Posted by: Billy Marsh | November 26, 2007

Reflections On True Spirituality: Session 10

Francis Schaeffer

The previous sesson was on chapter 9, “Freedom in the Thought-Life“, which was a phenomenal section. Schaeffer discussed how all men virtually live inside their own heads and that the real battle is in the world of the thought-life because it is from this area that deeds and actions are produced. I also submitted a post that disclosed just a few resources concerning the role of the mind in Christianity that recently I had discovered. I’m about a week behind in my posts compared to where we are at in reading True Spirituality in The Francis Schaeffer Book Club. Actually, we only have one more chapter to read before we finish the book and then we will take the final meeting (Dec 7th) to recap, reflect, and commission. What I’m going to look at today comes from chapter 10, “Substantial Healing of Psychological Problems”.

Schaeffer’s emphasis in this chapter has to do with how a person has real physical, spiritual healing, though not total (hence the use of ‘substantial’), once he or she is a new creation in Christ. Even though the previous section dealt with only a part of the person (the mind), a Christian is deceived if he thinks that salvation was only meant to be applied to the intellect and not to the whole man. Schaeffer argues that though we may think of ourselves in terms of isolated parts, according to the Bible, we are to be transformed as a complete unit. Thus, we must not neglect the fact that being made in the image of God, we think, act, and feel. Therefore, what we know in the mind to be true, must permeate itself through our entire being until it has become a part of our whole self (109).

For example, it is a serious injury to our spirituality when after knowing that we have been forgiven of our sins in Christ, not to welcome and receive that forgiveness, but instead to still feel the constant weight of endless guilt and depression bearing down upon our shoulders while being fully aware that Christ has victoriously nailed our sins to the cross (Colossians 2:14) and we bear them no more; shouldn’t “it be well with our soul”? However, we ought not to belittle our brothers and sisters’ pain as they learn to live in the power of the resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ. Like John Piper so often stresses, doctrines and works are not just light switches that we can flick on or off. These issues are not so simple as simply pushing a button. Schaeffer believes that Christians have been harsh in this point towards others. Even in our mid-week meeting, most of those there testified that anytime he or she is dealing with psychological issues, the general response from other Christians is “deal with it” or “get over it” or a constant battery of Scripture quotations which the person already knows. Yet, due to the Fall, Schaeffer points out that:

. . . there is no truly healthy person in his body, and there is no completely balanced person psychologically. The result of the Fall spoils us as a unit and in all our parts (114).

As people who have inherited original sin from Adam and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 2-5), we naturally experience differing degrees or amounts of low moments or psychological guiltiness, that at times, is unwarranted due to the removal of our transgressions in Christ. Yet, do not misunderstand Schaeffer; he is not teaching that we as Christians no longer sin. Here is where he distinguishes between psychological guilt and “real, moral guilt before a holy God (115).” Schaeffer writes:

Real guilt is placed in a completely rational framework, and it is met within the framework with intellect and feelings of morality meeting each other, without any fracture between them. With all rationality in place, and consciously in place (on the basis of the existence of God and the finished, substitutionary work of Jesus Christ), my real guilt now is not overlooked, but is accepted as my responsibility because of my own deliberately doing what I know to be wrong. Then it is reasonably, truly, and objectively dealt with in Christ’s infinite substitutionary work. Now I can say to my conscience, “Be still!” Thus real guilt is gone and I know that anything that is left is my psychological guilt. This can be faced, not in confusion, but to be seen as part of the misery of fallen man (116).

Learning to recognize what things one ought to be guilty for and what one ought not to be guilty for is a crucial part of the daily Christian life.  Carrying unnecessary burdens can greatly hinder your journey with the Lord in this life and also can have an affect on your personal relationships. The Apostle Paul had an horrific past before Jesus met him on the Damascus road. And, after recounting his past and his persecution of the Church, Paul declares in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it on my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward cal of God in Christ Jesus.”

You will always have feelings of inadequacies, imperfections, and failure so long as you are taking up residence in a body corrupted and tainted by sin. However, we are not left without a hope. As Schaeffer says over and over again, we must live in the finished, redemptive work of Christ. He has paid the price for sin once and for all, now we must learn not to sin, but when we do and “real moral guilt” arises, it must be dealt with according to the biblical mandates of confession, repentance, and forgiveness. Sometimes I feel that God has forgiven me long before I have forgiven myself as to when I go awry from the holiness of my Heavenly Father.

In closing, hear Schaeffer’s final statements in this chapter:

We may know, as the value of Christ’s death is infinite, so all the true guilt in us is covered, and the guilty feelings  that remain are not true guilt, but a part of these awful miseries of fallen man: out of the historic fall, out of the life of the race, and out of my own personal past. The comprehension, moment by moment, of these things is a vital step in freedom from the results of the bonds of sin, and in the substantial healing of the separation of man from himself (118).

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