You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘sanctification’ tag.
…weakness may be consistent with the assurance of salvation. The disciples, notwithstanding all their weaknesses, are bidden to rejoice that their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Failings with conflict, in sanctification should not weaknen the peace of our justification and assurance of salvation. It matters not so much what ill is in us, as what good; not what corruptions, but how we regard them; not what our particular failings are so much as what the thread and tenor of our lives are, for Christ’s dislike of that which is amiss in us turns not to the hatred of our persons but to the victorious subduing of all our infirmities.
Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed (Carlisle, PA: The Banner Of Truth Trust, 1998), 96.
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.
23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:21-25)
God does not have a only one means of exhorting us in live in obedience. He is not a one string banjo which only has one cord to harp on.
You can, however, hear different people try to reduce it down to one. They will do it either in their practice or in their teachings. One will say, “Just preach the gospel of justification.” Others will say, “Work hard to follow the example of Christ.” The list can go on.
Now, such statements are true in part. That is why they can profit an individual. One person has been crushed by their guilt for most of their Christian life. When they hear about living in light of the gospel they start to live in joyous freedom and see so much sanctification in their life. Another never knew the sustaining grace of Christ until they were pushed outside their comfort zone to be obedient in a particular area. They pushed themselves and witnessed power and grace sustaining them.
Now, what these people might be tempted to do is to take their individual experience with the sanctifying work of the Spirit and make it the standard by which all must walk with God. They take the part and make it the whole. So the only thing people need is to know justification by faith alone or to be pushed hard to live out their faith.
But what this section of 1 Peter 2 reminds us is that there are multiple ways that God exhorts us in our pilgrimage as believers to live obediently.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
- Here we see the example of Christ given. Christ lived His perfect life “so that” we could strive to walk as He walked. Believers are to be looking to the life of Christ to give instruction as to how they are to live and thus move to live it.
“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”
- The person of Christ is given as the One we are to look upon in our warfare. Peter does not tell them to look within themselves to find the courage to obey. To the complete contrary, he tells them, and us, to look away from ourselves and fix our eyes up the Christ who went before us. The person of Christ is who we are to look upon so that His beauty can encourage us to endure as we follow after Him.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
- Here we are told to behold the power that is ours over sin because of Christ. His death to sin means that we are dead to sin. His resurrected life raises us up to live a life of righteousness. The wounds which killed His body bring life to both our souls and bodies making us capable to live for Him. We are, thus, given the greatest healing possible! No sin will have dominion over us! Resurrection power is at the believer’s disposal.
“For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
- Finally, in this passage, we are told to remember what God has done for us. To the persecuted believers Peter is writing to he directs the attention to what God has done for them. They were straying but now have be brought back. The Lord is their Sheperd and Overseer. They are now counted as members of God’s flock who are being watched over by the Lord Himself. They are not forgotten, pointless commodities. The Shepherd will not lose one of His sheep. Look at all the Shepherd has gone through to bring them under His care (vs. 21-24)!
Thus we see that the ways the Lord brings sanctifying truth to His people are multiple. We could even find more by exploring others texts in 1 Peter (or the whole bible). We can even see the truths crisscrossing over the above texts. There is not one phrase, one truth that is the silver bullet to press believers on in their sanctification. As this text demonstrates the truths are multiple.
This means for us that we should be as multifaceted as the bible is when we exhort believers to be like Christ. We are in the dominion of grace in Christ. But that grace may take the form of gentle gospel reminding comforts or it may be the hard confrontation of warning. Truth, wisdom, and love are to guide us as we seek to apply biblical truth to individual lives and circumstances.
God’s Grace reaches down to the lowest depths of our need and meets all the exigencies[urgent needs] of the moral and spiritual impossibility which inheres in our depravity and inability. And that grace is the grace of regeneration.
God effects a change which is radical and all-pervasive, a change which cannot be explained in term of any combination, permutation, or accumulation of human resources, a change which is nothing less than a new creation by him who calls the things that be not as though they were, who spake and it was done, who commanded and it stood fast. This, in a word, is regeneration.
