By Elizabeth Prata
An excerpt from my devotional reading in the Valley of Vision this morning-
When I sin against thee I cross thy will, love, life, and have no comforter, no creature, to go to.
My sin is not so much this or that particular evil, but my continual separation, disunion, distance from thee, and having a loose spirit towards thee.
Valley of Vision, “Christ the Word.”
Do you ever feel that way? I do, often. The Puritans who penned these prayers were collected by Arthur Bennett in the 1960s through the 1970s times and put together into a collection, in order “to prompt and encourage the Christian as he treads the path on which others have gone before.” It is helpful to read a hundreds-year old prayer and realize our spiritual forefathers in the faith yearned and struggled with similar issues that we do today.
The phrase ‘a loose spirit’ caught me. We live in a casual age. The usual haunts where one might have found formal dress, such as dinner in a restaurant, the theater, or even Proms, have gone by the wayside. The last three bastions of formal dress; church, court, and funerals, see people showing up as if they just rolled out of bed. The outer wear in my opinion is indicative of an inner overall status, even in many Christians. Loosey-goosey attitudes toward study of the word, toward Christ, and toward His laws are wrapped in an attitude of “Oh well, I’m sure God will forgive me.” Or, “Oh, well, there’s always tomorrow.”
The Jesus-is-your-boyfriend attitudes so rampant in the last decade for women, and experiential feelings based theology taught to us by other women have not helped. God is GOD, the I AM, who is thrice holy and august in His magnificence and power. That God is forgotten in favor of the wimpy needy Jesus, as Voddie Baucham famously preached.
The Christian’s walk is tight, not loose. It is a narrow gate. It is a straight way. It is a circumscribed walk, according to the canon of scripture and no more, and no less. We are told to be vigilant, watchful, and sober. That leaves no room for a loose spirit.
It’s easy to puff one’s self up in thinking, well, I’m not embezzling, or fornicating, or engaging in adultery, or murder. “My sin is not so much this or that particular evil” as the Puritan wrote. But it is also sin to have a loose spirit; to leave off prayer, to justify a smaller sin, or to ignore it completely. Anxiety, mistrust of God’s ordination of one’s circumstances, worry, or simple apathy are also ‘non-particular’ sins that can cause a terrible disunion. Worse, a general disunion or distance from Christ is in itself a sin, born from a loose spirit.
Paul advised the Ephesians in chapter 6 to gird up, tighten the belt, snap on the helmet, grasp the shield, cling to the word. Tight, not loose, is the watchword for the day.