23 Mar 2014

Do What Jesus Says, Not What I Do

Religious 40 Comments

Every once in a while I like to make sure nobody thinks I am arguing, “Look at how moral I am, therefore Christianity is true.” The worst part about my inflation bet wasn’t that I was out $500, or even that my personal forecasting reputation was cast into doubt, but rather that I hadn’t bent over backwards to say, “This is coming from my own guess about when financial markets will turn on Bernanke, this isn’t popping out of Human Action.” So by the same token, I want to make sure that if and when the NSA dumps my email history on MurphyHypocrite.com, nobody can fairly say (they will still say it unfairly of course), “Oh isn’t that interesting? And yet Bob talks about God all the time.”

Obviously, none of this is to suggest that Christians “can live however they want.” Of course not. If you are going to call yourself a follower of Jesus, then you certainly have a moral duty to be “salt and light” for the world; you are to set an example. But when you fail to live up to that ideal–and you will–that is hardly evidence that the doctrines of Christianity are wrong. On the contrary, it shows how right they are: Christianity teaches that we are natural born sinners and need a Savior to redeem us.

Here we run into yet another example of how Christianity sounds nutty if you just look at pieces of it in isolation, but taken together it’s not as ridiculous as it first seemed. Considered by itself, the idea that there is an invisible Person of infinite goodness who sees everything you do and knows every motive in your heart, would drive you insane. That is horrible, and I understand why someone like Christopher Hitchens says not only does he not intellectually believe in that kind of universe, but he wouldn’t choose it if it were an option.

But hold on. Another reason skeptics dismiss Christianity as nutty, is its doctrine that we can gain entrance to paradise simply by accepting God’s free gift of grace, and joining His family through the work of His Son. “What?! You mean a serial killer gets to heaven just by accepting Christ as his personal Lord and Savior?! That’s monstrous!!”

Yet if you put both “nutty” doctrines together, they cancel out. Yes, every time you sin–even if it’s just envying, hating, or lusting in your heart, not something any human would bust you on–you feel ashamed of yourself, and not because some other human is better than you (we are all awful), but because you let God down, and He knows it. But on the other hand, you can shake it off and get back in the game, because you know that your Father has truly forgiven you for it.

The older I get, and the more I learn about human beings work, the more I recognize that this is the only path to even earthly peace. It makes sense that it’s the way to eternal salvation as well.

40 Responses to “Do What Jesus Says, Not What I Do”

  1. Major_Freedom says:

    Christians can live however they want, except blaspheming against the holy spirit, and their religion says they will get rewarded if they ask for forgiveness and repent to Jesus.

    And that’s what some of the middle age Christians (Antinomians) did in fact do, before secular enlightenment philosophy and ethics became influential.

    How exactly can the Christian religion convince a murderer or rapist to stop murdering and raping, given he tells you “I am a Christian, and I ask for forgiveness and repent to Jesus every day for my sins.”?


    The story of Jesus is not original. It’s most likely the whole story of Jesus was made up. There might have been a man called Jesus, but his life is most likely not what we are reading about now.

    Just learned this today during my weekly study of religion: The “Wars of the Jews” by Josephus, is the only surviving first-person historical account of first-century Judea. It is a story of Roman Emperor Titus Flavius. Apparently, the sequence of events and locations in the story of Jesus’ ministry are virtually identical with Flavius’ campaigns.

    • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

      “How exactly can the Christian religion convince a murderer or rapist to stop murdering and raping, given he tells you “I am a Christian, and I ask for forgiveness and repent to Jesus every day for my sins.”?”

      Your repentance has to be genuine or it doesn’t count. Man is in no position to judge whether anyone’s repentance is genuine or not, but God certainly is. Presumably, someone who “plans out” his life in such a way as to “game the system” by raping and murdering and then repenting on his deathbed would not be at all genuine, and God might reserve a special level of hell for people who think they can get one over on him like that.

      • Gamble says:

        No Matt we cannot Judge and the true color of mans heart is nearly impossible to discern but Galatians 5:22 says there will be fruit of the spirit.
        •love (agape);
        •joy (chara);
        •peace (eirene);
        •patience (makrothumia);
        •kindness (chrestotes);
        •goodness (agathosune);
        •faithfulness (pistis);
        •gentleness (prautes);
        •self-control (egkrateia).

