RSS

Tag Archives: sanctification

DON’T TELL ME HOW TO LIVE! (A Study of 2 Peter 3)

We might use less confrontive words, but all of us need to be TOLD how to live, right? By nature we run away from the Lord, make our own choices, allow less-than-biblical priorities to govern our daily lives. As Frank and I are finishing up our reading of 2 Peter, I was impressed with the commands in this chapter about how to live one’s life. Here’s the chapter, followed by the list of commands telling us how to live.

That’s a lot to work on, don’t you think? You might consider taking one of these commands and fleshing it out, figuratively and literally! Have a great day.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 29, 2020 in 2 Peter 3

 

Tags: , ,

The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Change)

“This is the way God made me,” I once heard a relative say. Do people change? We certainly can choose not to change. But for the believer in Jesus, there is the process of sanctification in which God changes us to become more like Christ! Are you and I co-operating with God the Holy Spirit in that process?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 26, 2020 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

Tags: , ,

CLEAR COMMANDS FOR THE BELIEVER (I PE. 1: 13-25)

As my friend Frank and I are working our way through I Peter, I couldn’t help but notice the very practical instructions that Peter gives in this first chapter. Here is the text —

Have you found that sometimes we just simply need to obey some commands? Our culture seems to demand explanations for everything. But the believer in Jesus learns — maybe very slowly — that our God doesn’t always explain the WHYS to His children.

In chapter 8 of The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has Screwtape give the following advice to Wormwood, his understudy demon: “Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger, than when a human, no longer desiring, but intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Here are five very clear commands which are for all believers at all times in all cultures facing any circumstances in life:

1. Set Your Hope on What’s Most Important! (v. 13)

2. Don’t Give in to Your Pagan Desires! (v. 14)

3. Be Holy in All You Do! (vv. 15-16)

4. Live Out Your Life as Godly Foreigners Here (vv. 17-21)

5. Love One Another Deeply! (vv. 22-25)

 
3 Comments

Posted by on September 7, 2020 in I Peter 1

 

Tags: , , , ,

Self-Purification (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

Let us continue our study of several verses in chapter seven:

Self-Purification (2 Corinthians 7:1)

I. The Motivation for Self-Purification

“since we have these promises . . .” — What promises? Logically, the promises of the presence of God from the previous chapter: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people” (6:16). Note also 6:18- “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

II. The Invitation for Self-Purification

“let us purify ourselves, dear friends”

III. The Explanation of Self-Purification

A. Negatively: “from everything that contaminates body and spirit”

B. Positively: “perfecting holiness out of reverence for God”

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 23, 2020 in 2 Corinthians 7

 

Tags: , , ,

FOCUS! Keeping Our Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted World (Part 6)

THREE DISTRACTIONS: As we saw in our last post on FOCUS, there are distractions that get our eyes off Jesus. One distraction of THE WORLD is entertainment.

Let’s think about the second of three distractions this morning. We know from Scripture that our three enemies are the world, the flesh, and the devil. How does our flesh distract us from focusing on the Lord Jesus?

The second distraction is . . . ourselves! Sometimes the expression “the flesh” refers to our physical bodies. But often Scripture uses that expression to refer to our sinful nature, our desires that run counter to the Word of God.

After conversion, we learn that our own internal desires often distract us from focusing on the Lord Jesus. So, are we to become passionless, desire-free, Zen-like monks who have no desires? Absolutely not! We read the following about our desires:

BEFORE CONVERSION:

Prior to conversion, we are described as —
>> “the unfaithful who are trapped by evil desires” (Prov. 11:6).
>> those who allow “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things [to] come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Mk. 4:19).
>> the natural man is described as those whom “God gave over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another” (Rom. 1:24).
>> We as believers are charged by Paul — “therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires” (Rom. 6:12).
>> We learn that we live by choice. We read, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” (Rom. 8:5).
>> We read in 1 Peter 2:11 we are to “abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.”
>> We also learn in 2 Peter 1:4 that there is a “corruption in the world [that is] caused by evil desires.”

How do we choose not to follow our sinful desires? Romans 13:14 says, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Similarly we are told in Galatians 5:16-17 that we are to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”

>> Prior to our conversion we are described as follows: “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:3)

Ephesians 4:22 says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires . . .”

The believer is to be engaged in the execution business, for we read in Galatians 5:24 – “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Colossians 3:5 commands the believer: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

But what about AFTER CONVERSION?

We read in Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” In Psalm 103:5 we learn of the Lord “who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” And we are reminded in Psalm 145:19 that “He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.” 1 John 2:17 tells us that “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

Here are several specific steps we can take to develop and pursue godly desires:

1. We can run! We read in 2 Timothy 2:22 that we are to “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

2. We can choose not to conform: 1 Peter 1:14 tells us, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.”

3. We can decide to live for the will of God: 1 Peter 4:2 says, “As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 7, 2020 in desires

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Developing a 2020 Vision for the Lord (Part 1)

Friends: What an incredible possibility awaits us as we anticipate a brand new year — 2020. When I hear the expression “2020,” I can’t help but think of one’s eyesight. I remember memorizing the doctor’s eye chart when I was in high school, not knowing that I would one day need to wear glasses all the time!

As you and I face a new year, a year that will challenge us to have 20/20 vision, may I suggest several major truths that we must understand and focus on if we are to be faithful followers of the Lord Jesus? I want to use the eyes God has given me to see His plan for me in this coming year.

