Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Do You Know the Game Plan?

Thoughts from the WordWe have spent the past four Sundays springing from 1 Corinthians 10 and probing the topics of idolatry, our struggle with sin and Christ-centered holiness. So many times we can find ourselves on the playing field of Christianity and not really having any clue what we are supposed to do. The result often is that the opposing team runs roughshod over us (picture a gruesome threesome of the fallen world, the devil and our own sinful nature– the chief player and enemy coming straight at us). It is so important for us to grasp what the scripture teaches us about our life in Christ. This past series has been an attempt to give us “the game plan”. It can be summed up as follows:

1. OUR GREATEST ENEMY IS THE SIN THAT DWELLS WITHIN US.

2. OUR GREATEST WEAPON AGAINST SIN AND TEMPTATION IS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.

3. WE MUST BELIEVE AND APPLY THE GOSPEL IN ORDER TO SLAY INDWELLING SIN.

Consider the following passage (one among many like it.)

2 Peter 1:3-11 (ESV)
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Peter calls his readers to progressive holiness in this passage. But note something very critical here. Verse 9 says that if someone is not walking in holiness the problem is they have forgotten they have been cleansed from their sins. They have forgotten the gospel. Additionally, it is the promise of the gospel, received, that gives us all the power we need for life and godliness – verse 1-4. Because of the sure promise in the gospel that we are already cleansed and already new creations in Christ we are totally free from the penalty and power of sin. And, because of the sure promise of the gospel we can effectively battle the presence of sin that dwells within (until we see Him face to face). Because God has already decisively and irrevocably acted for us in Christ (before we had any say!) we can now walk out the realities of our salvation in Him. Listen to how John Piper sums this truth up as taught in Romans 6-8.

What we have learned from Romans 6 and 7 is that when we trusted in Christ as our Savior and Lord (as our Treasure!), we were united to Christ (Romans 6:5; 7:4). In this union with Christ we died (Romans 6:8; Colossians 2:20; 3:3) and rose again (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12; Ephesians 2:6). Therefore a decisive and irrevocable new creation came into being (2 Corinthians 5:17), and a decisive and irrevocable liberation happened (Romans 6:14, 18). We passed from death to (eternal!) life. Our decisive judgment is behind us - at Golgotha (John 5:24). We have moved from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of God's Son (Colossians 1:13).

But we also learned that our liberation from sin is not yet final and perfect. Decisive and irrevocable, Yes! But final and perfect, No! Sin still dwells within us (Romans 7:17, 20). Evil is present in us (Romans 7:21). The "flesh" is a daily troubler of our souls (Romans 7:25). We are not yet perfect nor have we already obtained our crown and prize (Philippians 3:12). We are liars if we say we have no sin (1 John 1:8, 10).

How then does the apostle Paul teach us to live? Will he say: "You are decisively and irrevocably new, so you can coast through life with no fight to become new"? Or will he say: "You are not decisively and irrevocably new and must fight to get to that place in Christ"? No, neither of these. He will say: "By faith, embrace all that God is for your good in Christ and all you are for his glory in Christ. Believe that. And now, with that confidence, fight to take possession of the territory that Christ has conquered for you. Fight to become in practice what you are in Christ."

John Piper, Already: Decisively and Irrevocably Free, Not Yet: Finally and Perfectly Free, August 28, 2001

Because we have a Savior and Lord who has won us a decisive and irrevocable victory let us fight with great joy and faith to gain the territory that is rightly his. Let us believe and apply the gospel! Let us use all the means He gives us (faith, the word, prayer, church and trials) to walk in His glorious ways, becoming more and more like our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ – until we see Him face to face and receive our reward.

Got a clearer idea of what it is all about and what you are called to do? Ready to resist the opposing team and experience victory? I hope so. May the Lord bless you as you grapple with these life-transforming truths!

Check out these links:
Gospel-Driven Sanctification
Jerry Bridges



Already: Decisively and Irrevocably Free, Not Yet: Finally and Perfectly Free
John Piper



Christ and Him Crucified
C.J.Mahaney



4 comments:

Russell said...

Good post. And Jerry Bridges' article is great. It should speak to everyone, no matter what end of the spectrum your on (i.e. legalistic or licentious). I personally can identify with the following:

"But in my daily life, I thought God's blessing depended on the practice of certain spiritual disciplines, such as having a daily quiet time and not knowingly committing any sin. I did not think this out but just unconsciously assumed it,"- Jerry Bridges

How often I forget the gospel (my sins forgiven) and fall into the false metality of purchasing His favor with the currency of disciplines and sacrifice.
Thanks for posting another reminder that "in Christ we are totally free from the penalty and power of sin".

Paul Buckley said...

Thanks Russ. Thanks for the thoughts on brevity and links. I hope this site serves well.

See ya.

Me said...

great informative post.....

Russell said...

Take the poll!
http://sinequanonchurch1.blogspot.com/2005/09/evangelism.html