The Mortification of Sin: Confession. Part 2.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

As we have noted in our previous blog, confession is more than just verbally acknowledging that we have done something wrong or failed to do something right in the sight of God. Confession also means to acknowledge our sin to God and to have the same perspective towards it as God does. Confession means to see our sin as the cosmic treason against God that it is. We are to confess our sin to God while at the same time seeking to live lives which glorify Him. In other words, confession involves not only acknowledgment of sin but also a turning away, or repentance, of it.  

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson explains that confession involves four basic disciplines.

First, admit sin for what it really is. Call a spade a spade — call it “sexual immorality,” not “I’m being tempted a little”; call it “impurity,” not “I’m struggling with my thought life”; call it “evil desire, which is idolatry,” not “I think I need to order my priorities a bit better. How powerfully this unmasks self-deceit — and helps us to unmask sin lurking in the hidden corners of our hearts!”

Second, see sin for what your sin really is in God’s presence. “My sin leads to — not lasting pleasure — but holy divine displeasure. See the true nature of your sin in the light of its punishment. Too easily do we think that sin is less serious in Christians than it is in non-believers: “It’s forgiven, isn’t it?” Not if we continue in it (1 John 3:9)! Take a heaven’s-eye view of sin and feel the shame of that in which you once walked (Col. 3:7; see also Rom. 6:21).”

Third, recognize the inconsistency of your sin. “You put off the “old man,” and have put on the “new man” (3:9–10). You are no longer the “old man.” The identity you had “in Adam” is gone. The old man was “crucified with him [Christ] in order that the body of sin [probably “life in the body dominated by sin”] might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6). New men live new lives. Anything less than this is a contradiction of who I am “in Christ.”

Fourth, put sin to death (Col. 3:5). “It is as “simple” as that. Refuse it, starve it, and reject it. You cannot “mortify” sin without the pain of the kill. There is no other way!”

Dr. Ferguson concludes by saying, “The negative task of putting sin to death will not be accomplished in isolation from the positive call of the Gospel to “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14). Paul spells this out in Colossians 3:12–17. Sweeping the house clean simply leaves us open to a further invasion of sin. But when we understand the “glorious exchange” principle of the Gospel of grace, then we will begin to make some real advance in holiness. As sinful desires and habits are not only rejected, but exchanged for Christ-like graces (3:12) and actions (3:13); as we are clothed in Christ’s character and His graces are held together by love (v. 14), not only in our private life but also in the church fellowship (vv. 12–16), Christ’s name and glory are manifested and exalted in and among us (3:17).”

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

LORD’S DAY 23, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 23 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. This morning’s devotional addresses the subject of God the Holy Spirit.

Q. What good does it do you, however, to believe all this?

A. In Christ I am righteous before God and heir to life everlasting.1

1 John 3:36Rom. 1:17 (Hab. 2:4); Rom. 5:1-2.

Q. How are you righteous before God?

A. Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.1 Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments, of never having kept any of them,2
and of still being inclined toward all evil,3 nevertheless, without any merit of my own,4 out of sheer grace,5 God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,6 as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, and as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me.7 All I need to do is accept this gift with a believing heart.8

1 Rom. 3:21-28Gal. 2:16Eph. 2:8-9Phil 3:8-11.
2 Rom. 3:9-10.
3 Rom. 7:23.
4 Tit. 3:4-5.
5 Rom. 3:24Eph. 2:8.
6 Rom. 4:3-5 (Gen. 15:6); 2 Cor. 5:17-191 John 2:1-2.
7 Rom. 4:24-252 Cor. 5:21.
8 John 3:18Acts 16:30-31.

Q. Why do you say that through faith alone you are righteous?

A. Not because I please God by the worthiness of my faith. It is because only Christ’s satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness make me righteous before God,1 and because I can accept this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than through faith.2

1 1 Cor. 1:30-31.
2 Rom. 10:101 John 5:10-12.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Mortification of Sin: Confession.

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk 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. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (I John 1:6-10)

The Epistle of I John addresses the theme of authentic faith. For faith to be authentic it must be true, real and genuine. The reason the Holy Spirit used the Apostle John to write this inspired first epistle was two-fold. It was not only because false teachers were denying the bodily incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also because they were claiming to be Christians while living sinfully.

