“I remember once in a church which I knew very well, I was being entertained by a lady who seemed to be one of the leading lights in the church, and to my astonishment I found that her husband never went near the place at all. I subsequently discovered that the probable reason was that the lady, while very active and busy in church work, was failing lamentably in certain practical aspects–she did not always pay her grocer’s bill, for example. Yes, she was a great church worker but she was negligent in matters like that. Subsequently this lady, who had only been a nominal Christian, really became a true Christian. And what happened next? Only six weeks after his wife’s conversion, and without anyone asking or pleading with him, the husband began to attend that place of worship. He now came because he saw that something had happened to his wife. There was no need for anyone to say anything: he saw the genuine thing, he saw the change in her, and then he began to wonder what happened and so he came to see it for himself. That is sanctification. If Christians are to evangelise the world, they themselves must be right… This is vital… Continue reading
Kevin DeYoung’s book, The Hole in Our Holiness, came out last year. I read it a couple weeks ago, because I listened to a series of conference talks that DeYoung gave at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC. The talks whetted my appetite for more of the same; I wasn’t disappointed by the book, which thoughtfully unpacks the topic of holiness, grounding the exposition in Scripture.
After discussing what holiness is and why we should pursue it, De Young tackles some of the apparent contradictions inherent in the topic: My heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9); how can I say that I am holy? If we believe that it’s grace alone through Christ alone and there’s nothing we can contribute to salvation, why is it biblical to pursue holiness? Continue reading
Too often we think little of God, his perfect holiness, righteousness, and justice, and as a result little of what our sin really is and does. Reflecting on this perennial reality of the human heart, Thomas Boston (1676-1732) warned his congregation:
“Let no man think lightly of sin, which lays the sinner open to the wrath of God. Let not the sin of our nature seem a small thing in our eyes. Fear the Lord because of His dreadful wrath. Tremble at the thought of sin, against which God has such fiery indignation… Admire the matchless love which brought you out of the state of wrath… it was no easy work to purchase the life of the condemned sinner, but He gave His life for your life. He gave his precious blood to quench the flame of wrath, which otherwise would have consumed you.” Continue reading
Last month, we had a couple over; she was American, but he had been born and raised in the middle east. He had a lot to say about his Muslim upbringing, his conversion, and his experience in the U. S.. But it was what he said about sanctification that really grabbed me.
As a Muslim, this man had always lived with a strict set of rules: things he must not do if he was to attain paradise. But even when he and Muslim friends were outwardly conforming to the law, they would still inwardly want the sin. Sometimes they didn’t keep the law because they couldn’t. Other times they did keep the law, but their hearts weren’t in it. They weren’t drinking, but they wanted to. They were praying, but they didn’t want to. This believing man described this as an inescapable bondage: you do (or don’t do) certain things with no heart, no love, and no power. Continue reading
“The renewing, new-creation work of the Holy Spirit in our lives necessarily makes itself known. The Spirit leaves His ‘fingerprints’ unmistakeably on every life He indwells…There are, however, two evidences of the Spirit’s renewing presence in our lives that are not often considered.
First, the Spirit’s new life within leaves us looking forward to the final ‘regeneration’ at the end of the age (Matt. 19:28). By His resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ became the ‘firstborn among many brethren.’ In the new birth, we are born again into the family of God, and the new light of the world to come begins to irradiate our lives. We yet live in ‘this present evil world’ (Gal. 1:4), but we live the life of the world to come because it has already come in the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit, the Spirit of God’s new and proper Man, Jesus Christ. The Spirit’s indwelling, renewing presence imparts a new direction, even trajectory, to our lives. Continue reading
Sexual sin is profoundly offensive to God and he attaches dire consequences to those who practice it. In the Old Testament under Mosaic law, adultery was punishable by death. And the Bible is full of grave warnings promising destruction to those who are sexually immoral.
The book of Proverbs is full of these warnings: “The lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol” (5:3-5); “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself” (6:32); “All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life” (7:22-23). Continue reading
The following article is a guest contribution by Dale VanDyke, pastor of Harvest Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Wyoming, Michigan. It was originally preached as a sermon on Exodus 20:14 on September 9th, and is published here with permission of the author.
Of all the ten commandments there may not be one which is more gleefully and flagrantly violated in our popular culture more than the seventh. Internet pornography is a $10 billion a year business. For a good part of this year, the top three sellers on the New York Times list were books of erotic romance targeting women with “mommy porn”. Publishers are rushing to capitalize on the demand for this brand new genre. Homosexuality has become mainstream and those who believe it is sin will increasingly be targeted for persecution.
Unfortunately, the American church has been unprepared for this erotic onslaught. You could easily argue that our failures to keep this commandment have brought more grief, guilt and shame into the lives of God’s people than any other. There is no way I can possibly address all the issues raised by the seventh commandment. Today, I hope we can delight in the liberty of the seventh commandment as God seeks to free his people from the sensual bondage of the nations around them and live as a kingdom of priests in relation to marriage and sex. Continue reading
“You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16)
“The hand that points us to holiness is the hand that extends its grace to make us holy; by pointing us upward it lifts us upward. Thus the plea is cut off: “I am not able to be holy.” The call to be holy implies that we still lack complete holiness, but also that we are able to overcome this lack by grace. This call spurs us on to use God’s grace to the fullest extent in every part of our conduct so as to make it pleasing to the Holy One… the requirement of holiness is fundamental for God’s children in both Testaments. What God asked of Israel when he made that people his own he now asks and must ask of us whom he has called by Jesus Christ. God does not connive at sin and unholy living since forgiveness has come through Christ. Continue reading