Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pursue Holiness in Christ

We are, we are, we're caught in the in between
Of who we already are and who we are yet to be
And we're looking for love but finding we're still in need
It's only what we have lost will we be allowed to keep

And we're waiting but our eyes are wandering
To all this earth holds dear

Look at all the pretty things
That steal my heart away
I can feel I'm fading
'Cause Lord I love so many things
That keep me from Your face
Come and save me

Nobody stumbles into godliness.

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. - 1 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)

The word train in verse 7 (and perhaps in verse 6 as well though I don't know for sure) is derived from the Greek word for "sweat". Serious effort is required.

Mark Driscoll posted this quote today on Facebook and Twitter: "Here, then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God's Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy." - RC Sproul

We have bought into the lie that there are big sins and small sins...sins we should be ashamed of and sins that are acceptable...sins that can harm us and sins that we can live with. We do not whole-heartedly pursue holiness because we like our sin. It brings us pleasure, comfort and the perception of control. And we don't battle it like we should because we are spiritually lazy...having also believed the lie that the Christian life should be one of smooth sailing into eternity. Laziness also comes from not understanding the weight of our sin and/or the holiness of God.

5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming." - Colossians 3:5-6 (ESV)

We don't like to talk about the wrath of God because it isn't very warm and cuddly and certainly doesn't make us feel good. It also doesn't lend itself to full churches and offering plates on Sunday morning. But there can be no question regarding God's wrath toward sin. God has two ultimate responses to sin: The slaughter of his son, Jesus Christ; and the physical reality of hell. Spend even a little time thinking about the stark terror and tragedy of those two things and you can't help but gain a deeper understanding of how seriously we are to take every sin. It's not a battle to take lightly and certainly not one to put off until tomorrow. This is not to be looked at legalistically apart from grace but to be seen through God's Word as working out our salvation with fear and trembling through His strength and what He has already done for us.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Do you weep for the lost?

Backstage: Francis Chan from SBC Greater Things 2010 on Vimeo.

Grace-driven effort

"Grace is not opposed to effort. It's opposed to earning". - Dallas Willard

These are my notes from Matt Chandler's sermon on 6/6/10. I have heard the following quote used a lot lately and he unpacks it in this sermon so I thought it was worth writing down as much as I could.

"People do not drift toward holiness. 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." - D.A. Carson

Nobody accidentally becomes godly. So how do you pursue godliness without stepping outside what has freely been given to you and instead find yourself pursuing a Christian checklist of godly behavior? Christian living requires movement. It's not static. The following are 6 ways that godliness is properly pursued through grace-driven effort.

1) Grace-driven effort comes from a new heart. The idea of regeneration. Romans 1 - walking in darkness and God justifies us and gives us eyes and ears to see and hear. The legalist pursues God out of pride that comes from living up to a certain standard. The motivation is applause of men. The idea of godliness to a legalist usually involves killing one sin with another, i.e. killing lust with self righteousness. But no matter which wins...sin wins.

2) Grace-driven effort uses the weapons of grace...the blood of Christ (Eph 2:13), the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and the promises of the new covenant (Hebrews 9:15). Where you have earned the wrath of God, Christ has intervened. The Scriptures are the primary weapon against the residual effects of the old creature. The legalist uses the Law to try to conform to perfection but it has never worked for anyone. It's an arrogant thought to think you are the one who can pull it off.

3) Grace-driven effort attacks the roots and not just the branches. You can't separate your heart from your thoughts and actions. The latter is an indicator of the former. You get to the heart so the behavior may be changed.

4) Grace-driven effort fights for a reason that goes well beyond easing our conscience and finding temporal peace. It's not built on, "Oh, I feel bad about me." It says, "I have grieved the Holy Spirit and have sullied the image of the Creator of the universe." Our hearts break because God has been so good to us and we have mocked Him with our thoughts and actions. David says, "I have sinned against you alone." Conviction is a great indicator of a heart issue. Our motivation sbould not be, "I hate this about me." Paul says to be wary of worldly sorrow as it leads to death in the end. Godly sorrow leads to repentance.

5) Grace-driven effort comes from being dead to sin not just forsaking it. The believer will not serve sin because his nature is contrary to sin. You don't have to say "yes" to your sin. You are not bound to it any longer.

6) Grace-driven effort is rage-filled and violent toward residual sin inside of us. Our holiness wants to murder sin in our heart...mortifying the flesh. The legalist doesn't necessarily want to kill sin...they want to train it. So if they need some comfort it is there to run back to rather than running to God. Sin will eventually turn on you and kill you no matter how much you have tried to control it. We need to understand that when sin takes us out it isn't just about us...there is always collateral damage to others in our lives.

Colossians 3:11 - "Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all."