RSS

Tag Archives: Boasting in the cross

Why We Sin…and the Truth That Sets Us Free

We sin for the same reason that Eve sinned – we believe that God’s way is NOT the way of joy and happiness. In short, we are tempted by a lie, the same lie the enemy told Eve: “God does not have your best in mind.” This is what the Serpent insinuated to Eve in the Garden:

“God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5 (ESV)

Paraphrased, the enemy said: “Eve, the only reason God told you not to eat that fruit is because He is not on your side – He doesn’t want the best for you.”

In other words, He doesn’t love you.

In our day, the lie regarding God’s character forms the heart of Satan’s temptation in our lives. And we soon find ourselves leaning toward pride, impurity, deceit, anger, greed, and a mile long list of other sins.  All because at heart, perhaps subconsciously, we don’t believe God’s heart toward us is kind, and therefore, living according to God’s ways is not in our best interest.

The Truth That Sets Us Free

But what if there were something that could convince us down deep in our hearts of God’s love? What if there was a truth that, applied to our hearts, convinced us once and for all that God did have good plans for us, that His ways are best? Might that truth enable us to say no again and again to the powerful but “passing pleasures of sin”? Well, I have good news (so to speak!). Jesus said that we would know the greatest kind of love – when someone substitutes himself for another so that the other might live…

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 (ESV)

And ever after He said this, Jesus’ followers have been drawing our attention to the love of God found when Jesus offered Himself on our behalf…

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10 (ESV)

God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:5-8 (ESV)

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 2 Corinthians 5:14 (ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20 ESV)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)

The truth stated over and over again in the New Testament is that the cross is THE WAY that God has demonstrated His love for us. The cross is a demonstration of God’s love because it is where Jesus substituted Himself for us. In other words, understanding the substitutionary atonement of Christ leads to understanding His objective love. Therefore, if you want to convince someone that God has their best in mind, point to the cross. And if you want to be convinced yourself of God’s kind intentions toward you, look at the cross…and remember His love. As Pastor Matt Chandler illustrates….

“It was the cross that wooed me out of depression after the oncologist told me I would have two years. (I thought), ‘Is God against me?’…And yet it was the cross that sits on the right hand of our stage that in our sanctuary, wrestling with the Lord, that I was reminded, ‘How can you for a second believe I am not for you?'”

Therefore, Calvary is not only the glorious act of God that takes our sins away; but contemplating it is also one of the great ways we avoid doubt and sin going forward. Now this kind of contemplation is not a quick-fix on Tuesday to stop sinning on Wednesday but a lifetime project to help us in our struggle with the world, the flesh, and the devil. Since we so easily forget His love, we need to be reminded again and again throughout our lives. No wonder Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper – He wanted us to remember that we are forgiven…and he wanted us to remember that we are deeply loved.

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19 (ESV)

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Absurdity of Looking Down on Others

To be self-righteous…is to be a fool.

Think about the sad story of Abram, Sarai, and Hagar in Genesis 16. Sarai is unable to conceive a child with Abram; and so she, in a move we can’t imagine a wife making in our culture, offers him her maidservant Hagar as a surrogate. Now mind you, there was no artificial insemination in that day; so, contributing to the brokenness, Abram and Hagar would have needed to spend a little time in the tent alone. And Scripture tells us that Hagar conceived, but that’s not all…

…And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. Genesis 16:4 (ESV)

Let’s get this straight, Hagar now is looking down on Sarai, in effect saying, “I’m better than you because I got pregnant and you didn’t.” This is a perfect illustration of how being self-righteous makes you a knucklehead. After all, what did Hagar do to consider herself better than Sarai? Answer: she did nothing, and yet still considered herself superior.

You say, perhaps, “Well, my situation is different than Hagar, because there are certain things that I actually do to show myself more on top of my game than others.” For instance…

  • You worked hard and climbed the corporate ladder.
  • Your skills on the piano have come after thousands of hours of practice. You can’t help but feel a little superior toward the slackers who gave up after two lessons in the 6th grade.
  • You got into a top-tier college with a full-ride scholarship.
  • You’re crazy good at all kinds of sports; you have the most coordinated eye and hand in the city.
  • Your kids are doing great academically and spiritually. Your wisdom in parenting shows through in everything they do.

Are you actually different than Hagar who clearly did nothing to warrant her self-righteousness and contempt toward Sarai? Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians…

What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1Co 4:7 ESV)

Our self-righteousness is always foolish because like Hagar, we cannot take credit for anything we have. You worked hard to become a virtuoso on the piano? Who gave you the self-discipline to do that? Or, better yet, who put you in the particular home you grew up in with parents who would instill such a work ethic? Someone without your skills was born in the slums of Calcutta; are you really better than she is? Or did your cunning enable you to climb up the ladder of success in the marketplace? Well, where did all that brainpower come from? You get the idea.

In the end, we all tend toward self-righteousness because we have a hunger for glory. We’ve had a need to feel special and worthy of honor ever since our first parents lost their original glory in the glorious Garden. We have a sense that we’re missing something, and we long to have it back. Hence comes self-righteousness and racism and bullying and a hundred other ills.

What is the ultimate answer? We will find our lost honor and glory when we look to the cross of Christ where the love of God for us was put on full display (Romans 5:8). Then our glory hunger will be satiated. Then we can look, not with contempt, but only with love toward those around us, no matter their station or ours.

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ… Galatians 6:14 (ESV)

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 19, 2016 in self-righteousness, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: