God is the End-Game

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in The Gospel and the Christian Life

Endgame.

 

Jesus’ work on the cross gave us life, peace, community, forgiveness, etc. — He lavishes us with much, no doubt. But the chief reward is the Reward of Rewards — God himself.

Isn’t this why Jesus tore the veil?

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18)

God Makes It Awesome

Salvation is only salvation because God is the reward.

Eternal life is joyous and good because it is with the Eternal One.

Heaven isn’t heavenly because of its location. God’s glorious enjoyability makes heaven be heaven. His radiating presence is the zoning code for Heaven.

While God is the chief reward of the gospel, all other rewards are given by him, not in competition to or in spite of him. Every blessing we taste comes from God’s kitchen, prepared by his hands, served up for us to enjoy. He’s the Master Chef, bringing handcrafted delights for all the orphans he’s made a home for.

Worship God for the Gospel

Gospel-centered Christians are God-enjoying, God-centered, Jesus-exalting, Spirit-loving, Bible-devouring Christians.

We don’t worship the gospel; we worship the God of the gospel. The gospel is God’s act of taking a group of scoundrels turned saints who find their upmost satisfaction in Him.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

One day, our bodies will fail. Our hearts will quit on us. And all of our stuff will be worthless. Everything we could buy and once enjoy, touch, taste, shoot, grill, read, and watch — will be shelved, sold, or trashed.

After our lungs deflate there will be only one thing that remains for us; The Three in One.

The things of earth will grow strangely dim in light of his light — In light of this light — God is our reward.

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Interview with Greg Gibson on biblical manhood and ministry

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in Featured, Marriage/Parenting/Singleness

Interview with Greg Gibson on biblical manhood and ministry

Editor’s Note:

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.

*****************single marriage parenting6 blue final329x200 Interview with Greg Gibson on biblical manhood and ministry

Dave: Today, I have the honor of interviewing my friend, Greg Gibson, the lead editor of Manual, the men’s channel at the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Greg also serves as an elder and family ministries Pastor at Foothills Church in Maryville, Tennessee.

Dave, “What do you see as the biggest issues in contemporary approaches to men’s ministry?”

Greg: The biggest problem I see is the segregation of men and women in the first place.  Many churches have men’s ministries and women’s ministries that exist separately from one another, which fosters the husband and the wife learning in different contexts.  I think this is okay, to an extent.  However, I think the healthiest thing is to blow up contemporary men’s and women’s ministries all together and focus directly on biblical community, as we see it in Scripture (e.g., Acts 2:42-47).  Call them missional communities, small groups, Sunday school classes, or what-have-you, but I think when the local church goes away from the traditional model of segregating the genders and provides men and women, husbands and wives, twenty-somethings and fifty-somethings, all the opportunity to do life together, then we will see a more robust and flourishing manhood and womanhood.  In this model, Titus 2 discipleship happens naturally, younger men observe and learn how manhood is practiced by older men, and younger families can be mentored by older families. ”

What is more, most men’s ministries I’ve seen are just explanations for having social time with “the guys.”

Dave, “How should pastors and ministry leaders speak to these issues?”

Greg: First, I think multi-generational discipleship should be engrained in the DNA and mission statement of the church.  Therefore, when church members approach church leaders about starting these “segregated ministries,” then every new thing that begins can be filtered through the churches mission statement.

Second, I think lead pastors and those in preaching positions should constantly speak into manhood and womanhood issues from the pulpit.  As pastors preach through books in Scripture, there is ample opportunity to speak into and champion gospel-centered human flourishing.

Dave,What is biblical manhood?”

Greg: My working definition (which I write in my book, Reformational Manhood) is this:

A biblical man, marked with courage, is a leader, provider, and protector.  He pursues his family, serves his church, shares and defends truth, makes quick and good decisions for the benefit of others, and redeems his time.  And then teaches other men to do the same.

Dave, “How can pastors and ministry leaders provide a vision for biblical manhood in their local churches?”

Greg:

  1.  Model it.  Model it.  Model it.  As you model a different type of manhood, people notice.  Men notice.  Your family notices.  Your neighbors notice.  Your community notices.
  1.  Preach it from the pulpit.
  1.  Disciple men intentionally (like Jesus did) to then go and disciple others.  But this type of discipleship doesn’t have to be a programmed thing in your church.  Do it relationally, incarnationally, and as you do life together.

