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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Personal Identity

Where you are at is simply your location; it is not YOU. You are not defined by what you own, by your history, by your current state of development, by your perceptions, by what makes sense to you, by the choices you make based on your perceptions, or by any such thing that interfaces you with the world or others. True those things belong to you and you are responsible for what belongs to you. 

When you become more mature, you do not lose you, nor do you become you. All that changes is the content on your slate. You are the slate, you have always been that slate and will always be that slate. 

This is why God loves you. You deserve His love. The slate you are is made in his very image and he is rather fond of the value that is your very essence. We are people who are like gold refined in the fire of the challenges of life. Sometimes life can dump more impurities into the gold and sometimes the impurities rise to the top where they can be skimmed away. But be sure of this one thing, whenever dross is skimmed off, what you lose is not you and never was you. Furthermore, the gold that you are has always been gold and has always been you. The real you is the pure gold always and from the beginning until forever.

Like the smelter who heats up the gold and skims away the dross that rises to the top, and he works at it until the gold is so pure he can see his own reflection in the liquid gold, so too is God who lives in you, loving you through every step of your life. He is the smelter and purifies the gold you are until he sees the real you. And when He sees the real you, He sees his own reflection.


  1. Curious choice of illustrations, Bob. Many of us would call the dross that prevents God's image, "sin." What you call "life," (at least as far as the dross part is concerned) Scripture and 2000 years of Christian experience call "sin." What Christ died to atone for, according to the Bible, 2000 years of Christianity and 4000+ preceding years of Judaism forecasting the Messiah, call "sin." One of the deepest curiosities is that dross is permanently and inherently part of the gold until it is heated above gold's melting point -- sometimes illustrated by hellfire and brimstone, or the fiery furnace. What is the source of the heat in your illustration that separates it from evil Christianity?

  2. David, I would look at 1 Peter 6, 7: In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

    The word "sin" as used by the church over the last 2000 years is a narrowed distortion from the way Koine used the word. And Jewish notions of sin are not congruent with Eastern or Western Christian traditions. And as Paul told us in Romans 7 he discovered that sin in him is not him. Why should God judge anyone for something that is in them but not them?

    Living life as it comes and seeking to live loved and live loving through the union we have with the indwelling Christ is an occasion for this metaphor of heat.

    1. Hamartano (Greek verb) means to miss the mark, sin, err -- especially morally. It indicates faults, offenses, sins, trespasses. Hamartia (Greek noun) is the same definition -- a condition of missing the mark, sinning, erring, failing, offending, trespassing. Hamartema (Greek noun) is another expression for the actual condition of an individual sin (Hamartia) in practice; for instance, "murder is sinful."

      Is this not how you understand it? I find this concept in numerous ancient Greek translations, including but not limited to Strongs.

      There are places where the noun and verb are used together, for instance Rom 5:12 "Therefore, just as through one man sin (noun) entered the world, and death through sin (noun), and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned (verb)."

      The OT examples of "sin" include many words in addition to the nominally similar khat-taw-aw' or chattacth, but the greater specificity only helps to conceptualize and develop the Greek meaning. Sin, appropriately (and very consistently) means the deepest of moral, legal (in the sense of God's law exposing sin, primarily) inhumane, vile, and wretched of deviations from God's will as well as the innate temptations to it, failure to avoid it, and the consistent guilt sense of it.

      I sense from your posts here and in FB that you somehow don't believe in the natural tendency for man to sin, or for God's law to expose sin (as in, pointing it out) or in the moral fault of it! Is this wrong, Bob? If so, what is it that Jesus atones for? Why, if you are not plagued by sin, do you need to be saved? Why must Christ die?

      Secondarily, if Christ died so that it no longer makes any difference what you do or who you worship -- if you even choose to -- why do the Apostles spend so much time in the NT explaining that concept and driving home the point that sinfulness is the human condition, that all sin, that all have sinned, that sin separates us from God, and that Jesus died to pay the penalty for sin? Why did Jesus make more references to hell and damnation than any of the Apostles? (See Matthew chapters 5, 10, 11, 16, 18, and 23, Mark 9:43-47, specifically; Jesus is quite emphatic about that place you seem to struggle against.)

      The reason I raise this issue removes any relevance from the Peter epistle, because after receiving Christ as Lord and Savior, there is no condemnation, no Hell to fear, and no punishment remains for those who are in Christ -- remember that Jesus paid it all! We are free indeed! Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world! Our salvation comes from the Lord! It is for those whom Christ has not saved that He spoke to when Jesus said (as recorded in Luke 12:5): "But I will warn you whom you shall fear: Fear him, who after he has killed has power to cast into hell; yes, I say unto you, Fear him."

  3. I heard this illustration of the smelter long ago. It's always been in the context of "sin" and "holiness". God heats things up so our "bad stuff" comes out and he can "deal with it" thus making us more holy - more like him.

    Now I see it more like you do. What is being skimmed off is not necessarily evil - it's our misconceptions. It's everything that keeps us from seeing who we really are. We don't achieve holiness by getting rid of sin. We fall into this union with God by letting go of everything that stood in the way. And what is left after we let go of everything was always there to begin with.

    Good stuff, Bob. Thank you!