Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Holiness

Practicing Righteousness

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
– 1 John 2:29 (NASB)

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.
– 1 John 3:7 (NASB)

By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
– 1 John 3:10 (NASB)

I do believe in the doctrine of imputation.  I have read the works of some who disagree.  They hold that the Bible never says anywhere that we are “imputed with Christ’s righteousness.”  They hold that the Bible declares us to be righteous by virtue of being in Christ by faith but they hold that the Bible never says that the righteousness of Christ is ever imputed to us.  Even the passages that are appealed to for the doctrine of imputation such as 2 Corinthians 5:21 or Philippians 3:9 do not say that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us.

However, to me this is simply semantics.  While the Bible never uses the phrase “imputed with Christ’s righteousness,” the doctrine is based on not just the New Testament but the Old Testament as well.  For example, in the famous story of the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt in Exodus 12, the blood of the Passover lamb would serve as a substitute for God’s judgment against the Egyptians.  The Israelites were protected by the blood.  The blood served as a sin offering substitute by which the Israelites’ sins were imputed to the lamb and the lamb bore them on their behalf.  This looked forward to God’s perfect sacrifice of His own Lamb (John 1:29).  The Lamb of God would take away the sins of the world and would bear the sins of the people of God.  God’s Lamb would be our perfect sacrifice to take away our sins (1 Peter 1:18-19; 2:22-24).  Jesus’ blood now cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7) and His blood is our defense before a holy God.

Hebrews 9:11-22 reads:

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Jesus then is our substitute before God.  He bore our sins on the cross.  His blood alone is able to cleanse us from sin (Romans 5:9).  Jesus’ blood not only cleanses us from all sin but He is our mediator before God (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Jesus Christ is our salvation.  He is our everything before God.  We have nothing apart from Him (John 15:5).  He is our salvation, our redemption, our sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30).  Our boasting must be in Him alone (1 Corinthians 1:31)!  In Jesus we have “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:22).

Just as the Old Testament sacrifices were imputed with the sins of the Israelites, so the New Testament saint had their sins imputed upon Christ our Lord and He bore our sins.  Thus all He accomplished for our forgiveness is now imputed toward us.

This, however, should not ignore the passages that speak of practicing righteousness.  To merely claim Christ’s righteousness apart from pursuing holiness is not biblical.  Full salvation looks to Christ alone for salvation but we also look to Christ alone to sanctify us.  We are holy in Christ but are also being made holy.  Hebrews 10:14 reads:

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

We look to Christ Jesus to help us not just to be forgiven of our sins but to be made holy before Him.  Jesus came to bear our sins and to give us complete victory over our sins (Matthew 1:21).  We don’t have to be slaves to sin (John 8:34-36).  Those who are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:1-4) are no longer slaves to sin but are now slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:5-23).  Through the Lord Jesus we are able to live a holy life (1 John 2:1-2).  We don’t have to live a life of defeat in sin.  We can be set free by His grace from sin and its domain (Titus 2:12-14).  Our hearts are cleansed by faith (Acts 15:9) and the Lord wants to continue that deep work of cleansing in us (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

My earnest prayer has been for the Lord to give disciples full victory that we have in Christ.  We don’t have to be slaves to sin.  We can be slaves of righteousness.  If we are not slaves of righteousness, John the Apostle says that we are not righteous at all.  The doctrine of Christ’s imputation should never be used as a basis for sinning.  If that is the heart of the person living in sin, they know nothing of the grace of God.  While I acknowledge that true saints of God can (and will) sin, this is not the will of God (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 John 2:1).  May our hearts be to live a life of holiness, pleasing to the Lord (Colossians 1:9-10).

How Much Sin Can I Get Away With?

We have such a low view of God’s holiness and His glory that we have given in to the spirit of this world and this age and have adopted a view that teaches us that we want to get away with as much sin as we can get away with and still claim to be disciples of Christ.  We claim we want the world to like us and we want to be “relevant” to them so we seek to be like them, to love what the world loves, to desire what the world desires, to watch and do what the world does.  We want our motto to be, “Hey, I may be a Christian but I am still just like you!”

