In reflection of this Sunday’s sermon, of which Nathan preached on “Kingdom Entered, Kingdom Pictured” (Mark 10:13-31), Paul Tripp in his book What Did You Expect? (Crossway, 2010), pp. 47-48, reminds us how important it is to actively wage war against sin as the mere presence of it leads to the dehumanization of the people in our lives. I always think of it along the lines of “the sin of sinful people manifests itself against people.” And the ones we hurt are the ones we are often most close to. Be encouraged and yet challenged by this great reminder:
Because sin is antisocial, it tends to dehumanize the people in our lives.
No longer are they objects of our willing affection. No, they quit being the people we find joy in loving.
Rather, they get reduced to one of two things.
They are either vehicles to help us get what we want or obstacles in the way of what we want.
When your wife is meeting the demands of your wants, needs, and feelings, you are quite excited about her, and you treat her with affection.
But when she becomes an obstacle in the way of your wants, needs, and feelings, you have a hard time hiding your disappointment, impatience, and irritation.
This is where another eloquent biblical observation comes in. It is that we are kingdom-oriented people. We always live in the service of one of two kingdoms.
We live in service of the small, personal happiness agenda of the kingdom of self, or we live in service of the huge, origin-to-destiny agenda of the kingdom of God.
A portion of Nathan’s sermon yesterday called for men to man up and be the men that God designed us to be.
Below is a great prayer from Darrin Patrick (author of Church Planter) about the type of men we ought to pray to be:
“God, make me a man with thick skin and a soft heart. Make me a man who is tough and tender. Make me tough so I can handle life. Make me tender so I can love people. God, make me a man.”
How (and when) does God’s love for us relate to Christ’s death on the cross?
God’s love is incomprehensible and unchangeable. For it was not after we were reconciled to him through the blood of his Son that he began to love us. Rather, he has loved us before the world was created, that we also might be his sons along with his only-begotten Son—before we became anything at all.
The fact that we were reconciled through Christ’s death must not be understood as if his Son reconciled us to him that he might now begin to love those whom he had hated. Rather, we have already been reconciled to him who loves us, with whom we were enemies on account of sin. The apostle will testify whether I am speaking the truth: ‘God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ [Rom. 5:8]. Therefore, he loved us even when we practiced enmity toward him and committed wickedness.
Thus in a marvelous and divine way he loved us even when he hated us. For he hated us for what we were that he had not made; yet because our wickedness had not entirely consumed his handiwork, he knew how, at the same time, to hate in each one of us what he had made, and to love what he had made.
Quoted in Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1960), 506-507.
HT: Michael Johnson
Ponder these words as Holy Week begins. You might consider using this poem in your personal or family devotions this week:
How awesome is that day to me-
O day of hallowed history!
Set time in God’s determined plan
To sacrifice the Son of Man.
What famous work that day was done
By Jesus Christ, His Perfect Son!
The Second Adam, sent to save,
Humbly obeying to the grave!
How savage is that day to me-
O day of pure brutality!
When Christ, the Son of God Most High,
Was fiercely whipped and hung to die.
And O the horror of my sin,
Seen there in His appalling skin!
For God struck down- as meant for me-
The sinless One, at Calvary.
How precious is that day to me-
O day of purchased liberty!
In Him, a freeman now I live;
My sins, through death, did God forgive.
No wrath at length looms o’er my head,
But lovingkindness there instead.
His righteousness, my guilt replaced,
And Love, this ransomed soul embraced!
O awesome, savage, precious day-
‘Tis God the Savior on display!
What peerless, holy, gracious Mind
Would fashion such a Grand Design?
Kevin Hartnett works for NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, overseeing the science operations activities of the mission. He was selected in 2003 from a thousand candidates as the “Poet of the Year” by the Fellowship of Christian Poets.
HT: Desiring God
Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
John Piper having both men and women in mind. For men it’s obvious. The need for warfare against the bombardment of visual temptation to fixate on sexual images is urgent. For women it is less obvious, but just as great if we broaden the scope of temptation to food or figure or relational fantasies. When he says “lust” he means the realm of thought, imagination, and desire that leads to sexual misconduct. He then offers one strategy to wage war against wrong desires put in the form of an acronym, A N T H E M.
A – AVOID as much as is possible and reasonable the sights and situations that arouse unfitting desire. I say “possible and reasonable” because some exposure to temptation is inevitable. And I say “unfitting desire” because not all desires for sex, food, and family are bad. We know when they are unfitting and unhelpful and on their way to becoming enslaving. We know our weaknesses and what triggers them. “Avoiding” is a Biblical strategy. “Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness” (2 Timothy 2:22). “Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).
