Monday, September 28, 2009

God's Response to HIs Anger

You cannot be like God and be free of anger as long as you live in a sin-broken world...

You see, anger is one of God's most beautiful characteristics. For God's children, his anger is a place of bright hope. Because he is righteously angry with sin every day, we can rest assured that everything sin has broken will be restored. Everything sin has twisted will be straitened. Everything that has gone wrong will be made right again. God's anger assures us that all things will be made new.
Broken-Down House, Paul David Tripp, p. 130, 132.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Before You Sin, Overcoming Temptation

James tells us that we sin when, after our passions are aroused, we indulge ourselves in unauthorized fruit (Jas. 1:15). The arousal of our desires is called temptation (v. 14). The Greek doesn’t have the word ‘evil’ but since the desire becomes evil because of the direction it is being led many translations insert that word. But the point James is making is that any desire or passion or , directed toward something that God has becomes evil when we indulge it in that direction. That indulged behavior is sin. And sin produces death (1:15).

What this means is that any desire we have can be twisted and spun toward sinfulness if we allow it to. The good desire to be warm can be made sinful if it someone else’s warmth we covet. The good desire for wealth can be made sinful if we steal the wealth from someone else. The good desire for ual pleasure will become sin if we indulge ourselves with someone other than our spouse. Any and every desire man has can be perverted by indulgence in the proper temptation.

Does this mean that every time we are tempted we are doomed to sin? By no means. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way, just like we are and yet he did not sin. This tells us two important things: first, temptation is not sin. If you are tempted, you have not sinned yet. This means also that your desires that have been ed and aroused are not necessarily sinful either. We don’t sin until our desire “conceives” and we do whatever the temptation is enticing us to do.

Second, temptation does not automatically lead to sin. Jesus was tempted, but he did not sin. He was tempted in every way a person can be tempted and he did not succumb to sin. He had all the same desires everyone has and to the same degree. He was fully man. But he did not give in to sin. The point of the text is that because Jesus knows our weaknesses he is more fully qualified to represent us to his Father in Heaven. This is a wonderful truth and one we should remember in our battle with sin.

For our purposes, however, we want to know, “How did he do it?” Did he not sin because he was God? Well, how would that help us or give us confidence in his ability to represent us? Did he do some magic sort of thing? Did he just resist strongly and by steely will power refuse to sin? I don’t think so.

Look at the accounts of his temptations in Matthew 4:1-11. Notice that whenever Satan tempted Jesus with some heinous sin, Jesus always quotes Scripture. What most people don’t notice is that Jesus was not quoting the scripture to Satan, he was quoting it to himself. Satan didn’t need the Word at that moment Jesus did. Jesus, for example, when tempted to change the stone into bread (v. 3) quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Who needed this verse? Jesus did. The temptation was to rebel against faith in God’s provision for Jesus and turn the stones into food. But Jesus trusted God and waited for him. The mechanism he used was to obey God’s word and wait for him. Jesus follows this same pattern in the other temptations as well (see vss. 7, 10).

This illustrates the value of athletics (there are many other ways a person can gain these skills). Paul said he trained his body like an athlete so that he would win the prize (1 Cor. 9:24-27; Phil. 3:14). The author of Hebrews tells us to run the race set before us with endurance. Both of these ideas have the same attribute that is helpful for our battle against sin. They both require intense fitness for the task and they both involve great degrees of prior planning.

In order for the Christian to win the battle of avoiding sin he must be in shape to encounter the temptations and succeed in not falling to them. This means he must fervently draw near to God and allow him to draw near to the Christian (Jas. 4:8). The changes that come to the hearts of Christians are not due to the knowledge about God, but the nearness of God. It is when we spend time in the presence of God that our hearts are changed. We can’t jump through hoops, praying, studying, fellowshipping, fasting, etc. along and expect to be changed into the likeness of Christ. These things are good and necessary, but it is when we do them in the presence of Christ that we are changed into the likeness of Christ. Without Christ’s presence in these things we are simply pietists going through the motions. We have the appearance of godliness, but lack the power. And when we lack the power we fall easily when confronted by various temptations. So, getting in the kind of shape that makes us able to stand before the onslaught of the devils schemes requires that we spend a lot of time in the presences of God becoming like him.

