Dressed to Kill?

God's Words

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord
and in the strength of his might.

11 
Put on the whole armor of God,
that you may be able to stand
against the schemes of the devil.

Ephesians 6:10-11 ESV

‘He dresses to kill’, was one clue to beat me in a recent crossword puzzle. The answer was ‘Matador’ and it came to mind just now, suggesting this verse from Ephesians regarding our daily fight against the devil and our sin; a fight we need never take up less than perfectly equipped to win, with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, at hand to deliver the ‘coup de GRACE’ every time. This final brief post on the theme of killing our sins also comes from J. I. Packer …

Dr Packer writes:  “The Spirit is present (in the believer) in person to oppose indwelling sin. He teaches the Christian to understand revealed truth and apply it to himself, stirs him up to obey it and strengthens him as he does so (it is He who works in us) ‘both to will and to work for his good pleasure’ (Philippians 2:13). Sin can be mortified only ‘through the Spirit’, for he alone makes men willing and able for the task. But where the indwelling Spirit exerts His sovereign power, failure is impossible.

“When the Christian fights sin, therefore, he opposes a dethroned and debilitated foe; he is animated by the energy of what is now the deepest and most powerful instinct in his nature; and he goes in the strength of the Holy Spirit of God. His superiority is assured; he may join battle with confidence; he is going to win.” 

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words.

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Yes, we can…

God's Words

I have never been a fan of ‘bumper-sticker’ psychology (neither theology for that matter). For example, ‘If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you are right.’ Neither have I put much store in the power of slogans other than that they may serve helpfully as reminders of more helpful, if rather more complex, truths. This second brief post on the theme of killing our sins also comes from J. I. Packer …

Dr Packer wrote: “Nobody has much heart for a fight he does not think he can win. To expect defeat is thus to ensure it. If I imagine that, try as I might, I am bound to fail, I shall not even try as I might. But the Christian is forbidden such disastrous pessimism. God obliges him (or her) to expect success when (fighting) sin.

…The end of God’s justifying and regenerating us is ‘that the body of sin [our sinful character] might be destroyed [brought to nothing], that henceforth we should not serve sin’ (Romans 6:6). By our regenerating union with Christ and the incoming of the new life, sin receives a blow from which it can never recover. Its power is broken, and its ultimate destruction guaranteed.

Accordingly, God tells his people that ‘sin will have no dominion over you’ (Romans 6:14). Its reign has ended as far as they are concerned. Their part is now by mortification to hasten the demise of their dethroned and doomed enemy. Hereby he assures them that however furious or stubborn sin may prove, however deeply it may have entrenched itself behind bad habits and temperamental weaknesses, sustained pressure cannot fail to uproot and rout it.”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words.

A New Hope…

 

God's Words
J.I Packer says: “The Christian is committed to a lifelong fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Mortification is his assault on the second. Two texts from Paul show that (mortification) is an essential ingredient in Christian living: Put to death therefore what is earthly in you’ (Colossians 3:5); ‘if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.’ (Romans 8:13b). But how may we accomplish that? In this first of three brief posts on the theme of killing our sins J. I. Packer tells us that it will be ‘by the Spirit’ …

J.I Packer wrote: The Spirit implanted (in Christians) a new life-principle… the ‘new heart’ and ‘new spirit’ promised in Ezekiel 36:26, the ‘new man’ put on at conversion (Ephesians 4:24), the ‘seed’ of God in his children’s hearts (1 John 3:9).

“This new energy finds its characteristic expression in the same attitude and relationship to God as that which marked Christ’s human life; a spontaneous affinity to God and love for him and for his word and his people. Godlessness is as distasteful to it as godliness is to sin. Faith, love, and opposition to sin are its natural fruits, and sure signs of its presence (Galatians 5:6, 17).

“It is the Christian’s new nature and true self, the ‘inner man’ which delights in God’s laws (Romans 7:22). It replaces sin as the reigning power in his heart and the dominant impulse in his life. It is no longer his nature to sin. Insofar as (a Christian) does so, he acts out of character, and his heart is not in it. He can never sin with all his heart again.”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words.

Jesus said, “Unless…”.

