Monday, 15 August 2011

Why not slash your dad's tyres?

I want to follow up on the previous post about my conversation with Thomas, the JW.

I asked him did he know now that he was justified.  He told me it wasn't possible to know that now.  I asked him if I could read something to him, and I read the following verses (Romans 3 v 19-28):
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
The effect of this passage of Scripture was powerful - it left him stunned.

He then said to me, "So you can just go out and commit adultery, and steal and murder because you're saved no matter what?!" (Note how he got the force of Paul's teaching and asked the very question Paul anticipated - Romans 6 v 1!)

I asked him was it the case that the only reason he didn't commit adultery, steal and murder was because he was scared he wouldn't make it into the kingdom?  Is he just desperate to go out and commit these sins?  This made him feel slightly awkward.

I asked him was there anything I could do that could stop me being the son of my parents.  He acted as if this was a tough question, (I think he acted that way because he could see where I was going with the illustration!)  I assured him it wasn't a trick question and the answer he was looking for was "No".  So that means then that I can go to my parents' house and slash my dad's tyres and trash their furniture and insult my mum, because no matter what I do I'm still their son?  The point is, I have no desire to do that - I am in a loving relationship with parents who have done so much for me and been so good to me, I wouldn't ever want to hurt them.  Then I tried to show him how much more this was true of the Lord Jesus - He gave Himself for me, He bore my sins at Calvary, He has saved me, given me new life, brought me joy and peace, made me a child of God, guaranteed me heaven - I don't want to do anything to grieve Him.

In addition, I told him that upon conversion God sends His Holy Spirit to take up residence in the believer to inspire and empower him to live a holy life.  Thomas replied with a chuckle and said, "Huh, the Holy Spirit must be superhuman then!"  I asked him to repeat what he'd just said because I couldn't believe I'd heard him correctly, so he said it again - yes, he really said it!  I asked him what he meant, and he said, "If the Holy Spirit makes you want to live a holy life it [JWs don't believe the Holy Spirit is a person] must be superhuman!"  I told him that was kinda the point - the Holy Spirit of God is a divine Person with divine power, who does make a real inward difference to those who trust Christ for salvation.

Thomas had just exposed the fact that he had nothing - he was labouring away to earn salvation, living a life he didn't want to live because he hoped it would pay off in the end.  That has the grubby fingerprints of man all over it.  The Gospel does something far better - it provides an all-powerful Saviour to rescue you from the punishment your sins deserve, and an all-powerful Spirit to change your desires and enable you to enjoy what you could not enjoy without Him - a holy life in fellowship with God.