Saturday, July 22, 2017

My Soul Cleaves To The Dust

Psa. 119:25 ¶ My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your word.
It is often we find ourselves in spiritual weakness, nearly consumed by our base, corrupt nature. At times it seems we cannot shake it. This is when we can say our soul clings unto the dust. To shake it loose from us is almost impossible. It is the time we need a long bath in God's word that we might be clean. There is no other solvent that can remove the filth of carnality. There is no hope outside of God and His word.  Let us ever be in the washtub of His word and remain revived in body and soul.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Love Your Enemy

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR  and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you,  love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may  be  sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
The primary concept of "Love your enemy" is to not let one's own thoughts, attitudes and actions be swayed by those of others. One should be "apart" from the rest of the world in these things, not to be so much affected by them. We are to choose to love all no matter what comes our way. We are to affect others not let others affect us. We should be as Christ Who let nothing influence Him to be other than what He was and was to be. He was changeless in the midst of all others' changes. In a sense He was as God in eternity, outside of all but Himself and affected by nothing. (After all, Jesus is the God of eternity.) Nothing affected Him to be anything other than what He was, and is. He is immutable—changeless. And so should we be when others try to change us.
___________________________

John 13:34 “A  new commandment I give to you,  that you love one another,  even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 15:12   “This is  My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

John 15:17 “This  I command you, that you love one another.

Romans 13:8   Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for  he who loves  his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 

1Thessalonians 4:9   Now as to the  love of the brethren, you  have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are  taught by God to love one another

1Peter 1:22   Since you have  in obedience to the truth  purified your souls for a   sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from  the heart, 

1John 3:11     For this is the message  which you have heard from the beginning,  that we should love one another

1John 3:23   This is His commandment, that we   believe in  the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as  He  commanded us. 

1John 4:7     Beloved, let us  love one another, for love is from God; and  everyone who loves is   born of God and  knows God. 

1John 4:11  Beloved, if God so loved us,  we also ought to love one another12  No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His  love is perfected in us. 

2John 5 Now I ask you, lady,  not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had  from the beginning, that we  love one another.  

All scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible 1995 edition. Used by permission. Highlighting of words is author's own.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wanted: Common Sense

This letter to the editor was not printed because it contained too much of another's work. The editor requires the most of the work be original.
__________________________

I read a quote from the Czech Republic newspaper, Prager Zeitung, that sums up my sentiments perfectly, except I would prefer a less contentious word than "fool." It can be found on bernardgoldberg.com, posted November 16, 2012.

"The danger to America is not Barack Obama, but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools, such as those who made him their president.”

Common sense and wisdom have fallen in our country. Were that not so the absolute foolishness of such matters as the same-sex marriage issue and elevating animals to the same level as humans would not be happening. Some things are just obvious to any thinking mind. But when rational thinking is subverted by emotionalism and self-will enrobed in fantasy anything can happen—and is! The only hope for this country is if its citizenry will come back to God and reality and live accordingly. I pray that God will open the hearts and minds of our president, all others in authority and the people of this nation to do just that. Were that to happen we would have a truly great nation again.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Homosexuality and the Bible, letter to the editor

This post is a slightly edited copy of a letter to the editor of the Salina Journal, Salina, Kansas I wrote in 2012 or so. The city council was wanting to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city's anti-discrimination policy. There were three public forums to allow the public to express their views on the subject. I attended the third one, which is mentioned here. This letter to the editor is in response to a man who was presenting an unbiblical viewpoint on the subject. This letter did not get printed in the paper, I assume because it was too long, even though I took it down to about four hundred words as the editor requested. I post it here for those who would like a little more information to defend the biblical position on homosexuality, or for those who need to be corrected on the issue. I have chosen not to give the full name of the man I am disagreeing with to be charitable.
_______________

At the last public forum on the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity into the city's non-discriminations ordinance, former United Methodist pastor, Dr. W. E. S., stated his views on homosexuality and the Bible. He also made a paper on the subject available on the front table. It seems to me he is merely attempting to reinterpret the Bible to fit what one might call the popular thought of the day on this subject. What he said does not at all represent the consensus of Bible interpreters throughout the ages, nor the straight-forward proclamation of the Scripture itself.
He argues that the term "homosexual" was coined by Freud and is not used in many of the translations. The point is moot. The concept is obviously in scripture in both words and phrases. The ancient Greek word, arsenokoites, used in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 means "homosexual", especially referencing the active partner of the relationship. Another Greek word, malakos, in 1 Timothy 1:10 refers to the passive partner in a homosexual relationship. Jude 7 uses the term "strange flesh" referring to homosexual behavior in contrast to immoral heterosexual behavior mentioned previously. The Greek word translated "strange" in some English versions literally means "other," referencing "another kind" of flesh—i.e. unnatural sexual activity.     

The apostle Paul in Romans 1:18-32, condemns both homosexual behavior and desires in no uncertain terms, especially in verses 24-27. God, through the apostle, calls homosexual desire and practice unnatural, in violation of God's created order. The reason for this downfall from the exalted position into which mankind was created is because mankind rejected God and His truth, believing, rather, a lie which they made up themselves. "Professing themselves to be wise they became fools" and turned truth and the created order on their heads. Nowhere in scripture can one find even a hint that God created anyone to be homosexual. Such is an aberrancy to scripture and the created order. Hence, the explicit commands against men having sex with other men, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Homosexuality is there listed among other perversions of nature such as bestiality and the sacrificing of children to an idol.

