Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CP 208 Why should I be surprised?



CP 208 Should I be surprised?

This CrossPurposes blog is a response to a request put to me by one of you three weeks ago.

“Can you please blog on people who really want to serve and love God but are constantly struggling with sin. Made worse by more trials as they get more and more into God and truth. How on earth do we deal with these things? It seems to be less hurt when looking away from the Lord. Are we defeated? What if one doesn’t overcome or is a withered branch?”

So what can a middle-aged pastor answer to a heart-cry like that? I’ll do my best.

Straight off, you don’t have to be surprised that you have become more aware of your sinful nature. Put it this way. Scripture says that the law is a light to my way, a lamp to my path. (Psalm 119:105) Feisty old Paul says that this light of the law has great glory but that its real purpose is to reveal the sinful truths of our lives before the Lord. That’s how I first realised I needed a Saviour. But then he adds, with startling boldness, that the light of the glory of God revealed in the face of Jesus Christ makes it seem by comparison as though the law has no glory at all! (2 Cor 3:10-11, 4:4-6)

Now, imagine walking into a pitch-black room with a candle. Would you see? Of course you would. Might be gloomy but you’d pick out the basics in the room. But then imagine further that someone threw a switch and a hundred arc lights came on all at once. Would you see? Of course. There’d be nothing much hidden. The whole room would become sort of naked. Even every skerrick of dust would stand out like a horrible pimple. The entire truth of the room would be revealed. Whatever is there is exposed for what it is.

So here’s a truth for you. Nothing much stays hidden when you come to see what the Father has done for you in Christ the Son. Nothing at all remains hidden when you come to know the Son himself because He IS the glory of God! His being, and his coming, living, suffering, dying in sacrifice, being raised, being at the Father’s right hand, sending the Spirit… all of that, all of Him, well, THAT IS GLORY!

Now here’s the next truth. The stark revelation of loathsome personal sin and bondage only happens to those who have come to believe and trust that Jesus is Saviour and Lord. It only happens to those who know their sin, every possible skerrick of their sin, from conception to death, is forgiven. (Those who do not know Christ Jesus couldn’t handle such a revelation of their true state before the Father in heaven.) It never happens so he can condemn us. Remember this… He himself declares, “I will not remember their sins.” Ever! He’s not counting. He’s not keeping score. He is keeping a book but it can’t be a book of your failure. That got nailed to the Cross 2000 years ago. No, the only book that matters is the Book of Life and it has your name written in it, all because, and only because, by grace, you have come to know and trust Jesus as your Saviour and Lord. He is eternally for you.

So what on earth (and in heaven) is he doing? The revelation is often excruciatingly painful, the trials near-impossible to bear, and the vision not too clear. The answer is simple. The Holy Spirit of Jesus, sent by the Father, is the Kingdom’s Sculptor-in-residence. Every now and then he brings you back into the workshop for another session of chiselling! And do you know, he has before him a living model of what he’s creating. It’s not an ‘it’. It’s Him, Jesus. He’s the image of God and his Spirit works with passion to fashion us in his image. All the while more and more glory is being revealed. May not feel like it but that’s what is happening.

So how on earth (and in heaven) do we deal with our unwelcome awareness of sin, its power, the hurt in our hearts and the crushedness of spirit? Well, first of all, keep your eyes on Jesus, who has walked this way before you. (Hebrews 12:1-2) Then, confess the truth of your sin and confess the truth about Jesus the Christ to yourself and to another Jesus’ person you trust. Hear forgiveness declared and acknowledge your forgiveness. Ask Jesus to keep his promise to you of immersing you constantly in his Spirit for your daily living. You can’t do it on your own but you can with Holy Spirit in your life.

And one other thing. Remind yourself every day, even every hour, that, “There is no condemnation now for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) You are not defeated in Him. You cannot be defeated because the devil has as much chance of separating you from Jesus as he has of separating Jesus from the Father! It’s not going to happen. In Him you are not overcome and you are not a withered branch. Yes there is a battle to be fought, but we win because we set our hearts on Him and not on our sin!

If the devil wants to highlight your sin then fight back by highlighting his future!

There’s a couple of other bits ‘n pieces to pick up. I’ll do that another time.

He’s Lord.

Fred

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