We should not misunderstand. John was not teaching that unless we are sinless and perfect we do not truly belong to Christ? Rather, he wrote of the tension between being counted righteous before God on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ, while at the same time struggling with daily sin in our lives.

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Perhaps the formula that Martin Luther used that is most famous and most telling is his formula simul justus et peccatorSimul is the word from which we get the English word simultaneously. Or, it means ‘at the same time.’ Justus is the Latin word for just or righteous. Et means and. Peccator means sinner. And so with this formula, Luther was saying, in our justification we are one and the same time righteous or just, and sinners. Now if he would say that we are at the same time and in the same relationship just and sinners that would be a contradiction in terms. But that’s not what he was saying. He was saying from one perspective, in one sense, we are just. In another sense, from a different perspective, we are sinners; and how he defines that is simple. In and of ourselves, under the analysis of God’s scrutiny, we still have sin; we’re still sinners. But, by imputation and by faith in Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is now transferred to our account, then we are considered just or righteous. This is the very heart of the gospel.”

One of the biblical tests of an individual’s authentic faith in Christ is the struggle with one’s daily sin. One of our responses to when we sin, and our efforts to mortify sin, is to confess our sin to God. What does it mean to confess?

Confession is more than just verbally acknowledging that we have done something wrong or failed to do something right in the sight of God. Confession also means to acknowledge our sin to God and to have the same perspective towards it as God does. Confession means to see our sin as the cosmic treason against God that it is. We are to confess our sin to God while at the same time seeking to live lives which glorify Him. In other words, confession involves not only acknowledgment of sin but also a turning away, or repentance, of it.  

As one commentator states, “It appears that the false teachers John has in mind were not only unconcerned with the dark deeds they were performing, they also claimed to be without sin altogether. But such a denial only further evidenced their lack of authentic faith. In this section, John tells us the Christian life is in one sense a life lived in tension. On the one hand, believers will live such good lives that it can be said we walk in the light (vv. 6–7). On the other hand, truly walking in the light will clearly reveal to us the reality of remaining sin, reminding us of our need for repentance and forgiveness (vv. 8, 10).”

Confession and repentance needs to be done daily. It may even occur on a moment by moment basis when the Lord brings your sin to your attention. When that happens, acknowledge your sin to God and ask for His forgiveness on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ that you possess by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

Finally, confession does not ensure you remain a child of God. Rather, confession ensures that the believer remains in close fellowship with God.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Mortification of Sin: Biblical Principles.

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41 ESV)

“If we do not abide in prayer, we shall abide in cursed temptations.” Puritan John Owen

Pastor Sinclair Ferguson recalls a conversation he had with a young pastor who came to him for advice. Dr. Ferguson shares, My friend — a younger minister — sat down with me at the end of a conference in his church and said: “Before we retire tonight, just take me through the steps that are involved in helping someone mortify sin.” We sat talking about this for a little longer and then went to bed, hopefully he was feeling as blessed as I did by our conversation. I still wonder whether he was asking his question as a pastor or simply for himself — or both.”

How would you have responded? How did Dr. Ferguson respond? He said, “The first thing to do is: Turn to the Scriptures. Yes, turn to John Owen (never a bad idea!), or to some other counselor dead or alive. But remember that we have not been left only to good human resources in this area. We need to be taught from “the mouth of God” so that the principles we are learning to apply carry with them both the authority of God and the promise of God to make them work. 

What Scriptures should we specifically read in order to meditate, memorize and apply in our lives so we can put sin to death? Here are some Dr. Ferguson recommend: Romans 8:1-13; Romans 13:8–14 (Augustine’s text); 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1; Ephesians 4:17–5:21; Colossians 3:1–17; 1 Peter 4:1–11; 1 John 2:28–3:11. All of these passages, while not all use the word “mortify,” do address the subject and discipline of the mortification of sin.

Let’s use Colossians 3:1-17 as our biblical source in addressing the subject of mortifying our sin. What does the Apostle Paul have to say in this particular text? I respectfully borrow Pastor’s Ferguson’s outline and observations from the text.

First, Paul underlines how important it is for us to be familiar with our new identity in Christ (3:1–4). If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Principle number one, then, is: Know, rest in, think through, and act upon your new identity — you are in Christ.

Second, Paul goes on to expose the workings of sin in every area of our lives (Col. 3:5–11). Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Principle Two: Mortifying sin is a whole-of-life change.

