FEAR OF GOD

“Do you hope in the one you fear and fear the one you hope in” John Piper (ref #220, p197)?

“[T]he LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread” (Isa 8:13 ESV).

“When the fear of God overwhelms and controls your heart, it protects you from the paralyzing and debilitating fear of other things” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Aug 26th).

“[F]ear reflects the greatness of his power and our hope reflects the bounty of his grace. God delights in those responses which mirror his magnificence. This is just what we would have expected from a God who is all-sufficient in himself and has no need of us—a God who will never give up the glory of being the fountain of all joy, who will never surrender the honor of being the source of all safety, who will never abdicate the throne of sovereign grace. God has pleasure in those who hope in his love because that hope highlights the freedom of his grace. When I cry out, ‘God is my only hope, my rock, my refuge!’ I am turning from myself and calling all attention to the boundless resources of God” John Piper (ref# 220, p199).

“’The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him,’ and to fear Him is not to dread Him as a slave, but, as a child, to walk blameless in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 30).

“What kind of response can God demand from us so that the demand gives good news to us and glory to him? This is the answer: the demand to hope in his love with an earnest, profound sense of his awesome power: John Piper (ref#220, p199).

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18 ESV).

“[W]hen you hope in God you show that he is strong and you are weak; that he is rich and you are poor; that he is full and you are empty. When you hope in God you show that you are the one who has needs, not God” John Piper (ref#220, p200).

“Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence, assured of his glad welcome” (Eph 3:12 NLT).

REALIZING THE TRUTH ABOUT MYSELF

“To be humble as we should be, we must know ourselves. There must be no disguising of our true condition from ourselves or from God. Where love declines, there must be a cause; and, when found, it must be immediately removed” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Jul 16th).

“Some people feel pure, but they are filthy and unwashed” (Prov 30:11-12 NLT).

“[T]here is none who does good, not even one” (Ps 53:3 ESV).

“[T]here is only one way I know to realise the love of God, and that is to realise the truth about myself. We have to be made worse before we can be made better; there are times when we have to be cruel to be kind. We may have to clean that wound before we can put in the oil that will soothe it. We must get rid of certain things, and that is a painful process. Therefore, the highway to realising the love of God is to realise the truth about ourselves. [T]hat is to realise that you are a hopeless, damned sinner, that you can do nothing about yourself. You can never put yourself right; you can never make yourself fit to stand in the presence of God. You must realise that you are altogether lost and undone and heading straight for hell, and that is where you would arrive, were it not that God in His infinite, everlasting love sent His only begotten Son not only into the world, but to the cruel death of the cross, so that you might be forgiven, that you might be saved” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#332, p524).

“God loves: an open, honest confession of sin. Though He searches and knows all hearts, He yet delights in the frank and detailed acknowledgment of sin from His backsliding child. Is this all He requires of His poor wandering child? That is all! I am a backslider, a wanderer, a prodigal. I have strayed from Thee like a lost sheep. My love has waxed cold, my steps have slackened in the path of holy obedience, my mind has yielded to the corrupting, deadening influence of the world, and my affections have wandered in search of other earthly objects of delight. [A]ll we do is defaced with sin” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Jul 17th).

“ [S]top having fellowship with the unfruitful works of this darkness, but rather be rebuking them so as to bring out confession and conviction” (Eph 5:11 Wuest)

“Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression” (Ps 19:13 ESV).

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).

SINNERS SAVED BY GRACE

“Grace has given you a fleshy heart, one that is moldable by transforming grace. [W]hen you sin your conscience bothers you. [O]r you can erect some system of self-justification that makes what God says is wrong acceptable to your conscience. We are all so good at doing this. We are good at pointing to something or someone who justifies what we have done. What is deadly about this is that when you convince yourself that you are righteous, you quit seeking the grace that is your only hope in life or death. We are all in daily and desperate need of forgiving, rescuing, transforming, and delivering grace” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, March 30th).

“The battle with indwelling evil is still waged, the loving chastisement of a Father is still experienced, self-condemnation is still felt yet ’No condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus’ (Rom 8:1). The freedom of the believer is just what it is declared to be—entire exemption from condemnation” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Nov 5th).

Today you are not alone against temptation because the One who is your Savior is also your fortress, your hiding place, and your defense. [Y]ou live in a world that has been dramatically broken by sin and does not function the way God intended. Because the world you live in isn’t operating as per God’s original design, it presents you with temptations everywhere you live. These temptations play to the sin and weakness that still lives inside you and that is being progressively eradicated by God’s transforming grace. [E]ven though we are God’s children, we lack the power on our own to fight the spiritual battles in which the world of sin and temptation engages us. As we face our vulnerability and weakness, there are things you and I should pray for regularly. We should pray for purity of desire, wisdom to recognize the enemy’s tricks, and strength to fight the battles we can’t avoid. [W]e need protection, not just from external temptation but from our own blind eyes and wandering hearts. [W]e are never, ever alone. God is with us He provides the safety we could never provide for ourselves. He fights on our behalf even when we don’t have the sense to resist” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Feb 2nd).