    • Gamble says:

      “Just learned this today during my weekly study of religion: The “Wars of the Jews” by Josephus, is the only surviving first-person historical account of first-century Judea. It is a story of Roman Emperor Titus Flavius. Apparently, the sequence of events and locations in the story of Jesus’ ministry are virtually identical with Flavius’ campaigns.”

      Learned or told?

      • knoxharrington says:

        Huh? Jesus died around 30 and Josephus wasn’t born until around 37. If you are referring to Vespasian he was Emperor from around 69 to 80 and was responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus ministry and Flavius’ campaigns have zero overlap.

  2. Caleb says:

    Bob, I’m not a Christian but I enjoy these kinds of posts. This blog is becoming a staple in my internet browsing.

  3. Benjamin Cole says:

    Nice post. But there are other religions that also seem to bring peace to their adherents and cultures. Buddhism comes to mind.
    I envy true believers and the comfort they must have.
    Atheism, unless accompanied by large doses of guilt-free hedonism, is not that great…

    • Major_Freedom says:

      >Atheism, unless accompanied by large doses of guilt-free hedonism, is not that great…

      …for you maybe.

      For me, becoming atheist, who only occasionally dabbles in guilt free hedonism, was and remains the most emotionally, and intellectually uplifting way of thinking.

      I dislike “comfort” because it’s closer to death than life.

      • Benjamin Cole says:

        Your jodhpurs are too tight again…

  4. JimS says:

    What Jesus says? I think we might consider what Jesus would do. I do not think jesus would bet $500 on anything, though the Catholic church has a pretty good bingo program. ( I tease Dr. Bob, of course).

    If we consider that we should do ALL for the glory of God, then we cannot live a life of sin or blasphemy as it does not glorify. I cannot live how I please. I have been thinking a lot about this; am I in a situation in my life that says that I have done all for His glorification? I consider this to mean, have I done all I can to make myself the best that I can? My answer is NO. Therefore, technically, I have sinned.

    I think to remain in a position when we are capable of something more is wrong. Say I am a praking lot attendant; I should be the best parking lot attendant I can be; no job is beneath me. However, I am capable of something more, achieving education, advancing to top parking lot attendant, starting my own lot, moving on to something greater. I am obligated, in that I am commanded to glorify God, to do more and better myslfl and others when I can. Staying in a job because of the bennies ot the retirement package or it is just enough is a sin, according to the logic I present. I must do more. I ask myself this alot and find I fail alot. No, I would not impose this standard on others; I certainly have the log in my eye. I think this commandment (many would argue it is not a commandment, but an instruction, fine) is for our own well being and is wise to follow.

    My 2 cents.


  5. Ben B says:

    I don’t think psychopaths feel God’s shame; although, Ted Bundy once said distressingly, “Sometimes I feel like a vampire.”

  6. Gamble says:

    The Bible explains there is 1 way to tell a mans heart. The fruits of the spirit are apparent. Absent this fruit, Jesus may be close to a persons lips but far from this same persons heart and mind.

    Galatians 5:22

    Life by the Spirit

    13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

    16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

    19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

  7. knoxharrington says:

    “But when you fail to live up to that ideal–and you will–that is hardly evidence that the doctrines of Christianity are wrong.”

    Channeling William Lane Craig there. He always says that if you don’t believe it’s his fault – not God’s. As usual, he’s wrong about that too.

    Nutty doctrine + nutty doctrine = nutty doctrine.

    • Ken B says:

      “Nutty doctrine + nutty doctrine = nutty doctrine.”

      Belief southeners were lying in their statements about secession + belief all the antebellum rancor and violence tells us nothing about attitudes = conclusion the civil war was over bank charters.

  8. joe says:

    So is Gary North wrong when he says a girl who lies about her virginity should be stoned to death? He says the Old Testament requires the parents to participate in a stoning because the girl has committed a sin against the family.

    • Gamble says:

      Christians by definition do not strictly adhere Old Testament. Christ is a product of the New Testament. The Old testament merely prophesied Messiah.

      Jews try and trap Christians in Old Testament thinking/living. Catholics and Protestants have fallen for this deception hook line and sinker. These people try and walk both ways, pre and post savior. Headache. Confusion. Week.

      There are some modern Christian who have shed the law and fully embraced Savior, not many.

