Life in the Kingdom 4/Understanding the Person 1

Dallas Willard Part 8 of 22

Dallas agreed to teach two separate weeks for the Renovaré Institute in Atlanta, a cohort of 40 students, mostly in ministry positions. He rehearses many of the themes from his speaking ministry elsewhere, so there is little new to be heard, but with more time with the group he is able to be more comprehensive than usual.


Keith: You know, we kind of move ahead and then we come back and tomorrow we are going to do Q & A time. We have a couple hours for that and we will fill in some of the lines around that. I want to just go back to the picture that the WWJD, I mean, this was a big thing—how to promote discipleship and in a number of more evangelical churches, right? The real trouble with WWJD is it became something when you think about it, I mean you put the bracelet on and the whole idea was with something would come at you and you would look at that and go, “Wow, what would Jesus do?” Well, the trouble is that life doesn’t work like that for us. At least, life doesn’t come to me that way. The big stuff of life happens where things come at you in a momentary burst that you really hope that you are gonna do WWJD.


I live in L.A. and my problem in L.A. is traffic. If you move to L.A., you have to deal with reality and it’s traffic and not just traffic but road rage. I don’t know if you have that out here but we do and I live in a particular section that, oh, my, these big trucks going by and the moments that those people drive by me and cut me off, there’s very few times I would probably look down and go “WWJD—what would Jesus do?” Seriously! This is where Dallas talks about the sin being in our members or just the automatic responses. We are in automatic response. It’s too late! WWJD is to late. Whatever comes out of you in that moment when that person cuts you off, you’ve now got a vision of what happened. How much WWJD has taken root. Right? [2:07]


The thing is—that model of the WWJD approach is only good in an overall life of training, you see, because it’s really a “trying” model; it’s not a “training” model. I’m going to try to do what Jesus would do. That’s the flaw with it and the whole idea is that it needs to be a “training model” whereas when I am cut off, now, my training is going to kick in. My automatic response is to say, “Well, bless that person” or does my hand go up with a few things that are not so pleasant.


Dallas:  Missing fingers!  [Laughter]


Keith: This is what we are talking about. Discipleship is about training, not trying. I mean, that’s a really core principle to all of this. We are training to be with Jesus in such a way where we are molded so we actually do what Jesus would do. [3:15]


Michael Jordan practiced a certain way so when he got in the game when a certain defense came against him, he would automatically do what needed to be done when it needed to be done. [He had bracelet that he was looking at.] That’s right! What would Michael do? [I think it’s interesting that it wasn’t transferrable to baseball.] [Laughter] [What can you train in?] I think he got to the game a little late in training. I think he thought he was so good in one that he could transfer into another.


Let me give you one other little thing—a little definition that has been helpful for me on “what is a disciple?” OK? Two things that mark a disciple; number one is very simple. A disciple desires more than anything else to be like Jesus. There is a desire to be like Jesus and that’s based on a vision of Jesus. OK? People aren’t going to desire to be like Jesus unless they have a pretty good vision of who Jesus is.


Secondly, if that is my desire, number two would be that I will arrange my life in such away that that number one comes to pass. OK? So, number one, I desire more than anything else to be like Jesus and I intend to be so—desire to be like Jesus more than anything else and I intend to be so and secondly, that means that I will then arrange my life in such a way that I bring number one to pass—that desire to be like HIM. Very simple but that is the core of what happened with these disciples that Jesus was with and what happened. So, it kind of gives you the heart and the basis of what a disciple is as we are talking about this whole thing. [5:13]


Then you saw this that Dallas had up there and again, discipleship is 24-7. I’ll say this now and I’ll say more about it later. When I have been in my church context, I always say and have always said it in the context of my congregation, my goal is to help you see formation with a new paradigm. The paradigm that most of us live in about transformation life with God is a Sunday-to-Sunday paradigm. We need to get people to shift their minds to a Monday-to-Monday paradigm. That’s a very big shift. That may sound like well, a really big play on words but it’s a huge shift—a Sunday-to-Sunday paradigm and a paradigm is what? A paradigm is a grid by which we view life in a normative way. People view their spirituality oftentimes in a Sunday-to-Sunday model. I go and I get my spiritual stuff on Sunday and then I have to work myself out and it doesn’t really apply to my world until the next Sunday. When you get a Monday-to Monday paradigm, is Sunday in the Monday-to-Monday paradigm? Yes it is but it is not what I am depending on for my discipleship and that’s why Dallas has this little grid because this is about 24-7. This is a Monday-to-Monday paradigm here that he has. [Keith asks Dallas} “Is this a song?” [No, it’s just a prayer written on the wall of an old church.] Well, this church had it right; that it wasn’t just about there. It was about all of life, as discipleship is and Jesus will disciple us there. So, those are a couple things. [7:05]


Comment: Keith, that Monday-to-Monday thing also puts Sabbath where it needs to be if Sunday is your Sabbath.