Even a cursory reading of the New Testament gives us a different picture.  We are to be a holy people (1 Peter 2:9-11).  We are to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  We are to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).  We are to blameless in this world (Philippians 2:14-15; 3:14-16).  We are to not love this world not the things in the world (1 John 2:15-17).  We are to rather set our affections on things above and not the things here on the earth (Colossians 3:1-4).  Jesus didn’t promise that the world would love us if we are His disciples but He promised that the world would hate us (John 15:18-25).  The promise Jesus did give us is that in the world we would have trouble but He has overcome the world (John 16:33).

I have been praying that God would help me to be “that Christian” that others see and mock.  I want to be that Christian that others see and they despise me for my pursuit of holiness.  I am not meaning that I want people to despise me because of my attitude (some “holier than thou” approach) but because I am different, I am odd in comparison to the world.  I love Christ and I adore Him with all that is in me and I want others to see that and know that.  I want to be that Christian that speaks of Jesus in all things (Colossians 4:2-6).  I want to be that Christian that is passionate for prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  I want to be that Christian that is other world focused.  I want my mind to be filled with the Word of God (Romans 12:1-2).  I want my thoughts to be pure and pleasing to the Lord (Philippians 4:8).  I want my language to be full of God’s grace and mercy (Ephesians 4:29-30).  I want to be a man after God’s own heart.  I am so sick of this world, the things of the world.  I want to be desperate for the presence of God in my life on a daily basis.

I don’t want to be like those Christians that seek to love the things of the world in order to be like the world.  I know of people who claim Christ and they will sit on their computers for hours looking at Facebook, Pinterest, etc. but they don’t pray, don’t have a passion for Christ, don’t truly worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), don’t share their faith ever.  They claim to be justified through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and to be His sheep (John 10:27-29) but they love this world more than they love Christ.  They will sit and fill their eyes with worldly programs and listen to worldly music but they claim all the while that they are bound for heaven despite not even loving the One who has gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:1-3).  Oh how I long for the Lord to sanctify them!

It is my earnest prayer for a revival of holiness in our day.  I rejoice that the doctrine of salvation is being preached but oh for the people of God to preach and live holy lives.  I pray that we would be different (as God has called us to be) from this world.  Who cares if we have right standing with men if we have no standing with God!  This sinful world should not pull us down since we are dead to it (Romans 6:11-14).  People at our jobs should see the grace of God at work in us (Titus 2:12-14).  The world should see the power of God at work in us who believe, making us more like our Savior and our Lord (Ephesians 5:1-2).  Oh for the people of God to truly be the people of God!

Pray oh saints for holiness!  Pray for the worldly-minded people to be convicted of sin and to forsake this world (John 16:8-11).  Pray for the Lord to be exalted among His saints through holiness.  Rejoice in our salvation but pray also for our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

Where is the Call to Holiness?

Very few people who claim to be true Christians live holy lives.  In many ways, many live their lives just like the people of this world.  They love the things in the world and pursue the world despite the call of John the Apostle in 1 John 2:15-17.  People are content to believe that God loves them enough to save them through His Son (John 3:16) but are content to live in the world and not flee from sin that first sent the Son of God to the cross (Isaiah 53:4-6).  People want to be “His people” but do not want to be completely saved from “their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

The call of God is to holiness (Hebrews 12:14).  The Bible tells us that we are to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Paul the Apostle prayed often for believers to be holy and blameless before God (see 1 Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 1:6; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  Paul called the Church to holiness (Philippians 2:14-15).  Paul wanted the Church to forsake sin (1 Corinthians 15:34; 2 Corinthians 12:21-13:5).  John the Beloved likewise called the Church to holiness (1 John 2:1-2).  In Romans 6, Paul the Apostle tells the disciples in Rome that Jesus not only has set us from the penalty of sin but from the power of sin!

So where is the call to holiness?  I fear that in our day we have many people who even preach against sin but live shameful lives when no one is looking.  God knows.  He sees al things even what is going on in secret (Psalm 139:7; Jeremiah 23:24).  He sees that man who preaches one thing but secretly is looking at pornography on the Internet.  He sees that woman who claims to be holy but she is gossiping about others.  God knows all things.  We cannot hide from Him and we must give an account for our lives before Him (2 Corinthians 5:10).

The power of holiness begins with the gospel.  In Galatians 2:20 Paul preaches what you and I must preach and live as well; that we died with Christ on the cross and are raised to walk in the newness of life by His power.  The power for holy living comes through faith in the resurrected Christ who lives to make intercession before God on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25).  How can the disciple of Christ fail when we have the Son of God praying at God’s right hand for us and the Holy Spirit praying for us as well (Romans 8:26-27)?  The Lord Jesus knows our struggles (Hebrews 4:14-16) and He is more than able to help us overcome sin by His grace (1 Corinthians 10:13; Titus 2:13).

What sin is more powerful than Christ?  What sin can He not rescue us from?  He is able to rescue us from all sin.  He is able to empower us to live holy lives.  He is able to deliver us from us and He is able to help us not to be hypocrites when no one else is watching.  He is able to purify our minds as we set them upon Him (Philippians 4:8-9).  He is able to purify us from all sin (1 John 1:9).

This is an ongoing struggle.  Sin is not defeated by one prayer meeting or by one experience.  Sin must be fought with all the time.  The only hope we have is to daily walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17).  Daily I must look to Christ alone to help me.  I look to Him by prayer.  I look to Him in His Word.  I daily do these things.  Discipline alone is good but discipline with a focus on Christ is the true way to victory (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).  Christ has secured our salvation and He also has secured our sanctification (John 17:17-20).  He cleanses our hearts by faith (Acts 15:9).  As we look to Christ alone to save us both from the wrath of God and from present sin (1 Thessalonians 1:10), we find that He is sufficient to help us in all our struggles with sin.

What final point.  The attitude I see today among some is that we just rest in Christ and don’t worry about fighting against our sins.  They believe that they are “once saved, always saved” and thus they don’t have to battle against sin.  They reason that God only sees them in Christ (imputed righteousness) and they don’t need to be personally righteous.  This incorrect thinking has led some to fall into great sins.  The Bible calls believers to forsake sin and to pursue holiness.  No where does the Bible tell us just to rest in Christ and not fight.  In 1 Corinthians 6:18 Paul told the corrupt Corinthian church to flee immorality.  In wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:9 that his aim was to please Christ in light of the judgment seat of Christ in verse 10.  In 2 Corinthians 7:1 Paul wrote that we are to “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. ”

Adam Clarke wrote on 2 Corinthians 7:1:

“These are things in which both body and soul must consent. But still withholding the eye, the ear, the hand, and the body in general, from sights, reports, and acts of evil, will not purify a fallen spirit; it is the grace and Spirit of Christ alone, powerfully applied for this very purpose, that can purify the conscience and the heart from all dead works. But if we do not withhold the food by which the man of sin is nourished and supported, we cannot expect God to purify our hearts. While we are striving against sin, we may expect the Spirit of God to purify us by his inspiration from all unrighteousness, that we may perfectly love and magnify our Maker. How can those expect God to purify their hearts who are continually indulging their eyes, ears, and hands in what is forbidden, and in what tends to increase and bring into action all the evil propensities of the soul?”

I ask the same.  How can we claim holiness while living in sin?  How can we expect to be holy while indulging our sinfulness all the while claiming to be in Christ by faith and resting in His work?  We deceive ourselves into thinking that God does not see us anymore now that we are in Christ.  Yet the Lord said in Revelation 2:2 to the church in Ephesus: “I know your works.”  How can this be if He only sees the work of Christ?

The reality is that God does see us.  He always see us.  For the disciple who truly loves Christ and is pursuing holiness, this is not a fearful thing (Psalm 121:4).  The knowledge that God always sees me brings both fear and such comfort that words can not describe.  God is able to deliver us from all sin.  It is in His power to do so.

My prayer is that the Church would pursue holiness.  Ephesians 5:27 says that Christ will have a bride without blemish.  He is sanctifying His bride even now.  I rejoice that the Lord is faithful to sanctify us.  I long for His touch.

Be Holy

I want to add that this post is for me but I wanted to share it with any readers who also long to be holy.

The Bible says for us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Holiness is not merely a state that we are in by virtue of the work of Christ (Hebrews 10:10) but it also is an ongoing battle that the Spirit of God helps us with (Galatians 5:16-17; Hebrews 10:14).  We are called to holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and we are called to forsake our sins (1 Corinthians 15:34).  We are called to count as dead our flesh (Romans 6:11) and to present our members unto the Lord (Romans 6:12-14).  We are called to put on the new self created in righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).  We are called to follow the example of Christ (1 Peter 2:21-24) and to be righteous (1 John 3:10).

So be holy.  Be holy in what you say (Ephesians 4:29; James 3:10).  Be holy in what you think about (Psalm 19:14; 104:34; Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 4:8).  Be holy in what you do with your body (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).  Be holy in all your conduct (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Be holy as God is holy.

Don’t make poor excuses for your sinning.  Repent of your sins (Acts 3:19).  Don’t ignore your sins.  Don’t ignore your areas of weakness.  Repent of them and look to Christ alone to save you from your sins (1 John 1:7).  Flee sinning!  Flee the second glance at sin.  When tempted by sin, run to your Savior who alone can save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21)!  We cannot fight this battle with temptation alone.  We must depend on the Lord Jesus to save us (1 Corinthians 10:13).  He is more than able (Hebrews 7:25)!

Oh wretched man, look to Christ alone!  Focus not on your temptations, your flesh, your past failures.  Look to the victory that Jesus has already secured for His disciples (John 19:30).  Jesus is our victory.  Jesus is our crown.  Jesus is our life (Colossians 3:1-4).  Jesus is the only one who can deliver us from this sinfulness (Romans 7:25).  May we look to Him alone to save us!

Hating Sin

Within the heart of every disciple of Jesus should be an intense hatred for sin.  We despise not just the sins that we sin in the world but we detest even more so the sin that we sin in us.  We hate the sin of pride, the sin of hypocrisy that we sin in us.  We long to be like Jesus in all that we say and do (1 John 2:6) but we see that we are often far from that perfect standard (Matthew 5:48).

And I believe this is a great assurance that we are truly saved.  This hatred for sin.  There is no denying that the Bible forbids us from dwelling in sin (1 John 3:4-10).  Paul the Apostle teaches us in Romans 6 that having been baptized into Christ Jesus, we are now free from sin and its power.  We are free to be slaves of righteousness.

However, I still see sin in my life.  I don’t mean that I wake up and commit sin.  I hate sin.  But I still find the Holy Spirit placing His gentle hand upon me and revealing to me my own arrogance, my own pride, my own self-righteousness and my sins of the tongue (James 3:1-12).  There are seasons it seems where the Spirit will give me that assurance that I am focused on Christ and He truly is my reward but then there are times where the Holy Spirit reveals to me my sins.  I have learned to love those times.  I have learned that the Holy Spirit is doing this out of love for me and not out of condemnation (Romans 8:1).  I remember that Hebrews 12:5-6 and I keep coming back to that text as the Spirit opens my wicked heart up to show me what I need to repent of.

Repentance is an ongoing process.  I have been a disciple of Jesus for over 20 years and I find that He is still working on me.  The Spirit of God is still in the process of making me more like Christ.  I don’t doubt that I am much different from when I first repented.  I have come a long ways.  Yet I still have far to go.  I might not struggle with what I struggled with as a 17-year-old when I was baptized into Christ but I am still far from what I want to be.

We live in a sinful fallen world.  We live in a world with sin all around us.  Satan uses these tools to attract the world to its destruction.  For the disciple of Christ, we hate this world (1 John 2:15-17).  We long to be clothed in perfect righteousness where we will not struggle with sin.  We long to forever with our Lord and away from this sinful world.  Yet we remain here and we have to fight against sin.  We do this not by our own will power but in the power of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17) and through the hope that we have in the gospel.  Our salvation is based on the work of Jesus Christ and what He has done (John 19:30; Ephesians 1:7).  Our salvation is based not on our works but upon the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).  This does not take away our personal responsibility before God but empowers us toward holiness (Titus 2:12).  Holiness flows from grace (Ephesians 2:10).

I pray that all disciples of Jesus will hate sin.  I pray that we all would long to be like Christ in all that we are (Ephesians 5:1-2).  God calls us to holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16) and this is accomplished one step at a time.  Along the way, I trust the Lord to be faithful to His promises and sanctify me (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

Confessions of a Perfectionist

Note: This post is not intended to teach that we can abide in sin.  This is not my point.  I want to make that clear before I start.  The Bible is clear that we should forsake our sins (1 John 2:1).  Paul told the Corinthians to “stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:34).  In 2 Corinthians 12:21-13:5, Paul the Apostle rebukes those in the Corinthian church who have not repented of their past sinning.  In fact, the New Testament is clear that we are to pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14), to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16), to be slaves of righteousness and not slaves to sin (Romans 6:1-23) and that to be slaves of sin shows we are not Christ’s (John 8:34-35).  John the Beloved wrote in 1 John 3:7 that he who practices righteousness is righteous.  It is not merely enough to claim “imputed righteousness” and go on sinning.  I don’t deny that we are righteous in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21) but I do deny that this gives us a license to abuse God’s grace and continue in a life of sin (Jude 4; cf. Hebrews 10:26-31).

Perfectionism is a dangerous thing.  I once aimed with all that was in me for perfection.  I strove to overcome sin by my power and I thought it was merely a choice of my will to overcome sin.  I paid little attention to abiding in Christ and strove in my strength to overcome sin.  And the more I strove, the more I struggled with sin.  I would overcome one sin only to find another sin had taken its place.

The true danger of perfectionism is pride.  I had pride in me.  Oh I would have claimed Christ and would have said that I was seeking to overcome sin because of Christ and His victory on the cross but I was only paying lip service to Him.  After all, what Christian would deny that Jesus was really the One that they were striving to obey?  In reality, I was nothing more than a hypocrite and a Pharisee all at the same time.  I was nothing more than a white washed tomb (Matthew 23:27-28).  Around others I could act so holy and pure but inwardly, I was tormented by my sins.  I hated my flesh.  I despised what I knew about me when none were around yet I continued to play the hypocrite and act like I was living in complete victory.

I see now the errors of my ways.  It was not seeking Christ that was a sin.  It was not seeking to overcome my sins that was a sin.  It was my faith in me, my pride in thinking that could gain the victory by the sheer power of my own will.  Yet my will is tainted by my flesh.  My will wants to honor me above Christ.  My will wants to live for the glory of me above the glory of Christ.  My will wants to exalt me and not turn others toward Christ.

I rejoice now though for the gospel.  The gospel is not about what I do to obtain His forgiveness.  The gospel is not about what I do to overcome sin.  The gospel is not about how I can now, by the power of my will, live free from sin.  The gospel in fact informs me that I am saved by God’s grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).  No doubt His grace teaches me to say no to sin (Titus 2:12) but my focus now is on Christ and Christ alone (Titus 2:13).  I know now that through the gospel, I am seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).  I know now that through Christ, though I was once dead in my sins, I am now alive in Him (Ephesians 2:1-6).  I recognize that my passion is to glorify Christ in all that I say and do and not because of my own striving, my own will power, but in light of the gospel that saves me (1 Corinthians 15:10).  I see now that Christ came into the world to save sinners (Luke 19:10) and Paul the Apostle understood that before a holy and pure God, he was sinful and lost (1 Timothy 1:15).  Our salvation is based on the Lord Jesus Christ and not on our works!  Good works flow from a redeemed life (James 2:14-26; cf. Ephesians 2:10).  The love of God grabs us and empowers us (John 14:15, 23-24).

