OVERCOMING SIN WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

“The Holy Spirit strengthens us to holiness first by enabling us to see our need of holiness. He enlightens our understanding so that we begin to see God’s standard of holiness. Then he causes us to become aware of our specific areas of sin” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p72).

“Though you become greatly sanctified by the Holy Spirit, expect that the great dog of hell will still bark at you” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Feb 20th PM).

“As you would not be taken with any of Satan’s devices, take heed of vexing and grieving the Holy Spirit of God. It is the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ that is best able to discover Satan’s snares against us. Man is a weak creature and no way able to discover Satan’s snares nor to avoid them, unless the Spirit of the Lord gives skill and power” Thomas Brooks (ref#379, p32).

“If you would not be taken with any of Satan’s devices, then labor to be filled with the Spirit. It is not enough that you have the Spirit, but you must be filled with the Spirit; or else Satan, that evil spirit, will be too hard for you, and his plots will prosper against you. [L]abor for abundance of the Spirit” Thomas Brooks (ref#379, p33).

“The Spirit of the Lord is your counselor, your comforter, your upholder, your strengthener. It is only the Spirit that makes a man too great for Satan to conquer: ‘Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world’” Thomas Brooks (ref#379, p33).

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13 ESV).

“We are controlled not by our sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in us. ‘Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature’ (Galatians 5:16)” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p71).

He has given us His Holy Spirit to live within us. [T]his is another way of looking at our union with Christ, for His Spirit is the agent of this union. It is He who gives spiritual life and the strength to live that life. It is the Spirit of God who works in us that we may decide and act according to God’s good purpose (Philippians 2:13)” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p71).

HOW TO OVERCOME SIN

“We must recognize that we have developed habit patterns of sin. We have developed the habit of shading the facts a little bit when it is to our advantage. We have developed the habit of giving in to the inertia that refuses to let us get up in the morning. These habits must be broken but they never will till we make a basic commitment to a life of holiness without exceptions” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p92).

“Jesus was tempted in the same way that we are: although Jesus was tempted, He never sinned; therefore, it is not necessary for us to sin. Jesus was a man, and if one Man endured these temptations and did not sin, then in His power, the members of His body may also refrain from sin. There is no sin in being tempted, only in yielding to temptation” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Oct 3rd PM).

“The Christian should never complain of want of ability and power. If we sin, it is because we choose to sin, not because we lack the ability to say no to temptation” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p80).

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom 6:6 ESV).

“[W]e must have conviction. [C]onvictions are developed through exposure to the Word of God” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p85).

“The Holy Spirit is the effective Helper. Men may employ the aids of inward rigor and outward severity, and they may for a time stifle and suppress their evil habits; but unless the Spirit of God work in us, nothing can amount to true mortification. The Christian is not passive, but active in this work. We are bidden to ‘cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit’ (2 Cor. 7:1). We are exhorted to ‘build up yourselves on your most holy faith’ and ‘keep ourselves in the love of God’ (Jude 20, 21)” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p114).

“[N]ot allowing sin to reign in our mortal bodies—is something we have to do” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p52).

HOW TO MORTIFY SIN

“’Am I willing to give up a certain practice or habit that is keeping me from holiness’?” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p91).

“The action we are to take is to put to death the misdeeds of the body (Romans 8:13). ‘Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature’ (Colossians 3:5). The King James Version uses the term mortify. According to the dictionary, mortify means ‘to destroy the strength, vitality, or functioning of; to subdue or deaden.’ To put to death the misdeeds of the body, then, is to destroy the strength and vitality of sin as it tries to reign in our bodies” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p84).

“Mortification is a task to which every Christian must address himself with prayerful and resolute earnestness. Nevertheless it is a task far transcending our feeble powers. It is only ‘through the Spirit’ that any of us can acceptably and effectually (in any degree) ‘mortify the deeds of the body.’ He it is who works in us a loathing of sin, a mourning over it, a turning away from it. He it is who presses upon us the claims of Christ, reminding us that inasmuch as He died for sin, we must spare no efforts to die to sin” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p115).

“The believer died to sin once and he has been translated to another realm. It is because we were in this realm of sin, under its reign and rule, that we began to sin from infancy. Because we were slaves we acted like slaves. We developed sinful habits and a sinful character. Even if we were what the world considers ‘good,’ we lived for ourselves, not for God. Our attitude toward Christ was expressed by the words of His enemies: ‘We don’t want this man to be our king’ (Luke 19:14)” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p54-55).

“True mortification consists in weakening sin’s root and principle. True mortification consists in suppressing the risings of inward corruptions: by turning a deaf ear to their voice, by crying to God for grace so to do, by pleading the blood of Christ for deliverance. True mortification consists in restraining its outward actings: ‘denying ungodliness,’ (Titus 2:12)” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p114).

“Because we are dead to sin, through our union with Christ, we are not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p53).

“[P]resent yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instrument for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Rom 6:13-14 ESV).

“Departing from iniquity is the lifelong calling and pursuit of true Christians. Are you intimately involved in this pursuit? Do you long and strive to walk in the King’s highway of holiness on a daily basis” John Calvin (ref#164, Nov 10th)?

SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS

“I know that I suffer from spiritual blindness and don’t see myself accurately” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, May 18th).

“The old life was disciplined [trained] toward ungodliness. We all tend to act according to these sinful habits that have been engraved in us from long practice” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p55).

“Sin does two very significant things to us all. First, it causes us all to insert ourselves into the center of our worlds, making life all about us. In our self-focus, we are all too motivated by our wants, our needs, and our feelings, and because we are, we tend to be more aware of what we don’t have than of the many wonderful blessings that we have been given. But there is more; because we are self-focused, we tend to be scorekeepers, constantly comparing our piles of stuff to the piles of others. It’s a life of discontentment and envy. Envy is always selfish” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Jan 6th).

“We struggle with pride, jealously, materialism, impatience, and lust. We still eat too much, waste our time, criticize each other, shade the truth just a little, and indulge in a dozen other sins, all the time hating ourselves for doing them” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p51).

“[W]e eat and drink just to gratify physical desire. [W]e lie in bed in the morning simply because we don’t ‘feel’ like getting up when we should. [W]e give in to immoral looks and thoughts” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p108).

“No need to carry the burden of ownership of your life today. You’ve been bought with a price, so you don’t belong to you anymore” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, May 30th).

“The God who now owns you is committed to keep you and care for you. He covers your past with his grace; he protects, provides for, and empowers you in the present; and he holds every aspect of your future in his sovereign and gracious hands” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, May 30th).

“Yes, because you were purchased at the price of blood, you don’t belong to you anymore. But that is a good thing. The One who now owns you is a wiser and more powerful manager of your life than you ever would have been. He cares for you with magnificent grace, incalculable wisdom, and limitless power. Being owned by him means you are in the best of hands. It means you’re no longer burdened by living for you. A new owner has taken control of your life, and this new owner is more capable than anyone or anything you could give your life to” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, May 30th).

GRACE TO BE HONEST ABOUT OUR SIN

“I am not really that excited about grace. Why? Because I have convinced myself that I don’t really need the rescue and forgiveness that grace offers. And to the degree that I am able to work myself into believing that I am righteous, I have less esteem for the perfect righteousness of Christ, which is the only righteousness with which I can stand before God. [S]elf-righteousness stands in the way of that grace having functional and transformative value in my life” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, May 18th).

“Here was my functional theology of my life as a child of God: I knew that by grace I had been granted God’s forgiveness and I knew that I had been graced with an all-inclusive pass into eternity, but I thought that between now and then, my job was to just gut it out. It was my responsibility to identify sin, to cut it out of my life, and to give myself to living in a much better, more biblical way. I tried this, trust me; I tried it and found it didn’t work” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Jan 7th).

“How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort” (Gal 3:3 NLT).

“[I]t is a right affection if we desire to do well; if we hate sin, though we falter, seeing our purpose is good; and if we strive to go forward in the fear of God and in obedience to his will. Jesus Christ then accounts us as though we were just; he frees us from all our faults and does not charge them to our account. The faithful, though they are not entirely perfect and though they have many sins, are considered to be God’s children. Jesus Christ considers it no dishonor that they are called by his name, for he causes the goodness that is in them and through his grace makes them acceptable to God” John Calvin (ref#164, Nov 10th).

“We must keep going back to His grace. Only the grace of God revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ will give us the courage to get up again and keep on going even after we have failed for the umpteenth time. It is only grace that will allow us to be as honest about our sin as David was about his” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p206).

 “[J]ust as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification” (Rom 6:19 ESV).

“Here is one of the most beautiful fruits of grace—a heart that is content, more given to worship than demand and more given to the joy of gratitude than the anxiety of want. It is grace and grace alone that can make this kind of peaceful living possible for each of us” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Jan 6th).

“Make no allowance for sin, frame no excuses for inactivity, shrink from no cross, be disheartened by no difficulty, give place to no temptation, yield to no excessive grief” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Mar 28th).

THE NEW BIRTH

“for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed our cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer 2:13 ESV).

“How wonderful is the love of God in giving his Son to die for such wretches! And how strong and absolute is the necessity of a new birth, if we would be happy. The propensities of fallen nature are not eradicated in the children of God, though by grace they are made partakers of a new principle, which enables them, in the Lord’s strength, to resist and mortify the body of sin, so that it cannot reign in them. [E]vil is latent in the hearts of the best men” John Newton (ref#322, p111).

“[W]e know that we are children of God when we are deeply aware of sin within. Next there is a desire for God and a desire for the things of God and a desire to walk in the ways of God” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p28).

“[T]hough believers still have this indwelling propensity to sin, the Holy Spirit maintains within us a prevailing desire for holiness (1 John 3:9). The believers struggles with the sin God enables him to see in himself” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p60).

“[P]ut off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:22-24 ESV).

“In every believer’s heart there is a constant struggle between the old nature and the new. The old nature is very active, and it loses no opportunity of plying all the weapons of its deadly armory against newborn grace; while on the other hand, the new nature is ever on the watch to resist and destroy its enemy. Grace within us will employ prayer, faith, hope, and love to cast out the evil. It takes to it the ‘whole armour of God’ (Eph. 6:11) and wrestles earnestly” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, June 2nd AM).