The second thing we need to do to win war for our souls is to know the enemies moves in our lives and to develop natural responses to those moves. Suppose every time you talk to your sister-in-law you are overwhelmed by a sense of rage and anger.

You should notice a pattern and study it. Rethink the events from before the time you are invited to her house to the time you burst out in your sinful anger. Go back to the time when you are walking along with the Lord and not in any sin that you know of. In the order of events, when is it that you are first tempted to sin? Is it when you hear her voice asking you to come to dinner? Is it when you drive down her street? Is it when she begins to lecture you on how your raise your kids (which she does every time)? Go through and list the buttons she pushes and the order in which they occur. Suppose you successfully navigate through the first several temptations and don’t lose your cool. Have you sinned in your heart already? Go back before all the sin and see if you can figure out when you start sinning against your sister-in-law.

Notice the things that happen that cause you to sin. It might be feelings of angst, anger, frustration, tension, whatever. Notice these things.

Think about each one of them in turn and go to the Lord in prayer and ask him to reveal to you the answer to this question, What about this incident causes me so much trouble? Is it because she is saying something that hurts my feelings? Is it something that hurts my pride? Is she causing trouble for others in my family? Is it her condescending attitude? Do you simply not like the way she breaths through her nose like that?

Once you’ve figured out what it is that causes you to be tempted ask this question, Why is this causing me so much trouble? Is it my pride that is being hurt? If it is confess the sin of pride. Is it something else? It may be that your anger is legitimately godly anger.

You have identified Satan’s foothold in your life. You are tempted to sin because your pride is hurt. Now you need to go through a Bible study to ask God to change your heart with regard to your pride and true Biblical humility. Ask yourself this question, Do I have the right to be angry in these situations? Does my anger bring God glory in this situation? Does my expression of anger bring God glory? If the answer to these is no, you need to repent and change your mind about how important your opinion of yourself is in the light of the Kingdom of God.

Now that you’ve identified your areas of weakness, you need to develop a two fold plan. First, you need to learn to anticipate when you will be getting into the situations where your anger is enticed. And second, you need to develop a plan for when you do get into that situation again. What will you do that will bring glory and honor to God instead of what has been happening in the past? Suppose you are invited to a wedding at which your sister-in-law will also be in attendance. You know weeks in advance that she will be there and that you will be tempted to get angry. Since this is true you need to develop a game plan. What will you do to not succumb to the temptation? You should spend the next three weeks developing ways to love her before and above her irritating breathing. You should also keep in mind that fleeing, not putting yourself in that situation, is always a Biblical option (2 Tim. 2:22). But the triumphant option is to train yourself to act in a Biblically loving way toward your sister-in-law and thus win her to Christ and to yourself.

Finally, practice, practice, practice. The reason professional athletes look so fluid and natural when they do what they do is because they practice until the behavior is natural and normal. This is the result you want in your Christian walk with God. Practice loving unlovely people. Practice laying yourself aside and thinking God’s thoughts about others instead of thinking of yourself first. Know that as with everything new it will be difficult at first. It won’t feel normal, it will feel awkward. But everything is like this at first. The fluid sports star had just as much trouble with new things as you are having, but he spent a long hard time developing his skills so that he could win the prize. You want to win the prize? Get aggressive with temptation before it gets to the point of sin.

Remember Jesus and his temptations? Didn’t he look natural and at ease in the midst of his terrible temptations? How did he overcome and keep from sinning? He remembered who he was and who God was. He aggressively obeyed God and didn’t give in to his desires. He drew near to God and allowed God to draw near to him. And as he did Satan fled the scene. It will work for you too. Imitate Jesus, become like Jesus.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Be Angry, And Do Not Sin

But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him. Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
Psalm 4:3-4 ESV

Anger Is A Good Thing

In a fallen world, anger is a good thing. In a fallen world, anger is a constructive thing. In a fallen world, anger is an essential thing... That is, if the anger is about something bigger than you...

