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Tag Archives: Holiness

The Walk of Faith

The Walk of Faith

Today’s Morning and Evening echos the evangelical battle cry, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” In other words, faith is the foundation of a holy life. As Spurgeon says below…

You will never find true faith unaccompanied by true godliness; on the other hand, you will never discover a truly holy life that does not have at its root a living faith relying upon the righteousness of Christ.

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

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If we live by the Spirit,
let us also walk by the Spirit. — Galatians 5:25

The two most important things in our Christian journey are the life of faith and the walk of faith. The person who grasps this is not far from being a master in experimental [experiential] theology, for they are vital points to a Christian. You will never find true faith unaccompanied by true godliness; on the other hand, you will never discover a truly holy life that does not have at its root a living faith relying upon the righteousness of Christ.

Woe to those who seek the one without the other! There are some who cultivate faith and forget holiness; these may be very high in orthodoxy, but they shall be very deep in condemnation, for they hold the truth in unrighteousness! There are others who have strained after a holy life but have denied the faith, like the Pharisees of old, of whom the Master said they were “whitewashed tombs.”1 We must have faith, for this is the foundation; we must have holiness of life, for this is the superstructure.

What use is the mere foundation of a building to a man on the day of tempest? Can he hide himself in it? He needs a house to cover him as well as a foundation for that house. Even so we need the superstructure of spiritual life if we want comfort in the day of doubt. But do not seek a holy life without faith, for that would be to erect a house that can provide no permanent shelter because it has no foundation on a rock. Let faith and life be put together, and like the two supports of an archway, they will make our devotion endure. Like light and heat streaming from the same sun, they are full of blessing. Like the two pillars of the temple, they are for glory and for beauty. They are two streams from the fountain of grace, two lamps lit with holy fire, two olive trees watered by heavenly care.

Lord, give us today life internally, and it will reveal itself externally to Your glory.

1 Matthew 23:27

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2014 in Devotional

 

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As One of Them

As One of Them

This morning’s Morning and Evening reads more like the wrap-up to a modern youth group message than a devotional written almost 150 years ago. It effortlessly transitions from sin to worldliness to self-examination.

As new creatures in Christ, we should not be known for our love of sin. One of the central themes of the Psalms is the distinction between the way of the wicked and the way of the righteous. Ultimately, the wicked’s race never ends well for the runner. And although he stumbles, the righteous runner is on another path altogether. Greater worldliness cannot coexist with the honest pursuit of holiness.

In his book, Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges defines worldliness as “going along with the views and practices of society around us without discerning if they are biblical.” He then writes:

How then can we deal with our tendency toward worldliness? It is not by determining that we will not be worldly, but by committing ourselves to becoming more godly.

As we pursue Christ and eternal His kingdom, this world’s temporary rebellion becomes much less appealing. Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

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You were like one of them. — Obadiah 1:11

Brotherly kindness was due from Edom to Israel in the time of need, but instead of showing kindness, the men of Esau joined with Israel’s enemies. Special stress in the sentence before us is laid upon the word you, as when Caesar cried to Brutus, “and you, Brutus.” A bad action may be all the worse because of the person who has committed it.

When we sin, who are the chosen favorites of heaven, we sin with an emphasis; ours is a crying offense because we are so peculiarly indulged. If an angel should lay his hand upon us when we are doing evil, he need not use any other rebuke than the question, “What, you? What are you doing here?” Having been gloriously forgiven, delivered, instructed, enriched, blessed, do we dare give ourselves to evil? God forbid!

A few minutes of confession may be beneficial to you, gentle reader, this morning. Have you never been like the wicked? At an evening party certain men laughed at uncleanness, and the joke was not altogether offensive to your ear—even you were as one of them. When hard things were spoken concerning the ways of God, you were bashfully silent; and so, to onlookers, you were as one of them. When worldlings were bartering in the market and driving hard bargains, were you not as one of them? When they were pursuing vanity without restraint, were you not as greedy for gain as they were? Could any difference be discerned between you and them? Is there any difference?

Here we come to close quarters. Be honest with your own soul, and make sure that you are a new creature in Christ Jesus; but when this is sure, walk carefully in case anyone should again be able to say, “You also are one of them.”1 You would not desire to share their eternal doom. Why then be like them here? Do not enter into their secret, in case you enter into their ruin. Side with the afflicted people of God, and not with the world.

1 Luke 22:58

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Devotional

 

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A Waking Nightmare

A Waking Nightmare

It is often said that the key to learning is repetition. Maybe that is why the following adage appears twice in Proverbs:

A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man. — Proverbs 6:10-11; 24:33-34

In this case, what is true for the body is also true for the soul.

Today’s Morning and Evening is a sobering reminder of the dangers of spiritual laziness. We all experience times of drought. For various reasons, we walk away from the till and fold our hands to rest under a large tree. We think we have earned a time-out. But idle sleepers are useless to themselves and the body of Christ. As soon as our eyes are shut, we become like zombies; hallowed husks of self-indulgent groaners. As Spurgeon observes, “lean prayers, lean praises, lean duties, and lean experiences” will “eat up the fat of my comfort and peace.” Personal holiness and acts of service are not provisional disciplines.