-John Murray, Redemption: Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, MI: , 1955), 96.
Take aways from this and the last post:
1. We should never over look God’s regenerative work in our lives. We are sinful and dependent upon Christ’s righteousness for acceptance every moment of our lives. Yet, we are to rejoice in God’s present work in our lives. He is working and it is real.
2. We are not to be downcast about our condition. Sin in us, as believers, is pervasive. And in this we mourn. But the new birth of the Spirit and all the sovereign, transformative power He wields is just as pervasive! We are new in Christ Jesus and there is nothing to be downcast about that!
3. There is no sin which is out of the Spirit’s reach. His effect upon the believer is all pervasive. No sin is to far away. No action is totally removed from His holy influence. Never think you are beyond His transformative work.
4. We should declare the goodness the Spirit’s works in us and others. Christians can be good because they are indwelt with the Spirit who is good. His works do become manifest in the believer. And it is actually the believer. The Spirit does not shut the person down and perform the good works. The person, being recreated by the Spirit, produces the good works. And it is praise to the Lord to proclaim His works.
Reposting in light of Resurrection Sunday tomorrow. May every believer grasp what is theirs in Christ Jesus because of His resurrection!
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:5)
All that [Christ] accomplished for us in our human nature is, through union with him, true for us and, in a sense, of us. He died to sin once; he lives to God (6:10). He came under the dominion of sin in death, but death could not master him. He rose and broke the power of both sin and death. Now He lives forever in the resurrection life of God. The same is as true of us as if we had been with him on the cross, in the tomb and on the resurrection morning!
We miss the radical nature of Paul’s teaching here to our great loss. So startling is it that we need to find a startling manner of expressing it. For what Paul is saying is that sanctification means this: in relationship both to sin and to God, the determining factor of my existence is no longer my past. It is Christ’s past. The basic frame work of my new existence in Christ is that I have become a “dead man brought to life” and must think of myself in those terms: dead to sin and alive to God in union with Jesus Christ our Lord.
~Sinclair B. Ferguson, Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification, p. 57
I am transferring this post from Ligonier’s blog and bring it here. Sinclair Ferguson gives a great basis for understanding sanctification. Read, learn, and be edified
The aftermath of a conversation can change the way we later think of its significance.
My friend — a younger minister — sat down with me at the end of a conference in his church and said: “Before we retire tonight, just take me through the steps that are involved in helping someone mortify sin.” We sat talking about this for a little longer and then went to bed, hopefully he was feeling as blessed as I did by our conversation. I still wonder whether he was asking his question as a pastor or simply for himself — or both.
How would you best answer his question? The first thing to do is: Turn to the Scriptures. Yes, turn to John Owen (never a bad idea!), or to some other counselor dead or alive. But remember that we have not been left only to good human resources in this area. We need to be taught from “the mouth of God” so that the principles we are learning to apply carry with them both the authority of God and the promise of God to make them work.
Several passages come to mind for study: Romans 8:13; Romans 13:8–14(Augustine’s text); 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1; Ephesians 4:17–5:21; Colossians 3:1–17;1 Peter 4:1–11; 1 John 2:28–3:11. Significantly, only two of these passages contain the verb “mortify” (“put to death”). Equally significantly, the context of each of these passages is broader than the single exhortation to put sin to death. As we shall see, this is an observation that turns out to be of considerable importance.
Of these passages, Colossians 3:1–17 is probably the best place for us to begin.
Here were relatively young Christians. They have had a wonderful experience of conversion to Christ from paganism. They had entered a gloriously new and liberating world of grace. Perhaps — if we may read between the lines — they had felt for a while as if they had been delivered, not only from sin’s penalty but almost from its influence — so marvelous was their new freedom. But then, of course, sin reared its ugly head again. Having experienced the “already” of grace they were now discovering the painful “not yet” of ongoing sanctification. Sounds familiar!
