Obama’s Coercive Utopia by Rael Jean Isaacs

At a packed town meeting of over 1,000 people hosted by Democrat Sen. Mark Warner in Fredericksburg, Virginia, a woman prefaced her question by expressing a broader concern: “For the first time I don’t believe the President we have is a patriot. I think a lot of the concern and discontent is less about health care than trusting the agenda of this administration.” Sen. Warner harshly rebuked her, calling the remark offensive and declaring Obama “a great patriot.” Yet judging by the storm of applause that greeted her comment, she echoed the feelings of many others in the hall.

What did patriotism mean to the questioner and that wildly applauding audience? Presumably pride in America, its values and institutions, its freedoms, the opportunities it offers the individual, its efforts to act in accordance with those values both domestically and internationally. And what made many in that audience uneasy – including some who must have voted for him – was the growing sense that their President did not look upon the country the way they did, did not look upon his task to preserve what they believed best about America, but sought to transform these United States according to values deeply alien to theirs.

They were worried by manifold signs of this, small and large, some only assuming their significance in hindsight like that pre-inauguration statement: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” There was that surprising deep bow to the Saudi king who represents values as antithetical as imaginable to those of this country. There were the overseas trips with serial apologies for past American behavior to leaders devoid of moral credentials. There was the reaching out to Venezuela’s abhorrent President Chávez. There was the fulsome praise of Islam and its supposed achievements (much of it baseless) in Egypt, the harsh treatment of democratic allies like Israel and Honduras, the indifference to the vicious suppression of Iranians protesting the theft of their election by Ahmadinejad.

Domestically, there was the huge pile-up of debt via the stimulus and de facto nationalizations of much of the housing and automobile industry. Why was Congress pressed to pass literally overnight bills few if any had read? Even more puzzling, why, in a time of economic crisis, did Obama insist on taking over health care? Why the eagerness to ram through a 1,000 page bill prior to the August recess with the potential to turn one seventh of the economy over to the government – and, as the Congressional Budget Office has attested, add trillions in debt – without the normal process of hearings and debate? After all, as Thomas Sowell has noted, the provisions are not designed to go into effect until 2013! Why, with unemployment high and rising, seek to enact a gigantic new tax in the shape of a “cap and trade” bill that all serious studies showed would result in the loss of huge numbers of jobs?

And then there were the czars – Phyllis Schlafly counted 34 of them – paid for by the taxpayer but not subject to Senate confirmation, accountable to no one but the President. Where did they fit in? Were they a species of Commiczars setting policy that the established cabinet members and government bureaucracies would be expected to implement? Even veteran Democrat Sen. Robert Byrd called them a power grab by the executive that violates the constitutional separation of powers. And what a strange lot some of them were. So far out that he had to be thrown overboard was self-styled revolutionary communist “green” Commiczar Van Jones who initially recognized how insane it was for Obama to make him part of his administration. “I burst out laughing because at the time it seemed completely ludicrous that it would even be an option,” he told a reporter in March. (That did not prevent him from portraying himself in his resignation letter six months later as an innocent victim of “a vicious smear campaign” by opponents of health reform.)

To understand Obama and the administration he heads, we have to go back 33 years to the birth of the Carter administration. The ideas and attitudes that animate the current administration go back at least two additional decades, but the significant entry into government positions of acolytes of these notions began with Carter. In 1980, with my husband Erich Isaac, I wrote The Coercive Utopians (published by Regnery). We described the underlying ideas of these utopians, the varying groups from which they sprang (ranging from mainline churches to so-called Naderite public interest groups to environmental groups to select think tanks, notably the Institute for Policy Studies and its spinoffs) and the success they had in obtaining financial backing (initially from a variety of foundations) and, in the Carter years, from government. We said they were utopians because they believed they could create an ideal social order (present evils were the result of a corrupt social system) and coercive because in their zeal for attaining that ideal order they sought to impose their blueprints in ways that went beyond legitimate persuasion.