N – Say NO to every lustful thought within five seconds. And say it with the authority of Jesus Christ. “In the name of Jesus, NO!” You don’t have much more than five seconds. Give it more unopposed time than that, and it will lodge itself with such force as to be almost immovable. Say it out loud if you dare. Be tough and warlike. As John Owen said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Strike fast and strike hard. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” ( James 4:7).
T – TURN the mind forcefully toward Christ as a superior satisfaction. Saying “no” will not suffice. You must move from defense to offense. Fight fire with fire. Attack the promises of sin with the promises of Christ. The Bible calls lusts “deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22). They lie. They promise more than they can deliver. The Bible calls them “passions of your former ignorance” (1 Peter 1:14). Only fools yield. “All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter” (Proverbs 7:22). Deceit is defeated by truth. Ignorance is defeated by knowledge. It must be glorious truth and beautiful knowledge. This is why I wrote Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. We must stock our minds with the superior promises and pleasures of Jesus. Then we must turn to them immediately after saying, “NO!”
H – HOLD the promise and the pleasure of Christ firmly in your mind until it pushes the other images out. “Fix your eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1). Here is where many fail. They give in too soon. They say, “I tried to push it out, and it didn’t work.” I ask, “How long did you try?” How hard did you exert your mind? The mind is a muscle. You can flex it with vehemence. Take the kingdom violently (Matthew 11:12). Be brutal. Hold the promise of Christ before your eyes. Hold it. Hold it! Don’t let it go! Keep holding it! How long? As long as it takes. Fight! For Christ’s sake, fight till you win! If an electric garage door were about to crush your child you would hold it up with all our might and holler for help, and hold it and hold it and hold it and hold it.
E – ENJOY a superior satisfaction. Cultivate the capacities for pleasure in Christ. One reason lust reigns in so many is that Christ has so little appeal. We default to deceit because we have little delight in Christ. Don’t say, “That’s just not me.” What steps have you taken to waken affection for Jesus? Have you fought for joy? Don’t be fatalistic. You were created to treasure Christ with all your heart – more than you treasure sex or sugar. If you have little taste for Jesus, competing pleasures will triumph. Plead with God for the satisfaction you don’t have: “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14). Then look, look, look at the most magnificent Person in the universe until you see him the way he is.
M – MOVE into a useful activity away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviors. Lust grows fast in the garden of leisure. Find a good work to do, and do it with all your might. “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Romans 12:11). “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Abound in work. Get up and do something. Sweep a room. Hammer a nail. Write a letter. Fix a faucet. And do it for Jesus’ sake. You were made to manage and create. Christ died to make you “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14). Displace deceitful lusts with a passion for good deeds.
HT: John Piper
Another criticism levied against penal substitutionary atonement is that it actually denies forgiveness. Opponents claim that according to this theory of atonement “God does exact every bit of the debt owed him by humans; he allows none of it to go unpaid.” Therefore, God cannot be viewed as forgiving because He demanded payment in its entirety.
Once again, a definition is in order. Forgiveness is an act when one person refuses to make another person pay his debt assuming the debt themselves. According to Scripture, man, because of his sin, owes God the eternal price of death (Genesis 2:17; Psalm 49:7-9; Romans 3:23). Thus forgiveness within the biblical storyline means God would have to pay man’s price – death. The opponents state that since Jesus died, God did not forgive.
This objection can be reduced down to a misunderstanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. Orthodox Christian faith believes that Jesus Christ is God. Therefore, God himself paid the price on the cross, in the person of His Son. John Stott clearly articulates this truth in The Cross of Christ: “God took his own loving initiative to appease his own righteous anger by bearing it his own self in his own Son when he took our place and died for us.” The forgiveness shown forth on the cross, then, is much more than mere forgiveness, it is infinite forgiveness.
 Eleonore Stump, “Atonement According to Aquinas, in Philosophy and the Christian Faith, ed. Thomas V. Morris (Notre Dame, IL: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 62; quoted in Steve Jeffery, Mike Ovey, and Andrew Sach, Pierced for Our Transgressions, 263.
 Stott, The Cross of Christ, 172.
Revelations 1:5-6 in thinking of the love of Christ being manifested through his freeing us from our sins and being nothing of ourselves, but by his blood we are made a kingdom and priests for his glory.The comparison of the nature of our sin and God’s abounding grace is essential for it gives us a picture of the God we exist to serve!
John Bunyan in his book, The Doctrine of Law and Grace Unfolded, said this of this relationship:
[The man who does not know the nature of the Law, cannot know the nature of Sin; and he who does not know the nature of Sin, cannot know the nature of the Saviour].