The art of spiritual bloodletting

In the past when a person was sick the doctor used to come to the home and practice what was called bloodletting.  It was believed that the sickness was in the blood and by removing a portion of the blood this would relieve the sickness of the patient. 

Today we clinically understand this only further weakens the body’s ability to fight of the sickness.  Hence this practice is now looked at with ridicule and scorn and an act of the ignorant.  Our first president was a victim of this practice, when he died shortly after his bloodletting.

In essence the practice of bloodletting removed from the body what it needed to keep the body healthy.  It removed a portion of its ability to provide oxygen, water and nutrients to the cells.  It also removed white blood cells needed to fight the sickness.  This practice instead of doing the patient good actually did the patient harm.

In our spiritual lives we fight two types of sicknesses that are manifest in many ways within the church and in individuals of the church.  These two sicknesses are faithlessness and sin. 

Instead of helping the church by encouraging the natural process given by God in scripture to fight off these sicknesses, we instead do spiritual bloodletting.  We accomplish this by bleeding out of our spiritual veins those scriptures that are needed for our healing.

Take for instance what is written by Paul.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,[1]

We rejoice at what Christ has done for us.  In fact I would argue this is the real message of Easter.  That not only did Christ rise from the dead, so did we who put our hope in Him. 

The tragedy is however, we teach since we have been seated with Christ in the heavenly realms as present tense fact, there is no way a believer can now loose this position we have in Christ.

Now enters disobedience to Christ commands and faithlessness in the believer’s life.  Instead of letting scripture that was intended to lead the believer to eternal life, we now apply our practice of spiritual bloodletting.  We drain from the spiritual life those scriptures that warn of falling away from Christ.  We drain this spiritual blood as verses not intended for the believer, but intended instead for the unbeliever, or as a contrast of the impossible actions of a true believer. 

So let’s start bloodletting those verses that are for our spiritual health, our correction, reproofing and instruction.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.[2]

Even though we sit in the heavenly realms with Christ, scripture warns those sitting in the heavenly realms of falling away.  But to this we practice our art of spiritual bloodletting, by saying this is not speaking to the believer or what is possible for a believer to do.

If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.[3]

Christ Himself teaches that we are grafted into Him.  Is this any different than being raised with Him in the heavenly realms?  We either have a share in Him or we don’t.  So now sharing in Him as believers, we are warned by Christ Himself as believers not to become someone who falls away by not remaining in Him.  To this we practice our art of spiritual bloodletting.  This scripture we excuse away with a flood of other scripture we use to assure the faithless believer and disobedient disciple how secure they are in Christ now that we have come to share in Him.

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.[4]

Our gospel teaches us that we are grafted into Christ and are raised with Him into the spiritual realms.  Yet we have those warnings found in scripture about falling away as believers to which we practice our art of spiritual bloodletting.  But the warning is for all to see and gain understanding from.  We can have the expectation and hope of salvation if, if, if, if, if, if, we hold firmly to the gospel we had preached to us and not receive it only to return to our past sins and faithlessness and live like the unbeliever.

This bothers those of us who preach smooth words to the disobedient believer they are forever secure in Christ.  Ignoring the very words of Christ and His Apostles we are like the false prophets of old

The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading.[5]

Yep this offends us.  But how much more do you think we offend the Son of God with our teaching that completely ignores His warnings to believes.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.  Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?[6]

Let’s not stop at spiritual bloodletting to prove the doctrine of men.  Let’s not be satisfied with our efforts to silence the full counsel of God for our smooth words.  Let not our spiritual bloodletting be exposed as the false and misleading teachings of men that it is.  Let us disembowel scripture to prove our point that confession of faith is all we need to be saved.  Let us gut the living word of God and leave it a hollow shell for our hearers.  And we think those who crucified Christ were ignorant.  Look at what we do to Christ the Word incarnate.

For more on the warnings found in scripture for believes go to “My plead with the saints“.

[1] Eph 2:6

[2] Hebrews 6:4-6

[3] John 15:6

[4] I Corinthians 15:2

[5] Lamentations 2:14

[6] Hebrews 10:26-29