      • knoxharrington says:

        “Jews try and trap Christians in Old Testament thinking/living. Catholics and Protestants have fallen for this deception hook line and sinker.”

        Does anybody else think that statement is anti-Semitic? It comes off very “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” to me.

        • Ken B says:

          Anti semitic by normal standards, or Gamble standards, or “we’re just anti Israel lobby” standards?

          Yes for sure by normal standards.

          • knoxharrington says:

            Distinctions well noted, Ken B.

  9. Futurity says:

    Aren’t you Catholic? I thought that works are needed for Catholics to be saved. That is Catholics are saved by faith and works, not faith alone. So by Catholic theology works are mandatory for salvation, that is you have to work for your salvation.

    It is protestants who believe that by accepting Jesus and his free gift of salvation, you are saved. Of course protestants believe that works are important and are fruits of saving faith, but are not mandatory for salvation.

    • Gamble says:

      Catholics and Protestants both fall back to pre savior thinking. Jewish legalistic roots are hard to shed…

  10. andrew' says:

    The worst part about your inflation bet was that $500 was real money…mostly.

    • Gamble says:

      Should have had small disclaimer, payable in 40 years.

  11. Innocent says:

    The funny thing about all Human rationalization is that it is just that . Rationalization. Its what we Humans do the bestest.

    Look I know there is a God and I know Christ was is son. That a debt has been paid that goes beyond our comprehension. If you were to ask me is the Bible 100% correct I would laugh at you and say absolutely not. Is the Bible really really a good set of instructions that teach how to get to know God and his plan for us. I would say absolutely.

    Heck, if you look a genesis with a scientific eye ( the first chapter ) and from a mindset of someone who ‘wrote down’ how the world was formed 4,000 years ago without a scientific language it is actually pretty much right on the money.

    I don’t want to get into a debate about ‘how old the world is’ either for either side. My God is a a God of science so I believe he used science to form the world. I would argue that Glory of God is Intelligence. That it is knowledge handed line upon line and Precept upon Precept. That those that are unwilling to question are limited rather than allowed to grow and become Christ like.

    Anyway. I agree Bob, you are a great man but that like us all you are but a candle to Christ. No offense. Cause and effect can be difficult to gauge sometimes and there are differences between short term and long term effects. What you should have said would have been a more Krugmaness way of betting. I Bet $500.00 that inflation due to the QE will be much higher than what would have occurred had market pressures been allowed to enter into play and deflate goods back to their actual values and that this will actually delay a recovery rather than foster growth.

    You see none of what I just said is provable because I created a null hypothesis that if you do what I suggest then of course I am right because you cannot know what the results would have been if you had done anything else while at the same time if you do not take my advice I can show that REGARDLESS of what the results were my way could have been better.

    oh well. That is the problem with Austrians they actually make statements that can be false.

    • Gamble says:

      “Is the Bible really really a good set of instructions that teach how to get to know God and his plan for us. I would say absolutely.”

      Even if the Bible is 100% fake, God is fake and Jesus is fake or any combination thereof, I still firmly believe that for me, Christians if the best life code I can choose to live by.

      Everybody has a philosophy or a code, I happen to choose Jesus.

      Having studied all religions, philosophy’s, and other juju, I chose Christianity because it was better for me.

      The realness came later…

      • knoxharrington says:

        You used some secular standard in comparing religions and decided, based on that standard, that Christianity was the best for you? If so, how do you get from a secular standard to Christianity being real?

        The Bible is not 100% fake but it is mostly fake. God is 100% fake and Jesus very well may be fake – I’m inclined to the Christ-Myth theory but the overall ridiculousness of Christianity doesn’t depend on whether or not Jesus existed.

        Jesus is not a philosophy or code – I assume that is shorthand for I believe in Jesus’ purported teachings and use them as my code.

        • Ken B says:

          Read Ehrman.
          Knox, the last thing we need is Team Atheism members sounding like Murphy on “chemtrails”. There was a Jesus, and people made up stories and legends about him.

          • knoxharrington says:

            I’ve read Ehrman and know what you are saying. I’ve also read Doherty and Price on this topic and think they make a convincing argument. As I said, overall I don’t think it makes a difference one way or the other as to the ultimate truth, or falsity, of Christianity.

