TPM and Dealing with Sin

Does Theophostic Prayer Ministry minimize the role sin plays in the life of a person?

What follows is Ed Smith's personal theological viewpoint concerning sin and is not explicitly taught in the TPM training materials. 

TPM does NOT minimise sin. 

Sin is addressed in a TPM session as it has traditionally been dealt with through confession, repentance and obedience to the truth.  However, both sin and lie-based thinking create inner turmoil for most people. If we sin, we will and should feel pain (if we are sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit) just as we will feel emotional pain when we hold a lie.  However, dealing with sin and lies is not an "either-or" but a "both-and" situation. The writer of Hebrews said that we must "lay aside [both] every encumbrance [weighty things/lie-based pain?] and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." (Heb. 12:1, comments in brackets mine)   When a person harbors unacknowledged sin this will have great impact on the success of the ministry session unless it is acknowledged and 
taken to the Cross of Christ. 



The cross of Christ dealt with my fallen state and sinfulness, the presence of the Living Lord is transforming my mind and sanctifying me in Holiness.

The Theophostic process does not move forward until the recipient chooses to deal with a sin that hinders him or her from receiving God's truth.  I was ministering with a man who was able to clearly identify lies in a childhood memory that were causing him great distress.  However, nothing we did resulted in his receiving truth.  Finally, I asked him to look inward to see if there was any known sin that he needed to bring before the Lord.  He reluctantly confessed to a relationship that was unrighteous.  However, he was also unwilling to break it off and choose rightly.  The session did not move forward and as far as I know he is still carrying the lie-based pain of his childhood. I am NOT devaluing the power of the cross when I suggest that the Cross dealt with my sin, but my mind remains in need of renewal.  The Cross of Christ was the sacrifice for my fallen state and restored my relationship with God.  The resurrection is the power to live out this victory.  However, the truth of the resurrected and living Christ is needed to renew my thinking.  "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts …and let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you…" (Col. 3:15-16).  Salvation of the heart occurs in a moment in time where we are immediately "rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred… into the kingdom of His Beloved Son…" (Col. 1:13).  My sanctification and mind renewal is a work in process that is being accomplished through the work of God in me and my willful submission to Him.


Mind renewal is a life long process.

Mind renewal is a life long process for we "have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…"  Lie-based wounds differ from sins in that wounds are usually "others-inflicted" or "event-inflicted" (as in accidents, death, war, acts of nature, etc.), while sin is "self-inflicted" by willful choice. If I sin, it is my personal choice, but if someone else sins against me or life happens contrary to my choosing, I may be emotionally wounded (inflicted with lie-based thinking). I say "may be wounded" because I do not assume that we embrace lie-based thoughts in every troublesome moment we encounter. I think this is truer in childhood than when we are adults.   It appears that once a lie is in place, it becomes our grid by which we interpret much that happens thereafter.  Once a lie is in place it is simply re-instated in each new life situation where interpretation is called for.  (Later we will discuss a type of lie I call a clone lie.) 


Much of our lie-based thinking comes from wounds inflicted by others in times of our innocence.

(Wounds refer to any memory event in which a lie is implanted, causing painful, unpleasant emotion whenever it is surfaced at a later time.)  When a child is caught in a situation where his only input is lie-based thinking he will embrace lies.  One of the primary roles of the parent is to instill truth into the child's mind by interpreting 
rightly life experiences.  Where there is an absence of light and a void is present, darkness rushes in. Wounds are not sin, as are lying, stealing, adultery, lust, hate, murder, or coveting. Wounds are outcomes of actions by life or others' actions against us, resulting in our embracing false interpretations in the event. As a result, the pain that surfaces from these unresolved wounds often motivates us to sin. (Notice I did not say causes us to sin.  There is a big difference between influence and force.) However—and this is important—if I make a willful choice to express my wounds by acting out in ways contrary to God's holiness, then I sin. David understood that sin was ultimately a stab at God: "Against You, You only, I have sinned…" (Ps. 51:4).


Sin is a self-willed choice to act out against the perfect will of God for one's life.

At its roots, sin is a self-willed choice to act out against the perfect will of God for one's life. When the pain in our lie-based wound is triggered, we usually enter into another deception that tells us that relief comes by acting out the pain or medicating it rather than owning it and exposing its source.  Many of our sinful choices are incited by deceptive thoughts (lies) implanted at the time we were wounded. Nevertheless, the present choice to sin is a willful decision to act out improperly against God.   Some might suggest that my believing a lie is in and of itself a sin.  Therefore we should deal with it as such; confess our choosing to believe it, repent of it and trust God by obeying the truth.  I agree in principle with this logical reasoning.  However, I also have walked many miles down the practical side of the road and know that most people do not find freedom so easily.  I would like to suggest that there is something missing in this formula.  There is a need for discovery and identification.  Discovery of when and where I embraced the falsehood and the identity of what it is I actually believe.  Global prayers of confession and broad sweeping repentance do not tend to accomplish much in the area of lasting freedom and genuine transformation.  Global actions tend to be a way of avoidance.  Have you ever noticed that when people are confronted with some misdeed how they tend to confess a global description of their deed as opposed to the specifics of their crime?  Specifics touch the nerve.  Specifics expose the stench of what we have hidden. 


TPM seeks to help a person to specifically identify what it is they have believed. 