God's Words

Childlikeness towards God, said Jesus – meaning simple trust, responsiveness, and dependence – is the spirit in which alone we enter the divine kingdom and live its life (Matthew 18:3 f.)” So says Dr. J. I. Packer commenting on the similarities between our physical life as newborns, and our spiritual life when we, by Grace, through faith, are born again. This final brief post on the theme signs of Life also comes from Dr. J. I. Packer…

Dr Packer writes: “Third, the baby moves, turning its head, flexing its limbs, later on rolling, crawling, tottering, toddling, exploring; and similarly the born-again person moves in the spiritual realm into which he has now come, sorting out priorities, reshaping his life in the light of his new allegiance, exploring Christian relationships and ways of worship, using enterprise for the Lord in many kinds of work and witness. Constantly to be ‘zealous for good deeds’ (Titus 2:14) and to be wanting and trying to do more and more for God’s kingdom is thus a third sign of being regenerate.

“Fourth, the baby rests, relaxing completely and sleeping soundly in adult arms and wherever else feels firm; and in the same way the born-again person rests in the knowledge that God’s everlasting arms are underneath him (Deuteronomy 33:27) ‘I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast’ (Psalm 131:2). Constantly to rest in quiet contentment, concerned only to be faithful in obedience and leaving it to God to overrule the outcome, is thus a fourth sign of being regenerate.”

From J I Packer in God’s Words.

A Christmas Feast?

God's Words

Of a new-born’s first cries, we might say, ‘Healthy set of lungs; a good sign!’ If prayer is the equivalent to those cries, an early sign of a healthy new life, spiritually, then another may be a healthy appetite. This second of three brief posts on the theme signs of Life also comes from Dr. J. I. Packer…

 

 

Dr Packer writes: “Second, the baby feeds, instinctively; and the born-again person also feels a hunger for spiritual food – first the milk and then the meat of God’s revealed word. (1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Corinthians 3:2).

He listens to the word preached and taught and discussed; he reads it in his Bible, and in books that throw light on the Bible; he asks questions about it; he meditates on it, memorizes it, chews on it, labours to squeeze all the goodness out of it. ‘Oh, how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day … How sweet are thy words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!’ (Psalm 119:97, 103).

Constantly to crave for God’s word and to want to go deeper into it is thus a second sign of being regenerate.”

From J I Packer in God’s Words.

Vital Signs?

God's Words

 

When Jesus said, ‘You must be born again’ (John 3) Nicodemus asked the obvious question. Jesus replied that this is not a problem we are left to solve on our own. God Himself works our re-generation in us, by his Spirit. How do we know when He has? This first of three brief posts on the theme signs of Life comes from Dr. J. I. Packer…

J I Packer writes: “The signs whereby a regenerate person may be known correspond to the natural actions of the newborn child. First, the baby cries, instinctively; and the born-again person instinctively prays, crying to God in dependence, hope and trust as a child to his father.

The gospel which he received and to which he responded by embracing Christ as Saviour and lord promised him adoption into God’s family (Galatians4:4 f.), and now it is his nature to treat God as his Father, bringing to him all his own felt needs and desires. We (regenerate believers) “received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15).

The new Christian’s prayers are honest and heartfelt, as children’s cries for help always are, and though as he matures prayer may become harder (this does happen) it never ceases to be the most natural activity in which he engages. Constantly to look up to God as your Father in heaven and to talk to him from your heart is thus a sign of being regenerate.”

From J I Packer in God’s Words.

Fear-less Grace?

God's Words
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15 ESV

By Grace, through faith in Christ, we may live free from all hopeless attempts to justify ourselves in God’s eyes; we may live free from all hopeless addiction to sin; and we may live free from all hopeless anxiety and fear. This final brief post on the theme of living under grace also comes from J. I. Packer…

Dr. Packer wrote:Finally, the Christian living under grace is free from bondage to fear (Romans 8:15 ff.; cf. 1 John 4:17 f.) – fear, that is, of the unknown future, or of meeting God (as one day we all must do), or of being destroyed by hostile forces or horrific experiences of one sort or another. He knows himself to be God’s child, adopted, beloved, secure, with his inheritance awaiting him and eternal joy guaranteed.

“He knows that nothing can separate him from the love of God in Christ, nor dash him from his Saviour’s hand, and that nothing can happen to him which is not for his long-term good, making him more like Jesus and bringing him ultimately closer to his God.

“So when fears flood his soul, as they do the soul of every normal person from time to time, he drives them back by reminding himself of these things, moving to and fro within the sequence of thoughts which the honest, homespun Christian verse of John Newton put (in Newton’s original):

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved; …

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

And how can fear stand in the face of that?”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words.