Keith:  Yes, it puts things in a lot of perspectives. You can really teach on that. It’s a very important shift. We’ve got to make this shift but you know, the machine of the Sunday-to Sunday model is very powerful but we have to move people beyond that or they will not get the whole idea of being a disciple of Jesus in the 24-7 model. It just won’t be the case. [7:38]


Dallas: Thank you, Keith. Now, that is an old structure that says there are two kinds of Christian life. I want to read you something for Eusebius out of the early 300’s and you see how this issue sets itself up:


“The Christian life has two characters—the one wrote on lifeless tablets or tables. The other wrote the perfect commandments on living minds and His disciples accommodating their teaching to the minds of their people delivered on the one hand to those who were able to receive it—the teaching given by the perfect master—to those who rose above human nature. While on the other side of the teaching which they considered most suitable to men still in the world of passion and needing treatment, they accommodated to the weakness of the majority and handed over to them keeping sometimes in ranking and sometimes by unwritten ordinances to be observed by them. Two ways of life were, thus given by the law of Christ to His church. The one was above nature, beyond common human living. It admits not marriage, child bearing, property nor the possession of wealth but holy and permanently separate from the common customary of life of mankind, it devotes itself to the service of God alone in its wealth of heavenly love. They who enter on this course appear to die to the life of mortals, to bear with them nothing earthly but their body and in mind and spirit you have passed to Heaven. Like some celestial beings, they gaze upon human life performing the duty of a priest to the Almighty God for the whole race. Not with sacrifices of blood and bulls, nor with libations and bodily things of various or onion, smoke and consuming fire and so on but with right principles of true holiness and of a soul purified in disposition; above all with all virtuous deeds and words with such they propitiate the divinity and celebrate their priestly rites for themselves and their race. Such then is the perfect form of the Christian life”—which of course, all of you as full time Christian workers live. Hmmm? Is that right?


Now, the part time Christian life—“the other more humble, more humane, more human permits men to join in pure nuptials and produce children who undertake government, to give orders to soldiers fighting for rights. It allows them to have minds for farming and for trade and other more secular interests as well as religion and it is for them that times of retreat and instruction and days for hearing sacred things are set apart and a kind of secondary grade of piety is attributed to them; giving just such help as such lives require so that all men whether Greeks or Barbarians have their part in the coming of salvation and profit by the teaching of the Gospel.” [11:15]


So, now we are talking about something that runs very deep and of course, actually that prayer is an expression of an outbreak of a different kind of vision that in this case basically comes out of the understanding of the church that is very old also but that’s what we are really struggling with when we look at something like this and say, “No, no, pure religion is for everyone.” It’s not an extra job and many people when they question or they hear about disciplines or so on, they say, “Oh my this is another job.” No, it has to do with how you do what you do anyway and learning how to do that as an act of faith.


OK now we need to move on here and first of all, this is in your handouts—The Golden Triangle of Spiritual Transformation. The Golden Triangle is probably a little pushy. [Laughter] It is on page 8 of your notes. But, it’s golden in the sense that it is actually does a great thing, a precious thing and we need to remember that there are four main things that we work with when we are concerned with spiritual transformation and of course right at the apex is the action of the Holy Spirit.


Spiritual formation in Christ is done in interaction with the Holy Sprit, not otherwise. It can’t be done in human strength. On the other hand, human strength will have to be a part of it and that is one of the things that is hardest to swallow for many of our folks today because they think that mixes grace with works and that’s where we have to understand that grace is not opposed to effort. If you don’t put forth effort, nothing will happen. [14:06]
Now, many people have a theology that affects all the things that we are talking about. For example, many people have a theology that says, “God never changes what He’s going to do because someone prays.” They have that theology. They think it would be an insult to God and so that’s very easy then to slip over in some form of prayer instead of happy hour but you don’t think it’s going to make any difference and now we have a theology that has been burgeoning for some years again which really says, “Nothing you do makes any difference.” Who do you think God is? So, now they still insist that you come to church. [Laughter] But, to that theology, you might as well say, “It doesn’t make any difference.” Everything is going to be what it is going to be anyway but we have to understand that grace is not opposed to effort. It’s opposed to earning and earning is an attitude; not an action. It’s an attitude and so, when we say that human beings must do something, we are not pushing grace aside and actually you have never seed people more active than those who are actuated by grace. Grace really puts you on the move and again, you study your New Testament and you will see that or the whole Bible. [15:53]


So, then there is another aspect of life, which we can call temptations. Those are trials and I reference you here to James 1 and Romans 5 where this is taken from. Temptations—trials—not temptations to sin though trials can lead to temptations to sin and often do but when the prayer that Jesus gave says, “Lead us not into temptation,” it’s asking to be exempted from trials. It’s a child’s prayer. This is a child asking its father to not lead them into hard times.


I know you will have to work on that and think about it before you can even accept it because again, many people have different views on it but that’s a part of the transformation process. That’s why James and Romans both say, “We should exalt in our troubles” and it doesn’t say to ask for them. You will get plenty of them without asking for them but when we have troubles and James says, “Count it all joy when you fall into all kinds of troubles.” Now, how could you possibly do that? Well, because you are now living in the Kingdom of God and any time you have troubles, you know that is an opportunity to see what God is going to do; and you know how James goes on and says, “Well tribulation leads to patience and patience to experience and perseverance and so on.” That’s character formation. That’s what he is talking about so remember that when you read James. He is not talking about acting silly because you have troubles. He is saying, “This is a good thing. I know that God has permitted this and perhaps brought it to me for my good and now I get to see what He is going to do. [18:21]


Now, if you don’t do it that way and you try to fix it yourself and there is a wonderful statement here in Isaiah 64 that doesn’t get translated into the passage in 1 Corinthians where part of it is quoted. Here’s what he says, verse 4 in Isaiah 64: “For from old they have not heard nor perceived by ear, neither hath the eye seen a God besides Thee”—now, watch this—“who acts in behalf of the one who waits for you.” That’s how we know the action of God is by waiting for it. Now it doesn’t mean we do nothing but it means whatever we do, our expectation is of God. That’s the God of the Kingdom of God. That is the God of Jesus “who acts in behalf of the One who waits for Him.” Hmmm….what an idea!


