Category Archives: Dan’s Blog

Sharing in Christ as Siblings

Scripture says that God “conforms us to the image of His Son, so that Jesus would be the firstborn among many brethren.” Think about the implications of this incredible statement. Considered to be His brothers? Really?
       We like to describe our faith as a relationship rather than a religion. So we talk about having a personal relationship with Jesus (sometimes kind of flippantly). How often do we stop to think about what that really means? Well, I wholeheartedly agree with the concept of personal relationship with Christ, but I’d like to add something. What Jesus has going with us is not merely relationship: it’s RELATIONSHIP—a powerful, intimate, living relationship in which we are welcomed to share in the very life of God Himself.
       But this raises a question: given the magnitude of the glory set before us, why would God create us like He did? Why this flesh with its countless problems?

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

Glorifying and Enjoying God

Millions of Christians have been lulled into thinking that God’s purpose for us boils down to little more than a fulfilling life on earth, with the added bonus of a heavenly reward later. With this mindset, it’s only natural to focus on what God can do for us here and now. While this belief fits in neatly with our human appetites and ambitions, it merely serves to derail our spiritual growth. This clever deception of the enemy has always been a blight on believers—all the more so in this age of prosperity.
       Life is really all about glorifying and enjoying God. But He also wants to enjoy us. In His infinite wisdom, He’s engineered a program to accomplish both goals. In what way might God enjoy us as fully as we enjoy Him? By making us His very own sons and daughters. God fashioned us the way He has, frailties and all, to accomplish this very purpose.

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

The Power of Sin is the Law

The freedom we have in Christ can be a bit confusing. The Bible says, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” But don’t you find that a little surprising? We tend to think about freedom from sin only as being liberated from the problem of sinning. So how could being freed from law have anything to do with sin losing its power over us? Well, in fact it has everything to do with it! But if you’re like most Christians, your grasp of this truth is probably a little fuzzy.
       Don’t feel alone; you’re in good company! I’ve often asked believers: “How many of you feel like you are truly free from the power of sin?” I haven’t had anyone jump up yet shouting, “that’s me!” Though we may accept by faith the fact that we are free from sin’s power, we commonly don’t experience it as a reality in our daily lives. That’s just the way it is. No worries; there’s a solution to this bewildering problem.

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

Problems with My Heart

I love Paul’s writings. So practical! So honest! In Romans 7 he exposes what we like to keep as a closely guarded secret. It’s this: “I’m not the model believer I appear to be. There are problems with my heart I don’t even want to admit, or that I blatantly hide in an attempt to appear more righteous than I actually am.” Our inborn pride strongly resists any admission of failure. After all, people might discover what we’re really like!
       Paul knew that if we are ever to successfully walk in God’s purpose we must first come to a sound understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And since the gospel impacts every facet of a person’s life, a good grasp of who we are in Christ requires that we be aware of at least three very important things: First of all, God’s purpose and plan for our life. Secondly, our own nature as human beings. And finally, the implications of being redeemed in Christ, but still impacted by a worldly environment dominated by sin.

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

Sin No Longer a Problem?

As Christians, wouldn’t it be wonderful if sin was no longer a problem? If sin wasn’t an issue, wouldn’t it be a lot easier to wholeheartedly live for Jesus? Great thought!—just not within the realm of reality. Still, what could possibly be wrong with wanting complete freedom from sin’s influence so that single-minded devotion to God might be a bit less stressful?
Well, we need to think about what letting us slide through life in the comfort and security of sinlessness would ultimately achieve. It’s only possible outcome would be a good life here, with the added hope of even a better eternal life in heaven. What’s wrong with that, you might ask? The trouble with this notion is that, while nice, it doesn’t line up with God’s plan. He has a much greater purpose for our lives, because our destiny with Him in heaven is so much more than just a wonderful place to spend eternity.

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

Feelings about Yourself

How do you feel about yourself? Are you happy with who you are? Or do you sense the need for change in your heart? Most of us do. It’s frustrating, though, when change doesn’t come quickly. It causes us to lose hope that it ever will.
        It’s different with God. He has a purpose in allowing painful circumstances. That’s because He needs to deal with the weakness of our flesh. He must go deep within our nature to rebuild our character—a true change of heart. And this is a process He can accomplish by no other means than time and suffering.
       God’s purpose for creating us as He has sheds a lot of light on why He allows sin to be a problem. Understanding our freedom from the power of sin is so important! Why? Because through it God offers us unfettered relationship with Himself—in spite of ourselves—the true source of transformation.

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

Changing Our Heart

Is our heart capable of genuine change? I can see how I truly have changed, initially through my born-again experience, and then more slowly over the many years since. But in many ways I’m the same person I’ve always been. I see it when I’m confronted by something that challenges the self-will still residing at the deepest levels of my being. Our flesh seems to be incapable of fundamental change—controllable maybe, but not entirely changeable.
        Paul agrees that this is so in his teaching in Romans 7. On the other hand, The Bible implies that we have the power to change our heart by our choices. Can both be true? I think they can. The transformed lives of millions of Christians prove that the heart can indeed change. But unfortunately, there are millions more whose attitudes and behavior shed doubt on it. What’s the difference between the two? Choice. Decisions made in response to our circumstances hold the key.

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

On Discernment

Why do Christians often run to non-biblical sources to gain what they believe to be profound wisdom? Think about it: the Bible contains a wealth of information regarding God’s nature, His purpose for His creation, and His amazing plan to bring us into conformity with His will—all culminating in sharing His glory with us eternally. Yet for many this doesn’t seem to be enough. So they pursue wisdom not only from secular sources but also the teachings of other religions.
       Let’s ask this question: How can anything of enduring relevance be gained from those who believe in many gods—or even those who believe that there is but one God, yet reject Christ’s divinity? The answer clear: NOTHING! These philosophies and belief systems merely result in human wisdom at best, and at worst demonic deception. Get to know your Bible intimately and the urge to seek further enlightenment will disappear.

Thriving in a Sin-riddled World

What Christian doesn’t yearn to be free from the nagging presence of sin? In one degree or another, our humanity traps us in a repetitive cycle of failure—just the grinding reality of a redeemed life pitted against our self-serving flesh in a sin-riddled world. Thankfully, God has made provision for our sin! But what did He provide, really?
        Many argue that in Christ we possess the power to become holy in our walk with God—by choosing obedience over sin. Well, shooting for holiness in this way is a noble pursuit, but the strategy is flawed. Why? Because the purpose of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice is to impart God’s own righteousness to us, in spite of our sinful nature.
       Because we now belong to Him, we don’t need to earn God’s favor. We already have it! God showers His grace on us, and in so doing His righteousness becomes our own. By His grace alone we are given the unbridled capacity for intimacy with God, in spite of the weakness of our flesh.

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

Self-interest: a Gift of God

Self-interest, ugly as it may be, is actually a gift of God. It helps us make our way in this world. Having a healthy sense of self-worth—feeling significant—motivates us to reach toward God’s purpose for our life. It’s rooted in the fact that we truly are valuable.
       God showed me this in an unusual way. Next door to us lived a child with Down Syndrome. He functioned at the level of a three-year-old, though he was much older. But his condition allowed him to speak freely from the heart—totally without pretense. Every time I saw this young man, he asked, “Do you love me?” Now we wouldn’t dare express ourselves like this, but isn’t this need at our very core? “Am I significant to you? Am I deserving of your love?” Self-interest—a gift of God? Yes! Because an inconsequential life is tough to bear, and one that is meaningless is practically a death sentence.

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