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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Joy And Grace: The Adorning Of Holiness

PERFECTING HOLINESS IN THE FEAR OF GOD

2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-7:1


JOY AND GRACE: THE ADORNING OF HOLINESS

1 THESSALONIANS 5:14-23


Unfortunately the way some people wear their piety that which should be beautiful becomes ugly and condescending. The charge of legalism is leveled often times not because one has embraced the theology of a legalist but the spirit of a legalist. We must maintain awareness that we are not the standard but the Bible is! Even when we are honestly and thoroughly convinced that we have properly understood and are living the standard of the Bible that does not make us the standard. For if it does then our weakness and failures are legitimized at least in our own eyes. When we make the Bible the standard our own faults will be much more glaring than the faults of others. Or to put it another way, when the faults of others become more glaring than our own we have a fairly good indication that we have made ourselves the standard instead of the Word of God.

To the law and to the testimony. This is the admonition of the Old Testament prophet. Yet, even then we must realize that people will go to the same bible and come away with different conclusions. That does not mean that both conclusions are right for surely they cannot be. Both conclusions could be wrong, they cannot both be right. It is important that we allow people in their personal lives to be personally responsible before God for the conclusions to which they come.

Consequently we will not necessarily agree on every jot and tittle. And people will generally tend to congregate with people to whom they bear the greatest likeness. We have to be careful about becoming self-righteous and bitter because of the people who do not see it our way. For, we must remember we do not see it their way either. We must learn to be happy with what the Lord has revealed to us and not be overly distraught because of others to whom it has not been revealed, or even those who are living disobediently.

The issue of personal separation is a matter of importance and one which the Bible addresses often. It is not an issue that can legitimately be set aside. And, while we should be ready to defend our positions on the issues we should not walk around with the proverbial "chip" on our shoulder just daring someone to knock it off. We should be content with our own convictions and thankful for any opportunity we might have to influence others in the direction of perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

The worst possible advertisement for the doctrine of personal separation is a mean, condescending, self-righteous bitter believer.

Our text provides some sound counsel for those who want their holiness to be adorned with joy and grace.

Our attitude toward others:

Warn the unruly

Comfort the feebleminded

Support the weak

Be patient toward all men

Do not render evil for evil

Follow that which is good among yourselves and to all men.


Our attitude toward life

Rejoice ever more

Pray without ceasing

In everything give thanks


Our attitude toward spiritual disciplines

Quench not the Spirit

Despise not prophesying

Prove all things


If our attitude toward others, life, and spiritual disciplines is what it ought to be I am convinced that our holiness will be adorned with joy and grace.

Now let us address forthrightly some important principles to this end.


  • AN HONEST VIEW OF SELF

    • I am a sinner saved by grace

      • 1 Cor. 15:10 – By the grace of God I am what I am
      • 1 Cor. 4:7 – What hast thou that thou didst not receive.
      • 1 Tim. 1:15 – To save sinners of whom I am chief.

        • Ephesians 3:8 - Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
        • 1 Corinthians 15:9 - For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
        • The longer Paul was saved the more his view of self was transformed from "least of the apostles" to "least of all saints" to chiefest of sinners.


    • I am battling the flesh.

      • Matthew 26:41 - Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

        • The flesh is weak!
      • Galatians 5:17 - 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.

        • The flesh is strong?

          • Which is it is the flesh weak or strong? It depends! It depends on whether you are doing bad or good.
          • The flesh is strong to do bad!
          • The flesh is weak to do good!
      • Romans 7:19-21 – When I would do good evil is present with me


    • I have farther to go than I have come.

      • Philippians 3:14 - I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

        • Practically speaking I am still more sinner than I am saint.
        • I still have a great deal of work to do.
      • Philippians 1:6 - Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

        • The work is ongoing.
        • I am not what I should be or could be.

.


  • A CHARITABLE VIEW OF OTHERS

    • Patience with the learning.

      • 2 Timothy 2:24 - And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, . . . .
      • 1 Thess. 2:7-12 – Gentle among you.


    • Compassion with the struggling.

      • 1Peter 3:8 – Having compassion.

