There are two sides to sanctification in the Christian life. One is mortification, the putting to death of the sinful nature. The other is vivification, the coming to life of the regenerate nature. At the same time that we are putting our flesh to death, we are being revived by the Holy Spirit. These two aspects of sanctification—mortification and vivification—go together. As Calvin put it, “The death of the flesh is the life of the Spirit.”
Christians are to walk with the Spirit: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). In this verse, as he so often does, the apostle Paul follows an indicative with an imperative; he tells us to become what we are. It is a fact: Those who belong to Jesus live in the Spirit. At regeneration, the Holy Spirit enters the heart of every Christian. Yet we must keep on living in the Spirit, which is precisely what the Galatians were failing to do. Paul had already asked them, “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3).
By starting and then stopping in this way, the Galatians had fallen out of step with God’s Spirit. When the apostle speaks of “keeping in step,” he is talking about following orders. The Greek term for “keeping in step” (stoichōmen) comes from the military. It means to stay in formation. First, soldiers would line up in ranks and files. Then, in order to maintain good military discipline, they would stay in line as they marched.
Soldiers not only march in formation, but also run in formation. When they do, there is only one thing they have to worry about, which is keeping in step. They do not need to worry about where they are going, or how they will get there. They do not need to guess how much farther they have to go. Their commanding officer will give them their orders as necessary. The only thing soldiers need to know how to do is step in time. It is the same way in the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is God’s drill sergeant. It is his job to keep us in line. As he barks out the cadence, all we have to do is keep our place in the formation, running in step with his commands.
This analogy shows us where we ought to be in relation to other Christians. We do not run alone. Our brothers and sisters are right beside us. Ideally, we are matching them stride for stride. As long as we maintain good discipline, there will not be any pushing and shoving in the ranks, the kind of “provoking” and “envying” that Paul warns about in Galatians 5:26. Instead, by staying in formation, we will maintain our unity in the Spirit. A good unit never lets one of its men fall behind. If a soldier stops running because of injury, discouragement, or fatigue, his buddies will circle around and gather him back into his unit. So also in the church we are called to maintain unity by going back to help those who have fallen.
Keeping in step takes discipline, and so does spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit rarely works in extraordinary ways. Instead, he uses the ordinary means of grace to bring spiritual growth: the reading and preaching of God’s Word, the sacraments of baptism and communion, and the life of prayer. True spiritual growth comes from walking with the Spirit every day until, finally, keeping in step with him becomes a holy habit.
J. I. Packer’s explanation of how the Spirit works is worth quoting at length:
The Spirit works through means—through the objective means of grace, namely, biblical truth, prayer, fellowship, worship, and the Lord’s Supper, and with them through the subjective means of grace whereby we open ourselves to change, namely, thinking, listening, questioning oneself, examining oneself, admonishing oneself, sharing what is in one’s heart with others, and weighing any response they make. The Spirit shows his power in us, not by constantly interrupting our use of these means with visions, impressions, or prophecies … (such communications come only rarely, and to some believers not at all), but rather by making these regular means effective to change us for the better and for the wiser as we go along.… Habit forming is the Spirit’s ordinary way of leading us on in holiness.… Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control are all of them habitual … ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Packer goes on to stress that “Holiness by habit forming is not self-sanctification by self-effort, but is simply a matter of understanding the Spirit’s method and then keeping in step with him.” This is how God grows good spiritual fruit. The more we keep in step with the Holy Spirit through the Word, sacraments, and prayer, the more fruitful we become.
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This is our weekly roundup of posts for 9/22/2014-9/27/2014. If you have any feedback on how we can serve you our readers better, I would appreciate it. Thank you for reading and allowing us to minister to you throughout this past week through these posts.
Four Marriage Lessons from a Godly Grandmother by Zach Kendrick http://servantsofgrace.org/four-marriage-lessons-from-a-godly-grandmother/
The Theology of the Westminster Standards: Historical Context and Theological Insights reviewed by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/the-theology-of-the-westminster-standards-historical-context-and-theological-insights/
Why Leaders Fail by Dan Darling http://servantsofgrace.org/why-leaders-fail/
Job: The Wisdom of the Cross review by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/job-the-wisdom-of-the-cross/
Your family is not a problem to be solved by Dan Darling http://servantsofgrace.org/family-problem-solved/
How to Handle the “I Hate Organized Religion” Talk by Jeff Medders http://servantsofgrace.org/handle-hate-organized-religion-talk/
Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church reviewed by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/sanctorum-communio-a-theological-study-of-the-sociology-of-the-church/
How to Lead Family Devotions by Brian Hedges http://servantsofgrace.org/how-to-lead-family-devotions/
The Most Shared Verses In Their Context (Psalm 18:2) by Mike Leake http://servantsofgrace.org/the-most-shared-verses-in-their-context-psalm-182/
The Wonder Working God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Miracles reviewed by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/the-wonder-working-god-seeing-the-glory-of-jesus-in-his-miracles/
Five Common Mistakes Christian Parents Make by Dan Darling http://servantsofgrace.org/five-common-mistakes-christian-parents-make/
The Most Shared Verses In Their Context (2 Timothy 1:7) by Mike Leake http://servantsofgrace.org/the-most-shared-verses-in-their-context-2-timothy-17/
A Theology for the Church reviewed by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/a-theology-for-the-church/
Forty powerful reasons to avoid pornography by Daniel Henderson http://servantsofgrace.org/forty-powerful-reasons-to-avoid-pornography/
What It Means To Fear The Lord by Jeff Medders http://servantsofgrace.org/what-it-means-to-fear-the-lord/
Sermon How To Dealt With Doubt from 1 John 3:19-26 by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/11-how-to-dealt-with-doubtsermon/
Unmasking the Erudite by Joey Cochran http://servantsofgrace.org/unmasking-the-erudite/
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Podcast: Play in new window
This is sermon #11 in the 1 John series. In this sermon on 1 John 3:19-24 I preach on guilt, doubt and assurance.
