Tag Archives: sin

The one thing needed for real, lasting change

In just a few hours I’m leaving for a 3 day Sexual Integrity Leaders Summit in Atlanta.  I’m looking forward to this conference which boasts the following goal:

The Holy Spirit is moving to take back ground in defining holy sexuality. Join with others passionate about intentionally addressing issues, concerns, and questions related to sexual wholeness, sexual integrity, and finding freedom in Christ. Get equipped with the tools and resources you need.

This conference comes on the heels of me and my wife attending the Pure Life Ministries annual conference which proved to be a powerful encounter with the Lord.   Over this past week I have been reading Steve Gallagher’s book, A Biblical Guide to Counseling the Sexual Addictwhich has helped to reaffirm the reality of my own experience in dealing with habitual sexual sin:  The best medicine is Jesus.

I sometimes get this upside down.   Sometimes I will convince myself that there are other solutions to my problem besides Jesus.  For instance, sometimes I get to thinking that the best medicine is the group of men I meet with weekly in SAA.  Or I get to thinking the best medicine is working the 12 steps, or making more phone calls, or reading more recovery literature or going for a run.

The truth is, all of these are good things, but not the best thing.   In my experience, the only times I have known profound, lasting victory is when I submitted to Jesus and his ways of healing my sinful, broken heart.

Gallagher reminds me that the medicine Jesus prescribes is repentance.   Repentance is the precursor for real, lasting change for anyone caught in habitual sin (sexual or otherwise).   This repentance must come from godly sorrow over our sin as opposed to worldly sorrow over having gotten caught (or having hurt someone we love.  See 2 Cor. 7:10).

I want to close this out by sharing what Gallagher’s lists as the four basic components to receiving this medicine which Jesus offers to each and every one of us who will place their trust in him.    You can find these on pages 40-41 in the book referenced above.

  1. Poverty of spirit:  seeing one’s need to change and coming to the realization that he cannot accomplish this change without the power of God.
  2. Mourning over sin: as the person begins to face the ugliness of his behavior, he becomes broken over it.
  3. Submission to God: as the sin in one’s heart is exposed, true repentance occurs. Self-will is replaced by submission to God’s authority.
  4. Fruits of repentance: as God is allowed to conquer the man’s heart, a change occurs which becomes evident in the way he lives his life.

Gallagher concludes,

It is vital that you, as counselor, lead the man out of habitual sin and into this kind of genuine repentance.  He cannot conjure up this experience for himself.  He must seek God for it.  The counselor’s role in helping the counselee see his need for a radical inward transformation and praying that he receives it.

Praying with and for you.  Pray for me as I am at this conference this weekend!

Grace and peace,
Chad

Recap of PLM Conference: Fix your eyes on Jesus

I just returned home from the Pure Life Ministries annual conference which was such an amazing experience and encounter with God.    Some 480 men and women gathered in Florence, KY to worship the God who has the power – and the desire – to set each of us free from the chains that ensnare us.    It’s an amazing thing to be in the presence of such testimonies and witnesses to God’s redeeming love.

I wanted to take a moment while it’s fresh on my mind to write down a few of the things I took away from the great speakers who shared over the last few days.   I hope this helps me to better apply what I’ve learned and to edify you.

Steve Gallagher referenced the proclivity within each of us to gravitate towards either law bending or law keeping.   He stressed that when both are right with the Lord and walking in the Spirit both are a blessing to the Church.   We need the law benders to upset our status-quo and breath fresh wind into our sails and we need the law keepers to remind us of God’s holiness and demands upon the Christian to obey him.

Steve then did a beautiful job referencing each of the seven churches in Revelation 2 &3, showing what happens when these natural tendencies of ours (law bending or law keeping) cease being surrendered to God.   One thing in particular that stood out to me was pointed towards law keepers, or those of us who can easily become satisfied with having a form of godliness but none of it’s power.    How easy it is to play church and appear to be doing all the right things while our heart is far from God.     I know all too well how easy it is to do this, and how easy it is to fall into a delusion that all is well in doing it.

Dave Leopold built upon this foundation laid by Steve (unbeknownst to either while preparing their messages).  He spoke of how we toil in our own way rather than God’s way.  Building a ministry isn’t always the same, he said, as building God’s kingdom.

