The Needy Life

The success-driven life is a cancer to your Christian life, like smoking to your lungs, alcohol to your liver, and drugs to your veins.

Am I against succeeding in a career, a personal goal or a dream you’ve had all your life? No, unless you’re achieving it by your own will and determination. And that’s the point. As a Christian, whose life are you living?

“You are not your own, you were bought with a price,” Paul says to the Corinthians. (See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) In context Paul was urging holiness, but since the Holy Spirit lives in us we can also say that looking for soul satisfaction in broken cisterns, relying on Brokenrule keeping for God’s approval, and battling our demons by our own efforts is just as repugnant as unholiness.

Neglecting our true dependence on Christ is equal to living in unbelief.

It makes the Christian life a burden. By looking inward I kill myself. John Newton calls it “soul weariness.” There’s nothing there to commend itself to God.

So get used to being needy. Learn to feel weak. Become helpless like a little child. The world will scream at you, “No! You can’t do that. Flee from such beliefs, instead believe you have the potential to achieve anything you want!”

Jesus was the ultimate little one. He was 100% dependent on his Father. He did nothing on his own accord. “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” John 5:19 NLT

We must do the same if we expect to “succeed” as Christians. That’s why Jesus tells us that apart from him we can do nothing. John 15:5

By looking to Christ for everything and in everything we will be released from ourselves and be put into joy and freedom.

We are needy.

We are weak.

Hooray!

Boast in that because you have a Savior who will take care of you!

Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

Sinning but Forgiven

“Christians live in an atmosphere of perpetual forgiveness.” – B.B. Warfield

Read that again. It’s a stunning quote.

It’s Romans 8:1, that you are no longer condemned because you’re in Christ and he was condemned for you.

Your justification is not just for past sins only but for continued sins all life long.

Christians are sinners!  oh cat

How many years I sat in church listening to pastors tell me all the things I needed to do in order to please God. Read the bible, pray, go on a missions trip, serve on the church committee, be a usher, help in the children’s Sunday School. The list grew longer and so did my guilt. I was twisted like a pretzel. I was either self-righteous because I managed to do some of these things, or I felt guilty and depressed because I wasn’t doing enough.

Rubbish!

God in his mercy has shown me otherwise.

God calls me to church every week to receive from him, not do things for him. Why? Because he’s done everything for me! I come in gratitude for everything he has given me in Christ. And he continues to feed me through the worship, the preaching of the Word, and the sacraments.

I’m not saying reading the bible, praying, and going on a missions trip are things to avoid. Not if you do them out of gratitude to God. But if you do them because you feel obligated, or you’re doing them to feel better about yourself, or call attention to yourself, then think again. Those aren’t good motivators. They don’t adorn the gospel. They’re sin!

Our lives must be gospel-centered. We live for God out of gratitude for Christ, and we love our neighbor out of gratitude for Christ.

The minute self inserts itself into the picture, we’re sinning. And that happens every day. That’s why we live in an atmosphere of constant forgiveness, all because of Christ.

How joyful does that make you? Talk to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Be A Recovering Pharisee

Are you fussy, small-thinking, so engrossed in following the rules that your heart is brittle?

Of course not! Nobody wants to admit to that.

The truth is you and I are like that. It’s called Pharisaism and it’s a real problem. In some people it’s obvious, in others not so much, but all of us are affected by it.

6 Symptoms Of A Pharisee

1. Pharisaism is subtle. You don’t notice it so you don’t do anything to kill it.

2. It’s self-righteousness. Thinking better than other people.

3. It’s contempt for others who don’t live up to your standards. Looking down on others who aren’t as good as you.

4. It’s wrong priorities. Majoring on the minor details while missing the big picture of God’s grace and love in the gospel.

5. It’s not having a tender conscience. Being religious is more important than loving God.

6. It’s loving to tell others how to live. Then jumping all over them when they fail.

If you see yourself in these descriptions, you’re not alone! And you’ll want to know what to do about it.

3 Things That Won’t Help A Bit

1. You can’t learn your way out of it.

2. A good scolding won’t do it.

3. Being threatened until you quake won’t help either.

These three are aspects of the law and the law does not change the heart.

The solution lies elsewhere – in the gospel.

4 Ways To Fight Pharisaism With The Gospel

1. The Gospel tells us how bad we were. How much did Jesus suffer on the cross? His sufferings were infinite. Why did He suffer so much? Because He died in our place. What does this mean? It means our sin is infinite. ‘Sins’ can be counted—I lied once, stole twice, committed adultery three times. But ‘sin’, that native rejection of God, defies all calculation. The Gospel means we are thoroughly bad—not decent people in need of a hand, but sinners in need of a Savior!

2. The gospel tells us how needy we are still are. Where did Jesus go after dying on the cross and rising from the dead? He went to heaven. What’s he doing there? Hebrews 7:25 says he’s gone there to—

Make intercession for us.

He’s there praying for us. Why do you pray for someone? You pray for him because he needs something. This is why Jesus never stops praying for us, because we’re always in need. Now, it’s hard to square being in constant need with being proud of yourself or looking down on others, whose needs are no more than your own. The gospel means we are deeply and always dependent on God’s grace, and believing that will keep you from being a Pharisee.

3. The gospel reminds you that Jesus laid down His life as a ransom for many. That means you’ve got to love and respect your brothers and sisters in Christ, and let Jesus be the Lord of their consciences! Counsel them? Of course, but nitpick and micromanage them? No, not if the gospel has gotten into your heart.

4. The gospel saves you from being a Pharisee by telling you:

God loves you as you are, and thus you don’t have to pretend to be better than you are, and you don’t have to hunger for the praise of men.

That’s freedom!