Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Review: Redeemed From the Pit

Redeemed From the Pit: Biblical Repentance and Restoration From the Bondage of Eating Disorders by Marie Notcheva
Interior Publications, imprint of Calvary Press, 2011
Forward is written by Martha Peace

Marie is a certified Biblical Counselor under Jay Adams’ Biblical counseling program and is currently working on her NANC certification.

Summary Review:
“Disordered eating” is something that many woman today struggle with. Insecurity in appearance, food addiction, obsession with being thin, the tendency to overeat, struggles with maintaining weight; even as far as abusing your body to stay thin… these things and more are very often symptoms of a deeper issue; a deeper issue that begins in the mind, more specifically, in one’s thoughts and worship (or lack thereof) of God.

In her book, Redeemed From the Pit, Marie gives her personal testimony of her obsession with being thin and struggle with bulimia and then how she found victory and freedom in Christ. She counsels her readers of what the real issue is: sin; and what the only real solution is: realizing what Christ has done for you, repenting of your sin, and trusting and believing that you are in Christ and that He has given us what we need to have freedom and victory over the desires of the flesh!

While this book is written most specifically for women dealing with bulimia, Marie gives some great insight and counsel for women struggling with disordered eating of any kind (anorexia, overeating, struggles with weight, etc.). It is a strong Biblical guide to what our attitude should be towards our body, towards food, and points the reader towards the only One who can satisfy, comfort and perfect us: Jesus Christ. While she recognizes that outside causes can sometimes lead to eating disorders she clearly teaches that that is no excuse. We make our own choices and we’re responsible for them. She discusses root sins (like vanity, anger, bitterness or unforgiveness, jealousy, fear of man, pride, selfishness) that can lead to one’s disordered eating and that they need to be dealt with and repented of. She also discusses how this sin (like all sins) is rooted in idolatry – the worship of something besides God and teaches what true repentance is and how we should walk in repentance on a daily basis. There’s a chapter dedicated to seeking godly counsel (how to know who to go to, who to seek counsel from), and she discusses the role of the church in counseling and the sufficiency of Scripture to give us the answers. She talks about what the Gospel is and what it means practically for the Christian that we are “in Christ”. There’s a chapter on the importance of our thinking and what it means to put off sin (or wrong thinking), and put on righteousness (or right, Christ-centered thinking). There are two chapters on the importance of forgiveness (not holding on to bitterness), a chapter on the practical side of things (like health problems that can be the result of eating disorders), and another chapter on why it’s important to tell someone about the struggle you have.

To share a few quotes:

“I had to deliberately choose, over and over to lay my wrong thinking (preoccupation with food and weight) down on the altar and reprogram my mind with the truth of God’s Word.” (p. 52)
“ ’In Christ’ clearly refers to our justified position, and carries with it the implication of obedience and being conformed to the character of Christ – not seeking to find ‘meaning’ or personal fulfillment.” (p. 99)
“Take comfort in the fact that the same Lord Who was willing to heal the lepers of Judea is also ready, willing and more than able to cleanse you. In fact, as He works in your heart, you will conquer this sin because He has already conquered it.” (p. 153)
 “Throughout His Word, God assures His Children that if they will change their thinking and attitudes toward sin, He will enable them to turn around and change their ways.” (p. 175)
“God wants us to change and to bear fruit for His glory (John 15:8). The Gospel, not ‘self-help’, is the key to change (Rom 6:11, Isa 55:1-2), and we, His redeemed children, are responsible to exert effort in our sanctification (Phil 2:12).” (p. 193)
“Effective counseling grows out of discipleship, the mentoring necessary for a new Christian to grow to maturity.” (p. 199-200)
 “…the best-equipped, most doctrinally sound facility in the world will not be able to help someone who does not truly desire to forsake her sin.” (p. 204)
“Just as one sin very often leads to another, disciplined training in righteousness (learning to forgive, even though it goes against our wills) can likewise lead to changed behavior and ‘putting on’ of self-control in another (overcoming food addiction).” (p. 249-250)

Monday, October 8, 2012

What Is the Gospel?

