A shortage of love?


…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…
Ephesians 4:14-15

 

It’s been a while since I have posted and I think it may be time to get to it. With that in mind, I will start here..

 

An excellent post from a solid sister speaking truth that must be shared.

 

Discernment: What’s Love Got to Do with It?

 

A Blessed Autumn to You!

Tags

, , , , ,


c68aa53decb3327fc494e1b8bb10f65b

I have been and am continuing to be on hiatus for awhile to dedicate myself to study and what God says to women and specifically to wives of unbelievers, seeking to honor Him and to both demonstrate my love and respect to my “beloved unbeliever” (who professes a type of belief but not genuine saving faith, so prayers please for him) and to win him without a word. Hard lesson, that…I’m a wordy kinda gal. But I am also a determined kind of gal. So prayers for this vacationing blogger as well please. Thanks! Have a blessed Autumn. I hope to return to posting sometime after Thanksgiving. In the meantime there are a few years worth of posts here…feel free to noodle around!

May we all live for the Lord and strive to honor Him in all we think, do and say. Remember, no sacrifice on our part, be it dying to self, speaking the truth aloud, or standing upright for the word of God in the midst of a godless and God hating world even comes close to the price paid to redeem our sorry sinful souls and bring us into the family of the one true and living God. So…buck up pilgrims! The road may be bumpy and frought with traps and dangers, but the One who walks with us and guides us every step is faithful.:-) See you soon! ~AGM ❤

c730e0abe5e24bf7a350639da555bfa9

55d60ad2922ed71be17bb59b6f4259dd

SPECIFIC COMMITMENTS

Tags

, , , , , , ,


 

Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself. (DANIEL 1: 8)

In addition to an overall commitment to pursue holiness in every area of life, I find it helpful to make specific commitments in areas where we’re particularly vulnerable to sin. There’s great value in identifying those areas — either in what we do (for example, gossip) or in what we fail to do (such as loving our wives as Christ loved the church) — and then making specific commitments of obedience to God in those areas.

I urge you to list any areas of temptation wherein you need to make this specific commitment. Do you need to make a covenant with your eyes about what you look at (Job 31: 1), or with your mouth about what you say, or with your mind about what you think? Is there a particular temptation or sinful practice that arises in your work environment that needs a commitment to fortify you against it? Write these commitments down on paper, for your eyes only, so you can review them and pray over them daily.

Perhaps there’s a particular area in your marriage or in your relationship with your children, your parents, a friend, or an associate at work where you aren’t demonstrating the Spirit’s fruit of love, patience, or kindness. Do you need to make a commitment that, in dependence on the Holy Spirit to enable you, you’ll seek to display that particular “fruit” toward that individual? If so, I urge you to make such a commitment. You may find the need to make several commitments — sins to put off or avoid and Christlike traits to put on. If you don’t commit yourself to the pursuit of holiness in these specific areas of your life, you’ll find a tendency to vacillate in the face of these temptations.

The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges

 

 

EVERYTHING NECESSARY

Tags

, , , , , ,


God . . . through Christ reconciled us to himself. (2 CORINTHIANS 5: 18)

Total reconciliation demands a total effort by the offending party to make amends. When Jesus satisfied God’s justice and propitiated God’s wrath, He did all that was required to remove the enmity of God toward us. By His death He bridged the vast gulf of divine alienation between us and objectively restored us to a position of friendship and favor with God. But it was God, the offended party, who sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself. “When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son” (Romans 5: 10, NIV).

This historical, objective work of reconciliation by Christ has to be personally received by each of us. That’s why Paul wrote, “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5: 20).

This is a most amazing passage of Scripture. Having objectively secured reconciliation for us, Christ now appeals to us through His gospel messengers to “be reconciled to God” — to receive His work of reconciliation. We ourselves should have been on our faces before God, imploring Him to be reconciled to us. Instead, we see God reconciling us to Himself through the death of His Son, then appealing to us to receive that reconciliation. What pure grace and mercy on God’s part!

To add to our amazement, we know that, left to ourselves, we would never even want to be reconciled to God. According to Paul, we were so blinded by Satan that we could not even see the light of the gospel and receive it (2 Corinthians 4: 4). Therefore God sends His Holy Spirit to open our hearts to understand and receive the message of reconciliation (Acts 16: 14). O, what wondrous love, what matchless grace, that God would do everything necessary to reconcile us to Himself!

The Gospel for Real Life, Jerry Bridges

 

 

STANDARDS

Tags

, , , , , , ,


If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (JOHN 14: 15)

A loving obedience to the commands of God is one clear evidence that we’re living by grace. Anyone who thinks, Since God’s love is not conditioned on my obedience, I’m free to live as I please, is not living by grace, nor does he understand grace. What he perceives as grace is really a caricature.

