How Do You Know When Someone Is Repentant?: 12 Signs

From Jared Wilson: How do you know when someone is repentant? In his helpful little book Church Discipline, Jonathan Leeman offers some guidance: A few verses before Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18 about church discipline, he provides us with help for determining whether an individual is characteristically repentant: would the person be willing to cut off a hand or tear out an eye rather than repeat the sin (Matt. 18:8-9)? That is to say, is he or she willing to do whatever it takes to fight against the sin? Repenting people, typically, are zealous about casting off their sin. That’s what God’s Spirit does inside of them. When this happens, one can expect to see a willingness to accept outside counsel. A willingness to inconvenience their schedules. A willingness to confess embarrassing things. A willingness to make financial sacrifices or lose friends or end relationships. (p. 72) These are good indicators, and I believe we can add a few more. Here are

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When Grace Goes Violent

Matt Chandler: Grace-driven effort is violent. It is aggressive. The person who understands the gospel understands that, as a new creation, his spiritual nature is in opposition to sin now, and he seeks not just to weaken sin in his life but to outright destroy it. Out of love for Jesus, he wants sin starved to death, and he will hunt and pursue the death of every sin in his heart until he has achieved success. This is a very different pursuit than simply wanting to be good. It is the result of having transferred one’s affections to Jesus. When God’s love takes hold of us, it powerfully pushes out our own love for other gods and frees our love to flow back to him in true worship. And when we love God, we obey him. The moralist doesn’t operate that way. While true obedience is a result of love, moralistic legalism assumes it works the other way around, that

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When we see the necessity of the atonement

“All inadequate doctrines of the atonement are due to inadequate doctrines of God and man. If we bring God down to our level and raise ourselves to his, then of course we see no need for a radical salvation, let alone for a radical salvation to secure it. WHen, on the other hand, we have glimpsed the blinding glory of the holiness of God, and have been so convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God and acknowledge what we are, namely ‘hell-deserving sinners’, then and only then does the necessity of the cross appear so obvious that we are astonished we never saw it before.” — John Stott The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 109 (HT: Of First Importance)

Sinclair Ferguson’s Four Steps to Kill Sin

Josh Etter posts these headings from the January 2007 edition of Tabletalk: 1. Learn to admit sin for what it really is. Call a spade a spade — call it ‘sexual immorality,’ not ‘I’m being tempted a little’; call it ‘impurity,’ not ‘I’m struggling with my thought life’; call it ‘evil desire, which is idolatry,’ not ‘I think I need to order my priorities a bit better.’ 2. See sin for what your sin really is in God’s presence. ‘On account of these the wrath of God is coming’ (Col. 3:6). The masters of the spiritual life spoke of dragging our lusts (kicking and screaming, though they be) to the cross, to a wrath-bearing Christ. 3. Recognize the inconsistency of your sin. You put off the ‘old man,’ and have put on the ‘new man’ (Col. 3:9–10). You are no longer the ‘old man.’ The identity you had ‘in Adam’ is gone. 4. Put sin to death (Col. 3:5). It

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Calvin on Remaining Sin in the Regenerate

Helpful realism from the reformer– The children of God are freed through regeneration from bondage to sin. Yet they do not obtain full possession of freedom so as to feel no more annoyance from the their flesh, but there still remains in them a continuing occasion for struggle whereby they may be exercised; and not only be exercised, but also better learn their own weakness. . . . [T]here remains in a regenerate man a smoldering cinder of evil, from which desires continually leap forth to allure and spur him to commit sin. In regeneration, Calvin goes on to say, the sway of sin is abolished in them. For the Spirit dispenses a power whereby they may gain the upper hand and become victors in the struggle. But sin ceases only to reign; it does not also cease to dwell in them. –John Calvin, Institutes, 3.3.10-11 Sin dwells, but no longer reigns, in believers. (HT: Dane Ortlund)

