Saturday night- the kids are in bed... some R even sleeping... my wife is chillin with the PAXchix; Football on T.V. and my mind is furiously chewing over some "applied grace" thoughts [Things like- fighting against my own nasty behaviors by applying legalistic 'do betterness' or self motivated 'I can handle this probl...em by myself you watch' is still pride and self-righteousness... isn't it true that if you fight sin with sin it's still sin? And doesn't the Bible say SIN brings death?) hmmmm only by leaning hard into grace can I find freedom- set -free -it -ness! For all those who are so used to the terms- 'grace'; 'law', 'righteousness' when referring to the place/actions/conversation/and work of salvation- I'm meaning something that happens in the life AFTER the glorious transaction of salvation. For all those who have habitually struggled for years trying to make yourself sanctified, or good enough before God and others. STOP! We already know you aren't going to do it- cause we can't either. This is why we need and are offered grace from God. Can I get specific for a minute: Men, we enter the ring against a wandering heart, drawing away by wandering eyes and the acts of self-worship we commonly call lust. So, if you are a Jesus follower, you know you have to 'put to death' this bit of nastiness- cause if you don't it'll put to death a bunch of stuff in your own life. [Believe me I see the underbelly of it everyday with the human traffic in my hood and the addictive, abusive, self effacing heart ache that comes along with it]. So you determine by pure legalism (rules/boundaries/and by doing the best you can in your self) to over come it! That's weapon #1 we are often told will conquer lust in our lives. Secondly, we tell ourselves I can control this thing- weapon of pride. Both of which are dirty sins in themselves and soon like the Pharisees of old, who perfected pride and legalism we birth a self-righteousness. Here's how it goes:: Yeah, I have fasted from this for like a year now (pride); I'm starving this habit (with internet blockers and accountability partners); I'm controlling my mind- "by bouncing my eyes"- Every Man's Battle. I'm not saying these things are necessarily bad- NO boundaries are good, if we don't have boundaries we have lawlessness- BUT what I am saying is that these self made rules and will power are NOT ENOUGH!! In fact if left to their own they twist into our thinking so that we actually stop confessing and start rewarding our 'good behavior' with just a taste of sinful compromise. Or when we are tired, or up late, or feel like our wives or girlfriends are not there for us than lust (which we have tried to hold down by our own strength) completely overcomes us- devours us and pushes us to a dark place from which we can hardly recover. We need for the Grace of God to so totally sweep our hearts, minds, lives that we hate sin so deeply because of what it cost Jesus to secure our freedom. We need to be so constantly close to the cross that the love of God castes out what we think we need through the false assurance and temporary security driven by our self- worship displayed in lust -Come on, using someone else for our own glory, whether they participate or not is a horrendous act and misuse of the dignity, value and worth God has given them and a blatant act of self-worship- Only the discipline motivated by the grace of God will be the kind of discipline that keeps us quick to confess, able to truly repent and living in the freedom of forgiveness AND victory. Where sin is grace is able to super abound = victory!
This series is going to look at something that several of the puritan writers referred to as the graces being formed in the lives of those who have been deeply affected by THE Grace of God. THE Grace is the evidence of God's love being so great towards us that He would satisfy His own holiness by sending His Son Jesus to justify our 'owe' accounts. He dies in our place, undergoing the fullness of God's wrath for sin and exchanges, in those who by faith believe, our earned wages of death (because of our sin) for His right standing before God.... AND SHARE IN ALL THE SPIRITUAL RICHES THAT CHRIST HOLDS as the Son of God. This is what the Bible means when you read things like, "For by GRACE are we saved through faith, it is not of ourselves lest anyone should boast" (from Ephesians) Paul says it a whole lot better and in a much deeper, fuller, incredible way all over the New Testament but one of the best places is here: Romans 3:21-31 The Puritan theologians wrote about those who have spent time understanding such great a grace will begin to be transformed from the inside-out! The graces will begin to form and show evidence in their lives. The spiritual graces are different than spiritual gifts- they are more like the spiritual fruits that Paul instructs us will show in the lives of those who are living a true spiritual life. Shortening this post up- the graces that we will be looking at are ones that need to mark those who are the spiritual leaders of the churches in Crete:: and those which should mark the life of every one who has been truly affected by God's grace- THE GRACE OF FAITH THE GRACE OF HUMILITY THE GRACE OF CONFESSION THE GRACE OF REPENTANCE THE GRACE OF PRAYER A GRACE DRIVEN OBEDIENCE [from baptism to communion and beyond]
Because of such a Grace from God- we will see a growing reality of grace in our everyday lives...
We are on to a NEW series- this one is looking at the HEART of the letter Paul wrote to Titus - the basic theme centers on Paul's instruction to Titus "to put in order" spiritual leadership who will deal with the mess that spiritual immaturity has created in the churches in Crete where I've sent you to serve. The basic problem?? Ever hear someone call another person a 'Cretan?'- it's not a flattering term- which you learn more of through the book of Titus. The basic problem is that there were a large group of those who called themselves spiritual leaders who demonstrated by their words and actions that they had little understanding or evidences of the transforming grace of God. This series of messages is going to focus on Paul's core instruction to Titus to look for and encourage the character of Christ-centered living in the churches- and in the lives of everyone who calls themselves a Christ follower. GROWING IN THE GRACES :: Character for Christ- Centered Living