Dr. S. wants us to believe that the prohibition is not against all homosexuality but only against those who were born heterosexual but commit homosexual acts against their personal nature, not those who were born homosexual. But where does he get the idea anyone was ever created homosexual? Not from the Bible for sure! Never is there the slightest hint of such a thing. The concept of  "natural" in the Scriptures is that which is in accordance to the created order of all, not a so-called personal created order. All were created according to the order  given in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. God created a man and a woman, signifying the complementary roles of the opposite sexes. This truth is everywhere in scripture while the opposite can only be imagined. God Himself, who is Jesus Christ, affirms the created order in Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9. Scripture only condemns homosexual desire and practice, never affirms it. Like every other sin, it must be repented of, one putting his or her faith in Christ for forgiveness and restoration. Eternal judgment awaits those who will not. Like everyone else, I lived an aberrant life in many ways. Thankfully the Lord kindly and graciously turned me from sin to Himself to trust only in Him. I pray all who read this will do the same.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

True Spirituality


Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart
By: George Croly

Spirit of God, descend up on my heart;
Wean it from earth; thro’ all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as thou art,
And make me love thee as I ought to love.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no op’ning skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.

Teach me to feel that thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear,
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh;
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

Teach me to love thee as thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The kindling of the heav’n descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and thy love the flame.

Amen.

As I read this hymn I was reminded of what true spirituality is and what it seeks. It is not the emotional ecstasy sought by the mystic and charismatic, the instability of sought-out feelings as anchors of the soul. No, it is the stability of the sure confidence of God in Christ. It seeks not an experience, though it is experiential. It seeks not a feeling, though it is felt. It seeks nothing but the reality of God in the truth of His Word which foundations the confidence of our faith. 

The request of the hymnodist is the Spirit's descent upon him with the result of his being weaned from this world, its ways and stuff in conjunction with a deepening love for God and the realization of His presence. One can not but be reminded of the Scriptures

1John 2:15  "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."                             
James 4:4  "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."  
Proverbs 30:7  "Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:  8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:  9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."            
Psalms 27:4  "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of he LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple."
Psalm 42:1  "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God."
Psalm 119:131  "I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments." 

These verses encapsulate an abhorance of this world coupled with an intense longing for our Heavenly Father in His person and commandments, to know them and keep them. This is true spirituality. There is no other.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What is Truth?


What is Truth?
What is. That is the answer to the question. Truth is what is. The same goes, of course, for reality. It is what is. Truth and reality are exact synonyms. They do not merely hint at each other, they are each other. What is real is truth, and vice versa. 
Truth is what is. It is not what one believes or wants to believe. It is simply what is. It is not determined by consensus or debate. It just is. It is whether one wants it or not. It is whether one presents it as such or not. It is by itself and needs the consent of no one. It is both self-existing and self-propagating. Truth is and shall continue to be just because it is.  
Truth is honest. It is open, it is transparent. It never presents itself to be other than what it is. It never hides itself or any aspect of itself. It shows itself with clarity and in a forthright manner. It is real; it is reality. 
Many people evade the truth, at least as much of it as makes them uncomfortable. Should that which is opposite of their desires be proclaimed they will immediately dismiss it. At times they will offer excuses why the truth cannot be applied to their situation, as if truth should give special consideration to “special” situations. At other times they will quite well deny the existence of a particular truth or of truth itself. In the latter case they defeat their own argument by even making it. To make a statement assumes the existence of truth. In the former case, their denial is nothing but an obvious, pretentious evading of their living outside the ream of truth.

People also keep hidden what they do not want others to know. They fear exposure or openness, for they have faults and outright lack integrity. It is, as Shakespeare said,    
When we have our naked frailties hid,
That suffer in exposure.

All such hiding is an evasion of truth. How well Thomas Fuller put it,
Craft must have clothes, but truth loves to go naked.

Those who have nothing to hide, don’t. It is only those who live outside truth who put on masks and aires. In fact, those who live uprightly welcome investigation. What have they to fear? They will only be proven to be true, and such cannot be derided.

The Lord Jesus Christ depicted it well,
           This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness 
           rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)

The Light refers to the Lord Himself, but also truth, for He is the embodiment of truth. He exposed the falsity of mankind. Hence, they did not come to Him lest He and His teachings should expose them. 
           For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his     
           deeds will be exposed. (John 3:20)

They loved the darkness--a lack of truth and a covering--for their deeds were evil

But the real shame is when people hide the truth about themselves from themselves. Such is the height of hypocrisy. They lie about themselves to themselves and then proceed to believe their own lie. They attempt to live in a world that is not real in order to placate their evasion of that which they know is real. They falsify reality for their own comfort. They ought to remember the true rhyme,
           O, what a tangled web we weave
           When first we practice to deceive

And what an entanglement they have gotten themselves into!
Falsity begets falsity, and continues to bear until one’s world is full of its children. Here truth and goodness can find no place. A sign is placed on the door of such a one’s heart,
NO TRUTH ALLOWED!
The door is bolted shut and the the windows covered lest the light of truth should come in and the filth of their hearts be discovered. 