        • Compassion - Having a fellow-feeling; sympathetic.
        • Love as brethren - Fond of brethren, i.e. fraternal.
        • Pitiful - Well compassioned, i.e. sympathetic: tender-hearted.
        • Courteous - Friendly of mind, i.e. kind.
      • Romans 12:16 – Condescend to men of low estate.

        • Condescend - To take off together, i.e. transport with.
        • Men of low estate - Depressed, i.e. (figuratively) humiliated (in circumstances or disposition).
      • Romans 15:5 – Patience and consolation.

        • Patience - Cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: enduring.
        • Consolation – Solace and comfort.


    • Prayerful for the disobedient.

      • Col. 1:9 – Pray that they would be filled with the knowledge of his will.
      • 1 Thess. 5:23 – Pray for a complete sanctification of body soul and spirit.
      • Eph. 1:16-20 – Pray for an enlightened understanding.



  • THE CULTIVATION OF HUMILITY

    • Humility.

      • Humility is not achieved by pursuit.
      • Humility is determined by what we are preoccupied with.
      • Pride is the result of a preoccupation with self.
      • Humility is the result of a preoccupation with:

        • The glory of God.
        • The needs of others.


    • Humility toward God.

      • Matt. 6:33 – But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
      • Psalms 27:8 - When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

        • John 4:34 - Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
        • John 6:38 - For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
      • Psalms 40:8 - I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.


    • Humility toward others.

      • Philippians 2:3-8 - Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
      • Romans 12:10 - Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
      • 1 Peter 5:5 - Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
      • Romans 15:1 - We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
      • 1 Corinthians 10:24 - Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.


Let us strive to ensure that our pursuit of holiness in the fear of God is adorned with joy and grace by cultivating humility, having a charitable view of others, and taking an honest view of our selves.

Dear Wife, Farewell!

(An excerpt from a letter by Christopher Love, to his wife, on the morning of his execution)

My most gracious beloved, I am now going from a prison to a palace! I have finished my work. I am now to receive my wages. I am going to heaven! Rejoice in my joy. The joy of the Lord is my strength. O, let it be yours also! Dear wife, farewell! I will call you wife no more! I shall see your face no more! Yet I am not much troubled; for now I am going to meet the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom I shall be eternally married!

Your dying, yet most affectionate friend until death,
Christopher Love,
August 22, 1651,
the day of my glorification!

Every Sorrow Has A Mission

The following is from J. R. Miller and a message entitled Making The Most Of Life in 1891.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. - John 15:2

Every sorrow has a mission. It comes to us, as God's messenger--with a message! Of lessons to be learned in sorrow, the first always is submission. A strong, abiding confidence that all the trials, sorrows, and losses of our lives are parts of our Father's husbandry--ought to silence every question, quiet every fear, and give peace and restful assurance to our hearts in all their pain. We cannot know the reason for the painful strokes—but we know that He who holds the pruning-knife is our Father! That ought always to be enough for us to know.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. - John 15:2

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Law To The Proud; Grace To The Humble

The following is from a message by Matthew Mead, entitled The Almost Christian preached in 1661.

"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. - Luke 5:32

That is—such as see themselves as sinners, and thereby in a lost condition.

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. - Luke 19:10

God will have the soul truly sensible of the bitternessof sin—before it shall taste the sweetness of mercy. The plough of conviction must go deep, and make deep furrows in the heart, before God will sow theprecious seed of grace there—so that it may have depth of earth to grow in.

This is the unchangeable method of God in bestowing grace—to begin with conviction of sin.

First to show man his sin—then his Savior;
first his danger—then his Redeemer;
first his wound—then his cure;
first his own vileness—then Christ's righteousness.

The sinner must see the worthlessness and vilenessof his own righteousness—before he can be saved by Christ's righteousness. The Israelites are first stung with the fiery serpents—and then the brazen serpent is set up to heal them.

We must see the leprosy of our righteousness, and be brought to cry out, "Unclean, unclean!" We must mourn for Him whom we have pierced—and then He sets open for us a fountain to cleanse us from all sin and impurity. Zechariah 12:10, 13:1.

