Daily Archives: July 6, 2014

GodLife: 5 Tips for Avoiding Sin

Scripture: “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” James 1:14a

Being a Christian involves turning away from sin; however, we still mess up sometimes. We can learn to rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to avoid sin. Here are five tips for avoiding sin:

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Just for You

Do you ever hide your sin while presenting a cheerful face to the world? Click to learn how God can help you deal with your sin in Life Lessons with Joyce Bartholomew

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Do you ever wonder about avoiding sin, or do you need to connect with someone who can help keep you accountable? We have trained followers of Jesus who can help you figure it out! Click here to share your story with us. You will hear from someone shortly.

Prayer Points

Will you pray this week:
• You will listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit to avoid sin
• God will reveal your sin to you
• God will help you focus on Him, rather than on earthly things
• You will resist temptation
• God will provide many ways for you to avoid temptation and sin

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“God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:11

The Apparent Paradox of Sanctification – John MacArthur


Philippians 2:12-13

Code: B140702

by John MacArthur

How do you overcome sin and live the Christian life?  Is defeating sin something God does in you, or do you defeat it by obeying the commands of Scripture? In other words, is the Christian life an exercise in passive trust or active obedience? Is it all God’s doing, all the believer’s doing, or a combination of both? Those questions are as old as the church, and the varied answers have spawned movements and denominations.

This is not an unusual issue when dealing with spiritual truth. Many doctrines involve seeming paradoxes. For example, Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man; and while Scripture was written by human authors, God wrote every word. The gospel is offered to the whole world, yet applied only to the elect. God eternally secures believers’ salvation, yet they are commanded to persevere.

Christians who try to reconcile every doctrine in a humanly rational way are inevitably drawn to extremes. Seeking to remove all mystery and paradox, they emphasize one truth or aspect of God’s Word at the expense of another which seems to contradict it. This is precisely how many Christians have handled the doctrine of sanctification. One view of sanctification emphasizes God’s role to the virtual exclusion of the believer’s effort. This is often referred to as quietism. The opposite extreme is called pietism.

The quietist sees believers as passive in sanctification. A common maxim is, “Let go and let God.” Another is, “I can’t; God can.” Quietism tends to be mystical and subjective, focusing on personal feelings and experiences. A person who is utterly submitted to and dependent on God, they say, will be divinely protected from sin and led into faithful living. Trying to strive against sin or discipline oneself to produce good works is considered not only futile but unspiritual and counterproductive.

One champion of this view was the devout Quaker Hannah Whitall Smith, whose book The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life has been read by millions. In it she writes,

What can be said about man’s part in this great work but that he must continually surrender himself and continually trust? But when we come to God’s side of the question, what is there that may not be said as to the manifold ways, in which He accomplishes the work entrusted to Him? It is here that the growing comes in. The lump of clay could never grow into a beautiful vessel if it stayed in the clay pit for thousands of years; but when it is put into the hands of a skilful potter it grows rapidly, under his fashioning, into the vessel he intends it to be. And in the same way the soul, abandoned to the working of the Heavenly Potter, is made into a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use. (Westwood, N.J.: Revell, 1952, 32. Italics in original.)

How a Christian can fall into sin is a difficult question for the quietist to answer. They are forced to argue that such a person obviously misunderstands the matter of complete surrender, and has taken himself out of the hands of the heavenly Potter. But that flawed answer brings God’s sovereignty into question—if the Lord is completely in control, how can a believer take himself out of God’s hands?

Pietists, on the other hand, are typically aggressive in their pursuit of doctrinal and moral purity. Historically, this movement originated in seventeenth-century Germany as a reaction to the dead orthodoxy of many Protestant churches. To their credit, most pietists place strong emphasis on Bible study, holy living, self-discipline, and practical Christianity. They emphasize such passages as “Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1) and “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:17).

Unfortunately, this unbalanced view often leads to an overemphasis on self-effort to the virtual exclusion of dependence on divine power. As you might expect, pietism frequently leads to legalism, moralism, self-righteousness, a judgmental spirit, pride, and hypocrisy.

The quietist says, “Do nothing.”

The pietist says, “Do everything.”

In Philippians 2:12–13, Paul presents the appropriate resolution between the two. He makes no effort to rationally harmonize the believer’s part and God’s part in sanctification. He is content with the paradox and simply states both truths, saying on the one hand, sanctification is of believers (Philippians 2:12), and on the other hand, it is of God (Philippians 2:13).

The truth is that sanctification is God’s work, but He performs it through the diligent self-discipline and righteous pursuits of His people, not in spite of them. God’s sovereign work does not absolve believers from the need for obedience; it means their obedience is itself a Spirit-empowered work of God.