Truth is what is. But how seldom it is welcome! Still, it is. Live it and love it. It is your best friend and most essential commodity.
________________________________________________________
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


Friday, January 20, 2012

The Temptation in the Wilderness



Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1-12, 13, and Luke 4:1-13 give the account of Jesus' temptation by Satan in the wilderness. Matthew and Luke give full accounts while  Mark merely mentions the occasion. I suppose I have never given much thought as to why Jesus was tempted previous to His ministry until this morning, at least not that I can remember (and I have forgotten much). We know the baptism of Jesus was previous to this event, that being the precursor to His ministry. One must first publicly confess His alignment with God on His terms, according to His truth before he can serve Him in any meaningful way. But such public confession is not enough. He must also be tested to see if his heart and mind are really sold out to God. Such was the reason for the temptation. Should one not pass such a simplistic test he has no cause to continue in the venue of public ministry, of representation of God. Unfaithful ambassadors are not ambassadors. Should one not be thoroughly consumed with that bulldogish, Jacobian "I'll not let you go" determination he cannot serve the Master of the universe. Failure in temptation is letting God go. One cannot hold on to Him and sin. One cannot fulfill an allegiance proclaimed and not continue in act, thought and deed in accord with that proclaimed allegiance. "You say it, now let me see it," says God. And how does He try and perfect His servant? By the allowance of direct solicitations to sin and heightened (sometimes greatly heightened) trials of normal life. When the devil comes or when life goes kaput, do you continue on or complain? Do you move on in God's work or move away from it? How quickly we are moved away from God by failure in our testings and temptations! Sins, complaints and cessations are nothing but "I quit"'s. Jesus was serious. Are you? He didn't quit or give in to the slightest, not even for a moment entertaining the thought. Do you? Hold fast. Be true.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"You are the light of the world."

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (NASB)

How could a lazy Christian be more convicted of sin than by this passage? One's selfishness and carnality are darkness itself. There is no light in any of it. What one is in private he is in public. One's influence to himself is his influence on others. What one is, one is. There is no division between the private and the public forums. When I am in sin, though that sin could never be known to another, my light is not shining. It has been hid under the basket of evil. My light is shining when I am being what I am supposed to be at any given time. I am as Christ to the public view if I live like Him in public and in private.

Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (NASB) We are to follow after Christ, meaning to be like Him, represent Him. How can we do this if we play games with it? Is it meaningless to be godly, to "be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect"? (Matthew 5:48) How can we be so if we play games with sin--sins that cannot be known let alone those done for all to see? Is Christ Himself meaningless? How can we say otherwise if we will not conduct our minds and actions and words at all times is such ways as He would? I am not speaking of perfectionism, but that we so want Him that we agonize tirelessly to be like Him. That we are so cognizant of His affect on others that we want that for them nearly above all else. That they might see Him as He is and desire Him also, and know eternal life, which is to "know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3, NASB)

But the light of Christ in us is darkened by the basket of sin and shame when we are not what He is and would have us to be. We despise Him before others in such cases. We tell them He is not really worthy of our attention or worship, that His ways are not what we would have, though we claim to have them, to be in Him. Hypocrisy reigns then and the testimony of Christ diminishes by lack of our godliness in private, unnoticed. That is, unnoticed by eyes. But the ill impression is yet there and we are hardly a bright light in this dark world. We are hardly a witness for Christ. We are hardly an influence on others unto the sanctification unto salvation.
(2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 13:12; 1Peter 1:2)

Friday, August 19, 2011

THE MORTIFICATION OF SIN IN BELIEVERS


Key Verse: Romans 8:13

For if you are living according to the flesh, you shall die; but if you are putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit, you shall live. (my translation)

I. THE PROPOSITION CONSIDERED
"If you are putting tho death the deeds of the body by the Spirit, you shall live." 


II. THE CONDITION OF THE PROPOSITION
A. The Protasis: "If you are putting tho death the deeds of the body by the Spirit"
B. The Apodosis: "You shall live
."

III. THE COMMAND OF THE PROPOSITION
"Put to death the deeds of the body
."

IV. THE PROMISE OF THE PROPOSITION
"You shall live
"

V. THE DEFINITION OF TERMS
A. Body (Flesh)
1. The corrupt and depraved nature of man
2. The place where this corruption and depravity dwells (Romans 7:23)
3. The instrument which this corruption and depravity uses to fulfill its wicked desires (Romans 6:13; Colossians 3:5)
"The body, then, here is taken for that corruption and depravity of our natures whereof the body, in a great part, is the seat and instrument, the very members of the body being made servants unto unrighteousness thereby, Romans 6:19. It is indwelling sin, the corrupted flesh or lust, that is intended. " (John Owen, Works, vol. 6, p. 7)
B. Put to death
1. To take the life from
2. To destroy the power and workings of
3. To oppose and depose the influence of
C. Through the Spirit
1. By the agency of the Spirit
2. By the power of the Spirit
a) His redeeming power
b) His cleansing power
c) His overcoming power
3. By the means provided by the Spirit--the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17)


VI. THE NECESSITY OF PUTTING SIN TO DEATH
1. Positively: If you do you shall live.
Negatively: If you do not you shall die.

