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Archive for the ‘Sin’ Category

Conviction of Sin

Whatever, happened to “conviction of sin”?

How is the gospel presented so very often today? It is presented as a means of improving your life. People are told that their lives are not what they should be and if they “come to Jesus” they will be improved. Therefore in embracing Jesus their average “run-of-the-mill” lives are pepped up so that they are now fulfilled. But is this right?

The Bible speaks of the work of salvation in far more radical terms. The Bible speaks of us getting a new life and not an improved life. That is the implication of the “born again” term. Technically this is referred to as the doctrine of regeneration. Upon believing in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour we are granted new life. Those who are dead in sins are made anew.

Critical in the experience of salvation is the conviction of sin. Our Lord Jesus said that when the Spirit of God comes he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged. Sin is the barrier that keeps us from salvation and we need to be convicted of our sin.

To be made aware of our sin is not a human construct. Rather, it is constructed by being in the presence of God. It comes about through becoming aware of who God is and how He and His standards are revealed in His Word. The Holy Spirit uses such means to convict us of our sin and bankrupt state before God. It is only those who have been ransacked by the Word who cry out for the rescuing mercies of God which are found in our Lord Jesus.

The challenge is for us as Christians whether we be preachers or not to be faithfully declaring the need for people to be broken before God because of their sin.

 

Church Newsletter

Here is our Church newsletter. It includes an article referring to being convicted about our sin.

Sin Exposing Preaching

Jeremiah in Lamentations 2:14 informs the people of Jerusalem about how:

The visions of your prophets
    were false and worthless;
they did not expose your sin
    to ward off your captivity.
The prophecies they gave you
    were false and misleading.

This strikes me forcibly as regards to the character of my preaching. Do I have a sin exposing preaching ministry? If not, it is very likely that my preaching is a means of harm to the people who hear me. To fail to address what is wrong in peoples’ lives is to fail to give them a way of rectifying their lives for good.

Jeremiah says concerning the prophets who had belonged to the people of Jerusalem that they had not exposed sin. This was not a matter of indifference because it had very serious consequences. The judgment of Babylonian captivity fell as a result. No exposure of sin leads to no repentance for sin and that in turn leads to judgment against sin.

In place of sin exposing preaching there seems to have been lifestyle affirming preaching. False and misleading is how Jeremiah describes their prophecies. We will always be on the slippery slope to falsehood and deception when we do not have the Word of the Lord at the centre of our preaching.

So let us be concerned, fellow preachers, about our preaching. Let us consider that we may be facilitating a descent into hell among our hearers because we have not preached the truth about sin, their sin, to our hearers. Love and passion must be involved in this. But preach judgement against sin we must.

If there is no preaching of sin there can be no meaningful preaching of the balm for sin in the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We No Longer Have The “Old Man”

Christians often use statements referring to how they are battling with the “old man”. But is this really accurate? Do we still have the “old man”?

Paul writes this in Romans 6:6-7 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin –  because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. At the moment we become Christians we are finished with the old self; the old man is crucified with Christ. Sin used to dominate in that life which I had before I was saved, but when I became a Christian the old man, given over to sinful pursuits, was slain. On the ,contrary we are now new men. We are new because of Christ. The teaching of Romans 6 is that through the gospel we have been re-wired. So rather than being dominated by sin, we are now dominated by righteousness. The inclination of the new man is predisposed towards righteousness.

So the life story of every Christian is like this. Before they we saved, they had the old man. After they were converted, they are remade as new people. As Paul says to the Corinthians: “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!’ (2 Cor. 5:17).

We must state here, though, that although we do not have the old man; we do most definitely still have the old nature; we have the flesh. We do still have within us a nature which is set on doing wrong. Paul writes in Romans 7:18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. The Christian cannot be dominated by sin, but he can be plagued by sin. The bent of every Christian is towards righteousness; this is the reason why sin is so detestable to the Christian.

Paul further teaches in Ephesians 4: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” The main idea in this passage is that the Christian is to be who they are. More correctly the text should say that they have put off the old self which is corrupted in evil desires and have put on the new man which is created to be like God in righteousness and holiness. Given that this has happened, they should now live as new people who are finished with the past.

The teaching in Colossians 3:5-10 is similar. Here Paul addresses the Colossians and says: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

So most wonderfully, fellow Christians, we no longer have the old man. Given that God has worked this so wonderfully for us, let us make sure we live as new people risen in Christ.

(Originally published at Venabling on January 30 2014)

Church Newsletter

Here is our church newsletter for December 2018. It has an article on “The Christian and Sin” which may be of interest.

