Category Archives: Christian Living

God’s Problem Is a Lack of Evidence

Romans 1:18-20

Code: B180319

If God really exists, why doesn’t He show Himself in some dramatic, undeniable way?

That question was posited not long ago in a Washington Post opinion article headlined “Where is God?” And it accurately reflects the widespread sentiment of an unbelieving world.

Wondering aloud “Where is God?” is an understandable cry of desperation during a crisis. David expressed words to that effect when he found himself in a deeply despairing situation. “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1). But as is always the case with genuine believers, the truth David knew eventually soothed the pain he was feeling: “I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:6).

The Demand for More Evidence

Atheists, on the other hand, lean heavily on the supposed lack of evidence for God as the basis for their denial of His existence. They like to portray themselves as objective and reasonable individuals, and readily proclaim their willingness to go where the evidence leads them.

However, their “objective” inquiry is hardly exhaustive. For atheists, the mere inability to see God is often proof enough of His nonexistence. Others argue that if God does exist, the burden of proof is on Him. Put simply, God’s problem is a lack of evidence.

That popular lie has become the defense of many who deny God’s existence, and a stumbling block to Christians who believe they need to prove it.

Do We Need to Prove God?

Evidential apologists can confuse unbelief with ignorance. They consider the supposed information gap as the void Christians need to fill to usher uneducated unbelievers into the kingdom. Consequently, these well-meaning Christian intellectuals labor long and hard in the quest for compelling evidence of God’s existence. But true Christians aren’t mentally coerced—they’re spiritually converted.

We should be thankful for the compelling evidence of our Creator that we find in everything from the design in DNA to the layout of our solar system. But as an evangelistic tool, the evidential approach inevitably ends up doing more harm than good, as it turns the Creator-creature relationship on its head. God ends up in the seat of the accused and man places himself in the seat of judgment.

This is an ancient pattern for unbelievers. When Jesus hung on the cross, different factions of people insisted that Christ prove His deity to them on their terms. The Jewish rulers sneered and said, “Let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God” (Luke 23:35). The Roman soldiers teased Him in a similar way: “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself” (Luke 23:36). And even the unrepentant criminal, a man you would think realized he was in no position to make demands, chided Jesus: “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us” (Luke 23:39).

In essence, accusing God of a lack of evidence is nothing less than idolatry. Sinful man routinely asserts his imagined sovereignty over God.

Yet the God of the Bible defines Himself on His terms, not ours. “The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these” (Isaiah 45:7). “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19).

In Exodus, the Lord described Himself to Moses in succinct and nonnegotiable terms.

The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. (Exodus 34:6–7)

God authoritatively declares who He is and what He is like; we don’t get to do that.

God Has Proven Himself

Scripture also makes clear that God has not left Himself invisible and unrevealed to mankind.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18–20)

God’s fingerprints are all over His creation. Just as a painting is proof of a painter and a building is proof of a builder, so too is creation proof of its Creator. As John MacArthur explains,

God has made His invisible attributes visible. The particular attributes that man can perceive in part through his natural senses are God’s eternal power and His divine nature. God’s eternal power refers to His never-failing omnipotence, which is reflected in the awesome creation which that power both brought into being and sustains. God’s divine nature of kindness and graciousness is reflected, as Paul told the Lystrans, in the “rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). . . .

God’s natural revelation of Himself is not obscure or selective. . . . Even in the most ancient of times, long before the telescope and microscope were invented, the greatness of God was evident both in the vastness and in the tiny intricacies of nature. Men could look at the stars and discover the fixed order of their orbits. They could observe a small seed reproduce itself into a giant tree, exactly like the one from which it came. They could see the marvelous cycles of the seasons, the rain, and the snow. They witnessed the marvel of human birth and the glory of the sunrise and sunset. Even without the special revelation David had, they could see that “the heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1). [1]

Through the majesty and order of His creation, the invisible God undeniably reveals Himself.

Man’s Problem Is Unbelief

God has never been the One with the problem. He has never been absent or invisible. From the beginning of time, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Unbelievers are those with the problem because they willfully “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Man’s problem is unbelief—willful, defiant unbelief.

Evidence for God—or lack of evidence—has never been the issue. Atheism is nothing more than a façade for people who love sin and hate God.

We cannot allow sinful men to stand in judgment over God. Instead, we must warn unbelievers about God’s impending return and the judgment that follows. We cannot accept sinners’ demands for a god of their own choosing. We must proclaim the one, true God as He has revealed Himself in His Word.

And we must have the courage to expose the real problem of all unbelief: the insatiable love of sin and the absolute refusal to worship God as He rightly demands.


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The Word-less “Church”

Many American churches are in a mess. Theologically they are indifferent, confused, or dangerously wrong. Liturgically they are the captives of superficial fads. Morally they live lives indistinguishable from the world. They often have a lot of people, money, and activities. But are they really churches, or have they degenerated into peculiar clubs?

What has gone wrong? At the heart of the mess is a simple phenomenon: the churches seem to have lost a love for and confidence in the Word of God. They still carry Bibles and declare the authority of the Scriptures. They still have sermons based on Bible verses and still have Bible study classes. But not much of the Bible is actually read in their services. Their sermons and studies usually do not examine the Bible to see what it thinks is important for the people of God. Increasingly they treat the Bible as tidbits of poetic inspiration, of pop psychology, and of self-help advice. Congregations where the Bible is ignored or abused are in the gravest peril. Churches that depart from the Word will soon find that God has departed from them.

What solution does the Bible teach for this sad situation? The short but profound answer is given by Paul in Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” We need the Word to dwell in us richly so that we will know the truths that God thinks are most important and so that we will know His purposes and priorities. We need to be concerned less about “felt-needs” and more about the real needs of lost sinners as taught in the Bible.

Paul not only calls us here to have the Word dwell in us richly, but shows us what that rich experience of the Word looks like. He shows us that in three points. (Paul was a preacher, after all.)

