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Christian Life, Spiritual Warfare

Quit Your Judging

January 31, 2018
Quit Judging blog header

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

  • 1 Corinthians 4:3-4

 

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

  • Phil 3:12-14

 

If you’re like most humans (or at least like me), odds are that you spend the better part of the day evaluating how well you’re doing at following, riding on a constant stream of judgments. You hit snooze one too many times and kick yourself for being lazy. As you get ready for the day you evaluate and judge your appearance, always finding it lacking. When you spill your coffee while heading out the door you inwardly call yourself an idiot for being in such a rush.

The ongoing procession of self-judgment doesn’t stop when you’re out in public. Feeling foolish for saying something awkward in conversation with a co-worker, beating yourself up for getting angry at your kids, shame when you do that thing you swore you’d never do again; the opportunities for self-judgment are endless in our failure-riddled lives.

But if you’re a follower of Jesus there’s a problem with allowing our minds to be constantly making judgment calls about ourselves. The Bible calls Satan the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). When we spend our time evaluating and passing judgments on ourselves we are partnering with Satan and cutting ourselves off from the joy of the Lord that is our strength.

Martin Luther discovered this in his endless hours of confession as he attempted to root out and confess every sin he had committed in thought or deed. The stock of sins he could identify was endless, and it wasn’t until God revealed to him the truth of the Gospel that he found freedom and hope. The truth of the Gospel was this; God’s judgment about Christ can be his judgment about us. By faith we can become the righteousness of God in Christ, freed from condemnation from without and within.

Paul knew this freedom well, so well that he could say in his letter to the Corinthian church, “it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself…It is the Lord who judges me.”

What beautiful freedom there is in the statement “I do not even judge myself”! This whole self-judgment thing is incredibly tiring and time consuming. Let’s learn from the Apostle and deny ourselves the right to pass judgment on ourselves and instead leave it to the Lord, the Judge of all, to determine.

And determine he has. For those who are in Christ his judgment has already been determined. As Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians, we are the righteousness of God in Christ because Christ has taken our sin on himself (2 Cor. 5:21).

We need to stop attempting to overwrite God’s judgment about us. “What God has put together, let no man separate.” If God has placed you together in the righteousness of his son Jesus and thereby made you righteous, stop claiming that you’re not. If he has created you and called you good, stop allowing yourself to think the opposite.

Instead, determine to have the same mindset that Paul writes of in Philippians 3. Commit to “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Forget your past. Forget what you did (or didn’t) do this morning or last night or last week. Quit your judging. Press forward towards the prize that God has called you to in Christ. Run to Jesus.

I believe it was John Piper who once made the statement, “faith turns a mirror into a window.” Let’s stop standing in front of mirrors evaluating and judging ourselves. Instead, let your faith transform that mirror into a window that gives you a view of the beauty of Jesus and stare at him instead. As you gaze on him, and with “unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, [you will be] transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor 3:18). It’s by looking to Jesus and delighting in Him that we are changed, not by self-analysis and condemnation. Quit your judging.

Christian Life, Commentary, Spiritual Warfare

He will surely do it

June 23, 2016

 

 

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.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

What beautiful words in the chaos of a world that is anything but sure! My friends, let us ground ourselves in this truth today; our God is faithful, and what he has said he will do he will surely do. When tomorrow is uncertain, when waking up and entering the day is simply a burden, comfort your spirit with the truth that “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

What He Will Do

The Scriptures abound with declarations about what God has promised to do. From eternal salvation to indescribable joy, He who has called you has given his word, and faith calls you to take him at that word. I want to briefly touch on a few key things from this passage in 1 Thessalonians that we can build our lives upon today. What exactly is it that the faithful one has said He will do?

He will give you peace.

He’s the God of Peace, so he gives peace. Your anxiety and worry evaporate when you come near Him. Sin is the seed that grows anxiety, fear, worry, and ultimately death (James 1:15). When sin enters into our lives it separates us from the God of Peace, growing walls that trap us in the darkness of our own minds, which inevitably leads to the downward spiral of depression, fear, anxiety, and the like.

This God, however, has uprooted sin and nullified its power by the blood of Christ. He has shed abroad the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus. Look to him, and you will find peace as he frees you from sin.

He will sanctify you completely.

This progressive freedom from sin is known as sanctification. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines sanctification this way:

  • 1 : to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use
  • 2 : to free from sin
  • 3a : to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to

The work of Christ has set you free. The work of Christ has set you apart completely. You’re in a whole new category. You’re no longer defined by your sin; you’re now defined by the imputed righteousness of Christ.

Note the surety of this sanctification. He who has called you will do it. It’s not a weight on your shoulders. What joy and freedom is found in knowing and experiencing this!

