Tag Archives: sanctification

Beyond the Negative

Sometimes in Christian circles we have unholy pride in what we don’t do. It is easy to feel a sense of confidence in restraining oneself from certain behavior. We have this faulty understanding that not participating in cultural sins somehow makes us more spiritual than everybody else. In actuality, true spirituality does not consist of just restraint, though that is involved. It goes beyond that by engaging in godly acts that reflect the character of Christ.

No “Worldly Things”?

I enjoyed this story told by Lewis Sperry Chaffer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary. He once said: “I know a city of over a million where everyone in that city never watches a movie, drinks alcohol nor does any other ‘worldly thing’. Did you know there was a city of that size in America? I’m speaking of Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn New York. They are absolutely through doing evil. If Spirituality consists of what you don’t do then the corpses have it all.”

Chaffer ended by saying: true spirituality is the output and character of our lives it is not merely the absence of certain behavior.

Grace Driven Effort

Growing in our walk with the triune God isn’t easy, and it’s not something we do naturally. I remember a few weeks ago telling a friend that I wanted to get in shape. He told me that he could make me a schedule, and a diet to go along with the workout. As he explained what was involved I realized quickly that getting in shape is hard! It’s not something that my body will do naturally as I had secretly hoped… I actually have to make a conscious effort to get fit, and then follow through with it. DA Carson explain this truth as it relates to the Christian life:

Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the  Lord.

We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and  call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.

Many times our Christianity is defined by the “don’ts” and not the “do’s”. Being aware of what not to do is a safety warning for us. But we need a holistic understanding of the Christian life. And this involves actively engaging in grace-driven effort in loving and serving our neighbor and our God. This cannot happen passively. This walk is difficult and takes time. But as we have been saved by grace, we will grow into His image by His grace.

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Wrong Medication Kills

We live in a world that tells us that we can do everything on our own. The solution offered by our society is to try harder, and if we fall pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, but there’s a problem. We are weak sinful human beings. We try hard to change our lives but things aren’t really changing. The new years resolutions for overcoming sin keep repeating… Why does this happen? We are taking the wrong medication. Let me explain, this world does not believe that we are sinful. In fact the world believes that we were born perfect. If the problem is misdiagnosed, how is the solution given valid? People die when they take the wrong medication. The truth is that we’re sinners and we need a Savior. We needed this Savior the moment we began the race, and we need Him just as much when we’re running.

You Always Need Jesus

When I was a child I was really lazy, and so I would never really chew my food… I would always just swallow it (Looking back I don’t know why, really how long does chewing take?). As you can imagine, a day came when I choked on some food. In that moment I really needed some oxygen. What’s funny is that I always need air, but it’s just that I don’t realize it until something dramatic happens. In the same way, we always need our Savior. There is no moment when we have outgrown our need for Christ. He saved us on the Cross and He is saving us daily.

Recognize the Problem

What is our responsibility when we find ourselves struggling with sin? Do we just need to try harder and bite our lip? If you think by trying harder and believing in yourself you can overcome sin, I guarantee you that you will fail. For an individual to truly change there must be a realization of our depravity and the power sin has in our lives. The lie propagated by Satan is that we are self-sufficient: we do not need anyone except ourselves.

Key to Victory

I love the story told by Lewis Sperry Chaffer. Chaffer spoke of his mentor CI Scofield and the bullying he experienced as a child. Scofield went to a country school, and he had to walk almost a mile to get there. On his way to school, he would constantly get beat up by a bully. One day he got sick of the shoving, teasing, and punching and decided to fight his bully. The problem was the bully was significantly bigger than him, and so he was quickly put to the ground and the pounding began… With all his power Scofield tried to fight, but he was no match. Then with all his might he called out to his brother, who was bigger than the bully, and he came and took the fight. Scofield just stepped aside and watched. That day Scofield learned to turn the fight over to someone else. What’s the use of being all mangled up and never having victory said Scofield. The battle is always won by faith in Christ and depending on Him who conquered death. No matter what we are going through it is vital that we cry out like Scofield to our ‘true elder brother’ Jesus Christ. When we depend on Him, and trust in Him alone we are able to have victory in the struggles of life.

When you struggle with sin don’t take the wrong medication. We are born sinners and we need a Savior. If we could save ourselves, then Christ died for nothing. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Are you trusting in Christ or yourself?