Tag Archives: Christian Growth

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Transformation of the Mind

And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Rom. 12:1-2 NLT

My Paraphrase of Romans 12:1-2:

Based on the fact that God has done so much for us in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, we should give ourselves wholly to God. By giving ourselves wholly to God, we worship. Our worship blesses God’s heart and our heart devotion replaces Temple ritual. We are to stop thinking like the world does assuming that God does not care about our needs or supernaturally acts in our personal lives. The world believes that only what can be seen is reality. The spirit of the world is embodied in the love of money, hunger for unbridled sex, and thirst for power. Don’t believe the way the world does, but change the way you think. As you change the way you think, you will mature and take on Christ’s character. As you grow up in Christ, you will know God’s heart and then you will be able to do exactly what God wants.

Commentary:

Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us not to entertain evil thoughts or allow our minds to become passive. The Apostle Paul reminds us that our reasoning processes are fallen and that they must be guarded. If our thoughts are not filtered by Holy Spirit discernment, Satan will use our minds to delude us and misled us into error. This error is not just about doctrine, but also concerns our everyday choices and life decisions. In other words, don’t believe everything you think, but allow the Word of God and the Spirit of God to transform all your thought processes.

Never submit to the tyrannous idea that you cannot look after your mind; you can. If a man lets his garden alone it very soon ceases to be a garden; and if a saint lets his mind alone it will soon become a rubbish heap for Satan to make use of. Read the terrible things the New Testament says will grow in the mind of a saint if he does not look after it. We have to rouse ourselves up to think, to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (rv). Never pray about evil thoughts, it will fix them in the mind.

Oswald Chambers, The Moral Foundation of Life : A Series of Talks on the Ethical Principles of the Christian Life (Hants UK: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1996, c1966).

The Paradoxical Christian

What is Christian Maturity?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

2 Cor. 12:9

We misunderstand Christian maturity: I will grow and grow and grow and become more adequate, more sufficient, and more spiritually powerful. I will never fail, struggle, or be tempted. I will never have dry times, dark times, or difficult times. I think things will get easier and I will sail above the storm clouds and tumults of this life.

However, the Christian life is a paradox: the more I grow the less adequate I feel. I become more aware of my weaknesses, failures, and temptations. I feel a greater need for Jesus and his all-sufficient grace. I cry out for more of his Holy Spirit power. I yearn for his sufficiency in the midst of my inadequacy. I am more dependent on the Holy Spirit to live his life in and through me. I am only victorious because of Jesus’ moment-by-moment presence. My victory is only found in throwing myself at Jesus’ feet and looking to the Cross to my help and hope.

He [i.e., the Christian] is strongest when he is weakest and weakest when he is strong. Though poor he has the power to make others rich, but when he becomes rich his ability to enrich others vanishes. He has most after he has given most away and has least when he possesses most. He may be and often is highest when he feels lowest and most sinless when he is most conscious of sin. He is wisest when he knows that he knows not and knows least when he has acquired the greatest amount of knowledge. He sometimes does most by doing nothing and goes furthest when standing still. In heaviness he manages to rejoice and keeps his heart glad even in sorrow.

A. W. Tozer,  That Incredible Christian (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1964), 12.

“I Belong to My Brothers and Sisters”

The Case Against Individualism

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.

1 Cor. 12:12-14 (NKJV)

Individualism is a false conviction of the heart which says that I am not answerable, responsible, or obligated to anyone including friends, family, church leaders or even God. It is self-deception which masks itself as a “leading from God,” but portrays an attitude of rebellion toward God’s revealed will.

Individualism in the Christian life is a destructive force. Individualism says that I can live the Christian life without the joy of fellowship, without accountability, without encouragement, without guidance, and without the sacraments. An individualistic mindset shuns authority, responsibility, and community. It says that I can live the Christian life without you, the body of Christ. I don’t want to be challenged. I don’t want my blind spots exposed. I don’t want to minister to needy people and serve others. I want to do my own thing  just me, my Bible, and God.

Individualism fails to understand that the day I was baptized, I was brought into the Body of Christ and placed in covenant relationship with other believers. Individualism refuses to acknowledge the biblical truth that I cannot grow in my relationship with Jesus without the help and assistance of other believers (Eph. 4:11-13).

The Christian life is a “new community: a new family, a new pattern of human togetherness which results from the unity of the Lord’s people in the Lord, henceforth to function under the one Father as a family and a fellowship” (J.I. Packer).

By becoming a Christian, I belong to God and I belong to my brothers and sisters. It is not that I belong to God and then make a decision to join a local church. My being in Christ means being in Christ with those others who are in Christ. This is my identity. This is our identity. . . . If the church is the body of Christ, then we should not live as disembodied Christians.

Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church (Wheaton, Ill, Crossway Books, 2008), 41.

