This morning Pat is sick with some kind of bug, and I am just not quite with it, so we have opted to stay home from church. She does not want to share the bug, and I just am struggling today, so I listened to a sermon by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones where he contrasts the Holy Spirit vs. the Flesh.
I must say I have come to enjoy his sermons almost as much as my preacher Terry Cooper’s sermons. This morning impacted me because it kind of dovetailed with the thoughts Pat and I discussed while watching a program the other night.
The program had the church as the evil force, rigid and devoid of compassion. The humanist approach was compassionate and loving. The same story told a thousand times. I could not help but think of the closing verse of Judges.
Judges 21:25 (ESV) 25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
As I thought of the show last night, I thought of how easy it is to be deceived if I let my guard down. How selfish my human nature can be. But this morning I was reminded of the gift I have received in the new covenant through Jesus.
Dr. Lloyd-Jones began his sermon discussing the gift of the Spirit in us. He began with Romans 7:6, but I looked a bit earlier to get some context and started with verse 4.
Romans 7:4-6 (ESV) 4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
I mulled over this passage as I listened to the sermon in the background. I kind of lost track of his preaching as I considered his opening remarks and considered the Spirit in me. The wonder of that gift. Then I heard Dr. Lloyd-Jones mention a new heart, and that got me digging in the Word.
A New Covenant/ A New Heart
He spoke of the new covenant and how the Word would be written on our hearts, and I looked at Isaiah 59:21, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:10, Hebrews 10:15-18, Ezekiel 11:19-20, and I stopped at Ezekiel 36:25-27 where I saw Jesus.
Ezekiel 36:25-27 (ESV) 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
This promise that God spoke through Ezekiel, He repeated through His Son to Nicodemus in John 3
John 3:5-6 (ESV) “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
As I pondered these passages and the gift I have received through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ my attention returned to the sermon as Dr. Lloyd-Jones mentioned 2 Corinthians.
The Guidance of the Holy Spirit
I listened as he quoted 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (ESV) 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Now I muddled over that passage for a long time and read it over and over. The more I read it, the more joy I experienced. The world thinks Christians are mindless robots following a charismatic preacher crazed with selfish desires led by a god that wants to control us, but it is so far from the truth in these two verses. “For the love of Christ controls us,” WHY? “because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
Jones then referenced 2 Corinthians 3:18. I read it.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
I look at this passage and think of the work that the Lord is doing in me: changing me from the inside out. Giving me strength that I do not have alone.
Then he quoted 2 Timothy 1:7
2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV) 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Just think about that for a moment. First the words of 2 Corinthians than the emphasis of 2Timothy. Just think of the power of God who is in me against the challenges of this world. I am never alone. The Holy Spirit is with me always.
As I think about the passage in Timothy, Jones quotes the book of Philippians.
Jones quotes chapter 2 verses 12-13, and I heard something I had overlooked before, and it was so powerful to me.
Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV) 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
I had come to understand the part about working out my own salvation and knew no one could do it for me nor could I do it for anyone else, but I had not tied the obedience to that process. I read the fear and trembling part and the need to grow closer to God through prayer and the Word, but I had not grasped that He was doing the work in me for His good pleasure and my part of that was obedience to Him as my Lord.
I am so thankful for God’s patience and understanding. Father, I praise you for your everything. Lord, I am saddened by the constant lies of this world when they try to depict God and all Christians as oppressors.
As I considered these things, I thought about how easy it is to slip into selfish efforts to be relevant. It is my nature to want to be liked. But Jesus said the world would hate those who love Him. Just like they hated Him, and I do love Him.
Now I cannot change people, but God’s Word Never comes back empty. So, I will keep on sharing the beauty of God’s creation in my photos and the Love and Beauty of God’s Word sharing what I learn each day.
Father, help me always remember the power of You in me. Lord thank you for the words and thoughts you give me to share, and Father thank you for helping me step out and share them.
Lord, I pray that I might always place you first in my heart. When I fall, short I thank you for the gifts of grace and repentance. Thank you for all things in Jesus name, Amen.