Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Local Church & Your Sanctification



The Local Church & Your Sanctification

We should all be well aware that the Christian life is to be one of continual sanctification (Matthew 3:8).  Christ has, by His sovereign grace, purchased us to be a people for His own possession.  The beauty of grace is seen, in part, in the fact that Christ pulls us out of the mire and death of our sin and makes us a new creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13).  Being that “new creation” implies change in our life.  To be clear, the Gospel is not about life-change as so many like to portray it these days.  The Gospel is about our desperate need for forgiveness of our numerous transgressions against a Holy God and the incredible sacrifice that has been made on our behalf by Jesus Christ so that that sin debt can be settled once and for all(Romans 3:21-26).  Even so, the pardoning of our sin sets us free from more than just God’s wrath for those sins, it also frees us to serve the Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:1-8).  The product of our salvation is change.  When Christ saves us we receive a new heart and new desires (Ezekiel 36:26).  The Holy Spirit works in us to change the old man into the one that God has created us to be (Ephesians 4:22-24).

While it is true that we are all individually responsible for our own sanctification, meaning that if I fail to pursue holiness as I’ve been called to do it is on me for that failure and no one else, but God has not left us alone in this quest.  Let me elaborate,  Just as we are saved by grace, we are sanctified by grace as well.  But God has not called us to merely sit stagnant in our sanctification.  As He works in us, grows us and conforms us more to Christ we are called to respond.  Even our desire to respond and obey and all our striving is given by the Spirit working in us.  To unfold this part of His plan God has placed the local church in our life as a means of our sanctification.  I would like us to consider 3 ways that the local church plays a vital role in our sanctification.
God sanctifies us by His power working in us through His Holy Spirit that we receive solely because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

1.) The church is God's method for the formative and corrective discipline of the body.
The failure of the individual affects the whole body.  1 Corinthians 12:1-30 teaches us that the church functions best when it functions as a single unit.  Each person exercising their spiritual gifts for the benefit for the other person and through that God is glorified in the unity of the Body.  Just as no part of the human body is without purpose, so it is with each part of the Body of Christ.  Each person in the local church plays a significant role in the sanctification of the other members.  One person’s sanctification is helped as other members exercise their gifts in service towards that person to help them grow in vast areas of their walk with Christ.  Conversely, that person’s gifts being exercised help them to sharpen themselves and they grow through their useful service to their brethren. As we serve others in the Body of Christ and are served by them as well, we grow spiritually to look more like Christ.

2.) The church is God's method for the watch care for the soul – Hebrews 13:17

God has ordained Elders and Deacons to watch over their flocks not for the purpose of commanding them or ruling with an iron fist as though a regime.  Rather, they are there for your benefit.  They are there to unfold God’s Word for you and lead you towards conformity to Christ.  Paul said in Romans 12 that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds; our minds are renewed by the Holy Spirit through engaging them with God’s Word, and faithful Pastors are one of the means God uses of applying the Word to your mind. So we are to be plugged in to a local church and we are to be submissive to our leaders, as they submit to the Lord, for they are caring for us and watching over us.  Rightly engaged this relationship will bring joy to both parties.  As the Pastor leads a believer away from sin’s dangerous snares that person is more sanctified and as the person submits to their Pastor’s leadership that Pastor’s joy is refreshed.  A Pastor with joy for his ministry will be a Pastor who lovingly guides his flock towards Christ.

3.) The church is God's method for the practical sanctification of His children. -  Hebrews 10:24-25

The church is God's method for the practical sanctification of His children.  The way believers grow in the practical ins and outs of Christianity is through the local church.  One purpose of our gathering for corporate worship and Biblical fellowship is so that we can “consider how to stir one another up to love and good works”.  Are not those two things directly connected to Christ conformity?  We learn to fulfill the greatest commandments by knowing how to both love and serve the Lord our God and our neighbor in a Biblical and Christ-like manner (Psalm 27:8,11) As we grow as a body and an individual and are thereby further sanctified, we display Christ to the world.  They see us reacting to success with humility, worship with reverence, temptations with resolves for righteousness over fleshly indulgence, persecution with an increased zeal for Gospel proclamation, and trials with unshakable trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is the heart of what is meant by shining our light in such a way that men see our good works and glorify our Lord (Matthew 5:16).

