Category Archives: Sin

Medicine for the Discontent

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” ~Philippians 4:11-13

Discontentment is a seed of destruction that is easily stirred in the heart, even of those who have experienced overwhelming mercy and deliverance. Take, for instance, the people of Israel who were brought out of slavery from Egypt. The Lord provided for all of their needs, but grumbling and complaining were never far from their lips. The manna wasn’t good enough and water bursting forth from the rock was not sufficient to keep their gaze on the God who had been merciful to them. They focused so intensely on what they did not have that they seem to have forgotten the work done among them. Not only did they long for what they did not have, they also began to view their former slavery through rose colored glasses. “And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger (Ex 16:2-3).”

What’s at the root of Discontentment?

1. Ungratefulness and Entitlement 

The first and primary root of discontentment is our attitude towards God. It is rooted both in our ungratefulness for what God has graciously done, and in an attitude of entitlement regarding what we think God should be doing. In actuality, it is an anti-Christian, anti-grace state of mind, where we deceive ourselves into believing that we’ve earned what we have, yet deserve more.

2. Selfishness

I have found that when I am discontent, it is not only my attitude towards God that is perverted, but also my attitude towards others in need. Discontentment reveals our self-exalting, self-gratifying tendencies. Think about it, when you are worried or anxious about what you do not have, are you the least bit concerned with the needs of your neighbor? It appears to be impossible to display Christian love to others while also exalting the self. Paul says, “do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourself. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus… (Phil 2:4-5)” Discontentment is opposed to humility and counting others more significant than yourself.

Medicine for the Discontent

So, how are we to make war against our discontentment? The medicine for the discontent is rejoicing. I do not mean to simply cheer up, but a process of renewing the mind. Again, Paul helps us here in Philippians when he writes, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (4:8-9).” We rejoice and are made content by God’s grace when we think upon Christ, his person, work, and his transforming us in Spirit.

In other words, discontentment is not going to simply go away. I am not an advocate of sitting by and hoping you stop struggling with certain sins. I am a firm believer that putting to death the deeds of the flesh requires intense effort that is Spirit-filled and grace driven. I am encouraged by the words of Paul that are mentioned at the beginning of this post where he writes, “for I have learned in whatever situation to be content.” Contentment is not natural and must be learned. Yet, we are given greater hope still. We are not left to our own devices, for they only stir up more discontentment. We can do all things through him who strengthens usPaul finds his contentment in the strength that Christ gives, not in his own ability and singing “hakuna matata.”

Therefore, Christian, when thoughts of discontentment arise in your heart and mind, turn your gaze to your Redeemer who bought you with his life and who is now at work in you. This requires effort, but effort that is rooted in Spirit that works in you. Rejoice, because he who began a good work in you will carry it to completion and he will supply all of your needs according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus.

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America’s Addiction [Porn Destroys]

This post is via Michael Criner—He is the college pastor at First Baptist Woodway just outside of Waco. He is a good friend and I encourage you to go and check out his stuff. I will add a few comments after the graphic.

This breakdown comes via the online psychology degree website. It’s actually a sad statistic and why we must fight sin that creeps within the home, our phones, our computers. Please pray for the people in our nation as men AND women struggle with this. May the church help our people go to WAR with this problem in all of us.

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Maranatha (Come Lord)

Exodus 5 describes an interesting scene—the people of Israel, God’s chosen people were enslaved to a power hungry Egyptian king. They were reduced to making bricks but it was God’s will to deliver them, so he sent Moses and Aaron—two normal (or less than normal) men, one of which had a speech impediment. There request was straight forward, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go…(v.1)'” Pharaoh responds with a bit of mockery, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? (v.2)” After Moses and Aaron leave, Pharaoh decides to tighten his grip on the Israelites in order to show his “sovereign power.” It is as if he was trying to stick it to God by showing him who the Israelites belong to.