Dave: Thank you for your time today Greg.

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The Best Reason To Avoid Sin

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in The Gospel and the Christian Life

Hopefully you want to avoid sin. All Christians should. But have you given much thought to why?

Dig under the surface. Why do you avoid sin?

If you avoid sin simply because you don’t want to look bad — which is why so many avoid it — or you don’t want to navigate the awkward conversations, it’s unbiblical. Non-christians have that motivation.

But we need higher reason. The best reason. The right one.

The Best Reason

We don’t want to sin against God.

Joseph didn’t want to lie with the lust-driven wife of Potiphar because he couldn’t stand sinning against God (Genesis 39:9). And once David came to his senses, he realized he committed a massive crime — chiefly against God (Psalm 51:4).

The horror of legalism is obedience for obedience sake. And legalistic obedience is still disobedience.

This is akin to standing up straight when your grandmother comes around, because you know she’ll say something. You stand up straight when she’s around, and then assume the recoiled spine when she leaves. That’s not Christian living. That’s not freedom. Now, you should still stand up straight because you don’t want to look like you belong in a turtle shell when you’re 80. But the point is you stand up straight even when you know the inspection isn’t around the corner.

If you avoid sin to avoid getting in trouble, you’ve yet to grasp what the gospel is all about.

Treasure Hunter

We avoid sin, to enjoy and glorify God. Christian living is in living in response to what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Anything else is a bunch of hooey. Your life should look like someone living for a reward — a treasure hunter — not one dodging a pop to the knuckles.

You don’t avoid eating raw chicken meat, just to avoid the stomach issues or impending doom. That’s not your thought process. You avoid raw chicken so you can enjoy cooked chicken. We avoid sin, not to avoid trouble, but to enjoy God.

Avoid sin for the best reason — God.

Now that’s livin’.

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Husbands, Love your wives like Christ

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Featured, Marriage/Parenting/Singleness

Husbands, Love your wives like Christ

Editor’s Note:

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.

*****************single marriage parenting6 blue final329x200 Husbands, Love your wives like Christ

As a concrete thinker I generally have a hard time grasping new concepts. My first response to something new is, “Give me an example.” If I can just visualize by way of an example I feel I can better grasp what is being presented. For many people love is a tricky concept.

Many people believe love is merely an emotion. Like, two teens in high school who feel attracted to each other, and therefore believe they are “in love.” As time goes on most people realize that loving someone is more than mere attraction – it requires action. Thankfully, when husbands are told to love their wives, they are not left without example. In Ephesians 5:25-33 Paul instructs husbands how they are to love their wives:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

For Christians, specifically men here, God has given us the supreme example of how to love our wives in Christ. It is through Christ’s self-sacrifice on the cross that provides for us the supreme example of how husbands are to love their wives. In this post we will look at three points Paul is communicating in Ephesians 5:28-33.

First, husbands are to love their wives sacrificially. The church is the bride of Christ just as a husbands wife is his bride. Christ “loved the church”, His bride, by giving “Himself up for her.” (vs. 25) The cross gives us a picture of the sacrificial love God has for His bride. Though a picture, it is more than that. Christ did not hang on a cross and endure suffering without death to show us love – He actually died physically for us and experienced a degree of separation from His Father for us. Paul tells us in Romans 5:8 that even “even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There was nothing lovely about us, except that God, in His triune self, purposed to save a people for Himself, His bride, whom the Son gave Himself for in order to purchase their redemption. The Son left His place next to the Father in order to become a man so that He could die for His people. The self-sacrifice of Christ provides the reason and example for why husbands are to give themselves to their wives.

Men, when was the last time you gave up something you wanted or needed so that your wife could have something she wanted or needed? It might be giving up buying another book, or new fishing rod, or new hunting gear. Have you ever given up an activity or not gone to an event and felt the pain of sacrifice? This is what Christ did for His bride. This is what Christ did for you and this is what you are to do for your wife.