"The vigour, and power, and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification (putting to death) of the deeds of the flesh." (John Owen, The Works of John Owen, vol. 6, p. 9)


Sin (the thing itself, not just the act of sin) is always moving in and through us, trying to control us, to make us its slave to do its every bidding. Therefore, if we would be "pure in heart", and rejoicing in Christ and our salvation, and be free from the fear of judgment--both temporal and eternal--we must be constantly, consistently putting sin to death.

VII. THE WAY OF PUTTING SIN TO DEATH
A. Man's Way--the wrong way
1. The way of self-righteousness
a) The denying of original sin (1John 1:8)
b) The denying of personal sin (1John 1:10)
2. The way of religion
a) To rely on religious affections of desires
b) To rely on religious deeds
(1) church membership and attendance
(2) baptism
(3) tithes and offerings
(4) prayers
(5) Bible reading
(6) communion/the Lord's Supper/mass
(7) witnessing
(8) anything else
c) To rely on religion itself--to be religious or that one even belongs to a religion; that the religious organization itself is sufficient to separate one from his sins, especially in the eyes of God
3. The way of self-effort
a) To rely on one's own willpower
b) To rely on one' self-chastisement
(1) to beat oneself verbally
(2) to beat oneself physically
(a) by thrashing one's own body
(b) by denying oneself food or sleep
(c) by putting oneself through any other sort of difficulty or agony for religious purpose (especially to gain the favor or God)
c) To rely on personal separation
(1) to separate from sinful company
(2) to separate from sinful surroundings
(3) to separate from society altogether
B. God's Way--the right way
1. The way of the Spirit's working to salvation
a) To convict one of sin
(1) by the preaching of the Word
(2) by the reading of the Word
(3) by the knowledge of one's sinful condition
(4) by the knowledge of one's sinful acts
b) To turn one from sin
(1) by causing one to hate sinful desires and actions
(2) by causing one to flee sinful desires and actions
c) To turn one to Christ
(1) by causing one to understand Christ's sacrifice for him
(2) by causing one to accept Christ's sacrifice for him
2. The way of the Spirit's indwelling the saved
a) to give assurance of salvation (Romans 8:16)
b) to give guidance (John 16:13)
c) to give comfort and encouragement (John 15:16)
d) to take away the stony heart--that stubbornness, rebelliousness, pride and unbelief one naturally possesses [This is the general work of mortification the Spirit does in the believer's heart.] (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
e) to cause one to abound in grace and the fruits of the Spirit that are contrary to the flesh (Galatians 5:22-23a)
f) to judge and "burn" out of one the root and fruit--habitual practices--of sin (Isaiah 4:4) ["He is the fire which burns up the very root of lust." John Owen, Works, vol. 6, p. 19]
to apply the cross of Christ to the believer for putting sin to death (Galatians 5:24; Romans 6:6)
to cause the believer to desire and do God's good pleasure (Philippians 2:13; 1Thessalonians 4:3-4, 7)
1. The way of man's fulfilling his obligations to God
a) by hearing and obeying His Word
b) by giving attention to and obeying the guidance of the Spirit
(1) through the Word
(2) through convictions
(3) through obvious leadings
c) by using God's means of grace
(1) the Bible
(a) from which we know the nature of God
(b) from which we know the nature of man
(c) from which we know the will of God
(d) from which we know the obligations of man
(2) prayer
(a) in which we communicate with God
(b) in which we submit to God


The task of putting sin to death is a difficult one--the most difficult thing anyone has been required and commanded to do. We, without God, cannot do the job. Yet God, without our participation will not do it by Himself. Man is, in and of himself, not equipped to do the job. God, though able, will not do that for man which He has required of him and equipped him to do. The one who both relies on God and obeys God actively will find the power of sin greatly diminished, though not altogether destroyed so as to no longer indwell and actively try to destroy him. Rely on God as if it all depends on Him, as in truth it does. But actively obey Him as if it all depends on you.


APPENDIX

In this section scripture quotations are from then King James Version of the Bible primarily.

1. "Indwelling sin always abides (lives in us) whilst we are in this world; therefore it is always to be mortified."
2. "Sin does not only still abide in us, but is still acting, still laboring to bring forth the deeds of the flesh. When sin lets us alone we may let sin alone; but as sin is never less quiet than when it seems to be most quiet, and its waters are for the most part deep when they are still, so ought our [schemes] against it to be vigorous at all times and in all conditions, even where there is [the] least suspicion [that sin is anywhere present or working against us]. Sin does not only abide in us, but 'the law of the members is still rebelling against the law of the mind,' Romans 7:23; and 'the spirit that dwells in us [desires] to [the point of] envy,' James 4:5. It is always in continual work; 'the flesh lusts against the Spirit.' Galatians 5:17; lust is still tempting and conceiving sin, James 1:4; in every moral action it is always either inclining to evil, or hindering from that which is good, or disframing the spirit from communion with God. . . . There is not a day but [that] sin foils or is foiled, prevails or is prevailed on; and it will be so while we live in this world."
3. "Sin will not only be striving, acting, rebelling, troubling, disquieting, but if let alone, if not continually mortified, it will bring forth great, cursed, scandalous, soul-destroying sins."
4. "This is one main reason why the Spirit and the new nature is given unto us--that we may have a principle within whereby to oppose sin and lust. 'The flesh lusteth against the Spirit.' . . . and . . . 'The Spirit also lusteth against the flesh,' Galatians 5:17. There is a propensity [natural inclination or tendency] in the Spirit, or spiritual new nature, to be acting against the flesh, as well as in the flesh to be acting against the Spirit: [see] 2Peter 1:4,5."
5. If one neglects to do his duty too mortify sin he will not be being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, which is the ultimate goal of God concerning every child of His (Romans 8:29). Without mortification of sin one cannot be renewed in his inner man, that is, his spirit (2Corinthians 4:16). Either a Christian is being renewed or he is being undone. There is no middle ground.
6. "It is our duty to be 'perfecting holiness in the fear of God,' 2Corinthians 7:1; to be 'growing in grace' every day, 1Peter 2:2, 2Peter 3:18; to be renewing our inward man day by day,' 2Corinthians 4:16. Now, this cannot be done without the daily mortifying of sin. Sin sets its strength against every act of holiness, and against every degree we grow to. Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who doth not kill sin in his way takes no steps towards his journey's end. He who finds not opposition from it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it." (John Owen, The Works of John Owen, vol. 6, pp 10-14 [slightly edited for todays readers and clarity], except for #5.