It Cannot Be Done.

When confronted by the Reubenites and Gadites saying that they wanted to stay east of the Jordan, Moses told them of the discouragement that could come to the people of God through their action. To reinforce his point he reminded them of the discouragement which came to the nation of Israel through the report of the ten spies (see Num 32:6-15). As we look at this example of discouragement caused by the ten spies, we can learn how much damage can be done as a result of us taking an “it cannot be done” attitude.

We will start with the passage in Numbers 32:6-15 which gives a revealing review of what is recorded in Numbers 13-14. The details are this:-

  • God has promised to give the nation of Israel the land of Canaan.
  • Twelve spies went in to spy out the land. Ten came back and said the land was good, but it was impossible for the Israelites to go in and posses it.
  • They thereby discouraged the people who did not go in and possess the land.
  • God was displeased with the faithlessness of the people.
  • God’s judgement fell so that they wandered aimlessly in the wilderness until all of the faithless who would not go in had died.

So what was it that hindered the Israelites from moving forward to take the land? It was the ten faithless spies and their discouragement of the rest of the people. They said “it cannot be done”, even though God had said it should be done because He had given them the land.

So are you an “it cannot be done” kind of person? In answering that question it has to initially be made clear that there always needs to be a proper assessment any situation when considering moving forward with a project. A proper full assessment has to be made of the pros-and-cons of moving ahead with a venture for God. We are not to be reckless and rash in our approach to the ways of the Lord. There should be a sense of sitting down first and considering a situation. The Lord commends this approach in the context of the demands of discipleship (see Luke 14:25-33).

What is at issue here though is the inclination that many have to always be opposing initiatives which advance the cause of Christ. There is a difference between realism and faithlessness. To oppose a movement of God is very serious. You may have lots of justifiable reasons for saying “it cannot be done”. The ten spies, for example, saw that there were giants in the land (see Num. 13:33) but remember it is God’s call to take on a certain initiative then to oppose it is to be with the ten spies. And when the people went with the ten spies they fell under the judgement of God.

You may think you are being clever to see deficiencies in a plan, but be very careful before opposing something which is clearly of the Lord. Perhaps we can think here of initiatives in evangelism. You discern an issue which will be a difficulty and you think you are clever in opposing the proposal. If this is the case, don’t forget to be aware of the impact that you can have upon others. Your negativity and discouraging spirit can prompt a malaise which spreads to others. Everyone is soon feeling that it cannot be done. “No point evangelising today nobody listens” becomes the general view, “no point going into that area; no one has ever been saved there.” With all the talk of “it cannot be done” around, evangelism and a desire for church planting is squashed and the church loses all energy. Everyone is discouraged, and progress for God is thwarted.

Rather, what we need is people like Caleb, who after proper assessment and most importantly with their eye on the Lord, says “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (Numb. 13:30b). Let us be careful to encourage any development which is of the Lord and for the Lord.

This principle of encouragement also applies generally in the life of the church. It is interesting to observe what Paul did after the tumultuous events in Ephesus recorded in Acts 19. When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. He travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months (Acts 20:1-3a). Paul always wanted to encourage believers in the ways of the LORD.

Let us be careful to think about our own behaviour and influence. As church members we all have influence on one another. Are you a discourager? Through your behaviour are you discouraging others in the pursuit of the Lord and fulfilment of His purposes in their lives? Perhaps you think what you say and do is irrelevant to the cause of Christ in Feltham. It most certainly is not! You can be a force for good or ill. Remember even the great apostle Peter was once discerned by the Lord to be an instrument of the devil. The Lord said to him “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matt 16:23).

Let us then be an encourager. Always let us be on the look out as to how we can encourage forward the cause of Christ. And finally, let us heed the exhortation to the Hebrew Christians let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24)

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of July 2015)

Forgiveness And Joy.

I was in a bad mood and a bit stressed the other morning. I had asked Charlotte, who works as the Church Administrator, to do something. And she had been a long time coming back to me. I was expecting the response by phone. So I phoned and was angry with her although she had already replied by email. I was wrong and had to apologise and seek forgiveness. Charlotte vice versa apologised and all was resolved.

This all left me a bit chastened because of my sinful weakness. Oh Lord how I need you. It was good to know the relationship between us was restored. But above all there was the confession I had to make to the Lord. And then to know that taste of joy that He does receive sinners. Here was living proof, to my shame, that I was a sinner. But he receives sinners and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. So we must confess.

Thank you Lord for bringing me through that with some humbling, but some joy as well.

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