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Prayer for Year’s End

A Prayer for Year’s End - (Taken from The Valley of Vision)

O Love beyond Compare,
Thou art good when thou givest,
when thou takest away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Different Approach to a Difficult Story (My take on the Phil Robertson GQ interview)

It's all over the news today, Phil Robertson speaks out against homosexuality and as a result has been suspended from the "Duck Dynasty" show that features him among other family members of the Robertson clan.

Those who disagree with Phil's words are applauding A&E over this decision.  They are calling for boycotts and more of the whole Duck Commander brand.  I would not be the least bit surprised if in the fallout from this we see companies such as
Wal-Mart and others that carry Duck Commander products begin to pull these items from their shelves.  Although I find that to be a ridiculous thing for them to do.

On the other side we have two groups in Phil's corner.  Those who may or may not agree with him but recognize his right to hold his own views and voice them when asked and those who both agree with his views and recognize his right to have them.

After reading the GQ Article for myself I am lead to the following conclusions:

It seems fairly clear from the article that the reporter had an anti-God agenda.  Were it me who was in Phil's spot being interviewed by GQ and things went this way, I would like to think I would handle my responses a little better but that's easy to say when it isn't me who was in that situation.

Controversial quote #1:
“It seems like, to me, a v---na—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s a--s. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” (source) (redacted letters mine)

I have said from my pulpit that homosexuality is clearly defined as a sin from Scripture.  It is clear that it is a sinful practice.  However, the above reasons given by Phil as to why it is illogical are not ones that I would every employ.  Whether he is right or not in his assessment of what is more desirable is irrelevant.

The issue of body parts is not the most compelling argument against homosexuality.  Phil's response forgets the Gospel.  Homosexuality is a sin because it is not how God created things to be.  He designed man for woman and woman for man and He did so for the purpose of illustrating the Gospel (see Gensis2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5).

I don't believe his remarks to be in keeping with wisdom and speaking the truth in love.   Is it true that the physical benefits of the male female relationship are more enjoyable than male male or female female?  Sure it is.  How do I know?  Because God created it that way and His ways are always best. (Genesis 1:27).  Secondly, He created us in that way for the purpose of filling the earth. (Genesis 1:28).

But as I said, his response or at least the part of it that was published, leaves out the Gospel.  The sin of homosexuality is NOT the only sin a homosexual person has in their life.  So in making an appeal to a homosexual about the truth about homosexuality I would include all sin.  (see Exodus 20:1-17).  If am homosexual were to become heterosexual without repenting of that sin and all other sins in their lives then they would still be just as much headed for God's judgment and wrath as they were when they were a practicing homosexual.

Now the last remark about sin being illogical, I agree with completely.  That's where he should have started!  Sin is illogical.  In fact the Bible says that it is when man begins to think himself wise that he becomes a fool.  (Romans 1:22-25).  Begin their and then unfold what Scripture says about homosexuality and all forms of unrighteousness and I do realize that Phil quoted Scripture to support his view.  He did it in context too.  I'm just contending that for at least what we are told in the article he missed the mark of the Gospel and maybe spoke some words that lacked the wisdom of having thought them through before saying them.

As I have already stated, I fully support Phil Robertson's right to say what he said and think it is an ugly thing to see the liberal intolerance in this country get its way so easily with a little tantrum.  While the liberals scream that they want diversity, they are really terrified of real diversity that allows differing views to exist in the same world.