“The spiritual healing of the Great Physician is only ever esteemed by those who acknowledge that they still suffer from the spiritual disease of sin” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Feb 24th).

“[P]ut on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14 ESV).

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” Dane Ortland (ref#382, p190).

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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?

NO SHORTCUTS

“False teaching is easily identified by the fact that it is willingly received by all, and is to everyone’s liking.” John Calvin

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God.  The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time.  Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do.  The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention” (Matt 7:13-14 MSG).

“We can be committed to a set of Christian values or to a lifestyle of discipleship without being committed to God Himself” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p149).

“When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me” John Piper (ref#220, p124).  “If we love Christ, it is because he loved us first (1 John 4:19).  If we are Christians at all, it is not because we have decided for Christ, but because Christ has decided for us” John Stott (ref#258, p18).

FATHER, it is so easy for us to choose our own work we are going to do for you.  Caution us when we find our choice doable and satisfying—even if it is “difficult and meticulous at times” it still can be our own choosing.  John Fischer (ref#3, p10).  The standards we tend to set for ourselves in work choices are just “difficult enough to weed out the undesirables but not so difficult as to become overly burdensome” John Fischer (ref#3, p10).  The sin of pursuing Christianity by human methods disguised itself so easily as spiritual activity.  FATHER, prompt us to recognize the subtlety of working for ourselves instead of following GOD’s choice.

 “…self is the cause for every sin, every shortcoming, all failure, and all that has been dishonoring to God…let us allow Jesus Christ to take entire control of our life, in the faith that His life can be ours” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p38).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

CULTURAL HOLINESS

“Many Christians have what we might call a ‘cultural holiness.’  They adapt to the character and behavior pattern of Christians around them.  As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p22).  “…those who grew up ‘in the faith’ but had no faith…” (Matt 8:10-12 MSG).

“…the present generation has been brought up to believe in the doctrines and religious customs of their ancestors…that…makes it more difficult, and calls for a more careful self-examination, to ascertain whether or not he has been taught of the Lord” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p103-104).

“…these…rest upon their intellectual knowledge of the Truth, and mistake it for a saving experience of the same.  And it is this class which…is the hardest to reach: it is much more difficult to persuade such to examine themselves as to whether or not they have been taught of God, than it is those who make no profession at all” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p104).

“…there are a lot of rebels out there, full of loose, confusing, and deceiving talk.  Those who were brought up religious and ought to know better are the worst….They say they know God, but their actions speak louder than their words….” (Titus 1:10-16 MSG).

“I would issue a strong warning…to…moral, civil, well-natured people, good-livers, as we call them….when this virtuous, natural disposition has the advantage of a godly education, these sort of people come quickly to look very well; and, therefore, they ought to take great care….” Robert Traill (ref#225, March 27th).

“Moral, civil people are in great danger…they think they have sufficient assets of their own and therefore, they do not borrow from Christ” Robert Traill (ref#225, March 27th).

FATHER, these long-time pew-sitters are in great danger indeed.  They are “babes in CHRIST” that are lulled to contentment in virtue of their good actions and spiritual knowledge.  But they are static babes, presently stagnant in their growth toward holiness having no idea that “moral conformity’” is vastly different than the “Gospel.” Timothy Keller (ref#123, p69)   I pray for these who find themselves in this quote: “…I have been brought up as a Christian; I have always tried to do good.  I have never been conscious of the fact that I am a sinner, that I need repentance, and that I must be converted” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Sept 26th).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

DOUBLE MINDED CHRISTIANS

“It is not enough to yield assent to the divine word unless that is accompanied with true and pure affection, so that our hearts are not double or divided” John Calvin (ref#164, March 2nd).

Double minded Christians are “babes.”  They have the right actions but are only actors.  They are yet fleshly but preform spiritually.  They are “…people of the flesh…infants in Christ” (1 Cor 3:1 ESV).

“…you can’t have it both ways, banqueting with the Master one day and slumming with demons the next.  Besides, the Master won’t put up with it.  He wants us—all or nothing.  Do you think you can get off with anything less” (1 Cor 10:19-22 MSG).

“…they flattered him [the Most High God] with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues.  Their heart was not steadfast toward him…” (Ps 78:36-37 ESV).  “…they were carnal, and not qualified to understand the deep mysteries of the gospel…” Albert Barnes (ref#299).

“Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath.  He remembered that they were but flesh…” (Ps 78:38-39 ESV).

“…when we come to Jesus, a marvelous exchange takes place….He first lifts our burden and then lays his upon us instead.  But too many people, influenced by the ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ mentality of postmodernism, want the rest without the yoke; they want to lose their burden but not to gain Christ’s.  Yet the two invitations of Jesus [Matt 11:29-30] belong together; we have no liberty to pick and choose between them” John Stott (ref#258, p128, brackets mine).

“It is possible for us to do the right action from a wrong motive…Holiness has to do with more than mere acts.  Our motives must be holy, that is, arising from a desire to do something simply because it is the will of God” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p43).

“’Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit….For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt 12:33-34 ESV).