But as in our evangelical sub-culture of quick fixes for long-term problems, unless the Colossians had a firm grasp of Gospel principles, they were now at risk! For just at this point young Christians can be relatively easy prey to false teachers with new promises of a higher spiritual life. That was what Paul feared (Col. 2:8, 16). Holiness-producing methods were now in vogue (Col. 2:21–22) — and they seemed to be deeply spiritual, just the thing for earnest young believers. But, in fact, “they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Col. 2:23). Not new methods, but only an understanding of how the Gospel works, can provide an adequate foundation and pattern for dealing with sin. This is the theme ofColossians 3:1–17.
Paul gives us the pattern and rhythm we need. Like Olympic long jumpers, we will not succeed unless we go back from the point of action to a point from which we can gain energy for the strenuous effort of dealing with sin. How, then, does Paul teach us to do this?
First of all, Paul underlines how important it is for us to be familiar with our new identity in Christ (3:1–4). How often when we fail spiritually we lament that we forgot who we really are — Christ’s. We have a new identity. We are no longer “in Adam,” but “in Christ”; no longer in the flesh, but in the Spirit; no longer dominated by the old creation but living in the new (Rom. 5:12–21; 8:9;2 Cor. 5:17). Paul takes time to expound this. We have died with Christ (Col. 3:3; we have even been buried with Christ, 2:12); we have been raised with Him (3:1), and our life is hidden with Him (3:3). Indeed, so united to Christ are we that Christ will not appear in glory without us (3:4).
Failure to deal with the presence of sin can often be traced back to spiritual amnesia, forgetfulness of our new, true, real identity. As a believer I am someone who has been delivered from the dominion of sin and who therefore is free and motivated to fight against the remnants of sin’s army in my heart.
Principle number one, then, is: Know, rest in, think through, and act upon your new identity — you are in Christ.
Second, Paul goes on to expose the workings of sin in every area of our lives (Col. 3:5–11). If we are to deal with sin biblically, we must not make the mistake of thinking that we can limit our attack to only one area of failure in our lives. All sin must be dealt with. Thus Paul ranges through the manifestation of sin in private life (v. 5), everyday public life (v. 8), and church life (vv. 9–11; “one another,” “here,” that is, in the church fellowship). The challenge in mortification is akin to the challenge in dieting (itself a form of mortification!): once we begin we discover that there are all kinds of reasons we are overweight. We are really dealing with ourselves, not simply with calorie control. I am the problem, not the potato chips! Mortifying sin is a whole-of-life change.
Third, Paul’s exposition provides us with practical guidance for mortifying sin. Sometimes it seems as if Paul gives exhortations (“Put to death…,” 3:5) without giving “practical” help to answer our “how to?” questions. Often today, Christians go to Paul to tell them what to do and then to the local Christian bookstore to discover how to do it! Why this bifurcation? Probably because we do not linger long enough over what Paul is saying. We do not sink our thinking deeply into the Scriptures. For, characteristically, whenever Paul issues an exhortation he surrounds it with hints as to how we are to put it into practice.
This is certainly true here. Notice how this passage helps to answer our “how to?” questions.
1. Learn to admit sin for what it really is. Call a spade a spade — call it “sexual immorality,” not “I’m being tempted a little”; call it “impurity,” not “I’m struggling with my thought life”; call it “evil desire, which is idolatry,” not “I think I need to order my priorities a bit better.” This pattern runs right through this whole section. How powerfully this unmasks self-deceit — and helps us to unmask sin lurking in the hidden corners of our hearts!
2. See sin for what your sin really is in God’s presence. “On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (3:6). The masters of the spiritual life spoke of dragging our lusts (kicking and screaming, though they be) to the cross, to a wrath-bearing Christ. My sin leads to — not lasting pleasure — but holy divine displeasure. See the true nature of your sin in the light of its punishment. Too easily do we think that sin is less serious in Christians than it is in non-believers: “It’s forgiven, isn’t it?” Not if we continue in it (1 John 3:9)! Take a heaven’s-eye view of sin and feel the shame of that in which you once walked (Col. 3:7; see alsoRom. 6:21).
