Tag Archives: Gospel

The Christian Life Is War

Before you came to Christ you were spiritually dead. Among other things, there was one thing you had no ability to do: wage war against yourself (see previous article for more on that).

Trying to grow spiritually apart from Christ looks like chopping down one idol only to swiftly replace it with another. It looks like propping yourself up on the backs of other people, and when they fail you everything falls apart. Parting from sin feels like putting a knife to your own heart. Perhaps you turn to self-help books, and build a great facade, but inside, there is nothing but empty deceit (Colossians 2:8). Spiritually you are headed nowhere but closer and closer to death.

Pretty depressing isn’t it? But it is not so for the redeemed! Believers have new spiritual realities, as they have been “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God (1Peter 1:23).” That “word is the good news that was preached to you (1Peter 1:25).”

You believed in the gospel with faith, and have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1Peter 1:3).” Your hope is alive, and your hope is a person, who is always faithful and ever present.

Nevertheless, the Christian life is war. It is war that we declare primarily against ourselves, against the sin that remains in our flesh. We must wage this war every single day. If we don’t engage the flesh wins out.

I think of Jesus’ words to the disciples as they slept through Christ’s turmoil in Gethsemane: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41).”

Galatians 5:17 expresses this so well: “The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

There is a sense in which the same old reality remains: You cannot wage war against flesh in the flesh. Paul said “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out (Romans 7:18).” Notice that Paul qualifies his statement by saying “that is, in my flesh.”

So then, we have an enemy within. The good news is that God’s word teaches us that Jesus Christ died and was raised so that “we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).” This abundant “newness of life” is something we have been granted, and something we must “walk in.”

How can you walk in a reality that you are not remembering? Paul acknowledge that he could not live out Christianity in his own flesh. Do you know what that means? It means that this is not a battle to be fought by personal resolve and willpower alone. Why? Because your flesh has no strength to obey. Neither can it be silenced just by grieving its’ reality and hating its’ presence. To quote a great hymn “Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, these for sin could not atone…”

You can’t begin to war against your flesh today without remembering and walking in the new realities that have been granted to you in salvation. Sorrow over sin and resolutions will quickly drive you low if you fail to cast yourself on His promises. Stay tuned for my next article (God willing)- which will be on God granted realities for waging war.

Before the Throne of God Above: A Hymn For the Sin-Grieved Soul

Sometimes Christians lose sight of the gospel. I’ve been there. You give yourself over to ruthless self examination and slip into works righteousness thinking that loses sight of hope. You’ve seen that your heart is fickle. One second you worship God and the next you curse men who are made in God’s image (James 3:9). You read Proverbs about fools, and nagging wives, those who are quick to anger, stinginess, pride, and laziness, and you see more of yourself painted than you would like to see. Perhaps you read Matthew 5 and 6 and you’re struck by your own harsh words, love of money, lustful thoughts, or nagging anxieties.

If you lose sight of the cross, then you lose sight of God’s love for you. You think only of His holiness and wrath and start believing He does not want to hear from you. Do you need to grovel? Do you need to be punished? Do you need to just “get right” before you can approach God again? How can He be appeased?

Examining yourself, sorrow over sin, focus on holiness, and a desire to change are all very good things. But to think about these things without remembrance of the gospel, God’s power and promises towards you, your thoughts will not only become burdensome, they will become faithless. The soul in that place, dear friends, whether saved or not, is in desperate need of the gospel of grace. Continue reading

A Resting Place for Hope

I suppose you could consider this poem a modern take on the book of Ecclesiastes. It is not all based on my life, but in some sense it is the story of every person. We all strive for satisfaction, and all of us have placed hope in things that fail to provide it. There is only one place where hope can rest secure and sure- One living hope that endures forever.

A Resting Place for Hope

I thought to put my hope in friends
To mold and shape me by their trends
In their acceptance I would glow
And on their shoulders place my woes;
As long as they were by my side
I could survive life’s bumpy ride.

But friends, so sad to see
Did not revolve ’round me
Fair weather types abound
Rare shoulder to be found. Continue reading

Preach Penal Substitution

I didn’t grow up in a Christian family or in church and I still managed to ask Jesus in my heart three times by the age of 15. As a kid, it was kind of like fire insurance, something to tag on in case Hell was real. As a teenager, it was because I was invited to church and the preacher told me I had a God shaped hole in my heart only He could fill, and that resonated with me. Tears running down my face I raised my hand to accept Jesus. Christian kids from school smiled and got teary and gave me hugs. I went home with a One Minute Daily Devotional and felt pretty certain that now I was headed for Heaven.

Soon after, I went to the local Christian book store. I found a Teen Study Bible and bought the only poster available that didn’t look like it was for pansies. It was black with scrawled writing and a bloody cross, and I thought it looked pretty hardcore. Not only that but it had some pretty profound words- words that truly did speak to me and testify to my soul as being true: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 16:24-25).” Continue reading

Without God, Without Hope

I’m going to share three stories with you from my pre-conversion high school days.

I was at a local punk rock show, throwing my fists aimlessly and thrashing in a blur of spiked bracelets and colored mohawks. It was circulating that someone I didn’t know wanted to fight me because they heard I had a black belt in karate. I found that to be enormously entertaining, so at the break I wandered outside to find this person. When someone pointed me her direction I approached her asking “So I hear you want to fight me?” I didn’t know that she was drunk. Within seconds her and her two friends were on me, dragging me around the parking lot by my hair and kicking me. There was nothing I could do, and I was laughing.
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Just Me and My 2 Year Old

I love my 2 year old to pieces. We laugh, dance, tickle, sing, and read together every single day. We take slow walks, picking up rocks and sticks, sitting on logs and calling them boats, petting puppies and finding a world full of treasure in a puddle (you know like nut shells and dead leaves, that kind of thing). We also have melt downs- or near melt downs- every single day. That’s one of the parts of parenting I could do without. Continue reading

Christianity Costs

Preface

I felt the need to preface this to avoid misunderstanding. I want you to know that I understand salvation is a free gift, by grace, completely apart from works. No one needs to clean up their life before coming to Christ, and no one can offer Him anything to gain His favor. Continue reading

Who Will Deliver Me?

Who Will Deliver Me?

Oh sin, that dwells within
That wages war and threatens
To destroy my joy,
That sin that seeks to win
The battle and mock at my defeat.

Oh sin, that enemy within
Crashing through my great resolve
Outpouring words, I’ve cringed and heard
Them, hasty and marking me a fool.

Continue reading

Created for Good Works

 

Probing Questions

Imagine for one moment that everyone who knows you was going to judge whether or not you are a Christian. But instead of basing this on your profession of faith, church attendance, or theology, they are going to base their analysis on your deeds.

Not on how kind you are, and not by the sins you refrain from either. They are going to judge you based on outward actions of faith, motivated by love and mercy.

How would you do?

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The Terror of the Lord

Isaiah 2:19 “And people shall enter the caves of the rocks And the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the Lord, And from the splendor of His majesty, when He rises to terrify the earth.”

 We often hear the fear of God taught as “reverential awe,” and for Christians I think I understand why. The redeemed no longer fear judgement because we abide in God and His perfect love has cast out all fear of punishment (1John 4:16-18). But the same cannot be said of all those who are without Christ, for all who have not called on His name have the wrath of God abiding on them (John 3:36). To tell an unbeliever that the definition of fearing God is to stand in awe is a weakened and partial truth.

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