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The purpose of this series is to help singles think through how to be single in the church, those who are married but don’t have kids to continue to pursue each other and those who are married to excel at parenting by the grace of God.
This material was originally written by Daniel Henderson at – strategicrenewal.com and adapted by Dr. Dave Earley at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary
Forty powerful reasons to avoid pornography
- I enjoy the pleasure of a love relationship with God.
- I fulfill my true identity as a child of God.
- I experience God’s provision of empowering grace.
- I enjoy my spiritual freedom to its fullest.
- I avoid a life pattern of deception.
- I cultivate a soft and sensitive conscience.
- I turn away from the solicitation of harlots in my heart.
- I refuse the temptation of idolatry.
- I prove to be a faithful steward of my money.
- I prove to be a faithful steward of my time.
- I abstain from any promotion and support of the pornography industry.
- I preserve God’s gift of loving sexual expression for its intended purpose.
- I protect the purity and power of my God-given imagination.
- I develop disciplined character.
- I guard the integrity of my Christian testimony.
- I promote health and harmony in the body of Christ.
- I cultivate a stronger resistance to future interpersonal sexual sin.
- I nurture the proper biblical view of the sanctity of womanhood.
- I relate to women as equals and persons of ultimate worth.
- I learn to live in reality rather than fantasy.
- I steer clear of unnecessary personal guilt and shame.
- I steer clear of unnecessary personal guilt and shame.
- I cultivate a lifestyle of contentment and satisfaction.
- I experience the blessing of living as a servant.
- I learn the relational skills of authentic intimacy.
- I avoid future mental, emotional, and spiritual scars on my life.
- I experience the joy of the Christian life.
- I learn to deal with the causes of my problems rather than treating symptoms.
- I prevent potential temptations for others in my sphere of influence.
- I honor the trust and prayer support of those who have invested in my spiritual life.
If I Am Married
- I avoid adultery in my heart.
- I encourage my wife’s trust.
- I honor my vow of marital purity and faithfulness.
- I keep my marriage union pure from fantasies of other women.
- I communicate acceptance and honor toward my wife.
- I avoid the pathway that could easily result in infidelity.
If I Have Children
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- I minimize the risk of my children being exposed to pornography.
- I model strong and genuine moral values for my children.
- I avoid embarrassing and embittering my children.
- I encourage all of the above positive qualities in their lives.
This is our weekly roundup of posts for 9/15/2014-9/20/2014. If you have any feedback on how we can serve you our readers better, I would appreciate it. Thank you for reading and allowing us to minister to you throughout this past week through these posts.
The Poetic Wonder of Isaac Watts (Long Line of Godly Men Profiles) by Doug Bond reviewed by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/the-poetic-wonder-of-isaac-watts-long-line-of-godly-men-profiles/
Husbands, Love your wives like Christ by Craig Hurst http://servantsofgrace.org/husbands-love-your-wives-like-christ/
The Best Reason To Avoid Sin by Jeff Medders http://servantsofgrace.org/best-reason-avoid-sin/
Six Days: The Age of the Earth and the Decline of the Church reviewed by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/six-days-the-age-of-the-earth-and-the-decline-of-the-church/
Interview with Greg Gibson on biblical manhood and ministry http://servantsofgrace.org/interview-with-greg-gibson-on-biblical-manhood-and-ministry/
God is the End-Game by Jeff Medders http://servantsofgrace.org/god-end-game/
What Does God Want of Us Anyway?: A Quick Overview of the Whole Bible by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/what-does-god-want-of-us-anyway-a-quick-overview-of-the-whole-bible/
Parenting with Promise by Matthew Sims http://servantsofgrace.org/parenting-with-promise/
Four Ways to Fight Against Grumbling by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/four-ways-to-fight-against-grumbling/
The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship by Jonathan Holmes reviewed by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/the-company-we-keep-in-search-of-biblical-friendship/
3 Vital Keys to a Healthy Marriage by Matthew Fretwell http://servantsofgrace.org/3-vital-keys-healthy-marriage/
When Elbowing-Dropping Counsel Leaves You Bruised and Battered by Mike Leake http://servantsofgrace.org/when-elbowing-dropping-counsel-leaves-you-bruised-and-battered/
Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms by Mike Boling http://servantsofgrace.org/seeking-the-face-of-god-nine-reflections-on-the-psalms/
5 Hard Truths for Parents by Dan Darling http://servantsofgrace.org/5-hard-truths-for-parents/
Living in Light of the Ten Commandments by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/living-light-ten-commandments/
Sermon Loving One Another from 1 John 3:11-18 by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/10-loving-one-anothersermon/
Jesus Cares About Your Words by Jeff Medders http://servantsofgrace.org/jesus-cares-about-your-words/
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