Saturday, August 30, 2014

Servant Leadership | Repentance and Faith: You Can Change and The Hole in Our Holiness

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 Christian Reformed Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

"Servant Leaders Should be the Number One Repenters in a Church"

I first heard this quote from Scotty Smith, founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Nashville, TN. In meeting him, I greatly appreciated this Presbyterian's illuminating honesty and generous humility. He spoke of past sins done to him as well as sins he had committed with openness and awe at the grace of God in Jesus in the midst of it all to restore him and reconcile him. He also writes daily prayers that capture this incredible posture of heart and life.

After beginning our servant leadership development meetings with Emmaus City in the genuine and wise Roman Catholic Priest Henri Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership, I thought a time of reflecting on and discussing faith and repentance would help us grow in our learning together in how to turn to Jesus again and again for His grace and holiness to shape us and Emmaus City. The two best books I have read in reflecting on repentance and faith as a lifetime walk with Jesus are Tim Chester's You Can Change: God's Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior  and Kevin DeYoung's The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness. They capture a view of overcoming sin with Jesus and others that is Gospel-driven and Spirit-fueled instead of resorting to legalism or defeatism. After all, if Jesus is the Suffering Servant with us and the Overcoming King for us, what does it mean to turn to Him for strength and escape when we are tempted? Below are quotes from these books that continue to resonate with me and I look forward to hearing from others in our servant leadership development group on what sections helped them turn to Jesus with hope for the days ahead.

Previous posts for Servant Leadership Development:

25 Quotes for Building Up Repentance and Faith for a Lifetime of Serving Jesus 

You Can Change | Chapter One: What Would You Like to Change?

" ... holiness is always good news. God calls us to the good life. He's always bigger and better than anything sin offers. The key is to realize why change is good news in your struggles with sin."  pg. 10

"Jesus shows us God's agenda for change. God isn't interested in making us religious. Think of Jesus, who was hated by religious people. God isn't interested in making us spiritual if by spiritual we mean detached. Jesus was God getting involved with us. God isn't interested in making us self-absorbed: Jesus was self-giving personified. God isn't interested in serenity: Jesus was passionate for God, angry at sin, weeping for the city. The word holy means 'set apart' or 'consecrated.' For Jesus, holiness means being set apart from, or different from, our sinful ways. It didn't mean set apart from the world, but being consecrated to God in the world. He was God's glory in and for the world. pg. 13

You Can Change | Chapter Two: Why Would You Like to Change?

" ... trying to impress God, others, or ourselves puts us at the center of our change project. It makes change all about my looking good. It is done for my glory. And that's pretty much the definition of sin. Sin is living for my glory instead of God's. Sin is living life my way, for me, instead of living life God's way, for God. Often that means rejecting God as Lord and wanting to be our own lord, but it can also involve rejecting God as Savior and wanting to be our own savior. Pharisees do good works and repent of bad works. But gospel repentance includes repenting of good works done for wrong reasons. We need to repent of trying to be our own savior. Theologian John Gerstner says, 'The thing that really separates us from God is not so much our sin, but our damnable good works.' ... When you feel the desire to prove yourself, remember you're right with God in Christ. You can't do anything to make yourself more acceptable to God than you already are. You don't need to worry whether people are impressed by you because you're already justified or vindicated by God. And what makes you feel good is not what you've done, but what Christ has done for you. Your identity isn't dependent on your change. You're a child of the heavenly King. ... "  pgs. 25-26

"God gives us a new identity, and this new identity is the motive and basis for our change. Again and again in the New Testament we are called to be what we are. It's not about achieving something so we can impress. It's about living out the new identity that God gives us in Jesus. 'His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature ... ' (from I Peter 1). We don't need anything new to be godly because we already have all we need. The great and precious promises that shape our new identity enable us to be like God. Growth in godliness begins with faith in those promises. Notice the problem when someone is ineffective and unproductive (see 1 Peter 1:9). He's 'forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.' He's lost sight of his new identity. pgs. 29-30 

You Can Change | Chapter Three: How Are You Going to Change?