Second, husbands are love their wives spiritually. Has it ever occurred to you that as a husband you are in a way responsible for the spiritual health of your wife? It was not until my second year in seminary that this idea was presented to me. I remember sitting in chapel as a guest speaker preached from Ephesians 5:25-33. I will never forget how he challenged the men to take responsibility for their wives sanctification. This is not to say we are wholly responsible for their spiritual lives but it is to say that, as the spiritual head of the home, we need to make sure our wives do not fall back spiritually because of our lack of spiritual leadership. Just as we work out our own salvation, we need to be there for our wives to help them as well. This means we need to make sure we are walking with the Lord ourselves. We cannot offer the spring of living water to others if we are not first drinking of it ourselves. Through the Holy Spirit in our lives, Christ is guiding us in our sanctification so that we might be presented “without spot or wrinkle.” (vs. 27). Husbands too, as we are accountable to God for how we lead our families, need to be actively involved in our spouses spiritual lives as we bathe them in the Word.

Third, husbands are to love their wives as they love themselves. Sometime the absence of things stated in Scripture can have meaning. I find it ironic that while we are told to love everyone else, including God, we are never told to love ourselves. In fact, in the second commandment to love others, we, ourselves, are the example of how we are to love others, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39).

In Ephesians 5:28-33 Paul uses a slightly different reason for why husbands are to love their wives. Husbands are to love their wives because they are a part of them. “For no one ever hated his own flesh.” In Genesis 2:24 we are told that when a man and a woman are married they become “one flesh.” There is a joining together at marriage that cannot be separated. Paul says that “he who loves his wife loves himself.” (vs. 28) This is because they are one flesh. It is in the best interest of the husband to love his wife because in doing so he is contributing to the well-being of his own life. Doing what is best for his wife is also doing what is best for him. This is not a selfish love. It is a love that does what is best for the one flesh the two have become.

Though a little trite, the saying “a happy wife is a happy life” has a lot of truth to it. You will rarely meet a happy man who does not also have a happy wife. Conversely, an unhappy man probably has an unhappy wife. As the bride of Christ, Paul says there is a mystical union between Christ and the church, His blood bought people. Christ does what is best for the church because it is in some part of Him. He has given Himself for her, joined Himself to her and now lives for her. As believers we are joined to Christ and Christ loves His bride.

A husband who doesn’t sacrificially love his wife is not only hurting his wife, he is hurting himself as well by tearing at his own flesh. Husbands, how are you loving your wife and continuing to build your marriage? Can you identify some areas of growth and needed change in your marriage? Husbands, though you many complain that your father never set a good example of how to love a wife, you are not without one. Look to Christ, who, in loving His bride the church, provided the supreme example of how a husband is to love his wife. From the cradle to the cross, Christ loves His bride and now calls husbands to look to Him even as they lead their wives as Christ leads His church. As husbands love Jesus they will naturally grow in their love for their wives. As husbands do so, they will reflect the love Christ has for His bride, the church.

References:

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Put a Muzzle on that Grumbling and Complaining

Posted by on Sep 13, 2014 in Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

Put a Muzzle on that Grumbling and Complaining

Stop complaining 150x150 Put a Muzzle on that Grumbling and ComplainingDo all things without grumbling or questioning, – Philippians 2:14

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29

Stop complaining and just do what you are told!

Admit it. How many times were you told that as a child or for those who have children, how many times just in the past week have you told your own children that exact thing. Quit grumbling. Quit the backtalk. Do what you are told and all will be well.

As adults, one would think we would have reached a certain level of maturity after the ten thousand times of being scolded by our own parents to not complain. Sadly, complaining and grumbling is part and parcel of everyday life. A sad but true fact.

Over the past week, events at my job have reached a fever pitch with certain decisions being made for which I highly disagreed. Ten dollars to the first person who guesses what my response was to those decisions. We have a winner! Yes I grumbled, complained, murmured, and groaned rather endlessly. Did it change anything? Absolutely not as those decisions still stood and guess what? Life actually moved forward and the earth continued to rotate despite my fervent and repeated protestations.

There is certainly room for disagreement as we are not called to be like carpets, walked all over endlessly. Honest discussion within the framework of civil and useful discourse should be encouraged. With that said, typically our mumbling, groaning, and complaining is a result of being told something we should do or experiencing an event or series of events that grate at our sense of pride as well as our perception of what should take place.

