For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9
Sin is an ugly thing… There are no doubts we can see the ugliness of sin in the lives that have been ravaged by its illusion. The examples abound don’t they; aren’t they everywhere you look?
If you could see the outcome would you make the same decision?
What is sin? Hamartia (ham-ar-tee’-ah): to miss the mark; to miss or wander from the path of uprightness.
Sin is deceitful and we can quite easily convince ourselves of our own goodness. It’s easy for me to see how well I’m doing, how “holy” I’m becoming… Pride goes before destruction… (Proverbs 16:18)
God has provided a way out of sin for His people and we need only embrace them, but there must be effort, there must be a war waged against sin. The adversary will not give up easily. Below I’ve highlighted six essentials that are God given defenses in the battle against sin.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that they man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
God’s Word is absolutely essential for knowing and understanding God, and what He says about dealing with sin and all things concerning life. To neglect God’s Word means you will easily succumb to sin. The Sword is meant to fight off the attacks of the enemy and give us a victory over sin.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as we see the day approaching.
The preaching and teaching of God’s Word as we assemble with other Believers is one of the most important avenues to holiness. Anybody left isolated is easily subject to sin. Preaching should consistently bring conviction leading to life change. Do you walk out of your church feeling good about yourself more often than you feel the weight of your sin? There should be a heavy dose of life saving medicine delivered from the pulpit in a healthy church.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
All Believers are called to be concerned about brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to have influence and impact in the lives of those near us. Husband and wives, parents and children, those that we are close to and know their lives. This is not always popular so the Apostle Paul calls us to do it in gentleness; lest we also be tempted, but yet we are to do it. Do not neglect this if you truly love them.
Those in Spiritual authority
Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
This is very challenging for most that profess Christianity. We naturally rebel against authority and there are so few churches that practice this well. However, it doesn’t release you from this command. Did you notice it was a command and not a suggestion? If the leaders of your church live this out you can be grateful for God’s grace.
The Spirit of God
John 14:15-17 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
The Holy Spirit is consistent in the lives of Believers and will convict of our sins. The biggest question today is will and do you receive Him when He shows you your sin? Believers are responsible for sin and God hates sin, so there must be accountability.
Romans 12:12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer,
Prayer is our conduit to God. Without a consistent and willful prayer life we will flounder in this ongoing battle. Have you ever stopped communicating with your wife? How does that go for you? When Jen and I are not communicating I’m proactively creating distance between us. I may not always do this intentionally but it happens none the less. It’s unhealthy for our marriage. Why would we think this is any different with God? When I’m most vulnerable is when I’m on my knees the least.
I’ve read that the great evangelist Leonard Ravenhill spent hours and hours praying each day. He spent more time in prayer than he spent preparing for his sermons, and the result of this was an effective ministry for Christ.
“Oh Lord may we be a people broken in our sinfulness and a people that seek You diligently.”
6 thoughts on “Our sinful self…”
Amen, I pray I might be a doer of these words and not a hearer only. That each one of us may receive the implanted word with humility as we consider the weakness of our flesh and the temptation that surrounds us. James 1:21-22
I thank God through Jesus Christ that we have been given His power and grace to put off our old desires and to put on Christ and His righteousness.
You hit the mark! A great reminder said in words we need to hear. Thank you form the heart, Vickie
Hi Vickie, it’s great to hear from you.
Praise God, I’m thankful you enjoyed it.
Good encouragements, thank you. Historically, the reformed tradition has emphasized the normal means of grace in this area, most of which you hit on. They are: Bible intake (Scripture reading, sermons, devotions, etc.), Prayer, Corporate worship, and the ordinances of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. The church has understood these to be the means (or conduits, as you said of prayer) by which God gives continued grace to His people to persevere in the Christian life. Without these means, we will not be sanctified. Most reformed/confessional Christians understand there to be a true spiritual reality in each of these means. In other words, the Lord’s Supper isn’t simply a memorial (a like Ulrich Zwingli), but is received with the spiritual presence of Christ when properly administered in communion with the saints of a local congregation (a la John Calvin). Likewise, the Word does not work apart from the Spirit of God, etc., etc.