Third, Paul also focuses upon the workings of righteousness in every area of our lives (Col. 3:12-17). “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Principle Three: Mortifying sin is not only what God calls believers not to do, but also what God calls them to do.

In his preface of his book The Mortification of Sin, John Owen wrote, “I hope…that mortification and holiness may be promoted in my heart and in the hearts and lives of others, to the glory of God; and that in this way the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be adorned in all things.” 

More to come! May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mortification of Sin: How to do it!

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:11-13)

Mortification, or to mortify, means to degrade, humiliate, crush and confound. Within the context of our subject, what the believer in Christ is called by God to degrade, humiliate, crush and confound is sin. This sin in question is not anybody else’s sin but rather the believer’s own sin.

It has been noted that the Apostle Paul specifically refers to this action of mortification in Romans 8:11-13. In a cause and effect statement, Paul says that since the Holy Spirit indwells the believer in Christ, and since this is the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and since the same Holy Spirit will resurrect our dead bodies, we are then no longer debtors to live according to the flesh, or sinful desires, but rather to live according to, and by, the Holy Spirit. The way to do this is by putting to death the sinful deeds of the body.

Putting sin to death, from the Greek word θανατοῦτε (thanatoute), means to completely stop or cease. In other words, to execute. This is an action the believer in Christ is called upon to actively, presently and personally pursue daily. In other words, God calls the believer in Christ, because of their position in Christ, to commit pre-meditated murder against their personal sin. To do so gives evidence that the believer in Christ is obediently conducting themselves in a manner prescribed by Scripture (Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:1-11; 2 Timothy 3:12).

This is, respectfully, all well and good. But how does the believer in Christ go about this process of mortification? Remember, the mortification of sin is not about how to become a Christian but rather embracing one of the fundamental disciplines of life and living which defines and evidences that one is indeed a believer in Christ.

Let us go back to our original question from the previous paragraph. How do believers go about the lifelong process of mortifying, or killing, the sin in their lives? Here are some biblical suggestions.

First, see your sin as God sees it. Confess your sin to God and acknowledge it as the cosmic treason against God that it truly is. Do not make excuses for sin and do not try to justify your sin. Obliterate the idea that whatever sin you are committing is to be tolerated, or accepted, by the un-biblical perspective of, “well, that’s just the way I am.”

Secondly, set you heart/soul upon God and His Word. Do it daily! For example, meditate upon the following biblical texts which focus on personal righteousness. It would be good to memorize them.

  • Psalm 1:1-2 – “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
  • Psalm 19:7-11 – “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
  • Psalm 57:7 – “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!”
  • Psalm 119:11 – “I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
  • Haggai 1:5-7 – “Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways.”
  • Colossians 3:1-4 – “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
  • I Peter 2:11 – “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
  • I Peter 4:7 – “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”
  • I John 1:8-10 – “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Third, commune regularly in prayer to God. Pour your heart out to God about the sin you are battling and which seems relentless. Remember, God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).

Fourth, practice obedience to God in every area of your life. No exceptions! No excuses! As one pastor has observed, “Doing God’s will and His will alone in all the small issues of life can be training in habits that will hold up in the severe times of temptation.”

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

The Mortification of Sin: A Definition.

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:11-13)

 Our next study is on the subject entitled The Mortification of Sin. This may seem to be a strange title for a series and it may even appear to be archaic, old-fashioned and outdated. I mean, who talks about sin anymore? Isn’t the Christian life about being relevant to the world, tolerant of other people’s lifestyles and pursuing your best life now of personal peace and affluence? This is certainly the message we hear from many popular so-called Christian authors.

However, the Scriptures not only address God delivering the sinner from the penalty of sin, which is hell, along with the presence of sin, which is heaven, but also the power of sin, which involves our day to day living. The deliverance from the power of sin involves the mortification of sin.

What exactly do we mean by the phrase the mortification of sin? Mortification, or to mortify, means to degrade, humiliate, crush and confound. Within the context of our subject, what the believer in Christ is called by God to degrade, humiliate, crush and confound is sin. This sin in question is not anybody else’s sin but rather the believer’s own sin.

The Apostle Paul refers to this action of mortification in Romans 8:11-13. In a cause and effect statement, Paul says that since the Holy Spirit indwells the believer in Christ, and since this the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, and since the same Holy Spirit will resurrect our dead bodies, we are then no longer debtors to live according to the flesh, or sinful desires, but rather to live according to, and by, the Holy Spirit. The way to do this is by putting to death the sinful deeds of the body.