Dave’s longing for himself, and his prayer for us, is that we may all prove that we have been with Jesus.  May our very lives – both inner and outer – be evidence that we have spent much time at Jesus’ feet.   Jesus does not desire us to be mere messengers of his message, but desires each of us to become the message.   When he has conquered us, he will send us out to conquer the world in Jesus’ name.

I loved the illustration he shared of the sun.   When we lay out in the sun, we are changed.  Our face let’s the world know that we have been out in the sun.   Likewise, as we spend intimate time with the Son of God, the world will know it.

Dustin Renz shared a powerful message on suffering.   I think he is exactly right that we do not teach or understand suffering within the church.   And yet, the life of Jesus himself as well as all of scripture is full of calls to suffer, even promises that we will.   Dustin shared the following points:

  1. We need to learn to expect suffering.   Jesus promised that we would know trouble in this world.   In fact, the very call to follow Jesus is an invitation to lay down our lives and die.
  2. Suffering shapes us and fits us for service.    James reminds us to consider it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds.   These are preparing us for service.
  3. Learn to endure suffering.   Imagine if Paul had given up after being ship wrecked, stoned, beaten, imprisoned, starved, left to die?   The loss to Christianity would be extraordinary!    We must endure to the end.  Far too often we give up too easily and we have not even come close to experiencing the sort of suffering Paul and countless other Christians have endured.    How many potential testimonies, not to mention our own, are lost because we give up too soon and run back to our sin?

Glen Meldrum shared three snares of the soul which will trip us up time and time again if we are not mindful of them.

  1. We don’t treat sin like sin.   Numbers 33:50-56, God insists that Moses and the people, when they get to the promised land, must drive out the wicked inhabitants and all their idols.    If they do not, they will be “barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides” and trouble you all the days you dwell you there.   Jesus was serious about sin, warning to cut out the eye of the hand that causes you to sin.    Whatever is keeping you from Jesus, get rid of it!   Even if it’s something “good.”
  2. Not being very careful to love the Lord (Joshua 23:11-13).    We must be very careful to love God!   Make it your purposeful pursuit in life to spend time with God and nurture this relationship.  No one follows Jesus by accident.  None of us default towards loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.   Our sinful hearts are easily distracted and get caught up in so many other things that we lose sight of our walk with God.    Be careful!
  3. Idolatry rises up in our hearts.   Things like bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, sexual sin, pleasure, and more become the gods we cling to to.  We become what we worship.   The destruction happening in marriages is from hell.   Satan hates God, and his work is to destroy the image of God in us by replacing it with his own image.  How does he do this?  By causing us to have other gods.

All of these messages, though unplanned to be so, beautifully weaved together this overarching theme for me:  Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.  Pursue Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.   Submit to the love – and the rule – of God in my life.  And pray.   Pray like my life and the lives of others depends on it, because it does!

I’m so grateful for this time of refreshment and revival.   It has inspired me towards a deeper repentance and desire to be of service to God and others in ways that for quite some time I have felt unworthy to pursue because of my past failings.    God reminded me this weekend that he has not altered his feelings towards me nor his call.   I’m grateful that my wife was able to join me on this trip and for work he is doing in her life and ours as a couple.   We are both excited to see what God has in store for us in the weeks, months and years ahead.

 

Tiger Woods is but a foretaste

I, like everyone else, had tears in my eyes Sunday watching Tiger Woods win his fifth green jacket at the Masters.   Against all odds, Woods treated all of us to the beautiful, joyous story of redemption as he raised his fists in triumph on the 18th green in Augusta.

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This was Tiger’s first Master’s win since 2005 and first PGA major win since 2008.  Since that time, Tiger has been famous for things other than golf, such as his sexual addiction, divorce, DUI, and four back surgeries.    Any one of these things could understandably ruin a person.  Taken together, it’s a shipwreck.   But little by little, step by step, Tiger Woods put one foot in front of the other culminating in the resurrection you see pictured above.

I’m not crying, you’re crying!

There is a simple explanation why stories like these evoke such emotion in us.    There’s a reason anyone with a pulse gets teary eyed over stories of redemption like the one played out for us this past weekend (and the one about to be played out for us next week on Easter Sunday).     That reason is this:  You and I are like our Father in Heaven.