With their ideological taproot in the New Left of the 1960s, the utopians harbored a bleak view of American domestic institutions and America’s role in the world. They abhorred the American economic system – churchmen because the system fostered competition rather than cooperation; environmentalists because it fostered desire for material goods, polluting the environment; consumer advocates because it produced unsafe goods in the pursuit of profit. As for its actions abroad, many viewed the U.S. as uniquely evil, the chief agent of militarism, imperialism, racism and economic exploitation, the greatest threat to world peace. President of New York City’s Union Theological Seminary John C. Bennett argued that only revolutionary change could remove the U.S. “as a counterrevolutionary force from the backs of the third world countries.” The utopians sought to recast American foreign policy so as to support the societies they believed represented “social justice”- Cuba, Nicaragua (under the Sandinistas), Vietnam, China (under Mao).

The goal, as long-time coercive utopian John Holdren (now Obama’s science Commiczar) put it in 1973, was to “de-develop the United States.” And since the utopians understood that energy was the lifeblood of modern industrial America, their efforts were bent toward putting a tourniquet around centralized energy development. According to utopian Amory Lovins (still going strong although not – yet – in the Obama administration) our energy system was an assault on human dignity. As he wrote in a New York Times op-ed, the ordinary person suffered from a “humiliating dependence on remote bureaucrats who can simply disconnect you.”

The villain, par excellence, was nuclear power, centralized, technologically complex, impossible for the average man to understand. Nuclear energy had been operating safely (with the warm approval of the major environmental organizations) for almost two decades before the utopians discovered that it endangered human survival. And they quickly discovered that they had hit on an issue capable of mobilizing masses to action. Indeed, so successful were they in instilling terror of nuclear power that at the beginning of the 1980s nuclear disarmament proponents were trying to convince the public that nuclear bombs were as dangerous as nuclear energy. Chemist George Kistiakowsky, chairman of The Council for a Livable World, observed in a February 1981 interview: “We have problems in trying to redirect the public fear of nuclear plants into fear of nuclear war.” The utopian campaign against nuclear power was a huge success. Well before Three Mile Island, utilities had thrown in the towel on building new plants.

The utopians were opposed to all traditional energy sources, for they represented what Lovins called “the hard path.” The Natural Resources Defense Council, for example, brought suit against nuclear, coal, oil and hydroelectric projects. And while the utopians advocated what Lovins called the “soft path,” renewable sources of energy like sun and wind, scientist-writer Peter Metzger (from whom we borrowed the term “coercive utopians”) presciently observed that environmentalists are enthusiastic for energy sources as long as they do not exist and predicted the same hostility to solar energy, should it become economically viable. (And indeed, environmentalists are now in the forefront in seeking to block solar energy projects on federal lands – including one in the Mojave Desert announced by Interior Department secretary Salazar on June 29th – on the grounds they threaten endangered species, use vast amounts of water, and require unsightly transmission lines.

The utopians made repeated efforts to take over the Democratic Party, beginning in the 1960s via the so-called “New Politics” that made George McGovern a Presidential candidate. They had their first actual taste of power in the Carter administration when leaders of the coercive utopians were given important posts, in some cases control of government bureaucracies. Writing in Fortune during Carter’s first year, journalist Juan Cameron identified 60 consumer, environmental and public interest activists who immediately moved into sub-cabinet posts and influential White House spots. Posts controlling financial spigots were especially valuable, enabling the utopians to siphon government funds to utopian organizations and programs. ACTION (which in 1993 would be merged into the Corporation for National and Community Service) was handed over to former anti-Vietnam war activist Sam Brown who in turn appointed fellow activist Margery Tabankin as head of VISTA (the largest grantmaker for service and volunteering, now part of Americorps). James Burnley, her successor under Reagan, noted wryly: “If you were a member in good stead of the New Left you were guaranteed help if you had an organization.” ACORN, with its People’s Platform for achieving power (“We will wait no longer for the crumbs at America’s door. We will not be meek, but mighty”) and its Alinsky-style confrontational tactics was the first recipient of a National VISTA grant. A number of training centers for volunteers were funded, all based on Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.” (“Give them a taste of blood” said the training manual of the Midwest Academy, one of the grantees.)