The Authorized Version Translation (KJV) translates Romans 8:13 as follows: For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

The phrase, put to death, is from the Greek word θανατοῦτε (thanatoute) which means to completely stop or cease. In other words, to execute. This is an action the believer in Christ is called upon to actively, presently and personally pursue daily. In other words, God calls the believer in Christ, because of their positon in Christ, to commit pre-meditated murder against their personal sin. This does not mean the believer is to commit murder against their body, or anyone else’s physical life, but rather against their own sin thoughts, behavior and desires.

The believer in Christ should not misunderstand what Paul is saying. He is not saying that by the behavior and discipline of putting their sin to death that this assures the believer, on the basis of their efforts, that they will inherit eternal. That would result in the sinner pursuing a works based salvation other than trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ and person and atoning work alone.

What Paul means is that by putting sin to death, the believer in Christ truly demonstrates that they are truly a child of God. In other words, they evidence their true conversion of not only possessing eternal life in Christ currently on earth, but also the confident expectation (hope) of eternal life in the future with Christ in heaven.

Dr. R .C. Sproul explains that, “The body is not evil of itself. Sin originates in the heart, the spiritual center of our being including the will (Mark 7:18-23). But since we live in physical bodies, sin finds expression through the body. Therefore, not only at the inner points of origin, but also in its bodily expressions, sin must be put to death, that is, terminated.”

Parallel passages in Paul’s Letter to the Romans includes Romans 6:12-13 which says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”

Another familiar passage regarding this subject is found in Romans 12:1-2 which says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

What are some particular sins we can personally identify as ones we have committed and perhaps continually commit? Also, how do we go about putting these particular sins to death? These are but a couple of questions we will begin to address as we continue to explore the subject of the Mortification of Sin.

Finally, Dr. John MacArthur says, “The world doesn’t judge us (Believer’s in Christ) by our theology; it judges us by our behavior. The vitality of Scripture in the word’s view is determined by how it affects us.”

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Habakkuk: Conclusion!

“You are my refuge in the day of disaster” (Jeremiah 17:17).

In concluding our study in the Book of Habakkuk, I reproduce for you a devotional taken from Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon’s book Morning and Evening. Spurgeon’s thoughts provide a fitting conclusion to the theme of the righteous living by their faith (Habakkuk 2:4) even in the midst of trials.  

“The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. It is true that God’s Word says, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:17) and it is a great truth that faith is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above. But life confirms that if the experience of the righteous is “like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day,” (Proverbs 4:18) sometimes that light is eclipsed. At certain period’s clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light.”

“There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the early stages of their Christian life; they have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters.” But suddenly they find that the glorious sky is clouded; instead of the promised land they have to endure the wilderness; in place of sweet waters, they find troubled streams, bitter to their taste, and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.” Do not say that if you are walking in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the bitter potion; the dearest of His children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his heart in constant tune.”

“Perhaps the Lord gave you in the beginning a smooth and unclouded path because you were weak and timid. He moderated the wind on account of your weakness, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children. We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten branches of self-reliance, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.”

 Have a blessed day in the LORD and may the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Habakkuk: God, the Lord is my Strength.

“GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.” (Habakkuk 3:19)

In the struggle to understand the issues of life, especially the reality of evil and its consequences, the believer in Christ has only one resolve and resource: to trust in the LORD and to daily flee to Him. All other resources may fail, even our closest friends and family, but the LORD is faithful.

Habakkuk comes to this fitting conclusion when he writes, ““GOD, the Lord, is my strength.” It is interesting to note that the noun GOD is the English word for Yahweh. It is normally translated by the noun LORD (6,399 times), but in this instance we find the word GOD (314 times). It still means self-existent One and it remains the most personal name for God.

GOD, the Lord. Here we have the Hebrew word Adonai. Adonai refers to the Lord our master, ruler and sovereign. The name also implies a relationship based upon promise and covenant. I was asked one time where the word “sovereign” or “sovereignty” occurs in the Bible. I would say every time the word Lord appears.