"It's the Spirit's life in us that enables us to trust in Jesus as our Savior (faith) and submit to Jesus as our Lord (repentance). And it's the Spirit's life in us that enables us to grow in our faith and obedience. ... 'God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him' (Philippians 2:13). 
  • The Father is intimately involved in our lives so that our circumstances train us in godliness.  
  • The Son has set us free from both the penalty and the power of sin so that we now live under the reign of grace.  
  • The Spirit gives us a new attitude toward sin and a new power to change. 
The combined forces of the Trinity are at work in our lives to set us free and make us holy.– pg. 53  

"We begin the Christian life through faith and repentance, and we continue the Christian life through faith and repentance. John Owen says, 'Holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and realizing of the gospel in our souls.' When the crowd asks Jesus what God expects of them, he replies, 'This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent' (John 6:28-29). It means we need a kind of re-conversion each day. The first of Martin Luther's famous Ninety-five Theses was this: 'When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, 'Repent,' he willed that the whole life of believers should be one of repentance.' Each day we turn afresh in faith and repentance toward God. We rediscover our first love all over again so that we're not tempted to engage in spiritual adultery. 'The key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel.'" – pg. 57

You Can Change | Chapter Four: When Do You Struggle?

"(In Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4, and I Peter 1:6-7) What's striking about these passages is the way they all begin with a call to rejoice. We can rejoice in suffering when we make the connection between suffering and growth. Sometimes we see it in our lives; sometimes we can only hold on to it by faith. But we rejoice because we trust that God is using all things for our good – the good of becoming like Jesus. ... God not only uses our struggles, he promises to bring them to an end. He has taken our sufferings on himself to end our sufferings. On the cross Jesus took God's wrath on himself in our place, freeing us from God's curse. He promises a new world without sin or pain. His resurrection is the beginning of a new creation. pgs. 64-65

"James is talking to Christians facing 'trials of various kinds' (1:2). If we persevere, God will reward us with 'the crown of life' (1:12). What we can't do is blame God. It's not God's fault if I fail to persevere. I can't say, 'It was my upbringing, my biology, my personal history, or my circumstances.' James tells us that what causes a person to be enticed by temptation is 'his own desire.' Selfish desires lead to sin, says James, and sin leads to death. The deadly effects of sin in our lives, emotions, and relationships stem from the evil desires of our hearts. Jerry Bridges warns against using the language of defeat to describe sin. That suggests being overwhelmed by external factors and can therefore suggest that we are not to blame. The language of disobedience more accurately describes what's happening. ... If I'm provoked to sin, then the problem must be whatever provoked me. But I've come to realize that the real me is the person who is revealed when the sinful desires of my heart are exposed by trying circumstances and annoying people. The real me is revealed when I'm too tired to keep up the pretense. pgs. 67-68

You Can Change | Chapter Five: What Truths Do You Need to Turn to?

"I may envy, steal, or be anxious about money because I believe the lie that consumer goods give meaning to my life or because I believe that God doesn't care about me. I may commit adultery or get depressed about my singleness because I believe the lie that intimacy with another person will give me more than God can give me. Not many people think of themselves as someone who believes lies. But every time we don't trust God's word we're believing something else, and that something is always a lie. ... If I overwork it's because I don't trust God, perhaps because I believe the lie that I need to prove or justify myself. ... Whenever we're bitter, it's because we believe God isn't being good to us or that he's not in control. 'Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin' (Romans 14:23). Not many Christians think of themselves as unbelievers. ... The problems lie in the gap between what we believe in theory and what we believe in practice. On Sunday morning I sing of my belief in justification by faith (confessional faith), but on Monday morning I still feel the need to prove myself (functional disbelief). Or I may believe I'll be acquitted on the day of judgment, but I still want to justify myself in an argument tomorrow. I may affirm that God is sovereign (confessional faith), but I still get anxious when I can't control my life (functional disbelief). Sanctification is the progressive narrowing of the gap between confessional faith and functional faith."  pgs. 74-75