Our part is to consistently submit to the Lordship of Christ.  This is the key to overcome sin.  It is not by making “sin lists” or by striving merely in our own power to overcome sin.  This has never worked.  The key is to focus on the Lordship of Christ, be saturated in His Word (John 17:17), and to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17).  To follow the flesh only spells doom (Galatians 6:7-9; James 5:19-20).  2 Peter 2:20-22 warns us against returning to the flesh while thinking we are forgiven.  We must repent of our sins but we do this by the power of the gospel and not by merely creating resolutions.

Here then is the balance.  We adore the gospel that saves us.  We acknowledge that we are saved by the grace of God alone and that Christ is our salvation.  We rejoice in the Lord for His forgiveness and for setting us free from the power of sin (Colossians 1:13-14).  We praise God for the gospel truth that we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus alone (1 Peter 1:18-19) and not by our works (Titus 3:5-7).  We confess that without Christ, we would be lost sinners, hell-bound.  We celebrate the biblical fact that we are holy before God through Christ (Hebrews 10:10; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

This gospel truth then produces a joy in longing to serve the Lord.  I want to be holy as He is holy not because of legalism and perfectionism but because of what He has done in saving me!  I want to strive to be like Jesus and set my mind on things above and not on this world (Colossians 3:1-4) because of the work of Christ.  I rejoice that I am justified before God through faith (Romans 5:1).  I rejoice that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).  This leads me toward holiness.  This gospel leads me to want to pray, to worship, to share the gospel with the lost, to seek to be pure and blameless (Philippians 2:12-15).  I want to press on (Philippians 3:12-16).  I want to forsake my sins in the light of His forgiveness of my sins (1 John 1:9) but I do not deceive myself into thinking that I have overcome sin by my power for I cannot (1 John 1:10).

So I rejoice in Christ.  I praise the Father for the gift of His Son and that I am saved, redeemed, forgiven in Christ alone (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  Yet I also long to be holy, to be pure, to be blameless but I know that I can only obtain holiness by God’s grace working in me.

There Are No Perfect Parents

Sometimes I hear people quote Proverbs 22:6 as if it were a promise.  The verse reads:

 

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

People quote this verse often toward parents who are struggling with a rebellious child.  I have watched with my own eyes children remain in rebellion despite the fact that they were raised in God-fearing homes.  The fact that Christ was preached did nothing to keep them from turning to a life of sin.

Now I don’t mean to discourage parents.  I am a parent myself of three boys.  I know the blessing and struggles of seeking to raise my boys to be God-honoring, God-fearing, Christ-exalting men of God.  I pray almost daily for my boys to be saved and to know Christ on their own.  I don’t want my boys to be “forced” to become disciples of Jesus.  I want them to see their own need for a Savior and to repent on their own by the power of the Spirit (John 6:44; 16:8-11).  As someone once said, “God has no grandchildren.  Only children.”  This is biblically true (Galatians 3:26).

In my devotional reading, I was struck by the last four kings of Judah.  Judah, unlike Israel, had had good kings who followed the Lord with their whole hearts.  The last five kings summarized the kings of Judah.  The five are:

  • Hezekiah – who was a good king and sought the Lord.  God delivered him and Judah from the hands of Sennacherib king of Assyria.
  • Manasseh – who was a wicked king at first before he repented and turned back to God.  Prior to repenting, Manasseh was on a track to be one of the wickedest kings in Judah’s history.
  • Amon – who was a wicked king.  He did not humble himself like his father Manasseh did (2 Chronicles 33:23) so he was put to death by his own servants.
  • Josiah – who was a good king.  Josiah restored true worship according to the Law of Moses in Judah (2 Chronicles 35).  Sadly, Josiah did not heed the word of the Lord and died in battle.
  • Jehoahaz – was the king of Judah only for a short time.  The Bible does not say if he was good or evil.  This ends the line of the kings before deportation to Babylon.