Now, of course, it is standard teaching, isn’t it that we even have Psalms? “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.” That means they will receive power to do things that they cannot do on their own. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles.” You know what that means, right? Here, we are more likely to talk about buzzards but you watch a buzzard and how does it mount up? [Laughter]  Well, you know, it’s going to get up on the start; there is a lot of flapping going on but after that, the buzzard mounts up by catching the currents. It just adjust its moves; sometimes just one feather. So, “They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” And it says earlier even young people wear out. But, “they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.” Now, that’s what’s going on here. That’s what we learn in temptations. [21:17]


Now, sometimes we can’t wait on the Lord so we need something else and those are what I called here, “planned disciplines to put on new bowels.” When I was working with a wonderful sweet lady to publish The Divine Conspiracy, she said, “Oh, don’t say that.” And out of pity for her sensitivity to hard language—dirty language—I said, “heart” but it’s bowels, it’s guts. Guts are what we are talking about.  Put on new guts because in the world of the Bible, that’s where your life comes from—from your guts. And we say that, we talk about people who’ve got no guts or that was really gutsy, not heartsy, but gutsy! And we can talk in various ways about that. Put on “bowels of mercies, compassions, humility of mind, meekness, longsuffering.” That’s what Paul says to the Colossians, “As the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on new bowels.” Get some new guts or as we say in the south, “innards.” [Laughter] It’s the innards that we are talking about. That’s what then allows us to act differently is because we have got new guts—new innards. [23:06]


So, that’s something for us to do and in order to step into that, we have activities that help us. Those are called disciplines and disciplines are activities, which we are able to do that enable us to do what we cannot do by trying. The secret is indirection. Please hang on to that word—indirection. OK, so you are going to turn the other cheek in a way that Jesus meant it, you will need to do that by indirection. It will not happen directly but indirectly, it will. Of course, all of those teachings of Jesus that we went over last time, all of those go into the details well, how do you turn the other cheek? What do you do besides that in a context like that? See? Do you say, “Ok, here you go; hit me. Hit me again.” And then it’s done. No! This is a part of a life. After the person hits you on the other cheek, you are still going to be living with them. Huh?  Then, when they hit you on the other cheek, they have to figure out, now, what do I do? If you would hit me back, then I would know what to do. I would hit you again but I didn’t hit you back. Now what am I going to do? See, Jesus’ teachings concretely are a form of spiritual jujitsu and this is again where you have to appreciate how intelligent He is. [25:21]


You see, when you don’t respond with a Kingdom response to what people do, then they have to re-do their strategy. If you just stay in the old human way of doing it, they think they know what to do at least and in the ordinary circumstance, it’s “I’ll hit you and you hit me and I’ll hit you and you hit me and there we go.” And usually, that only stops after someone is badly hurt or maybe both. That’s the way warfare is conducted, isn’t it? Somebody wins, somebody loses and usually the loser suffers terribly.


Most people don’t understand how remarkable what the United States did for the losers in the 2nd World War was. Now, they had opportunity to learn from how badly they failed after the 1st World War, see? And actually their failure in the 1st World War is what led to the 2nd World War. If they had done enough in the 1st World War what they did in the 2nd World War, there probably wouldn’t have been a 2nd World War. See, the cycle of evil precedes unbrokenly unless you step into the Kingdom and now you step into the Kingdom and you do something different and now then the other person has got to think up a new strategy. So, suppose they do hit you on the other cheek? Now, what?  Well, that’s their question. They have to answer their question. Suppose they do hit you? Then you have to deal with all your expectations about how you do it. So, sometimes you are going to have to undergo activities that you choose. They are not imposed. They don’t make you righteous. They make you better but they don’t make you righteous and they become a part of the deliverance from sin—not from guilt.


There are two issues there and these are well known and they are picked up in our old hymns. “Let the wanderer and the blood that from the wounded side which flowed be of sin the double cure.” What’s the double cure? Do you now the rest of the hymn? [Saved from wrath and make me pure.] “Saved from wrath and make me pure.” OK? He breaks the power of cancelled sin. Cancelled sin may still have problems, right? He breaks the power of cancelled sin and sets the prisoner free. See, that’s the two-fold operation.


Now, for example, we think about things that we do that would help in that regard and we come upon the disciplines, That’s where the disciplines come into play. Now, God made us so that we have to use disciplines because He wants us to be partly, at least, responsible for the kind of person we have to turn out. So, if you would like to be a French speaker, then you can do that. Now, you need to want it. The problem that lies back of the almost universal failure of language teaching in our universities is that people don’t want it. If you want it, you can get it. You know not very well perhaps but you will get it well enough to get by. [29:50]

When I am in Paris, I know how to say, “Je ne parle pas tres bien le francais.” I don’t speak French very well and they will speak English then. [Laughter] If I don’t say that, they may just talk French because they want to know that at least I recognize this and that’s good, isn’t it?