"God is Good – So We Do Not Have to Look Elsewhere: The invitation of the Bible is not to dreary abstinence. It's a call to find in God that which truly satisfies. It's believing that we find lasting fulfillment, satisfaction, joy, and identity in knowing God, and nowhere else. Whatever sin offers, God offers more, for God offers us himself. God isn't just good, he's better – better than everything else – and the true source of all joy. In John 4, Jesus turns a request for water from a Samaritan woman into an offer of living water. 'Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life' (vv. 13-14). This living water is God himself communicated to his people through the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). Every longing in us is a version of our longing for God. When the woman tries to draw Jesus into worship controversies, Jesus redefines worship (vv. 19-24). Worship is not about location. It's an attitude of the heart: you worship in spirit and in truth. Worship is about what you desire most, what you think has most worth. Every time you look to God to satisfy your longings, you worship him in spirit and truth. Every time you look elsewhere, you commit idolatry. Even our good works can be idolatrous acts. If we don't delight in God for his own sake, finding him beautiful and glorious in our eyes, then we'll serve him for what we get in return: reputation, security, escape from hell. In so doing, we reveal that our greatest love is our reputation, our security, our self-preservation, ourselves. The life of obedience is not the bad or sad life. It's the good life. Life with God and for God is the best life you could live. Change is about enjoying the freedom from sin and the delight in God that God give to us through Jesus."  pgs. 85-87

You Can Change | Chapter Six: What Desires Do You Need to Turn from?

"One common way desires deceive us is by masquerading as needs. We don't say, 'I lust to be loved'; we say, 'I need to be loved.' We take a good desire (to be loved) and turn it into an idolatrous desire and call it a need. God and his glory are then no longer at the center of my outlook. Instead I'm at the center, demanding that people 'worship' me by giving me affection and affirmation. Richard Lovelace calls it our 'god complex.' God promises to meet our true needs, but we can't expect him to satisfy our selfish desires. God isn't a divine waiter, ready to serve us whatever we want. God isn't the key to the good life (however I choose to define it). He defines the good life. He is the good life. God must be desired for his own sake, not as the purveyor of worldly success. ... In Amos 4 God speaks of a gift he gave to his people: 'empty stomachs (v. 6). He 'withheld rain' so that 'people staggered from town to town for water' (vv. 7-8). He struck their crops with mildew (v. 9). These might seem strange gifts! But God gives them so that his people might repent. The gifts are terrible things, but idolatry and its consequences are worse. God always seeks the best for his people, and that best is himself. Famine and thirst are acts of divine love when their aim is to bring us back to God.– pgs. 105-106  

"We become Christians through faith and repentance, and we grow as Christians through continual faith and repentance. We don't graduate from the gospel to some advanced way of holiness or progress. Martin Luther said, 'To progress is always to begin again.' So repentance is not a one-time event that just takes place when we're converted. John Calvin says, 'God assigns to (believers) a race of repentance, which they are to run throughout their lives.' Repentance is a lifelong, continuous activity of turning back to God from God-dethroning desires. ... A particular sin may have gripped our heart for so long that its roots run deep. It's become a habit. Pulling up this weed will be hard and painful work. It's better by far to pull up the weeds of sin as soon as they emerge, when they're still small and rootless, like the scarlet pimpernel. But this is a constant task. Every day's neglect makes the job harder. The key thing is to mortify the roots of sin. We need to be putting to death sinful desires, not just changing our behavior. ... Sinclair Ferguson says: 'What then is this killing of sin? ... It is the deliberate rejection of any sinful thought, suggestion, desire, aspiration, deed, circumstance or provocation at the moment we become conscious of its existence.'– pgs. 107-109

You Can Change | Chapter Seven: What Stops You from Changing?