What Is the Gospel?

Truth #1: Left to myself, I am a sinner against the holy, righteous God; I am dead in my transgressions and sin and a hater of God, deserving of His righteous judgment and eternal condemnation. (Rom. 3:10-23, Eph. 2:1-3, Isa. 64:5-6, Titus 3:3)

Trust #2: God became flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived the perfect life I cannot. He died, though undeservingly, and bore all the punishment that I deserved in His body on the tree. He rose again gaining victory over sin and death and obtaining salvation for all those who will believe. (John 1:14, 2 Cor. 5:21, Rom. 5:8-10)

Truth #3: While entirely undeserving of God’s grace and mercy, He loved me and chose to demonstrate that love by sending Jesus Christ to die for my sin taking the wrath of God that I deserved. God not only washed my sin away in the death of Christ but also made me righteous through His perfect life, and saved me by sending the Holy Spirit to do the work of salvation in my heart and life. (Titus 3:4-7, Rom. 5:6-8, Gal 4:4-5, 2 Tim. 1:9)

Trust #4: The Holy Spirit awakened me to these truths and opened my eyes to see the beauty and preciousness of Christ. He washed and cleansed me with the blood of Christ and transferred to me the perfect righteousness of Christ. This saving faith then led me to repent of my sin and birthed in me the desire to walk in obedience and holiness. It is through faith alone that I obtained salvation and this also was a gift of grace from God. (Titus 3:5, Acts 16:14, 1 Thes. 1:9-10, Eph. 2:8-9)

Truth #5: The Holy Spirit also baptized me into the death of Christ usurping the rule and reign of sin in my life. As a result sin no longer has the right to reign in my life and I am free from its power. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit raised me up with Christ to newness of life in Him so that I am alive in Him and free to serve, love and obey Him. (Eph. 2:4-6, Rom 6:3-6, Col 2:11-15, Gal 5:1)

Trust #6: While complete sanctification has been credited to our account positionally in Christ, the practicality of this truth is not yet realized in the physical realm. It is to be remembered that though Satan and our “old man” have been defeated, they have not stopped fighting and opposing God and all those who belong to Him. The Devil is a master-deceiver and our flesh is what we were naturally born into and we are still prone to sinful habits and to listen to the lies of them both. The flesh and the Devil must be resisted and greater practical sanctification in Christ must be pursued. The truth that I am in Christ, while a reality, is not to be taken for granted. Christ demands obedience from His followers, and we are called to walk in Him and in good works. It is the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives to conform us more and more into the image of Christ and He is faithful to do this. (Col. 2:6, James 1:12-18, Jam 4:7-10, 1 Pet 5:8, John 8:31, Phil 2:12-13, Eph. 2:10, Rom. 8, 1 Thes. 5:23-24)

Truth #7: The truth that I am in Christ is a reality in the spiritual and physical realm. Although the physical has not yet been fully realized (as the world is still under the “sway’ of the Evil One) it is none the less true that in Christ I am physically sustained, kept and protected against all the attacks of the Devil and the effects of sin and death as far as the Lord sees fit. Nothing is beyond His control and I am secure in Him. I am seated in Christ, and all things are under His feet. (1 John 5:18-19, 2 Tim 1:8-10, 2 Tim 4:17-18, Eph. 1:20-22&2:6)

Truth #8: While Christ’s work and victory is completed in the heavenly realm and all things are under His feet, He waits to fulfill this in the physical realm until the day of His choosing. On that day, this mortal body will be clothed with immortality and what is positionally true will also be fully realized in the physical realm. The victory will be complete and all that God has purposed will be fulfilled. In that day, while justified by Christ, we will be called to give an account for how we lived our life on earth. (1 Cor. 15:42-44, 52-55, Rev. 22:20)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

A New and Living Way - Step #2

  (Continued from Step #1)