Controversial quote #2:

“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field.... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” (source)

I do not agree with his view that "blacks" didn't want the civil rights that were held by "whites".  This quote seems to have been pulled from a broader context so more comment is not wise on my part but suffice to say while we do have entitlement and welfare abuse problems these days, it is not only the "blacks" or any one ethnicity that abuses those things.  We have a whole generation of young adults and children of all skin colors who feel themselves entitled to many things.  Thus the reason our country is in the trouble that it is in.

What would I like to see happen from this?

1.) Christians, voice your support for Phil, that's fine, but a whole load of Christians supporting Phil may get A&E to overturn their decision but it will NOT save one soul from their sin.  Let this incident be an every present reminder that a.) were it not for God's grace you and I would be just as lost as any lost person ever has been b.) we need to preach the Gospel!  We need to take to the streets and proclaim repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone!

2.) This was sort of said in number 1, but I do NOT want to see boycotts... For crying out loud... if you are going to boycott A&E for this, then go through your pantry and throw out all the foods from companies that support gay rights organizations, abortion clinics, or any other social ill you do not align with.  Unless you grew your vegetables from a seed yourself and you got that seed from the plants your family has grown for hundreds of years and never purchased that seed from a non-believing farmer, most of your food will be thrown out.  Turn off your electric service and stop using your cities water/sewage/trash services since most cities these days have taken some anti-Jesus stance of some sort... for our town it is "Happy Holidays" displayed almost everywhere this time of year instead of "Merry Christmas".  Oh and good luck with your clothing, you'd better learn to make your own because most clothing companies are very tied to the homosexual movement.  Your now a hungry, stinky, and naked.  Have fun with that.

3.) I would like to see the family vocally support Phil because right or wrong, wise or unwise they are family and family sticks together.  They talk about how the show is only good for them insomuch as it aligns with their faith and values. Now, the rubber meets the road, a stance from the family on this would do much more good to Phil's case than any amount of public support.

4.) I do not want to see Christians too bogged down in 1st Amendment arguments with unbelievers.  Have them to a limited degree brethren, but only inasmuch as it is a springboard for you to share the Gospel with someone!  If you only win the argument and convince them why Phil had the guaranteed right to say what he said, you have not done anything to lead that person to Christ!  Don't miss the forest for the trees.  Today alone, 150,000 people will step out of this world and into eternity.  Many of them doing so without having repented and trusted in Jesus Christ.  How much urgency do we sense for that need?  Many are posting "Standing w/Phil Robertson" photos/statuses and that's good.  We should speak up over 1st Amendment Rights violations.  But how many people have you shared the Gospel with today?   Do you care? Where is the passion for proclaiming the Gospel of repentance and faith?  Where is the passion for spreading the Name of Christ?  It seems it pales in comparison when we have the opportunity to jump on a hot and pressing social issue. 

Comments on this are welcome, keep them free from profanity or they will not be published. 

**If you are helped by this article or even just found it irritating, please feel free to re-post it to your facebook, twitter, google+ or other social media outlet. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tales of Heaven

I know this may stir the pot a bit and that certainly isn't my intention, but I do hope that it will urge Christians to simply think through this issue with a sober mind and with Bibles opened.  Yesterday as I walked around Target for a bit I strolled through the books department.  In the section that passes for "Christian" books in Target there were more books than I could count with tales of people who have gone to Heaven and come back.

Did these people really go to Heaven?  I lean towards no but not knowing them personally it makes it hard to fully say.  Further, I am not going impugn them all and say that their motive is book deals, speaking tours, and money making.  That definitely applies to some, but I do not believe all.  I suppose I could be wrong, but do not intend to judge motives, just teaching.

However, there are a few whose credibility has been shot to pieces.  In 2 Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul recounts having been taken to Heaven and he says that what he saw was simply too great to even talk about.  Then he goes on to say basically that in his flesh he is tempted to boast of the revelation God has given him but to keep him from being conceited the Lord sent him a thorn in the flesh.