"Have you ever been frustrated or angry at your lack of change? Many people have said to me at some point, 'I can't believe I've done it again,' or 'I'm so cross with myself for doing this.' I've thought this many times myself. But listen to Ed Welch: 'Perhaps the person is mad at himself for repeating the same sin over and over again. This is actually a veiled form of pride that assumes he is capable of doing good in his own power. He is minimizing his spiritual inability apart from God's grace.' Jerry Bridges claims, 'God wants us to walk in obedience – not victory.' Our problem, he explains, 'is that our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered. We are more concerned about our own 'victory' over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve the heart of God.' Pride isn't just a sin; it's part of the definition of sin. Pride puts us in the place of God. We turn from our chief end of glorifying God and make our chief end glorifying ourselves. And we even do this with sanctification. We make sanctification our achievement and glory. ... This is why humility is a paradigm of repentance. To humble ourselves before God is to repent of our god complex. This is why walking humbly before our God is what God requires (Micah 6:8). '(Scripture) says: 'God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' ... Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you' (James 4:6, 10; also I Peter 5:5). Humility is the secret to receiving grace. As Jack Miller says, 'Grace flows downhill.' People used to talk about the higher life of sanctification, but what we really need is the lower life. 'We grow up into Christ by growing down into lowliness.' If we truly want the grace of holiness, we must get lower, humbling ourselves and leaving the lifting up to God. pgs. 117-118

"True repentance grieves over sin; it never minimizes it. When did you last tremble at God's Word? 'This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word' (Isaiah 66:2). The humble tremble at God's Word. They don't minimize sin; they tremble before God. But pride makes us deaf to God's Word. We know it already, we suppose, so we don't come to it hungry. We don't engage it as needy sinners."  pg. 121 

You Can Change | Chapter Eight: What Strategies Will Reinforce Your Faith and Repentance?

"'What you see in your spiritual life today is the direct result of what you've put in the soil of your life in days past ... The difference between the person who grows in holiness and the one who doesn't is not a matter of personality, upbringing, or gifting; the difference is what each has planted into the soil of his or her heart and soul. So holiness isn't a mysterious spiritual state that only an elite few can reach. It's more than an emotion, or a resolution, or an event. Holiness is a harvest.' ... Faith and repentance are the only true gospel disciplines. ... Not sowing to the sinful nature is all about reinforcing repentance. Sowing to the Spirit is about reinforcing faith. ... Sometimes sinful desires feel strong. But if there's no stimulation for those desires, there's time for the truth to prevail in our hearts. We're particularly vulnerable to temptation when we're hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (giving the mnemnoic HALT). In these situations we need to take special care. You may need to ensure you have enough sleep or avoid being alone. ... Don't ask, 'How far can I go toward sin?' Ask instead, 'How far can I run from sin?' 'No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:13-14)."  pgs. 133-135
"Jesus compares fighting sin to amputation (Matthew 5:29-30)! We're likely to feel loss, even grief, when we think about what we must do to starve our sinful desires. They can seem like old friends whom we've loved for many years, and nobody likes killing off their best friends! One man said to me, as we discussed what he needed to do, 'I feel like I'll be losing a bit of my heart.' I was about to qualify his statement when I realized it's exactly like losing a bit of our heart! There's a bit of my heart that is attached to my sinful desires, and I need some heart surgery to remove it. That's why legalism doesn't work. In a famous sermon entitled, 'The Expulsive Power of a New Affection,' Thomas Chalmers argued that we can't simply tell ourselves to stop sinning. We need to direct the desires that sin falsely satisfies toward that which truly satisfies and liberates  God himself. A renewed affection for God is the only thing that will expel sinful desires. ... Sowing to the Spirit is about cultivating a new affection for God with its expulsive power. The best way to avoid weeds is to sow other plants in their place. It's the same in the spiritual life. The best way to keep down our sinful desires is to sow to the Spirit. pgs. 138-139

You Can Change | Chapter Nine: How Can We Support One Another in Changing?

