SAINTS WHO SIN

“There never was a child that required schooling or education to learn deceitfulness, sensuality, passion, self-will, gluttony, pride, and foolishness” J.C Ryle (ref#363, p35).

“The fall made us all a danger to ourselves. Because of the sin in us, we think bad things, we desire bad things, we are attracted to bad things, and we choose bad things—and we are blind to much of this going on inside of ourselves. So not only do we need God’s presence and his wisdom to guide and protect us, but we also need his grace to rescue us” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, May 29th).

 “[T]here is no one who does not sin” (2 Chron 6:36 ESV).

“[W]e all start out as sinners. There’s nobody living right, not even one. [W]hatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity” (Rom 3:9-20 MSG).

“[T]he heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Ecc 8:11 ESV).

“[Y]ou want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves” (James 4:1-2 MSG).

“The idol of idols really is the idol of self. We make it all about us. We put ourselves in the center of the story” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Aug 3rd).

 “[T]he power of sin has been broken, but the presence of sin still remains inside us and is being progressively eradicated by God’s delivering grace. We all still carry around inside us the darkness of iniquity, transgression, and sin. We have not yet fully escaped the dire danger that is us” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Mar 18th).

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9 ESV).

“Not only the sins I have committed and still commit, but the evil nature, the unworthiness in me, I have to mortify” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p48).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

ASSURED OF HEAVEN

“It is not one or two good actions, but a consistent conduct, that tells whether a man is a true Christian….A Christian may stumble, he may even fall, but he gets up and walks on in the way of God’s commandments; the bent of his heart is right, and the scope of his life is straight, and thus he is considered sincere” George Swinnock (ref#225, Dec 11th).

A characteristic of a Christian is: “A man who is born again does not use the world’s opinion as his standard of right and wrong.  He does not mind going against the world’s ways, ideas, and customs.  What men think or say no longer concerns him….He finds no pleasure in things which seem to bring happiness to most people…He fears offending God more than offending man” J.C. Ryle (ref#222).

“I start…from the standpoint that I have been made a child of God by the grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ.  I am destined for heaven; I have an assurance that I have been called to go there and that God is going to take me there, and it is because I know this that I am preparing now.  I must never regard that as contingent and uncertain in order that I may make it certain.  It is exactly the other way round: it is because I know I am going to meet God that I must prepare to meet Him” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p41-42, underlining mine).

FATHER, I am “…spiritually and vitally united to Christ…” Charles Ross (ref#241, p120) therefore I behave like Him.  I don’t try to act like Him.  I am like Him.  In my walk with CHRIST I no more strive to be like Him.  That no longer concerns me; CHRIST has taken care of that.  Instead my walk is to prepare to meet Him in heaven.

A characteristic of a Christian is: “A man who is born again is careful of his own soul.  He tries not only to avoid sin but also to avoid everything which may lead to it.  He is careful about the company he keeps.  He knows that evil communications corrupt the heart, and that evil is more catching than good…He is careful about the use of his time; his chief desire is to spend it profitable” J.C. Ryle (ref#222).  And to spend it profitable is preparing to meet Him in heaven!

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

HYPOCRITES_4

“The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: ‘Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?  Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?’  He who walks righteously…” (Isa 33:14-15 ESV).

“There are two kinds of persons among God’s professing people: the one is those who are truly godly, the other kind consist of sinners in Zion, hypocrites…. hypocrites…make a profession of the true religion; they attend God’s ordinances and make a show of being the worshippers of God, but all is in hypocrisy.  Fearfulness will surprise them.  The wrath of God is in His Word manifested against the wicked, but it is ten times as much manifested against those sinners who make the profession and enjoy the privileges of the people of God….The reasons for this are chiefly these: they sin against such professions and vows, and they sin against so much greater mercy” Jonathan Edwards (ref#229, p59).

“Abstaining from sin.  This abstaining may be from restraining grace, not renewing grace.  Men may leave gross sin and yet live in more spiritual sins; leave drunkenness and live in pride; leave uncleanness and live in malice” Thomas Watson (ref#48, “The Counterfeits of the New Creature”).

“Many a man’s knowledge is a torch to light him to hell.  You who have knowledge of God’s will, but don’t do it, in what way do you excel a hypocrite” Thomas Watson (ref#225, May 23rd)?