So, now, I don’t speak French very well because I have not undergone the discipline to do that so I am going to say this again now. God made us for disciplines. God made us for disciplines. No other animal is like us. Human beings can train some animals or things that they don’t naturally do; not very much to tame. You see a dog that can walk on its hind legs and you are amazed that he can do that but you have to recognize that they don’t do it well. [Laughter]  It’s amazing to see but ……now, human beings are of a form where they can learn to do things that are not natural and in astonishingly good form. Just watch an accomplished musician or you were talking about Michael, the basketball player. What a lot of people don’t know about him and others like Byrd and now, our guy Kobe is how they practice. They know they have to do that. That’s the kind of thing we ought. That is indirection and God has made us that way so that we can expand our lives and when we unite that with His Kingdom, there’s just almost no limit and in fact, I think that’s what He had in mind; not necessarily for this life but you know, it’s just the beginning. Right? That’s what disciplines are. So, keep that in mind. You need all three of those and this is a place for human initiative as well as the work of the Holy Spirit.  [32:41] OK now, here is the master structure.  All of this has to be fitted around this and now if you want to, just make a reference to chapter 5 of Renovation of the Heart because that’s where you have a lengthy discussion of this. This is the VIM Structure as in VIM and VIGOR! This is actually what St. Francis said to Dominique when he met him on the road. He didn’t say, “Good luck!” [Laughter] He said, “Practice your disciplines!” [33:38] Most of the time here we have spent on the “V.” You recognize that? And that’s because that is what is most missing and what is most important. We have to have that right. That’s why it’s so important for us to talk about the Gospel. I’m sorry. Did everyone find that in your books? It is on page 33 if you are numbering.  So, that’s the basis of everything. The “I” is discipleship—intention to realize the vision in your life. That’s discipleship. That’s what we want to invite people to become. We evangelize with the “V.” We lead people to decisions—help them make decisions and sometimes you don’t need to help them which is good but they do need to understand what they are doing. And among other things, if they have trouble with their intention, they need t go back to “V.” Again, you don’t try to deal with that by trying harder. That’s not the way. You go back to “V.” We have things called marriage encounter. They are called different words but you know and you know what happens in marriage encounters? They go back to “V” and suddenly it’s not a big drag to be faithful because you did something like “sit around with your sweetie and hold hands and talk.” See? Yes? [36:04]   Q: I guess that’s part of what you said yesterday was that God’s will and I guess I am trying to figure out how easily part of it is exercising His will to take the first step. Dallas: OK, now, stay tuned because we are going there and what the will has to learn is indirection. That’s what it has to learn and then the details of how to put that into practice. But what I am saying just here is, if you are having trouble with the intention, you go back to the vision and that is no place that that’s more important than in our churches because we have people in our churches, multitudes of them who have real trouble with their intentions. That’s partly because thy don’t understand this or they haven’t been lead through it in such a way that they understand that and they are apt to beat themselves over the head and say, “Oh, I’m a bad person and I can’t do what I said I was going to do.” Well, that’s true and I would say the number one fallacy in trying to grow spiritually is believing that it’s a question of willpower and so, if you don’t do it, it’s because you don’t have willpower. “You are really a bad person because if you had willpower, you would do it.”—That’s just false! [37:54] Now, if you are understanding of what’s going on and you make the right choices, it will turn out that you can do it. This is where we need clear illustrations such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to help. AA will not work for a person who lacks the intention and if they have vision, then it really is good to be there on a buzz; you are not going to get them there. Just like if you have a vision that it’s really a good thing to be able to, as Keith was talking about, hit people with the one finger salute and enjoy cussing them out, ya’ know? You won’t change. That’s a vision problem and some will say, “Well, I wouldn’t be a man if I did that.” Right? Well, they’ve got a problem with their vision of being a man so then that has to be corrected and you can move on to intention. They can decide, “You know, I’m going to try to treat people differently.” That’s a decision. Now, they still have the problem of knee-jerk reactions because that reaction is already in the finger.  Right? So, now we have finger retraining. [Laughter] But if you don’t have the vision and the intention, you will never do it. Am I making any sense at all to you? [Yes] –Because in a way, this is the whole deal. This is the whole deal. Everything we are doing here falls under that. [39:45] Then of course the means come along. But, in terms of our organizational efforts, our basic problem is that we start with means and we think if we’ve got great means, that will do it. It won’t! It may help. Just think of how many cases you have of homes with wonderful exercise machines in them. The means—I have some pretty good equipment but it’s very difficult because I am not big on the vision. Actually, I am bigger on the intention than the vision but that’s not very big anyway. [Laughter] So, the means only becomes effective when you have a solid intention based on a clear vision. [41:00] Now, then you are ready for means and many of those are spiritual disciplines. Spiritual disciplines are not the answer to everything. Some people cannot do spiritual disciplines. Their soul is so shattered and their body and their social relations are in such chaos that they simply cannot do solitude and silence. So that’s why I describe a discipline as something in your power.  