My true happiness is to go and sin no more

John Piper: Why are we healed by God? And why do we do practical good for others? “Sin no more, that nothing worse would happen to you” is Jesus’ response in John 5:1-18: . Ray Ortlund quotes: “To gain entire likeness to Christ, I ought to get a high esteem of the happiness of it.  I am persuaded that God’s happiness is inseparably linked in with his holiness.  Holiness and happiness are like light and heat.  God never tasted one of the pleasures of sin. Christ has a body such as I have, yet he never tasted one of the pleasures of sin.  The redeemed, through all eternity, will never taste one of the pleasures of sin; yet their happiness is complete. . . . Every sin is something away from my greatest enjoyment. . . . The devil strives night and day to make me forget this or disbelieve it.  He says, Why should you not enjoy this pleasure as

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Ferguson on Freedom from the Law and Freedom from Sin

Sinclair Ferguson, on Owen’s theology of mortification: How does Christ set us free from the law? And how does that freedom involve freedom from the dominion of sin? For Owen the answers are clear: Christ sets us free from the curse of the law by taking that curse himself and he fulfills the demands of the law for holiness for the believer by his perfect life. . . . He is the believer’s righteousness. But how does freedom from the law entail freedom from the dominion of sin? It is because the believer’s union with Christ, which effects his freedom from the law, also effects his ‘death to sin,’ for he is united to Christ both in his death under the law and his simultaneous death to sin. The two were inseparable in Christ, and through union with him, they are also inseparable in the Christian. –Sinclair Ferguson, John Owen on the Christian Life (Banner of Truth, 1987), 130; italics original (HT: Dane Ortlund)

How Far We Have Fallen

Jonathan Edwards’ vivid description of what happened when we fell from God into sin: The ruin that the fall brought upon the soul of man consists very much in his losing the nobler and more benevolent principles of his nature, and falling wholly under the power and government of self-love. Before, and as God created him, he was exalted, and noble, and generous; but now he is debased, and ignoble, and selfish. Immediately upon the fall, the mind of man shrank from its primitive greateness and expandedness, to an exceeding smallness and contractedness; and as in other respects, so especially in this. Before, his soul was under the government of that noble principle of divine love, whereby it was enlarged to the comprehension of all his fellow creatures and their welfare. And not only so, but it was not confined within such narrow limits as the bounds of the creation, but went forth in the exercise of holy love to

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My thanks to Andy Naselli for posting this excellent excerpt: Judgmentalism That’s the title of chapter 17 in Jerry Bridges. Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2007. 185 pp. Introduction The sin of judgmentalism is one of the most subtle of our “respectable” sins because it is often practiced under the guise of being zealous for what is right. It’s obvious that within our conservative evangelical circles there are myriads of opinions on everything from theology to conduct to lifestyle and politics. Not only are there multiple opinions but we usually assume our opinion is correct. That’s where our trouble with judgmentalism begins. We equate our opinions with truth. (p. 141) Example 1: Dress I grew up in the mid-twentieth century, when people dressed up to go to church. Men wore jackets and ties (usually suits and ties) and women wore dresses. Sometime in the 1970s, men began to show up at church wearing casual pants and

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Henri Blocher On the Cross: Evil, Lordship, and Goodness

From Jonathan Parnell In Evil and the Cross, Henri Blocher writes about the tension that exists for the Christian regarding the existence of evil: The evil of evil, the lordship of the Lord, the goodness of God: these three immovable propositions stand together as the basis of biblical doctrine. We can picture them as a capital T: the sovereignty of God forms the stem, the two branches being the denunciation of evil and the praise of God in his goodness. But the great difficulty lies in holding all three together (100). Blocher then considers the cross of Jesus Christ: In the light of the cross, how could there be any doubt about the three propositions at the heart of the Christian position? The sheer and utter evilness of evil is demonstrated there: as hatred in the mockery of the criminals who also hung there; as hateful in the weight of guilt which could be removed only by the sacrifice of the Lamb of

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The Sin of Sodom

From Tyler Kenney at Desiring God: As Bible-believing Christians, we are known for our convictions against sexual immorality. But are we known equally as well for our contempt for religious arrogance? Scripture clearly states that sexual immorality is sin (Matthew 15:19; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 5:19, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, etc.). We must also remember, however, that this is only one bad fruit of our rebellion against God, one among a list of many others, including idolatry, theft, greed, drunkenness, reviling and swindling (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). And all of these, God says, are just spin-offs of a more deep-seated trouble. Speaking to a disobedient Israel, the prophet Ezekiel declares, Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. (Ezekiel 16:49-50) In the context surrounding this passage,