"We can become very adept at hiding sins, but hiding them feeds them. You feel bad about yourself, so you eat compulsively. You eat compulsively, so you feel bad about yourself. You feel unable to cope with life, so you become a hero in computer games. But your addiction makes the real world seem even harder. The fear of exposure means you withdraw from the Christian community or learn to pretend. But withdrawal and pretense cut you off from the help of the community. One thing we've learned in our church is that change takes place only when sins come out into the open. It's difficult, but confession to another Christian will be a step forward. You don't need to tell everyone, but do tell someone! What should you do if others confess their sin to you? Speak the truth in love. Don't tell them their sin is understandable or insignificant. That offers no comfort because it's a lie. But we can speak words of comfort because we can speak words of grace. Call them to repent of their sin and to accept by faith the forgiveness that God offers. 'You are guilty, but Christ has borne your guilt. You deserve God's judgment, but Christ has borne your judgment.' This is true comfort. Embody that forgiveness in your ongoing acceptance and love. But accept people with God's agenda for change. Explore, if you can, the lies and desires that lead to their sinful behavior. Together you may be able to discern the truth they need to turn to and the idolatrous desires they need to turn from. Be proactive about offering accountability. That means asking the right question! Ask them how they're getting on; ask them whether they've sinned again. Be specific – ask when, where, why, how often. Above all, point them to the grace and glory of Christ.– pgs. 160-161

"We can be communities of repentance only if we're communities of grace. And this means being honest, open, and transparent about our struggles. We see one another as we really are and accept on another just as Christ accepted us. We must model grace in our welcome of sinners, just as Jesus did. It means I don't pose as a good person. Instead I portray myself as I truly am – a sinner who constantly receives grace from Christ. It means we rejoice to be a messy community of broken people. ... Example: ' ... Life in our congregation is messy. People have a wide variety of problems and many of those problems are out on the table. Are things going well when one of your members has been hauled out of a pub in a drunken state? When people admit problems in their marriage? When people are struggling with depression? Actually I think the answer can be, 'Yes, things are going well.' A key verse for me in recent years has been the first beatitude, which I paraphrase as: 'Blessed are the broken people for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' God's blessing is found among the broken people. I don't rejoice in people's problems, but I do rejoice to be part of a community of broken people. ... Mess reflects, I think, a culture of grace. We pretend because either we don't trust God's grace for ourselves or we don't trust others to show us grace. ... Response 1: " ... I've been reflecting on how fearful I am of the consequences of people in my church finding out the worst about each other. Will it lead to things falling to pieces? Will it cause pain, conflict, anger, division? Probably, I guess. But why do I fear that? Do I trust that the gospel word is robust and relevant? Do I believe that God will fulfill his promises to a church of broken people? ...Response 2: " ... I wonder if I'll ever read an advertisement for a church worker where the church is described as 'messy' and 'broken' rather than 'happy' and 'thriving.''Apprentices wanted to work in our needy church with messy relationships and broken people.' ... Response 3: " ... I hate respectable church, but this messy church is so hard. I'm constantly amazed how Jesus loves his church.
– pgs. 161-163

You Can Change | Chapter Ten: Are You Ready for a Lifetime of Daily Change?