Jesus said that if we love Him, we’ll obey His commands. The term command suggests clear direction. We’re told what to do or not do. We are not left in doubt how we’re to live. The commands in the Bible provide a clear set of moral standards.

In the popular philosophy of situation ethics, actions are morally evaluated in terms of a “loving” response to the situation at hand rather than by application of moral absolutes. Situation ethics knows no external, objective standard of behavior; it responds to what seems right at the moment. But Scripture says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17: 9, NIV). Anything can be made to “seem right.”

Through “Christianized” situation ethics, all kinds of sinful actions have been committed in the name of “love.” Christians have engaged in illicit sexual intimacy on the pretense that they were acting in love toward a lonely or hurting person. Recently I heard of a man who allegedly conspired to have his incurably ill wife murdered because “she would be happier with Jesus.” This is the type of trap even Christians fall into when we don’t let the commands of God give definition to love. God’s commands provide us this objective standard and, when obeyed, keep us from falling into situation ethics.

~Jerry Bridges

 

The Malignancy of Sin

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,


Cancer! It’s a dreaded word, a word that often invokes a sense of despair and sometimes even hopelessness.

Another term for cancer is malignancy. Medically, the word malignant describes a tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally into adjoining tissue by invasion and systemically by metastasizing into other areas of the body. Left alone, a malignancy tends to infiltrate and metastasize throughout the entire body and will eventually cause death. No wonder cancer and malignant are such dreaded words.

Sin is a spiritual and moral malignancy. Left unchecked, it can spread throughout our entire inner being and contaminate every area of our lives. Even worse, it often will “metastasize” from us into the lives of other believers around us. None of us lives on a spiritual or social island. Our attitudes, words, and actions, and oftentimes even our private unspoken thoughts, tend to have an effect on those around us.

Paul must have had this concept in mind when he wrote, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4: 29). Our speech, whether it is about others or to others, tends to tear down or build up. It either corrupts the minds of our hearers, or it gives grace to them. Such is the power of our words. If I gossip, I both tear down another person and corrupt the mind of my listener. If I complain about the difficult circumstances of my life, I impugn the sovereignty and goodness of God and tempt my listener to do the same. In this way, my sin “metastasizes” into the heart of another person.

Sin, however, is much more than wrong actions, unkind words, or even those evil thoughts that we never express. Sin is a principle or moral force in our heart, our inner being. Our sinful actions, words, and thoughts are simply expressions of the principle of sin residing within us, even in those of us whose hearts have been renewed. The apostle Paul calls this principle the flesh (or sinful nature in some Bible translations). This principle, called the flesh, is such a reality that Paul sometimes personifies it (see, for example, Romans 7: 8-11; Galatians 5: 17).

Now, here is the unvarnished truth that we need to lay to heart. Even though our hearts have been renewed, even though we have been freed from the absolute dominion of sin, even though God’s Holy Spirit dwells within our bodies, this principle of sin still lurks within us and wages war against our souls. It is the failure to recognize the awful reality of this truth that provides the fertile soil in which our “respectable” or “acceptable” sins grow and flourish.

We who are believers tend to evaluate our character and conduct relative to the moral culture in which we live. Since we usually live at a higher moral standard than society at large, it is easy for us to feel good about ourselves and to assume that God feels that way also. We fail to reckon with the reality of sin still dwelling within us. One of the common truths about cancer is that it can often grow undetected until it reaches a crisis stage or even a stage that is terminal. When my wife visited her doctor on June 19, 1987, she had no idea there was a malignant tumor growing in her abdominal area. And even her capable physicians who successfully treated the tumor failed to detect that it had already metastasized into her lymph system. In fact, the word deceitful, which is a moral term, can be used to describe the way cancer often seems to operate. It seems to have been successfully treated; but unexpectedly, it reappears somewhere else in the body.

The way cancer operates is a good analogy of the way sin, especially so-called acceptable or refined sin, operates in our lives. As I mentioned in the preface, another good descriptive term is subtle sins. The word subtle has a wide variety of meanings, some positive, as in “the subtle shades of blue in a painting.” But often it has a strong negative connotation to mean wily, crafty, insidious, or treacherous. That is the sense of the word in the expression subtle sins. The acceptable sins are subtle in the sense that they deceive us into thinking they are not so bad, or not thinking of them as sins, or even worse, not even thinking about them at all! Yes, some of our refined sins are so subtle that we commit them without even thinking about them, either at the time or afterward. We often live in unconscious denial of our “acceptable” sins.