Many times, especially in the work environment, our complaints are rooted in a lack of understanding of the greater picture. We may think we know the best route to take; however, more often than not, decisions are made based on a more corporate mindset from those who are able to better grasp the larger goal of the organization.

In the family setting, our complaints are often rooted in our own wants and desires getting in the way or just that age old lack of proper communication. Again, we think we may know what the other party wants or is saying, but that logjam of grumbling gets in the way of fully understanding the greater picture.

As I was pondering my own recent penchant for digressing into the morass of complaining, I was reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 2:14 and Ephesians 4:29 as well as some Old Testament examples of what took place when the children of Israel began to murmur and complain. Let me cut right to the chase and state that in every instance where people grumbled and complained, nothing good came about as a result. In fact, Number 11:1-3 provides a fine example of what happened to some people in Israel who felt the need to grumble and complain against the Lord:

“And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the Lord burned among them.”

Now I am not sure that fire from heaven will immediately come down from heaven and consume you if you let out a complaint against your supervisor at work or if you complain about your wife not folding the laundry. What incessant complaining and grumbling does is provide the means for a root of bitterness to take hold. Hebrews 12:14-15 instructs us to, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;”

In the passages we have looked at thus far, we can begin to see a pattern of behavior that must be engaged in order to avoid grumbling, complaining, and murmuring. Let’s take a quick look at some ways in which we can avoid such destructive actions in favor of a more biblical response to the issues that really “irk” us.

1. Pursue Peace: The word pursue is the Greek verb diōkō which means “to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after.” Peace is Greek noun eirēnē which means “peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord.” When you put those two thoughts together you have the concept of running after harmony between individuals with that harmony not being some emotive touchy feely type idea but rather a concrete state of existence. This will undoubtedly involve a bit of dying to self, given that personal desires and wants are often the fire that is kindled eventually leading to the forest fire of murmuring, grumbling, and complaining. Pursuing peace by the grace of God and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is the needed deluge of water on that raging fire of bitterness.

2. Speak Life: The Apostle Paul instructs us in Ephesians 4:29 to avoid corrupting talk, instead ensuring that any words that we speak are those which build up as befitting the occasions with the purpose of giving grace to those within earshot of our words or those who may hear at some point our response. The word corrupt is a rather interesting word in the Greek. It is the adjective sapros which means “rotten or putrefied.” Ponder that for a minute. Those grumbling, complaining, and murmuring words you find yourself spouting are nothing more than rotten and putrefied speech. No wonder Proverbs 14:30 calls this lack of tranquility rottenness to the bones. The old saying goes “If you do not have anything positive to say, do not say anything at all.” There is great wisdom in that statement and it is certainly supported by Scripture.

3. Persistently Read the Bible and Pray: What comes out of the mouth and what circles around in the mind that often ends up spouting from the mouth is first born from the heart. Matthew 15:19 states “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Notice the mention of evil thoughts, murder, false witness, and slander. Now you may say “I may say that I would like to “kill” him but of course that is just hyperbole.” Let us be mindful of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:22: “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Now we are getting real! We have all spouted off at the mouth and called someone a “fool” or even worse.

When we wash ourselves daily in the Word of God with the Holy Spirit writing God’s Word on the very tablets of our hearts, we are replacing such ungodly desires and behaviors with the holy Word of God. When we consume ourselves with the truth of Scripture, that desire to murmur and grumble will be replaced with the medicine prescribed in God’s Word, namely the Fruit of the Spirit.

Furthermore, it is necessary to spend devoted time in prayer, asking God for help to quench the thirst for murmuring, grumbling, and complaining. Instead of crying out in anger, cry out to God for His divine assistance to replace that spirit of bitterness with a heart of love and compassion.

So the next time your boss, wife, child, or friend does something that really irks you or that you disagree with, remember the example set for us by Jesus – “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)”. Jesus was crucified, beaten mercilessly, and died on our behalf and did not utter one word of complaint. If He was willing to do that for us, why do we more often than not engage in murmuring and complaining about things of such a trivial nature? That is a question we must all ask ourselves as we seek through the work of the Holy Spirit to uproot bitterness and complaining in our lives. Get out your spiritual shovels….it is time to start some digging!

