Category Archives: Dan’s Blog

Are You in a Holding Pattern?

Do you ever feel like you’re in a holding pattern? Even though you may be pursuing Christ—going to church, loving God and others, and just being a good person in general—there’s a good chance that you’re still left with a sense of emptiness. The reason? Along with becoming a child of God in Christ’s kingdom there comes a genuine sense of destiny. So if you’re living life simply biding your time, more or less going through the motions of your faith, you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself somewhat unsatisfied.

The issue is purpose. Not our eternal purpose, but the purpose God has for each of our lives here on earth. This can be very real problem, since it’s not at all uncommon for us to have a good understanding of our heavenly reality and at the same time quite bewildered as to our purpose while we’re still here.

Our Character Won’t Change Overnight

It can certainly be disheartening when we realize that change in our character doesn’t happen overnight. Yet how could being transformed into God’s image be anything but a life-long process? Transformation is designed to take place in degrees over time. It’s what being changed from “glory to glory” means. And submitting to God step by step makes it so much easier for transformation to progress the way God planned.

        It’s also why we must guard against slipping back into sin when tempted. None of us is immune to falling into sin through the weakness of the flesh. This is dangerous ground, because sin stands at the head of a trail leading in the wrong direction. Once we’ve set ourselves on that badly chosen path it takes some undoing to get back to where we started from. Anyone who’s been there will tell you: “Don’t even think about it.”

Always Trying to Patch Over Sin

We resist change. We cling to doing things our own way because we’re human. So when sin crops up, we try to patch it up, rather than trying to get to the root of the problem. It’s painful to root sin out. Yes, we want to change, but it’s a lot more comfy staying right where we are. God wants to live His life through us, bringing us to a place where He can use our life to impact the world. But it’s impossible for Him to do this without first transforming our character.

Our character is who we are at the deepest level of our being. We always behave as our character dictates. Character transformed through a life of godliness always responds positively to the challenges of life. How would you rather live—on the verge of failure each time temptation comes, or in the consistent victory that godly character provides?

From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself

Not a Struggle to Bear Fruit!

Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” Jesus is talking about being alive, but His emphasis is mainly on fruitfulness. A branch barely connected to the vine might get the basic nutrients needed to survive—but it won’t produce quality fruit. So if our hope is centered on a “relationship” with Christ even though it may be largely superficial, we’re only kidding ourselves.
        If that sounds like you, there’s no need for panic. God has a whole lot more in mind for us. And He’s provided everything we need to be focused and productive. A branch doesn’t have to struggle in order to bear fruit; it just happens naturally. It’s the same with godly fruit. We don’t need to worry a lot about being fruitful. We just need to maintain a dynamic connection to the source. Pursue God! Jesus said, “he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit.”

Must We Try to Become Holy?

As Christians, is holy something we are—or something we must try to become? First and foremost, holy is what we are in Christ. Scripture tells us: “By this we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.” When Paul refers to believers as “saints” (meaning holy ones), he isn’t addressing an elite class of Christians; he means all those who belong to Christ.
        Likewise, the term blameless is often used right alongside the word holy to declare the believer’s unique position in Christ. Blameless means being faultless or without blemish—the same as being made righteous. Having been justified by grace, we are now held blameless, and as a result set apart as God’s special possession. This isn’t merely a hypothetical status or position, as it is often thought of. This is who we truly are in Christ!

From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself

Holiness: Set Apart to God

When the Bible talks about someone being holy, it means that person is set apart as belonging to God. Since God is the embodiment of purity, those set apart to Him must also be pure. This standard of purity is an ever-present reminder to us of God’s holiness.
        Israel was to be a “holy people,” set apart as His own possession. God provided the means by which they could live a righteous life through the Law. The only problem is that Israel habitually fell short of keeping God’s law. Yet given what we know about human nature, how could it have turned out different?
        The Law was merely a “shadow” of what was to be fulfilled through Jesus. It pointed toward God’s supreme purpose which remained shrouded in mystery until Christ’s coming. What God ultimately had in mind was to impute His own righteousness to us apart from the Law.

Holy in our Attitudes and Behavior?

The Holy Spirit wants to thrive within us, not just lie dormant. A mounting desire to please God is what we should expect from the Spirit’s indwelling presence. And as a part of this yearning to please Him comes a sense that we are to be holy. Because God is holy, a godly life must be a holy life. But let’s be realistic: How many of us could say that we are altogether holy in our attitudes and behavior?
        Still, though achieving such perfection is hard to imagine, we can’t deny that Scripture points us there. So we often sense little alternative but to work for it. Don’t feel alone! It’s actually pretty common to think of holiness as being the result of what a person has achieved. Isn’t that how all religions see it—those unapproachable Holy Men? God’s kingdom is different. He’s provided the way for all of us to be “holy and blameless before Him.” Colossians 1:22

From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself

Law Intensifies Destructive Desires

Law reveals the standard by which we are to conform to God’s righteousness. Through its call to obedience, law steers us toward God’s character. Its purpose is to bring to light the holiness of God, while exposing the sinful weakness of our humanity.
       And law has an additional impact as it confronts our nature. Because rebellion is such a significant ingredient of a life centered on self, law can actually have the effect of intensifying our destructive desires: Have you ever thought, “Yeah, I wanted to do that, but now that I know it’s wrong, I really want it!”
       Or maybe you didn’t even have a desire for a particular thing, but now that you’ve been told not to, all of a sudden you want it: “No trespassing? Well I really didn’t want to go there anyway, but now I wonder what I’m missing!” With law comes awareness of the internal rebellion common to us all. “Sin is lawlessness.”

Paul’s Radical Message of Freedom

Freedom in Christ! What a blessing! But what we do with this treasure is huge, because our choices ultimately determine our fruitfulness—that is, to what degree we end up glorifying God with our lives. Paul’s radical message of liberty in Christ prompted his critics to charge him with promoting freedom to sin rather than the freedom from sin he was actually teaching. His response: “Nonsense!”
        Still, it’s only natural to be a bit puzzled over it. Given our ingrained beliefs about personal responsibility to resist sin, this whole freedom thing doesn’t seem to add up. I think we can all agree that any thought of maintaining a lifestyle of sin is absurd. Why bother being freed if we merely set ourselves up to be enslaved all over again? The point is this: freedom lays the foundation for unfettered pursuit of Him—yes, even in spite of the weakness of our flesh.

Righteousness Cannot Be Earned

Righteousness can never be earned by working for it. It’s easy for us to think of salvation as a free gift of God’s grace. But righteousness? Now that’s a different story. Being righteous is rooted in the fact that Christ is now in me, and I in Him. It’s not about getting God to accept me; He’s already done that. Redemption means that we have actually become the righteousness of God Himself, allowing us an almost unbelievable status with God.
        The question is how the reality of God’s righteousness, having now become our own, plays out in the believer over the course of his life. What about our old nemesis: sin? How is it that God could allow our struggle with sin to exist right alongside this awesome righteousness we now possess? The incredible gift of God’s grace has everything to do with it! In Christ, God has actually caused us to die to sin itself.

From Free from the Power of Sin: the Keys to Growing in God in Spite of Yourself