Posts Tagged With: Sin

Power to Spare — Part 3

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Today we bring the word of God to bear on the difficulties we face from day to day. We have been supplied with everything we need to live victorious, joyful lives in Christ. We all are like David facing various Goliaths, and without understanding the “what,” we’ll never learn the “how,” in overcoming stubborn sins. We must know the legal facts concerning our case. Jesus is the Judge and He is kindly dispositioned toward us.

 

Being raised up with Christ also means that all that is true of Christ is now true of us, because we’re “in Him.” Let’s say I put a piece of paper inside my Bible. Whatever happens to my Bible happens to that piece of paper. If I take my Bible home, the piece of paper goes home too. If I drop my Bible, the paper drops. The paper is in the Bible. And the believer is in Jesus Christ. We are totally identified with Him. 

 

In Him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). While it takes a lifetime to discover and mine out those treasures, they’re ours in Christ. In Christ we have the surpassing riches of God’s grace—His kindnesses toward us (Eph. 2:7). In Christ, we have been made complete, so that He is now our “all in all” (Col. 2:10; 3:11). If we’re in Christ, we have everything we need for life and godliness through His precious and magnificent promises (2 Pet. 1:3-4). 

 

Paul states here (Col. 3:1) the mind-boggling truth (which he also states in Eph. 2:6) that we have been raised up with Christ, who is now seated at the right hand of God. We’re seated there in Him! When you look up all the places in the New Testament that refer to Christ’s being seated at the right hand of God (the phrase comes from Ps. 110:1), they generally fall into three categories: 

 

First, it refers to Christ’s supreme power.

Ephesians 1:20-21, Paul prays that we might know: 

… What is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 

 

You can’t get any greater power than that! He is not yet fully exercising that power, but is awaiting the time when His enemies will be made a footstool for His feet (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 1:13; 10:13). But He is now seated at the right hand of the power of God (Luke 22:69). And we are there in Him! Paul’s application of this in relation to our battle against sin is (Rom. 6:12-13): 

 

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 

 

Secondly, being seated at God’s right hand refers to Christ’s sufficient pardonHebrews 1:3 states, 

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. 

 

The fact that Jesus Christ is now sitting at the right hand of the Father means that He obtained complete pardon for all our sins.

 

Hebrews 10:12-14 states: 

But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 

 

If we’re in Him at the Father’s right hand, we can be assured that He has forgiven all our sins. The enemy has no basis to accuse us (Rev. 12:10). We’re accepted in Christ (Rom. 15:7). 

 

Thirdly, the fact that Jesus Christ is now sitting at the right hand of the Father means that we are the objects of Christ’s sympathetic prayers 

 

In the context of our sufferings, Romans 8:33-34 assures us, 

Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 

 

When you get discouraged and lose hope, it’s encouraging to know that your mother or father or a faithful friend is praying for you. But family and friends are only human; they can’t pray for you constantly. But the fullness of Deity dwells in the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 2:9), and He is at the Father’s right hand interceding for you in your weakness (Heb. 7:25; 8:1). So when you battle temptation or you wrestle with discouragement, remember that you’re in Christ. You shared in His death and resurrection. You’re seated with Him at the right hand of God, where He has all power, you have all pardon, and you have His prayers. You win against sin by living in light of your identity in the risen Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

But, you still may wonder, how does this work? How do we implement it practically? 

 

To win the battle against sin, constantly seek to understand and meditate on your identity in the risen Christ.

 

 

  1. Our new life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:3b: “Your life is hidden with Christ in God.” What does Paul mean by this? First, he may be taking a swipe at the false teachers, who emphasized secret or hidden truths for those who would be initiated into their so-called “philosophy.” He’s saying that we Christians are the ones with real hidden truths that the world cannot know. Outwardly, we look like everyone else in the world. But our real life—eternal life—is hidden with Christ in God. The world can’t understand it, but it’s true. 

 

This phrase may also point to the security of our new life in Christ. In Psalm 31:20 David says of those who take refuge in God, “You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.” (See, also, Ps. 27:5.) If our life is hidden with Christ in God, we’re safe there. 

 

A third implication of the truth that our life is hidden with Christ in God is that it needs to be mined out as a buried treasure. These truths that God declares about us in Christ may not be immediately obvious, but if we’ll take the time and effort to dig them out of God’s Word, they will be like gold and silver to us (Ps. 19:7-11; Matt. 13:44-45). But, how do we find these treasures? 