There are two basic attitudes of Christians with reference to the mortification of sin. Some think it is not necessary; they are quite happy to put little effort into the fighting against sin; they see no need for it. But others see the need as it truly is, as is demonstrated by the Scriptures, yet find in themselves no ability to accomplish the task, not even to a small degree. Consequently, they think it can't be done; they have to a real degree given up hope of ever having victory over sin. They no longer struggle against it like they once did. They feel helpless and hopeless against sin's forceful demands. For them, sin is, as it were, a flooded river that moves with such force that it takes within everything that gets in its path. As helpless as an infant would be who is trying to swim that raging stream, so they feel about the raging force of the sin that moves against their souls. They are, in the end, defeated and downtrodden again. They would echo the great apostle Paul when he said, "O wretched (miserable) man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death (or, this body of death)?" (Romans 7:24). Yet they have forgotten the fact of his rejoicing, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 7:25a), and, "I can do all things trough Christ Who strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13), and, "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1Corinthians 1:30), and, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1Corinthians 10:13).

What is the cause of these two attitudes? First, concerning the one who does not take the command to mortify sin seriously, there is a great lack of understanding concerning sin and himself and God. He does not see sin as that wicked, horrible, soul-destroying thing that it is. He does not take into account that were there no sin there would be no death, sorrow, pain, or any other destructive, unpleasant thing. None of these things existed before sin entered the world by man's disobedience to God (Romans 5:12). And sin is the very thing that causes it all. Sin is corruption itself--corruption of the soul that leads to the corruption of all else, even the physical universe (Romans 8:19-23) [compare to Romans 8:10]. And corruption produces corruption, as the bad apple will affect all the others that come into contact with it.

This one who does not work at the mortification of sin is also ignorant of the fact that sin indwells him, is always active in him for the purpose of destroying him. He is himself both the vessel which contains sin and the instrument which sin uses to do its deeds (Romans 6:10-13). This person sees himself as being "OK," a pretty good guy. He may recognize his faults, but does not consider the fact that he must deal with them, even as God has commanded. For some, they may say, "If Christ took away my sins when I trusted in Him as my Savior, what is there to deal with? It's already taken care of." Or he may say, "Salvation does not depend upon works, and since I am already saved why should I care about sin?" The obvious danger in this last statement is that if one really has this attitude he may well not be saved at all [consider Romans 6]. Still other may say, "I don't do anything all that bad. I may not be as careful about what I say, or listen to, or watch on TV as I ought to be, but only with the little stuff. I leave the really bad stuff alone." How deceived this man is! He does not understand that there are no little sins. All sin is sin before God. He excuses absolutely none of it. It is just as much sin to tell a "little white lie" as to commit mass murder. I do not say that one is not worse than the other is some ways, I only say that neither is more sinful than the other. It is as the 17th century preacher, John Bunyan, said, "No sin against God can be little, because it is against the great God of heaven and earth; but if the sinner can find a little God, it may be easy to find little sins" (revised). Consider Genesis 39:9; Deuteronomy 32:15; Psalm 51:4 regarding these thoughts.

My last point concerning the man who does not work at mortifying sin in his body is this, he does not have a clear view of God and what He thinks of sin. If he did he would never think that any sin could be considered as little. The thing that makes sin to be sin is that it is against the very nature and will of God. In God there is no sin, neither can He look upon it (James 1:13; Isaiah 6:3; Habakkuk 1:13a). To believe that God is not concerned with all sin is to disbelieve that God is absolutely pure and that He will not have anything at all to do with sin. It is also to disbelieve God when He says that He will both judge and destroy sin and sinners (Psalm 5:5; Relation 21:8,27). For these reasons, some would rather let their laziness and carnal desires dictate them rather than the truth. Let not this be your attitude, Christian. Be most diligent to remember that sin is in every for sin, and that God shall judge it most surely. Let these thoughts prod you on to deal with sin and sinful habits, no matter how difficult it may be, according to God's Word. And consider this, lest you be fooled, and in the end damned, that if the Christian is so full of sin and under God's hand of judgment, how much more is the sinner. Be sure, then to deal with sin, and not be found out in the end that you are naught but an empty, lost professor.