2. The Law of God: The Command to Holiness.

"Lower the Law and you dim the light by which man perceives his guilt; this is a very serious loss to the sinner rather than a gain; for it lessens the likelihood of his conviction and conversion. I say you have deprived the gospel of its ablest auxiliary [its most powerful weapon] when you have set aside the Law. You have taken away from it the schoolmaster that is to bring men to Christ . . . They will never accept grace till they tremble before a just and holy Law. Therefore the Law serves a most necessary purpose, and it must not be removed from its place."
– C.H. Spurgeon

Key Scriptural Support:

 "Therefore you shall keep My commandments, and perform them: I am the Lord. 32 You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, - Lev 22:31-32 (NKJV)

You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you.  - Deut 6:17 (NKJV)

"See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. - Deut 30:15-16 (NKJV)

Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." - Matt 22:35-40 (NKJV)

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” - Matt 5:17-20 (NKJV)

Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"  So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." - Matt 19:16-17 (NKJV)

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  - Romans 3:19-20 (NKJV)

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." - Gal 3:10 (NKJV)

 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.  Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.  Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.  But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.  But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.  Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  - Gal 3:19-25 (NKJV)

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. - Psalms 24:3-4 (NKJV)

Blog Post:

In Galatians 3:19 Paul asks a common question that people still ask today: What is the purpose of the law? As he continues to write Paul explains that basically, the purpose of the law was to make sin clearly known until the Messiah came. But it’s not that the law is comparable to the promises of God, rather it shows us that we are confined under sin and can’t measure up to God’s righteous standards. The promise of God (salvation) is given by faith to those who believe in Christ. Before we were in Christ we were under the law, and we were all under the law whether we liked it or not. Since we cannot keep it, we are under its condemnation and curse. Also, it’s not that the law didn’t exist or was invalid prior to it’s writing, but it just wasn’t written down clearly. Romans 2:14-15 says that mankind has the law of God written on their hearts, so even if they never hear or read the written law, they are without excuse. Romans 3 says, that “by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). This is why Paul can say that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12). It shows us our need of Christ!

Paul writes in Galatians that “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Gal 5:18). Some people have quoted this verse to show how they have complete liberty to do what they want, but that is not what the verse is saying. Yes, it says you are not under the law, but first it has a conditional statement. It says “if you are led by the Spirit”. This means you must first be under the Spirit, led by His authority, not by your own free will. And if you are under/led by the Spirit, then you are not under the bondage and condemnation of the law. We have been set free, but not to go our own way, for that would bring us back into bondage to sin. We’ve been set free to serve a new Master. We are free to love Him, to love others and find therein our joy.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Promises, Performance and Perseverance

 In Romans 4 Paul uses Abraham as an example of faith and how in Genesis 15 God promised him a son and from that son descendants as many as the stars. It says that “Abraham believed God and it was accounted unto him for righteousness”. But Romans 4:20-21 goes further and says, “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”
“He did not waver” – his faith did not fail, he was not unbelieving in God’s promise. The result was that his faith was strengthened and he glorified God.
“He was fully convinced” – this is not just assent; it’s not a mere believing, he was “fully convinced”. He was certain and sure without any doubt. One synonym is “converted”. His mind was changed, he was won over and convinced. He was completely confident that what God promised He was also capable to perform and would perform it – no matter the obstacles. This, according to Romans 4, is saving faith.

In Gen 21 it says, “And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.” (Vs. 1-2) The promised son had come, God had been faithful. But that’s not the end of the story. It was a number of years later when God spoke to Abraham again. In Gen. 22:1 we read, “Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’  Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you’. So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.” (Gen 22:2-3)
Abraham, no doubt, did not understand this command given by God, but he obeyed nonetheless. “And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.’” (Gen 22:5) Abraham said “we will come back to you”. Abraham believed that God would keep His promise that Isaac was the promised heir and seed. Isaac would not be lost. He went on in faith.
“So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Then he said, ‘Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering’.” (Gen 22:6-8)
Abraham was obedient to the fullest and as he was about to slay his son the Angel of the Lord spoke to him, "’Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’ Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.” (Gen 22:12-13)

This is one of the most beautiful shadows of the substitutionary death of Christ in the Old Testament. Hebrews 11:17-19 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”

Abraham believed God. He did not waver. He was completely confident in God’s ability to not only fulfill His promise but to keep it to the end. He reasoned that God would even raise Isaac up from the dead if needed and he obeyed God’s command in faith all the way to the end.