The oft quoted 2 Corinthians 12:9 comes in that the Lord has sent this thorn in the flesh to Paul solely for the purpose of keeping him humble (and one could argue to keep him quiet) about what the Lord has permitted him to see.

My question is this:  If the Lord saw fit to keep the Apostle Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, silent about what awaits us in Heaven, why do we quickly believe any and everyone who publishes a book saying that they have been there?  Why do we easily give in to the desire to believe that we need more than Scripture alone to believe?  Why do we quickly believe them when not one of the so called accounts of trips to Heaven match one another in near any detail and some contain blatantly un-biblical statements? Not trying to anger anyone or get a debate started, but would love to hear from anyone who can (from Scripture in context) make a case for why these accounts are ok. 

P.S - Comments based on feelings or opinions and not backed with Scripture will likely not be published as they are not helpful to the discussion.

P.P.S - Comments charging me with being narrow-minded will be seen as a compliment so thanks in advance! ((Matthew 7:13-14))

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Whatever happened to Hannah Montana?

After Miley Cyrus' appauling "performance" on the MTV VMAs a few days ago the social media world has been overloaded with posts and comments.  Believe it or not there are a few who support her act, but for the most part her on stage behavior has parents and reasonable adults everywhere condemning her for such lewdness.

But I believe my friend Adam brought some much needed clarity to the whole subject when he simply commented, "Why are we surprised by this?".  A simple question.  Why are we surprised to see Miley doing a performance like this?

 I don't mean to imply that we shouldn't be shocked by the increasing social acceptance of public acts of immorality, but specifically Miley or any other darling "pure" child star gone south.

People are saying, "She's no longer family friendly!", "She's not the innocent little Miley we once knew!"  Well, I did not have children at the time of Hannah Montana's so I thankfully escaped that whole mess but I know enough about the show's content to say that we could have a discussion about just how family friendly it ever truly was.

While it did not promote overt immorality it did up play kissing, dating, popularity, wealth, deception... I mean the theme song alone let us know that she was getting the best of both worlds (average and superstar) simply by playing a little deception trick on even her closest friends.

That, however, is not the point of this post.  Let's address the "She's not the innocent Miley" any longer crowd.

It is my contention that the Miley we saw on the 2013 VMA Show is not who she has become, but who she has always been.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Little "innocent" Hannah Montana portrayed by wide eyed Miley was NOT the real Miley personality.

People have developed this idea in their head that she was once a little angel on earth simply because her television character was this so-called type of child.

The interviews for magazines, TV, behind the scenes sort of footage, all staged.  If you believe that there wasn't a publicist, manager, "parent" behind all of those things telling her what to do and what to say you are blindly mistaken.

What we saw portrayed was Miley the product.  Miley the apparition.  She was a smoke and mirrors figment of the imagination that was needed to sell Disney merchandise.  So they created the persona they needed and once she was no longer cute as Hannah she was set loose on her own.

Am I saying that even at a child's age she was engaged in gross and overt immorality similar to what was displayed on television?  No.  That's absurd and illegal.  What I am saying is that the warning signs of her being a lost sinner were rampant in her life then and have merely escalated as she has grown older.

She is the product of sinful flesh (which we are all born with) turned loose to feast on its own desires.  It isn't that Miley is "turning bad" or "becoming immoral", it is more likely that she always has been and it is now that it is reaching a level to even make some secular-moralists drop their jaws.  The Miley we all watched grow up on stage was a sanitized and controlled version of what many witnessed with disgust a few nights ago.

Miley, me, you... we are all born sinful.  It is only the grace of God through Jesus Christ that works in us to put our sinful desires to death.  Yes, Miley supposedly professed Christ as a child, but clearly she is showing now that she was never truly following Jesus Christ.  That's not judgment, that's an honest appraisal of a lack of fruit being born in her life (Matthew 7:16).

Additionally, this should be a wise lesson to Christian parents, and all parents really, of why we should never place any person as an idol in our child's lives.  It is a myth to say that a child needs a real world celebrity role model.