Some people of course, they just need ministry. They need someone to sit with them and to pray with them. If someone is gifted to cast out stuff that is inhabiting them, they need that. That boy in the story with Jan last night, he couldn’t do disciplines, right? He needed ministry and of course, our fellowships should be places of ministry to people and they should welcome anyone in and begin to first of all, love them and that means, being with them—feeding them, helping them do things they need to get done and so disciplines are not the answer to everything but they are absolutely indispensible when you begin to grow. This means phase then is really what we are going to be talking about the rest of our time together. [42:52] Ok, do you have any questions? As I say, this is the whole deal and I do encourage you to go to Chapter 5 in Renovation of the Heart and study that because I start out in that chapter with the people who think you cannot change. There is no possibility of changing and many folks in our churches believe that. Q: Dallas, I have a question. You know, the list of the disciplines and engagements, where do we get those and do we get them by example from the life of Jesus because I have so many coming down through the church and have been proven………. Dallas: The life of Jesus is the take off point and then you may know how many times in the New Testament Paul and others was talk about imitation but “they need to be seen and heard in me that do and the God of peace” and you know we can’t do it any other way. We have to set the example—us leaders—we have to show people how it’s done and then they will have to modify it to themselves because it is not righteousness; it’s like plumbing where you learn when to stop tightening the screw. If you don’t stop, you will bust the pipe and you know, the principle that everything worth doing is worth doing twice is not a good principle but you have to learn how to do that, you know? That’s largely imitation but it takes off from the practices of Jesus, right? [44:51] I’ve been trying to get some Christian entrepreneur to publish a Bible with green letters for what Jesus did. No luck so far. But that’s the take off point and then of course, we need things that He didn’t need but in general you look at Him and you see these things showing up that are on the list of disciplines. There is no complete list. That’s why you need the concept. That’s why I give you the concept.  What is a discipline? It’s something in my power that enables me to do what I can’t do by direct effort. So, whatever that is and actually, almost anything can be taken and it can be a wonderful discipline but as long as you say I am going to do that—washing the dishes, especially if you are a man and of course, men now have a way out because they can’t figure out a dishwasher. But, just ordinary things of life you undertake them and spirit of humility in learning and they act as disciplines. [46:09] All right; now we have to set the scene for the disciplines and we go back to this idea that what we do comes out of a very complicated system and I use this diagram. It’s on page 21 if you are looking in your notes and you get this from Dr. Jesus. If you liked that before then you can try it out or if you like Dr. DNA, you can try that—Dr. Drugs, try that out. Well, they all make something different.  Jesus gives us the very analytic treatment when He says in Mark 7 and Mark 12, the guy says, “What’s the whole deal?” That’s what the lawyers ask.  I was in a conundrum and it was something that they talked about in school. What is the one law that just gives you the whole deal? Then Jesus gives him with a little change what was taught in the Old Testament. “The Lord our God is one Lord and you shall love Him with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Oops! Little addition!—“Mind!” Very important—loving God with your mind is central now to everything. “And the second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Now, you’ve got a handout that went around and we are going to try to do this this afternoon after lunch and if we don’t, we will do it in the morning. A workshop on how to love your neighbor as yourself—so, we want to look at that one carefully. If we don’t get it done today, try to look at it tonight and we will do it in the morning. [48:38] So, you have these areas of personality, spirit, heart, will. I think I put those together. Now, there is nothing normative about this—if you want to do yours in a different way, blessings on you, but think about these. Somehow you are going to have to come to grips with them and you are going to have to think, “How would you love God with all of your heart?” And, many people say, “Well, its intentions.” Well, not quite, it’s a little more than that. Intensions are important but what is your heart? Hmmm? You need to answer that question. If you are going to love God with all your heart—if it had said love God with all your nose, then you have to know what your nose is—right? What is your heart? Your whole heart?  All your heart and all your mind. I put both thoughts and feelings in there myself and it makes a long discussion. Some of that is in Renovation of the Heart. Once again, please don’t feel cornered by this but for goodness sakes, work out something for you so that you will know what it means to love God with all your mind. How would you do that? [50:17] And then you’re body. If you don’t love God with your body, you are not going to go very far. You have to train your body to love God and you want it to come to the point that you don’t have to think about what you are going to do; just as you don’t have to think about what you are going to do now and often, you wish you had done something different but that’s in your body. So, we have to talk about what the body is and how it works.  Then your social relations; we are not Adam’s—we are made for community. We are in that regard like the Trinity. God does not sit in splendid isolation. That’s an Islamic view of God but Christians do not think of God in that way. He stands as a joyous community. The old Puritan said, “God is in Himself a sweet society.” That’s ultimate reality. We are meant to live in relationship and these are not separable aspects. These are distinctions drawn for the sake of analysis. They are all put together. Then there is the soul and that’s an important part of it. God has a soul by the way. Many people are surprised to learn that. He has a soul and when you understand what the soul is, you see why He needs one. It’s a part of personality. So, let’s just go over these now. [52:14] Your spirit, your heart or your will is your capacity to initiate—to create. I like to say that your spirit, your heart, your will is the Executive Center of the self. It’s where decisions are made. Now, every Executive knows they sometimes make decisions and they don’t get translated down the line. So, it isn’t like everything is solved there. The Executive has to find out how to get the stuff down the line, right? They have to figure that out and in schools of business and public administration, there is a lot of talk about that. There are a lot of popular books about leadership and so on. Really they are all about how to get the thing to work down the line and often they say things like, “Well, start down the line. Don’t sit up there. Be down here on the floor talking with people,” giving them a sense of—that’s all a part of what it means to get it down the line and that’s a real problem for the human being.  