welcome to use the Steps to Release which are my main ministry tool in helping people. I have already posted on the topic, giving a summary of those steps, so look for the post titled Steps to Release.

Sacred Nakedness

The on-going current issue of child nude photos intended for display in a Sydney art gallery prompts me to clarify again the Biblical position regarding nakedness. Sacred Nakedness is the term I am now using to help us recognise the moral issues behind this debate.

It has long been suggested that nakedness is something which mature adults should have no problem with. Adults are well informed about the differences between male and female physiology and married couples can enjoy open sexual intimacy and share their nakedness without shame or recourse. So, it is suggested, it is prudish and childish to make too much of nudity and nakedness.

Advocacy for the open display of nudity, at least to adults, goes along the lines, “We’re all adults here. If you’ve seen one naked body you’ve seen them all. There’s no need to be ashamed of the human body.” Evolutionary influences add to the debate such thoughts as, “Clothing is a recent invention. We are just a ‘naked ape’ and we can display our unclothed bodies just like other animals do.”

Then come the big guns of mockery and intimidation, such as, “How Victorian and prudish to be ashamed of the human body. We should celebrate our bodies and be unashamed to display what nature gave us.”

So goes the sales pitch. That’s why people who anchor their beliefs in cultural voices become confused on this issue. Instinctively their conscience warns them that nakedness is not such a casual issue. Life experience signals that nakedness is indeed a deeply moral issue. Yet these other voices of cultural reasoning challenge our instinctive perceptions.

Consider these obvious signals that nakedness has a sacred and moral quality. Imagine a person choosing to turn up at work stark naked for the day. If nakedness is such an over-rated issue, made special only by outdated, prudish ideas, then why does such a situation raise so much concern? Is it not true that most people in that workplace will be distracted, some being sensualised and others being offended? Is it not true that the parents and family of the naked person will struggle with their actions and the family of the others who turn up at work will hold concern for how their family member will be affected by working around someone who is naked?

While some ‘enlightened’ people will assert that they have no problem with their child, spouse or friend showing off their naked body, the vast majority of people, including those of no apparent moral convictions, will find such nudity distracting, inappropriate, embarrassing or otherwise out of order.

We each know, at a societal level, that the open display of nakedness is socially inappropriate, even if we can’t articulate why.

Here is the reason why nakedness is not for public display. Nakedness is sacred. Nakedness is a personal, private gift given us by God, signalling our special place as God’s creation, made in the image of God. The animals are not made with that unique quality and so their bodies do not have sacred nakedness. Humans are made in the image of God and are given a conscience which alerts them to the sacredness of their nakedness. Exposure of nakedness causes shame and is a violation of our moral being. While it is possible to become desensitised to our conscience, such cavalier attitudes do not change the reality of our creation. Neither do philosophy classes, protestations by ‘artists’, demands that we be ‘grown up’ and ‘realistic’, etc.

It is possible for people to push past their pangs of conscience and become hardened liars, thieves and even killers. So the evidence that some people can be arrogantly hardened in their stance on nudity is no case for arguing its inherent value. A gang or thieves celebrating their freedom to steal without pang of conscience has not changed the fact that theft is wrong.

Shaming ourselves by exposing human nakedness is not ‘enlightenment’ but rather it is the journey into darkness. Professing themselves to be wise and elevated, libertines become fools and debase themselves. They throw away their sovereign uniqueness and reduce themselves to animal status.

Ancient Greco-Roman art did not change our created reality. Michelangelo’s statue of David did not change our created reality. The modern addiction to pornography, nudity and immoral living does not change our created reality. Appeals to the cause of ‘art’ and ‘free speech’ do not change our created reality.

I remind you that from the earliest record of human experience, Genesis Chapter 3, we are shown that humans have a conscience about their naked bodies. Adam hid himself because he was naked. I remind you that Noah’s married adult sons, who knew all about what naked bodies looked like and could make every claim to being ‘adult’ in their choices and actions, took pains not to see their father’s naked body when he lay in a drunken sleep in his tent. Instead of thinking that nakedness was of no consequence these men carefully covered their father’s nudity, ensuring that they did not see it themselves.

Every human body possesses Sacred Nakedness. When we make public display of the naked body we are rejecting our own sacredness and the dignity which we have by divine mandate. Those who have no respect for God, and thus are happy to demean and debase themselves, wish to undermine us all. Any and all displays of nudity and nakedness debase our human dignity. Artistic expression is not above our moral realities. It gives no authority to those who wish to act outside God’s moral requirements.

The naked children photos are an attack on the dignity of us all. They are base in their moral impact. They are an offence to humanity in general and the innocence of children in particular. It does not matter what the pose or the level of sensuality implied or aroused by the images. The violation is not principally based on the age of the children or the suggestive nature of the images. Any and all display of the naked body is at its core a violation of human conscience, because it is a violation of our divine personal preserve, our sacred nakedness.

For the record for those who may protest the need for exposure within medical procedures, even in the context of medical treatment, which at times necessitates medical evaluation of people’s private nakedness, we should maintain the dignity of sacred nakedness, rather than allow callow attitudes toward that which violates the conscience.

The child nude photos issue is not a debate about the bounds of art. It is not a fuzzy issue with competing claims and counter-claims. It is a time to focus on our abandonment of foundational reality. It is time to remind ourselves of the moral boundaries which God has imposed on us. It is time to stand for what is wholesome and healthy, in the face of those who wish to drag us all into their own violated state.

Note: I posted an earlier review of this subject under the heading Nudity, Purity and Sex, May 31, 2008.

Nobility Challenge

In an earlier post (Nobility – Imago Dei) I introduced you to the notion of our true nobility being anchored in our unique created status. Since we are made in the image of God, imago dei, we have remarkable nobility built in to who and what we are.

Our nobility is challenged, however, by our tendency to live below our created status. Instead of living as God’s children, made in God’s image, we are tempted to live like animals, bent on the indulgence of animal instincts.

This post on our nobility challenge seeks to focus your attention on the choices you make the impact those choices have on your nobility.

As humans we have two dimensions. We have a spiritual dimension based on our being made in God’s image, as moral beings accountable to a moral God in a moral universe. We also have a natural dimension. Our natural dimension is based on our natural environment and the physiological make-up which enables us to engage with that world. Our five senses enable us to enjoy this life, but can be elevated to the place of our main purpose for life. When we choose to live out of our natural senses we effectively abandon our spiritual dimension, in order to indulge our natural dimension.

The measure of our nobility is the degree to which we live for spiritual realities versus our fleshly interests. This does not mean that people become dead to their five senses, but they put to death the self-serving lusts that spring from those senses. The body has bodily appetites but is not synonymous with bodily appetites. It is more than the sum of our bodily appetites. It is possible to be dead to human appetites and to simply enjoy the pleasures of taste, touch, sight, etc, without being sold out to those things. It is also possible to be highly disciplined and to deny bodily pleasure yet to be internally preoccupied and distracted with gratification. An absence of sensual engagement does not mean that a person is living out of their spiritual dimension. They may simply be highly disciplined in their flesh.

The nobility challenge is to live as the image of God, imago dei, rather than as a craven animal distracted by natural experiences. When you step away from your divine origins and calling you trash your nobility. Every addiction to your senses and sensual experience is evidence of your lost nobility. True nobility involves freedom from the demands of your natural, flesh self.

I pray that God give you the grace to walk into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, out of the quagmire of darkness, slavery and oppression that devours your nobility and mocks your existence.