First, he calls us to be educated by the Word, which will lead us on to ever-richer wisdom by “teaching and admonishing one another.” Paul is reminding us that the Word must be taught and applied to us as a part of it dwelling richly in us. The church must encourage and facilitate such teaching whether in preaching, Bible studies, reading, or conversations. We must be growing in the Word.

It is not just information, however, that we are to be gathering from the Word. We must be growing in a knowledge of the will of God for us: “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). Knowing the will of God will make us wise and in that wisdom we will be renewed in the image of our Creator, an image so damaged by sin: “Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (3:10).

This wisdom will also reorder our priorities and purposes, from that which is worldly to that which is heavenly: “The hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of truth, the gospel” (1:5). When that Word dwells in us richly we can be confident that we know the full will of God: “I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known” (1:25). From the Bible we know all that we need for salvation and godliness.

Second, Paul calls us to expressing the Word from ever-renewed hearts in our “singing.” Interestingly, Paul connects the Word dwelling in us richly with singing. He reminds us that singing is an invaluable means of placing the truth of God deep in our minds and hearts. I have known of elderly Christians far gone with Alzheimer’s disease who can still sing songs of praise to God. Singing also helps connect truth to our emotions. It helps us experience the encouragement and assurance of our faith: “That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (2:2–3).

The importance of singing, of course, makes the content of our songs vital. If we sing shallow, repetitive songs, we will not be hiding much of the Word in our hearts. But if we sing the Word itself in its fullness and richness, we will be making ourselves rich indeed. We need to remember that God has given us a book of songs, the Psalter, to help us in our singing.

Third, Paul calls us to remember the effect of the Word to make us a people with ever-ready “thanksgiving.” Three times in Colossians 3:15–17 Paul calls us to thankfulness. When the “word of Christ” dwells in us richly, we will be led on to lives of gratitude. As we learn and contemplate all that God has done for us in creation, providence, and redemption, we will be filled with thanksgiving. As we recall His promises of forgiveness, renewal, preservation, and glory, we will live as a truly thankful people.

We need the word of Christ to dwell in us richly today more than ever. Then churches may escape being a mess and become the radiant body of Christ as God intended.

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

Source: The Word-less “Church”

The Basic Spirituality of Yoga

In an article I penned in 2010 titled A subtle and dangerous shift in Christianity I expressed my concerns over churches that were offering “Christian yoga”:

It seems everyone’s practicing yoga meditation these days. Physicians recommend it to their patients which means it’s beneficial…right? Meditation is said to relieve stress, anxiety, hypertension, acne and post-nasal drip, so go for it! Just tighten those abdominal muscles, inhale deeply and chant Maaaaaaaaa all in one breath and your concerns will drift away like a feather floating on the wind…

But what if you’re a Christian? Should you practice the same sorts of things as Buddhist, Hindus and New Agers?

Former New Ager Marcia Montenegro believes that Christians who practice yoga–even “Christian yoga”–shouldn’t.  In an article Marcia wrote for Midwest Christian Outreach,she brings to light the spiritual dimension of yoga that, in her words, “should not be ignored.” Marcia has given CRN permission to publish her piece.

The Basic Spirituality of Yoga

By Marcia Montenegro

Yoga is one of the most popular topics I am asked about when I speak in churches or at conferences. I twice practiced Hatha Yoga at separate times while participating in the New Age for about 20 years, prior to coming to a saving faith in the true Jesus Christ. At that time, Yoga was primarily understood as a spiritual practice even though it was beginning to slowly branch out into the secular world.

I watched as Yoga migrated further into mainstream culture as “exercise,” cleverly marketed in such a way that the image of a woman doing a Yoga pose (asana) or sitting in the Lotus position became the norm, and was always associated with health, beauty, peace, and strength.

The Yoga being discussed here is Hatha Yoga, only one of many Yogas. Yoga, as a whole, is a complex esoteric system oriented toward attaining liberation from a false reality and uniting with the ultimate reality or god (however that god may be perceived). Hatha Yoga, meaning “Sun” and “Moon,” is a practice whereby the body becomes a deliberate tool for this path to a purported enlightenment; that is, becoming more spiritually aware of the true inner divine Self and the need for liberation from this life. The concept of Sun and Moon also represents the goal of uniting opposites into one, based on the belief that there are no real distinctions, but that all is truly one (in non-dual Hinduism; there is dualistic Hinduism which teaches distinctions). So, we cannot even get away from spirituality when using the name “Hatha Yoga.”

“The word hatha is itself an indication of the goals and objectives of this practice: hameans “sun,” and tha means “moon.” Thus, “hatha yoga” is the practice that enables a practitioner to balance his or her solar and lunar energies.” (From Yoga Journal article “What is the Purpose of Asana?”)

Indeed, the word “Yoga” itself means “union.” But it is not union of body and mind, according to the popular adage. Although defined in various ways, the classic meaning is union of the Atman, or inner divine self, with Brahman, the supreme Hindu god (or one Hindu god who manifests as many gods). Yoga is also defined as awakening to and union with the “higher self” or “higher consciousness” in New Age terms, which is the realization of the inner divine self.

Hatha Yoga, popular today from the corner gym to boutique studios peppering every city and maybe even every town, is also a part of Kundalini YogaKundalini, as with all Hindu concepts, is layered with complexity; but, essentially, it is believed to be an invisible energy coiled at the base of the spine. Awakening this energy through meditation and certain Yogic practices is a spiritual work.

The Yoga poses, postures, or asanas are not designed as an exercise but as preparation for more advanced Yoga styles of meditation in order to aid in this enlightenment. The postures can induce meditative states and are a discipline to train the body into submission for deeper meditative states of more advanced Yoga.