“We know that none of the God-born makes a practice of sin—fatal sin. The God-born are also the God-protected. The Evil One can’t lay a hand on them. We know that we are held firm by God; it’s only the people of the world who continue in the grip of the Evil One” (1 John 5:18-21 MSG).

“Your sins and mine do not any longer belong to us; they have been taken from us; He has made Himself responsible for them. He is bearing away my sins and yours” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p55).

“[H]e walked through my death. And he didn’t simply die. He was condemned. He didn’t simply leave heaven for me; he endured hell for me. He, not deserving to be condemned, absorbed it in my place—I, who alone deserved it. That is his heart” Dane Ortland (ref#382, p192).

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).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

EMPTY PROFESSORS

“Every bird that hath fine feathers hath not sweet flesh; all that shine with the golden feathers of profession are not saints.  How devout were the Pharisees” Thomas Watson (ref#48, “The Counterfeits of the New Creature”)!

 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord! Will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter” (Matt 7:21 NLT).

“Our blessed Lord foresaw and forewarned men of the danger that an outward profession of the gospel may exist though the heart be yet a stranger to its power….There may be a deep and clear knowledge of divine truth, a strongly enlightened judgment, and a sound and scriptural creed.  There may be a strong attachment to and zealous maintenance of some of the distinguishing doctrines of grace—even a desire to hear of Christ and an ability to judge between sound and unsound preaching. And all the while, the heart is encased in the hardness of impenitence and unbelief, a stranger to the regenerating influence of the Spirit of God” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, June 9th).

“…for a man to get out of the carnal life into the spiritual life…is when a man utterly breaks with the flesh, when he gives up the flesh into the crucifixion death of Christ, when he sees that everything about it is accursed and that he cannot deliver himself from it, and then claims the slaying power of Christ’s cross within him” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p21).

“According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q. 35), sanctification is ‘the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness’” The Reformation Study Bible(ref#56, p1650).

FATHER, in 1 John 5:15 You say you will give me what I ask for and then follow it with: “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life…” (1 John 5:16 ESV).  I do not know where the names of the people on my prayer list are in their spiritual life, because I only see the outward signs, but, I pray for their spiritual welfare with all “hope and expectation of success” Matthew Poole (ref#21, p941, [1 John 5:16]).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

BACKSLIDERS – LOST THEIR FIRST LOVE

CHRIST warned the church at Ephesus for they had abandoned their love for Him.  They toiled and patiently endured, and could not bear those who were evil, and judged those who were false.  They did not grow weary in their work, but they had forgotten CHRIST, which made it impossible to continue growing spiritually (Rev 2:1-4).

“’Remember from whence thou art fallen’—revert to your past history, your former spiritual state; remember your first sorrow for sin, the first joy of its pardon; remember the springtime of your first love.  How precious Jesus was, how glorious was His person, how sweet was His cross, how fragrant was His name, how rich was His grace.  Remember how dear to you was the throne of grace, how frequently you resorted to it….’Repent, and do the first works’….[backsliding] is a sin of peculiar magnitude; it is a sin against God in the character of a loving Father, against Jesus in the character of a tender Redeemer, against the Holy Spirit in the character of a faithful Indweller and a Sanctifier.  It is a sin against the most precious experience of His grace, against the most melting exhibitions of His love, and against the most tender proofs of His covenant faithfulness” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Oct 23rd, brackets mine.)

“A Christian living in the daily neglect of self-examination must not marvel if, at a certain period of his religious course, he finds himself trembling on the brink of gloomy despondency, his evidences gone, his hope obscured, and all the past of his Christian profession appearing to his view as a fearful delusion” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Oct 10th).

FATHER, as we end the subject of backsliders, (since we all fit into that category occasionally), certainly we should take a moment and contemplate if we still love CHRIST as much as we did at first.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting” (Ps 139: 23-24 ESV)!

“Conscience is read, motives are studied, principles are sorted out, actions are examined, the heart is searched, sin is confessed, and iniquity is acknowledged, as can only be done alone in the presence of Jesus” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 17th).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

BACKSLIDERS – CONTENT IN THEIR STATE

“A believer may fall into a drowsy state of soul—not so profoundly as to be entirely lost to the voice of his Beloved speaking by conscience, by the Word, and by providence; yet his grace may have decayed so far, his love may have grown so cold, and his declension may have been so hardened, that he is content in this state.  Oh, alarming symptom of soul-declension: the indulgence of laziness and self is preferred to a visit from Jesus” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 28th)!