"John Flavel says: 'Keeping the heart is a constant work. Keeping the heart is a work that is never done until life is over. There is no time or condition in the life of a Christian which can allow a let-up of this work. ... A few minutes' break from the task of watching their hearts cost David and Peter many a sad day and night. It is the most important business of a Christian's life. ... 'My son or daughter, give me your heart,' is God's request.' ... sanctifying faith is a repeated act as, day by day, we affirm our new identity in Christ and find greater delight in God than in sin. Sanctification may involve some crisis experiences in which we, as it were, make leaps forward, but it remains a lifelong process. Sanctifying is hard, disciplined work. 'Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord' (Hebrews 12:14, NIV). It involves the effort, with the help of the Spirit, of affirming the greatness and goodness of God and his gracious work for us. ... Passive faith and legalistic works are not the only options! The biblical option is the fight of faith – an active battle to exercise faith in reliance upon the Holy Spirit. It's about faith driving a thousand acts of the will, making daily choice to see past the lies of sin." – pgs. 170-171

"Often growth in grace means a growing awareness of our sin. We see the dirt in our hearts all the more as we move toward the light of God. ... We need to look both backward and forward. When we look back to what we were, we should feel encouraged by how we've changed. When we look forward to what we will be, we should feel the weight of continuing sin in our hearts. If we get the tension wrong between the 'already' and the 'not yet' change, we'll either have unrealistic expectations of perfection or give up in defeat. ...  
1) Keep returning to the cross to see your sin canceled and to draw near to God in full assurance of welcome.

2) Keep looking to God instead of to sin for satisfaction, focusing on the four liberating truths of God's greatness, glory, goodness, and grace.
3) Cut off, throw off, pull off, kill off everything that might strengthen or provoke sinful desires.
4) Bring sin into the light through regular accountability to another Christian.

If you resist doing these four things, and we often resist numbers 3 and 4, it's a sign that you still treasure sin in your heart: sin is still more important to you than God. Turn to God in repentance, reflect on sin's consequences, meditate on the all-surpassing glory of Christ, and beg God to give you a love for him that eclipses your love for sin.– pgs. 173-174

The Hole in Our Holiness | Chapter Five: The Pleasure of God and the Possibility of Godliness

"It is not impossible for God's people to commit righteous acts that please God. ... '(People) often cite Isaiah 64:6 which says our righteousness is as filthy rags. It is true ... that none of God's people before or after the cross, would be accepted by an immaculately holy God if the perfect righteousness of Christ were not imputed to us (Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21). But that does not mean that God does not produce in those 'justified' people (before and after the cross) an experiential righteousness that is not 'filthy rags.' In fact, he does; and this righteousness is precious to God and is required, not as the ground of our justification (which is the righteousness of Christ only), but as an evidence of our being truly justified children of God.' ... Those who bear fruit in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God are fully pleasing to God (Colossians 1:10). Presenting your body as a living sacrifice pleases God (Romans 12:1). Looking out for your weaker brother or sister pleases God (Romans 14:18). Obeying your parents pleases God (Colossians 3:20). Teaching the Word in truth pleases God (1 Thessalonians 2:4). Praying for the governing authorities pleases God (1 Timothy 2:1-3). Supporting your family members in need pleases God (1 Timothy 5:4). Sharing with others pleases God (Hebrews 13:16). Keeping his commandments pleases God (1 John 3:22). Basically, whenever you trust and obey, God is pleased.– pgs. 68-69

"Why do we imagine God to be so unmoved by our heart-felt attempts at obedience? He is, after all, our heavenly Father. What sort of father looks at his daughter's homemade birthday card and complains that the color scheme is all wrong? What kind of mother says to her son, after he gladly cleaned the garage but put the paint cans on the wrong shelf, 'This is worthless in my sight'? What sort of parent rolls his eyes when his child falls off the bike on the first try? There is no righteousness that makes us right with God except for the righteousness of Christ. But for those who have been made right with God by grace alone through faith alone and therefore have been adopted into God's family, many of our righteous deeds are not only not filthy in God's eyes, they are exceedingly sweet, precious, and pleasing to him." – pg. 70

The Hole in Our Holiness | Chapter Six: Spirit-Powered, Gospel-Driven, Faith-Fueled Effort