If you don’t mind, I’d also include 1 addition to your paragraph on “The Church” and challenge you to consider 1 translation issue regarding your paragraph on “Those in spiritual authority.”
1. You wrote, “Preaching should consistently bring conviction leading to life change. Do you walk out of your church feeling good about yourself more often than you feel the weight of your sin? There should be a heavy dose of life saving medicine delivered from the pulpit in a healthy church.” My addition to this would be that while we certainly want to be convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit (because we recognize God’s standard, not because we’ve been battered by moralistic or legalistic preaching), but we also want to walk away with the reminder that we are loved by God, and forgiven through Christ who is our righteousness, therefore we are free to walk in obedience to His Word because He has made us able and willing. It is because of this aspect of preaching that the people around Paul were presumably saying, “Well then we should sin all the more that grace may abound!” To which he responded, “By no means!”
Good examples of this are found in the preaching of the puritans – being plowed under and brought to the end of ourselves by the law of God, but strengthened and encouraged and set to live upon God by the gospel of Christ. Otherwise we are left to self-righteousness (law-only preaching) or licentiousness (gospel-only preaching). We need both if we are to rightly and truly live upon God.
2. I’d encourage you to do some Greek study on Hebrews 13:17. Unfortunately, I think the vast majority of English translations have gotten it wrong. This is generally not the case with 98% of the English Bible, but I think this is an area that most scholars would agree gets butchered.
The NIV gets it completely wrong by adding the word “Authority” which doesn’t actually exist in the Greek (exousia). This is why most other translations don’t include “authority.”
The word “obey” (peitho) is most often translated “to persuade,” although obey is acceptable. However, the proper sense of it then is not obey in the way we understand it in English, but rather, to obey the Word of God through persuasion. I’m not sure if you’re a Greek guy, so I apologize if this doesn’t make sense – the word peitho is in the present imperative middle form, so the sense of it is to “permit oneself to be persuaded.” In other words, it’s not a call for us to follow leaders, but to be persuaded by the Word of God that is being preached by the elders (leaders). Furthermore, “those who rule over you” should simply be, “Your leaders in the Lord.” In other words, a man does not assume some level of authority that others must submit themselves to because of his office in the local church, but rather he assumes the role of a servant leader in which he persuades others by the Word of God to follow his lead by inciting a loving and thankful desire to submit to the teaching of God in the Scriptures. This is why a man who preaches must be “apt to teach” because he has the role of persuading others to understand and submit to the Word of God. So, the true sense of the passage is, “Believing, trusting, obeying and accepting God’s Word as accurately or faithfully presented by true elders.” The implication, of course, is that these are true elders we are speaking of.
And I’m convinced that the rest of the passage really strengthens this understanding of the passage – We are called to peitho because we have leaders who: 1. Keep watch over you; 2. Must give an account; 3. Are more able to fulfill their calling when able to do it with joy; 4. Are only an advantage to you when you are allowing yourself to be persuaded by their biblical instruction/teaching (so long as it’s biblical!). So the instruction to “obey” is that which stems from being persuaded by the Word of God, thus obligating us to discernment and study of the Word of God, as opposed to submitting to an individual or group of elders because of their position within a hierarchy. I’d encourage you to do a study of “obey”, “rule”, “submit” and “authority” in the context of Hebrews 13:17.
Ok, sorry – that’s enough! I didn’t mean to hijack your comment section and leave such a lengthy reply. I hope it’s good food for thought and helpful.
Blessings to you, brother.
I’m so thankful you commented.
It is my desire to explore this more deeply, I praise God for your discernment and wisdom.
Please feel free to hijack away if you think it’s necessary.