Be convinced of the evil of sin—the filthy and heinous nature of it. Sin is the greatest evil in the world—

it wrongs God;
it wounds Christ;
it grieves the Holy Spirit;
it damns a precious soul.

All other evils cannot be compared with this. Though to DO sin is the worst work—yet to SEE sin is the best sight! Sin discovered in its vileness—makes Christ to be desired in His fullness!

Alas! it is Christ's infinite righteousness which must atone for our sins—for it is an infinite God whom we have sinned against!

If ever your sin is pardoned—it is Christ's infinite mercy which must pardon it!

If ever you are reconciled to God—it is Christ's infinite merit which must do it!

If ever your heart is changed—it is Christ's infinite power which must effect it!

If ever your soul escapes hell, and is saved at last—it is Christ's infinite grace which must save it!"

Friday, April 25, 2008

Daniel's Graduation Trip

Our fourth child and second and youngest son graduated from the McEntire Institute Of Higher Learning a couple of weeks ago. Way back when we committed to taking the graduates on a two day trip the week after the ceremony.

Sara went to San Antonio and Fredericksburg
Caleb went to Austin
Olivia went to Galveston
Daniel also went to Galveston

They had the Titanic artifact exhibit at Moody Gardens. They have a flight museum with lots of old planes, especially war planes. All of them in working condition. A museum of the tallest sailing ship in Texas. The ship is meticulously maintained and is sea worthy. They have an offshore drilling museum. We rode the ferry. Played putt-putt golf. Ate at the Rainforest Cafe. We came home.

You can see pictures here!

Our Confidence: Answering The Assault Against Holiness

With this new post in my series Perfecting Holiness In The Fear Of God I am trying out Word2007 for posting to blogger. I noticed that it transferred most of the format from my outline and consequently I have left it mostly unchanged. Thus, there is a little less commentary and more outline. Dare I ask what you think? Some will probably like it and some probably will not. So feel free to share your thoughts on the format and as always on the content. In the end I will probably decide based upon what I like, taking numerous issues into account. ;-)

PERFECTING HOLINESS IN THE FEAR OF GOD

2 CORINTHIANS 6:14-7:1

OUR CONFIDENCE: ANSWERING THE ASSAULT AGAINST HOLINESS

ROMANS 3:31

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

In this post I want to address an issue head-on that I have touched on several times over the course of this series. It is the use of the terms such as legalism and legalist. I have come to believe that this is the spiritual equivalent to "tolerance" in the socio/political sphere. We now live in a day that to raise a cry against worldliness and a lack of separation in dress, language, and entertainment, etc. it to be labeled a legalist.


There are a couple of interesting points to be made about this phenomenon:

The very people who use the term legalist/legalism would often decry the use of the term "toleration" in the socio/political realm.

According to their definition of legalism just a few decades ago most, if not all Baptist pulpits were filled with legalist. The idea that Christians are to be different in their dress, language, and entertainment choices is no novel invention. It was not that long ago that most Baptists were known for opposing dancing, drinking, smoking and going to the movies! It was not that long ago that most Baptist were known for believing a woman should dress and look like a woman and a man should dress and look like a man. Now to embrace these views is to be a legalist. Consequently we are left with concluding that the great preachers and churches of a previous generation were unenlightened.

What is a legalist? Let us consider the definition provided by Webster. 1. One who desires a strict adherence to the law. 2. (Theol.) One who regards conformity to the law as a ground for salvation.

Legalism – Strictness in adhering to law, or trusting to conformity to law; as, the spirit of legalism.

These definitions are important to consider. In a general context a legalist is one who desires a strict adherence to law. Most people are probably legalist in the application of justice in the criminal justice system. Most Christians are probably legalist in that they desire strict adherence to law, even if it is the law of not being a legalist! Now there is a novel application, being legalistically opposed to legalism. The point is we are all legalist the only question is the standard we embrace. In this sense it is not a negative thing.

The word legalist does have a theological use. And as Mr. Webster rightly expresses it theologically a legalist is one who regards conformity to the law as a ground for salvation. That is a legalist is one who believes that human effort or behaviour contributes to or produces salvation.

