Jul 1, 2011

A Whole New Wardrobe- By Joel Johnson

You Can Sin—But You Won’t Be Happy. Sin no longer “fits” your life. Sure, you can “wear” sin for a while, but it’s like wearing old clothes that are three sizes too small. You can do it but you won’t be comfortable, you won’t feel right, and frankly, you won’t look right either. Sin no longer “fits.”

Coming to Christ is like getting a whole new wardrobe. What fits now? Love, joy, peace fit. Compassion and mercy fit. Justice and concern for others, holiness and righteousness fit. Those spiritual clothes are tailor-made for you. And those sins you used to wear so comfortably? They just don’t fit any more. But what if you go back to the closet and put those old sins back on anyway? What happens to a Christian who chooses to sin? Let me give you four things to think about in response:

1. You won’t feel right. You’ll sin, but you won’t receive any personal satisfaction. You may have temporary happiness in the flesh – people wouldn’t sin if it didn’t satisfy “something.” But you won’t know ‘soul’ happiness – the deepest joy we can experience.

2. You won’t grow spiritually. Because when you sin you are not looking for God to act in your life, you are consumed with yourself. The release of the Spirit is hampered by self concern. Your appetite for the sweetness of Christ and the Word of God is diminished. And without responding to the Spirit or being in the Word, we won’t grow spiritually. Eventually we become joyless.

3. God will stop you. If you refuse to surrender your body to the Lord, but uses your members for sinful purposes, then you are in danger of being disciplined by the Father. It’s a discipline of love much like a parent who disciplines their children so they understand what is right, noble, and pure. Those whom God justifies, He sanctifies. That is, He grows us to conform to the character of Christ. If we persist in sinning, He will certainly arrange the circumstances so that your sin eventually turns out to your own disadvantage. If you persist, He may even take your life prematurely (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:29-30; Hebrews 10:26-31; 1 John 5:16-17; Hebrews 12:5-11).

4. If you persist in sin in a way without a direction change from sin to sanctification, it may demonstrate that you were never truly saved. You will change if Christ is in you and it will affirm your salvation.

Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). We have been delivered from sin and set free indeed through Jesus Christ.

Let’s prevail together through Christ who gives us strength to live for His glory and resist temptations to sin that diminishes joy. Remember, you are able not to sin!

What has happened in your experiences when you have continued in sin? What has God used to set you back on a path of growing in the likeness of Christ?

Jun 29, 2011

Random thoughts on violence and redemption

The reality and vicious nature of human conflict can be extremely heart-breaking. It highlights our nature as depraved beings. It is easy for us to point fingers at others in their hour of such manifestation of violence and to marvel, privately priding in how we are not like them. Yet the fact is that we are all under the violent domain of sin. As long as we remain unchanged, we are its' captives.

On Good Friday Jesus the Son of God took upon Himself the violence of humanity. He endured the cross and despised its' shame. In the cross event, He reconciled humanity to God and has since been reconciling humanity to fellow humanity.

Yet it is not the violence of Good Friday that defines the Christian faith. Just because Jesus experienced human violence and suffering does not make Him our Savior nor does it offer hope for a world reeling under the weight of sin. It is the fact that after He had taken upon Himself all that violence and sin could bestow upon Him, He defeated their power by rising from the dead.

The vicious pain and gruesome images of Good Friday were contained and surpassed by the joy of Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday is the explanation for the existence of Christianity. Says Paul in 1 Cor. 15: 17, 20: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins...but now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep."

The fact of the resurrection of Christ is the reason for our hope and optimism in the face of daunting and disheartening circumstances. Because He lives we can face tomorrow with fresh vigor and vitality. Because Jesus lives we love and serve others even when we are not loved or served in return. Because Jesus lives we continue to reach out and to proclaim that He is the Hope of the world.