They don't.  They need moms and dads who commit to teach them God's Word and demonstrate the effects of that Word on their own lives.  They need moms and dads who take them to a church who is passionate about the proclamation of the full Gospel of Jesus Christ and come along side the family to disciple that child.

What Miley needs, what I need, what every child and adult needs is to have the Gospel applied to their life that we might see our need for Jesus Christ to forgive us of our sin and give us a regenerated heart with new desires.  What people need is Christ.  Applying the Gospel daily to yourself and your family will remind the believer of the Savior who died to save them.  That is the best and only sufficient reason to fight the desires of the flesh.  It is only because of receiving His Spirit in us that we even care to fight the desires of the flesh.

Applying the Gospel to a lost person is intended, by God's grace, to show them their need of Christ that they would forsake their sin and flee to Him for life!

Let me make 2 final disclaimers on this issue:

1.) Do not for one moment think that you or I are any better than she.  If it were not for the grace of God we would be capable of far worse an act than she has done.  (1 Corinthians 6:9-20)

2.) I did not watch the performance in its entirety, but have read an account of most of the acts performed.  I watched the opening moments and when she went to remove a portion of her costume I quickly exited the YouTube page having seen enough to make me sick already.

3.) While I am on board with condemning what Miley did on stage, let's be careful not to cross the line to condemn her soul.  Let's instead let this motivate us to weep and pray for her salvation that God in His mercy would save her soon!

Recommended Links:

Sorry, Miley
True and False Conversion by Ray Comfort

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

America's Problem...

Let me begin by saying that I am not in any way a supporter of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.  While I agree with their basic premise that all ethnic groups deserve equal protection and rights, I do not always agree with their tactics and statements.  But my fellow conservatives seem to be missing the point and so I decided to offer some thoughts to them.  Conservatives tend to think that only liberals are to blame... but just isn't true.

Disclaimer aside, they are not the problem.  Their tactics, misguided as they are, are not the problem.  I make this statement because in the fall out from the Zimmerman
Trial many people who were supporters of George Zimmerman are blaming Mr. Sharpton and Mr. Jackson for the riots and hype surrounding the trial and its verdict.

The worst part of this trial in the social media sphere is that these hateful comments on both sides are coming from those who call themselves Christians. 

While they are not helping the problem, they are NOT the problem.  To blame them is to ignore a much larger issue.

It is no secret that racial tensions are running high in this country.  I am an avid proponent of the benefits of social media outlets such as facebook,
twitter, etc, but for every "good" thing these outlets accomplish, an equal and sometimes greater evil is accomplished as well.

In the course of President Obama's two terms in office I have witnessed an alarming trend on social media outlets.  People (supporters and opponents) referring to the President as merely "Obama". 
Not "President Obama" or even "Mr. Obama" (if they desire a less respectful address).  Even resorting to nicknames such as "Obummer".  Again these things are seen coming from those who call themselves believers.

Whether you agree with the President or not does not give Christians (or even American citizens) the right to show disrespect to his office and authority.

Romans 13 tells us that all authority has been ordained by God for His purposes.  Sometimes those
leaders are Godly and lead the Nation towards Christ in their decisions, sometimes they don't.  Sometimes they are God's blessing on a Nation and sometimes they are God's judgment.

Regardless of which way you feel President Obama is for our Nation, he is for better or worse our President.  He has been given authority and we are to show the respect due to that office.

That does NOT mean that we must agree with all that he does or even be silent about our disagreement with his views.  It does not mean that we must comply if he tries to legislate something the Bible deems immoral.  It does, however,
mean that we must voice our disgruntlement in the proper way.  That begins by respecting the office and more importantly the God who has ordained that authority.

I do not agree with much of what our President does, but President Obama is not the problem with America.

The news media plays its part in all of this of course, but even THEY are not the problem with America.

So what is America's problem?  Are you ready?  The answer may surprise you...

