The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
“You can tell whether or not a man or woman understands the Gospel by watching what they do when they sin. If they run from God they don’t understand, if they run to Him they get it. They get it.” – Matt Chandler
“We know the kingdom of grace has been set up in our hearts by the change wrought in the soul. There is a new nature, light in the mind, order in the affections, a pliable will, and tenderness in the conscience. If there is no change of heart there is no sign of grace. God’s children desire God, like the beating of the pulse indicates life. Saints love him, not only for what he has, but for what he is; not only for his rewards, but for his holiness. Hypocrites may desire him for his jewels, but not for his beauty. A believer cannot be satisfied without God; let the world heap her honours and riches, it will not satisfy. No flower will satisfy the thirsty. The Christian says, “I must have Christ, grace, and heaven, though I take it by storm.” We desire Christ more than the world, and more than heaven itself, “Whom have I in heaven but you?” (Psa. 73:25). Heaven itself would not satisfy without Christ. He is the diamond in the ring. If God were to say, “I will put you into heaven, but I will hide my face from you,” that would not satisfy. A little of God will not satisfy. The pious desires still more. A drop of water is not enough for thirsty travellers. We are thankful for grace received, but desire more: more knowledge, purity, and more of Christ’s presence. We long to see him face to face, and be perfected in glory; to plunge into his sweetness and be swallowed up in him; and to bathe ourselves in the perfumed waters of his pleasures.” – Thomas Watson
A little word today from Thomas Watson:
Q: “How shall I get my heart tuned to a patient mood?”
A: “Get faith; all our impatience proceeds from unbelief. Faith is the breeder of patience.”
“Patience opens the ear but shuts the mouth.” – Thomas Watson
“Today, true mortification is all but lost between the rigid, stubborn frame of spirit which is earthly, legal, harsh, critical, consistent with wrath, envy, malice, and pride, on the one hand, and pretences of liberty, grace, and I know not what, on the other.” – John Owen (The Mortification of Sin, abridged)
I liked the “I know not what” part. Having a sense of the certainty of something, but not knowing exactly… I like that he said that.
“Let a man pretend what he will, little concern over sin is a serious offence to the grace and mercy of God!” – John Owen (The Mortification of Sin, abridged)
“Others are hardened in their own sin by persuading themselves that they are in just as good a condition as the unmortified professor. They see their [the unmortified professor's] zeal for religion, but it is not accompanied by righteousness. They view their worldy and selfish lives. They see them talk spiritually but live vainly. They hear them mention communion with God, and yet they are in every way conformed to the world. They see them boast of forgiveness of sins, and yet never forgive others. Thus, as they see the stain of sin in the unmortified professor, they harden their own hearts in their unregeneracy.” – John Owen (The Mortification of Sin, abridged)
In the previous post I did a recap of the event.
I went to the Death To Performance event because when I first saw it, I thought, “yes, I see that struggle in myself”. That is, the struggle to perform and be accepted and thinking through what that breeds in me. I do not want to live and die on, or for, my performance and abilities. BUT, I do want to live and die on, or for, God’s ability and performance. That is what living a Gospel centered life is about. So that is why I went.
The overarching takeaway for me was sanctification. I am going through a class at church that is dealing with sanctification, as well as reading books on it, and the Lord is continually working it in my heart.
One of the things that bothers me is that we trust God to justify us, that is, we call on Jesus to save us, and He truly does… and He truly begins a good work… and He will truly continue that work. But so many times we do not trust God to set us apart. That is, there is no evidence of our faith for sanctification. Faith without works is dead.
So on the one hand, people feel the need to perform and they become steeped in legalism and “do not touch, do not taste, do not handle” or on the other hand, people say God will change me in time, I trust Him to do it… and yet there is no evidence of that trust.
The Bible is very clear that “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.“ – Romans 8:13. So, just as in salvation, we must be saved, but we cannot do it, so in being set apart, we must be set apart, but we cannot do it. We must “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” Therefore we come to be set apart the same way we are saved. We pray for it… we believe and receive… by faith… and there is evidence of that faith.
So then we can see why Jesus gave us the example to pray in John 17 “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” If God is already doing the work in the disciples why would Jesus pray for the work to be done… because that is our trust, that is our faith… we are partnered in it. Paul continually prayed for the sanctification or the set apartness or the enlightening or the understanding of all the churches that he ministered to. David prayed for his own set apartness:
“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” – Psalm 119: 36
“Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” – Psalm 19:13
Just as we pray, “Lord save me”, so we must pray “Lord set me apart, sanctify me”. I am afraid that too many times, myself included, we are comfortable at the pace of our sanctification… or the pace being slow… we are ok with the level of sin… and do not realize that having less sin in our life is so much better than having more. We are not often enough staggered by sin’s oppositeness to all that is good and all that is from God.
Wisdom is needed from God on being set apart and dwelling with others at all different levels in their own walk with Jesus and not being self righteous, or legalistic… but the fear of merely appearing that way, should not hinder one from yielding to the sanctifying work of the Spirit in one’s own life. That is what I love about Jesus. He hung out with fishermen and tax collectors and was perfectly holy and set apart… and in that, sometimes the consciences of others cannot help but be pricked.
In the end, the performance is all of God. So we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God working in us both to will, and to do for His good pleasure. Then when we are given any crowns we are going to cast them right back at the feet of Jesus because it was Him doing the work all along… He graciously asks us to join in.
“For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.” – Colossians 1:29
Welp. At the conference, I received a copy of John Owen’s The Mortification of Sin. So, I shall soon see what he had to say on the subject.
Genesis 49:33 “When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people.”
I read that verse and thought “I would like to die like that”. Jacob had just finished his last words to his sons and then had the ability to draw his feet up into the bed and boom, he’s out. Immediately my thoughts ran to the time Jesus told Peter about someone else leading him where he would not want to go “signifying by what death he would glorify God” (John 21:18-19). So, in truth, I just want to die however God would grant that I die. “It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment”.
What I find fascinating is that death is a gift. Not always, and not originally (as mankind has known it)… but such is the power of Christ’s redemption. God judges the first man with death (using what Satan had wrought) and yet the last Man destroyed him who had the power of death (as any power that Satan has must be delivered to him from God) (Heb 2:14 “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”).
So now, in Christ, even death is gain! A person being in Christ, being the key for receiving, knowing, and experiencing all that is good and perfect, and a person being out of Christ being the key for receiving, knowing, and experiencing wrath, condemnation, and the destruction that death brings.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” Rom 8:1
“…he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36
“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Thess, 5:9
Ah, Jacob… what a way to go. I am think I am just fascinated at how this plays out… that is, at the confidence, and inspiration that it brings… and as Heb, 2:14 said, it destroys the fear of death as well. That is just more good news. I am not consumed with death by any means, in fact, I am enjoying eternal life right now. What is eternal life? John 17:3 tells us: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Hellooo.
I have been meaning to read Jonathan Edwards on Religious Affections and was looking over some quotes from it and found this one:
“Spiritual good is of a satisfying nature; and for that very reason, the soul that tastes, and knows its nature, will thirst after it, and a fullness of it, that it may be satisfied. And the more he experiences, and the more he knows this excellent, unparalleled, exquisite, and satisfying sweetness, the more earnestly will he hunger and thirst for more, until he comes to perfection. And therefore this is the nature of spiritual affections, that the greater they be, the greater the appetite and longing is, after grace and holiness.” – Jonathan Edwards from A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections
I am in awe how this works… how it plays out in my own life and the lives of those I know. I’m thirsty.
Now I really want to read it. It is moving up the docket.
“The enjoyment of [God] is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean.” — Jonathan Edwards