But what of the one who truly desires to be rid of sin but cannot seem to make any headway in his efforts? Of them, also, I say that they do not understand sin, themselves, or God. With reference to sin, this person often does not understand that the sin problem does not stem from himself, but from sin itself. This the apostle attested by the words, "Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me" (Romans 7:17-20 ).

This is not to say that we have no responsibility to refuse to obey the sinful impulses that constantly force themselves upon us, but it does put things in to the proper perspective. The fact that a Christian who swishes to follow the Lord with all his heart yet finds wicked desires in himself does not mean that the person is the one creating those desires, which are indeed contrary to his desire to serve the Lord. This, though, is exactly what some believers conclude. though they strive diligently to do the right, they always seem to end up doing the wrong. "How can this be," they may ask. "If I am really a Christian, how can I do these things? I don't even want to do them! I must not really be saved, or at least not really want to follow the Lord. All my desires for the Lord must be false. I also must be a fake Christian, but unwilling to admit it."

The key to understanding the heart of this individual is in the saying, "I don't even want to do them!" This agrees perfectly with Paul's experience in his Christian life. "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and brings me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. . . . So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin" Romans7:22, 23, 25b). Consider also, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Galatians 5:17). The very fact that this individual is even having this struggle is evidence in itself that he is a Christian who wants to serve God. The one who does not find this struggle in himself is the one who ought to be concerned about this relationship with God. Yet he is the very one who has no concerns toward God, otherwise he himself would find in himself much unrest of one sort or another, whether it be a struggle with sin or a struggle with needing to repent and trust Christ as his Savior. He who is comfortable in this life without a thought of eternity and his eternal state is the one who ought to be in the most despair of soul. Surely it is not good with him, for he is at home in sin. True righteousness has never crossed his path, nor knocked on his heart's door. He knows nothing of it.

So, the first comfort the defeated Christian ought to relish in is the fact that he has no comfort, for sin is always in his way of seeking holiness. Yet he may feel defeated still. He may think that there is no way to defeat sin in his life, and in one sense that is true. Sin shall always be present and hounding him. But it need not be in control. The answer to this problem lies in this, that the believer needs to recognize that if he will walk in the Spirit he will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). To walk in the Spirit is to first take Him at His word. Since He says it is possible to have real victory, though not total victory, over sin , he needs first of all to believe it. And so there is hope after all. He needs also to believe, like he seldom does, that the workings of the flesh move totally without his help and prodding. Simply because sinful desires plague him does not mean he has done something or that he is of a spiritual state that has brought it about. It simply means that, as Scripture teaches, sin is a principle--"a dynamic spring of energy" (J.I. Packer)--that moves within him regardless of his wanting it to or not (Romans 7:21). It is not something he can control to any real degree; yet he can say "NO!" to its bidding. This refusal to obey sin is what the mortification of sin, or the flesh or body, is all about--to put it to death by not feeding it, by giving it nothing by which to flourish and grow.

To "walk in the Spirit" is also to rely upon Him for the necessary strength to say "NO!" to the temptations of sin, even when one wants to say "Yes." The fact that one wants to give in to the temptation proves indeed that it is a temptation, for if one had no desire to fulfill the requests proposed it would not be a temptation at all. The only thing that makes a thing tempting is one's desire for it. Most children have no desire for liver that would make Mother need to guard it, but she'd better hide the cookies! Liver is no temptation to most children, cookies are. And so comes the difficulty of saying "NO!" to temptation. That is the very thing we desire and would say "Yes" to if we had no desire for God. So one ought not be overly concerned by the fact that he finds temptations desirous; that is their very nature. Therefore one needs to rely upon the Spirit to give him the strength to hate the wrong and to choose the right.

To "walk in the Spirit" is, thirdly, to live in the truth that Christ, by His death and resurrection, defeated sin and the Christian is the recipient of His work. So say the Scriptures, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: knowing this, that our old man (flesh/body) was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. . . . For in that He died, He died unto sin once (for all): but in that he liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:3-6, 10-11). The great death-blow to sin is not something we need to look forward to, but a thing we need to look back upon. It has already happened once for all time. It need never happen again. We need only to live in the victory wrought for us by Christ. And so we do have the means to fulfill the command, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace" (Romans 7:12-14).

What grace are we under? Why, the grace, or ability, of God provided for and to us by the death and resurrection of Christ. By His conquering sin, He made us also conquerors of sin (Romans . We need only live in this fact and apply the means God has provided for us to say "NO!" to sin's temptations. What hope this truth would provide for that downtrodden saint who feels defeated by his enemy, sin. He needs the key of this promise, that he can overcome sin in a real way, and this victory is won by faith (1John5:4). And so ought we all rejoice with Paul in saying, "But thanks be to God, Who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Corinthians 15:57).

To believe God's Word is to live in submission to the Spirit of God and to find the direction and strength whereby we might defeat sin at its worst. This, though by no means an exhaustive treatment of the subject, is what it means to "walk in the Spirit," whereby one can have sure victory over sin, though not total victory. This is the means whereby the defeated saint can rejoice as a victorious conqueror in Christ.