But after this confidence-building start (in 1981 Ralph Nader organized a conference bringing together representatives from most utopian groups called hopefully “Taking Charge: the Next 10 Years”) the utopians ran into problems. From Reagan through the second President Bush, no President – including Bill Clinton, who wound up governing from the center – presented them with similar opportunities in their reach for executive power. On the other hand, they extended their grip on the consciousness industry: the universities, the churches and the mass media. And they made steady progress in radicalizing the Democrat Party through think tanks like the Center for American Progress (which replaced the Institute for Policy Studies as chief source of direction for the utopians) and the Institute for America’s Future (Institute for Policy Studies director Robert Borosage became President of this similar but trendier idea factory). For down-and-dirty mobilization in the internet age there was Moveon.org and the Daily Kos. And then, in 2008, the utopians triumphed – one of their own was elected President.

There is a major difference between today and the Carter years. Then, the coercive utopians obtained an important foothold in the bureaucracy. Now they are the government. Obama was marinated in coercive utopian perspectives his entire adult life. In the pews of Reverend Wright for 20 years, the preacher who was to him “like family,” he heard repeatedly that America was the embodiment of racist imperialist evil. Sitting with unrepentant Weather Undergrounder Bill Ayres on the boards of “progressive” foundations like Woods and Joyce, Obama doubtless saw nothing controversial in dispersing money to Rev. Wright’s church, ACORN and the educational enterprises of Ayres and his brother John. Obama himself was a community organizer, a characteristic coercive utopian line of work. He cooperated closely with Chicago ACORN, training its staff.

The Democrat Party now dominates both houses of Congress and the coercive utopians dominate the Democrat Party, despite a few hangdog Blue Dogs. There is no more telling evidence than Alan Colmes’ (formerly of Fox News’ “Hannity and Colmes”) defense of Van Jones, after his forced resignation, as a “mainstream liberal.” Sign a “truther” petition suggesting the U.S. perpetrated 9/11. Describe President Bush’s call for increasing the domestic energy supply as a “crackhead licking the crack pipe for another fix.” Denounce “white environmentalists” for “steering poison into the people-of-color community.” Call for nationwide “resistance” against police. Call for the destruction of Israel. A talk show host who considers himself a standard-bearer for liberalism gives you the kosher stamp as a mainstream liberal.

Controlling the executive and the legislature (and increasingly, the courts), the coercive utopians are able to act on a scale hitherto the stuff of dreams. ACORN’s first government grant in the Carter years was for $470,475. Now despite ongoing investigations of ACORN registration fraud in a dozen states, it is eligible for billions under Obama’s stimulus program. Under Carter, government bureaucracies funded solar energy projects, although typically of the utopians, much of the money intended for solar hardware wound up being used for solar propaganda. Under Obama “green energy” is to receive billions, siphoned off from economically viable energy producers via cap and trade legislation. Van Jones was supposed to be the Commiczar for those billions and he made no secret of what he saw as the real program. “So the green economy will start off as a small subset and we are going to push it and push it and push it until it becomes the engine for transforming the whole society.”

In global warming today’s coercive utopians have discovered the most potent apocalyptic nightmare thus far devised with which to mobilize masses. Act now to contain greenhouse gases or the earth is doomed. At least the pollution with which the utopians in the 1970s frightened the public (“the generations now on earth may be the last” read the cover of one environmentalist handbook) was real. Man-made global warming is science by “consensus” with the consensus manufactured by the media, which treats dissenters as “flat-earthers.” Anyone interested in going beyond the unscientific fear-mongering should read Climate Change Reconsidered (880 pages, not beach chair reading), describing the findings of hundreds of scientists who are not supposed to exist. It includes a statement signed by 31,478 supposedly non-existent scientists that there is no convincing scientific evidence that man-made global warming will cause a catastrophic disruption of the earth’s climate.