3. Recognize the inconsistency of your sin. You put off the “old man,” and have put on the “new man” (3:9–10). You are no longer the “old man.” The identity you had “in Adam” is gone. The old man was “crucified with him [Christ] in order that the body of sin [probably “life in the body dominated by sin”] might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6). New men live new lives. Anything less than this is a contradiction of who I am “in Christ.”
4. Put sin to death (Col. 3:5). It is as “simple” as that. Refuse it, starve it, and reject it. You cannot “mortify” sin without the pain of the kill. There is no other way!
But notice that Paul sets this in a very important, broader context. The negativetask of putting sin to death will not be accomplished in isolation from the positivecall of the Gospel to “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14). Paul spells this out in Colossians 3:12–17. Sweeping the house clean simply leaves us open to a further invasion of sin. But when we understand the “glorious exchange” principle of the Gospel of grace, then we will begin to make some real advance in holiness. As sinful desires and habits are not only rejected, but exchanged for Christ-like graces (3:12) and actions (3:13); as we are clothed in Christ’s character and His graces are held together by love (v. 14), not only in our private life but also in the church fellowship (vv. 12–16), Christ’s name and glory are manifested and exalted in and among us (3:17).
These are some of the things my friend and I talked about that memorable evening. We did not have an opportunity later to ask each other, “How are you going?” for it was our last conversation. He died some months later. I have often wondered how the months in between went in his life. But the earnest personal and pastoral concern in his question still echoes in my mind. They have a similar effect to the one Charles Simeon said he felt from the eyes of his much-loved portrait of the great Henry Martyn: “Don’t trifle!”
Reposting because I needed to be reminded of these things this morning,
Justin Taylor gives a list of very good and true things to tell yourself when you get up in the morning,
- Salvation draws near. This morning I am one day closer to seeing the Lord face-to-face, and closer to the day when all that is wrong and broken and rebellious will be made right and submissive. (“For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed”—Rom. 13:11).
- God gives me new mercy. Every day I need God’s mercy, and when I awoke today there was a fresh supply of such necessary grace awaiting me. (“[God’s] mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning”—Lam. 3:22-23).
- God gives us all kindness. God has already shown and modeled kindness this morning to his people and to his enemies by causing the sun to rise and shine. (“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good”—Matt. 5:45).
- My to-do list has only two things on it. My to-do list can feel overwhelming, but Jesus was able to summarize all 613 stipulations of the Sinai Covenant unto the size of a Post-It Note: “Love God with all that you are; love your neighbor as yourself.” Love fulfills the law (Rom. 13:8, 10; Gal. 5:14;James 2:8). As Augustine put it, “Love, and do what you will.”
- Anxiety is meant to be cast not carried. Any anxiety I feel about today is useless (to me) and offensive (to God). God knows that I awake with anxieties, needs, and burdens. But instead of being anxious God wants me to tell him what I need (Phil. 4:6). Because God cares for me he wants me to cast all those anxieties—those burdens—on him (1 Pet. 5:7; Ps. 55:22). God is happy to “supply every need [I have] according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19;Matt. 6:33). Anxiety, at the end of the day, is a pointless waste of time that costs me a lot and gains me nothing (Matt. 6:27).
- Rejoicing in weakness. If I feel too weak today, that’s a very good place to be. That way the joy of the Lord can be my strength (Neh. 8:10). That way I can “serve by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 4:11). “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:16). God’s grace is sufficient for me, since his power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong ” (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
We need men to be men!
Now the full explanation of that statement is another issue but we can say that there is always a need to think about what it means to be a man biblically. There has been a lot of thought and articulation of biblical manhood as faithful teachers seek to set the biblical portrait of what God wants of men in the face of the cultural’s ideas on this issue.