“Exercising postures or Asanas in Hatha Yoga has two essential objectives. The first is that to practice any real meditation, one needs at the least one posture in which one can be perfectly comfortable for a longer period of time. The more such postures one can master, the better the basis for developing the inner meditation techniques. The second objective of exercising asanas in Hatha Yoga is to bring health and energy to body and mind by opening the nadis.” (“Hatha Yoga” )

The nadis are allegedly “subtle” channels in the body through which flow Prana, the sacred energy of the universe (“subtle” means they are invisible). The so-called breathing techniques of Yoga, Pranayama, as well as the poses – the asanas — are meant to open these channels so that the energy of Kundalini can flow through and vitalize the person on all levels, especially spiritually. In Eastern spiritual practices such as Yoga, Qi-Gong, and Hindu meditation, breath is considered to be sacred and to be a link to a divine source. This is why Pranayama is essential in Yoga. The concepts and terms are all so interconnected, that it is difficult to detach them from each other. Explaining one leads to a necessity in explaining another, and another after that. There is no real end to it. It is like grabbing the end of a string and pulling on it, only to discover that the string is part of a tangled web that can never be unraveled. This is how I see Yoga.

Some asanas honor mythical Hindu heroes or Hindu gods, such as the warrior pose, done to honor the Hindu god, Shiva, who created a warrior, Virabhadra, to avenge the death of Shiva’s wife. Another asana, lying on one’s back with split legs, honors Hanuman, the monkey god (see “The Heroes, Saints, and Sages Behind Yoga Pose Names”).

Chakras, which means “wheels,” are allegedly invisible energy centers ranging from the pelvic area to the top of the crown (sometimes the crown chakra is said to be an endpoint and not a chakra). Each one is correlated to a specific purpose but needs to be activated by kundalini. The asanas are done partly to prepare the chakras for the kundalini.

Yoga’s popularity has turned “chakras” into an almost everyday word. Once a little-known term used in the New Age and the occult, it now is liberally sprinkled in the language of alternative treatments, meditation, and even health advice. Chakras are assumed to exist, even though they don’t. The concept is entirely spiritual.

Yoga no longer hides its spirituality as forcefully as it once did. Presenting it as mere exercise has concerned and angered some practitioners and many Hindus, who are calling for it to be brought back to its proper spiritual standing. Several years ago, I noticed that the popular Yoga Journal was including more spiritually oriented articles, including chants to Hindu gods.

Tokens of Eastern spirituality, like drawings of Ganesha (a popular Hindu elephant-headed god) on clothing, and the Aum (Om) design as a tattoo and printed on clothing and totes, have become widespread. The Aum/Om symbol (looks somewhat like a backward capital E with embellishment) is considered to be a sacred sound that has a spiritual effect on the person chanting it and is said or chanted in some Yoga classes.

As we see from the information, the main terms used in Hatha Yoga are spiritual or are connected to the vast network of Hindu spiritual beliefs:

Asanas Aum Chakras Hatha Yoga Kundalini Nadis Prana/Pranayama Yoga

Like other arcane systems, Yoga is endlessly complicated and convoluted. But just touching on the essentials of Yoga practice reveals a spiritual dimension, hidden to most, that should not be ignored. Can we do Yoga as exercise without the spirituality? I would rephrase that as: “Can we get close to a fire and not get burned?” Maybe, but why try? There are numerous ways to exercise without getting near Yoga.

The world is captivated by the idea of prolonging youth and health, and Yoga feeds on that. But all of that will come to a crashing end for everyone. The basics of Yoga are a non-Christian and non-eternal spirituality, but Yoga itself is not basic to life, and certainly does not compare to the eternal life and the glorified resurrected body through faith in Christ.

On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7b-8 NASB)Ω


Asanas and gods, Hindu heroes

Ancient Yoga texts

© 2018, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.


Source: The Basic Spirituality of Yoga


Friday’s Featured Sermon: “The Capital City of Heaven, Part 1”

Revelation 21:9-21

Code: B180316

The city is like one massive perfect diamond gem, flashing the reflection of God’s glory in infinite light—the ultimate light show. All of eternity then becomes bathed in the radiating splendor of God. And that is the remarkable general appearance. It is like a massive—and when I say massive, I mean massive, because it is 1,500 miles cubed—one massive, crystal clear diamond gem with the glory of God shining out from the center of it and splattering its rainbow colors all over the new heavens and the new earth.

John MacArthur delivered that spectacular description of the New Jerusalem in 1995 during a sermon called “The Capital City of Heaven, Part 1.”

It’s still a timely message today, as illiteracy about eternity seems to be at an all-time high in the church. The disappearance of hell from most pulpits is no great mystery. It’s not a pleasant subject for anyone. Liberals deny it, and most evangelicals would prefer to avoid it. Christ’s numerous discourses on damnation have been deemed too frightening and confrontational for our modern sensibilities.

But sermons about heaven are becoming increasingly scarce, too. And even when preachers do mention the heavenly city, they rarely describe it.

The depictions of heaven scattered throughout popular culture often end up filling that void. We may not buy into harps, clouds, and pearly gates, but those caricatures are emblematic of the way many Christians perceive heaven—a spiritual dimension devoid of any tangible, physical reality. Such views do little to cultivate any deep longings for the eternal state.

Instead, a disturbing fixation with the here and now has emerged. Your Best Life Now and Every Day a Friday are bestsellers in Christian bookstores. Heaven’s barely a blip on their radar. Even the good news about eternity is remarkably absent from many modern gospel presentations.

There is an enormous need right now in the body of Christ to have our heavenly affections revived. Like Abraham, we should live as aliens in a foreign land, looking for “the city . . . whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10). Perhaps you’ve heard of the streets of gold and a river of life. But how much do you know beyond that?

In “The Capital City of Heaven,” John MacArthur shows us around heaven. It is a real place where resurrected Christians will one day live in God’s presence in glorified physical bodies. We should want to know more about it, and be encouraged and motivated by the reward God has in store.