If you wonder why you get excited and joyous and, yes, even tearful, when someone comes back from something that should have destroyed them it’s because God is like that. 

In Luke 15, Jesus tells a few stories about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like and he does so by describing the emotions God (and all of heaven) has when someone lost is found.    In heaven, Jesus says, there is much rejoicing over the one sinner who repents – the one who is down and out and shipwrecked.    All of heaven celebrates when even one of us overcomes.

The story of Tiger Woods inspires us not because golf is great or because Tiger Woods is great.  It inspires us because God is great and has made us like himself, giving us hearts that long for and explode over resurrection.   And you want to know something even better that that?   We don’t resurrect ourselves.  God does.   It’s all a gift!

This truth is both liberating and devastating.   Liberating because, once the truth of it hits home, you realize you don’t have to do this alone.  You don’t have to be stronger, or better, or smarter, or braver, or have more will power.   Deep down you know that if that were the case, you’d be damned for sure because you’ve tried all that before and failed.  We can’t resurrect ourselves.    It’s going to require a supernatural intervention.    Which is why this is also devastating.   We are so used to being self-sufficient.  Our lower nature, the one that too often controls our thoughts, has us convinced that we are the master’s of our fate.   It is devastating to learn that only God can and must be our Master, and we have not allowed him to be such in our lives.

Tiger’s story is but a foretaste of what can be with God.   There is an even better story than Tiger’s coming to us this Sunday.  It’s the one where God became a man in order to die on a cross for my sins and yours.   It’s the one where God chose to become all that is shipwrecked in my life and yours so that the works of the shipwrecker, the devil, might be destroyed.   It’s the one where God then raised from the dead the one who takes away the sins of the world, setting us free to live as new creations, not just better ones.

And all of heaven rejoiced.   And this day, as with any other day, all of heaven is waiting on pins and needles (much like we all were as Tiger sunk his last putt), to see your redemption story.    Will you trust the one who is ready and able to write it?

May you have a blessed Holy Week.

Everyone should read John Piper

Every Christian should read and listen to the sermons of John Piper.

I have not always believed this.  In fact, I would have laughed at such a suggestion for most of my adult life.  But I’m convinced of this now more than ever.

Last year I wrote a post taking issue with John Piper’s advice on how to defeat lust.   I took exception to the fact that one of his six steps was Enjoy Jesus more than sinful pleasure.   In my thinking at the time, I felt like this was heaping unnecessary shame and guilt upon people who already know they should enjoy Jesus more, but don’t.    Not a terrible feeling to have, but not a terribly correct one, either.

I think sometimes it’s easier to concern ourselves over the shame and guilt others might feel than we are with sharing them truth in love.   In doing so, I think we rob people of opportunities to experience the power of God resurrecting their life (the resurrection assumes a death) in favor of ensuring they feel comfortable in this present life.

Piper will have none of that.  His sole purpose is to glorify God.   He wants everyone to discover that they are only truly happy when they find delight in God.   And this is why everyone should read him.

I’m reading now his wonderful companion to Desiring God entitled When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy.   In this book he masterfully and pastorally handles the issue I took with him suggesting we enjoy Jesus more than sinful pleasure but, even more, he awakens in me a desire to know and love God more intimately than I ever have (a thirst that, to be sure, will never be fully quenched).

I have some theological disagreements with Piper to be sure, but there is no doubt in my mind that he is head over heels in love with Jesus and submits himself wholly to the holy words of God with child-like awe and wonder.

That is something I desire.   And the good news, according to both Jesus Christ and John Piper, that desire is a gift of God and one which will grow and grow and be filled and filled, also as a gift of God, assuming we continue to pursue Christ and his righteousness.   Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things…

If you are experiencing a lack of faith, a dry spell in your walk with God, or if you know it to be true of yourself that, quite frankly, you enjoy and find delight in many things more than God, then I commend to you the works of John Piper.    It is often said that the reason we worship together corporately is so that in those seasons where we may not have faith, we can lean on the faith of others.    If you are in such a season, I pray that Piper’s deep and abiding faith and utter joy he finds in the Person of God might serve as a crutch for you today, and inspire you to new heights and greater desire tomorrow.