We present-day believers have, to some extent, been influenced by the “feel good about myself” philosophy of our times. By contrast, believers in the Puritan era of the seventeenth century had a different view of themselves. They feared the reality of sin still dwelling in them. I have in my library four books on sin by pastors of that era. Here are their titles:

The Sinfulness of Sin

The Mischief of Sin

The Anatomy of Secret Sins

The Evil of Evils or The Exceeding Sinfulness of Sin

These pastors all saw sin for what it actually is: a diabolical force within us. Ralph Venning, the author of The Sinfulness of Sin, uses especially colorful (in the negative sense) words to describe sin. Over the space of only a few pages, he says that sin is vile, ugly, odious, malignant, pestilent, pernicious, hideous, spiteful, poisonous, virulent, villainous, abominable, and deadly.

Take a few moments to ponder those words so as to get the full impact of them. Those words describe not just the scandalous sins of society but also the respectable sins we tolerate in our own lives. Think of such tolerated sins as impatience, pride, resentment, frustration, and self-pity. Do they seem odious and pernicious to you? They really are. To tolerate those sins in our spiritual lives is as dangerous as to tolerate cancer in our bodies. Seemingly small sins can lead to more serious ones. Lustful looks often lead to pornography addiction and perhaps even adultery. Murder often has its genesis in anger, which grows into bitterness, then to hatred, and finally the murder.

 

 

So far we’ve looked at our sin as it affects us. We’ve seen its malignant tendency in both our lives and the lives of others around us. The more important issue, however, is how our sin affects God. Someone has described sin as cosmic treason. If that seems like an overstatement, consider that the word transgression in the Bible, as seen for example in Leviticus 16: 21, actually means rebellion against authority — in this case, God’s authority. So when I gossip, I am rebelling against God. When I harbor resentful thoughts toward someone instead of forgiving him or her in my heart, I am rebelling against God.

In Isaiah 6: 1-8, the prophet Isaiah sees a vision of God in His absolute majesty. He hears angelic beings calling out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (verse 3). Any Jew would have understood that the threefold repetition of the word holy is intended to convey the highest possible degree of holiness. In other words, God is said to be infinitely holy. But what does it mean to say that God is infinitely holy? Certainly it speaks of His absolute moral purity, but it means much more than that. Primarily, the word holy, when used of God, speaks of His infinite, transcendent majesty. It speaks of His sovereign reign over all His creation. Therefore, when we sin, when we violate the law of God in any way, be it ever so small in our eyes, we rebel against the sovereign authority and transcendent majesty of God. To put it bluntly, our sin is an assault on the majesty and sovereign rule of God. It is indeed cosmic treason.

 

 

(Let’s take David’s sin with Bathsheba and his subsequent murder of her husband Uriah for example…)

When God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David about his sin. Here are Nathan’s words:

Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. (2 Samuel 12: 9-10, emphasis added)

Note the use of the word despised in both verses 9 and 10. In the first instance David despises the word (the law) of the Lord. In the second instance, God, speaking through Nathan, says, “You have despised me.” We see from this that sin is a despising of the law of God. But we also see that to despise God’s law is to despise Him. Now, it is easy for us to think that David’s sin truly was grievous and fail to grasp the application of Nathan’s words to ourselves. But as we have already seen, all sin, whether large or small in our eyes, is against God. Therefore, when I indulge in any of the so-called acceptable sins, I am not only despising God’s law but, at the same time, I am despising God Himself. Think about that the next time you are tempted to speak critical or unkind words about someone.

 

 

We’re not through yet. There’s still more bad news. In the context of exposing sin in our relationships with one another (see Ephesians 4: 25-32), Paul says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (verse 30). When we think of our sin as rebellion against God’s sovereign authority and a despising of both His law and His person, we are viewing God in His rightful role as our ruler and judge. But when we see our sin as grieving the Holy Spirit — that is, as grieving God — we are viewing God as our redeemer and Father. Our sin grieves our heavenly Father. Whether we are unkind to someone else or unforgiving when someone is unkind to us, we grieve our Father’s heart.

Not only do we grieve our heavenly Father with our sin, we also presume on His grace. Paul wrote that God has forgiven us our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (see Ephesians 1: 7). Now, that is a blessed truth, but sin, in its subtle deceitfulness, will suggest to us that our unkind words and resentful thoughts don’t matter because God has forgiven them. Forgiveness, however, does not mean overlooking or tolerating our sin. God never does that. Instead, God always judges sin. But in our case (that is, the case of all who trust in Jesus as their Savior), God has judged our sin in the person of His Son. As the prophet Isaiah wrote, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53: 6). Shall we presume on God’s grace by tolerating in ourselves the very sin that nailed Christ to the cross?

