Reason #2: Why a Sinner Ought to Turn To God Without Delay

Richard Baxter does us a great service by first reminding us that to turn is to turn to the Blessed God.  We trust in Jesus Christ to save us, govern us, and deliver us.  We do not turn to a system of self-help or self-salvation but to a Person and a Friend.  It is also true that to turn to God means that we are turning from lifestyles that the Puritans equated to the beasts of the field to a life of rational nobility.

Here’s reason #2:

Consider also to what it is that you must turn.  Not to uncleanness but to holiness; not to the sensual life of a beast but to the noble rational life of a man, and more noble heavenly life of a Christian; not to an unprofitable worldly toil but to the most gainful employment that ever the son of men were acquainted with; not to the deceitful drudgery of sin but to that godliness which is profitable to all things….Why a life of holiness is nothing but living unto God; to be conversant with him as the wicked are with the world and to be devoted to his service as sensualists are to the flesh.  It is to live in the love of God and of our Redeemer and in the foretaste of his everlasting glory and of his love and in the sweet forethoughts of that blessed life that shall never end and in the honest self-denying course that leads to that blessedness.

We are truly deceived if we believe that to live otherwise is in our best interests and the best interests of those around us.

Turn now to God and live.

Pastor Gabe

The boy…fights against temptation

Recently, I was in a meeting with a group of men and we were talking about how Christ resisted temptation when He was walking the earth. “Resist temptation” how often do we put those words together!?  We were reading Hebrews 4:15:

For we do not have a high priest  who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Amazing. This says He experienced every temptation we could ever face, “in every respect has been tempted as we are” and He never caved in once.  One of the brothers said we think we’re doing well to resist for 90 seconds and then give in!  In fact, most of us in honest moments would say that we’ve caved far more than we haven’t.  If our experience is common (likely), then it is a sad commentary on the state of Christian men today.

So what of the boys? Two things.

First, if our men won’t stand against temptation, then their sons will not likely learn to do so either.  This is the intergenerational specter associated with sin: if I do, my son likely will.  “Do as I say and not as I do” will last only as long as someone has to help him finish his duty in the bathroom.  Then, the hypocrite dad is sunk.  No sons?  Well, you’re not off the hook either: you will be watched by your daughters and they will grow up thinking a weak-willed, fleshly-motivated and minimally self-controlled man is normal.  I’ve seen these girls dating and marrying these men and then finding their ship-of-marriage has holes in the hull!

An Aside: We Don’t Have to Cave, Men.  Remember Hebrews 4:15?  We have a high priest who advocates for us with the Father who Himself has made a promise to us regarding temptation:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.

God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it.

That’s 1 Corinthians 10:13.  It tells us two things.  Other men have the temptation, you’re not alone so quit being tempted in the “dark” of isolation.  Open up to a trusted man so he can join in the fight.  It also tells us that in the end, God makes a way for us to resist every single temptation.  Every one.  In Christ, there are no temptations that are too strong for us.  If we give in to lust or drunkenness, that’s our choice.  Everytime.  God stands, as it were, on the inside of the ring, with one foot on the lower rope and one hand on the upper rope pulling them apart and telling you to get out of the ring before its too late.  If only you would listen.

What of the boys?  Second, I have to prepare myself for an encounter with a young man that includes a rehearsal of the ways in which he has yielded to temptation.  Oh, you bet I’m going to ask him about his besetting sins!  You bet I’m going to ask him about his computer usage, magazine choice, movie storehouse, etc.  But, I’m going to ask him how he deals with temptation when it comes.  Fools numbered among Christian men (and their wives) believe temptation is illusory.  Or, perhaps that’s the cover of darkness that men use when their wives ask them “have you lusted after another woman?”  Or, “are you looking at internet porn?”  If a wife is inclined to ask at all.

The boys worthy of my daughters are not the ones who never struggle with sin (those doesn’t exist except in lies).  But, the ones who regularly do battle with the temptation in Christ and find that they love to fight for the victory.  This young man’s battle record will be pockmarked with losses, but there’s only been one war ever fought where there were no losses and only one Man who never lost.  And, by grace and goodness, He gives to us the strength to walk that same victory road.

Choose the path, young man.  In Christ, you can do it.

Nobody likes Underlings

I was thinking about kingdoms today.  Check out the basics:

God is King of His Kingdom – Psalm 24:7-10

7Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory?  The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!   9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors that the King of glory may come in.  10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory!

Christ is the reigning and returning King – Revelation 19:15-16

15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Kingdoms and parenting go together.  God is King; we live in His kingdom.  We are underlings. Nobody likes underlings – least of all our children.  Have you ever thought of that?  Why don’t you like underlings?  First of all, they can tell us what to do since they are literally under someone else’s authority.  Secondly, they can’t make changes to the boss’ rules (we hate that).  Thirdly, we like access and power and underlings prevent us from both.

Our children are no different.  They are uber-underlings – think of that!  This is especially relevant once we consider what it actually means to live in God’s kingdom.  There are rules, you see.  There’s a standard for right and wrong (one that’s already completely written, by the way).  It is the law of God set forth in the Bible.

Let’s say little bubba or precious suzie-Q break the rules.  What have they done?  Two things.  First, they have disregarded the existing rules of the King.  They have acted as if He’s not really sitting on that Throne regarding all their thoughts, words and actions.  They have said, “There is no God” and have become as fools: Psalm 14:1.  Wow, do they need the Gospel.

But, no one likes an empty throne, so they do a second thing: they write new rules.  When little precious decides to snipe at her sister, she’s created a rule that says, “In my kingdom, sniping is allowed.”  When cheesy-grin boy grumbles at bed-time, he’s codified a new law, “In my kingdom, bedtime is when I say it is!”  Note to self: rules that we make are only ever good for just us.

We – parents (and all) – must live in light of these two kingdoms before we try to press our children for kingdom obedience, don’t we?  We have the same tendencies to ascend the throne, re-write the rules and rule kingdoms.  You love to be kings and queens and kingdom-rulers!

We must parent our children in light of these two constantly competing kingdoms: the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Me.  In the latter, I’m king and I make the rules and you’d better listen.  Yet, in the former, He is King and He is the best of Kings.  His rules – so wise and purposeful – can always do infinitely more good than rules we or our children create.