The next time you think sin is getting the best of you and you want to turn back, remember you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Through the Holy Spirit, never forget the saints gone by, and remember Jesus himself, who went willingly to the cross and shed his blood for your salvation.
Some aspects of biblical truth run so contrary to culture that even many in the church find them extreme. Take, for example, the author of Hebrews’ admonition to his readers about resisting sin. He had already told them that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. In saying this, he was talking about justification, but in chapter 12, he uses a similar phrase concerning sanctification. He says, “In your struggle against sin, you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb. 12:4).
We know that standing for Christ can sometimes be difficult, and the temptation to back away presents itself when opposition and adversity come at us. The problem is that we are rarely as strong as we think, and we tend to want to shrink back under the lightest of difficulties. This tendency to timidity is why, after listing many great Saints in the Old Testament in Chapter 11, some who even gave their lives, the author tells us not to turn back even if it means our own flesh is torn apart.
The author of Hebrews says this concerning our struggle with sin. What does this mean? How do we struggle with sin?
You Might also like
By Reuben M. Bredenhof — 10 months ago
Written by Reuben M. Bredenhof |
Thursday, November 17, 2022
It’s crucial for our spiritual vitality to keep encountering the true glory of the Lord. This happens whenever we read Scripture with open eyes and see God as our Creator, our Saviour, and our Renewer. Have high thoughts of God, knowing that this holy God is behind you, above you, beside you, and within you.
There’s a great quotation I’ve come across a few times recently.
It goes like this:
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
Maybe you recognize this as being from A.W. Tozer’s timeless book on the attributes of God, The Knowledge of the Holy.
I love this thought because it orients us in the right direction. Our whole life is about being in relationship with God. That is the most important thing: knowing God, loving God, and serving him.
And what we think about the Lord—how we regard him—really shapes everything we do. For instance, if you are able to see God as your loving Father, you will strive to trust him. If you see God as the perfectly wise Lord, you will humbly submit to him.
But if God is a vague and distant being to you, or if you think of the Lord mainly as a stern judge, this will surely change how you relate to him.
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” The following line from Tozer’s work explores the implications a little:
Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.
Do you have high thoughts of God? Big thoughts? Thankful and holy thoughts? Then you can expect that this will begin to transform your prayers to him, your worship, and your loyalty.
This is without question a Biblical idea. Whenever God shows himself to his people by his mighty deeds, or when God gives his promises, He expects a response.
By Larry Ball — 2 years ago
There is a position that when a man makes it public that he has homosexual desires to have sexual relations with other men, and he practices celibacy because he believes that change is possible (although unlikely), and because he mortifies this sin every day, and because he is of good character in every other way, then he is qualified to hold office in the PCA.
I recently contributed an article about the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) decision on the complaint against Missouri Presbytery (The Recent SJC Decision and Side B2 Homosexuality). I believe I muddied the waters somewhat by stating the positions of others when some readers thought that those were actually my views. I apologize for that.
It’s time to be perfectly clear. There are three positions on the status of those men who have made it public that are same-sex attracted (SSA), that is, have homosexual desires to have sex with other men, but practice celibacy. Should they be allowed to hold an office in the PCA?
First, there is the position that when a man makes it public that he has homosexual desires to have sexual relations with other men, this automatically disqualifies him from holding office in the PCA. Even though he practices celibacy, he is not qualified for the office of either elder or deacon. This sin is both an abomination to God and contrary to nature; therefore, he is not above reproach either with those inside the church or those outside the church. Many of those who take this position regarding the ineligibility of such men to hold office in the PCA have already left the PCA, except for me and maybe a few other people.
Secondly, there is a position that when a man makes it public that he has homosexual desires to have sexual relations with other men, and yet he practices celibacy, this may disqualify him from holding office in the PCA. If he remains celibate, but he believes that he was born this way and that there is no hope of change, then he is not qualified to hold office in the PCA. These men most often believe their sin is no different than any other sin; for example, that of the lust that men have for women not their wives, a dry alcoholic, or the temptation to gamble. They may even believe that their condition is just like a person with a genetic disease. A person with Down’s Syndrome cannot change his genetic inheritance, and neither can he.
Thirdly, there is a position that when a man makes it public that he has homosexual desires to have sexual relations with other men, and he practices celibacy because he believes that change is possible (although unlikely), and because he mortifies this sin every day, and because he is of good character in every other way, then he is qualified to hold office in the PCA (this is contrary to my view, but it is the position of most PCA elders). Some of these men already hold office in the PCA, and they will continue to do so. They are in good standing with either their own session or their own presbytery. Others like them will soon find a home in the PCA. I call this man the third man.
The proposed changes to the BCO would allow for the third man to hold office in the PCA, after careful examination by his session or presbytery. The PCA Study Committee on Human Sexuality states that there is nothing to prevent the third man from being eligible to hold office in the PCA. The recent Standing Judicial Commission decision made it legal for the third man to hold office in Missouri Presbytery.
There you have it. Pretty straight, I hope. I would add one more thought. The PCA is a little like the South during the Civil War which believed in states’ rights. All local presbyteries and sessions have the right to determine their own membership. Regardless of the result of the proposed changes to the BCO, the conclusion of the PCA Study Committee, and the SJC decision, individual sessions and presbyteries will continue to apply the teaching of the Word of God and Westminster Standards to these issues, as they see fit!
Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tenn.
By Chrys Jones — 2 years ago
I have an affection for coffee that stems back to childhood. One of my grandmothers used to sip sweet, creamy coffee from a faded red plastic coffee mug. Even just a few drops of lukewarm coffee from the top of her mug were a welcome treat when I was a little guy. That began my love for a rich, creamy cup of steaming java.
Most days, I go through my coffee-making routine without much consciousness of what I’m doing, but one day I noticed something that probably drives my wife insane. I find it nearly impossible to make coffee without leaving a trail of brown drops behind me. No matter the brewing method, I can’t seem to keep from dripping coffee on the counter, the kitchen table, or wherever I land with my next cup of Joe.
What if I simply decided to leave them? For better and worse and sickness and health, and all that, right? A few drops of coffee aren’t such a big deal after all. Most people would never notice them unless they were looking. A spilled cup of coffee would get your attention, but a few drops are harmless. It seems that way, at least.
Demas and the Slow Drip of Sin
Demas looked the part of a true servant of Christ. After something of a conversion experience, he decided to lay his life down for the cause of Christ and give himself to the work of a missionary. Heeding the call to make disciples of all nations, he somehow got linked up with a daring, well-known persecutor turned missionary—Saul of Tarsus. Demas didn’t just seek sound doctrine, he sought to serve in partnership with Mark, Luke, and others to spread the name and fame of Christ throughout the world.
Over time, however, Demas began wondering about an easier, more comfortable life. Perhaps he dreamed of having more money. Maybe he longed to settle down and live a normal life. Another life appealed to Demas so much that his thoughts sometimes drifted toward the possibilities of jumping ship and trying something else. He didn’t notice, but sinful thoughts were dripping from his cup more and more as the days progressed.