So now, not only has Pharaoh reduced the chosen people of God to making bricks, he also unnecessarily makes their labor more strenuous. At the end of chapter five Moses laments, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people,and you have not delivered your people at all.”

Moses’ heart is simply, “Come Lord! Fix this! This is not the way it is supposed to be! Make it right!”

The people of Isreal, those who were the offspring of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob—those in the line of Joseph who saved Egypt, now reduced to brick making. They were appointed by God to be the object of His affection and commissioned by Him to be a blessing to the surrounding nations. However, rather than being a blessing, they were enslaved. This was not the way it was supposed to be! They were to be ambassadors, not slaves; devoted in free worship, not trapped in coerced labor to a self-proclaimed god. Come Lord! Rescue your people!

The people of God, the church—those saved and redeemed by the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Word of the Father incarnate, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit; those chosen by God as the object of His love and affection and commissioned to love and proclaim the gospel to others. They currently find themselves caught ina  laundry list of distractions: materialism, sex, money, notoriety, family, friends, jobs, and self-exaltation. Rather than fulfilling the Great commandment and commission, the church has strayed away on account of evil desires and are entagled in sin, which has been conquered by their King, yet they choose to remain. This is not the way it is supposed to be! The church is to be Ambassadors, not slaves; devoted in free worship to God, not trapped in tireless labor to ourselves. Come Lord! Rescue your people! Set everything right!

Daniel Attaway—a child of God, heir to the kingdom in Christ Jesus, adopted and redeemed by the blood of the lamb, and made alive with Him in His resurrection. I am chosen by God as the object of His love and affection, commissioned by Him to love and proclaim the Gospel to others, yet I am entangled in complacency, pride, self-righteousness, and self-exaltation. Rather than live a life worthy of the Gospel, I am concerned with the lusts of this world. This is not the way it is supposed to be! I am to live free, not enslaved to my passions—an Ambassador, not a servant of evil— a free worshipper of God, not a worshipper of self. Com Lord! Rescue Me. Set this right! Renew this world and your people!

“O God, it is amazing that men can talk so much about man’s creaturely power and goodness, when, if thou didst not hold us back every moment, we should be devils incarnate (The Valley of Vision, 4-5).”

Ash Wednesday (Repentance)

Today marks the official beginning of Lent, otherwise known as Ash Wednesday. Historically, the season of Lent calls Christians to reflect on their mortality and need for a savior. This year Lent spans from March 9th to April 24th, a total of forty-six days—although Sundays are not typically included (40 days total). The 40 days of Lent represent the time that Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by Satan (Matt 4, Mark 1:12-13& Luke 4). It is meant to be a special time of fasting and prayer as we attempt to focus our hearts and minds on the beauty of God and His gospel rather than the transient things of this world. Ash Wednesday holds special significance for Christians beyond merely being the first day of Lent. Today is to be a day of repentance.

But why the Ash?

Ashes are a common motif throughout Scripture that symbolize mourning over sin and the act of repentance. In Job 42:1-6, Job responds to God after God has shown his power.

1 Then Job answered the Lord: 2 “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted; 3 you asked,‘Who is this who darkens counsel without knowledge?’ But I have declared without understanding things too wonderful for me to know. 4 You said,‘Pay attention, and I will speak;I will question you,and you will answer me.’5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye has seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself, and I repent in dust and ashes!

Ash Wednesday is the day that we recognize the weight of our sin and look forward with anticipation the day when sin will be no more. It is not a day where we simply put ash on our foreheads to show that we are religious, rather it is a day that we despise the sin that indwells.

But when is the last time we actually thought about the severity of our sin? When is the last time we actually pondered how much God hates it? When is the last time we ask God to bring about such a hatred for sin in our lives that it caused deep mourning?

When I was eight years old I was probably playing outside, annoying my sister, or thinking the world revolved around my wants and needs. In the Old Testament there was an eight year old kid who was King. His name was Josiah and his story of repentance is soul-stirring.