Paying great attention to specific biblical details, John explains many aspects of the coming heavenly city. Centered around Revelation 21, John vividly describes details about New Jerusalem’s appearance, architecture, and illumination. He provides specific measurements regarding its dimensions and layout. He helps us to understand its design, spaciousness, and what it will be like to live there. The world completely loses its allure against such a breathtaking and glorious backdrop.

John’s message reminds us that heaven may appear at the end of our Bibles but it’s not the end of God’s story. Rather, our entry into the heavenly city will represent the beginning of a glorious eternity. The New Jerusalem is a real city where we will one day live forever in God’s glorious presence. What greater hope could we possibly offer a dying world?

Here’s what one of our staff members said about “The Capital City of Heaven”:

I heard this message on a Sunday evening at Grace Community Church more than twenty years ago. It remains etched in my memory because, as a young man and new believer, it gave me my first real desires for heaven. Because of this message my eyes were opened to the fact that heaven is an actual place—a place I want to be, a place where we can worship God perfectly. Before hearing “The Capital City of Heaven,” I had no real understanding of what’s in store for true believers. My thinking boiled down to a very simple dichotomy: Heaven is good, hell is really bad. My view on heaven was pretty apathetic. But now heaven is my single greatest longing—the glorious place where I can worship God perfectly. —Jay M.

Click here to listen to “The Capital City of Heaven, Part 1.” John’s message is the first of a two part sermon series. “The Capital City of Heaven, Part 2” can be heard here.

[Ed., This article was originally published on September 23, 2016.]


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Weekly Watchman for 03/16/2018

Meaningful Christian Living & Evangelism

Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” was a best seller that got many Christians searching for God’s “purpose” for their lives. Our guest this morning says searching for our “purpose” is a wild goose chase because once you think you’ve found it the world will change its focus and you’ll end up like those dogs we see in videos chasing their tails while getting nowhere fast and becoming dizzy and frustrated. He says rather Christians should focus on the meaning of our lives–something by the way clearly defined in God’s Word.

Pastor Randy White joins us this morning to discuss the difference between purpose and meaning, along with the importance of using Biblical Exposition in evangelism.

We’ll also discuss an intriguing study about how “Generation Z” is the least Christian generation in our nation’s history–and why one Christian researcher thinks that is actually a good thing.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Willfully Being Led into Slavery

We all know the analogy of the frog in the kettle: The water is comfortable at first and as the temperature rises the frog adjusts to it and suddenly: Boiled frog!

Well an increasing number of experts, many of them the very people that spurred the technology boom we are in, are now warning that technology could indeed be that pot of boiling water that will one day enslave mankind. With recent staggering advances in Artificial Intelligence, one has to seriously consider the warnings about an elite few in a ruling class controlling what we do, say and even think one day.

Patrick Wood has been studying and warning people about the rise and dangers of “technocracy” for years, equipping Christians to understand what is happening around us, and encouraging us to remain faithful to God as the world around us gets in line for worship of the coming Anti-christ. He joins us this morning to look at some chilling reports of just how far AI has come and the dangers it poses.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Can America’s Slide Toward Godlessness Be Reversed?

In 2008 Barack Obama ran for President on the promise of “fundamentally transforming America.” I remember at that time criticizing the press and many Christians who were supporting him for failing to ask “Mr. Obama could you please define ‘fundamental transformation’”? But rather than take the time to explore what this transformation would look like people just wanted change, and Obama went on to serve 8 years as our President.

Well it is 10 years later and we have experienced what President Obama meant by fundamental transformation. Our nation took a severe left turn toward secular humanism, socialism and globalism. But the American political system has a way of correcting itself and making adjustments when the nation veers too far left or right. Donald Trump shocked the world by becoming President and it has been quite the ride since then.

But has the nation drifted so far toward humanism and socialism that it is beyond correction? Have Americans become so used to “Big Brother” taking care of us and telling us what to do and believe that we are on an irreversible course? And most importantly has America so offended God by our blatantly anti-biblical policies on abortion and marriage that His wrath is being stored up for our destruction as a nation?

I am joined this morning by John Loeffler of Steel on Steel Radio. For decades John has been warning people of the dangerous slippery slope America and the Christian Church have been sliding down. Can anything be done to reverse this slide toward total debauchery and globalism that will one day enslave everyone? And if inevitable how do we as Christian stand strong in the midst of a world that hates us because it hates the One we worship—Jesus Christ?

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Leaving Mormonism

Mormonism continues to grow because Mormons are very open and evangelistic about their religion. They tend to be very moral people and unless you really understand what Mormonism is and what they believe about God, you can easily mistake Mormonism for biblical Christianity. But underneath the facade that appears to be biblical Christianity is a religion that has the identity of God and Jesus Christ wrong, leading many to a false sense of eternal security.

Dr. Lynn Wilder knows all about the subtle deception of Mormonism as she was a practicing Mormon for years until the truth was revealed to her by God. Now she is dedicated to teaching people about Mormonism and pointing them to the true saving faith of biblical Christianity through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.