"The same Spirit who was present at creation and caused you to be born again is at work to empower your inner person (that is, your will or heart) so that you might resist sins you couldn't resist before and do the good things which would otherwise be impossible. Defeatist Christians who do not fight against sins because they figure they were 'born this way' or 'will never change' or 'don't have enough faith' are not being humble. They dishonor the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with supernatural power. But that's not all the Spirit does to sanctify us. The Spirit is power, but he is also a light. He shines into the dark places of our hearts and convicts us of sin (John 16:7-11). He is a lamp to illumine God's Word, teaching what is true and showing it it to be precious (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). And the Spirit throws a spotlight on Christ so that we can see his glory and be changed (John 16:14). That's why 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, 'And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.' ... To summarize, then, the Spirit is a light to us in three ways:

(1) He exposes sin so that we can recognize it and turn away.
(2) He illumines the Word so that we can understand its meaning and grasp its implications.
(3) He takes the veil away so that we can see the glory of Christ and become what we behold.
Or to put it another way, the Spirit sanctifies by (1) revealing sin, (2) revealing truth, and (3) revealing glory. When we close our eyes to this light, the Bible calls it resisting the Spirit (Acts 7:51), or quenching (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or grieving the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). ... If we give in to sin or give up on righteousness, the fault is not with the Spirit's power but with our preference for the darkness of evil rather than the Spirit's light (John 3:19-20)." – pgs. 81-83  
... the gospel aids our pursuit of holiness by telling us the truth about who we are. Certain sins become more difficult when we understand our new position in Christ. If we are heirs to the whole world, why should we envy? If we are God's treasured possession, why be jealous? If God is our Father, why be afraid? If we are dead to sin, why live in it? If we've been raised with Christ, why continue in our old sinful ways? If we are seated in the heavenly places, why act like the devil of hell? If we are loved with an everlasting love, why are we trying to prove our worth to the world? If Christ is all in all, why am I so preoccupied with myself? This is what Martyn Lloyd-Jones called talking to yourself instead of listening to yourself. It's easy to become convinced that we can never change or that God is ready to kick us to the curb after we've screwed up in the same way for the millionth time. But don't listen to yourself; preach to yourself. Go back to the gospel. Remember that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Remember that the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you (Romans 8:11). Remember that you are a child of God, and if a child then an heir (Romans 8:16-17). Remember that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). God gives more grace (James 4:6). Draw near to him, recognize who you are in him, and keep on working to cleanse your hands and purify your hearts (James 4:8). ... By faith we are justified. And by faith we make every effort to be sanctified. Faith is operative in both  in justification to receive and rest, and in sanctification to will and to work. pgs. 84-85 

The Hole in Our Holiness | Chapter Seven: Be Who You Are

" ... the pursuit of holiness is also the pursuit of Christ. We aren't interested in being virtuous just to be good people. Our first love is Jesus. Holiness is not ultimately about living up to a moral standard. It's about living in Christ and living out of our real, vital union with him. ... Apart from our union with Christ every effort to imitate Christ, no matter how noble and inspired at the outset, inevitably leads to legalism and spiritual defeat. But once you understand the doctrine of union with Christ, you see that God doesn't ask us to attain to what we're not. He only calls us to accomplish what already is. The pursuit of holiness is not a quixotic effort to do just what Jesus did. It's the fight to live out the life that has already been made alive in Christ. If I had to summarize New Testament ethics in one sentence, here's how I would put it: be who you are. ... (Remember) God doesn't say, 'Relax, you were born this way.' But he does say, 'Good news, you were reborn another way.' ... In Christ, we are new creations so that we might live for him and not for ourselves. 'And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised ...  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come' (2 Corinthians 5:15, 17). ... Do not strive after holiness because you cower in dread of God. Strive after holiness because you are confident you already belong to God.– pgs. 98, 100-103

Next post: Servant Leadership | Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey


Curiosity piqued? Something inside you being stirred? Go ahead and connect. For other updates, like and follow Emmaus City on Facebook.

No comments:

Post a Comment