When Josiah had been king for eighteen years, he ordered that the temple of God be restored (2 Kings 22). To this point, Israel and Judah has been ransacked with idols and false gods and during the temple repair, Hilkiah the high priest found the Book of the Law (v. 8). When Josiah heard the words of the law he tore his clothes as sign of anguish and despair. Josiah recognized that God’s people had not walked in his ways and his wrath was upon them (v. 13).

The mourning and anguish caused Josiah to do radical and seemingly nonsensical things. He defiled all the places of false worship by tearing down and burning anything dedicated to a false god. He sought out the false prophets, had them put to death, and burned them. He killed and burned any livestock that was used for worship of a false god. He dug up the bones of the false prophets of old and burned their bones! Every altar, every tomb, every prophet (dead or alive), every shrine and every monument was defiled and destroyed at his command! Everything that portrayed Israel’s disobedience and idolatry was reduced to ash. This is true repentance and thus it is said of King Josiah, “No king before or after repented before the Lord as he did, with his whole heart, soul, and being in accordance with the whole law of Moses (2 Kgs 23:25).”

That is the aim of Ash Wednesday. Not merely an outward religious ceremony, but a turning of our whole heart, soul, and being to our great God. May God’s people take on an attitude of repentance that stands in the tradition of King Josiah. May we reflect on the severity of our sin and the abounding great grace and mercy of our Triune God!

The Danger in Wanting to be Known

I like being told I did a good job. One of my favorite things to do is to teach God’s word. I enjoy teaching and I would be lying if there is not some small part of me that is bummed out when no one says, “Good job” when I am done. I hate this about myself. I hate that I like the attention. I hate that my flesh wants to use the Gospel of Christ for my own personal gain. I can honestly say that I feel God has led me into these opportunities and ultimately I want to see people’s lives changed. However, my pride is always near to me.

I read an article from Christianity Today called Pastoral Narcissism and it was convicting and edifying. In it the author used the following quote from T.S. Elliot:

“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm– but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

Were it not for grace…Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” 1 Cor 15:1-4. I read this verse and I don’t see my name—that’s good with me.

A Delightfully Frightening Warning

The Mortification of Sin has become one of my favorite works. It has greatly encouraged me in my fight against sin and has continually pointed me to our great Triune God. The primary thesis of the book is that it is the Christian’s daily responsibility to put off the works of the flesh and put on the works of the spirit by the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit. Owen gives many warnings to Christians if they neglect this work. The following quote drove me to my knees and I begged for mercy. I hope that you find it frightening and edifying.

If ever then, thou hast enjoyed peace with God; if ever his terrors have made thee afraid; if ever thou hast had strength to walk with him, or ever hast mourned in thy prayer, and been troubled because of thy weakness; think of this danger that hangs over thy head.

It is perhaps but a little while, and thou shalt see the face of God in peace no more: perhaps by tomorrow thou shalt not be able to pray, read, hear or perform any duties with the least cheerfulness, life or vigour: and possibly thou mayest never see a quiet hour whilst thou livest; thou mayest carry about thee broken bones full of pain and terror all the days of thy life. Yea, perhaps God will shoot his arrows at thee, and fill thee with anguish and disquietness, with fears and perplexities; make thee a terror and an astonishment to thyself and others; show thee hell and wrath every moment; frighten and scare thee with sad apprehensions of his hatred; so that thy sore shall run in the night season, and thy soul shall refuse comfort; so that thou shalt wish death rather than life, yea, thy soul may choose strangling. Consider this a little, that though God should not utterly destroy thee, yet he might cast thee into this condition, wherein thou shalt have quick and living apprehensions of thy destruction. Accustom thy heart to thoughts hereof; let it be known what it is like to be the issue of its state; leave not this consideration until thou hast made thy soul to tremble within thee.

More Beautiful

You say to me, “Come, I desire your good and offer life.” I would be lying if I said there aren’t times I want to bind myself to you. You speak tenderly, softly to my affections and claim to be the wellspring of pleasure. I am often brought to a place where denying you seems like an action reserved for the foolish. In those moments you bring forth such delight and my heart longs for my whole self to submit.