Dr. Wilder joins us this morning to share her story and offer advice in how to engage Mormons with the truth of God’s Word… the Bible.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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This ‘n’ That for 03/16/2018

  • I disagree with this article’s definition of the gift of singleness. Personally, it seems to me that, if you desire to be married, you don’t have the gift of singleness! Nevertheless, those individuals can still see their time of singleness as a gift, and from that perspective, there are good thoughts in this piece.
  • laughed. I couldn’t help it.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Discernment is more than just calling out false teachers.
  • I. Do. Not. Understand. This. Stupid. Decision. And when you make stupid decisions, things like this happen.
  • How can we know the Bible is from God?
  • I haven’t looked closely at this resource, so I can’t specifically vouch for it, but free stuff is always worth a second glance!
Is there nothing to sing about to-day? Then borrow a song from tomorrow; sing of what is yet to be. Is this world dreary? Then think of the next. —C.H. Spurgeon

The Power of Biblical Thinking (Nick Batzig)

Somewhat surprisingly, there has been a resurgence of interest in Norman Vincent Peale’s power of positive thinking in our day. The Reformed Church in America minister–famous for giving people a panacea to protect themselves from all undesirable thoughts and actions–carved out a place for himself in American psychology and religion from the mid to late-twentieth century. President Trump has gone so far as to praise Peale for helping him embrace the idea of self-worth. In the newest season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, a character reads Peal’s The Power of Positive Thinking while riding the public transport through a sketchy borough of the city. Ironically, this scene, full of sanguinity, fails to meet the criteria of what we might otherwise consider to be film noir. Nevertheless, the idea that you have the ability to think and speak away everything undesirable seems to have made a renewed headway in our culture.Every week, I stumble across memes and posts on social media in which someone expresses to someone else the idea that they are “wonderful,” “beautiful,” “special,” and “loved” (oftentimes, with the adverb “so” prefixed to the verb “loved”). When I read such sentiments, my mind immediately turns to the SNL sketch in which Stuart Smalley gives himself daily affirmations: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and doggonit, people like me.” Joking aside, there is a draw to positive thoughts and words. No one enjoys being around a curmudgeon. No one likes living with fears and discouragement. All of us find it refreshing to spend time with optimists. There is enough misery, sorrow, sadness and suffering all around us. It is certainly a whole lot more enjoyable to spend time with positive people. Furthermore, there is something supremely biblical about thinking right thoughts. The Apostle Paul told the believers in Philippi, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known t…Continue Reading at Reformation21 Blog


Bible Verses to Conquer Fear And Know God’s Peace

Here is how we cultivate hope and put fear to flight. The key is to “call to mind” the truth about our God. We must call to mind the fact that God’s steadfast love for us NEVER ceases. We must call to mind that his mercies to us NEVER come to an end. We must call to mind that every single morning God has new mercies for us. And we must call to mind God’s infinitely great faithfulness.

I don’t know a single person who isn’t tempted to fear from time to time.

We can be tempted to fear for our kids and grandkids. I recently said to my wife, “I thought when our kids were grown and out of the house, all our worries would be over. But now they are even bigger! Not only for our kids, but now we have grandchildren to worry about!”

We can be tempted to fear for the future of our nation, especially the more we watch the news. Tempted to fear for our finances. Or our health. And most of us face the temptation to daily anxieties.

Thankfully, there are Bible verses about fear…

…about anxiety…

…about worry.

God knows our fears, and he has given us many, many Bible verses to help us overcome our fears.

What Is Fear?

To fear is to “be afraid of someone or something as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.” (

When we fear, we use our God-given imaginations in a way we weren’t designed to. We imagine the future, and we imagine something really bad happening. It’s the opposite of the positive thinkers who say we should imagine ourselves getting rich every day. That we should put a picture of a brand new car on our fridge, and imagine ourselves driving down the freeway.

When we fear, our minds picture all kinds of scenarios, and then we try to figure out what we will do when they happen. And that can send us spinning.

Not only can our own imaginations lead us down rabbit trails of fear, but Satan himself tempts us to be afraid, for if he can get our focus on the possible bad things we may face, we won’t focus on God. We won’t pray to God, or trust him or enjoy him. And we may try to alleviate our fears in sinful ways.

But God tells us not to fear. And he gives us hundreds of Bible verses about fear. These verses are intended to give us peace in the midst of the hurricanes of life. 

But we must fight to believe God’s word and not give in to fear. I’m not saying this is easy. But God’s will is that we experience his deep rest and joy. Here are a few wonderful Scriptures to help fight for God’s peace and joy.

Verse #1: Fear Not (Isaiah 43:1-3)

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:1-3)

God tells his children to “Fear not”. Why? Because he has redeemed us and made us his own.

He has called us by name. Therefore when we go through hard things – when we pass through waters, rivers and fire, God himself, our Savior, will be with us, and will keep and protect us.

Yes, we will go through waters and flames – we will go through various afflictions in this life – but they won’t harm us at all.

Verse #2: God Is For Us (Romans 8)

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?…

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-32, 35, 38-39)

What a boatload of peace-assuring promises. God, the Creator of all things, the all-powerful one is FOR US. But not only that, he gave up his precious SON to purchase us!

If he gave his Son for us, won’t he meet our needs? Won’t he keep us safe? Won’t he give us any lesser thing we need?

Therefore NOTHING – nothing now or in the future will be able to separate us from his love for us in Jesus.

And because he loves us in Christ, he will meet our every need.

Verse #3: Engraved On His Hands (Isaiah 49:15-16)

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me. (Isaiah 49:15-16)

What mom would forget her nursing baby? It may rarely happen, but God will NEVER FORGET one of his children. He has engraved us on the palms of his hands.

When Jesus looks upon his glorified hands, and sees the marks of the cross, he sees our names engraved there. He will never forget us!

I know parents who have their children’s names tattooed on their arms. How much more did Jesus engrave our names upon his hands when he died for us on the cross!

Verse #4: The Steadfast Love Of The Lord (Lamentations 3:21-23)

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-23)

Here is how we cultivate hope and put fear to flight. The key is to “call to mind” the truth about our God.

We must call to mind the fact that God’s steadfast love for us NEVER ceases. We must call to mind that his mercies to us NEVER come to an end.

We must call to mind that every single morning God has new mercies for us. And we must call to mind God’s infinitely great faithfulness.

I memorized this passage years ago, and I begin most days when I wake up by saying something like, “Thank you Lord, for the gift of sleep. Thank you for your protection during the night. Thank you for your steadfast love that never ceases. Thank you for your mercies that never end. Thank you for your new mercies this morning. Thank you for your faithfulness.”

