For Christians Only

Could you please keep your Bible open to Galatians 5-6 and Colossians 3:3-18? You might want to reread the last post.

Once you have identified some habitual sins–either things you do, ways you relate to others, or what you think about, you need to counter those with their opposites. This takes some thought. And some humbling admission on your part that these habits are displeasing to God. Paul says some are easy to recognize (Galatians 5:19). But, others may sneak up on us so that we need help in thinking all this through (Galatians 6:1-5). Sexual sin is easy to identify even though our society tries to redefine everything. But, desires, and the strong emotions they generate are much easier to dismiss as okay, or even good. Thinking patterns need to be changed as well. You have to work it out yourself. And keep coming back to it until the habit is replaced with something much better–like forgiveness, thankfulness, kindness, mercy, love. Read Colossians 3:8-18.

Confused? Don’t know what is “right” and which desires are “wrong?” In working things out for yourself, it helps to have a standard of righteousness–a measure of what is right or wrong. If your desires and emotions cause you to act in violation of the Ten Commandments, you know these desires are leading you astray no matter how good they seem. Ask yourself, “Does my habit of thinking, reacting, desiring cause me to dishonor those in authority positions? Or to lie? Or to steal? Or to covet? To hate? Or get involved in sexual sin? Or to love something more than I love God? Or to seek my own pleasure or work above keeping the Lord’s Day?” The Moral Law was given to all people everywhere to use as a measuring stick… to show us what sin is. We don’t have to wonder and search and search for it. They are ten ways telling us that we really need a Savior!

John Owen reminded his readers to watch for and take note when we are given strength or any of the fruit of the Spirit, such as peace, patience, self-control. “He gives gracious assistances against the power of sin” is a vital reminder (John Owen, The Holy Spirit, (Christian Focus Publications, 2004, Scotland), p.259=271.) . He wrote this between 1672-1683, but this biblical principle is still true today. We must expect grace, wait for it, depend on it to destroy sinful habits. Owen also told us to cherish this principle of holiness: that God provides us spiritual strength to think, do, and be what is pleasing to Him. Paul reminded us that there is never a law against acting in kindness, gentleness, humility (Galatians 5).

In addition, there will be no true heart work without fear of the Lord–a deep respect for His majesty and His right to demand our obedience to His word. That is why it is so important to teach our children and grandchildren that God created them and all things and not let the theory of evolution destroy their sense of God’s majesty.

In mercy and truth
Atonement is provided for iniquity;
And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.

Fear and respect for God motivate us to kill sinful habits…not to add hoops for us to jump through or make ourselves acceptable to God, but because there is much reward in wise living. “Mortification of the flesh” (as the English Puritans called it) requires careful thought, much repentance, and a reliance on God’s favor toward us. As Paul said, “His grace is sufficient…”

About Carol Brandt

I earned a B.A. in History from Florida State University and M.Ed in.Higher Education from Florida Atlantic University. I taught high school social studies before “retiring” to full-time homemaking and raising two daughters. Now I love being a grandmother to four boys and a girl. I have also raised five collies.

My husband, John, was an optometrist, who worked tirelessly for his profession through private practice and as a consultant, and served on the Board of Trustees of Illinois College of Optometry for twenty years.

Ernest Reisinger was my chief mentor in this warm-hearted application of Calvinism. He gave me many books! The Founders Journal and Founders Conferences, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Charles Spurgeon have been other sources of Reformed thinking as well as the other warm-hearted ones listed in my book, “Warm-hearted Calvinists.”

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