The utopians (as some of them have been honest enough to admit) don’t care if the global warming apocalypse is a scam. It provides grounds to take control of energy and with it the economy. As Van Jones put it shortly before his White House departure: “If all you do is have a clean energy revolution, you won’t have done anything…No, we gonna change the whole system.”

The stakes could not be higher as the Obama administration is poised to take over energy and health care. The coercive utopians can bring us to the point where, as the revered Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley put it, capitalism “will be unable to deliver on its basic promise of a progressively higher standard of living for the less fortunate…” At that point the coercive utopians will have won, for they will be the anointed ones who allocate, ration and dole out to the dependent masses what is deemed their “fair share” of an ever-shrinking state-controlled economy.

And yet, although they currently ride high, the utopians have an Achilles heel – the public is not with them. People do not like the plans the utopians have for them if fully apprised of what they are. At the 1981 Nader “Taking Charge” conference mentioned earlier, the head of the Midwest Academy, one of the training centers for activists, acknowledged that to obtain power “you may have to waffle and be less clear on certain positions.” Obama himself campaigned as a moderate, a centrist, a pragmatist, dedicated to bipartisanship and fiscal responsibility. On energy he was a master of deception. Obama convinced President of the United Mine Workers Cecil Roberts that he was “a tremendous supporter of coal and the future of coal.” At the same time, caught on YouTube, Obama declared: “If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

Exposure is what the utopians have greatest reason to fear – as the outpouring of public protest over Obama’s health care power grab illustrated. And exposure is easier now than it was when we wrote The Coercive Utopians. Then we entitled one chapter “The Media: Shield of the Utopians.” This has not changed. To give just one example of the lengths to which the chief organs of opinion go, it took Van Jones’s resignation for the New York Times and major networks to so much as mention the story. There had been a firestorm of publicity leading to that resignation, but it was on Fox News (spearheaded by Glenn Beck), talk radio, the internet, the blogosphere.

What has changed is that establishment media no longer have the stranglehold on news they once did. Those who were dedicated to getting out information in the 1970s, whether it was on funding of terror support groups through church offerings or the false claims against nuclear energy or the activities of the radical institutes, were forced in many cases to create their own small-scale media outlets – circulating reports, starting newsletters. As long as there was only a paper trail, it was much easier for the utopians to claim quotes were “out of context.” With the rise of alternative media, evasions no longer work. A few minutes of watching Rev. Wright or Van Jones ranting on YouTube and it’s all over. It’s precisely because he is afraid of the power of alternative media that Obama appointed Mark Lloyd as “diversity” Commiczar. Lloyd, an avowed admirer of Chávez and his treatment of the media (which was to shut down stations that criticized him), is perhaps the most dangerous appointment of all, for he has a cornucopia of proposals to constrain alternative media. These range from a prohibitive tax on stations broadcasting the likes of Rush Limbaugh (the money used to fund “alternative viewpoints”) to setting up local committees of activists to control what is broadcast to revoking the license of a station that didn’t abide by the new rules.

So the task is to keep the channels of communication open and to clarify the nature of the broader agenda this administration pursues. The woman who stood up at Sen. Warner’s town meeting to say she was concerned about that agenda as much as about Obama’s specific health care proposals had it right. As long as the issue is this bill or that bill, opponents can be picked off, coalitions assembled. It is essential to understand – and bring to a halt – the entire coercive utopian program.

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Rael Jean Isaac is a political sociologist and co-author of The Coercive Utopians published by Regnery in 1983.


Originally published September 11, 2009.

Resolutions or Regeneration by Pastor Claude Stauffer

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! – Romans 7:24-25a

Every year on New Years Eve people make New Year’s Resolutions promising to change themselves for the better. But New Year’s resolutions are doomed to failure. If people want to change they don’t need resolutions, they need regeneration.

How Successful are New year’s Resolutions?