An admission of C. H. Spurgeon, from his sermon, The Remembrance of Christ:
"But alas! we have a worm in the heart, a pest-house, a charnel-house within, lusts, vile imaginations, and strong evil passions, which, like wells of poisonous water, send out continually streams of impurity. I have a heart, which God knoweth, I wish I could wring from my body and hurl to an infinite distance; a soul which is a cage of unclean birds, a den of loathsome creatures, where dragons haunt and owls do congregate, where every evil beast of ill-omen dwells; a heart too vile to have a parallel--'deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.'"

Sunday, June 19, 2011

MR. JOHN BUNYAN'S DYING SAYINGS (Revised and updated)

OF SIN
Sin is the great block and bar to our happiness, the gatherer of all miseries to man, both here and hereafter. Take away sin and nothing can hurt us (Romans 2:7; 6:22, 23; 1Peter 1:3-5), for death, temporal, spiritual, and eternal, is the wages of it (Romans 3:23; James 1:15; Revelation 21:8).

Sin, and man because of his sin, is the object of the wrath of God (Psalm 5:4-6; 7:11-13; Matthew 3:10). How dreadful, therefore, must his case be who continues in sin! For who can stand up against or wrestle with the wrath of God (Psalm 1:4, 5; 2:12; 2Thessalonians 1:8-9; Revelation 14:9-11)?

No sin against God can be little, because it is against the great God of heaven and earth; but if the sinner can find a little God, it may be easy to find little sins (Genesis 39:9; Deuteronomy 32:15; Psalm 51:4) .

Sin makes all of God’s grace worthless (1Corinthians 15:10; 2 Corinthians 6:1). It s the dare of his justice, the rape of his mercy, the mocking of his patience, the disrespect of his power, and the despising of his love.

Take heed of giving yourself liberty of committing one sin, for that will lead you to another, until, by a bad habit, it becomes natural (Romans 6:1, 12-18; 1John 2:1) .

To begin a sin, is to lay a foundation for a continuance; this continuance is the mother of habit, and shamelessness is the final result (Romans 1;18-32).

The death of Christ gives us the best understanding of ourselves, in what condition we were, in that nothing could help us but that (Romans 5:6, 8, 10; Ephesians 4:18; Colossians 1:2); and the most clear understanding of the dreadful nature of our sins. For if sin is so dreadful a thing as to wring the heart of the Son of God, how shall a poor wretched sinner be able to bear it (Matthew 27:46; Isaiah 53:10, 11; Hebrews 12:14)?


OF AFFLICTION
Nothing can make affliction so difficult as the load of sin: would you, therefore, be fitted for afflictions, be sure to get the burden of your sins laid aside, and then whatever afflictions you may meet with will be very easy to you.

If you can hear and bear the rod of affliction which God shall lay upon you, remember this lesson -- you are beaten that you may be better.

The Lord uses his scourge of tribulation to separate the chaff from the wheat.

The school of the cross is the school of light; it discovers the world’s vanity, baseness, and wickedness, and lets us see more of God’s mind. Out of dark affliction comes a spiritual light.

In times of affliction we commonly meet with the sweetest experiences of the love of God.

Were we to heartily renounce the pleasures of this world, we would be very little troubled by our afflictions; that which renders an afflicted state so insupportable to many is that they are too much addicted to the pleasures of this life, and so cannot endure that which makes a separation between them.


OF REPENTANCE AND COMING TO CHRIST
The goal of affliction is the discovery of sin, and of that to bring us to a Savior. Let us, therefore, with the prodigal return to Him and we shall find ease and rest.

A man sorrowfully repenting from his sin, though formerly as bad as the worst of men, may, by grace, become as good as the best.

To be truly sensible of sin is to sorrow for displeasing God, to be sorry that He is displeased by us more than that He is displeased with us.

Your intentions to repent, and the neglect of that soul-saving duty, will raise up in judgment against you.

Repentance carries with it a Divine speech and persuades Christ to forgive multitudes of sins committed against Him.

Say not to yourself, "Tomorrow I will repent," for it is your duty to do it daily.

The gospel of grace and salvation is above all doctrines the most dangerous if it is received in word only by graceless men, if it be not attended with a sensible need of a Savior, and bring them to Him. For such men as have only the notion of it are of all men most miserable, for by reason of their knowing more than heathen, this shall be their final lot--they shall have greater punishment.


OF PRAYER
Before you enter in to prayer ask your soul these questions: "For what purpose, O my soul, are you retired into this place? Have you not come to speak to the Lord in prayer? Is he present, will He hear you? Is your business unimportant, is it not concerning the welfare of your soul? What words will you use to move Him to compassion?"

To make your preparation complete consider that you are but dust and ashes and He the great God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment, that you are a vile sinner, He a holy God, that you are but a poor crawling worm, He the omnipotent Creator.

In all your prayers do not forget to thank the Lord for His mercies.

When you pray let your hearts be without words rather than your words without a heart.

Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.

The spirit of prayer is more precious than treasures of gold and silver.

Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God and a scourge for Satan.


OF THE LORD'S DAY, SERMONS, AND WEEK DAYS
Have a special care to sanctify the Lord's day, for in the same way you keep it it will be with you all the week long.

Make the Lord's day the market for your soul; let the whole day be spent in prayer, repetitions or meditations. Lay aside the affairs of the other part of the week. Let the sermon you have heard be converted into prayer. Shall God allow you six days and will you not afford Him one?

In the church be careful to serve God, for you are in His eyes and not in man's.

