Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Category: Sanctification (page 2 of 3)

The Drive to Become a Sanctified Driver

roadrage

Jesus’ words has strong words to say about the connection between anger and murder (Matthew 5:21-26). As I was preaching on this portion of Scripture recently it struck me how many of my illustrations related to driving. Venturing onto the roadways definitely tests our sanctification! I confess that my competitive side too often rears its ugly head when I’m on the road. Being cut off, disrespected, disregarded, ignored, and put in danger are a driver’s frequent experience. And lets be honest, we are not always the victims. Sometimes we are the perpetrators, even if at times unwittingly.

I end up praying a lot while I drive—and a not insignificant percentage of that is split between: 1) confession of sinful attitudes on my part, and 2) request for God’s blessing on a driver I naturally think otherwise about.

So it got me to thinking, how can we I better see sanctification integrated into my behind-the-wheel life? As I contemplated this I considered how driving is the primary mode of transportation in our day, but walking was about the only means of transportation in Jesus’ day. And I recalled how often the New Testament uses walking as a metaphor for the unfolding of one’s life. The apostles often used this imagery to picture our Christian faith. So it got me to thinking, What if we substituted “drive” for “walk” in some of the NT’s instructions?

I realize the exchange is not perfect, but a glance below will reveal that it does shed some helpful light upon our roadway routine!

  • “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might [drive] in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
  • God gave His Holy Spirit “… in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who [drive] not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:4)
  • “Let us [drive] properly as in the daytime … not in quarreling and jealousy.” (Romans 13:13)
  • “… for we [drive] by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7). (Hmmm … I’m going to have think on that one a bit more!)
  • “But I say, [drive] by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
  • “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should [drive] in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
  • “I … urge you to [drive] in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” (Ephesians 4:1)
  • “[Drive] in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)
  • “… at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. [Drive] as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8)
  • “Look carefully then how you [drive], not as unwise but as wise.” (Ephesians 5:15)
  • “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who [drive] according to the example you have in us.” (Philippians 3:17)
  • “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, [drive] as enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Philippians 3:18)
  • “If we say we have fellowship with him while we [drive] in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we [drive] in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6-7)
  • “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and [drives] in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (1 John 2:11)

No, the exchange of drive for walk isn’t flawless, but it is convicting. And it gives me something to pray about (with my eyes wide open!) when I’m behind the wheel.

The Lonely Road of True Fellowship

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

Lonely

William Barclay was correct: “A man had to be prepared to be lonely in order to be a Christian.” (The Gospel of Matthew, 1:107). A.W. Tozer also asserted that “Most of the world’s great souls have been lonely.”

Indeed, how could it be otherwise? Tozer declared in another place that “The Christian, the genuine Christian, realizes that he is indeed a lonely soul in the middle of a world which affords him no fellowship.”

This world is no friend of grace, nor of those who live by and offer it. There is a reason Jesus put “peacemakers” just before “persecuted” when enumerating His Beatitudes. Yet Jesus’ words do speak of a deeper fellowship than the world can offer, indeed, a fellowship that is truly found only in the world’s rejection. It is fundamentally a communing fellowship with the King Himself. To the rejected, despised, persecuted and reviled, Jesus promised a present experience (“is”) of “the kingdom of heaven.” Which at least means that such folk get to come under that special reign and relationship with the King Himself right now, in the present. Jesus’ words may mean more than simply that, but they do not mean less.

There is then (marvelously, but only secondarily) down this painful road also the fellowship that is found with “the prophets who were before you.”

Again, I affirm that Barclay was correct: “A man had to be prepared to be lonely in order to be a Christian.” But he was also correct when he then later wrote, “… no man ever suffers persecution alone; if a man is called upon to bear material loss, the failure of friends, slander, loneliness, even the death of love for his principles, he will not be left alone, for Christ will be nearer to him than at any other time. …. When a man has to suffer something for his faith, that is the way to the closest possible companionship with Christ.” (1:113, 114)

Is it possible that your present hardship is not an evidence of Jesus distancing Himself from you, but, quite the contrary, an evidence that He is drawing near to you? Is it possible that current distress is only God’s answer to your prayer to know Him more deeply?

John J. Murray, was speaking about God’s plan for building our character, but I wonder if his words do not also fit with this matter of bringing us into true fellowship with Himself: “We might be tempted to ask whether God can [give us true intimacy with Himself] without suffering. That is a hypothetical question. He has not chosen to do so.” (p.15, Behind a Frowning Providence)

 

The Life that is Life

man.lifted.hand

“The life that wins is an actuality, not just an aspiration. Its secret is simple, and yet profound.

It is plain to the heart filled with faith and obedience, but it is perplexing to self-will and self-effort. It is an obtainment, not an attainment; a gift to be received and not an achievement to be earned. It is from above and not from within ourselves; it is from heaven and is revealed on earth. Its life arises out of death to ourselves and not from deeds that we have done.

The details in individual experience differ appreciably, and are related to the personality and the circumstances of that life. Beyond the details, however, the pattern of the exchanged life is quite the same for each one. First, there is an awareness of our need, as expressed by the Lord Jesus, ‘If any man thirst …’ (John 7:37) …

Then there is agony of soul because of that awareness. One remembers the beatitude: ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled’ (Matt. 5:6) …

Then follows wholehearted abandonment to the Savior. Sick of self and sin we obey the clear injunction of Romans 6:13: ‘… yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.’ …

There must be appropriation by faith of the Holy Spirit to fill life with the presence of the Lord Jesus. That obtainment is by faith, and not by works. Inquires the Scripture: ‘This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?’ (Gal. 3:2) …

Following appropriation there must be abiding by faith in the Savior. Did He not say: ‘Abide in me, and I in you …’

The exchanged life is one of abundance. The Savior promised ‘rivers of living water’ to flow from the Spirit-filled life (John7:38). There is provision for life more abundant (John 10:10). And that life is indeed one of constant adventure, for it learns the wonderful reality of John 10:4: ‘And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.'” (V. Raymond Edman, They Found The Secret, pp.186-188)

A Real Union

mystical.union

“Another great mystery in the way of sanctification, is … our being in Christ, and having Christ Himself in us … I may well call this a mystical union … It is one of the three mystical unions that are the chief mysteries in religion. The other two are, the union of the Trinity of Persons in one Godhead, and the union of the divine and human natures in one person, Jesus Christ, God and man.” (Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, p.21)

The Course of Character

sorrow

“… when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” (Job 23:10b)

“Whatever else we may have, if we do not have character we have nothing. It is character that determines destiny. The only failure that matters in the end is the failure to build character. In ordinary life character is formed by overcoming difficulties. . . . We might be tempted to ask whether God can build character without suffering. That is a hypothetical question. He has not chosen to do so.” (John J. Murray, Behind a Frowning Providence, 14-15)

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