 

2. We seek the things above by making them the continual pursuit of our thinking.

 

There are two commands in our text: “Keep seeking the things above”; and, “Set your mind on the things above.” Both are present imperatives, suggesting a continual process. To keep seeking these things means to make the truths of Christ as revealed in God’s Word our constant pursuit, our focus, our aim. Just as worldly people get up early and are focused day after day on pursuing material things, so Christians should be devoted to pursuing the things of Christ. 

 

This doesn’t mean that we should drop out of life and spend all our time meditating on spiritual truth. The Lord expects us to work and live in this world. But it does mean, as Jesus put it, that instead of working for the food which perishes, we should work for the food which endures to eternal life (John 6:27). We should seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33). We should begin each day thinking about God’s perspective: We’re separate from this evil world, dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ. We think about Christ as our life, who lives in and through us. Throughout the day, we keep bringing our thoughts back, again and again, to those things which are true of us in Christ. 

 

To “set your mind on the things above” shows that this continual pursuit of the things above involves our thinking. The Greek word means, “Have your whole attitude characterized by those things.” The present tense implies that we must make repeated choices to focus our thoughts not on the flesh, but on the things which are true of us in Christ so that our whole outlook is determined by these truths. We will view ourselves, not as citizens of this world, but as having died and now being raised up with Christ, so completely identified with Him that He is our very life. 

 

The truest thing about you is what God says is true, not what you may feel. How you think about yourself determines how you act. Your thought life also determines, to a large extent, your emotions. Here Paul is saying that we must constantly, by deliberate choice, focus our thoughts on the risen Christ and on the truth that we are totally identified with Him. In Christ, we have been separated from this evil world and from our old nature which seeks to pull us back into sin. Now, we should repeatedly think, “I am now in Christ.” As that truth shapes your identity, it becomes the key to a holy life! That’s how you win against sin. One final thought: 

The motivation for seeking the things above is that when Christ is revealed, we also will be revealed with Him in glory.

 

Colossians 3:4: “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” What an amazing truth! When Christ, who right now is our life, returns, we will discover the full truth about ourselves in Him. We will be revealed with Him in glory! Then we will know fully, just as we have been fully known (1 Cor. 13:12). As 1 John 3:2-3 states, 

 

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 

 

Knowing that one day we will be revealed with Christ in glory motivates us to godly living right now. Seeing ourselves in Christ is the key to winning the battle against sin. 

 

Conclusion 

Years ago, a plastic surgeon noticed some interesting things about the people whose faces he operated on. For some, the operation resulted in immediate and lasting changes in their personalities. People who had been embarrassed about some disfigurement became confident and outgoing after the problem was fixed. 

 

But in spite of successful surgeries, there were others who insisted that the surgery made no difference at all. The doctor would show them before and after photographs, but the people still insisted, sometimes angrily, that their faces were no different. They refused to believe the truth and went on living just as they had before, dominated by their previous disfigurement, which no longer existed (These stories are in Maxwell Maltz, Psycho-cybernetics [Prentice-Hall, 1960]. I do not recommend the book, which is full of spiritual falsehood.) Their lives were not changed because they didn’t believe the truth about the change that had taken place. 

 

As Christians, we’ve been given much more than a face lift. We have died to our old lives and have been raised up to new life in Christ. All that is true of the risen Christ is now true of us. Now we must continually keep seeking and setting our minds on the things above, where our true life is hidden with Christ in God. As we live in light of our new identity in Christ, we will win the battle against sin. 

 

Application Questions 

1. Does a Christian ever reach a point where he is dead to sin in the sense that it no longer tempts him? 

2. How can we believe that we’re dead to sin when we feel so alive to it? Are we just playing mental games? 

3. Practically, how can we seek and set our minds on the things above? What daily habits can help the process? 

5. How would you help a Christian who said, “I feel so weak when I’m tempted; I just can’t resist”? 

 

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Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pure in Heart

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I pray all will re-familiarize themselves with Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13: 45&46 — The Pearl of Great Worth. 

 

In eastern cultures, the pearl is a beautiful simile, which affords us an opportunity to discover significant symbolic value in Jesus’ parable. There’s a lot more to this parable of the Kingdom of God, but for now, we pluck up this up one thing that we may elucidate its truth.

 

Momentarily we set aside the aesthetic and artistic desirability of pearl and instead discover its symbolic worth, by discerning the spiritual truth it represents. By doing so it may aid us in discovering the true interpretation of Jesus’ parable of “The Pearl of Great Worth.” I hope to offer that interpretation more fully in a later post.