You may hear sermons often and do well in practicing what you hear, but you must not expect to be told from a pulpit all that you ought to do, but be studious in searching the Scriptures and reading good books. What you hear may be forgotten, but what you read may be retained better.

Do not forsake the public worship of God lest God forsake you, not only in public but also in private.

In the week days when you rise in the morning, consider: 1. You must die, 2. You may die this minute, 3. What will become of your soul. Pray often. At night consider: 1. What sins you have committed, 2. How often you have prayed, 3. What has your mind been bent upon, 4. What have you done, 5. What conversations have you had, 6. If you call to mind the errors of the day do not sleep without a confession to God and a hope of pardon. In this way make up your accounts with Almighty God every morning and evening and your reckoning will be the less in the end.


OF THE LOVE OF THE WORLD
Nothing more hinders a soul from coming to Christ than a vain love of the world, and until a soul is freed from it it can never have a true love for God.

What are the honors and riches of this world when compared to the glories of a crown of life?

Love not the world, for it [the love of the world] is a moth in a Christian's life.

To despise the world is the way to enjoy heaven, and blessed are they who delight to speak with God in prayer.

What folly can be greater than to labor for the meat that perishes and neglect the food of eternal life?

God or the world must be neglected at parting time, for then is the time of trial.

To seek yourself in this world is to be lost, and to be humble is the be exalted.

The epicure who delights in the dainties of this world seldom thinks that those very creatures will one day witness against him.


OF SUFFERING
It is not every suffering that makes a martyr, but suffering for the Word of God in a right way; that is, not only for righteousness, but for righteousness' sake; not only for truth, but out of love to truth; not only for God's Word, but according to it, that is, in that holy, humble, meek manner as the Word of God requires.

It is a rare thing to suffer rightly and to have my spirit in suffering bent only against God's enemy, sin--sin in doctrine, sin in worship, sin in life, and sin in conversation.

Neither the devil nor men of the world can kill your righteousness or love to it, but by your own hand, or separate you from it but by your own act. Nor will he who does indeed suffer for the sake of righteousness, or out of the love he has for it, be tempted to exchange it for the good will of all the world.

I have often thought that the best of Christians are found in the worst of times. And I have thought again that one reason why we are no better is because God purges us no more. Noah and Lot--who was so holy as they in the time of their afflictions? And yet who so idle as they in the time of their prosperity?


OF DEATH AND JUDGMENT
As the devil labors by all means to keep out other things that are good, so he tries to keep out of the heart, as much as in him lies, the thoughts of passing from this life into another world. For he knows that if he can but keep men from the serious thoughts of death he shall the more easily keep them in their sins.

Nothing will make us more earnest in working out the work of our salvation than a frequent meditation of our mortality. Nothing has greater influence for the taking off our hearts from vanities, and for the begetting in us desires after holiness. [Philippians 2:12]

O sinner, what a condition will you fall into when you depart this world. If you depart unconverted it would have been better if you were smothered the first hour you were born, or if you had been plucked one limb from another, or had been made a dog, a toad, or a serpent than to die unconverted. And you will find this to be true if you will not repent.

A man would be counted a fool to take lightly a judge before whom he is to have a trial of his whole estate. The trial we have before God is of another importance--it concerns our eternal happiness or misery. And yet we dare affront Him?

The only way for us to escape that terrible judgment is to be often passing a sentence of condemnation upon ourselves here. When the sound of the trumpet shall be heard which shall summon the dead to appear before the tribunal of God, the righteous shall hasten out of their graves with joy to meet their Redeemer in the clouds. Others shall call to the hills and mountains to fall upon them, to cover them from the sight of their Judge. Let us therefore in time be questioning ourselves as to which of the two we shall be.


OF THE JOYS OF HEAVEN
There is no good in this life but what is mingled with some bad. Honors perplex, riches disquiet and pleasure ruin health. But in heaven we shall find blessings in their purity, without any ingredient to embitter, but with everything to sweeten them.

O, who is able to conceive the inexpressible, inconceivable joys that are there? None but they who have tasted of them. Lord, help us to put such a value upon them here that in order to prepare ourselves for them we may be willing to forego the loss of all those deluding pleasures here.

How will the heavens echo of joy when the Bride, the Lamb's wife, shall come to dwell with her Husband for ever?

Christ is the desire of nations, the joy of angels, the delight of the Father. What solace then must that soul be filled with that has the possession of Him to all eternity?

O, what acclamations of joy will there be when all the children of God shall meet together without fear of being disturbed by the anti-christian and Cainish brood!

Is there not a time coming when the godly may ask the wicked what profit they have in their pleasures, what comfort in their greatness, and what fruits in all their labor?

If you would be better satisfied as to what the blissful vision means, my advice is that you would live a holy life and go and see.


OF THE TORMENTS OF HELL
Heaven and salvation is not more surely promised to the godly than hell and damnation is threatened to, and shall be executed on, the wicked.

When once a man is damned he may bid goodbye to all pleasures.

Oh, who knows the power of God's wrath? None but damned ones.

Sinners' company are the devil and his angels, tormented in everlasting fire with a curse.

Hell would be a kind of paradise if it were not worse than the worst of this world.

As different as grief is from joy, as torment from rest, as terror from peace, so different is the state of sinners from that of saints in the world to come.