Next consider that every sinful thought and word and deed we do is done in the presence of God. David wrote,

O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue,  behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. (Psalm 139: 1-4)

God knows our every thought; He hears our words before we even speak them and sees our every deed. He even searches our motives, for Paul wrote that when the Lord comes, He “will disclose the purposes [motives] of the heart” (1 Corinthians 4: 5).

This means that all of our rebellion, all of our despising of God and His law, all of our grieving His Holy Spirit, all of our presuming on His grace, all of our sin, is done openly in the very presence of God. It’s as if we are acting out all of our sin before Him as He sits on His royal throne.

It does not matter whether our sin is scandalous or respectable, all our sin is sinful, only sinful, and altogether sinful. Whether it is large or small in our eyes, it is heinous in the sight of God. God forgives our sin because of the shed blood of Christ, but He does not tolerate it. Instead, every sin that we commit, even the subtle sin that we don’t even think about, was laid upon Christ as He bore the curse of God in our place.

 

And herein lies chiefly the malignancy of sin. Christ suffered because of our sins. That, then, is the bad news about our sin, and, as you can see, it is really, really bad. How do you respond? Will you deflect it onto other people whom you see to be sinners? Do you find yourself wishing that a certain other person would read this? Or does this view of our sin cause you to want to fall on your knees before God in repentance and contrition over the sins you have tolerated in your life?

~Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins

 

 

 

REQUEST OR COMMAND?

Tags

, , , , , ,


You are my friends if you do what I command you. (JOHN 15: 14)

Under the reign of grace, is the moral will of God (considered as a whole) a request or a command? The word request connotes desire; whereas the word command connotes authority to require. Response to a desire is optional; response to a command is not. So when Jesus said we love Him by obeying His commands, was He using the word command as we ordinarily understand it, or was He using it as an expression of God’s desire? In the realm of grace, does the moral will of God express the desire of God as to how He would like us to live, or does it express the requirement of God as to how we are to live?

Some people readily say God desires that we be holy, but God does not require that we be holy. They maintain that under grace we have been freed, not only from the curse and condemnation resulting from breaking the law but also from the requirements of the law as a rule of life. They believe that to insist on obedience as a requirement for a Christian is to teach legalism instead of grace. In other words, to assign the concept of requirement to the will of God is legalism, but to assign the concept of desire to it is grace.

I believe such a view is a misunderstanding of grace. God’s grace does not change the fundamental character of God’s moral Law. Rather, the grace of God provides for the forgiveness and acceptance of those who have broken the law. The good news of the gospel is that God has removed the guilt we incur by breaking His Law and has bestowed on us the righteousness of Christ, who perfectly kept His Law. Legalism does not consist in yielding obedience to the law. Rather, it is to seek justification and good standing with God through the merit of works done in obedience to the law — instead of by faith in Christ.

~Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace

 

SANCTIFICATION BY CONSENSUS

Tags

, , ,


Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (EPHESIANS 5: 17)

In many evangelical circles it seems that we have morality by consensus. We may not be doing what society around us is doing, but neither are we living according to biblical standards. Instead we live according to the standard of conduct of Christians around us. We not only have morality by consensus; we have sanctification by consensus. We expect to become holy by osmosis, by the absorption of the ethical values of our Christian peer group.

If we’re going to make progress in the pursuit of holiness, we must aim to live according to the precepts of Scripture — not according to the culture, even Christian culture, around us. But how can we do this if we don’t know what those precepts are? It isn’t sufficient for us to hear one or two thirty-minute sermons a week. We must be exposed to the Scriptures on a daily basis if we hope to live under their authority.

To pursue holiness, one of the disciplines we must become skilled in is the development of Bible-based convictions. A conviction is a determinative belief: something you believe so strongly that it affects the way you live. Someone has observed that a belief is what you hold, but a conviction is what holds you. You may live contrary to what you believe, but you cannot live contrary to your convictions. (This doesn’t mean you never act contrary to your convictions, but that you do not consistently violate them.) So the discipline we’re talking about is the development of convictions, not mere beliefs. Convictions, of course, can be good or bad, so we want to make sure our convictions are Bible-based, that they are derived from our personal interaction with the Scriptures.

~Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace

 

Homosexuality (Part III): A Biblical Response

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,


We have briefly considered the biblical view of homosexuality in the Old Testament. Here, we consider the what the Bible says concerning homosexuality in the New Testament. Rather than beginning with the love of God, Paul begins with the reality that sinful man is under the wrath of God. Specifically, He is clear that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness (Romans 1:18). Because man rejects the love of God in Christ Jesus, and mocks the sacrifice of Christ, he suppresses what he knows to be true about God and His salvation. Knowingly, forcefully, and repeatedly, man rejects clear truth and revelation concerning God and begins the descent into idolatry. Specifically, man’s rejection of God and descent into vain worship of idols and self, causes God to give him over to a useless mind. This mind begins to participate in vile sins without restraint. Paul addresses what has occurred in the Romans world and is true in the present world:

Romans 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,  27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

When the mind becomes hostile and uncontrollably useless toward God, one of its expressions is sexual perversion. Sexual perversion and its desecration of the body is not a mark of man’s liberation. Fornication, adultery, and homosexuality, however justified by nominal “Christians”, the world and the deceived indicates that God has abandoned man because man has abandoned him. Paul appeals to the Creation mandate which proposes that man and woman, under the sanctity and blessedness of marriage is called to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (Gen. 1:28; 9:7). The creation mandate calls for man to join in blessed union with his wife and bring more image bearers of God into the earth. Instead, man begins to fulfill his own sinful animal passions and lusts. Instead of contentment in the blessed union of man/woman, men and women burn for one another. The blurring of gender distinctions, given as a blessing by God, become optional associations that are able to be tweaked at will. These are one of numerous sins that reveal one is not in the kingdom of God, but incurring the wrath and judgment of God (1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:19-21). Instead of repenting of this rebellion toward God, men and women legislate and celebrate their rebellion as ‘freedom’. Instead of repenting and seeking the glory of God concerning these things, men and women shake their fists at God and seek the approval of society. Society, equally unable to discern God’s will, refashions a ‘god’ of their imagination to approve of their sin and tries to quiet the indicting conscience with more celebrations, more demands of ‘tolerance’ and more descent into debauchery. All the while, society recognizes its protests are limited and temporal. This self-love is consummated by the perversions listed in Romans 1.

There is constant debate concerning the reasons that Rome fell. God’s wrath brings regimes to an end, as quickly as He has raised them to rule (Acts 17:26; Psalm 75:1-7). Paul, however does not merely appeal to a Roman cultural faux pax. Instead, he appeals to an unchanging God who does not tolerate covenant treachery and rebellion. Thus, all sexual perversions are expressions of such treachery toward God’s creation mandate and originates with the ‘father of lies’, Satan. Satan is the chief architect of self-love. He capitalizes on man’s hatred toward God and tempts unbelievers to excuse, justify and pursue those things which are unnatural. Paul’s appeal to that which is unnatural assumes an absolute, natural standard. God made them male and female (Gen. 5:2), with distinctive functions and purposes. So what does the adversary do? He incites fleshly men and women to overthrow these distinctions. He causes them to redefine love, and turn from God’s definition in order that they may create their own. Instead of proclaiming these intrinsic realities plainly, society and a compromising ‘church’ excuses these clear realities. They create a permissive ‘pseudo-christ’ who gives mankind everything desired,  instead of withholding those things that will bring about destruction and punishment. This abandonment of the natural functions by homosexuals is permissive neglect by those who partake of such sin and those who give consent. Paul further expresses chilling words for us to remember:

Romans 1:28 “They know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of adeath, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”
This is not only an indictment against those who practice such things, but to abandon God’s clear prohibition in Scripture leads to giving ‘hearty approval’ to these things that God hates. It is often expressed that ‘God loves gays!’ However, this love is to make provision for sins that will incur His judgment. God’s love is not a mere feeling, but a provision for sinners to flee from their wickedness and turn to Him for cleansing, according to the sacrifice of His Son on the cross. Man does not have the prerogative to define how God loves him. God’s love is defined by the death and resurrection of His Son as an appeasement of His wrath against sinners, because man cannot save Himself (John 3:16-21). God’s love is not a call for permissive sinfulness, but a call for repentance and faith in His beloved Son. The homosexual, fornicators, effeminate, and adulterers must all repent and turn to God by His power. Mere guilt over these things is not repentance. Godly sorrow, the sorrow that comes to the end of self and desires to be cleansed of these sins, leads to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The command then is not to tolerate this vileness, no matter how embraced in the modern society. It is as it always has been, flee from these things that will certainly bring God’s eternal judgment and eternal abandonment. The call is to turn from these things to the living Christ. This call is not only to those who participate in these sins, but also those who give consent must repent for their compliance of these wicked deeds. We must no longer call “evil” good and “good” evil (Isaiah 5:20).

Doron Gladden

Biblical Christ Research Institute

https://bcri.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/homosexuality-part-iii-a-biblical-response/