WORSHIP IS KILLING ME
I was 23 years old, and already a few years into a fog of doubt and confusion that was slowly suffocating me. I was not unaware of my situation, but my diagnosis was way off the mark. To be sure, I knew that I had “lost my faith,” but I didn’t understand why.
By John Piper at Desiring God (via Marshill.com)
Ask another question first: When Jesus commanded Lazarus to rise from the dead, how did he obey that command? In John 11:43 it says, “Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’” That was a command to a dead man. The next verse says, “He who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings.”
How did Lazarus do that? How does a dead man obey a command to live again? The answer seems to be that the command carries the power to create new life. Obedience to the command means doing what living people do. This is extremely important. The command of God, “Rise from the dead!” carries in it the power we need to obey it. We do not obey it by creating that life. We obey it by doing what living people do—Lazarus came forth. He rose. He walked out to Jesus. The call of God creates life. We respond in the power of what the call created.
In Ephesians 5:14 Paul says, “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” How do you obey a command to wake up from sleep? If your house has carbon monoxide in it and someone cries out, “Wake up! Save yourself! Get out!” you don’t obey by waking yourself up. The loud powerful command itself wakes you up. You obey by doing what wakeful people do in the face of danger. You get up and leave the house. The call creates the waking. You respond in the power of what the call created.
I believe this is the explanation for why the Bible says paradoxical things about new birth, namely, that we must get ourselves new hearts, but that it is God who creates the new heart.
Deuteronomy 10:16, “Circumcise your heart!”
Deuteronomy 30:6, “The Lord will circumcise your heart.”
Ezekiel 18:31, “Make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!”
Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.”
John 3:6, “You must be born again.”
1 Peter 3:3, “[God] caused us to be born again.”
The way to obey the command to be born is to first experience the divine gift of life and breath, and then to do what living, breathing people do—cry out to God in faith and gratitude and love. When the command of God comes with the creating, converting power of the Holy Spirit, it gives life. The evidence that it has come in this life-creating way is that we respond in life and faith and hope and joy. If that response is in us, we are born of God, and we have obeyed the command.
Dr. John Piper is the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. © Desiring God
I recently started the first book of my 2012 reading list (which is yet to be fully compiled). I’m not much of a reader when it comes to books other than the Bible but this year I’ve resolved to read 15 books. I’ll be Skyping with a good buddy of mine soon to determine what those will be but one out of those 15 happens to be one of the best I’ve ever read and I’m only half way through it. It’s called The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges.
I won’t write much now on the book because I want to take it in its full context. I will say this, however, the book is absolutely convicting and has been one of the most helpful in understanding God’s holiness and why we must pursue it. I recommend this (or at least the first 7 chapters) to every young Christian who is wanting a deeper, more intimate understanding of who God is and how to pursue Him and His holiness.
The Resurgence blog over at Mars Hill has a wonderful article on sin.
1. Confront Sin
Sin can be in word, thought, and deed (sins of commission) or by not doing what you should do (sins of omission). Sin is not neutral; it ultimately destroys and never leads to life (Gen. 4:7;Rom 8:1-8; 1 Peter 5:8). As John Owen famously said, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”
Sadly, we see the sins of omission every day:
- We see it in friendships when people gossip about the dumb stuff their friend is doing rather than having the hard talk with the person.
- We see it in small groups when they enable each other to stay on the surface and never get down to real, heart-level issues. After being in a group together for years, adultery, porn addiction, abuse, and any number of other things can sinfully be allowed to exist for the sake of comfort.
- We see it in marriage counseling, most often in husbands. The husband’s sin of passive omission can lead his family into debt, his wife into committing adultery, or his wife into never receiving the care she needs for sin committed against her in childhood.
Loving Jesus, loving your spouse, loving your friends, loving your people looks like confronting sin with truth and love. There is no greater contempt for someone than to leave them in their sin.
2. Sin Will Come Out
Sin always comes out. 1 Timothy 5:24-25 says this, “The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.”
In our era of reputation management and people pleasing, we need to see this. Sin, either because it seeks to destroy or because God will use it to discipline us, will come out. Some people’s sin is flagrant, they wear it on their face. Other people’s sin comes out years down the road, when they least expect it.
Your sins do not define you. Your identity is as a redeemed, reconciled, justified, cleansed son or daughter of our loving Father.”
Many men stand idly by, like their father Adam, believing the lies that if they just ignore it, it will go away. They can just deal with it next time it comes up or “it’s just how the other person is.” At the bottom of it all is selfishness and the idol of comfort. It does not love the person the way the cross shows us to. The cross shows us that God saves by first condemning, God heals by first wounding, God builds up by first crushing, God makes alive by first killing. You cannot get to the gospel without suffering, and trying to circumvent that is what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.” The sin of omission is giving someone else cheap grace. It belittles both sin and Jesus.
3. Jesus Killed Sin
That’s the incredible thing about Jesus: he killed sin. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he lived the only perfect, sinless life. At the cross, he paid the penalty for our sin to redeem us from sin’s bondage, reconcile us from sin’s estrangement, justify us from sin’s guilt, and cleanse us from sin’s filth.
More so, through the gift of a new heart and the presence of the Holy Spirit, it is his kindness that convicts us of sin and leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). It is the Father’s love that disciplines us (Hebrews 12:7-11). Jesus doesn’t passively show us contempt, he actively shows us love. Better yet, when we confess those sins, we receive forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Because of that, you, if you are a Christian, have freedom from the fear, shame, and condemnation of sin. Your sins and the sins done against you do not define you. Your identity is as a redeemed, reconciled, justified, cleansed son or daughter of our loving Father. You can be bold in confessing and confronting real sin because the grace God gives is real.
What We Can Do To Kill Sin Before It Kills Us
- Be with Jesus. The Holy Spirit is faithful to work through the word, whether it is read or preached. A bold prayer could be, “Jesus, show me the things I need to repent of and the people I need to repent to (Ps. 139)”
- Be in community. Pastor Brad House has a good post on this here.
- Create a culture where the truth is told and heard. Nathan Burke has a great post on this here.
This post originally appeared on the Resurgence.