Date: October 17, 2002 08:21AM
Hi Joe, Brent, and Others,
The Brother's name was Tom Vessi. He was a very kindly brother who loved Christ, but was very self conscious. He felt deeply his own inability to overcome sin.
I think the teaching of the Assembly re. holiness was what caused him to become so depressed that he just gave up. You see this teaching (for those unaware of it) taught that "real" Christians walking in the Spirit will experience constant victory over all inclinations, as well as actions that are sinful. So, for instance, if you are having a morning time in the Bible and your thoughts stray from The Lord while you consider problems at home or work----- BOOM--- you've sinnned! The assembly member thinks that his superiors have through rigorous spiritual discipline and overcoming faith completely dealt with such sin conclusively. Thus, when the "weak" brother/sister comes to a meeting and sees all these "overcoming" strong one's shouting the victory they begin to believe they are some how defective.
The only way to deal with such teaching, if believed, is to sink into despair or to deny what is actually going on in your heart and act like you are victorious. After a while, when one continues to deny their own sin, you can become quite nicely hardened to it and actually get up and preach that you haven't sinned in years (as George did).
For those still laboring under false holiness message: BE HONEST! That's it. Grace frees the heart to be completely honest as we have nothing to fear to bring the exact condition of our lives before him. When I first left I noticed how different Christians were in Church meetings as they felt no need to put on some kind of act. They were not conscious of others evaluating their spirituality. I still struggle with this false spirituality and soul searching kind of holiness, but I don't get far into it before I return my sweet rest in grace.
God Bless all Wounded Pilgrims, Mark