That is exactly where you have Paul talking about “the things I would, I would have done them.” Well, where did that come from? That came from the stuff out here. A lot of stuff going on out there that doesn’t support the language (54:05)?? and that is always related to a failure at the soul level because the soul level is the level of integration.  Your soul is that part of you that takes every other part of you and makes it one life.  Now, sin breaks souls because when you look at a person who is caught up in sin, you will see that their parts don’t fit together. That’s what we call a “lack of integrity.” Integrity is where all the parts work together. A person without integrity is someone who has a bunch of stuff running on different lives and they conflict—the simple case is lying. Lying always breaks your integrity because you are doing something that is running on a different track than what you know to be true. Now, you have to choose. Are you going to act in terms of a lie or are you going to act in terms of what you know to be true? Wow! Is that a big one? [55:24] So, nearly all sins depend upon the possibility of lying. So, someone will see some of our big leaders and their sexual failures and say, “Well, you know, I don’t care about that. I don’t are about what he does in that area. Is he a good leader?” Well I can tell you one thing; he’s a liar and fit that into your picture of a good leader. Do you want a leader who is a liar? See, lying is a fundamental sin. It is a sin, which conditions other sins. That’s why it is so important and why the devil’s main strategy is lying. He is a liar from the beginning. He started out with Eve with a lie. If people could not lie, probably about 95% of other sins wouldn’t be committed. [56:37] And you know, in my context, people say, “Well, what’s wrong with adultery?” Well, show me a person who is an adulterer who is not also a liar and we will talk about it after that. See? See, falsehood breaks the structure. It enters into social relations. It affects the mind because the mind can come to believe it’s own lies and the mind affects the feelings, particularly the feelings of desire that we have talked about some. Desire will lie to you. That’s why Paul in Ephesians 4 calls them “deceitful desires.” They always lie to you and as I mentioned, they lie to you primarily by saying, “If I could just have that, well, I’ve got I made.”  [57:48] So you have a capacity to originate. You have a capacity to think, believe, to incur, to maintain images in front of your mind and that always spins off feelings. Those feelings spin off ideas. Now, they can be embedded in the body and there are various ways that social relations can excite them but they primarily come through ideas.  So, now then we begin to look at the interaction. Why do you have the ideas you do? Well, there is a lot to be said about that but one of the things we realize is what we think about is largely determined by what we choose. That’s why Paul and others in the Scripture—the Psalms and Tolstoy have so much to say about what you do with your mind because you have some capacity to work with your mind, either directly or indirectly and one of the things is that when you go into solitude and silence, you do that with your body and all spiritual disciplines are bodily behaviors but you are able to come to terms with your mind in a better way and your feelings. Solitude frees you from the flood of distractions and things that are coming at you all the time. It allows you to step free of things. It may take a while. Solitude is very excruciating because it so changes our habits and one of the hardest things for many people to do is to do nothing but it’s also one of the best things that they can do. [1:00:00] So, now our body, we need to talk about at some length because it plays such a large part in our life but I don’t think I’ll get to that until-well, maybe I ought to do it now because “tempest is fidgeting” and it’s gonna fidget on if I am not careful. Let’s talk about the body a little bit. OK? Because in many respects, for the ordinary person, the body becomes the center of their—it’s on page 5, I think—the center of their life and so they wind up basically letting their body run their life and serving their body and so on. So, let’s just talk about it because it turns out to be so important. The body is basically—even in physics you learn—it is potential energy and it is a part of physical energy that interfaces with everything else. If you don’t have a body, you can’t work a computer. If you have a body and a computer and a lot of other stuff, you can blow up a city but not without your body. Now and you are going to say probably because you keep up with all of this stuff, “Well, we are coming to Christ where we can just do it with a thought but not without a brain” because what the thought stuff really works with is your brain and that’s bodily. So, the body is very important. It allows us to act in our world and it allows us to make a difference for our own interests and our values and all of that. Without a body, we can’t do that. Your body is the source of energy and action in your world. [1:02:23] Now, we can use it in many ways. We can use it to defy God. He makes that possible. We can become a person with a Kingdom. That’s good. That’s not what He had in mind but you can’t have a Kingdom without a body as a human being and in particular, you become the particular person you are in conjunction with your body. Then, as a person, you have this little personalized power pack and again, that is your body. As you grow older you learn what it is like when it doesn’t work. A couple of years ago I fell off of the roof with a chainsaw in my hand and broke a bone and I learned how wonderful it is to just be able to walk up steps. That’s your body and so, it carries the natural abilities that enable human beings to act and extend beyond natural abilities by interacting with God. [1:03:37] It enables us to act relatively speaking without God so we have the place for rebellion and moving away and that is what our body is supposed to do. Now, when we are armed in a world away from God, then sort of when we begin to wake up to what’s going on, we are already set in the wrong direction and we have learned when someone hits us to hit them back. We have learned how serviceable lies are, right? I like the story about the little girl in Sunday school that was asked what a lie is? She says, “It’s an abomination to God and a very present help in the time of trouble.” [Laughter] They learn early.  Why do you do that with your Father? Gods? You already are trained in a fallen world. The system is a good system. We could not have a life unless the body was the sort of thing that learned how to act on its own. It has to do that. And then that’s where disciplines come in because now we can be a part of the training of what the body becomes able to do or not to do. And then that passage in Romans 8 that moves from Romans 7 to Romans 8 is something you will want to keep in mind then when you are thinking about the role of the body.  