          • knoxharrington says:

            Ken B – I know that the Christ-Myth theory appears to be a “Kool Aid” type theory and I don’t really care one way or the other – I do think it is interesting and worthy of debate. Ehrman, to my mind, is dismissive and doesn’t really grapple with the key issues. He proceeds from the conclusion he wants and interprets the evidence in that light. I still think he is great scholar and I enjoy his work.

            • Ken B says:

              Okaaaaaaay … but please don’t start telling me we can deduce Jesus was a conspiracy based on praxeology!

    • Gamble says:

      I reread your post. It is long and easy to skip over.

      Take time and read it, there is a lot of good stuff in there.

      Yes 2.7% price increase combined with what would have been 3% price decrease is much more like 5.7%.

      Yes intelligent design, even if not from “God” is blatantly obvious. Only an ignoramus will deny the mind blowing engineering of our existence. To say what we have is evolution or random or chance or happenstance is really nothing more than self hatred and lack of self respect.

      I like your ending, null hypothesis. Much wisdom.

    • Futurity says:

      Science is an abstract created by man to describe the world we live in, therefor it could not be used to create world, it does not have such power.

      Of course by science I mean knowledge obtained through scientific method.

      Science used to simply mean knowledge. The meaning changed recently. Did you know that theology was called the queen of all sciences?

  12. Major_Freedom says:

    Hey Murph, I know we don’t always see eye to eye on religion and Christianity, well, let’s just say never, but I just learned about this:


    Would this be something you are OK with me being? I think a lot of what Jesus said in the Bible is wise, but I am not willing to think it is “divine.”

    It got me thinking…

    What if you had the following choice:

    1. Everyone in the world were to think of and adhere to “divine” religion, which just so happens to be heterogeneous in terms of gods and specific moral beliefs and whatnot; or

    2. Everyone in the world are, and behave as, Christian atheists.

    Which world would you want to live in?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      MF is everybody stuck in those two positions forever, or are you just saying if I had to pick how they’d be in 2015, which would I want? (With the understanding that where they are in 2015 might influence how they move in 2016 and beyond.)

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Not sure to be honest. Haven’t thought of it. What would you think of both options individually? One is such and such, and the other is this and that?

        Maybe we can consider history instead of “forever.”

        We know that in history the world of man was always very diverse in terms of religious affiliations. The world was never only one religion.

        I believe Islam for example is growing faster than Christianity. Might be wrong though.

        Maybe what I am asking here is would it have been better, in your view, if world history was what it was, or if it were instead total Christian atheism the world over the whole time?

        If we consider the today of that total Christian atheist world, then we can speculate whether or not people’s beliefs about Jesus will turn “divine”, but that’s not exactly what I am getting at.

        Can we not all be Christian atheists? I know it kind of sounds like cheating, but what would you think about people who behave on Earth in accordance with Jesus’ moral teachings, but they just rejected the supernatural part of it? Would that be OK? I’m thinking that the divine aspect of person’s thought , should they have those thoughts, is a very personal thing, and should not be a worry of others. I mean if I behaved exactly like an ideal Jesus’ follower in my outward actions, but I just did not believe in my mind the divine aspects, wouldn’t that be better than an Islamic extremist believer who killed people? I know you’ve touched on this question before, but still not sure.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          I think I should answer this stuff in a future Sunday post, because it’s pretty deep.

        • Futurity says:

          It would be irrelevant as there is only one door.
          “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
          John 14:6

          The point of the gospel is not to be moral. Law was created to condemn. The point of the gospel is to spread the good news, that through Christ you can be free.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            If you view the point of the gospels is to spread the good news, is that not a call that we ought to spread the news? As soon as you think in normative terms, you’re thinking in terms of morality.

            Also, if Christianity is not morality, why so many moral statements in the NT?

            • Futurity says:

              What law was there when God created the world and pronounced it very good?
              There was none.

              It is written that Law was created to condemn, not to save.
              Romans 3:19-20 “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

              Just because morality is not the point of the gospel does not mean it is not important.

  13. John Becker says:

    I don’t understand what counts as a sin in Christianity. Is thinking about a girl who isn’t your wife/girlfriend a sin? If so, this is like thoughtcrime from 1984. It seems like Christianity sets out to make a set of rules that is impossible to follow so that you are automatically guilty and have to rely on the beneficence of the Lord. Sound like any governments you know? It’s a spiritual dictatorship.

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