My 6/8/14AM sermon, Freed from Sin out of Romans 6:1-14, is now online. It seems clear to me that grace is on the move in the lives of believers to inform the way they live. And, this passage shows how grace is on the move to change believers so that they are rooted on the proper foundation of union with Christ and called from the sinful allurements of this age to the deeper, full-of-life, eternal reality of holiness before God. This sermon sought to engage this idea and I hope it’s helpful to you.
Often, after we’ve taken some time in Elder’s meetings to pray for the pressing physical and spiritual needs of members, regular attenders and other things affecting the life of the church, we have a part of our meetings that are meant to inspire us spiritually. We find an article or study a Scripture together and find the fellowship this brings deepens us in God and in the lives of one another.
This week, at Elder’s Meeting, we read David Powlison’s introductory essay to the latest Journal of Biblical Counseling entitled, A Moderate Makeover. His point was that we are so driven by some radical, awesome, life-changing, world-altering goal that we often miss the simple work that God is up to accomplishing in our lives. He puts it this way:
Make me childlike toward God, and make what I do and say helpful toward others. A moderate makeover, in other words. Not necessarily dramatic. No adrenaline rush. No scaling the emotional heights. No doing a ﬁre dance on the high wire. No latest, greatest, hottest, bestkept secret. Moderate has this advantage: no odor of hype. No excessive hopes that breed disillusionment. No danger of overpromising but underdelivering. This makeover always delivers more than you think it was promising.
We each found this to be a helpful reminder for pursuing growth in godliness. And, that would be my hope for you: childlike toward God, helpful toward others.
Being devoted to centering my life in the Gospel and seeking to be defined by nothing less has been an amazing journey for me over the past few years. It probably began when I became a Senior Pastor, preaching each week, trying to shepherd a hurting church through some difficult days and I kept coming back to the message of first importance. I attended the first Together For the Gospel in 2006 and something resonated with me. It was at this point I set out to preach through Mark’s Gospel, then Colossians and am currently in Hebrews. Through these expositions, I’ve come to love and appreciate the core truth of my faith, the Gospel, more than ever. Whether it’s the pure words of Jesus explaining who He is and what He came to do or the Apostle Paul demonstrating how Jesus’ supremacy looms large in all of life or the writer of Hebrews showing that in all the Bible there is none quite as majestic as the Divine Son, Jesus has become the point of my preaching and ministry.
In light of this truth, I often press home the fact that God’s not impressed with our religious devotion. It’s not our practice of spiritual disciplines that determines our spiritual status, that is reserved for the Gospel alone. I’ve been really helped in recent days, then, by Tim Brister (there might not be a more Gospel-centered writer on in the internet) and his musings on Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation.
Here’s the graphic he’s posted to whet your appetite:
Having talked TGINL, and seen the Gospel enemies of self-righteousness, persistent guilt and self-reliance, I thought I’d wrap up this short series with a call to fight with the Gospel. Again, I’m leaning on Jerry Bridges. After urging us to begin our day by preaching the Gospel to ourselves, he urges us to add a Daily Declaration of Dependence:
- I recognize my absolute lack of power and ability.
- I redirect my dependence to the supremely reliable power of the Holy Spirit.
- I reject my tendency to self-reliance: “You are God, and I am not.”
And Bridges continues:
With our dependence on the righteousness of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit renewed we proclaim to God, “We are your servants.” We work hard in the strength He provides, not to earn merit but to glorify and enjoy Him.
That really is what life is all about. Today, will you declare your dependence on God through His Gospel and in so doing set your feet on a path to glorify and enjoy Him, forever?
In Colossians 3 Paul tells those believers who are united to Christ to seek the things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. In Colossians 3:5-6, consistent with this seeking is a call to put to death, among others things “covetousness, which is idolatry.” You might not think that idolatry is something that believers struggle with, but even John, when writing 1 John to give assurance to believers, closes with an appeal “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
Related to this was a post on the DG Blog, 13 Questions to Diagnose Your Idolatries. Here’s the questions they give:
1. What do you most highly value?
2. What do you think about by default?
3. What is your highest goal?
4. To what or whom are you most committed?
5. Who or what do you love the most?
6. Who or what do you trust or depend upon the most?
7. Who or what do you fear the most?
8. Who or what do you hope in and hope for most?
9. Who or what do you desire the most? Or, what desire makes you most angry or makes you despair when it is not satisfied?
10. Who or what do you most delight in or hold as your greatest joy and treasure?
11. Who or what captures your greatest zeal?
12. To whom or for what are you most thankful?
13. For whom or what great purpose do you work?
Use these to evaluate your heart and flee idolatry.
from Kevin DeYoung. This post is really compelling because it shows a struggle many of us in church circles have about how we could do more for Christ. I encourage you to read it and be encouraged by it.
It seems we are growing increasingly shallow in our relationships with others. Thinking about this last night in my orientation for small groups, I was thinking how easy it is to get together and discuss weather, sports, politics or whatever, but when someone brings up a sin with which they’re struggling, we suddenly don’t have much to talk about. May God help us walk in obedience to Him and embrace His design for the church.
Matt Chandler, in a sermon on 1/4/09 (2009, Part 2) at the 44:00 mark:
Your relationship with Christ, your spirituality, although immensely personal, was not designed to be private. The more you make your struggles and your victories privatized, you turn sanctification into a crawl. It was not designed to be that way.
Chandler admits he’s banging the drum of Biblical community.
So, how are you in opening up your life to others? Or are you actively pursuing pride?