I recently travelled from Louisville, Kentucky back home to Calgary, Alberta. The trip required a stop over in Chicago, which ended up being an overnight. Having your travel plans ruined is a frustrating experience, especially when you have family and ministry commitments to get back to. I finally got back, a day late and a hundred dollars short! But the adventure gave me a thought about the spiritual journey all believers are on. Continue reading
The idea of Gospel driven sanctification (basically, sanctification means overcoming sin by growing in faith) is becoming more and more popular — and rightly so. Without the Gospel that so transforms the affections, change is impossible. Through responding in faith to the good news that Jesus both died for your transgressions and rose for your transgressions, we are saved, transformed and ultimately resurrected in a body that resembles the Lord Jesus Christ. So Paul can say, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). But I do worry about how we understand Gospel driven sanctification.
A problem that I see with this movement towards Gospel driven sanctification is not the idea itself but a common misconception about it. What I mean is that we often try to change by simply focusing on the Gospel as an abstract thing. In other words, you find yourself lying, being lazy, or having lustful thoughts so you decide to remember the fact of the Gospel. “Remember, Wyatt, Jesus died for you so be better,” is something I could be tempted to think. But this thought would be dire to my spiritual life, since the Gospel is not only propositions but a rich and comprehensive story about what God has done though sending Jesus into the world. Continue reading
The sticky truth is that we all sin, and we all fail to stop it. Another sticky truth is that no one has to sin, and we have the power to prevail over it. As cords twine together to make rope, so also these two realities sew together the soul. It for this reason that we all want to the answer the question, How do I rout sin?
As if to torture our already brittle conscious, Paul boldly writes that we have died to sin (Rom 6:2) and that the body of sin has been brought to nothing (Rom 6:6). He argues further that we are free from sin (Rom 6:7) and that sin will have no dominion over our bodies (Rom 6:14). This happened, says Paul, when we believed in Christ, so dying with him in a death like his and raising in a resurrection like his (Rom 6:3–5). In short, sin died when you died.
Still, nobody is sinless (1 John 1:10). Remarkably, we both live with the power to overcome sin and yet daily battle sin. The tension between these two opposing principles will not disappear this side of eternity. Sin and the power to overcome it through the Spirit (Rom 8:4) makes up the our life’s duel. This rough fabric of sin rubs against our flesh, causing all sorts discomfort and pain, while at the same time smooth silk of holiness is a balm and refreshment to us. We wear a garment sewn with both cloths, though we never want this. Continue reading
A dark room that reeks of the musty smell that accompanies rot. Alone here, your mind wanders nowhere yet everywhere at the same time. A feeling of dread, loneliness or something wriggles through your bones. A sucking feeling in your gut tips you off that you are hungry but you are not sure. It might just be anxiety. All of this happened because of a keen experience of separation from God. A sort of spiritual anxiety. The Puritans described this feeling with the phrase, “the dark night of the soul.” They knew well about the malady of spiritual depression.
Spiritual stagnation is a problem that will bombard everyone at one point or another. Depression, fears and anxiety gush out, because we feel “separated” from God, from grace. We feel alone, sinful, dirty and unloved—or perhaps unloving.