If we are to fully enjoy the richness of Christ, we must remain diligent in our pursuit of His glory. An eternal rest is coming for God’s people. Until then, let’s do everything we can to remain unremittingly resilient against the waking nightmare of laziness.

Here is Alistair Begg’s modern phrasing of the Spurgeon classic.

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And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows.
And Pharaoh awoke. — Genesis 41:4

Pharaoh’s dream has too often been my waking experience. My days of laziness have ruinously destroyed all that I had achieved in times of zealous endeavor; my seasons of coldness have frozen all the genial glow of my periods of fervency and enthusiasm; and my fits of worldliness have thrown me back from my advances in the divine life. I had need to beware of lean prayers, lean praises, lean duties, and lean experiences, for these will eat up the fat of my comfort and peace.

If I neglect prayer for never so short a time, I lose all the spirituality to which I had attained; if I draw no fresh supplies from heaven, the old corn in my granary is soon consumed by the famine that rages in my soul. When the caterpillars of indifference, the worms of worldliness, and the snares of self-indulgence lay my heart completely desolate and make my soul languish, all my former fruitfulness and growth in grace avails me nothing whatever.

How anxious should I be to have no lean-fleshed days, no ill-favored hours! If every day I journeyed toward the goal of my desires I would soon reach it, but backsliding leaves me still far from the prize of my high calling and robs me of the advances that I had so strenuously made.

The only way in which all my days can be like the fat cows is to feed them in the right meadow, to spend them with the Lord, in His service, in His company, in His fear, and in His way. Why should not every year be richer than the past, in love and usefulness and joy? I am nearer the celestial hills; I have had more experience of my Lord and should be more like Him.

O Lord, keep far from me the curse of leanness of soul; let me not have to bemoan such leanness, but may I be well-fed and nourished in Your house, that I may praise Your name.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Gardening Holiness

Gardening Holiness

Two Morning and Evening posts in a row! Today’s devotional is so good though, I feel obligated to share the wealth. Spurgeon touches on a universal conundrum that every believer experiences throughout their faithful journey… the motivations that drive our desires for holy living.

Spurgeon also has a talent for crafting pithy illustrations that stick. Today, he adds, “Under the greenest sods worms hide themselves; we need not look long to discover them.” And it’s true. We all wrestle with the pride and vanity that riddles our unseen bones. Self examination is humbling, but not crippling… thanks to the power of Christ’s sacrifice and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

I am thankful for passages such as Colossians 1:29, where Paul says,

For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.

Or 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, when he says,

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.

What was true for them is true for us. God has called us. He is faithful. He will surely do it. What a glorious God and Savior we serve!

Here is Alistair Begg’s paraphrase of the Spurgeon classic.

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…guilt from the holy things… — Exodus 28:38

What a veil is lifted up by these words, and what a disclosure is made! It will be humbling and profitable for us to pause awhile and see this sad sight. The iniquities of our public worship, its hypocrisy, formality, lukewarmness, irreverence, wandering of heart, and forgetfulness of God—what a full measure have we there! Our work for the Lord, its emulation, selfishness, carelessness, slackness, unbelief—what a mass of defilement is there! Our private devotions, their laxity, coldness, neglect, sleepiness, and vanity—what a mountain of dead earth is there! If we looked more carefully, we should find this iniquity to be far greater than appears at first sight.

Dr. Payson, writing to his brother, says, “My parish, as well as my heart, very much resembles the garden of the sluggard; and what is worse, I find that very many of my desires for the improvement of both, proceed either from pride or vanity or indolence. I look at the weeds, which overspread my garden, and breathe out an earnest wish that they were eradicated. But why? What prompts the wish? So that I may walk out and say to myself, ‘In what fine order is my garden kept!’ This is pride. Or, so that my neighbors may look over the wall and say, ‘How finely your garden flourishes!’ This is vanity. Or I may wish for the destruction of the weeds, because I am weary of pulling them up. This is indolence.”

So even our desires after holiness may be polluted by ill motives. Under the greenest sods worms hide themselves; we need not look long to discover them. How cheering is the thought that when the High Priest bore the iniquity of the holy things he wore upon his brow the words, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD,” and even so while Jesus bears our sin, He presents before His Father’s face not our unholiness, but His own holiness. O for grace to view our great High Priest by the eye of faith!

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Morning Coffee

Here are the stories I put in my coffee this morning.

  • Abuse Does Not Take Away Use
  • Basically, fire can destroy, but it’s also good for cooking or keeping your home warm; an oxygen mask can still save your life, even if someone choked you with one; scalpels still cut out cancer, even if someone got injured with one. In the same way, doctrines can still be good, true, beautiful, and helpful despite the ways they’ve been abused or misconstrued in the past.

  • Farewell, NIV
  • There have been deniers about the demise of the NIV. Many people have tried to hold onto the idea that the new one is the same as the old. After all, they have the same names, so how could they be that different? But the more people have tried to use the new one, the more the changes are evident.

  • 2 Motivations for Holiness
  • There is an economy wherein the only currency is the blood of Christ. It is God’s economy. It is the economy of the kingdom of God. It is the economy of the redeemed. To redeem us, Christ did not reach into the treasure bag; He reached into Himself—the treasure of all treasures—and set us free.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2013 in Links

 

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