Let me say at the out set that I am for this development. I think that groups who are exploring what the meaning of manhood is through a biblical lens are right in doing so. By this exploration there is going to be a standard set (hopefully biblically) that men are suppose to meet.
But We Are Going to Fail…
Whenever we set a standard before ourselves we are going to fail it. We are fallen and sinful. No one will meet the picture of the perfect Father, Mother, Friend, etc. This is no different in the pursuit of being godly men. When we see ourselves failing or not obtaining the standard perfectly what are we suppose to do?
The way the theme of biblical manhood is framed at times it can make it hard to pursue. It is very easy to speak of manhood in terms of what one already possess and not what one is growing in it. If one does or does not do a certain action or have a certain characteristic then their entire identity of manhood is on the line. Men do _______ or men do not do ________. Plain and simple.
What happens, although, if a man does not do that? If we are not careful in how we frame the concept of biblical manhood then we put men who are sinners is a precarious position. No matter how central we think the characteristic or action some man is going to fail in that area.
It is at this point that our theology of manhood is revealed. Is it legalism that has more likeness of secular self-help programs or does it find it’s place if the redemptive work of the Christ?
It seems that we can easily revert to the former. We construct the law of manhood which we are to obtain. The drive to obtain it is out of the fear of failing short. If one does not meet the criteria then they fail at being a man. The voice is very clear, “Keep all the plates of manhood spinning or else you will fail at being a man.”
Because it is legalistic in nature there is a congruent means of responding to failure. When a system is legalistic in nature people either get depressed or created loopholes to deal with failure. We are all going to fail thus we have to have means of dealing with it. How we usually deal with it is the normal way of dealing with legalistic failings: depression or lessening. Depression is easy to understand, someone sees they are failing the standard and so they fall into the pit of despair.
Lessening, on the other hand, is the trick of defining the law around one’s self so that obtaining it is automatic. Thus, for some men, manhood is defined by what already defines them. For the guys who hunt it is hunting. For the guys who live in their lust it is lusting, etc. This is also where unbiblical definitions creep in. When manhood is something one has to obtain no one wants to discover that they do not already obtain it. Unhelpful standards are then crafted by what men perceive manhood should be and so exclude several men who do not meet it. But those men might have their own definition of what manhood is. Before you know it the standard of manhood can be several places. All of them very easy to obtain to whoever is crafting the standard.
All this will create, though, are men who miss the true meaning of manhood. Depression and false standards will never take us to a right understanding of what it means to be a man and help those who think and feel as if they are failing.
Through the Lens of the Gospel
The other means of dealing with this issue is to turn to the salvation that is offered in Christ. When we look through the lens of the gospel how are we to understand failure in godly manhood?
First, we have to understand that manhood is a good thing that God created. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). “Manhood” is not some social construction that has been forced upon us. God specifically means for His image to be reflected and represented by two genders: male and female. Thus, we are to embrace our identity as men and not desire to be women. Not because men are better than women in any way. But because we embrace God’s glory is the way He chose to display His image. A man is suppose to live as a man and a woman is suppose to live as a woman.
This also means that we locate manhood in the image of God displayed in us. Once again, manhood is not a social construction but created identity. God created man and women to be His representatives and ambassadors on this earth in their structure and function. Each gender is to be that image in the way their gender has been fitted. If God wanted His image in one gender He would have done so but instead He knew it would bring Him more glory to display His image in two. Manhood is not something that Adam was to obtain, it was something that he was based on how God created Him. This means that there is a two stage but related aspect of manhood. We are males that are suppose to live as men. Thus, we are men because God created us to be. Adam could stop being a man when he stopped being the image of God. And we are suppose to live out that image which means we are to fulfill biblical manhood.
Thus, we are men because we are created in God’s image and we are to live out that image in biblical manhood.
Second, The bible makes it clear that manhood has been marred and depraved by the fall. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). When the human race fell in Adam the image, the glorious display of God’s glory through humanity, became ruined. And since manhood is in the image it fell with it. What we should be as men is now ruined and marred by our selfish rebellion against God’s good, just, and righteous rule.