How successful are New Year’s resolutions? Statistics in a study from the Journal of Clinical Psychology showed the following:

  • 40 to 45% of American adult make one or more resolutions each year.
  • Among the top new years resolutions are resolutions about weight loss, exercise, and stopping to smoke. Also popular are resolutions dealing with better money management / debt reduction.
  • The following shows how many of these resolutions are maintained as time goes on:
    – past the first week: 75%
    – past 2 weeks: 71%
    – after one month: 64%
    – after 6 months: 46% [1]

Another study estimated that 97% of New Year’s resolutions do not work. In this study entitled New Years Resolutions: Why Don’t They Work ? Michael York of the Michael York Learning Center theorized the reason why resolutions don’t work is because people expect to fail and that they don’t know how to properly set goals in order to keep their resolutions. But I would say that the reason people don’t expect to keep their resolutions is because they have learned from experience that they can’t keep their resolutions and no amount of proper goal setting is going to change that.

So what’s the answer; how can we change for the better? The answer is that we need regeneration not resolutions.

Why Resolutions Can’t Work

The reason why a resolution can’t work is because it depends on me, myself and I; it depends on my own “strength.” The Bible refers to this self-centered dependence upon self as the flesh. Paul was inspired to speak of the predicament of the flesh when in Romans he writes:

  • Romans 7:18-24 – 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Do you see the futility of relying on your own strength to try to do good things? The New Living Translation(more of a paraphrase)of the Bible renders this portion of scripture in the following way:

  • 18 I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. 19 When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. 20 But if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it. 21 It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?[2]

These words express the futility, frustrations and ultimate failure of attempts at self-reformation and that is exactly what a New Year’s resolution is. The reason such attempts at change are doomed to failure is because they depend on an inadequate power source, the sinful self. Read what the Bible says about our self, the me, myself and I of who we are:

  • Genesis 6:5 – 5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
  • Job 14:4 – Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one!
  • Job 15:14-16 – “What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous?15 If God puts no trust in His saints, And the heavens are not pure in His sight,16 How much less man, who is abominable and filthy, Who drinks iniquity like water!
  • Psalm 5:9 – For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; Their inward part is destruction; Their throat is an open tomb; They flatter with their tongue.
  • Psalm 51:5 – Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
  • Isaiah 64:6 – But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
  • Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
  • Mark 7:21-23 – 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
  • Ephesians 2:1-3 – And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

These verses are ample evidence that anything that depends on this flesh or us, is doomed to fail to reach its goal.

If that is the case, then how can a person change successfully?

Regeneration: the Way to True Transformation

Sometimes we can have what we believe are the best of intentions, but they are the wrong intentions. Our motives are not always what they ought to be. We may want to change, but if our motive is only to please our self, then we are only compounding our problem and off the mark. What we need is an entirely new way of looking at things and an entirely new way of doing things. What we need is REGENERATION.

What is regeneration? Regeneration is a work of the Spirit wherein He gives spiritual eternal life to a repentant sinner. In Paul’s letter to Titus he is inspired to write:

  • Titus 3:3-7 – 3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The term “regeneration” (παλιγγενεσία – paliggĕnĕsia, pal-ing-ghen-es-ee´-ah[3]) means new birth, regeneration, or rebirth. This is a compound word made up of the Greek term palin which means “again” and the Greek term genesis which means “birth.”Regeneration is the work of God to change us from death to life spiritually. God regenerates the person who receives Jesus as Savior. All of this is a work of God offered graciously as a gift to be received by us.

Jesus described regeneration with the following words:

  • John 5:24 – 24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Regeneration is passing from death to life spiritually. Just as we are physically born, we must be spiritual born again if we are ever to be changed from our present state of sinful futility. Before we are spiritually born again we don’t even understand our true need (1 Corinthians 2:14). We need to be born again, we need to be spiritual born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3, 5).

How do I get this regeneration?If you want to change for the better you have to realize the following.

First, realize your real problem is sin. Sin is the destructive cancer like thing within you that is keeping you from successfully changing for the better. The Bible says:

  • Romans 3:10, 23 – 10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; . . . 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Sin keeps us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and it is God alone who can work true change in us. Sin keep our focus on sinful self where we will wallow in defeat and despair.