Grace and peace,
Chad

Will Jesus do many miracles among us?

A few years back I met a missionary from Africa who was here in Tennessee sharing the gospel with Americans.  I was fascinated (and convicted) as he shared the heart he and his church back home has for the lost here in my own backyard.  One thing he said to me I’ll never forget:

In Africa, we witness miracles all the time because we depend on them.  Without God meeting our daily needs, we would die.   The reason you see so few miracles here in America is because you’ve learned to depend on technology and modern medicine to meet your needs.   God is not so necessary.

I don’t know about you, but I want to live a life where God is absolutely necessary, where I am increasingly dependent upon him to meet all my needs.   This is true of me less than I care to admit.

March Madness is right around the corner and you’ll no doubt hear many players and coaches reciting a line I remember hearing often during my brief time playing ball in high school:

Leave it all on the court.

After this game, don’t be the one who looks back with regret that you didn’t give it your all.   I wonder at times whether I will one day look back on my life and be satisfied that I left all behind for the sake of Christ, who left all to give me life.   I wonder if I will one day know all that could have been accomplished by God’s power working through me had I believed the impossible.

Or will it be said of me that Jesus could not do many miracles with Chad because of his unbelief (Matt. 13:58)?   I’m sure he’s done and will do some.  But many?   How much is many?

When I moved into Church of God country I witnessed for the first time in my life the gift of tongues and interpretation in full display.  Growing up a Nazarene I had never seen this gift.  I didn’t believe it was still in operation.  But churches in Cleveland, Tennessee proved otherwise.  Why is the gift of tongues a dominant gift in the Church of God but rarely if ever heard in the Church of the Nazarene?  Maybe because people growing up in the CoG have faith that this is a gift for them.

Why do so many preacher’s kids grow up to become pastors themselves?  Maybe because they saw their imperfect parent rising to the call and had faith that maybe they could, too?

Maybe miracles happen where people come to expect and believe that they will.

This may seem like I’m stating the obvious, but what we believe about ourselves comes to pass.   If you and I believe we can do something, than we will, or at the very least, we will die trying.   And if you and I believe we can’t do something, we won’t, nor will we try.

When I was floundering in my sexual addiction there were numerous things I believed wrongly, but two are pertinent to this post:

  1. What I’m experiencing isn’t sin, but addiction.
  2.  I’ll always be an addict

The turning point for me in my life was when I came to my senses and saw how my behavior was not due to me being an addict but due to me being a sinner.   I was a slave to sin.

The distinction is an important one, I believe.    My experience has been such that when I saw myself primarily as an addict, I did so to my detriment.   My identity as an addict put a veil between myself and a miracle working God, causing me to place my trust in a program to provide at best a daily reprieve from my addictive behavior.

But when I saw myself as a sinner, a person who has become addicted to sinning in a particular way, there was a seismic shift in my spirit.   Naming my condition rightly opened up the door for the Holy Spirit to minister to that condition.  It tore the veil separating myself from God and helped me to see that there is indeed a remedy for sin – the blood of Christ – and that in his grace and mercy he has provided wonderful tools (such as the steps, a group of brothers, a sponsor, and most importantly, his Word) to enable me to walk in the Spirit rather than the flesh, one day at a time.

There is so much brokenness in our world today.  So much that is outside of God’s intended design for us.  I see it in my own heart.  I see it in my family. I see it in our churches.   And the world cannot be healed or saved when the church is sick.  I believe God is aching to heal us of our brokenness, that this has always been the case, yet we are so often unaware or unwilling.   Jesus is calling out to us still, like a mother hen, longing to bring us under his wings.  But so often we reject the message, and the messenger (Luke 13:34).

Whether the issue be pornography, divorce, homosexuality, greed, lust, anger, racism, etc., it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the church and the world.   And this is to be expected.  For when the body of Christ ceases to name these things (and more) as sin, it ceases to avail herself to the One who died to destroy the work of sin (1 John 3:8).    We see so little victory over these sins because we do not believe victory is possible. 

