I Reckon Sometimes It’s Better to Reckon than Believe

In these har parts, we don’t always think. We reckon.

“Reckon ‘Bama’ll beat the Gators Saturday?”

“I reckon so.”

This is all best said chewin’ on a piece of straw, hat tilted back and feet up on a wooden chair on a wooden porch.

There’s another place that reckoning is important, and it’s in what you believe about yourself and about God.

We are told to “reckon” ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in King Jesus (Rom. 6:11). The Greek word there is logizomai, and it is used 40 times in the apostles writings.

The word is complicated, and we don’t have time to go into all its details in a blog post. I wouldn’t be qualified to be the one teaching those details, anyway. I do know one thing from experience, though …

Sometimes reckoning is easier than believing.

Take Romans 6:11, for instance. What if I were to tell you that you must believe that you are dead to sin?

Chances are, you would do what almost everyone I have asked has said they have done. You would do what I did after numerous teachers told me, back in the 80’s, to believe that I was dead to sin and alive to God in King Jesus.

You will ask, “If that’s so, then how come I still sin? How come I can’t overcome this or that? Why do I have such a bad temper? Why do I still cry ‘thou fool’ or worse to those that cut me off in traffic? Why do I, why do I, why do I?”

The worst thing I ever read back then was one man who wrote, “One day I decided to just believe that I really was dead to sin, and suddenly, boom, I was!”

I could have screamed. Yes! I want that! I believe, I believe, I believe, I believed. Nothing’s happening. No boom for me. I don’t believe. Help! How do I believe?

It was only recently (thanks Matthew), that something really clicked.

I stuck a straw in my mouth, sat back in my chair, and I asked myself, “You dead to sin?”

I answered myself, too. “I reckon.”

I wasn’t waiting around to feel something. I wasn’t looking for a “boom.” I wasn’t waiting to become dead to sin. I just wrote it down as true. I reckoned. I wrote it in my spiritual accounting book.

Somehow, when we try to believe we fool ourselves into thinking that our belief somehow makes something true or not true.

If you are in the King, if you have given up your life for the kingdom of God, then God says you’re dead to sin and alive to God in King Jesus. In fact, the apostle Paul was stunned at the idea that a Christian wouldn’t know that. “Whaaat? You didn’t know that all of us who were baptized into Jesus were baptized into his death? Yeah, that’s right. All of you were buried with him in baptism and into death. Therefore, just like the King was raised from the dead, so you should be living resurrected, too” (Rom. 6:3-4, my paraphrase).

It’s just so that I am dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus. I’m not waiting around to believe it’s so. It’s so whether I believe it or not. I wrote it down. God told me to. Well, the apostle Paul told me, you, and all the rest of us to write it down, and he also told us to write it down that he and his companions are servants of the King and stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1, which also uses logizomai).

So, on the authority of the steward of God’s mysteries, Paul the ambassador of the King, I’m dead to sin, and I have been ever since I was buried in baptism.

Now that I’ve thrown the requirement to believe that in order to make it happen, rather than it being true because God said it was true, no matter what I believe about it, belief has set all the way in.

By reckoning, the whole matter got taken out of my hands and my pitiful faith and put into God’s hands and into the hands of King Jesus, his Son, who is the Beginner and the Finisher of my faith.

I am finding that when I just write it down, acknowledging that if Jesus says it’s so, then it’s so whether I believe it or not, my faith has skyrocketed.

Faith in our faith is a pitiful resource. Our faith won’t do anything for us. Faith in Jesus is a limitless resource. He can do everything for us.

So if you’ve had trouble believing, like I have in the past, maybe you should start reckoning. Take the responsibilty off yourself to make it true, and let Jesus make it true (which he already did, no matter what you believe about it).

Does this really work? I reckon you ought to try it for yourself.

I don’t mind recommending that, since it’s the command of the King.

Let me add a plug for the book that got me to really do something that I’ve known to do since 1982: Forgotten Gospel. He has a great illustration of this idea that I am not going to share with you because the book’s not out yet.

My little publishing company, Greatest Stories Ever Told, is publishing it for Matthew Bryan, which we are doing because we love the message. We don’t just publish books for money (and we don’t make any money anyway). We publish books to stir up the saints to love and good works.

Unfortunately, I tripped up our schedule both by overscheduling us and by getting cancer again—bad combination. We have actually ordered proof copies, though, so we’re making progress.

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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8 Responses to I Reckon Sometimes It’s Better to Reckon than Believe

  1. Evan says:

    Ain’t that the truth. I reckon that I need to “die daily” as Paul said but the problem with me is that my flesh keeps wanting to jump off of the altar of sacrifice.

  2. Tara says:

    I love reading every one of your posts because they are always unapologetically full of truth. This one, though, really spoke directly to me. I’ve been wondering about this exact issue lately, specifically in connection with traffic-related anger management skills. I even started paying my children to catch me in the act so that I can try to be a better example to them on the road. Words like “idiot” and “moron” have become much less frequent as a result of that, but I’m still struggling with the underlying anger. I’ve been wishing for the “boom” quick-fix solution and wondering if something was missing in me that I haven’t been able to overcome it yet. So I wanted to thank you for this post since you have given me hope and great advice for dealing with issues like this.

    • paulfpavao says:

      I have to admit that a few months ago, I made my “road rage” a special project. I changed the name-calling to a question that became a source of humor for a couple of months. Instead of things like idiot and moron, I started saying, “You puzzle me.” It was odd enough that it made my kids and other passengers laugh. It was a lot of work because I had a long history of being an annoyed, rude, hurrying driver, but nowadays when I feel my blood pressure rising, so does the sting in my conscience, and usually I slow down my whole attitude towards life to correct the problem.

      • Tara says:

        That’s good to hear. I hope I’ll get to that point sometime soon. It’s a funny issue because you get yourself all upset about someone else’s behavior, but it doesn’t affect them at all. You just end up making yourself miserable.

  3. David Noah says:

    Awesome word. I am going to share it with my Kenyan brothers and sisters today… thanks!

    • paulfpavao says:

      You’re welcome! The church here in Memphis was able to relate well to this. It’s always nice getting immediate feedback in the gathering.

  4. Jon says:

    Another encouraging post, Paul. Thank you.

  5. Janet Takita says:

    Great teaching, unfortunately there will be those who poo poo the idea. Once that sinks into your soul you realize that Jesus is the one who did it all . We just put it in His hands. Jan

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