Paul locates the sin in my members. Why is that? It’s habits. That’s the form that sin takes in your members. A readiness to do what is wrong that runs without your thinking and Peter, of course is our great case of that and he was in a condition—probably exhausted or exhaustion, emotional upset—they were pulled into a situation where they had no idea what was going to happen. Jesus says, “I’m leaving.”  “Well, can we go with you?” “No, you can’t go with me.” Now, what are they going to do? Their dreams of “hitching their ride into the stars” were dashed and then rationalizing, theorizing, distorting; these are components that go into the behavior of the body which is already set up to go and is prepared to subject the mind to what it’s already prepared to do. So, the body Peter was ready to deny. It had it all worked out. It was a good thing. It was a part not just of the body but the social situation that he had to take on this situation, “Now is the time to deny Him.” He didn’t think about it but his body knew what to do. [1:06:51] OK, so, this is really crucial for understanding progress in the spiritual life because you can see how the body needs to be re-trained so that what it is ready to do is the right thing. Right? It makes all kinds of sense with reference to things like sports and music and other abilities—dancing—if you don’t get the steps in your body, you won’t make ‘em.  So, that’s a kind of survey now on the structure and then you will want to understand where your actions come from. Well they come from all of that. This is on page 13 of your notes and also in Renovation of the Heart. So, actions, where do they come from? Well, the will is important but the development of the person farms the will and the character out to the body and it carries these thoughts, these bodily tendencies, social relations relatively constant will, the soul puts those together and deposits them largely in the body. Now, you can break that. You don’t have to go with that. But then you have to know that that’s the project and you have to adopt the means that tries to put that in place.  So, just really understand that actions don’t just come from the will. It is very rare that you would have an action that just comes from the will. It will be deflected, distorted, re-directed by thoughts and by what your body may do without thoughts, by feelings and then the soul puts those together in some form and the action comes out. If the soul is broken, then these relationships, for example you might have a person who can’t deal with someone of the opposite sex without indulging in sexual thoughts. See, that’s a social relation that is messed up by thoughts and emotions.  Now, probably that’s there because of their experiences as a young person or later on, perhaps, bad experiences of various kinds but the thing that comes out will reflect the distortions of the broken soul. [1:09:54] The process of spiritual transformation is a process of re-integration and you can think of a crude model of the soul as a timer on a dishwasher or some other kind of machine. What does your timer do? Well, it integrates the functions of the machine. It tells when shall we squirt the soap in? When will it be hot water? When will we drain it out and so forth and if that doesn’t work, you won’t have a happy experience with your dishwasher. Many people are just like that. They have broken timers so that something presents itself to them and they have this other reaction and of course the area of sexuality is one of these areas where this is so terrible and when you think about what people do to little children and so on, you say, “How could they do that? How could they even think that? How could they think about that?” They have broken souls. That doesn’t excuse them. It explains it.  So, put the two diagrams together and you will understand, I think, better how behavior results. Then that will help you realize that willpower is not the result but how you apply the will to change these other things in cooperation with the grace of God is what makes the difference and that is where disciplines come in. So, let me just make sure to get this concept out before we split up for lunch. This is the concept. I’ve already said it 2 or 3 times because I want you to really get the concept. You might just want to write on that page—indirection, because indirection is the key. Now, we have a wonderful man in a seminar that Keith and I do at Fuller and he had—he’s a wonderful Christian, a great leader and a good man—but he had confronted this as a leader and he kept trying to understand why people don’t make progress. And so about a week and a half into the retreat, which we do in a Monastery, he showed up in the morning with a shining face. He got it and he said, “Well, I thought the only two things you do is to try harder and that doesn’t do it—just try harder. Also, you can sit down in your brokenness and celebrate brokenness but he said, “I have to acknowledge that doesn’t help a lot in terms of growth.” And of course pride has some advantages and brokenness has some advantages and he said, “Now, I see, the key is indirection.” “That instead of trying to change what I see is the problem, I look at where that comes from and I change that.” And then, what comes out of the end of the pipe is different and that’s where disciplines come in. I say here, “A discipline is an activity which enables me to accomplish what I can’t do by direct effort.” That’s the general description. A spiritual discipline on the Christian understanding is a discipline focused upon enhancement of the interactive life of grace in the spiritual kingdom of the Heavens.  That is to say, it is a way of learning how to maximize the presence of God in my dimensions of personality. [1:14:51] Now, of course, almost every spirituality has disciplines. So, you hear a lot of talk today about “mindfulness,” don’t’ you? Mindfulness—well, that’s actually a discipline—explicitly presented as a discipline. Here is something, if you do that—learn to focus on where you are and to actually a function that allows you to get rid of a lot of distractions and disturbances and then some go further and say, well you have a sacred word that you concentrate on or you talk about bodily positions and breathing and all of that sort. Those are all disciplines and they are spoken of because they actually do make a difference.  