Legalism as defined by Mr. Webster in the first case is probably something that everyone practices in relation to some standard. Again the issue is not whether we embrace legalism but what standard we embrace, to what law do we conform.

Having considered the definition of these terms it seems to use them in the context of a discussion concerning separation is not helpful. The use of the terms fails to bring clarity and it seems often times it is simply an attempt to silence the person who draws the lines more conservatively. Again, the word is used in the same manner that the word toleration/tolerant is used in the cultural arena.

Do you believe it is wrong to steal, lie, murder, commit adultery, etc.? Is that not legalistic?

But it is wrong to believe it is wrong for a woman to dress like a man or wear her hair like a man, it is wrong for a man to dress like a woman or wear his hair like a woman, it is wrong to say that certain choices for entertainment are unacceptable for the Christian, it is wrong to wear bathing suits, etc. . .

They say it is not wrong to think those things are wrong but it is wrong to expect other people to live by those standards. Is it wrong to expect other people to live by the standard of not stealing, lying, murdering, or committing adultery?

You say well those things are clear in the Bible. They are clear to you!

There is nothing so clear in the Bible that no one will take exception to it!

It is my desire to make a feeble attempt at laying bare the misuse of the term legalist/legalism.

LOATHING THE LAW

The law is not the problem

Romans 7:12,14 - Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

The law is holy.

The law is just.

The law is good.

The law is spiritual.

I am carnal.

I am sold under sin.

Psalms 19:7-11 - The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes 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, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

The law of the Lord is perfect.

The testimony of the Lord is sure.

The statutes of the Lord are right.

The commandment of the Lord is pure.

My soul needs converting.

I need to be made wise.

I need to rejoice in right.

I need to have my eyes enlightened.

The law warns.

Keeping the law brings great reward.

Romans 7:7 – What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid.



The law does not cease to be relevant once we are saved

Romans 3:31 - Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Make void – To be (render) entirely idle (useless), abolish, destroy, put away.

Establish – Stand, appoint, continue, establish.

Because the law does not justify us but by faith we are justified the argument does not follow the law ceases to have any relevance in our lives.

It continues to bear testimony to God's standard of righteousness and what pleases and displeases him!

Romans 6:14,15 - For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

Sin shall not have dominion over you.

What is sin? Sin is the transgression of the law.

The transgression of the law shall not have dominion over you.

For ye are not under the law but under grace.

This is the reason that transgressions of the law shall not have dominion over us.

Law is not motivating us, grace is.

What then?

Anticipating the question.

Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?

Shall we transgress the law because we are not under the law, but under grace?

This question strikes at the heart of the matter for the Christian.

Does grace allow for the transgression of the law?

God forbid.

Absolutely not!

Romans 7:6 - But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

But now we are delivered from the law.

Some take that to mean we are no longer have an obligation to obey the law.

Are we delivered from the practice of its precepts or from its condemnation? Are we no longer morally obligated to obey God or have we been delivered from the law of sin and death?

That being dead wherein we were held.

That is the law having dominion over us as the woman is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth. (vs. 1)

Vs: 4 – We are dead to the law. The law no longer has dominion over us.

There is no condemnation.

That we should serve.

Serve – Be a slave to, be in bondage.

Serve what? The law?

In newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

The legalism crowd jumps on this and implies from this statement we have no obligation to the letter of the law.

Even though it clearly says "serve".

Then it describes how we are to serve, in newness of spirit.

We are to serve not the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law.

This is the crux of the matter.

We have a New Testament illustration of what this means and what it looks like in life.

Matthew 5

21,22 – Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire..

Vs. 21 – The letter

Vs. 22 – The spirit

27,28 – Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

Vs. 27 – The letter

Vs. 28 – The spirit

33-35 – Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

Vs. 33 – The letter

Vs. 34,35 – The spirit.

Romans 8:1-4 - There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Vs: 1 – No condemnation.

Christ frees us from the condemnation of the law.

Not walking after the flesh but the Spirit is evidence of a changed heart.

Vs: 2 – Competing laws.

The word law here is being used in the same way we would say the "law" of gravity.

It is used this way in 7:21 – I find then a law.