“…a mighty supernatural power is needed if I am to come to Him who ‘justifieth the ungodly.’  None but the all-mighty Spirit can lift a stricken soul out of the guilt of despair and enable him to believe to the saving of his soul” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p93).

A characteristic of a Christian is: “He is painfully aware of his indwelling corruption.  He finds an evil principle within himself that is constantly warring against grace and trying to draw him away from God.  But he does not consent to it, though he cannot prevent its presence” J.C. Ryle (ref#222).  “Sanctification is…dependent on God’s continuing action in the believer, and consisting of the believer’s continuous struggle against sin….Sanctification is…human effort dependent on God” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p1650).

O FATHER, how I want to believe that all I pray for, who are unregenerate, are sinning in a way that does not lead to death and that eventually You will give them life.  I pray their sins are not obstinate sins, and thus, incurable.  Matthew Poole (ref#21, p941, [1 John 5:16]).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

HYPOCRITES_3

“Many in these days of easy profession are likely to prove to be tares, and not wheat; hypocrites with fair masks on their faces, but not the true-born children of the living God” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, April 26th PM).

Initial or preparative grace may fail: “’…those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,’ may fall away; such as illumination, external reformation, temporary faith, some good beginnings. Some die in the pangs of the new birth and are stillborn.  Plenty of blossoms do not always foretell a store of fruit” Thomas Manton (ref#225, Sept 28th).

“…enter into the spiritual state…know that there is such a spiritual life to be lived…the first thing…to do is to study and to believe God’s Word until in faith our hearts are filled with the assurance that there is such a life possible….the second step: A man must see the shame and guilt of his not having lived such a life….A man does not get converted without having conviction of sin….a man…must be convicted of his particular sin….Until this conviction of the wrongness of our carnal state as believers comes to each one of us; until we are willing to get this conviction from God, to take time before God to be humbled and convicted, we never can become spiritual men” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p16-20).

We become a brand new person inside.  Our new life has begun (2 Cor 5:17)—a life fashioned after CHRIST, renewed from the inside and able to work itself into our conduct as He accurately reproduces His character in us (Eph 4:24).  This metamorphosis is called, “sanctification” and we will keep changing for the better until the day we die (Phil 2:12).

A characteristic of a Christian is: “He may have fears and doubts.  He may sometimes tell you that he feels as if he had no faith at all.  But ask him if he is willing to trust in anything instead of Christ, and see what he will say.  Ask him if he will rest his hope of eternal life on his own goodness, his own works, his prayers, his minister, or his church” J.C. Ryle (ref#222).

FATHER, all that I pray for I pray they are not refusing Your diagnosis of their need and Your offer of forgiveness (ref#56, p1828, [1 John 1:10]).  I pray they are not chronically disobedient to Your commands (ref#125, p2437, [1 John 5:16]). For continuing in such a state leads to permanent death.

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

HYPOCRITES_2

“The highest principle with the hypocrite is fear of punishment, and hope of reward (Hos 10:11), their highest end is themselves (Hos 10:1)” Thomas  Boston (ref#267).

“To ‘live after the flesh’ is to be in love with sin, to serve it contentedly, to make self-gratification the trade and business of life.  It is by no means limited to the grosser forms of wickedness and crime, but includes as well the refinement, morality, and religiousness of the best of men, who yet give God no real place in their hearts and lives” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p111).

“You know the way of salvation.  You read it in the Bible, you hear it from the pulpit, and it is explained to you by friends; yet you neglect it and therefore, are not saved….Times of refreshing have come from the divine presence, yet you are without Christ….Affliction and prosperity have both failed to impress you.  Tears and prayers and sermons have been wasted on your barren heart” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Dec 31st AM).

“Are you ignorant of the Holy Spirit – unacquainted with his life-giving power?…You are still of the world, and what you need is to have your false peace disturbed, and to be converted to God” Charles Ross (ref#241, p93).

A characteristic of a Christian: “A person who has been born again, or regenerated, does not habitually commit sin.  He no longer sins with his heart and will and whole inclination.  There was probably a time when he did not think about whether his actions were sinful or not, and he did not always feel grieved after doing evil.  There was no quarrel between him and sin; they were friends.  But the true Christian hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, considers it his greatest plague, resents the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be completely delivered from it” J.C. Ryle (ref#222).