It is imperative that we get our thinking – our hearts – right and aligned with the Spirit of Truth if we are to experience the joy and freedom Christ purchased for us with his blood.   It is imperative we do this for the sake of our mission to the world which has not seen, nor has it heard, nor has it entered into their hearts what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor. 2:9).

May it be said of all of us one day that we left it all on the court, and within our midst, Jesus did many miracles.

Holiness is your calling

Scripture is explicit when it says we should make every effort to be holy, for without holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).   With so much at stake it’s a wonder we Christians are so muddy in our thinking about holiness.  But this need not be the case.  Do we really believe God is such a poor, even evil, Father that He would call His children to such heights without giving us a ladder?

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I’ve begun reading Jerry Bridges’ classic, The Pursuit of Holiness, and was struck early on by the three reasons he gives for our lackluster appearance on the grand stage (Holiness) to which God has called us.

1. Our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered.

We are more concerned about our own “victory” over sin than we are about the fact that our sins grieve the heart of God.  We cannot tolerate failure in our struggle with sin chiefly because we are success-oriented, not  because we know it is offensive to God.

How true! I recall my many years of trying to overcome my addiction to lust and pornography.  I was consumed with a desire to be victorious over my sin primarily because it was messing up my life and the lives of others around me.   In this way I was only experiencing worldly sorrow over my sin rather than godly sorrow.   Paul says the former leads to death, while the latter will lead to true repentance, and life (2 Cor. 7:10).

It was not until I saw my actions as offenses against a holy God that I was able to break free from those chains.  My view of sin changed from being about me and how it hurt me or others to being about God and how it grieved Him.   Bridges goes on to say,

God wants us to walk in obedience – not victory.  Obedience is oriented toward God; victory is oriented toward self.  This may seem to be merely splitting hairs over semantics, but there is a subtle, self-centered attitude at the root of many of our difficulties with sin.  Until we face this attitude and deal with it, we will not consistently walk in holiness.

I can testify to the truth of this and that learning to walk in obedience – in holiness – has with it the blessed by-product of victory over even the most besetting of sins.

2. We have misunderstood “living by faith.”

Walking in holiness is still a walk.   While God has graciously given us a ladder we must do our part and climb it.    Much of our confusion over holiness is that we are lazy, and have conveniently made “living by faith” completely God’s responsibility.   It’s as if we think a magic wand will wave and just make us holy.

Bridges gives a helpful illustration in his preface of the co-operation necessary if we are to achieve holiness in our lives.   Farming, he writes, is a joint venture between God and man.   The farmer knows that without sunlight and rain – forces totally outside his control – his garden will never grow.   But also true is that unless the farmer tills the soil, plants the seed, fertilizes and cultivates he will not have a garden, regardless of how much sun and rain come.   Cooperation between God and man is necessary in farming, and in our pursuit of holiness.

We must face the fact that we have a personal responsibility for our walk of holiness.  One Sunday our pastor in his sermon said words to this effect: “You can put away that habit that has mastered you if you truly desire to do so.”    The Holy Spirit said to me, “And you can put away the sinful habits that plague you if you will accept your personal responsibility for them.”  Acknowledging that I did have this responsibility turned out to be a milestone for me in my own pursuit of holiness.

 

3. We do not take some sin seriously.

Because we do not see God as the offended party over our sin we trivialize our own.   We fall prey to the game of justifying some sin as less egregious than others, making allowance for our own shortcomings because compared to others we think we are doing pretty well.  Would we act this way if we meditated often on how much God hates sin – all sin – all the time?

Scripture says it’s “the little foxes that ruin the vineyards” (Song of Songs 2:15).   Jesus raised the bar exceptionally higher when he said that even the intent of lust was the same as adultery, or even anger towards another was the same as murder (Matt. 5:28).   Yet how often do we go through a day harboring anger, resentment, lust, envy, and greed towards one another, all the while justifying it because we think God doesn’t care that much or will let it slide once He hears our good excuse?

On commenting on the more minute Old Testament dietary laws God gave Israel, Andrew Bonar said,

It is not the importance of the thing, but the majesty of the Lawgiver, that is to be the standard of obedience…Some, indeed, might reckon such minute and arbitrary rules as these as trifling.  But the principle involved in obedience or disobedience was none other than the same principle which was tried in Eden at the foot of the forbidden tree.  It is really this:  Is the Lord to be obeyed in all things whatsoever He commands?  Is He a holy Lawgiver?  Are His creatures bound to give implicit assent to His will?