The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

It is a law of life.

Hath made me free.

It is a superior law.

From the law of sin and death.

You sin, you die.

The wages of sin is death.

Vs: 3 – The inability of the law.

Vs: 4 – The fulfillment of the law.

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us.

That is the spirit of the law.

That which goes beyond the letter of the law.

Who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

This is not speaking of our position in Christ but our walk.

The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in our walk.

Because it is not after the flesh but the Spirit.

HIDING BEHIND THE HEART

God looks on the heart

This is spoken as though this is all that matters.

It is as though some are saying my heart is spiritual no matter how worldly my behaviour.

So where it really counts I am what I am supposed to be.

As long as my heart is right then my behaviour is only secondary.

Yet, few would accept this premise if a fornicator was using this argument.

Most would look at his behaviour and say his heart was amiss.

Does God look on the heart and does that matter? Of course.

1Sa 16:7 - But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

Man sees the fruit.

God sees the root.

Man is not infallible in his judgments, God is!

Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

We are apt to misjudge our own hearts.

Ps 139:23,24 - Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.


The heart is the root of behaviour

Pr 4:23 - Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Mt 12:35 - A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

Mt 15:19 - For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

Mr 7:21-23 - For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Jas 1:14.15 - But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.


Judging

Matt. 7:1-5 - Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

Vs: 1 – A simple premise.

Vs: 2 – A restraint on our spirit of condemnation

Vs: 3 – The problem of improper focus.

Vs: 4 – An ineffective ministry.

Vs: 5 – An effective ministry.

1 Cor. 13:5,6 – Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Thinketh no evil

Rejoiceth not in evil.

2 Cor. 10:12 - For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

Others should not be the standard by which we judge ourselves.

We should not be the standard by which we judge others.

To do either is not wise.


Our behaviour matters to God

Jer. 17:9,10 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

The heart is desperately wicked.

The Lord searches the heart.

The Lord gives to every man.

According to his ways.

According to the fruit of his doings.

Why? Because his heart is revealed in his doings.

2 Cor. 5:10 - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Receive the things done in his body.

According to that he hath done.

Whether it be good or bad.

Every thing we do will be judged as either good or bad. Where is the gray?

It is inconceivable that at the judgment seat of Christ there will be a large category of behaviour that was neither good nor bad.

Eph 6:8 - Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Col 3:25 - But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

Re 22:12 - And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

1Co 6:19,20 - What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

2 Corinthians 7:1 – Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

LOVING LEGALISM

Provides a natural defense against public preaching

Isa 58:1 - Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.

We live in a day when few people want to hear the voice of a prophet but rather the platitudes of a teacher.

2 Timothy 4:1-4 – I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

The reproof of carnality is dismissed as legalism.

The messenger of rebuke is discounted as a legalist.

The exhortation to holy living is distorted as legalism delivered by a legalist.


Provides opportunity to sidestep any position that is more conservative

Legalism is often the home of shallow thinkers.

It delivers them from the hard work of actually working through an issue.

It delivers them from the difficult task of searching the Scripture for wisdom and insight concerning an issue.

To label another's genuine conviction as legalism or the messenger as a legalist is the same as the liberal politician labeling the opposing view on gay marriage as intolerant.

Hebrews 10:23-29 - Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Vs: 23 – Holding fast is a virtue.

Vs: 24 – We are to be provoking unto good works.

Vs: 25 – We are to be exhorting one another.

Vs: 26,27 – Willful sin invites chastisement.

It is not good enough to just say, "that's not the way I see it."

Vs: 28,29 – Encouraging others to now show despite unto the Spirit of grace.

Despite – To insult.

What greater insult than to plead grace in order to sin (transgress the law)?

What insult to the Spirit of grace to label someone who is seeking to provoke unto good works a legalist.

Romans 3:31 - Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Self-image Vs. Christ’s Image

Romans 8:29 - For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Let me get to the point!