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What it Means to “Think on These Things”

Posted by on Sep 12, 2014 in Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

What it Means to “Think on These Things”

Think About These Things 960w 300x215 What it Means to Think on These ThingsFinally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

I would venture to say that most believers are familiar with Philippians 4:8. In fact, it is likely a verse that comes to our minds, at least on a momentary basis, when ungodly thoughts rear their ugly head. But do we really grasp what it means to “think about these things”? Furthermore, what are these things that should be at the constant forefront of our thoughts and for that matter, our actions? Finally, what does it look like in a practical sense to be thinking on things above? I would like to address these three important questions in this post.

Defining “think about these things”

A great place to start when trying to understand what a word means is the dictionary. Now we must remember that behind the English translations we read is the original language in which the passage was penned. In the case of Philippians 4:8, we need to take a look at what the Greek word for “think” actually means. Think is the Greek verb logizomai meaning “to consider, take into account, weigh, meditate on.” Gerald Hawthorne notes the Apostle Paul has asked the Church at Philippi (and by extension us as well) “continuously to focus their minds on these things, to give full critical attention to them, and so to reflect carefully upon them with an action-provoking kind of meditation. It was not his desire to ask them merely to think about such noble matters without putting them into practice in their lives.”[1]

We can quickly see that to “think on these things” requires more than just a passing thought or lip service. It demands active and continuous meditation, not the type of meditation where thought never quite translates into action. Conversely, this type of meditation requires the implementation of what is being pondered into every aspect of daily life. The truth of what we should be thinking about must make a difference in our speech, thoughts, desires, actions, ultimately leading to positive and lasting spiritual growth.

What is it We Should be Thinking About?

Now that we have a solid understanding of what it means to “think on these things”, we have to now take a look at and define what we are to be thinking on in the first place. The Apostle Paul assuredly did not ask the Church at Philippi to think on whatever floated their proverbial boat. We are provided with the parameters that form the fence line if you will for where are thoughts should be focused. Let’s take some time to examine what Paul tells us to think upon.

Whatever is true: There is little mystery to the definition of the Greek adjective alēthēs which is translated in English as true. It simply means true. With that said, there is the aspect of this word that speaks to what it means to think on whatever is true. Alēthēs also has an action element to its definition noting the need to love and speak the truth or to be truthful. Homer Kent states that true “has the sense of valid, reliable, and honest – the opposite of false.”[2] Anything that even remotely consists of falsehood or that has the traits of dishonesty are the complete opposite of truth and thus should not be what we dwell on nor should they find they way into our thoughts or actions.

Whatever is honorable: Next Paul notes that whatever is honorable should be what we think upon. Honorable, sometimes translated as noble or honest, is the Greek adjective semnos meaning something that is venerated for its character. Donald Fee suggests that in this passage, Paul is noting that which is worthy of respect.[3] Certainly there are many men and women of God who have noteworthy character, people in the body of Christ who demonstrate more often than not a dedication to the things of God. However, there is only One whose character is completely reputable. There is only One who is the very definition of holiness and righteousness and that is God. To think godly things is to seek after that which pleases God. It is to be holy as He is holy. That is a might task; however, it must be the goal of every thought and deed of the believer.

Whatever is just: This idea of justice finds its root in the same word from which righteousness is derived, namely the Greek adjective dikaios That which is just aligns itself with the commands of God revealed in Scripture. In fact to be righteous, demands adherence to God’s perfect law. This is yet another lofty goal but a necessary one. Furthermore, to think on whatever is just requires the believer to read, understand, and put into practice God’s commands for righteous living provided in His Word. Only that which is worthy of the approval of God should be that which we think upon. Anything outside that framework is sin.

Whatever is pure: Purity connotes the idea of being without blemish, spot, or wrinkle. The Greek adjective hagnos means pure from every fault; immaculate. Now we must admit that our thoughts are often on that which could rightly be considered filthy. Even the slightest speck of dust in our thought life and in our actions is considered filthy in the eyes of God. This is especially true given hagnos speaks to the idea of moral purity. In an age where all manner of sexual immorality is championed, we must dedicate ourselves to seeking after moral purity as outlined in God’s Word.

