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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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.

Why not sin?

God's Words
As well as being freed from the (hopeless) task of making ourselves acceptable to God, we Christians, living now, in Christ, not under the Law but ‘under Grace’ find that we are freed also from the ‘dominion’ of sin. ‘For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.’ Romans 6:14f. This second of three brief posts on the theme of living under grace also comes from J. I. Packer…

J. I. Packer wrote: “Paul succinctly spells this out in Romans 6:1- 8:14 arranging his thoughts as an answer to the question, ‘why should not those who are justified by faith cause grace to abound (pardoning grace, that is) by going on sinning as before?’

“Paul’s reply, in brief, is: not only is righteousness (law-keeping) both possible and prescribed for Christians, but it is also a fact that no Christian can go on sinning as before, for union with Christ has changed his nature so that now his heart (his inner man) desires righteousness as before it desired sin, and only obedience to God can satisfy his deepest inner craving.

“(A Christian) hates the sin that he finds in himself, and gets no pleasure from lapsing into it. Such is the state of mind of the man who is freed from sin’s dominion; he loves holiness because he loves his Saviour-God, and would not contemplate reverting to the days when, as sin’s slave, he loved neither. He knows that his freedom has ennobled him and brought him both the desire and the strength for right living, and for this he is endlessly thankful.”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words.

‘Every-day’ Grace?

God's Words

‘For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.’ as Paul wrote in Romans 6:14f. So, what does it mean for us, as Christians, to live, every day, ‘under grace’? This first of three brief posts on the theme of living under grace comes from J. I. Packer…

J. I. Packer wrote: “The life of grace is a life of freedom… the Christian under grace is freed from the hopeless necessity of trying to commend himself to God by perfect law-keeping. Now he lives by being forgiven, and so is free at every point in his life to fail (as inevitably he does in fact, again and again) – and, having failed, to pick himself up where he fell, to seek and find God’s pardon, and to start again.

“Pride, our natural disposition, which is self-protective, self-righteous and vainglorious, will either refuse to admit failure at all or refuse to try again, lest the trauma of failing be repeated; but the humility of the man who lives by being forgiven knows no such inhibitions.

“The Christian’s experience of daily failures, along with his inside knowledge of his own false motives and his tally of shameful memories, make him constantly want to claim for himself Paul’s end-of-life description, ‘the foremost of sinners’ (1 Timothy 1:15); daily, however, his shortcomings are forgiven and his joy restored.

“One reason why, as Jesus taught, we must be ready to forgive our fellow-Christians countless times is that our own life with God is a matter of being forgiven countless times, too.”

From J. I. Packer in God’s Words.

Surprised by Grace?

Spurgeon

‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon a little child;
Pity my simplicity,
Suffer me to come to Thee.’

For many of us who were introduced to Jesus as infants, this verse from Charles Wesley’s hymn found a place among our first prayers, and I am quite content to believe that our simple, trustful, request was heard; that the same Jesus, who insisted his disciples let little ones, like us, come to Him, received us then, and that all our subsequent experience of grace has been the fruit of the gracious welcome we experienced then. If this manner of conversion has any down side perhaps it is that it takes us longer to discover that we are no less sinners and no less sinful than the likes of John Newton, and that the Grace we have found with Jesus is no less amazing. This third brief post on the theme of Grace also comes from Charles Spurgeon….

 “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus….”
Acts 15:11 ESV

Charles Spurgeon said…. “I think it is very clear, again, from the text that the apostles did not believe in salvation by the natural force of free will. I fail to detect a trace of the glorification of free will here. Peter puts it, ‘We believe that we shall be saved;’ through what? Through our own unbiased will? Through the volitions of our own well-balanced nature? Not at all, sir; but, ‘we believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.’ He takes the crown from off the head of man in all respects, and gives all glory to the grace of God; he extols God, the gracious sovereign, who will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy, and who will have compassion upon whom He will have compassion. I wish I had a voice of thunder to proclaim in every street of London this glorious doctrine, ‘By grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.’ This is the old reformation doctrine. This is the doctrine which will shake the very gates of hell, if it is but faithfully preached. O for an army of witnesses to publish abroad the gospel of grace in its sovereignty, omnipotence, and fullness. If you are ever to get comfort, believe me, dear hearer, you must receive the doctrine of salvation by free grace into your soul as the delight and solace of your heart, for it is the living truth of the living God. Not by ritualism, not by good works, not by our own unaided free will are we saved, but by the grace of God alone.”

From Charles Spurgeon in his sermon “Grace – the One Way of Salvation.”

Indignant about Grace?

Spurgeon
I overheard a woman complaining, about the idea of salvation ‘by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone’, that she wanted nothing that she could not earn for herself. Whether the lady believed that she could earn salvation, for herself alone, by her good works alone, or whether she simply did not believe that she needed saving, I don’t know. But her indignation impressed me as evidence of the pride that once alienated us all from the love of God, and lying at the root of all the ‘other gospels’ offered, hopelessly, in the world today. This second brief post on the theme of Grace also comes from Charles Spurgeon… 

“But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus….”
Acts 15:11 ESV

Charles Spurgeon wrote…. “We believe that if we are ever saved at all, we must be saved gratis – saved as the gratuitous act of a bountiful God – saved by a gift, not by wages – saved by God’s love, not by our own doings or merits. This is the apostle’s creed; salvation is all of divine grace from first to last, and the channel of that grace is the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved, and lived, and died, and rose again for our salvation. Those who preach mere mortality, or set up any way except that of trusting in the grace of God through Christ Jesus, preach another gospel, and they shall be accursed, even though they preach it with an angel’s eloquence. In the day when the Lord shall come to discern between the righteous and the wicked, their work, as wood, hay, and stubble, shall be burnt up; but those who preach salvation by grace through Jesus Christ, shall find that their work, like gold, and silver, and precious stones, shall survive the fire, and great shall be their reward.”

From Charles Spurgeon in, “Grace – the One Way of Salvation.” – a sermon.

Praying sinners?

Utmost

‘But you are …. a royal priesthood…’
1 Peter 2:9a ESV

If only the sinless among us may minister, can the church be of any good in the world?
If only the sinless among us may pray, surely, ‘we are of all people most to be pitied’.
Only in Christ, by grace, through faith alone, may we ever minister, may we ever pray. This third of three brief posts on the theme of intercession comes from Oswald Chambers.

Oswald Chambers wrote… ‘By what right do we become ‘a royal priesthood’? By the right of the Atonement. Are we prepared to leave ourselves resolutely alone and to launch out into the priestly work of prayer?

‘The continual grubbing on the inside to see whether we are what we ought to be, generates a self-centred, morbid type of Christianity, not the robust, simple life of the child of God.

‘Until we get into a right relationship to God, it is a case of hanging on by the skin of our teeth, and we say – ‘What a wonderful victory I have got!’ There is nothing indicative of the miracle of redemption in that.

‘Launch out in reckless belief that the redemption is complete, and then bother no more about yourself, but begin to do as Jesus Christ said pray for the friend who comes to you at midnight, pray for the saints, pray for all men. Pray on the realization that you are only perfect in Christ Jesus, not on this plea- ‘O Lord, I have done my best, please hear me.’

‘How long is it going to take God to free us from the morbid habit of thinking about ourselves? We must get sick unto death of ourselves, until there is no longer any surprise at anything God can tell us about ourselves. We cannot touch the depths of meanness in ourselves.

‘There is only one place where we are right, and that is in Christ Jesus. When we are there, we have to pour out for all we are worth in the ministry of the interior.’

From Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest