Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Latin for "after this, therefore because of this". It's a fallacy that assumes whatever event preceeded another, must have caused the succeeding event. We tend to live by this emphatically, as Christians. When we sin (fail), we incorrectly assume what must have caused this is the lack of effort, on our part, that preceeded it. It's an all too common misconception. As a result, the downward spiral of sin begins. Observe:
The downward spiral goes something like this:
- We sin
- We feel guilt
- We vow to never do it again
- We try harder to never do it again
- We sin again
- Depression - If God is real, my failure tells me He is against me
- Desertion - If God is against me, my failure tells me He is not real
For I know that nothing good dwells in me [the doctrine], that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right [the desire], but not the ability to carry it out [the deeds]. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing [the dilemma]. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! [the depression] Who will deliver me from this body of death? —Romans 7:18-24
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.—Ephesians 2:1-3
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.—Romans 7:25
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.—Romans 8:1-4
- Doctrine [v18] - My flesh is corrupt
- Desire [v18, v22] - I love Jesus and want to do what He says is right
- Deeds [v19-20] - But what I actually do are things I hate
- Dilemma [v21, v23] - There is conflict between what I want and what I do
- Depression [v24] - Guilt and self-condemnation are the result of this dilemma
- STAGE 1: Salvation (Life Changing Awareness) - This is our first, and most important, experience with our inability to save ourselves.
- STAGE 2: Discipleship (Learning) - New Christians are now taugh they need to being "doing" again.
- STAGE 3: Active Live (Serving) - We are now participants in ministry, but our actions are still corrupted by sin. We "do" to be "ok". Rather than "do" because we're "ok".
- THE WALL - God wants to deal with the inner-man and therefore allows us to experience intense seasons of suffering or hardship. We will either go back to the "known" and try and "do" more to gain security, approval and comfort (addictive cycle) or do the difficult internal work necessary and travel into the "unknown".
- STAGE 4 - Having emerged on the other side of "The Wall", the believer now begins the slow process of applying Gospel-truths to idols, past sin and hurts. They begin to learn Gospel-truths like God is not angry with them.
- STAGE 5 - From the now healing inner-life, they journey outward and begin the life-long work of emotional health brought about by the Gospel.
"[God] is purging the soul, annihilating it, emptying it or consuming in it...all the affections and imperfect habits which it has contracted its whole life...These are deeply rooted in the substance of the soul...At the same time, it is God who is passively working here in the soul.”
- Job Loss
- Death of someone close
- A cancer diagnosis
- A bad church experience
- What we perceive as betrayal
- A shattered dream
- Awayward child
- An inability to get pregnant
- A deep desire to be married that is unfulfilled
- Dryness in our relationship with God
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. —Romans 8:28