Write this passage on a notecard. Read it every day. Memorize it. CALL TO MIND these truths about our faithful, merciful God and you will find God’s peace growing in your life.

Verse #5: Wait For The Lord (Psalm 27:13-14)

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD! PS 27:13-14

Satan tries to get us to believe we will look upon bad things in the future. To combat this we must remember, that even if we can’t see it now, we WILL look upon God’s goodness in this life and certainly the next. When we meditate on these things it helps us to let our hearts take courage rather than fear.

Verse #6: How Abundant His Goodness (Psalm 31:19)

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! (Psalm 31:19)

God has abundant goodness stored up for us!

We should not fear the future, but fear God and take refuge in him, because he has ABUNDANT GOODNESS STORED UP for us. God has bags and bags of grace stored up for us. He has blessings waiting that we can’t even imagine – abundant blessings. Not just a little bit. Memorize these verses too!

Verse #7: Do Not Be Anxious About Anything (Philippians 4:7)

…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Here’s how to combat anxiety for the future: pray and give thank God “in everything” – in everything you are tempted to worry about. Keep lifting your requests to God. Keep thanking him for everything you can think of.

The result: “the peace of God” – God’s very own peace – “which surpasses all understanding” – a peace that human understanding can’t grasp – “will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Pray! Thank God! All day long.

Verse #8: Humble Yourselves (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

God promises to give grace to the humble. When we cast our anxieties on him, he promises to “exalt us” – lift us up – at the proper time.

Why should we cast our anxieties on God? “Because he cares for you” – the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Creator of the galaxies CARES FOR YOU. Incredible!

God is not too busy running the universe to care for us tiny specks of dust – he cares for us because he has redeemed us by the blood of his Son. He cares for us because he has adopted us as his own children. He cares about every detail of our lives. Cast your anxieties on him!

Verse #9: The Lord Is My Shepherd (Psalm 23)

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4)

If you believe in Jesus Christ, the Lord, the Great Shepherd, then he is YOUR personal shepherd, and you shall want for nothing.

Jesus will make you lie down in green pastures, not deserts. Green pastures are rich and full. Jesus will lead you by still waters – a picture of peace.

He will restore your soul – again, a picture of peace and fullness. He will lead you and guide you in paths of righteousness – in his will, in ways that bring blessing to your life.

And he will do this for his name’s sake – for his glory. He will glorify himself in your life. No matter what you go through you won’t fear any evil because he will be with you. He will protect you. He will comfort you.

There are many more Bible verses about fear. Do some searches. Search for Bible verses on God’s peace, on fear, etc.

Write down your favorites. Memorize them. Believe them. And don’t forget to pray and give thanks always. And Jesus will give you his incredible, deep peace.

Mark Altrogge has been the senior pastor of Saving Grace Church of Indiana, PA for over 25 years, and is the author of many well-known worship songs such as “I Stand In Awe”, and “In The Presence.” This article first appeared on his blog and is used with permission.

The post Bible Verses to Conquer Fear And Know God’s Peace appeared first on The Aquila Report.


How Do You Guard Your Heart?

I was 12 when I took my first self defense class. But I’ve been protecting myself a lot longer than that; we come out of the womb with an aversion to pain.

Beyond learning to avoid situations that would bring physical pain, I protected everything I cared about from my favorite stickers, to my prized Michael Jordan basketball. Nothing was safe unless I carefully watched it.

So when my parents taught me to guard my heart, I caught on quickly.

Guard your heart, guard your heart, guard your heart. Not only have I been told that my whole life, but also I spent years drilling those three words into the middle and high school girls I discipled. But as my teens melted into my twenties, guarding my heart turned into imprisoning it.

What does it really mean to “guard your heart”? To protect your emotions, affections, and soul? I’ve been forced to reconsider my definition and my role in the process. I’ll tell you what it’s not.

It’s not kissing dating goodbye.

It’s not self-protecting.

And it’s not encasing your heart in lead so no one can get in to break it.

In fact, when I took this question to Scripture, I was surprised by the life-giving answer I found.

What “Guard” Really Means

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

While Proverbs 4:23 is the go-to verse about “guarding” your heart, could it be possible that it’s not all there is to the story?

It wasn’t until recently that I discovered “guard” doesn’t mean bar, seal, or coat in a shield of lead. In the Hebrew, “keep” (interchangeable with “guard”) literally means “to set a watchman over it” — but not just any watchman.

I’ve been driven by fear to guard my heart, scared of the consequences if I didn’t. So, instead of setting a watchman over it, I locked it up out of panic that it would escape. I feared that it would lead me to sin, and that I would be to blame for the prison break.

The Watchman

As I pored over Scripture, light bulbs were flipping on right and left; for nowhere in the Bible does God command us to keep or guard our hearts in our own strength. The Lord means for us to guard our hearts by filtering our emotions, desires, thoughts, and responses through his Word.

He is the watchman that protects our souls. And what’s his primary means of defense? The sword of Scripture.

The task is simple: We are commanded to keep ourselves in his Word, and he keeps our hearts.

…keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. (Jude 21)

This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. (Psalm 18:30)

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. (Psalm 119:9)

He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. (Proverbs 2:7-8, NIV)

The Real Prisoner

“You have barbed wire around your heart.” That’s what my pastor has told me for years. Fear held my heart captive and I wouldn’t let anything in or out.

That’s why Proverbs 4 is so significant for those of us who are prone to keeping our emotions and heart on lockdown. It breathes peace into anxiety and tells us what the real prisoner should be.

My son, be attentive to my words;

incline your ear to my sayings.

Let them not escape from your sight;

keep them within your heart. (Proverbs 4:20-21, emphasis mine)

Why the command to keep these words of truth as prisoners in our hearts? Because, as the passage goes on to say, they are inmates that bring growth and the cure for our fear-drenched soul.

