Thursday, April 21, 2016

Changing Our Boasting

This morning I felt a wonderful assurance of my salvation. It came as I was praying about the glory of God in the eternal relationships of the Triune. I found myself marveling in wonder at what the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were like in their eternal natures, and eternal relationships in the Godhead, and what it was like for them to want to display their glory through creating something.

As I pondered these things, I found a sense of thanksgiving rising up within me, and a sudden conclusion that, because eternal life is to know God,[1] one evidence of our eternal life is that we understand and know God.

Which brought me to return to this glorious expression from God’s word:

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”[2]

God’s word calls us to stop boasting (trusting) in what makes sense to our sarks[3] (“his wisdom”), what makes sense for us to do in our own strength (“his might”), or what makes sense to what we think we can afford (“his riches”). We must change our boast to the fact that we understand and know Yahweh, and that he delights to practice steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.

As God weaves so many things together, I can see how an appreciation of God’s glorious completeness and perfection prior to creation helps us understand him. What he does in our world is an expression of who he is in himself, not who we decide he is based on what he does for us.

At the same time, the redemptive work of Christ, revealed in the gospel, invites us to know God. It is the most personal invitation to relationship the world has ever known, and it remains open to all who will come to God through faith in his Son.  

Since many church-going people struggle with deep sarky thoughts that contradict the revelations of God’s Book, here is an illustration of the contrast between what we are able to think in our sarks (flesh), and how we are able to know God through his Spirit:

Sarky Lies
Spiritual Truth
God can’t love me the way his word says he loves me
Yahweh delights to practice steadfast love in the earth
God is unjust in his handling of things that have happened to me
Yahweh delights to practice justice in the earth
What God wants to do in my life is unrighteous of him
Yahweh delights to practice righteousness in the earth

As I’m sure we know, the “sarky lies” column is never true, but it destroys relationship with God and his people when we believe such things. It is no wonder Paul says, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”[4]

Considering these things makes me realize that when we speak against God (as is happening in so many churches these days), we are glorifying our sarks as the authority on God rather than glorifying God as the authority on himself. That is definitely not something we need to outgrow, but something we can be free of today!

When I looked up the verse above, another stood out to me in the search:

“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
    “and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
    and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
    nor shall there be any after me.
I, I am the Lord,
    and besides me there is no savior.[5]

What stands out is the reasons God gives for why we who believe in Jesus Christ are his chosen ones.

Reason one: that you may KNOW me.

Reason two: that you may BELIEVE me.

Reason three: that you may UNDERSTAND that I am he.

Again, let us see this in contrast:

In the Sark
In the Spirit
The natural person cannot know God
Our new hearts long to know God better every day than we have ever known him before
The natural person cannot believe God
Our new hearts believe God with a sense of absolute confidence because everything about him is supreme over everything in the world, the flesh, and the devil
The natural person cannot understand that God is who his Book says he is
Our new hearts are willing to suffer and die for our association with Jesus because we have come to understand that Jesus is “he”

These passages I have shared from God’s Book should give us a strong sense that God is addressing something in our lives that needs teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.[6] The more honestly we admit what God and his word are saying to us, the more openly we can submit to whatever the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives to conform us to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the same time, these Scriptures give us a good indication of things God is doing in us, and in our church gatherings. There is no doubt he will be working in every Christian, and in every church, to switch our dependence from ourselves to the Holy Spirit. There will likely be something specific that comes to mind that we know must change in order for us to join God in his work. Again, the more honestly we admit what God is working on, the more deliberately we can join him in his work.

Since God’s word so clearly reveals his will that we understand him, know him, believe in him, and follow him, each of us will have a testimony at the end of the day whether we resisted the Spirit, or kept in step with whatever the Spirit is doing. God wins the debate on which makes the most sense to our new hearts.

© 2016 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] John 17:3
[2] Jeremiah 9:23-24
[3] The Greek word “sarx” which is transliterated as “sark”, and translated as “flesh”.
[4] Romans 8:6
[5] Isaiah 43:10-11
[6] II Timothy 3:16-17

No comments:

Post a Comment