 

The pearl is produced by a living organism. Its manufacture is the result of injury or harm to the life—to the health of the creature. Some foreign thing such as a grain of sand intrudes, and becomes lodged within the oyster or clam. The shellfish then secretes nacre, or mother of pearl, coating the harmful intruder with layer upon layer, until a pearl is formed.

 

It’s very suggestive that the equivalent word for “pearl” in New Testament Greek is margarites, meaning purity. That word was likely derived from the Sanskrit word for purity. The pearl is a symbol of purity and innocence.

 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

 

Purity (pearl) is the response of a living organism to the introduction of something harmful into its being. Think of the introduction of sin into the human heart in the Garden of Eden—certainly a very injurious contamination.

 

Perhaps it’s a person’s response to the harsh realities of life in a sin cursed world which will determine whether or not the production of purity begins? By response, I’m intimating “faith.”

 

“For it is by grace you are saved through faith…” Eph. 2:8a

 

We can see the similarity between a grain of sand entering a clam, which is first an irritant to the shellfish, but later on, if not dealt with, it can actually destroy the life of the clam. God has purposes for allowing evil to temporarily enter into the world, of which, we are woefully incapable of comprehending. Knowing the end from the beginning, God allowed sin to enter every human heart, for a purpose. Remember, He has the cure for sin, paid our penalty for sin, and makes a way for us to be sin-free again, through faith in Christ Jesus.

 

As a former weight lifter, I can attest to the fact that resistance builds strength. And, “…Suffering produces perseverance…” (Ro. 5: 3), and, “the trying of our faith works patience.” We see this principle demonstrated throughout scripture and in our lives on this big spinning rock called earth.

 

God uses hardships, difficulties, trials, persecution, etc., as tools in sanctifying us (making us pure, or holy). And all of these bad things result because of sin.

 

There’s much more I could say, but I wanted to leave you to ponder the simple thought I’ve presented. For though simple, I believe it sublime. Comments welcome.

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Jesus' Parable, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gore & Love Intersect

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“The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22 

 

As a boy of ten years, I kept a scrapbook filled with images of lions and tigers hunting. Many of them depicted gory kills. Several decades later, I can still picture the blood covered faces of those vicious beasts. One day my mom happened upon the bloody pictures I’d been saving. Understandably, she became concerned that I might be turning into some sort of twisted, sadistic kid. Blood has a tendency to make us recoil in horror. But my fascination had to do with a compulsion to understand death.

 

Many old Christian hymns include references to the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. Here’s one example—an old favorite performed by some promising musicians. “Nothing But The Blood” 

 

It’s the blood of Christ which cleanses us from our sins. What picture could better display the awful consequences of sin upon the world than grisly blood? God has a good reason for the use of blood in the bible. The blood used in the old sacrificial system of temple worship was a foreshadow of the blood of Christ. Justice demands blood.

When Adam and Eve sinned, it drastically changed mankind—even the earth was changed by a curse. The consequences of sin are exceptionally horrific. “For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23a  

And, God says that life is in the blood. “For the life of a creature is in the blood…” Leviticus 17:11a  

And so, spilled blood is synonymous with death—and death is the penalty for sin.

 

As a lasting and stark expression of sin’s staggering cost, God clothed Adam and Eve with dead animal skins. This signified the horrors that the world would experience as a result of sin. Sin brought with it; sickness, war, a curse, slavery to sin, and death for every person since Adam and Eve. Some of the animals changed from herbivores into carnivorous creatures—the images of which I kept in that childhood scrapbook.

 

God has taught me that I should be aghast and horrified at the prospect of sin. It should make me shudder in horror—the same response one would have to a bloody, gruesome death.

But it’s in man’s fallen nature to trivialize sin, rather than to acknowledge its true devastating make-up.

 

Because of God’s awesome love for you and me, Jesus allowed His own blood to be spilled, taking that awful death penalty in our place. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord, (from John 10). The macabre sight of His blood flowing down to puddle in the dust, proclaims God’s monolithic love for you and me. Do you see the importance of the blood? If not, you do not yet understand the way of salvation that God has provided for us. His blood equals love, atonement, propitiation, forgiveness and salvation.

Bloody gore and love intersect at the Cross of Jesus. ©

 

Below is Alan Jackson singing  Are You Washed

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Living, Cross of Christ, Devotional, Faith, Salvation, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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