Yahweh, the Adonai is Habakkuk’s strength. The self-sufficient and sovereign God of the universe is the prophet’s power, ability, and even physical strength. It is this sovereign God who gives Habakkuk, and each believer, sure footedness during the most troubling times. Habakkuk refers to the surefootedness of the deer who has no qualms treading on the high places and rocky cliffs.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “The unfailing source of strength and confidence necessary to satisfaction and contentment is the Sovereign (’ădōnāy) Lord (Yahweh) Himself. The strength He gives is like the power found in the feet of a deer, a gazelle, or any active, swift-footed animal. Much as a deer can quickly bound through a dark forest, so the prophet said he could move joyfully through difficult circumstances. Though his legs trembled (v. 16) at the awesome theophany of God, that same Lord was His joy (v. 18), strength (v. 19), and assurance.”

Dr. Walvoord concludes by saying, “God enabled the prophet to walk on the heights. Not only would he bound through trials; he would also climb to the mountaintops of victory and triumph. The poetic language of this verse is common in other passages (e.g., Deut. 32:13; 2 Sam. 22:34; Ps. 18:33). A deer or gazelle pictures strength, surefootedness, beauty, and speed.”

The prophetical book concludes with the statement “To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.” This points the reader back to 3:1 and the use of this prophecy as a song of worship. The dirge of the prophet’s complaint (1:2-2:1) has given way to the joy of praise and thanksgiving.

How often is that the tendency with believers today? The stress and complaint of problems ultimately gives way to the praise and thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness. Our living by sight gives way to living by faith (Habakkuk 2:4).

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

  

 

LORD’S DAY 22, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 22 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. This morning’s devotional addresses the subject of God the Holy Spirit.

Q. How does “the resurrection of the body”
comfort you?

A. Not only will my soul be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head,1 but also my very flesh will be raised by the power of Christ, reunited with my soul,
and made like Christ’s glorious body.2

1 Luke 23:43Phil. 1:21-23.
2 1 Cor. 15:20, 42-46, 54Phil. 3:211 John 3:2.

 

Q. How does the article concerning “life everlasting” comfort you?

A. Even as I already now experience in my heart the beginning of eternal joy,1 so after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God forever.2

1 Rom. 14:17.
2 John 17:31 Cor. 2:9.

My truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

Habakkuk: The Source of the Believer’s Joy!

“I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:16-18)

In Habakkuk 3:2 the prophet said, “O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.”  In Habakkuk 3; 16 the prophet provides a bookend which compliments 3:2. ““I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.”

God’s revelation to the prophet has resulted in Habakkuk experiencing extreme physical exhaustion. He understands what God is going to do in bringing judgment upon Judah through an invasion by the Babylonians. In response, his body trembles with fear, his lips quiver in stunned astonishment and confusion, and his bones feel as if they are going to break into pieces and his legs tremble in anguish. The prophet is overcome by his circumstances. Yet, he resolves to quietly wait for the trouble he knows will come.

Have you ever felt this way a time or two about your circumstances? You are completely and utterly exhausted by what has happened, is happening and what you fear will happen. You are exhausted not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In short, you are overwhelmed.

The question now is what do you do? Where do you turn? Where do you go for help? The obvious answer, and the biblical one, is to the LORD. This involves saturating your mind by reading His Word. The Psalms are a good place to begin because they so often communicate the raw emotions of the psalmists. Psalm 27 comes immediately to mind.

Following the reading and meditation of Scripture, take time for prayer. If necessary, a considerable amount of time. This involves not only your petitions or requests, but also adoration of God, thanksgiving to God and confession of sin before God.

Following this, reaffirm your love trust in the LORD. This is what Habakkuk does. He does not ignore his situation or the problems that will occur as a direct result of the impending invasion by Babylon. Rather, he remains focused on the faithfulness of God and affirms his trust in God who is faithful. Meditate upon Habakkuk’s words.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

Upon closer examination, we see that Habakkuk explores the essence of life and living in Israel. It is a land of fig trees and fig tree farmers. It is a land of grapes and olives. It is a country filled with fertile land and crops. It is also a land dominated by grazing sheep.

Yet what will happen if and when all these natural resources are destroyed or stolen. What will the prophet do? What will we do when all we have known and depended upon is taken away from us? The prophet provides the answer: “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

My joy and security is not to be found in the things or circumstances of life but rather in LORD, my God. The God of my salvation. In Him I will trust.

It is not easy sometimes to focus upon the Lord rather than our situations. Sometimes, it may even be a battle but it is a battle worth waging.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!