You cannot be like God and be free of anger as long as you live in a sin-broken world.
Broken-Down House, Paul David Tripp, p. 129, 130.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

His Beloved Son, Our Redeemer

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:13-14 ESV

A Dissatisfied Redeemer

When it comes to the ongoing work of grace, he is a dissatisfied Redeemer. He will not forsake the work of his hands until all has been fully restored. He will exercise his power in whatever way is necessary so that we can finally be fully redeemed from this broken world and delivered from the sin that has held us fast. Celebrate the fact that God will not forsake that process of grace in your life in order to deliver to you the momentary comfort, pleasure, and ease that you would rather have in your time of exhaustion, discouragement, and weakness. He simply loves you too much to exchange temporary gratification for eternal glory.
Broken-Down House, Paul David Tripp, p. 120.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Armor Up, Then Pray

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ephesians 6:16-20 ESV

Waiting is Action

I think that usually our view of waiting is the doctors’ office. We see it as a meaningless wasted of time, like a man stuck in the reception areas until he has nothing left to do but scan recipes in a two-year-old copy of Ladies’ Home Journal…We must rethink waiting, and remind ourselves that waiting is itself a call to action.
Broken-Down House, Paul David Tripp, p. 119

Friday, September 11, 2009

Making My Steps Secure

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
Psalm 40:1-3 ESV

Waiting: A Gracious Gift

Waiting is one of God's most powerful tools of grace. God doesn't just give us grace of for the wait. The wait itself is a gift of grace. You see, waiting is not only about what you will receive at the end of the wait. Waiting is about what you will become as you wait.
Broken-Down House, Paul David Tripp, p. 117.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Wait For The Lord

…but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 ESV


Waiting will always reveal where you have placed your hope. Your heart is always exposed by the way that you wait.
Broken-Down House, Paul David Tripp, p. 115.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Listen Diligently To Me

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.
Isaiah 55:1-3 ESV

Too Easily Satisfied

…I am persuaded that the problem with the body of Christ is not that we are dissatisfied with what we do not have, but that we are all too satisfied with what we do have. We are comfortable with a little bit of holiness, a little bit of ministry, a little bit of sacrifice, a little bit of wisdom, a little bit of the satisfying glory that only the grace of Christ is able to give us. I am deeply persuaded that we must resist with all of our might the kind of self-satisfied spirituality that marks the life of so many believers. And I am further persuaded that this pseudo-spirituality is one of the cruel deceptions of a wily enemy.
Broken-Down House, Paul David Tripp, p. 95.

Friday, September 04, 2009

I Long For Your Salvation

Let my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word!
Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word.
My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes.
My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.
Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight.
Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.
Psalm 119:169-176 ESV

Characteristics of a Counterfeit

It Mistakes Commitment to Christianity for Commitment to Christ
It Mistakes Bible Knowledge for Biblical Wisdom
It Mistakes Commitment to a System of Theology and Rules for Christian Maturity
It Mistakes Doing New “Religious” Things for Heart of Obedience to Christ
It Mistakes Participation in Ministry Opportunities for a Christlike Lifestyle
Broken-Down House, Paul David Tripp, p. 91-94

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Christianity or Christ

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, erers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
Luke 18:9-14 ESV

Counterfeit Spirituality

It is possible to mistake identity in Christianity for identity in Christ. I can serve and enjoy the externals of Christianity more than I serve and enjoy Christ. I can and should take pleasure in my inclusion in the culture of Christianity. But that must ever and always take a back seat to the daily rescue and help I receive because of my inclusion in the grace of Christ.
Broken-Down House, Paul David Tripp, p. 91.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Still of the Flesh

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 ESV

True Spirituality

This side of heaven, we must resist defining spirituality as anything other than a deep devotion to Christ, the fruit of which is a lifestyle of daily worship of him and active service in his kingdom…We cannot be satisfied with a Christianity that allows us to live at the center of our world.
Broken-Down House, Paul David Tripp, p. 89.