Second, realize only spiritual birth or spiritual life can make a true lasting eternal change in you. It is the gospel that is the power of God to save us from sin (Romans 1:16). Jesus told the religious Pharisee Nicodemas that he “must” be born again. Jesus said:

  • John 3:3-7 – 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

Here we see by way of comparison that Jesus taught Nicodemus just as he had been born physically he needed to experience spiritual birth as well.

This is not something we can work in ourselves, which leads us to the next realization.

Third, realize regeneration is a work of God offered by His grace through faith in His only Son Jesus. The Bible says that salvation is a work of God (John 6:29). The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and our need of salvation (John 16:8-11). It is God who draws us out of our sin to Himself (John 6:44). And God draws us to Himself by dealing with our sin through faith in Jesus (John 6:29).

Here is the beauty of how God resolves our sinful predicament. He has sent Jesus to pay for our sinful debt (because we are unable to pay that debt off on our own). And He has done away with our sin as we put our faith in Jesus and His work (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is why at the end of Paul’s passage in Romans 7 he is inspired to proclaim:

  • Romans 7:24-25a – 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

It is a glorious thing to turn over the reigns of your life to God. We need to stop trying in our own strength (i.e. weakness). We need to turn form our way of doing things and surrender or turn to God and His way. This leads us to our final realization.

Fourth, realize you need to repent or turn humbly to God from your sinful self ways and rely fully on God’s gracious provision and strength. We can’t work our way out of the mire of our sin (Psalm 69). It is only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ that this regeneration can occur (Ephesians 2:4-9). If we turn from our self efforts and self interests to God then we can expect times of refreshing from the Lord (Acts 2:38-39).

It has been said:

Our lives are fields that primarily contain weeds. We cannot produce strawberries. We can mow the weeds, but that effort alone will never produce acceptable fruit. If we really want that fruit we will have to go deeper. We must plow up the whole field and start again with new plants.[4]

We can’t change by resolution. We need the regenerative work of God to change.

But I’ve Done that and I’m Still Failing and Faltering

Sometimes those who have experienced regeneration continue to have difficulties in their lives; why is that? Those who have received God’s gracious gospel provision in Christ need to realize a few things too.

First, realize transformation is only begun at regeneration and is a life long process. The Bible refers to Christians as “being sanctified” (Hebrews 2:11; 10:14). Change is a process that God works in us over time as we live a life of surrender to Him (Romans 12:1-2). Regeneration is when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell a person (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19-20). It is the Holy Spirit that helps us to overcome our weaknesses (Romans 8:26). The work of the Spirit in us is to transform us into the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29). This is God’s purpose for us and should be our goal and target in life.

Second, realize the problem is that many who have been regenerated continue to live to please self rather than to please God. There are what are called carnal Christians who live to please themselves rather than to please God. The Christian who lives to please self will only find discord and disruption in their lives much the same as before they were regenerated (1 Corinthians 3:1-4; James 4:1-6). To overcome this problem the Christian must turn their focus on God and seek to please Him by faith (Hebrews 11:6). Paul explains this well when he is inspired to write:

  • Romans 8:1-9 – There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

When we are regenerated through faith in Christ we are called by God to walk no longer after the things of the flesh or to walk in the power of the flesh, but we are called to live in the Spirit (8:1). It is this life in the Spirit that can set us free from our futile fleshly lives (8:2). God does away with the destructive and depressing affects of sin in a person through faith in Christ (8:3-4). This new life of spiritual regeneration is an entirely new way of life and an entirely new way of looking at life (8:5). If we continue to have a fleshly mindset after regeneration we will continue to experience its destructive and depressing ways (8:6). It will hinder our relationship with God (8:7) and prevent us from pleasing God (8:8). In fact that is exactly the issue; in our flesh we seek to please self; in the Spirit we seek to please God. The truth is when we seek to please ourselves no one will be happy. But when we seek to please God everyone benefits. Without the Spirit in your life, you don’t even belong to God (8:9), which leads us to our final realization for the believer.