But, there is another more beautiful, loving, and appealing. He stands before me no matter where I run and invites me to come. He stands in glory and bears the scars that you have brought upon Him. So I say to you, “How long have you loved me and when did you begin to desire good for me?” You do not answer, no, you cannot in light of Him. He has desired my good before I existed and chose me before I breathed my first. So I will go with Him and one day stand in glory.

For your name is sin and your stench is evil. Your will for me was never my good, but my destruction was your goal. So on that day that I go to Him I will smile as the end you planned for me is poured upon your own head.

Sin Managment

This is where i think many Christians go wrong, especially myself. We all know sin is bad and that we shouldn’t do it but it rarely extends beyond that. I know that i tend to gauge where I am in my walk with Christ by my “victories or defeats” in temptation and sin. First off, I think these terms are bad because the idea is carried within them that we are not to be held responsible. Allow me to clarify… If i say, “I was tempted to sin and was defeated” it seems to shift the blame from me to some outside agent. I think the better terms would be “obedient and disobedient”.

So when we begin to measure our lives primarily on how much we sin or do not sin, we are always going to end up wanting something more. Why is that? I think we would all agree that it is because ultimately the Christian life is not based on what you do or don’t do but on what Jesus Christ has done.

I am taking a class this semester on John Owen. He is a difficult and terrifying read and much of the time I feel like he is starring at me, constantly looking over my shoulder. The class is outstanding. I have really enjoyed reading Owen because his writings are saturated with the work of the Holy Spirit and human responsibility to put the deeds of the flesh to death. So while we should not measure where we are in our walk with Christ primarily on how well we manage sin, we should make it our joyful duty to kill our prideful, idolatrous desires. In his book Death by Love, Mark Driscoll says, “Stop trying to manage your sin and put it to death.”

Subconsciously (or perhaps intentionally) I think we can tend to justify our sin because “well, it’s been a while since i have lied… so maybe its ok if i tell this one little lie today.” That is a complete anti-God perspective that I am guilty of more than often. John Owen says, “There is not a day but sin foils or is foiled, prevails or is prevailed on; and it will be so, as long as we live in this world.”

So how do we kill sin? Owen says you pray, pray, and pray some more that God will begin to work in your life. One of the Holy Spirit’s duties to progressively bring the believer along in sanctification. In praying in reading the Scriptures, our heart and soul will begin to see Jesus as most beautiful. Granted, we know we will never arrive while we live in this earthly body… but i believe the measure of a Christian is found in the fight, not in sin management.

We must rid ourselves of the idea that God is only angry toward the “big sins”. Jesus had the flesh ripped off of his back and hung on the cross in a bloody mess for our disobedience and failure to live up to God’s standard… even in the little things. Jesus doesn’t want us to make a deal with our sin, but nail it to cross, watch it scream, and smile as it dies.

For more on putting sin to death or if you are just interested in John Owen… check out his book the Mortification of Sin.

Feel your ears

I have noticed within my heart as of a late, an increased sense of accomplishment and pride concerning what I think I know. This is something that I am praying that God would help me mortify because it is deadly to my joy in Christ. When you become a part of an institution that teaches you insight into Scripture that you have never heard, it is easy to look down at others and think, “poor, pitiful you.. If you only knew what you were reading.” It sounds terrible to think this way about my brothers and sisters and I am fully aware of this fact. These thoughts are sporadic and fleeting but they are present nonetheless. That is why I could not help but laugh, continue to laugh, and laugh more when i received a facebook message from a close friend of mine who finds himself in the same situation I am. The message contained a quote from Martin Luther, the great German Reformer, which will humble me and continually remind me that I have a long way to go.

“If you feel or imagine that you are right and suppose that your book, teaching, or writing is a great achievement…then, my dear man, feel your ears. If you are doing so properly, you will find that you have a splendid pair of big, long, shaggy asses’ ears…”