As I’m systematically laid low by sin in my life, I’m learning to take refuge in the writings of those fathers known as the “Marrow Men” in particular, Ralph Erskine here. Of the many wonderful insights he elucidates, one in particular stands out to me as relevant to the sort of observations and distinctions we like to make here at the outhouse; Erskine explains that it is particularly true of legalism that it seeks to war with “sins of conversation” or what we might define as common, knowable, behavioral manifestations of “badness.” Drunkenness, debauchery, theft, lying, murder, fornication et al. Anyone who reads even that brief list would I’m sure agree that any moralist, of any particular stripe, would include such things on their list of “bad things”. Now, here’s where the rub comes for the Christian, while they’d doubtless agree that such behaviors are “sinful” our charge is not to war so much against these manifestations, but to strike much deeper at the root.
the true believer should desire to fight as the Syrians got orders, that is, neither against great nor small, so much as against the King himself, even against original corruption.
Whoa, hoss. Where do I do that? Does original corruption have a political platform? Which group/s or behaviors should I vilify and raze on the way to rooting this sucker out ?
Again Erskine provides direction;
“Gospel and legal mortification differ in their principles from which they proceed. Gospel mortification is from gospel principles, viz. the Spirit of God [Rom. 8. 13], ‘If ye through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live’; Faith in Christ [Acts 15. 9], ‘Purifying their hearts by faith’; The love of Christ constraining [2 Cor. 5. 14], ‘The love of Christ constraineth us.’ But legal mortification is from legal principles such as, from the applause and praise of men, as in the Pharisees; from pride of self-righteousness, as in Paul before his conversion; from the fear of hell; from a natural conscience; from the example of others; from some common motions of the Spirit; and many times from the power of sin itself, while one sin is set up to wrestle with another, as when sensuality and self-righteousness wrestle with one another. The man, perhaps, will not drink and swear. Why? Because he is setting up and establishing a righteousness of his own, whereby to obtain the favour of God here is but one sin wrestling with another.”
It appears that the legalist is aptly suited to waging war in the public square, for there he finds not only an object, but an audience, and a victim and a perpetrator, and the weapons for his warfare. But, What about the Christian? What happens when your faith declares to you that you are the perpetrator, you’re the villain? Will writing my congressman help? How about boycotting Disney? Certainly there’s something corrupting and sinister about R.O.U.S.'(rodents of unusual size, for the uninitiated ). Yet, the Gospel seems to insist that the problem is not “out there” and I’m not likely to find the remedy to my malady or justice for my cause, either right or left of center. Rather, the scriptures keep pointing me to the preaching of Christ and the foolishness of the cross. How silly is that!