Today there is an intense debate within the church about this vital issue. The stakes are high—your view of sanctification informs and directs how you understand your new nature in Christ, how you evangelize others, pursue godliness, govern your heart and mind, how you raise and discipline your children, and how you understand and follow God’s commands in Scripture. For pastors and church leaders, your position on this issue will determine how you preach and teach, how you give counsel to troubled hearts, and how you engage in church discipline.

Neither quietism nor pietism represents the biblical path of sanctification. Both are spiritual ditches to steer clear of—they will impede your spiritual progress, and potentially obstruct it altogether.

In the days ahead, we’re going to examine the model of sanctification Paul presents in Philippians 2, and explore the dual realities of God’s sovereign work and man’s responsibility.


(Adapted from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Philippians.)

Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B140702
COPYRIGHT ©2014 Grace to You

Cross Encounters Prayer: Wisdom and Holiness through Affliction


“When it goes badly with the godly, yet God deals well with them because, while he is inflicting evil upon them, he is doing them good. That which the text renders, ‘Thou hast dealt well with thy servants,’ in the Hebrew reads, ‘Thou hast done good to thy servant.’ ‘It is good for me that I have bee afflicted’ (Psalms 119:71): David does not say, ‘It is good for me that I have been in prosperity,’ but ‘that I have been afflicted.’ God does his people good by affliction in two ways:

“1. The godly grow wiser. Affliction is a school of light. Vexatio dat intellectum (trouble gives understanding). It discovers pride, earthliness, unmortified passion, which they could not have believed was in their hearts. ‘If they be . . . holden in chords of affliction, then he sheweth them . . . their transgression’ (Job 36:8-9). Affliction cures the eyesight.

“2. Affliction promotes holiness. The more the diamond is cut, the more it sparkles” ‘That we might be parktakers of his holiness (Hebrews 12:10). When prosperity makes grace rust, God scours us with affliction. The godly are thankful for their sufferings. God by the wholesome discipline of the cross makes them more humble, more conformed to Christ’s image. The sharp frost of affliction bring on the spring flowers of grace. Now if God, while he is chastising, is doing us good, then surely he deals well with us” (Thomas Watson, The Great Gain of Godliness, p. 157).

Gracious Father, You are good in every respect. There is nothing about your being, your nature, your character, your will, your acts that is not good. Whether the rain irrigates or floods the ground, You are good for allowing the rain to fall. Whether a gentle breeze or a tornado, You are good for allowing the wind to blow. Whether to warm a home or to scorch the land, You are good for allowing the fire to burn. In sickness and in health, in prosperity or want, in times of joy or times of sorrow, everything You allow to happen in my life is good.

Lord, You have afflicted me many times in my Christian life. And there have been times when I have complained about the affliction. In doing so, I have said, “You are not good to me, Lord.” How egregious! How blasphemous my sin! Oh, Lord! Please forgive me. Every time You have afflicted me, You have loved me. You have treated me well. Every time You allow affliction to fall upon me You have done so to either discipline me as a son or to test me as a servant. How good of You to do so, Lord!

I am not as wise as I should be. I am not as holy as I should be, which says to me there is yet more affliction to come my way. For I believe, by faith and according to Your Word, that when You allow me to be afflicted you increase my wisdom and You further sanctify me, making me holy. It is a fearful thing to pray for affliction. In fact, I am afraid to do so, even though You have not given me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love, power, and self–control. Might I ask instead, Father, that you give me the wisdom, discernment, faith, love, hope, strength, and courage to endure any future affliction You may allow to befall me? Do I lack faith, Father, in praying this way. I pray not!

Holy Spirit, embolden, equip, and empower me to withstand whatever afflictions may come. Help me to continue to lift up the name of King Jesus in the midst of every storm of life. It pleased the Father to afflict His Son, to crush Him, to turn His back on Him, to look upon Him as if He were sin. So great an affliction I will never experience. So great an affliction I will never be asked to endure. Can I not withstand every affliction for the glory of the one who was so greatly afflicted on my behalf? Holy Spirit, help me to endure to the end!

Thank You, Father, for loving me so much that You would allow affliction in my life in order to conform me to the image of Your Son. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:14-16 ESV)

The best place for a Christian to be is at the Cross, before the Saviour, in complete agreement with God that without His saving Grace he or she would be on their way to Hell, and without His sustaining Grace he or she would lose all ability or desire for His godliness. In fact, Christians are in a great deal of trouble when…

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Samuel at Gilgal

John OwenJohn Owen:

“Though we are commanded to ‘wash ourselves’, to ‘cleanse ourselves from sins’, to ‘purge ourselves from all our iniquities’, yet to imagine that we can do these things by our own efforts is to trample on the cross and grace of Jesus Christ. Whatever God works in us by his grace, he commands us to do as our duty. God works all in us and by us.” (The Holy Spirit, 124)

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