Third, realize victory comes through abiding in Christ. The closer we come to Jesus the more power we will have over sin in our lives. We are to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). In other words, get as close to Jesus as possible, as close as your very clothes, and you will have more and more power over the flesh. Drawing close to Jesus is the way of escape from many a problem issue in the life of the Christian (1 Corinthians 10:13). Jesus put it this way:

  • John 15:4-8 – 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

We need to “abide” or stick close to Jesus. When we get away from Jesus we shrivel up spiritually like a piece of fruit plucked from a tree. If we stay connected to Jesus, we will grow and become fruitful in Him.

How do we do this? How do we abide in Jesus? The key is in the words “My disciples.” A disciple is a learner who studies the words of Jesus (verse 7 i.e. the Bible) and surrenders to the Spirit to apply those words to their lives (John 8:31-32, 34-36). Disciples also “ask” (verse 7) or pray because prayer is a declaration of dependence on God and a means of relating verbally with God in Christ. A disciple lastly does all they do to bring glory to God which is the culmination of spiritual fruitfulness (verse 8). The more we seek to bring glory to God the further away from self we move. The further away from self we move and the closer we come to God, the more power to live victoriously in life we will experience.

In his book The Power of the Spirit, William Law, writing in the early 1700s, makes the following statement about the church living in the flesh rather than the Spirit:

A letter learned zeal has but one nature wherever it is, and can only do that for Christians which it did for Jews. As in ancient times it brought forth scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites, and crucifiers of Christ; as it afterwards brought forth heresies, schisms, popes, papal decrees, images, and anathemas; so in Protestant churches it will do the same things, only under different names. The empty idolatry of Rome will show itself even without crucifixes and indulgences. Images of wood and clay will only be exchanged for images of doctrines. Grace, works, imputed sin, imputed righteousness, and election will all have their worshipping advocates, dividing the body of Christ in their very zeal to defend their own good opinions about Scripture doctrines. And so great will be the blindness thus generated that every kind of gossip, slander, and hatred will be pursued by brother against brother, all of it done in the name of Him who prayed that we might be one. . . . Our divine Master compares the religion of the learned Pharisees to ‘whited sepulchers, outwardly beautiful, but inwardly full of dead men’s bones.’ How was it that a religion so serious in its restraints, so beautiful in its outward form and practices, and commanding such reverence from all that beheld it, was yet charged by Truth itself with being ‘inwardly full of hypocrisy and iniquity’? It was only for this one reasons: because it was a religion of self. Wherever self has power and keeps up its own interests, even in teaching or defending sound Scripture doctrines, there is that very same Pharisee still alive whom Christ with so much severity of language constantly condemned. The reason for such heavy condemnation is that self is the root and sum total of all sin. Every sin that can be named is centered in it. Self is nothing else but the creature broken off from God: the power of Satan living and working in us the sad continuance of that first turning from God, which was the whole fall of our first parents. (Emphasis added.) [5]

Unfortunately what William Law wrote 300 years ago was not heeded by much of the church and today we have a church that is more carnal and centered on its sarx, than it is filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We cannot afford to allow our flesh to rule us; we need the Spirit to overcome it and empower us to do all that God has wonderfully laid out for us to do. If you are a Christian and have slipped back into the futility of a life lived for self and in the weakness of self, surrender to God anew and He will empower you to victorious Christian living. That would be a great way to start a new year.


[1] At http://www.proactive-coach.com/resolutions/research.htm – Auld Lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers, by John C. Norcross, Marci S. Mrykalo, Matthew D. Blagys , University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Volume 58, Issue 4 (2002).
John Norcross is a co-author of Changing For Good.

[2]Holy Bible, New Living Translation, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1996.

[3]Strong, James: The New Strong’s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1996, S. H8674

[4] p. 59. at http://www.higherpraise.com/illustrations/resolution.htm

[5] William Law, The Power of the Spirit, Edited by Dave Hunt (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade Pubs.) Reprinted 2003 . Pages 28,30.