By doing this they are required to feel the depth of their pain.  I have no choice but to encounter the pain if I am to rightly identify the lie that is at its root.  Once this lie is identified I can then choose to hold it up to the Lord in confession and listen for His truth.  I am in agreement with the argument that believing a lie is in and of itself a sin.  However, confessing the act of my choosing to believe a lie does not remove the lie itself.  It remains embedded in my flesh as a thorn until I choose to go and expose it and hold it up to the light. I also believe there is room for a measure of grace for the child who makes this choice to believe falsehood.  A typical context may be the child being harshly and unjustly treated by irresponsible adults who should have been trusted protectors.  In this place the child may be told that he is the blame for the terrible place he is in.  He may be shamed and accused falsely.  What is that child to do in that moment?  Can he use adult logic and say to himself, "I refuse to take on this false thinking that is being put upon me.  I choose to let this situation be the responsibility of the adults in the room."  No, children do what their minds are capable of doing; second guess their own perspective and trust those in the bigger bodies to know what is true and what is not. 
Therefore the out come is often, "I am bad, dirty, at fault, etc."  If the choosing of this falsehood is sin, we need to show mercy to those who carry its pain. I do not ever want to be perceived as saying that dealing with sin is not important or even less important than dealing with lies we believe.  I do not believe this at all.  It is not an "either or" but a "both and" concern.  Sin is an issue we all must deal with daily.  As I have already stated, there is only one cure for sin and that is Jesus and the cross.  Acts of self-effort can only do what it does; produce varying degrees of performance.  Unless we come to the Lord in our helpless condition and cry out to Him for mercy and grace and by faith expecting and depending upon His powerful intervention, we are doomed to the same "works salvation" that drives all other world religions. 


It is Christ's death that delivered me from the kingdom of darkness and it is His life that empowers me to live successfully in the Kingdom of light. 

As the Apostle Paul declared, "It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me…" (Gal. 2:20).  It is the knowledge of Him that frees me from the lies that tether my life.  However, sin and lies often tend to be found in the same context. It appears that much of our sinful actions are "pain-managing" behaviors.  Think about the sinful behavior that creeps into your own life and what is often at the heart of its motivation.  See if I am not right when I say that many of our sinful acts are motivated by the negative emotions that we feel at the time of the temptation.  Ask the drug addict what drives his addiction.  Ask the man hooked on pornography what he feels just before he logs on the Internet.  Ask the angry husband what he was feeling just before he lashes out at his wife or kids.  What we usually find is, when we are in emotional pain, we tend to act it out.  However, when I am walking in truth and abiding in perfect peace, my inner righteousness is free to flow effortlessly from my new heart in Christ. 


Righteous looking behavior does not necessarily mean genuine heart change. 

The true test of whether a person is a Christian or not is not determined by his or her behavior.  Lost people often do a good job of performing in a spiritual manner.  The Apostle Paul says that the litmus test of  whether we are a part of the household of faith is in whether we possess God's Spirit. He says in Romans 8:9, "If anyone does not possess the Spirit of Christ then he does not belong to Him."  I do not believe in sinless perfection of the saints (as in a Christian reaching a place in this life where he never sins).  However, I do believe that when a person comes to Christ, there is an inner metamorphosis that occurs, transforming his old heart into a new heart releasing him to walk in more consistent victory as he grows in the knowledge of Christ.  The Lord said through the Prophet Ezekiel, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh…and I will put My Spirit within you"  (Ezekiel 36:26-27).  This heart transplant is the precursor that creates within us a desire to seek freedom from our lie-based thinking and equips us to "set [our] mind on the things above" (Col. 3:2) and "on the things of the Spirit" (Rom. 8:6 ESV), and empowers us to yield our "members as instruments of righteousness" unto God. (Rom. 6:13). 


Sin is always the outcome of choice.


Pain-managing behavior is not the only motivation for sin though it is a common one.  I do believe that we live in flesh that is bent toward sin, but I also believe that "our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin" (Rom. 6:6).   Lie-based pain is often at the motivational level of many sinful acts, however, we often sin simply because we give into the lusts and cravings of our mortal flesh that is bent toward sin.  This “bent” propensity to sin is described by some as the fallen nature, the adamic nature, old man, old self, etc.  However, one may describe it or understand it, it still boils down to my choosing sin rather than choosing the ways of God.   I declare to you with full voice that in every case where we sin, we always sin because we choose to, not because of our past, the lies we believe or our environment or circumstance.  
Bottom line; everyone sins because he or she chooses to. We will all give an account for all the willful choices we have made while upon the earth regardless of the motivation behind them. Playing the victim status card does not excuse sinful behavior.  My being emotionally wounded may motivate and influence my choices, but it never dictates them.  The choice to sin still rests completely upon the will of the person not his past.  There are no innocent sinners.  Please keep in mind that all the thinking in this section is my personal theology and does not limit or dictate the efficacy of the Theophostic process. 


Bottom line; everyone sins because he or she chooses to.

We will all give an account for all the willful choices we have made while upon the earth regardless of the motivation behind them. Playing the victim status card does not excuse sinful behavior.  My being emotionally wounded may motivate and influence my choices, but it never dictates them.  The choice to sin still rests completely upon the will of the person not his past.  There are no innocent sinners.  Please keep in mind that all the thinking in this section is my personal theology and does not limit or dictate the efficacy of the Theophostic process. 

 

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