What is His plan for you and me in this New Year? Let’s notice this morning that His plan is to make us more like His dear Son. We read in —

Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

If you and I are to daily be conformed to the image of His Son, we must study what the Scriptures say about His Son!  We also read in 2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

The follower of Jesus is to “and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Col. 3:10).

Would you pray the following prayer with me this morning? “Lord, I want to become more like my Savior in 2020. Please work on me through Your Holy Spirit and Your Word to bring about some serious growth in my likeness to Your Son. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 20, 2019 in vision

 

Tags: , ,

The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — What Do We Learn from I Peter about the Holy Spirit?

There are two ways of approaching the doctrines of the Scriptures. One way is to collect all the data throughout the Bible into logical categories (called “systematic theology”). The other way is to work through individual books of the Bible, collecting the data on a particular subject (this is called “biblical theology,” although the term is used in other ways in less than conservative circles). When we ask, what does the epistle of I Peter say about God the Holy Spirit, we are taking a kind of biblical theology approach. Our conviction in these posts is that, while some believers overemphasize the Spirit, others overlook Him. We want to do neither, but long to have a balanced view of the Third Member of the Trinity.

What do we find when we unit-read (read straight through at one sitting) the epistle of I Peter? We find that there are several significant references to God the Holy Spirit:

Ch. 1– Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood …  Here in chapter one we get an insight into the Trinitarian nature of our salvation. We “have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood . . .” What a wonderful Trinitarian reference! Here sanctification seems to precede justification.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. We also learn in chapter one that the Holy Spirit (“sent from heaven”) assisted those who preached the gospel to Peter’s audience. The “things that have now been told you”, we read, “even angels long to look into these things.” The Holy Spirit aids preachers who proclaim the truth of God.

Ch. 3– 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. Here the Holy Spirit is credited with making alive the Lord Jesus after He was put to death! [Other interpretations are possible here, but the translators of the NIV capitalize “the Spirit,” indicating the Third Person of the Trinity.

Ch. 4– 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. In this last reference to the Spirit, we learn that suffering should not surprise us. We are to rejoice that we “participate” in the sufferings of Christ so we may be overjoyed “when his glory is revealed.” There is a special blessing to those who are insulted as believers, “for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

The Spirit sanctifies us, assisting the preaching of the gospel. He is the One who raised the Son from the dead. And we may be confident that “the Spirit of glory and of God rests” on us! Praise the Lord!

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 26, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

Tags: , , ,

Another video clip from John Ortberg: God Working in Different Ways!

The audio isn’t quite synched with the video, but a great challenge here!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 27, 2019 in sovereignty

 

Tags: , ,

The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — What Do We Learn from 2 THESSALONIANS about the Holy Spirit?

There are two ways of approaching the doctrines of the Scriptures. One way is to collect all the data throughout the Bible into logical categories (called “systematic theology”). The other way is to work through individual books of the Bible, collecting the data on a particular subject (this is called “biblical theology,” although the term is used in other ways in less than conservative circles). When we ask, what does the epistle of 2 Thessalonians say about God the Holy Spirit, we are taking a kind of biblical theology approach. Our conviction in these posts is that, while some believers overemphasize the Spirit, others overlook Him. We want to do neither, but long to have a balanced view of the Third Member of the Trinity.

What do we find when we unit-read (read straight through at one sitting) the epistle of 2 Thessalonians? We find that there is precious little reference to the Spirit of God in Titus! But here’s the one reference that we do have —

Ch. 2 – Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come.

5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.

13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits[b] to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

So here in this short epistle (only three chapters), we have a couple of references to God the Holy Spirit that are quite significant.
1. There is a veiled reference to the Spirit in 2:2 that some think they have received a prophecy or word, presumably from the Spirit, that the day of the Lord has already come.

2. The “secret power of lawlessness,” a reference to the infamous man of sin, is being held back. The “one who now holds it back” seems to be a reference to the Spirit’s work restraining that individual “so that he may be revealed at the proper time” (2:5-7).

3. In 2:13 we learn that God chose us “as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” We usually think of justification preceding sanctification. Here it seems that we are first sanctified (by the work of the Spirit) and then given the privilege to believe the truth.

The challenge today? We must believe in the truth for the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work to take place!

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 16, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

Tags: , ,

Colossal Truths from the Letter to the Colossians! GET BUSY GETTING GODLY! (Part 8- final)

This is our last post in our study of what we are calling GET BUSY GETTING GODLY. The last two challenges are found in verses 15-16 —

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Today the last two challenges are:
(1) Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus (v. 17), and
(2) Giving thanks to God the Father through him (v. 17).

Now, technically, we skipped over the expression “as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (v. 16). These verbs (“teach,” “admonish,” “singing”) are actually not commands, but modifiers of the main verb “let the message of Christ dwell among you richly” (v. 16). HOW do we let the message of Christ dwell among us richly? There is an intimate connection between letting His message dwell in us richly and teaching and admonishing one another. We are not to be Lone Ranger Christians! We need the family of God.

But our last two main verbs are found in verse 17 (in reality the second [“giving thanks”] isn’t a main verb). Could there be a more comprehensive, sweeping statement than “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus”? If Jesus is God the Son, this makes perfect sense. If He is not, this is blasphemy of the highest order!

And in doing everything in His name we are to “give thanks to God the Father through him.” Doing all in Christ’s name is to be a thankful way of living life.

Thank you for staying with me through this study of GET BUSY GETTING GODLY! May the Lord help you — and me — to pick one or two of these commands and thankfully obey them today!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 16, 2019 in christian life

 

Tags: , ,