For they are life to those who find them,

and healing to all their flesh. (Proverbs 4:22, emphasis mine)

Are you like me, longing for life and healing? It’s found in the Word of Truth made flesh, the Lord Jesus who gives life and heals all wounds.

Are you like me, longing for protection and security? It’s found in the Lord Jesus who gives eternal protection and security to all those who are his (1 Peter 1:5).

The devil may hate me with all the vehemence of his malicious nature; but ‘love is strong as death,’ and the love of God in Christ is my everlasting safeguard. (Susannah Spurgeon)

Guaranteed Protection

We must remember that God’s way of guarding of our hearts may differ from our idea of how he will do so. We see in Scripture that God will not protect us from pain, hurt, or anything that will make us look more like Jesus (1 Peter 1:6-9). And he will not keep us from any circumstance or situation—no matter how brutal—that will lead us into a deeper knowledge of his heart.

The Lord, through his Word, is the guard, shield, and protector of our hearts. This doesn’t mean pain doesn’t come, but that when it does we can rest (and ultimately rejoice) because we know who has allowed it. This process, like everything else, goes back to either believing or disbelieving God’s character.

He who gave us a new heart can be trusted to protect it (Ezekiel 36:26).

The Lord, through his Word, is the guard, shield, and protector of our hearts.
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Our tender new hearts are not guaranteed protection from wounds; not even Jesus was kept from that. But they are guaranteed protection by a Savior who filters everything that comes to us through his nail-scarred hands that were pierced for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5). What comes to us must first pass through him. Because he took our worst threat upon himself and saved our hearts from the wrath of God, we can trust him to continue keeping our hearts for eternity.

This truth speaks peace to the winds and waves of my storm-tossed mind and gives this fear-prone heart immediate rest.

If through a broken heart God can bring his purposes to pass in the world, then thank him for breaking your heart. (Oswald Chambers)


What does this mean for us? Consider the following questions as we seek the Lord for his Spirit’s help in aligning our lives with his Word.

  • Are you actively setting the Word of God as a watchman over your soul by reading it and hearing it preached?
  • Are you filtering your circumstances, decisions, thoughts, and responses through what God’s Word says?
  • Do you prayerfully seek the Lord, trusting the One who gave you a new heart to protect it?
  • Are you trying to guard your heart in your own strength, or acknowledging your weakness and trusting the all-sufficient One to be your defender?
[Photo Credit: Unsplash]


The post How Do You Guard Your Heart? appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.


You Can Change Yourself (Can You?)

Cameron Buettel urges Christian leaders to repudiate the philosophy that says you can change yourself that’s promoted by self-help gurus Anthony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey and their ilk and replace that worldly philosophy with “the truth of biblical anthropology—that all men are, by nature, totally depraved sinners.” But instead, pastors with rock star status like Joel Osteen and Steven Furtick “see it as an opportunity to market a ‘Christianized’ version of the same lie.” 

So, can the self-help or positive confession of Osteen and Furtick and their ilk change the nature of a sinner? The answer is no, says Buettel. He believes that “Nothing less than divine regeneration is needed.”

In his post over at Grace to You, Cameron Buettel reveals what he means by divine regeneration. He writes:

Jeremiah 13:23

Code: B180312

Just reading billboards on a road trip is enough to realize that people want to change their lives. Whether it be physical, financial, or relational, there are a vast range of self-help industries that have sprung up around the world’s insatiable demand for self-improvement. In effect, they perpetuate a lie that dominates the world: you can change yourself.

Of course, it is possible to change some features of our lives—at least temporarily. We can change our hairstyles, get makeovers, lose weight, make more money, find love, change careers, or move to a new city and start all over. But our root problem always remains—an inner sinful nature that refuses to change.

You Can’t Change Yourself

Many of the changes in your life are a function of self-restraint or self-discipline. If you earnestly want to lose weight, stop smoking, or find a better job, you can achieve those external goals through acts of willpower.

But no amount of willpower can change the essentials of who you are. Your intellectual capacity and your genetic makeup are not malleable. Nor, critically, is the fundamental spiritual state you were born into. There is nothing you can do to shed your sin nature. The prophet Jeremiah effectively said as much when he rebuked Israel for their continual rebellion against God: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jeremiah 13:23).

Jeremiah understood the issue we discussed in our previous post—that all men are sinners by nature. He knew that we have as much chance of altering our own nature as changing the color of our skin, or stripping the spots off a leopard.

Self-help gurus like Tony Robbins may profess that “we can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish.” [1] But it’s nothing more than a bogus promise built upon bankrupt theology.

Christian leaders should repudiate the worldly philosophy of Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, and their ilk with the truth of biblical anthropology—that all men are, by nature, totally depraved sinners. Instead, preachers like Joel Osteen and Steven Furtick see it as an opportunity to market a “Christianized” version of the same lie. In fact, Osteen has written an entire book on the subject. The promotional summary for his book The Power of I Am explains:

Can two words give you the power to change your life? Yes they can! In the pages of his new book, bestselling author Joel Osteen shares a profound principle based on a simple truth. Whatever follows the words “I am” will always come looking for you.

Osteen’s book wouldn’t be so offensive if it was properly categorized as fiction. Somehow it manages to adorn the shelves of Christian bookstores as biblical truth.

Yet no amount of self-help or positive confession can change the nature of a sinner. Nothing less than divine regeneration is needed.

Dead Men Need Resurrection, Not Reform

The apostle Paul described the fallen human condition as being “dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). All a dead man can do is remain in his present state. That is, unless God raises the dead and makes him a new creature. That’s why Paul also described Christian conversion as becoming “a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In the Old Testament, God confronted the prophet Ezekiel with the same reality regarding the dead spiritual condition of rebellious Israel. In Ezekiel 37:1–14, God transports the prophet to a valley of dry bones. As Ezekiel found himself surrounded by a vast sea of skeletal corpses, God asked him “can these bones live?” He could only respond, “O Lord God, You know” (Ezekiel 37:3), because Ezekiel knew only a divine miracle could revive those dry bones.

