Archive for August, 2011
Paul reminded the Corinthian church that our battles in this life are spiritual ones. Our primary battle is a spiritual one against things we can’t see. I don’t know about you, but I need a constant reminder of that. Since our warfare in the Christian life is a spiritual one, I need to be reminded of what I can’t see, that which is going on all around me, and even in me. Paul put it in these words,
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Emphasis mine)
One of the things that really jump out at me in this passage is Paul’s use of the word “strongholds.” I like that word. When I think of strongholds, I think of huge, massive military installations that are dug in deep, impenetrable, unmovable, and difficult to circumvent or move past. I think of daunting, massive stone or metal structures that stand ready to oppose any and every onslaught that would seek to weaken or destroy them. In the passage above, Paul is Read the rest of this entry »
There’s good news and then there’s bad news. First, the good news: Jesus bore the punishment due me for my sin. He was crushed for my sin and His body nailed to a tree for my transgressions (Isaiah 53:5). This isn’t just good news, this is GREAT news! Jesus bore the punishment for my sin that I deserved so that I wouldn’t have to (Isaiah 53:6). An exchange took place on the cross that many call the great exchange. In the great exchange, Jesus took my sin and the wrath of God that I deserve upon himself and in exchange, I get his perfect righteousness dumped freely into my account, so that when God sees me, he sees Jesus in me and Jesus’ perfect life and payment for my sin on the cross makes me unconditionally accepted by God forever and always. Paul put it this way,
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
The great exchange is the good news of the gospel: what I couldn’t do, God did for me apart from anything I do (Romans 3:21-25). That’s grace and that’s great news!
Now, the bad news.
Once we come to Christ in faith and repentance, we can start to forget our deep need for the ongoing Read the rest of this entry »
Have you ever heard that line before? I have. It usually goes something like this: “I wasn’t gossiping, I was just expressing my opinion.” When did it become OK to put a Christian spin on gossip so that we could call it something other than gossip and keep doing it? When did it become OK to “express my opinion” about someone publicly or to others, instead of going to that person? And when did gossip become “expressing my opinion?”
One thing I’ve noticed is that gossip gets easier to spin and justify in a setting that promotes an unhealthy preoccupation with Read the rest of this entry »
Let’s not confuse the two. Performance isn’t transformation and transformation doesn’t always mean performance. The Holy Spirit is the agent of transformation in my life as the grace of God applies the gospel to my soul – the good news that what I couldn’t (and can’t) do myself, God did (and is doing) in sending his Son to die for me and to represent me. We err if we blindly equate transformation with performance. Looking at my own life, some of the richest times of transformation and closeness to Jesus have occurred while standing still. Some of the most heart-transforming times in my life have taken place when I was at my weakest and unable to do anything. That’s because transformation is a work of the Spirit of God and He’s not dependent on me or my ability to perform. In fact, when I am at my weakest, He is strongest. Wasn’t that Paul’s experience?
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
The reverse is also true: performance in the Christian life doesn’t necessarily equate to transformation. I’ve learned that if we view the gospel as something that merely gets us in the door of Christianity so we can press on into the “deeper” things of God, we’re not really living a Christ-centered life. We might call it Christ-centered, but it’s not because I can’t live a Christ-centered life without the gospel in front of me. I can’t live a Christ-centered life without Read the rest of this entry »
One of things I struggle against in my Christian experience is pride. Add to that self-righteousness and at times, apathy, and it’s obvious that I have a winning combination going. As the Lord shows me my self-righteous tendencies and continues to change me, I find myself feeling self-righteous toward those who are self-righteous. Tullian Tchividjian wrote a recent blog called The Double Reach of Self-Righteousness on that very topic that is helpful. It’s [HERE] if you want to take a look.
If you take a believer who struggles with pride and self-righteousness (and all of us do if we’re honest about it) and put them in a Christian environment that tells them that one of their primary responsibilities as a Christian is to point out sin in other Christian’s lives, the results can be devastating. I’ve heard it taught that, “The reason you have other believers in your life is to point out your sin.” At one point, I actually Read the rest of this entry »
I’m reading through a book by Scotty Smith called Objects of His Affection: Coming Alive to the Compelling Love of God. The Lord has used Scotty Smith in a tremendous way recently. We have gone through some fierce trials these past few years and Scotty’s words of grace and the gospel have done much to help in the healing of my heart. I have just started this book and hope to share tidbits as I read through it.
Our trials have been very painful. What trials aren’t, right? But when trials come so close together its sometimes hard to recover from one before the next one begins. I feel that my heart is raw and ravaged. Not by Jesus, but by the revelation of my own sin and the deep hurt caused by others. It’s at those times that Read the rest of this entry »
Ligonier Ministries posted a good blog yesterday on the Keswick movement and the “Let go and let God” theology which sprang from it. If you’re not familiar with the Keswick movement and the “Higher Life” theology that it produced and is still with us today, this will be a helpful introduction. Here’s a sample to whet your appetite:
Keswick theology is pervasive because countless people have propagated it in so many ways, especially in sermons and devotional writings. It is appealing because Christians struggle with sin and want to be victorious in that struggle now. Keswick theology offers a quick fix, and its shortcut to instant victory appeals to genuine longings for holiness.
Keswick theology, however, is not biblically sound. Here are just a few of the reasons Read the rest of this entry »