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“Awful and awesome at the same time”

I love this quote posted by Jimmy Davies: “To be like Jesus means that we must enter the complexity of both dignity and depravity.  We are made in the image of God–glorious.  We have taken on Adam and Eve’s hiding and blaming–ruin.  We are glorious ruins, bent glory. And it shows up in every moment of our existence until we one day see Jesus as he is and become pure as he is pure . . . To grow character, we must not deny or hide from the reality of our unique dignity.  We are made in the image of God, and we are uniquely woven with awesome beauty.  We may be remarkably handsome or bright, possess great musical ability or a hysterical sense of humor.  We may possess remarkable abilities to encourage other or to read the nuances of relationships.  Whatever marks us with glory, we are meant to prize it and use it for the sake of others. To grow

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Higher Up and Further Back

From Tullian Tchividjian: In one of the most powerful and poetic paragraphs I’ve ever read on human yearning and the hope of the gospel, Cornelius Plantinga (President of Calvin Theological Seminary) writes: The truth is that nothing in this earth can finally satisfy us. Much can make us content for a time but nothing can fill us to the brim. The reason is that our final joy lies “beyond the walls of this world,” as J.R.R Tolkien put it. Ultimate beauty comes not from a lover or a landscape or a home, but only through them. These earthly things are solid goods, and we naturally relish them. But they are not our final good. They point to what is higher up and further back…Even if we fall deeply in love and marry another human being, we discover that our spiritual and sexual oneness isn’t final. It’s wonderful, but not final. It might even be as good as human oneness can be, but something in us

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What is sin?

What is sin? The Glory of God not honored. The Holiness of God not reverenced. The Greatness of God not admired. The power of God not praised. The Truth of God not sought. The Wisdom of God not Esteemed. The Beauty of God not treasured. The Goodness of God not savored. The faithfulness of God not trusted. The Commandments of God not obeyed. The Justice of God not respected. The Wrath of God not feared. The Grace of God not cherished. The presence of God not prized The person of God not loved. That is sin. – John Piper

How To Wreck Your Church in Three Weeks

From Ray Ortlund: How to wreck your church in three weeks: Week One: Walk into church today and think about how long you’ve been a member, how much you’ve sacrificed, how under-appreciated you are.  Take note of every way you’re dissatisfied with your church now.  Take note of every person who displeases you. Meet for coffee this week with another member and “share your heart.”  Discuss how your church is changing, how you are being left out.  Ask your friend who else in the church has “concerns.”  Agree together that you must “pray about it.” Week Two: Send an email to a few other “concerned” members.  Inform them that a groundswell of grievance is surfacing in your church.  Problems have gone unaddressed for too long.  Ask them to keep the matter to themselves “for the sake of the body.” As complaints come in, form them into a petition to demand an accounting from the leaders of the church.  Circulate the petition

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Two mistakes in thinking about the redeemed life

Another example of the importance of understanding the Already, but Not Yet: Cornelis Plantinga Jr., Beyond Doubt (p. 89): People tend to make two mistakes when they think about the redeemed life. The first is to underestimate the sin that remains in us; it’s still there and it can still hurt us. The second is to underestimate the strength of God’s grace; God is determined to make us new. As a result, all Christians need to say two things. We admit that we are redeemed sinners. But we also say boldly and joyously that we are redeemed sinners. (HT: Justin Taylor)

The Meaning of All Misery

“The meaning of all misery in the world is that sin is horrific. All natural evil is a statement about the horror of moral evil. If you see a suffering in the world that is unspeakably horrible, let it make you shudder at how unspeakably horrible sin is against an infinitely holy God. The meaning of futility and the meaning of corruption and the meaning of our groaning is that sin — falling short of the glory of God — is ghastly, hideous, repulsive beyond imagination. Unless you have some sense of the infinite holiness of God and the unspeakable outrage of sin against this God, you will inevitably see the futility and suffering of the universe as an overreaction. But in fact the point of our miseries, our futility, our corruption, our groaning is to teach us the horror of sin. And the preciousness of redemption and hope.” – John Piper, “Subjected to Futility in Hope, Part 1” (sermon

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