The problem is sin.  Sin is the problem.  More specifically, people who act on sinful temptations and given in to the desires of their flesh.  Everyone, from President Obama, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, George Zimmerman, Republicans, Democrats, you, and me, everyone wakes up every morning and resumes a battle with our flesh.

Sin causes racism, race baiting, murder, lies, hatred, bigotry, blasphemy, and every other kind of evil you can think of.

In fact, it is a battle that we may set aside as we sleep but our enemy attacks even in our dreams.  Ever had a dream wherein you did something immoral?

The enemy I refer to is not Satan, it is you and me.  Satan may lay a snare before us and he is certainly crafty foe.  But it is us who give in to his temptations and willingly place ourselves into his snare.

So where do we go from here?  Let me make 2 suggestions.

What will fix the problem?

1.) The problem of sin will NOT be dealt with through political and social activism or well-stated arguments.   Refuting Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, or exposing the George Zimmerman's or even the Trayvon Martin's of the world will not fix this.

Attempting to deal with the problem of sin with clever argumentation will produce the same result as placing a band-aid on a crack in the Hoover Dam.  Eventually, probably sooner than later, it will burst through with a much larger problem.

Don't we see that trend in the escalation of the vigilante justice mindset that grips people on both sides of any hot issue.

2.) The problem of sin HAS been dealt with through the Person and work of Jesus Christ!  Amazing!  So what do we do now?  We, those who are in Christ, need to point people to the Savior!

Use God's Law, the great equalizer among all mankind, to bring the knowledge of sin (Romans 5:8; 6:23; 7:7, Exodus 20; Ephesians 2:1-10) and then point them to the kindness of God to have sent Christ.  Who came and took the wrath of God for our sin so that we could be forgiven (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The Gospel is the answer for racists, racism, greed, murder, drugs, public schools, gang violence, snobbery, lies, pornography, adultery, lusts, or any other problem that faces our society.

Jesus Christ is the only One who can truly chance hearts, minds, and desires.  Only through HIM will this world change.

Christians, let's be sure that we are passionate about the wrong and sinful things in this world.  Let's be passionate about social injustices, but let's never let those things elevate themselves above the saving message of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"A Love for the Law" by Chris Crane



One of my favorite passages in Scripture is Psalm 119, where King David celebrates the Law of God. For David, the Law was not something dreadful to him, but something delightful. He found joy in God’s commands. 

We see this kind of language just by a cursory overview of the chapter:
“In the way of your testimonies I delight, as much as in all riches.” (v. 14)
“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (v. 18)
“My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.” (v. 20)
“Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.” (v. 35)
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” (v. 103)

I am drawn again and again to this text because, often times, when we think of the Law, we don’t use words like sweet, wondrous, or delight. More often than not, words we might deem more appropriate to use would be boring, legalistic, dry, or cold, yet these are the exact opposite of how David looked at the Law. 

He saw it as a gift from God to be savored. Unfortunately, this is not the consensus view among Christians.  In fact, many Christians are often guilty of what is called antinomianism, which is a belief that God has no moral law that he expects Christians to obey. 

Not only does this give us a misunderstanding of the Law, it gives us a false view of our present pursuit of holiness as followers of Christ. There are delightful demands that give evidence of persevering faith. As Jesus himself said in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” So, how should we view the Law? What can we learn from David in Psalm 119?

1) The Law Should Be Received with Joy
First, we should recognize that we did not discover God. God chose to reveal himself to us. It would be perfectly just and good for God to not reveal himself to us. We do not deserve to know him, but instead deserve to be the recipients of his wrath because of our sin. This is sheer grace that he shows us. What we find in the Law is not only God’s requirements, but his character. We see his high standard of holiness and his hatred of sin (Hos. 1:1-9; Psalm 5:4-6). We see that his love is a holy love, not mere sentimentality. 