There is a saying that says “Faith is not believing that God can, but knowing that He will.” There is truth in that statement. Anyone can assent to God’s power and ability to do things, but to know that He actually will do it is another matter. How deep is our faith? Do we really believe that God will do what He has promised? That He will answer our prayers (provided of course they are according to His will)?

Shortly before his death Paul wrote, “for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12) Like Paul and Abraham we can completely trust our God. He keeps His promises even when it looks impossible and is ever faithful to fulfill His Word. Let us trust Him fully.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Resist the Devil

The other night I was randomly reading my Bible and came to 1 Peter 5:8-9: “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith…”

The Devil indeed is our enemy and he is on the prowl against our soul. He is seeking to overcome us, to cause us to fall into sin. In this Scripture we are warned and commanded to resist him, but how? I realized that it’s not by striving and fighting, but simply by doing what the text says… by being steadfast in the faith. But not just any faith, THE faith. This is talking about the Gospel – what Christ has done for us. Not only did Christ take the penalty we deserved on the cross, but he took away the power of sin over our lives. Romans 6:6 says, “…knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”

James 4:7 says, “Therefore, submit to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” The Devil flees not from man, for he is much more powerful that we are; he flees only from God, and it is by submitting ourselves under the authority and power of God that the Devil flees from us, because we are in Him! There is only ONE way to resist the Devil and that is by remaining steadfast in the faith of Jesus Christ by submitting and depending on Him. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” It also says in Galatians, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). That is a promise! As we look to Christ (which is to depend on Him) and walk in the Spirit we will experience deliverance from the wiles of Satan. There is another promise for this found in 1 Corinthians. Paul writes, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor 10:31) The way of escape is not this verse, and it is not our willpower; the way of escape is Christ. He is the only one who was tempted and yet did not sin (Heb 4:15) and He is the only One who is able to keep us from falling (Jude 1:24). 
Praise the Lord for so great a salvation not just in the life to come, but in this life right now!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A New and Living Way - Step # 1

When I was a student at Ellerslie I had a class called "The Gospelteer" where we studied the 'steps' of the Gospel in the way that it would need to be presented to an unbeliever and then how we build on the Gospel doing basic discipleship teaching with a new convert. We called this entire process "A New and Living Way" from Hebrews 10:19-23: "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."

This blog post will have the first key point in this study.... with more to follow. This is not the complete assignment, just the Scriptural support and blog post. I don't want to give the whole thing away to any possible future students. :-)

1.     The Holiness of God: See the Need of the Soul in Light of the Holiness of God.

“Men will never come to Jesus, and stay with Jesus, and live for Jesus, unless they really know why they are to come, and what is their need.” – J.C. Ryle

Key Scriptural Support:
Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is Judge.  -- Psalms 50:6 (NKJV)

But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God who is holy shall be hallowed in righteousness.  -- Isaiah 5:16 (NKJV)

*Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.  -- Romans 3:19-26 (NKJV)

*God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day. -- Psalms 7:11 (NKJV)

*You are indeed angry, for we have sinned-- in these ways we continue; and we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags… -- Isaiah 64:5-6 (NKJV)

Blog Post:

Have you ever thought about what God is like? In our finite minds there’s a limit to how we can describe Him and often it is characteristics that we have seen within the finite world. But the Bible describes God as being other-worldly and while it sometimes uses finite terms to describe God He is not like these things at all, and He is not like us. The primary characteristic revealed to us in Scripture, I believe, is God’s holiness. Literally it means “other”. God is separate from His creation. He is distinct, unique and different.  Holiness is synonymous with righteousness. It implies being right, good and perfect. In being perfectly holy and righteous, anything that is imperfect cannot abide in His presence. The existence of sin, that is, anything that is contrary to God’s nature in mankind presents a problem that cannot be easily resolved. In being perfectly holy it requires that God also be a perfect judge against all that is unholy and contrary to His righteousness. Psalm 7:11 says, “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.” (NKJV) These words sound harsh and unloving to our ears, but it is not that God is unloving in His anger and justice towards wickedness, but it is His holiness that compels Him to be so. Isaiah says, “But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God who is holy shall be hallowed in righteousness.” (Isaiah 5:16, NKJV) If God were not to execute judgment on wickedness then He would not be just and He would not be holy. Thus God justly gives man what he deserves and condemns him in his sin. What we need to recognize is our need to be saved from the sin that arouses God’s justice. Isaiah also says, “You are indeed angry, for we have sinned-- in these ways we continue; and we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:5-6, NKJV) Man in his sin cannot save Himself… he needs a Savior.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Of His Fullness

"And of His fulness have all we received."
-- John 1:16

These words tell us that there is a fulness in Christ. There is a fulness of essential Deity, for "in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead." There is a fulness of perfect manhood, for in Him, bodily, that Godhead was revealed. There is a fulness of atoning efficacy in His blood, for "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin." There is a fulness of justifying righteousness in His life, for "there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." There is a fulness of divine prevalence in His plea, for "He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him; seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." There is a fulness of victory in His death, for through death He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is the devil. There is a fulness of efficacy in His resurrection from the dead, for by it "we are begotten again unto a lively hope." There is a fulness of triumph in His ascension, for "when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and received gifts for men." There is a fulness of blessings of every sort and shape; a fulness of grace to pardon, of grace to regenerate, of grace to sanctify, of grace to preserve, and of grace to perfect. There is a fulness at all times; a fulness of comfort in affliction; a fulness of guidance in prosperity. A fulness of every divine attribute, of wisdom, of power, of love; a fulness which it were impossible to survey, much less to explore. "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell." Oh, what a fulness must this be of which all receive! Fulness, indeed, must there be when the stream is always flowing, and yet the well springs up as free, as rich, as full as ever. Come, believer, and get all thy need supplied; ask largely, and thou shalt receive largely, for this "fulness" is inexhaustible, and is treasured up where all the needy may reach it, even in Jesus, Immanuel-God with us.

- Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I Will Give You A New Heart

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” The heart is the seat of the affections. It is the mind, the understanding. Man, in his sinful state has a heart, that is, a mind and understanding that is deceitful (or crooked, polluted) and is desperately wicked (or incurably sick). The problem is that in this state man cannot appear before God for it says in the Psalms, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol…” (Psalms 24:3-4). Also Jesus said in Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” But apart from this pure heart we cannot. Thus with a wicked and depraved heart we cannot have fellowship with God.

But God promised to give His people a new heart. He says through Ezekiel, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezek 36:26-27) God gives us a new heart through the atoning work of Christ and concerning our salvation Paul wrote, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart…” (Romans 2:28-29) Our hearts have been cleansed, purified and made pure. “Therefore,” Paul writes, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor 5:17) In Christ we have been made new. The depraved, incurable heart that we had was crucified with Christ and it no longer lives, but Christ lives within us (Gal. 2:20).

However, lest we become confident in ourselves we must remember that although we are pure before God the old man is still lurking and still trying to influence us. Proverbs warns us that “He who trusts in his own heart (mind or understanding) is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.” (Prov. 28:26) We are to trust the Word of God above all and test everything against it, including our own reasoning and thoughts. But praise the Lord for the new heart He has given us, a heart that is soft towards Him, a heart of faith and love. It is not our heart, not our mind; "...we have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16).