Whatever is lovely: Loveliness as used in this passage means something very specific. It is not whatever we choose loveliness to mean. That which is lovely is that which pleases God. The Greek adjective used in this verse that is translated as lovely is prosphilēs meaning pleasing or acceptable. This word has a very strict application to it. Hawthorne aptly notes “It has as its fundamental meaning “that which calls forth love”…Thus the Christian’s mind is to be set on things that elicit from others not bitterness and hostility, but admiration and affection.”[4] This type of action is what Paul described in Ephesians 4:29: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Whatever is commendable: Something that is commendable is worthy of praise. Kent notes that commendable or admirable as it is often translated suggests “what is praiseworthy, attractive, and what rings true to the highest standards.”[5] As with the other virtues listed by Paul in this passage, the only standard that matters is Gods as noted in His word.

How to “Think on these things”

As noted earlier, thinking in the sense Paul exhorts is far more than a passing thought or fancy. It involves a clear element of thought constantly borne into action which then shapes every aspect of our lives. We have discovered in our analysis of the things Paul says we are to think upon that each and every thing mentioned by Paul is related to nothing short of spiritual excellence. Anything short of such excellence falls short of what God expects from His people.

Does this mean that we will achieve such a level of holiness in this life or for that matter that we can attain a life of complete devotion to “these things” on our own effort? The response to both questions is absolutely not. In this life we will continue to battle with sin and with those things that grab our focus and attention away from the things above. There is no amount of personal effort that can lead to a life lived according to God’s perfect standard. What then are we to do given the pursuit of holiness remains God’s expectation of His people?

1. Have a passion for God’s Word. Meditating, reading, studying, and most importantly applying the truths found therein, is a fundamental key to uprooting and mortifying sin in our lives. As we engage in persistent and consistent study of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit takes his pick ax and starts to dig out those sinful desires which so easily entangle us, replacing those desires with a passion for the very things Paul notes in Philippians 4:8.

2. Devote yourself to a life of prayer. In Colossians 4:2, Paul exhorts believers to “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Praying without ceasing is a life lived in constant communion with God. An active prayer life focuses our attention on what God would have us do rather than the clamor and selfish desires of the world around us. Prayer is more than sending a few words heavenward at the dinner table and then moving on with life. Prayer is communication, a two way conversation between you and God. This means that prayer involves active listening on our part, letting our requests be made known to God and then doing what Paul noted in Colossians 4:2 – watching and being thankful.

3. Surround yourself with godly people. The old saying “bad company corrupts good morals” is as true today as it was the day it was penned. If you are not involved in a local body of believers, now is the time to find a place where God would have you establish roots. Part of how we spur one another towards love and good deeds is by not forsaking gathering together (Hebrews 10:25). God never intended the Christian life to be lived in isolation from fellow believers. The very sense of the people of God being called a body is rooted in the reality that we all play an important part in this thing called the Church. We need each other so that we may pray for one another, study God’s word together, and to come along side our fellow believers so that we may together strive to do that which pleases God and brings Him glory and honor.

4. Put on the new self. Finally, we must put on the new self. Paul exhorts us to do this in Colossians 3:1-3 – “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Cast off the old man with its fleshly desires and put on the new man, devoted to things above. This is a hallmark of a mature believer who is growing in the grace of God. By devoting yourself to the Word of God, living a life of prayer, and connecting with godly people within the body of Christ, we can begin to see the Holy Spirit work in our lives, ripping out that cantankerous old man and replacing it with a passion for truth. The new self is not a mask. It is a lifestyle that reveals a life devoted to God.

Let us think on these things not out of mere ritual or to appear holy, but rather out of a heart of love for God in thanksgiving for what He has done for us. Set your mind on these things!

References:

[1] Gerald Hawthorne, Word Biblical Commentary: Philippians (Waco: Word Books, 1983), 188.
[2] Homer A. Kent, Jr. “Commentary on Philippians” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol.11: Ephesians through Philemon. Edited by Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 152.
[3] Donald Fee, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: Philippians (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1999), 179.
[4] Hawthorne, 188.
[5] Kent, 152.

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