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December 7, 2015

Biblical Realism

Willard is really challenging me with this book. He discusses how we've moved away from the realism of Jesus teaching or Paul's writing. In other words, we try to fit the truth into our life instead of fitting our life into the truth. Willard says we rest upon many centuries of interpreting Paul and other biblical writers in a "fanciful, sentimental, or 'spiritual' manner." Take for instance Paul's often used phrase "I die daily". This is usually accepted as an expression of attitude or spirit of self sacrifice and humility. The context of this phrase however, makes it clear that for Paul, this was not an attitude, but a daily way of life. Willard clarifies the this point in stating that Paul always referred to the life of a Christian disciple using language "realistically," but not always "literally."  So while Paul doesn't mean we literally crucify our flesh, he does mean we have to take definitive actions to remove the control of the self from our lives.

Willard says if we want to regain biblical realism for our lives, we must be capable of "proving effective practical guidance as to how to live the life of Jesus." I've been guilty of teaching discipleship as more of a pattern for living or a spiritual attitude rather than speaking with the realism Paul uses. Lately though, I've felt the Holy Spirit urging me to be more specific, get down to the details of living day by day, taking steps, making decisions, and putting into action the real life of a disciple. This is real learning and living of the Word as we follow Christ.