So in essence, we have four kings to work with in regard to parenting here.  Notice that Hezekiah was righteous but his son Manasseh was not righteous.  Yet in this case, Proverbs 22:6 was true.  Manasseh did repent and return to the God of his father.  Amon, however, did not repent.  Perhaps Amon saw the wickedness in Manasseh before he repented and enjoyed it.  We don’t know.  All we know is that Amon was wicked and died.  Yet the son of Amon, Josiah, was a good king.  In this case, Amon did not raise his son to fear God nor regard God yet Josiah walked with God from a young age (age 8 according to 2 Chronicles 34:1-2).  The sovereignty of God must come into play when we see children of wicked folks turn and repent before God.

My point here is encourage us parents (myself especially).  I am not a perfect parent.  I am not a perfect man. I am not suggesting that I am wicked.  I pray that I am walking in the Spirit before a holy God (Galatians 5:16-17).  I know the command of God (1 Peter 1:15-16) and I want my boys to see the gospel in my life but more than anything, I want my boys to see the grace of God in forgiving me (1 John 1:9).  It’s not that I seek to live in sin.  I pray that I don’t.  I want to be a 1 John 3:7 man.  I want my boys to see my faith and imitate my faith (1 Corinthians 11:1).  Part of that faith is realizing that I need Jesus always.  I always need His grace to empower me to godliness (Titus 2:12).  I want my boys to see that in spite of my imperfections, I love a perfect God who saves me by His grace alone (2 Corinthians 5:21).  I want them to see that I am not striving for holiness in my own flesh but by the grace of God.

Furthermore, even God has disobedient children (Hebrews 12:5-11) yet He is perfect!  Sometimes our children disappoint us and break our hearts but God is faithful to us.  Like our Father, we too should respond with much grace and mercy toward our wayward children.  We should always pray that our children will love the Lord and serve Him always with a pure heart.

The gospel must be our focus in parenting.  Because we have children of Adam, none of us (self included) have perfect offspring.  Scripture is clear that all have sinned (Romans 3:23).  We are raising sinners.  Apart from the grace of God, we will still be in our sins and dead to God (Ephesians 2:1-6; Titus 3:1-7).  Watching our sinful children grow should cause us to love them, to pray over them, to encourage them toward repentance, and to be an example of the gospel to them.  The example of the gospel is not one of absolute sinless perfection and not letting them see our faults.  Sadly, this was my dad.  He would not confess his sins to us.  He wanted me to see him as pure and holy but, like my children, I saw his errors and his faults.  I saw his sins.  Like Proverbs 20:9, he could not hide them from me or my sister.  Yet the gospel helps us to teach our children that Christ died for sinners like us (Romans 5:8-9).  1 Peter 3:18 says that Christ died for the unrighteous.  That is me.  He died for my sins (Galatians 1:4).  He was crucified because of my sins (Isaiah 53:4-6).  I am only saved because of Christ Jesus and not anything or anyone else (Hebrews 7:25).

I want my boys to see Christ in me.  Yes I want them to see me seeking God, seeking to be holy.  Yet I also want them to see that I too need His grace and forgiveness.  I am not a perfect man by far.  I long to be pure and holy before God (2 Corinthians 7:1) and through faith in Christ, I am set apart by His grace (Hebrews 10:10, 14).  I am thankful that God is a forgiving God who does not cast me aside but He loves me and disciplines me and calls me to repentance by His Word.  I want to live a life of trusting God before the eyes of my boys so that, like Manasseh, they will repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation.

 

 

 

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/22/2014 at 4:27 PM

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