Furthermore, and of utmost importance, we see that because of his high standard of holiness in the Law and his demands of perfection, the Law points to our substitute, Jesus Christ the Messiah, who would fulfill the Law for his people, remove their guilt and set them free from the penalty that was on our heads as law-breakers (Matt. 5:17; Rom. 3:19-26; 8:2-4). We are free to receive the Law with joy because we are not trying to be justified by it and God’s people see no longer see his commandments as burdensome (see 1 John 5:3).  

Since Jesus has secured our adoption with our Father, we are free to delight in his commands as an expression of who our Father is. In other words, being free to enjoy the Law is another way we get to know our Father. It is this position we have been given through Christ that makes the Law joyful to the heart of the saint.

2) Delighting in the Law Gives Evidence We Love Jesus
As I mentioned briefly above, those who have been truly born again will give evidence that they love Jesus by keeping his commandments. Will they do this perfectly? Absolutely not. Will they do it at all? Yes. The regenerate heart has new desires and will live a life of repentance and confession, which will be a life marked by obedience. So even though they will not obey perfectly, they will no longer live in a lifestyle of slavery to sin because they have been “made alive in Christ” (Eph. 2:4). 

Notice that I am not saying we are justified, that we are made right with God, by our obedience to his commands. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9). However, as Reformer Martin Luther once said, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” Saving faith is evidenced by good works.

3) Loving the Law as a Weapon in Fighting Sin
In Psalm 119:9, David writes, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” In David’s time, “your word” is a reference to the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, which contain the Law. A couple of verses later, he writes, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (v. 11). Putting his faith in a future Messiah (who would be Jesus of Nazareth), David was given eyes to see that God’s people are set apart unto holiness and if he was going to fight for his joy in the Lord, he could not ignore God’s will found in his revealed Word.

Like David, we must take sin seriously. The pervasiveness of sin affects all areas of our lives. Sin leaves no stone unturned in its curse upon creation, including the lives of men and women everywhere. From our friendships to how we drive, our slavery to sin taints what God originally created good. Even worse, sin is rebellion against a holy God. 

The depth of the effects sin has between us and God is profound, as Pastor John Piper once said,
“What makes sin sin is not first that it hurts people, but that it blasphemes God. This is the ultimate evil and the ultimate outrage in the universe. The glory of God is not honored. The holiness of God is not reverenced. The greatness of God is not admired. The power of God is not praised. The truth of God is not sought. The wisdom of God is not esteemed. The beauty of God is not treasured. The goodness of God is not savored. The faithfulness of God is not trusted. The promises of God are not relied upon. The commandments of God are not obeyed. The justice of God is not respected. The wrath of God is not feared. The grace of God is not cherished. The presence of God is not prized. The person of God is not loved.”[1]

Fighting sin is a declaration that we desire our joy to be in Christ above anything else. It’s warfare against lesser pleasures. It is seeing holiness as beautiful, reflecting the beauty and majesty of Jesus, who is to be valued above all else. While the Law reveals our sin and points us to our need for a Substitute to save us and stand in our place, it also is a means for the Holy Spirit to strip away disordered affections as we long for Jesus. It declares along with David, “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways” (Ps. 119:37).

The Law is good because it comes from God. He established it and, in his infinite wisdom, only makes good laws. In sending his Son to fulfill the Law, he didn’t give us a reason to toss the Law out the window. That was not his intention. He is preparing his people to be a pure Bride, adorned in the clothes of the gospel, namely, the righteousness of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. 

I wonder, could it be that we are not living in the joy of the gospel like we desire because our view of the Law keeps us from seeing the delight of holiness? Do we really see the Law as a means to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord as we are in awe of his holiness? Or have we fallen into the error of antinomianism and think that God’s people have no moral commands to concern themselves with? As we wait upon the return of Jesus, let us have full hearts for the joy found in the Law, knowing that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).


[1] John Piper, “The Greatest Thing in the World: An Overview of Romans 1-7,” Desiring God, http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/the-greatest-thing-in-the-world-an-overview-of-romans-1-7 (accessed July 30, 2013).

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