So, as Christians, we don’t deny that. As Christians, you don’t want to deny anything that is true. So, if something is established, you accept that. Many people are nervous because someone told them that Buddhists practice mindfulness—hmmm…well, maybe I shouldn’t do it? Well, I’m not going to quit eating breakfast because Confusions eat breakfast. It’s a good idea and I’ll not have confusion because I do something that Confusions do. Now, then, once you are “freed up,” you can then begin to look at Christian spiritual disciplines and compare what comes from them. That’s good! But you are going to run into many people and you may already have who say, “Oh, you shouldn’t meditate. That’s not Christian.” Or “you shouldn’t do centering prayer.” Fellows, you know there are all sorts of people who do that and after all, Thomas Merton was electrocuted in the shower. [Laughter] There are some people who say that God killed him fast so he wouldn’t get more off the path. He would help other people not get electrocuted. So, what I am saying is to look at how these things are done and look at the affects—the difference that they make in these areas. [1:18:04] Then, we can understand the teachings of Paul’s great statement in Romans 12—you always want to read the last verses of Romans 11, by the way before you read Romans 12 because there is a “therefore” in verse 1 of Romans 12 and when you see therefore, you want to always ask what’s the “therefore” there for? The “therefore” there is to point you back to the greatness of God which is what the last verses in Romans say—“Therefore, I beseech you brethren by the mercies of God to submit your body as a living sacrifice.” Now, how do you do that? I hope you don’t lie down on a table and let someone cut your throat—not good! Don’t do that! Now, do you see that the passage is so important; you see where the next move is. Where is the next move? [Be renewed in the Spirit of your mind.] Alright, good! “Be not conformed to the world but be transformed or renewed through your mind.” See, your mind is where it comes to focus—all of that. When you work with your mind, then you begin to change everything and you do have some capacity to re-direct your mind.  How do you do that? By submitting your body a living sacrifice—that’s how you renew your mind. What might you do in that respect? Well, you might for example take your little body and high you off to a retreat house. It’s body. “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may be prove what the Will of God is that you would know what the good things were.” What is good and acceptable and perfect for through the grace given to me and then he goes on to talk about how you carry out your life primarily in the fellowship of believers. [1:20:58] OK, questions or comments on that much. Is it clear? Does it make sense? Q: Yeah, Dr. Willard, I think that one of the things that you notice when you look—there are a lot of people who practice the disciplines—you know, have devotions, quiet time, and that sort of thing and we’ve all done that but there is no effectual transformation that takes place, so how do you speak into that kind of thing where people are sort of doing the right things but there is no transformation? Dallas: Well, that’s very important and one of the things I guess I have to do more than any other is to help people come to grips with a quiet time that doesn’t do anything for you. That’s one of the great burdens that serious Christians assume is something called “quiet time.” You have to teach them a lot about what that might do but one of the first things I tell them is “why don’t you stop doing it?” Find out something that will help. I actually advise some people to stop going to church until they want to. You take the chance that they will never want to, right? That makes a lot of people nervous, but you know, you don’t really want people in your church that don’t want to be there. They are not going to help and it won’t help them.  So, you try to put people on a new basis and above all, you help them understand because these people nearly always think that their discipline is an act of righteousness and it isn’t but they think that and so they become legalistic with their practice and it doesn’t do them any good. So, then you can begin to talk to them about other ways of thinking—about studying the scripture on a regular basis and I do something strange, for example, I remember once this lady talked to me in Chicago or somewhere about she doesn’t get anything out of prayer. So, I suggested that she start praying with her eyes open and it helped her. Right? Because she had approached prayer through her Sunday school training, “Now boys and girls, close your eyes and everyone be quiet” and so it wasn’t a living part of her life. It was automatically putting it out there and out of her life. So, why don’t you prayer over things with your eyes open? Try that. This is an area of experimentation. One of the things I tell people is, “Look, you will do a lot better if you will spend Saturday afternoon reading the Gospel of John than reading little tidbits every morning. Stop taking it like medicine. Think in terms of what actually affects you and the reading of the Gospel of John in one peaceful setting will bowl you over if you actually open yourself to it and you make time for it. And then, why don’t you read it three times this weekend. You suggest different ways of reading the scriptures. [1:24:49] Q: Dallas, you mentioned this several times –Peter’s intentionality in the Garden and His caught up in the despair of Jesus leaving. I don’t want to simplify this but is there anything we can gain from the narratives; for instance, Jesus meeting Peter saying, “Do you love me and then later in Acts, he just seems to be such a different guy. He is centered and willing to lay his life down in front of the Sanhedrin. He’s a totally different guy. Is there anything narratively we can pick out or am I just trying to simplify?  Dallas: Well, what you want to think about it is what actually happened. What were the affects of his denial? And of being received by Jesus and Jesus carrying on that conversation with him and then of course there was a great deal that happened between that and when he stood with the Sanhedrin. Ask yourself the question what would it be like to spend 10 days in a room with a bunch of disciples? Always look on what is causing what? That’s the general response I would give to that kind of question. And that’s why you need an understanding of these dimensions of personality. See?  Well, why did he stand up? Why didn’t somebody else stand up? Well, Jesus said, “You lead them, you feed my sheep, you be responsible for them.” Now, the bitterness of his failure of Jesus, which he’s had time now to cook and percolate, he stands up and of course a lot is going on in the spirit realm. The Holy Sprit is moving but don’t disregard the details of what he went through and especially think about the circumstances and then people spending 10 days together. Most of our churches couldn’t stand that under any circumstance but they had been of course especially prepared and Jesus had taught them and told them what was going to happen and that’s all very important but don’t neglect the details of what he had gone through and the difference it made. [1:27:24] Gary—two things. Probably also there is a big chance that the resurrection changed his vision quite a bit but sorry, I didn’t mean to slip that in [No, no, that’s a part of the story—absolutely] and will Allen Chi to ask the blessing before we take our lunch break—in Chinese, by request. Allen Chi: Gary may hope for translation [Laughter] Prayer in Chinese…..

Listen to all parts in this Renovaré Institute: Atlanta Cohort series