Saturday, May 19, 2012

Waging War On Sin

The apostle Paul exhorts the believer to wage war on sin.  He writes, "So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:12-14 NASB).

Jared Wilson, in his excellent post "Spare No Sin You Find," presents this message well.  He writes, "We don’t graduate from the gospel. We hold true to it. And it alone propels us out and empowers us to press on. Grace-driven effort flows from the joys and wonders of worship that flow from beholding the amazing gospel of God’s grace.

Were this true in you, the sin in you would become your enemy. Do you profess Christ? Have you received Christ? Then, 'Don’t just avoid sin; hate it' (Ed Welch). Be as intentional with your sin as Christ was. Carrying the banner of the gospel, which declares Christ’s conquering of sin and death, make bloodthirsty war with the sin in you. Watch for it, search it out, assassinate it with the word of God. Arm yourself with Spiritual armor, put on Christ, and spare no sin you find. Kill it, even as you trust the Spirit is killing it on your behalf. Because he is. And if he is, you should be too.

 You won’t drift into holiness. The Spirit will take you there. But God uses means to achieve his ends, and his earthly means of Spiritually sanctifying you is your pursuit of the righteousness of Christ. That we are 'being transformed' is a promise; that we should 'be transformed' is a command (2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 12:2). This Spiritual tension causes Walter Marshall to affirm in The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, his classic work affirming that grace is not only the grounds of our justification but our sanctification as well, that the reader must 'endeavour diligently to make right use of all means appointed in the word of God, for the obtaining and practicing holiness.'”

Be encouraged brothers and sisters in your battle with sin, for our strength and confidence is in in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who has declared, "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33b NASB).  Let us put to death the deeds of the body and live!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Thou Shalt Remember-Lessons From Newton, Goodwin and Paul

Biographer F. W. Boreham relates the following concerning John Newton, former slave trader and author of "Amazing Grace." Boreham shares that Newton "printed a certain text in bold letters, and fastened it right across the wall over his study mantelpiece:
A photograph of that mantelpiece lies before me as I write. There, clearly enough, hangs John Newton's text! In sight of it he prepared every sermon. In this respect John Newton resembled Thomas Goodwin. 'When,' says that sturdy Puritan, in a letter to his son, 'when I was threatening to become cold in my ministry, and when I felt Sabbath morning coming and my heart not filled with amazement at the grace of God, or when I was making ready to dispense the Lord's Supper, do you know what I used to do? I used to take a turn up and down among the sins of my past life, and I always came down again with a broken and contrite heart, ready to preach, as it was preached in the beginning, the forgiveness of sins.' 'I do not think,' he says again, 'I ever went up the pulpit stair that I did not stop for a moment at the foot of it and take a turn up and down among the sins of my past years. I do not think that I ever planned a sermon that I did not take a turn round my study-table and look back at the sins of my youth and of all my life down to the present; and many a Sabbath morning, when my soul had been cold and dry for the lack of prayer during the week, a turn up and down in my past life before I went into the pulpit always broke my hard heart and made me close with the gospel for my own soul before I began to preach.'" (You can find additional portions of Boreham's biography here).

The apostle Paul, writing to Timothy , testifies to the glorious gospel to which he has been entrusted, remembering the depths of his depravity from which he had found mercy from God:

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:12-17 NASB)

Oh that we would never forget the depths of depravity from which we have found mercy by the grace of God and the redemption made sure in the salvation of Jesus Christ!