Are we willing to call sin, “sin,” not because it is big or little, or even because of the harm we reason it may or may not do to self or others, but solely and supremely because God’s law forbids it and we would rather die than disobey?

I believe if we rightly understood these three things we would have a far better grasp on what it means to pursue holiness.   I’m looking forward to the rest of this book where Bridges promises to flesh more of this out.

See yesterday’s post inspired from one of the chapters from this book:  Obedience is the Goal, not Victory.

 

Obedience is the goal, not victory

For much of my adult life I was striving for the wrong goal when it came to dealing with my addiction or my walk with God.   My goal was victory.  Freedom.   My goal was to be free from the thing(s) wreaking havoc on my spiritual, emotional and physical life and that of others.

I can’t begin to count the number of times I prayed for victory over my addiction to pornography.   I prayed, and prayed, and prayed, crying out to God to deliver me from my desires.   I thought that being a good Christian meant that I am to have faith that God could heal me.   I thought I was to “stop trying and start trusting” in God for the victory.   If I did not wake up and feel “free” than it must be because I hadn’t prayed enough or had enough faith.

Maybe you are reading this and feel the same way today.  You want freedom from whatever is controlling you.  You long for – pray for – victory.

It’s not a bad goal.   But I’m convinced it’s not the right goal.

It wasn’t until I learned that God had already answered my prayers and it was now my responsibility to live into those prayers that I began to get some traction in my daily walk with God.   It was when I learned that my goal isn’t victory but obedience that I started to find the freedom for which I had been praying.

Victory is a by-product of obedience.   We will never know the former without the latter. 

Obedience isn’t a word we talk about much.   It means “submission to another’s authority.”   Obedience flies in the face of our natural inclination to put our desires – our flesh – first.

It’s surprising we do not talk about obedience much when Scripture talks about it all the time.   Whether this is because the Reformation did such a bang up job at deterring us from anything that smells of “works righteousness” or because we naturally hate obeying is anyone’s guess.   Whichever our reason, until we take responsibility and “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” we will continue to be lukewarm in our Christian walk.

Here are just a few of many directives Scripture gives us which place the onus on us to get to work.  There is that which the Holy Spirit enables us to do (we don’t do this alone or by our own might) but there is much that we are responsible to do.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live (Rom. 8:13).

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature (Col. 3:5)

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Heb. 12:1)

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)

Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him (2 Peter 3:14)

If you love me, obey my commandments (John 14:15)

Notice the action words/phrases giving us responsibility:  put to death; throw off; run; submit yourselves; resist; make every effort; obey.

Whenever I feel defeated it is always a result of me being disobedient.   Whenever I feel victorious is always a result of being obedient.

Perhaps it would do us well to stop counting days that we are sober and instead ask ourselves at the end of each day, “Was I obedient today?  Where was I disobedient?   How can I be more obedient tomorrow?”    When we make our goal obedience, victory is sure to follow.

I want to close with some words by Jerry Bridges from his classic, and highly recommended book, The Pursuit of Holiness.

It is time for us Christians to face up to our responsibility for holiness. Too often we say we are “defeated” by this or that sin.  No, we are not defeated, we are simply disobedient!  It might be good if we stopped using the terms “victory” and “defeat” to describe our progress in holiness. rather we should use the terms “obedience” and “disobedience.” When I say I am defeated by some sin, I am unconsciously slipping out from under my responsibility. I am saying something outside of me has defeated me. But when I say I am disobedient, that places the responsibility for my sin squarely on me.  We may, in fact, be defeated, but the reason we are defeated is because we have chosen to disobey. We have chosen to entertain lustful thoughts, or to harbor resentment, or to shade the truth a little.

We need to brace ourselves up and to realize that we are responsible for our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. We need to reckon on the fact that we died to sin’s reign, that it no longer has any dominion over us, that God has united us with the risen Christ in all His power, and has given us the Holy Spirit to work in us. Only as we accept our responsibility and appropriate God’s provisions will we make any progress in our pursuit of holiness (80-81).