“What brought deliverance to that poor condemned sinner…in his unconverted state?  He felt he could do nothing good of himself….He saw set before him the almighty Saviour and he cast himself into His arms; he trusted himself to that omnipotent love and cried, ‘Lord, have mercy upon me.’  That was salvation” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p22-23).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

HYPOCRITES

“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice” (Prov 21:3 ESV).

“…the whole world…is without excuse.  For if we scrutinize the intentions of men, we eventually understand that people carefully and anxiously seek various superstitions because they are unwilling to come before God and to devote themselves to him without deceit and hypocrisy.  Since it is so, all who desire to pacify God with their own ceremonies and other trifles cannot by any pretext escape judgment” John Calvin (ref#164, May 25th).

“God has clearly and distinctly prescribed what he requires of us, but the ungodly wish to be ignorant of this.  Hence their error is at all times willful….It is much easier to render to God anything other than a broken heart and an upright life.  Sacrifices are easily obtained…” John Calvin (ref#164, May 25th).  My note: I would have to acknowledge that anyone who will not read Scripture and pray on a regular basis “wishes to be ignorant.”

“It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness;…paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions…I could go on….If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom” (Gal 5:19-21 MSG).

“The whole purpose of our salvation is that we be ‘holy and blameless in his sight’ (Eph 1:4).  To continue to live in sin as a Christian is to go contrary to God’s very purpose for our salvation” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p34).

A characteristic of a Christian is: “The man who is born again is a holy man.  He endeavors to live according to God’s will, to do the things that please God and to avoid the things that God hates….to prove himself to be Christ’s friend by doing whatever He commands…” J.C. Ryle (ref#222).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

NOT REAL

“There are many today who are sincere, but they are not real; they are not hypocrites, but perfectly honest and earnest and desirous of fulfilling what Jesus wants of them, but they really cannot do it because they have not received the Holy Spirit who will make them real” Oswald Chambers (ref#83, p85).

“It is the Holy Spirit alone who by His indwelling can make a spiritual man” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p25).

 “…I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom 10:2 ESV).  “…they trusted…and argued that because they were zealous they were therefore of necessity right….they rejected the knowledge the Gospel was offering them because of that very ardor.  The conflict in their case was between zeal and knowledge, between sincerity and truth” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, May 27th).

“There can be no doubt at all but that these qualities—zeal and sincerity—are being exalted in our day precisely as they were by the Jews of old.  Knowledge is being depreciated, almost despised.  Clear, logical thinking and exact definitions are discounted.  Doctrine and dogma are taboo and regarded as being almost the enemies of truth, and even good deeds are not given the prominence they had a few years ago” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, May 27th).

“…knowledge…draws us to the kingdom of heaven or takes our affections from the world, and leads us to Jesus Christ…when we do not know what the salvation means that was purchased by our Lord Jesus Christ, we belong to the world and are profane” John Calvin (ref#164, Nov 9th).

A characteristic of a Christian is: “A man who is born again…believes that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour who can pardon his soul, that He is the divine person appointed by God the Father for this very purpose, and beside Him there is no Saviour at all….trusting in Him, he believes that his sins are all forgiven.  He believes that, for the sake of Christ’s finished work and death on the Cross, he is reckoned righteous in God’s sight. (Rom 4:20-5:1, 8:1)” J.C. Ryle (ref#222).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

PHARISEES

“…others…have strained after holiness of life, but have denied the faith, like the Pharisees of old” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Sept 18th AM).

“…few people are aware how far an individual may go—not merely in an outward change of character and an external union to Christ, but in a strong resemblance to the positive and manifest evidences of the new birth—without actually possessing any of them….the soul…the will…and the heart…are all unrenewed by the Holy Spirit….It is surprising how far an outwardly moral individual may seem to progress—spiritual knowledge, eminent gifts, and even great usefulness—while yet retaining the carnal mind, the rebellious will, the unhumbled and unbroken heart….we should be perpetually beguiled into the belief that a head filled with rational, theoretical truth must necessarily be connected with some degree of divine grace in the heart… let no man be so deceived as to substitute knowledge for grace” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 7th).