Thus, while we are men, the fullness of what God intended to be lived out as men has been depraved by the fall.
Third, manhood is redeemed by Christ. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). The restoration of what was lost by sin was accomplished by the death and resurrection of Christ. The cursed placed upon us for rebelling against the image God intended us to have was placed upon Christ as He hung on the cross (Gal 3:13). The new life of displaying the image, once again, was secured by Christ as He rose again (Rom 6:4). What we failed to accomplish was won by Christ. Our salvation is found in Him. By faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection the merits won by Him are counted as ours (Rom 4:24-25). And the Spirit’s work in a believer is creating him after the likeness of God (Eph 4:24) by one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18)
Thus, the restoration of manhood is found in salvation in Christ.
Fourth, the restoration of manhood is located in the sanctifying work of the Spirit. The life that has been ransom by Christ and been given new birth to treasure Christ and rest in Him for salvation is not working to re-obtain the image in a moment. The life of sanctification is not doing an action or not doing an action and so ultimately gaining perfection. It is a life long process where by the Spirit transforms the believer more and more into the image of Christ (2 Cor 3:18). Part of that work of sanctification is the reclamation of manhood since it is part of the image. Manhood is not something, as believers, is to be obtained in a moment. It is part of the lifetime work of the Spirit in our lives. It includes God’s mercy and grace in all the times we do not live up to our Master’s teaching. It includes the times that I quiver inside and and not take leadership over a situation out of fear. Just like any other areas of our sanctification there will be sin and failure.
Thus, The restoration of manhood is progressive, not instantaneous.
Fifth, our identity does not rest upon the law of what the perfect man should be but instead in the One who was and is the perfect image of God and so what is true manhood–Jesus Christ, “He is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15a). I know for myself that this God came to me when I had completely twisted and transgressed what a true man was and saved me! He has made me His child and started the work of reclaiming and restoring that image and promised that no power of this world or of me can stop that work of restoration. My heavenly Father does not look upon me as a failed attempt at being a man. No, instead, by looking upon His beloved Son in whom I am hidden He sees the image as already restored! My manhood has already been reclaimed in Christ. I can amass all the failures of being a man I could and then bring them to God to only hear, “but I am not looking upon those, I am looking upon the perfect spotless image of my Son and your Savior.”
Because that is my identity the Spirit is working into me, day by day, the perfect image of Christ through my fight of obedience. I get get to become more and more like the image of the One I already am hidden in. This is where the daily fight of manhood comes into play. My manhood is not something that is obtained but something that is reclaimed by the salfivic work of Christ in our lives. And so to for the all of us fighting.
This, I believe, is the gospel response to failing as a man. We are created as men but because of sin fail at living out manhood as we should. But God has sent Christ to fulfill the commands of God where we have failed. And Christ was given as the perfect sacrifice for the sins we committed—bearing the shame and condemnation we should bear. He rose from the dead to seal the victory and ascended to the right hand of God. Now, by faith in Jesus, His works and victory is accounted as ours so that our identity becomes one of a loved, adopted son and not a slave. By the work of the Spirit we are being renewed in the image of our creator. So failure is not a fall from being a man. It is a sin from which the condemnation has been removed in Christ and we can press on against by the power of the Spirit.
Here are some excellent fighter verses for the battle with anxiety from Justin Taylor.
I am thankful for the Words of God which cast light upon the darkness of our fears. Our God is great and it is a sin to not trust Him. But how gracious He is to keep reminding us again and again, out of Fatherly love, that He is our rock and refuge.
1. God is near me to help me.
Philippians 4:5-6: “The Lord is at hand; [therefore] do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
2. God cares for me.
1 Peter 5:7: “. . . casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
3. My Father in heaven knows all my needs and will supply all my needs.
Matthew 6:31-33: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
4. God values me more than birds and grass, which he richly provides for and adorns; how much more will he provide for all my needs!
