Victory Over Sin Takes a Lifetime, and It Is Dangerous Folly to See it Any Differently

“If our expectation is that we should be able to take four simple steps to succeed in our struggle against sin, Hebrews warns that we’ll despair and be self-condemning when we continue to fail. We’ll become despondent and exhausted. This is one of the reasons why people run from seminar to seminar, why they pile up self-help books, and why they spend millions of dollars every year for psychotherapy. Our problem is that we don’t see the depth or power of our sin or how we’re to continually fight against it.” -Elyse Fitzpatrick, Comforts from the Cross

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Grace is Glory Begun

Q: Is there a difference between glory and grace for Christians?

“Ans. Yes. But the difference is in degrees, and not otherwise. For heaven must be begun here. If ever we mean to enter into heaven hereafter, we enter into the suburbs here. We must be new creatures here. We are kings here; we are heirs apparent here; we are adopted here; we are regenerate here; we are glorious here, before we be glorious hereafter. Therefore, beloved, we may read our future state in our present. We must not think to come de scelo in cealum, as he saith, out of the filth of sin to heaven, but heaven must be begun here. You see both have the same name, grace, and glory. Therefore, wouldst thou know what thy condition shall be afterwards? Read it in thy present disposition. If there be not a change and a glorious change here, never look for a glorious change hereafter. What is not begun in grace shall never be accomplished in glory. Both grace here and glory hereafter coming under the same name, it forceth this.” Richard Sibbes, Glorious Freedom

What it Means to Live As One with Passions That Have Been “Crucified in Christ”

“I cannot but hate sin; and, hating sin, I must act his part anew, that is, as he died for sin, so I die to sin; as he was crucified for it, so it is crucified in me; as he was pierced, so he gives corruption a stab in me; as he was buried, so my corruption is buried; and as he died once, never to die again, so I follow my sins to the grave, to death, and consumption of old Adam, that he never riseth again. So I say, the consideration of my union with Christ, that I in Christ did die and was crucified, because my head died and was crucified. And then it puts that affection into me that was in Christ, and makes me act Christ’s part, to die to sin daily more and more. These and the like thoughts are stirred up in a Christian, which St Paul aims at in Rom. vi. and other places.” -Richard Sibbes, Glorious Freedom

It’s Not Necessarily the Success of the Fight, But the Desire for the Fight That Is the Key

“Therefore let not Christians be discouraged with the backwardness and untowardness of the flesh, to good duties. If we have a principle in us to fight against it, to enable us to fight against our corruptions, and to get good duties out of it in spite of it, it is an argument of a new nature.” -Richard Sibbes, Glorious Freedom

The Hard Image of Holiness

“Even the word holiness has become tarnished, both inside and outside the church. It suggests something negative, restrictive, prudish, uncool, and undesirable. When I was a little kid, my sister and I used to watch Little House on the Prairie. The character we loved to hate was Mrs. Oleson— arrogant, exacting, overly proper, and legalistic, and that’s the image I had of holiness. Hypocrisy. Hardness. Very unattractive. Many of us today hold that same image, so much so that the word holy is almost always used pejoratively, as in “holier than thou” or “holy roller.” The call to be holy is often viewed as a big no to anything pleasurable or fun. It may retain the sense of being set apart, but not in a good way.” -Rankin Wilbourne

 

Holiness? Who Cares!

“I don’t like broccoli. Even though I now live in Los Angeles where you’re supposed to like healthy food, I still associate it with my mom saying, “Eat your broccoli! It’s good for you.” It’s something unpleasant but good for me, something I don’t enjoy but know I should. Grit your teeth and take it. Holiness is like broccoli for many of us. We know we’re supposed to want it, but we don’t, not really. And we might even think the good news is that we no longer need to pursue it. Psalms talks about “the beauty of holiness” (29: 2 KJV), but beauty is not what comes to mind when we hear “holiness” today. Holiness sounds stifling, boring, even off putting. I remember years ago trying to encourage a couple who were going through a difficult time. They faced one setback after another with no relief in sight. They felt as though God had abandoned them. With less sensitivity than was needed, I turned to one of the oldest reasons why God allows trials in our lives. “When God seems absent,” I said, “he can be doing his most important work in us. As a loving Father, he’s training us as his children to trust him.” And I quoted the book of Hebrews: “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness” (Heb. 12: 10). I’ll never forget their response because it was so refreshingly honest: “Holiness? Who wants that?” Exactly. Who wants that?”” -Rankin Wilbourne