An outward man may have occasionally slight works of the SPIRIT.  The SPIRIT may be present to convict him by not convert him.  “True conversion and repentance consists of a true and thorough change of the whole man, whereby not only some actions are changed, but first and chiefly the whole frame and disposition of the heart is changed.  He is now set aright toward God, from evil to good, as well as from darkness to light (Eph 4:22-24)” Henry Scudder (ref#225, Oct 11th).

A characteristic of a Christian is: “He cannot prevent bad thoughts from entering his mind, or shortcomings, omissions, and defects from appearing in both his words and his actions….But…his whole nature does not consent to them” J.C. Ryle (ref#222).

“The believer’s calling is to think and feel and will just what Jesus thought and felt and willed” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p154).

COMPATIBILISM

DEPENDENT RESPONSIBILITY

Peter’s words accusing his fellow Jews of crucifying JESUS:

“this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23 ESV).  “Though one may not understand fully how God’s sovereign ordination of events can be compatible with human responsibility for evil, both are clearly affirmed here and in many other passages of Scripture (cf. notes on 3:13-16; 3:17; 4:27; 4:28)” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2084, [Acts 2:23]).

“There are many instances in the Scriptures where the concepts of both dependence and responsibility appear in the same sentence or paragraph.” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p130).

“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain….” (Ps 127:1 ESV).

“Hundreds of passages…could be explored to demonstrate that the Bible assumes both that God is sovereign and that people are responsible for their actions.  As hard as it is for many people in the Western world to come to terms with both truths at the same time, it takes a great deal of interpretative ingenuity to argue that the Bible does not support them” (D.A. Carson) Justin Taylor (ref#295).

“…we are both dependent and responsible…Nehemiah…prayed and posted a guard.  He recognized his dependence on God, but he also accepted his responsibility to work…” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p131).

“God’s sovereignty is compatible with human responsibility.  Israel should have believed the gospel and trusted in Christ, but the majority refused to do so.  Still God’s saving promises will be fulfilled” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2174, [Rom 9:30 – 11:10]).

FATHER, as J.C. Ryle, this is what I believe: “I grant most fully that saving faith, like true repentance, is the gift of God.  I grant that we have no natural power of our own to believe on Christ, receive Christ, come to Christ, lay hold on Christ, and commit our souls to Christ.  But I see faith and repentance laid down clearly in Scripture as dutieswhich God requires at any man’s hands….(Acts xvii. 30; 1 John iii. 23.)  And I see it laid down with no less clearness, that unbelief and impenitence are sins for which man will be held accountable, and that he who does not repent and believe destroys his own soul (Mark xvi. 16; Luke xiii.3)” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p194).

“…what can be known about God is plain…his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse” (Rom 1:19-20 ESV).

REDEMPTION

THE TRIUNE GOD IN REDEMPTION

“Redemption is the result of the compassion of all three Persons in the Trinity” J.C. Ryle (ref#273, p173).

“…one God without division in a Trinity of persons, and three persons without confusion in an unity of essence….The Trinity is a mystery which my faith embraces as revealed in the Word, but my reason cannot fathom” John Arrowsmith (ref#225, May 18th).

“God the Father has made everything through the Son by the Holy Spirit.  The blessed Trinity is operative in the whole work, always, but labor is divided up” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Jan 10th).  “In the economy of redemption all is from the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit.  All proceeds from the foreordination of the Father, all that comes to the believer is through Christ, that is, on account of His infinite merits: all is actually wrought by the Spirit, for He is the Executive of the Godhead, the active Agent in all the works of redemption” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p169).

God said, Let us make man in our image” (Gen 1:26).  Do not let man be content until he knows something of the ‘us’…Endeavor to know the Father…Sit at His table, and let your heart be made merry in His grace.  Then press forward and seek to know much of the Son…Know Him in the unique complexity of His nature: eternal God, yet suffering finite man….Do not forget the Holy Spirit…who first of all moved upon chaos and brought forth order; who now visits the chaos of your soul and creates the order of holiness” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, May 8th PM).

FATHER, I marvel at the complexity of the Godhead.  I marvel more that You have shown me love through redemption.