He will keep you blameless

Being in the process of sanctification doesn’t mean that you never sin. We have a sin nature until the day when Jesus comes again. However, according to these verses (and plenty of others) God keeps us blameless. Can you grasp that? You’re blameless! In Romans 8 Paul states it another way, declaring that there isn’t any condemnation that can stick to those who are in Jesus.

When someone tries to blame you for something or condemn you for a past deed, it can’t stick to you. You’re blameless. When your mind fills with accusations of your incompetence and failure and lack of worth, toss those lies aside. The God who is faithful has called you and promised to keep you blameless. He will surely do it.

He will come again

This life is a struggle. Our broken world isn’t any easy place to live. The good news is that the struggle doesn’t last forever. This groaning creation will soon be re-created in glory, because Jesus is coming again and will restore all things. The day of the coming of the Lord will be both beautiful and terrible, and though it may seem slow in coming it will surely come.

He will love you

He will give you peace. He has sanctified you. He will keep you blameless. You don’t do this kind of stuff for someone you don’t love. Jesus came and purchased our peace, sanctification, and blamelessness because he loves us. From the delight in his Spirit the Father and the Son acted according to love and purchased for us salvation.

Unlike the loves of this world, this one isn’t going away. It’s here till the end. It’s not the love of the boyfriend who is there to get what he wants from you and then ditch. It’s not the love of the girl looking for comfort and validation. No. This is the settled, immortal love of the creator of all the earth.

He is faithful. He’s given his word and He will surely do it. Rest in that. Learn to let peace be your path this week!

 

 

 

Best Of, Christian Life, Commentary, Spiritual Growth

Receive the Love

January 16, 2014

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
– John 15:9, ESV

Abide in my love, Jesus says – don’t just acknowledge it or talk about it. Abide in it. Soak in it. Dwell on it. Let it fill you like the sap from the vine fills the branches, so that where you are broken or cut it is His love that spills out.

As the Father has loved me

Jesus sets the stage by telling his disciples the scope of his love. It is “as the Father has loved;” a love like God the Father’s love for God the Son. We begin by going beyond comprehension or expression.

“As the Father has loved” is a love eternal, a delight and affection without beginning or end. It was before all things and will continue after all things. “As the Father has loved” is a powerful love, a love that reaches beyond the grave to restore the loved one to life – not only to life but to the position of Name above every name. “As the Father has loved” is a fearsome love, a love that opposes all who oppose the beloved; “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” (Psalm 110:1) “As The Father has loved” is a perfect love, a love that sees only beauty. Jesus says to his followers, stunningly, that love like that – love like the Father has for me – is the kind of love I have for you.

So I have loved you

What more can Christ do to prove this statement than he has already done? He has lowered himself and taken on the form of man. He became the lowest of men, the servant of all. His days on earth were given to ministering to us. He bore the mountain-weight of our punishment. He died willingly in our place. He resurrected and devotes his ascendant life not to his own pleasure but to interceding on our behalf. He is preparing a place for us. With every motion of his life, earthly and heavenly, he has declared, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”

Abide in my love

But how slow we are to believe, oh brothers and sisters! Caught up in our own hurt, struggle, and inability we have declared ourselves unworthy and unlovable. We confuse pride with humility, thinking that we are called to constantly bemoan our sin and shortcomings so that the Lord will know we’re truly sorry, but this is not what Jesus commanded. He never said, “As the Father has punished me for your sin, so I will punish you” or “abide in your failure”. No, his words were, “Abide in my love.”

It is on the love, the delight that Christ has for us that we are to meditate and dwell.

Any area of our life that we refuse to receive Christ’ love is an area that is kept from the fruitfulness that glorifies him. As Jesus said later in John 15, “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.” When we deny the love of Christ in any area of ourselves, that area is disconnected from the vine and can bear no fruit.

Is your past full of wounds that are too painful to think about? Christ’s love is the balm that will heal and restore. Do not think that your past is too far gone to be redeemed.

Does your heart seem to hard to change from its sinful ways? Christ’s love is the forge that melts all metals and burns away all dross. Receive his love.

Do you fear the thoughts and opinions of others? Christ’s love is the shield to circle you round and shelter you. Abide in it.

As His love fills the areas you have kept back they will begin to bear fruit. Wasted years will be returned to you as beautiful years of shaping. Sins will be turned to testimony of freedom. Fear will bear the fruit of beautiful boldness.

My friends, do not cut yourself off! If there is any corner of yourself that you have kept hidden hear Jesus’ words; “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.” He speaks it over those corners. In his sovereign knowledge he chose to come to us in love while we were in sin. Hear his call and come to him. Abide in his love.