As God's people we should be less concerned about self-image and more concerned about being conformed into His image. God's purpose for us is not to have a positive self image or to overcome a negative self image but His purpose for us is to be conformed into the image of his Son. The preoccupation with self image in our culture is a subtle manifestation of pride. It is not that we do not all possess an image of ourselves. The problem is that it is usually too rosy of an image and does not properly reflect our true condition. I find it amazing that Christian people have bought into this concept that one of our main problems is a low view of self. This is simply not compatible with the Scripture.


If we see ourselves accurately we will readily admit with the Apostle Paul that in our flesh dwelleth no good thing. We will exclaim with him, "O wretched man that I am". I will argue with him that it is I who is the chief of sinners. Over and over again the Bible warns us of the tendency to entertain too high opinion of ourselves.


Notice Job's assessment of himself after God told him to gird up himself like a man for he would demand of him an answer!

Job 40:3,4 - Then Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.

Job 42:1,5,6 - Then Job answered the LORD, and said, . . . I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

God lets Job's personal assessment of self stand. He does not instruct Job to quit having such a low opinion of himself.


When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up he exclaimed, "Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, . . . .

God does not say, "Now Isaiah it is not emotionally healthy to have such a low opinion of yourself." We need to quit worrying so much about emotional health and start giving more attention to spiritual health. If we are spiritually healthy the emotions will take care of themselves. I digress…..


Let us all acknowledge we have been predestined, not to have a positive self image but rather we have been predestined to be conformed into the image of his Son. It is a conformed image we are to desire not a positive self image. How can we possibly sustain a positive self image?


We are dirt.

We are depraved dirt.

We are returning to dirt.

We are only rendered glorious by the image of Christ being stamped upon our lives. This never results in a high opinion of our self but rather a high opinion of our Saviour!


1 Corinthians 15:49 - And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

The first is not a good thing, the last is. How can we be positive about bearing the image of the earthy?


Galatians 4:19 - My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, . . . .

It is not the formation of a positive self-image but the process of Christ being formed in us that should occupy our attention.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Aaron Held His Peace

The following is from a message by J. R. Miller entitled Home Beautiful, preached in 1912.

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him - Psalm 37:7

We are not to speak back to God, when He speaks to
us. We are not to reason with Him or dispute with Him;
but are to bow in silent and loving acquiescence before
Him. "Be still, and know that I am God." It is in those
providences which cut sorely into our lives, and require
sacrifice and loss on our part—that we are especially
called to this duty.

There is a moving illustration of silence to God, in the
case of Aaron when his sons had offered strange fire,
and had died for their disobedience and sacrilege. The
record says, "And Aaron held his peace." He made no
natural human outcry of grief. He accepted the terrible
penalty as unquestionably just—and bowed in the
acquiescence of faith.

This silence to God, should be our attitude in all times
of trial, when God's ways with us are bitter and painful.
Why should we complain at anything that our Father
may do? We have no right to utter a word of murmuring,
for He is our sovereign Lord; and our simple duty is instant,
unquestioning submission. We have no reason to complain
—for we know that all God's dealings with us are in
loving wisdom. His will is always best for us—whatever
sacrifice or suffering it may cost.

I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it – Psalms 39:9

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Life Is Being Lived

I have lots I want to write about but have been occupied with ministry and family concerns. Life is full, challenging, and interesting, and I am having fun living it, every day of it. I wouldn't want a life that was empty. The challenges are, well challenges, and I am always up to a good challenge. It is the interesting part that keeps me engaged. Rarely a dull moment.

I want to post some thoughts on self-image.
I want to post my message on the defense of holiness.
I want to post my message on the adorning of holiness.
I am thinking about the issue of offence. Which I have done often for several reasons (one of which is I am rarely satisfied with what I preach and teach on the subject and I have never been fully satisfied with what I have heard others preach and teach (write) on the subject) and the issue was rekindled by a couple of messages two of our men preached this past Sunday. They were thought provoking and have caused me to search the Scriptures which is a good thing.
I have read some things I want to post.

My oldest daughter had a baby a little over a month ago.
My youngest son graduated a couple of weeks ago.
I am still trying to adjust to a new bus route I was awarded a couple of months ago. I'm not sure awarded is the right word for it. The word challenge comes to mind on this front.

Just thought I would stop by before I became an utter stranger. Write at ya later ;-)