God gave Ezekiel a message to preach in that valley, but the mass resurrections that took place (Ezekiel 37:7-10) were because of the divine impartation of new life: “I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive” (Ezekiel 37:6). “I will put my Spirit within you and you will come to life” (Ezekiel 37:14).

That passage is an amazing picture of what evangelism really is. We stand among masses of people who are dead in sin. We aren’t called to persuade them back to life, or to modify their behavior along some imagined spectrum of morality. We’re not interested in merely rearranging the skeletons in Ezekiel’s valley.

We are called to proclaim the gospel, and trust God to raise His people from the death of sin to new life in Christ. Ultimately, it is only regeneration wrought by God that can produce any meaningful change in the spiritual status of a sinner.

Just prior to Ezekiel 37, God made it explicitly clear that He is sovereignly in charge of every meaningful change when a sinner is converted—everything from regeneration to sanctification. Note God’s repeated use of personal pronouns in Ezekiel 36:25–27.

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:25–27)

That passage was central to Christ’s discussion with Nicodemus. The Lord highlighted the uselessness of human effort as an agent of spiritual change. When Jesus told him that he needed to be “born again” (John 3:3), “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5), He was referring back to Ezekiel 36:25–27. John MacArthur makes that connection in his commentary on John’s gospel.

It was surely this passage that Jesus had in mind, showing regeneration to be an Old Testament truth (cf. Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 31:31–34; Ezekiel 11:18–20) with which Nicodemus would have been acquainted. Against this Old Testament backdrop, Christ’s point was unmistakable: Without the spiritual washing of the soul, a cleansing accomplished only by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) through the Word of God (Ephesians 5:26), no one can enter God’s kingdom.

Jesus continued by emphasizing that this spiritual cleansing is wholly a work of God, and not the result of human effort: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). . . . Regeneration is entirely His work, unaided by any human effort (cf. Romans 3:25). [2]

Man-made efforts at personal transformation are about as useful as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. They are temporary, superficial, and ultimately inconsequential.

Like Ezekiel, Christians need to focus on one thing: faithful proclamation of the message we have been commanded to preach. And God, in His sovereign wisdom, will regenerate the dead around us as He sees fit.

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Killing Sin Does Not Make You New

“Christian maturity is not only marked by sins that have been put to death, but by a deeper personal knowledge of and intimacy with God, and a deeper commitment to his people, the church (Ephesians 4:13). Yes, sexual immorality, anger, and deceit are being put off. But something breathtaking is being put on in their place: love.”

If we boil the Christian life down to simply killing sin, we rob ourselves of the deepest hope and highest joys.

Yes, every true Christian will be killing sin. Any other version or distortion of Christianity falls short of what Christ died for. “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22). “If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). If we do not kill sin, we will die in our sin. But if we wage war against our sin, in the power of the Spirit, we prove that Christ is alive in us, and that we will never die.

Killing sin is essential to the Christian life, but it’s not the essence of the Christian life. When Christ calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow him — and he does summon us to deny ourselves — he does so that we “may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). What we put on is far greater than anything we put off or leave behind.

The New You

God has given us hit lists of sins to kill. For instance, Colossians 3:58–9: “Put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. . . . Put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.”

We cannot follow Christ without putting off something, but that doesn’t mean following Christ is only about what we put off.

Just keep reading in Colossians 3, next verse: “ . . . and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10). You have not only put off your old self. You have put on a new self. And your new self looks more and more like the one who created and sustains every corner of the universe. As horrible as we looked in our sin where God found us, we are now being rebuilt and refined in his spectacular image.

We find similar language in 2 Corinthians 4:16: “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” We are being made into the image of an infinitely big, perfectly holy God. That process happens painstakingly slow — one day at a time — from one precious degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The Power of Knowing God

But how are we being changed? “[You] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” What does it mean to be renewed “in knowledge”?

This is not the first mention of “knowledge” in Colossians,

We have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9–10)

Putting on the new man is not something first we do, but something we know — and in particular, someone we know. Notice how knowledge is the beginning and end of this kind of spiritual growth. Knowledge equips us to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord — “so as to walk . . . ” — and we walk in a manner worthy of the Lord because we want to know him more — “increasing in the knowledge of God.”

Christian maturity is not only marked by sins that have been put to death, but by a deeper personal knowledge of and intimacy with God, and a deeper commitment to his people, the church (Ephesians 4:13). Yes, sexual immorality, anger, and deceit are being put off. But something breathtaking is being put on in their place: love. Again, Paul prays, “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” (Philippians 1:9).

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The post Killing Sin Does Not Make You New appeared first on The Aquila Report.


This ‘n’ That 03/09/2018

  • Indeed, sometimes this life really is a vale of tears. Praise God for the hope that is ours in Christ!
  • Women, on staff in a church? Gasp! In all seriousness, I really appreciate this article by Dr. Kruger.
  • The Lord is a King.
  • Some people may write this off as a waste of research, but, if used properly, this could be a valuable treatment.
  • Here is your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Secular research has concluded the following: people lie, and it is better to be honest.
  • I won’t laugh at this because, if I were there, this would totally happen to me.
  • How beautiful! What an amazing Creator our God is!
  • Take this quiz and then check your answers.
Great is the power which Christ displays in building His Church! He carries on His work in spite of opposition from the world, the flesh, and the devil. […] We ought to feel deeply thankful that the building of the true Church is laid on the shoulders of One that is mighty. If the work depended on man, it would soon stand still. But, blessed be God, the work is in the hands of a Builder who never fails to accomplish His designs! Christ is the almighty Builder. He will carry on His work, though nations and visible Churches may not know their duty. Christ will never fail. That which He has undertaken He will certainly accomplish. —J.C. Ryle