HT: Of First Importance

The Life of Jacob & The Law of Consequence

 


How God Uses Difficult Authority to Transform Our Character

Gen. 28:16-29:29

(Fulfilling the Your Ministry to the Full Series)

Illustration:

 ‘I’m in David’s situation, and I am in agony. What do I do when the kingdom I’m in is ruled by a spear-wielding king? Should I leave? If so, how? Just what does a man do in the middle of a knife-throwing contest?’

The answer is, ‘You get stabbed to death.’

‘What is the necessity of that? Or the good of it?’

You have your eyes on the wrong King Saul. As long as you look at your king, you will blame him, and him alone, for your present difficulty. Be careful, for God has His eyes fastened sharply on another King Saul. Not the visible one standing up there throwing spears at you. No, God is looking at another King Saul. One just as bad–or worse.

God is looking at the King Saul in you.

Gene Edwards, The Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness (Augusta, ME: Christian Books, 1980), 21.

Life Lesson: God allows a Saul in your life in order to kill the Saul in you.

Proposition: What is the law of consequence and how does God use authority to transform our character? How does God make me into a man or woman of God?

Fallen Condition Focus: God sovereignly uses circumstances to deal with our selfish selves.

 Exposition of Gen. 28:16-29:29

1. Heart for God Forsaken (Gen. 28:17). At Bethel, continuous communion with God is rejected. Jacob is not ready to make Yahweh, the God of his grandfather, Abraham, and his father, Isaac, his sovereign Lord and Ruler.Jacob still wants to run the show. Jacob sidesteps the opportunity of having God as his the constant, conscious companion.

Definition: Communion issharing in the presence of God: speaking and being spoken to by Him. Communion is participating in the life of God: an encounter that is loving, grace-filled, and life changing. Psa. 23

2. Heart of Manipulation Exposed (Gen. 28:20). Bargaining with God betrays Jacob’s manipulative, deceptive, and untrustworthy character. Jacob’s heart is not yet consecrated to God and his purposes.

Definition: Consecration isthe abandonment of my life without reserve to the loving purposes of God. A conviction held deep within my being that my life is God’s. I do not reserve from Christ’s Lordship any rights, gifts, possessions, relationships, or privileges.

The whole man must make the decision before the heart can know any real satisfaction. God wants us all, and He will not rest until He gets us all. No part of the man will do.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1984), 107.

3. Heart Problem Disciplined (Gen. 29:5). Jacob is excited about finally meeting his family at Paddam-Aram. Little does Jacob know that he has finally met his match in Laban. God allows a Laban in Jacob’s life in order to kill the Laban in Jacob: a twenty-year school of discipline (Gen. 31:41).

Definition: Brokenness is a heart yielded to God; ready and willing to obey the Holy Spirit whenever and wherever He directs.

By nature, we are so strong, so able to think and plan and do, and God must bring us to the place of weakness, the place where we cannot think or plan or do apart from him.

Watchman Nee, Changed Into His Likeness (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1987), 128.

4. Heart Trust Betrayed (Gen. 29:22). Jacob reaps what he sows (Gal. 6:7). Laban’s wedding deception mirrors Jacob’s own deception of Isaac (Col. 3:25).

Definition: Consequences are the result of my actions. Sinful choices will revisit me as others do to me what I have done to others. No one sees my selfish actions. I am not caught. I pretend to myself that everything is okay. However, God is all seeing and all knowing, he makes sure that I am penalized for my selfish acts. The Lord makes certain that selfish actions are exposed.

Be not misled: you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature (Gal. 6:7, NLT).

For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality (Col. 3:25, ESV).

Jacob receives at his wedding the consequences for the deceptive actions of stealing Esau’s ancestral blessing (Gen. 27:1-38): he pretended to be Esau and Leah pretends to be Rachel, his bride. Jacob deceptively wears Esau’s clothing and Leah wears Rachel wedding dress. Jacob, the younger, steals Esau, the older brother’s blessing. Leah, the older, marries Jacob instead her younger sister, Rachel. Jacob exiles himself as he flees Esau’s wrath, and now, Jacob will live twenty years as a de facto slave to his father-in-law, Laban, as dowry payment for the two sisters.

5. Heart Plan Delayed (29:30). Jacob will not return home in matter of days as Rebekah reasoned (Gen. 27:44). God has a plan that plan involves molding Jacob’s character and defeating his fleshly pattern of manipulation, deception, and lying.

Application: What do I do if I find myself living in a cycle of sowing and reaping, reaping and sowing? Repent at the foot of the Cross. If I repent, God takes the sin I committed, uses that painful failure, and transforms that situation for his glory and my good. It is not God’s will that I sin. However, if I repent of my selfishness and pride, God can use my self-imposed disaster for my good.

By faith, the law of consequence is nailed to the Cross and the cycle of endless retribution ends.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmedthe spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross (Col2:13-15, NLT).

Conclusion: God places in authority people who have the same weaknesses in their lives that I have in mine. He uses their weaknesses to put to death the same sinfulness in me.