“They are converted; they know what it is to have assurance and faith; they believe in pardon for sin; they begin to work for God; and yet…there is none of the beauty of holiness or of the power of God’s Spirit in them” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p9).

FATHER, backsliders have walked in Your ways long enough to have “…seen the light, gotten a taste of heaven and been part of the work of the Holy Spirit…” (Heb 6:4-8 MSG).  They have personally experienced the sheer goodness of Your Word and the powers of the age to come (Heb 6:5) but have, at some point, turned away from CHRIST.  (These words in Hebrews may describe one who has never experienced regeneration but these Scriptures also fit the definition of a backslider.)

GOD…”would walk with them all the day long, and sun them with the unclouded light of His countenance.  But when He hides Himself for a little moment, He is driven from their embrace by their lukewarmness of heart and unkind resistance of His love” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 28th).

FATHER, You tell us to not grieve Your SPIRIT; we grieve You when we do that.  There are endless ways we injure You, GOD.  How continually You must discipline us to move us back into a right relationship with You.  We are constantly “high maintenance.”  But that shows Your longsuffering love and faithfulness.  Once we are reunited we possess much to praise and glorify You.

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

BACKSLIDERS – ENDANGERED SOULS

“…so much as the flesh is gratified, so much is the soul endangered” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p111).

“Remember that, though your love has waxed cold, the love of your God and Father towards you never diminishes; it has never known even a shadow of change….God has never, not even for a moment, turned His back on you, though you have turned yours on Him times without number.  His face has always been toward you…” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Aug 22nd).

“If…children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules,  if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness” (Ps 89:30-33 ESV).

“All spiritual declension in the true believer necessarily implies the actual possession of grace….In the lowest condition of the believer, Christ never denies His own work in the soul….” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Oct 10th).

“True grace may suffer a shrewd decay, but not an utter loss.  In temptations it may be sorely shaken; the heel may be bruised, as Christ’s was, but ‘his seed remaineth in him’” Thomas Manton (ref#225, Sept 28th).

“If God says, “Return,” that is sufficient for you.  You need nothing more; if He is willing to receive you back, to pardon your sins, to forget your ingratitude, to heal your backslidings, and to restore your soul, you have the broadest warrant to return…He is on the eager lookout for your first movement towards Him…He sends His own Spirit to work that return in your soul, to break your heart, to waken your slumbering spirit, and to draw you and win you to His arms” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 10th).

FATHER, in the Apostle Paul’s writing to the Corinthian church he calls them all “saints.”  They have much to learn in their walk of sanctification, and despite their unloving activities, Paul is sympathetic toward them.

Paul “…takes them by the hand and goes over all the old ground again, directing them in how to work all the glorious details of God’s saving love into their love for one another” MSG Bible (ref#262, p398, “Introduction to 1 Corinthians”).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

BACKSLIDERS – CARNAL-LIKE BUT SAVED


“…Better not to have started out on the straight road to God than to start out and then turn back…”
(2 Pet 2:20-22 MSG).

“All backsliding has its commencement in the neglect of prayer…do you tremble at the possibility of ever becoming a backslider?  Do you dread the thought of wounding Jesus?  Then do not restrain prayer before God….A distant walk from God will induce distant thoughts of God….The more we know of God, the more we love Him; the more we try Him, the more we confide in Him….In order to reap the proper fruit of the Lord’s dealing with the soul, it is necessary that they should be viewed in the light of His faithfulness and love.  The moment they are interpreted otherwise, the soul heads away from God and wraps itself up in gloomy and repulsive views of His character, and government, and dealings” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Oct 5th, underlining mine).

“…the great difficulty in a backsliding soul is to bring it to the necessary, spiritual duty of self-scrutiny….Perhaps nothing tends more to unhinge the soul from God and engender distrust, hard thoughts, and rebellious feelings than to doubt thus His loving-kindness and faithfulness in the discipline He is pleased to send” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 16th).

“Trouble is often the means whereby God delivers us.  God knows that our backsliding will soon end in our destruction, and, in mercy, He sends the rod….our trouble has been the means of delivering us from far greater evil” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Jan 24th AM).

“…faith…anchoring itself on divine truth and the unchangeable love of God, is sure to strengthen and increase by every storm that beats on it….Is it the enchantment of the world that…caught you with its glitter, and overwhelming you with its crushing cares?…He was never known to cast out anyone who in lowliness and brokenness of heart sought His compassionate grace” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 16th).