Archive for the ‘self-denial’ category

Jesus doesn’t need your heart (if that’s all you’re giving Him)

March 23, 2010

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The whole idea of “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is not in the Gospel of Jesus. As a matter of fact, He said just the opposite: “you will know them by their fruit”

We have in our baptist churches this idea that you need to “receive Jesus”, and maybe “in your heart”.
This is, first and foremost, not biblical, and, secondly (but also important) not in the history of the church.
Our salvation is not a process in which God does half of it, and we do the other half. It is a supernatural work of God. It’s not simply jumping out of the way to hell and jumping in the line to heaven.
The moment we are saved we become new creatures (if we are truly saved)
And this change will affect everything in our life. I don’t believe there’s a single area in our existence that will remain untouched by God.
How can we, then, live, talk, think (and, yes, even dress – there are dress codes in the Bible) like the world!?

Today the notion of worldliness is almost lost. And this happens because the doctrine of sanctification is also almost lost.
It doesn’t bother us that we cannot be told apart from the world.
The moment you bring this up in a conversation (“we are Christians, we are not supposed to do that”), you are reminded instantly of the Pharisees. “You don’t know their heart” goes the reasoning further.

This is not a salvation of works. We are saved by faith alone. But this faith is always accompanied by godliness. Not in order to be saved, but as a result of being saved.
“Sola fide” (by faith alone) emerged with the Reformation, as a reaction to the Roman Catholic idea that good works are neccessary for salvation.
But look at what we, the baptists, have done: the Gospel that we are proclaiming holds that it doesn’t matter how we live, as long as Jesus “is in our heart”!
We have reduced the supernatural work of God that transforms us to almost nothing, since we can (presumably) live the way we used to when we were in and of the world.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.”

“for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Jesus can, and will look at your heart. But He doesn’t need to.

“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

What happened to 1 John, 2 Peter, the sermon on the mountain?
Did we stop reading that? (and preaching that)

How can we say that Jesus is in our heart, but this doesn’t neccesarily affect the whole body?

This is the litmus test:

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test?”

We are supposed to take holiness seriously. And also take sin seriously.

A quote by JC Ryle (that we should probably hear more often) :”Perhaps you think the saints of God [are] too strict and particular and serious. You rather avoid them. You have no delight in their society. There will be no other company in heaven”

The old cross and the new, by AW Tozer

December 22, 2009

ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique-a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egotist it says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.” To the thrill seeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship.” The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ.

To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul’s day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave witness to God’s approval.

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power. (A. W. Tozer, Man, the Dwelling Place of God, 1966)

A personal note about a not so personal blog

April 19, 2009

Right now (and in the last two months) I am simply overwhelmed by the way God chose to bless me.

But before I get to that, there is something I got to say something about what happened before God’s blessings came upon me.

Even though the blog was called “nothing between”, there was still something I wanted to keep – in a way – for myself. I was thinking that was a reasonable compromise, but it was not reasonable at all.

I think that the people who compromise are the most unhappy of all. They are too bad when compared to the church, and in a sense, too good when compared to the world (we are actually not “good” ourselves, though, we have it from Him).

My close friends, you know all about it and I want to thank you so much you for your prayers!

We think so often (like I did) that we can manage sin. We cannot. God knows EVERYTHING about us. He knows that it is infinitely better for us to just obey Him, even when we think we “know better”. 

On the other hand, I’m so glad God is not frustrated by our failures. And He never tells us “I told you not to do that. Now deal with the mess you are in”.

It is my responsibility all that happened and if the Christians will be judged, I’ll be judged for that too. 

Was is God’s will that I sin? No, absolutely not!

Was that God’s plan? Again, no.

But God in His sovereignty can turn our life around at any point (no matter how low). All it takes is our availability to surrender it all.

Now, that this is over, I realize that it is simply too “expensive” not to obey God completely. It was for me, in the sense that it was painful, because I knew it was not right. Someone said that “one always feels miserable when he disobeys God, and on the same time one feels so good (in the sense of “doing what’s right”) when one obeys God.

This is definitely true. Now, that I think back, I don’t want another step outside God’s will, no matter how small the step.

And a big disclaimer: throughout this blog, I didn’t mean to seem what I was not (namely godlier). It was not the purpose of the blog. If I did it, it was unconscious, but I’m sorry and prayed that God forgives me too. And for the most special person in my life, please forgive me too.

The Duty of Self-Denial, by Thomas Watson

February 16, 2009

Excerpts from: The Duty of Self-Denial

Luke 9:23
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

Luke 14:27
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple

Matthew 10:38
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me

John 12:25
He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

Romans 8:13
if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Colossians 3:5
Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.

2 Timothy 3:12
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Practical issues: what does it mean?

1. A Christian must deny his reason

Reason must be denied in credendis and in agendis.
In credendis (doctrines to be believed): the doctrines of Trinity, Incarnation, Resurrection
In agendis (in duties anjoined to be practiced

2. A Christian must deny his will.

Here we must deny our will and bring it to God’s will. If a crooked stick is laid upon the ground that is level, we do not try to bring the ground even with the stick, but to make the stick even to the ground. So God’s will is not to be brought to ours, but our will being crooked must be brought to God’s will. We pray, “Thy will be done.” The way to have our will is to deny it.

3. A Christian must deny his own righteousness, his civilities, duties, and good works

Philippians 3:9
…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith

4. A Christian must deny all self-confidence

Matthew 26:33-34
But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.”
Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”

Matthew 26:72
And again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.”

Romans 11:20
Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear;

1. Corinthians 10:12
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

Revelation 3:17
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

5. A Christian must deny self-conceit

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

I Corinthians 4:7
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Ezekiel 28:2
Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
       ” ‘In the pride of your heart
       you say, “I am a god;
       I sit on the throne of a god
       in the heart of the seas.”
       But you are a man and not a god,
       though you think you are as wise as a god.

Your dark side is broader than your light side. Your ignorance is more than your knowledge. Your knowledge is but the light of a torch, your ignorance as the Cimmerian darkness. You have no cause to be conceited of the knowledge you have, but rather to be humbled for what you lack.

6.A Christian must deny his appetite

Proverbs 30:15
There are three things that are never satisfied,
       four that never say, ‘Enough!’:

1 Corinthians 9:27
No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Philippians 3:19
Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

7. A Christian must deny his ease
Proverbs 19:24
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, But will not even bring it back to his mouth.

Matthew 25:26
But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.

8.A Christian must deny carnal policy (the wisdom of the flesh)

2 Corinthians 1:12
For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.

9. A Christian must deny his inordinate passions

James 1:26
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.

James 3:6 
And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

10. A Christian must deny his sinful fashions

Romans 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

1 Corinthians 11:14
Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him,

1 Timothy 2:9
Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments

11. A Christian must deny his own aims, must not aim at self-applause

John 1:15
John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'”

1 Peter 4:11
so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ

12. A Christian must deny all ungodliness

Titus 2:11-12 
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
instructing us to deny ungodliness and   worldly desires and   to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,

13. A Christian must deny his relations

Luke 14:26
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

14. A Christian must deny his estate for Christ

Matthew 19:22
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have   treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

15. A Christian must deny his life for Christ

Again, Luke 14:26
If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

Mark 8:38
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation,   the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He   comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”