PASTOR'S BLOG ARCHIVE
A Note from the Pastor | The grace of God has appeared... training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions (Titus 2:11-12).
Grace teaches us to say no to ungodliness. Ungodliness in its broadest form basically comprises disregarding God, ignoring Him, or not taking Him into account in one's life. It's a lack of fear and reverence for Him. The wickedness portrayed by Paul in Romans 1:18-32 all starts with the idea that "although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him" (verse 21, NIV). A person may be highly moral and even benevolent and still be ungodly.
When we trust in Christ as our Savior, we bring a habit of ungodliness into our Christian lives. We were accustomed to living without regard for God. As unbelievers, we cared neither for His glory nor His will. Basically, we ignored Him. But now that we have been delivered from the dominion of sin and brought under the reign of grace, grace teaches us to renounce this attitude (as well as actions) of ungodliness. Obviously this training does not occur all at once. In fact, God will be rooting out ungodliness from our lives as long as we live on this earth.
Grace also teaches us to say no to worldly passions, the inordinate desire for and preoccupation with the things of this life, such as possessions, prestige, pleasure, or power. "For this world in its present form is passing away" (1 Corinthians 7:31, NIV).
Saying no to ungodliness and worldly passions basically means a decisive break with those attitudes and practices. In one sense, this decisive break is a divine act that occurred when we died to the dominion of sin in our lives. In another sense, we're to work out this breach with sin by putting to death the misdeeds of the body (Romans 8:13).
Bro. Mike Blankenship
A Note from the Pastor | "Put off your old self... and... put on the new self" (Ephesians 4:22, 24)
Sometimes we get the impression that the Christian life consists mainly of negative prohibitions. These are definitely an important part of our spiritual discipline, as attested by the fact that eight of the Ten Commandments are prohibitions (Exodus 20:1-19). We need the prohibitions set forth not just in the Ten Commandments but in all the life-application sections of the New Testament. Indwelling sin needs the constant restraint of being denied its gratification.
The Christian life, however, should also be directed toward positive expressions of Christian character. All of Paul's ethical teaching is characterized by this twofold approach of putting off the old self and putting on the new self (as in Ephesians 4:21-24).
I like to think of this twofold approach as represented by the two blades of a pair of scissors. A single scissors blade is useless as far as doing the job for which it was designed. The two blades must work in conjunction with each other to be effective. And we must work both at putting off the characteristics of our old selves and putting on the characteristics of the new selves. One without the other is not effective.
Some believers seem to focus on putting off sinful practices but give little attention to what they are to put on. Too often their lives become hard and brittle and probably self-righteous, because they tend to equate godliness with a defined list of "don'ts." Other believers tend to focus on putting on certain positive traits such as love, compassion, and kindness, but they can become careless in morality and ethics. We need the dual focus of "putting off" and "putting on"—each should receive equal attention from us.
Bro. Mike Blankenship
A Note from the Pastor | "God, I thank you that I am not like other men... or even like this tax collector (Luke 18:11)."
With whom do we identify, the Pharisee or the tax collector? The prodigal son or the older brother? Obviously no one wants to identify with the Pharisee or the older brother. But are we willing to identify with the tax collector and the prodigal son, as sinners deeply in need of the grace and mercy of God? Are we willing to say, "God, be merciful to me the sinner" or "I am no longer worthy to be called Your son"? Are we willing to acknowledge that even our righteous acts are no more than filthy rags in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6)?
John Owen, known as the prince of Puritan theologians, wrote these words way back in 1657: "Believers obey Christ as the one by whom our obedience is accepted by God. Believers know all their duties are weak, imperfect and unable to abide in God's presence. Therefore they look to Christ as the one who bears the iniquity of their holy things, who adds incense to their prayers, gathers out all the weeds from their duties and makes them acceptable to God."
Owen speaks of Christ bearing the iniquity of our holy things—the sinfulness of even our good works. As another Puritan preacher was reputed to have said, "Even our tears of repentance need to be washed in the blood of the Lamb." Our best works can never earn us one bit of favor with God. Let us then turn our attention from our own performance—whether it seems good or bad—and look to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is God's provision for our sin, not only on the day we trusted Christ for salvation but every day of our Christian lives.
Bro. Mike Blankenship