Matthew 6:26-30: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
5. The worst someone can do to me is to kill me and take things from me!
Matthew 6:25: “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” [I.e., you still have eternal life even if you have no food; you will still have a resurrection body even if you are physically deprived.]
Luke 12:4: “Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.”
Romans 8:31-32, 35, 38-39: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
6. Anxiety is pointless.
Matthew 6:27: “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” [Answer: no one.]
7. Anxiety is worldly.
Matthew 6:31-32: “Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things. . . .”
James 4:4: “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
8. Tomorrow has enough to worry about and doesn’t need my help.
Matthew 6:34: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Lamentations 3:23: “[God’s mercies] are new every morning.”
HT: Justin Taylor
Do I hate sin because of its offense to God, or the offense it does to me? The answer to that question is massive. In contemplating over that answer I was reminded of this quote,
We are transformed into Christ’s image—that’s what sanctification is—by steadfast seeing and savoring of the glory of Christ…The work of the Holy Spirit in changing us is not to work directly on our bad habits but to make us admire Jesus Christ so much that sinful habits feel foreign and distasteful.
-John Piper, God is the Gospel, p 91-92.
The needed focus of my eyes and heart is clear—Jesus Christ. Not my sins. Focusing on my sins puts me in the center where the central thing I worry about is sin consequences to me. Instead, my central focus should be the glory of Christ so that He is center. And with that focus comes the killing of sin.
Regrets can be hard on us. Whether they are about our lives before our salvation or what happened yesterday. We think back about what could have been only if we had not messed up or if we did what we were suppose to. How are we to interact with these regrets?
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones helpfully lays out how we are to respond:
1. Dwelling on regrets is a waste of time. “Let us then lay this down as a principle. We must never for a second worry about anything that cannot be affected or changed by us. It is a waste of energy…You can sit down and be miserable and you can go round and round in circles of regret for the rest of your life but it will make no difference to what you have done.” (p. 82)
2. Failures in the past are not to make us depressed, but to spur us on to action. “if you really believe what you say about the past, if you really do bemoan the fact that you have wasted so much time in the past, the thing to do is to make up for it in the present. Is not that common sense?” (p. 83)
3. Turn away regret by focusing on who you are right now, at this moment. “What matters first of all if you are a Christian is not what you once were, but what you are…’I am what I am’—whatever the past may have been. It is what I am that matters. What am I? I am forgiven. I am reconciled to God by the Blood of His Son upon the Cross. I am a child of God. I am adopted into God’s family, and I am an heir with Christ, a joint-heir with Him. I am going to glory. That is what matters, not what I was, not what I have been.” (p. 85-86)
4. We are not to judge ourselves. “As Christians we must leave our judgement to Him [1 Cor. 4:1-4]. He is our Judge and you have no right to waste His time or your own time and energy in condemning yourself. Forget yourself, leave the judgement to Him; get on with the work.” (p. 87)
5. Forget yourself, know Him. “part of the trouble with these people is that they are still morbidly preoccupied with themselves, that they have not learned as Christians that they are to deny self and take up the Cross and follow Him and to leave themselves, past present and future in His hands….stop looking at yourself and begin to enjoy Him…If you were to feel more interest in Christ you would be less interested in yourself. Begin to look at Him, gaze upon Him with this open, unveiled face. And then go on to learn that in His Kingdom what matters is not the length of service but your attitude towards Him, your desire to please Him.” (p. 87-88)
6. Live knowing you are in the Kingdom of Grace. “Nothing Matters in the Kingdom but the grace of God…God has a different way of looking at things. He does not see as men do; He does not compute as they do; it is all grace from beginning to end…stop looking at what what you have not done and the years you have missed and realize that in His kingdom it is His grace alone that matters.” (p. 89)
To sum up, “Praise God for the fact that you are what you are, and that you are in the Kingdom.” (p. 90)
Quotes taken from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, p. 82-90