UPDATED Today’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on March 19, 2013; it has been updated. Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“‘The Both/And’ Reality of the Believers”
Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. 2 Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. 3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. 4 I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. 5 I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.
Say what David? Your integrity and trust in the Lord never wavered? Ever?
So, it stands to reason that one area of possible confusion in the reading of the Psalms is when David describes himself as blameless or righteous or in this instance full of integrity and unwavering trust. This seems like self-righteousness, moral superiority, and a denial of our own personal sinfulness.
So, we might ask, “How can this come from the same person—namely, David, who wrote, ‘Surely I was sinful at birth’ (Ps. 51:5) in reflection of the horrendous sins he had just committed: adultery and murder (2 Sam. 11). For this reason, some believers never allow themselves the joy of having a free conscience. They are always struggling with guilt over sin and remorse over things that have been left undone.
During the Reformation, Martin Luther rediscovered the solution to this paradox of the Christian life. Though we are sinners, we are also saints at the same time. On the one hand, knowledge of our sins keeps us humble before God and men; on the other hand, Christ’s imputed righteousness keeps us from self-condemnation and causes us to strive for the righteousness of God. If we truly understand the forgiveness of Christ, then our conscience should be free enough to offer ourselves to the scrutiny of God’s testing and proving. This, then, is the soteriological reality of “both/and” for the believers.
Do you have a healthy sense of who you are spiritually? Do you wrestle with self-condemnation and guilt? Spend some time praying for God’s unconditional love to be the source of your freedom and identity. As you do, be reminded of what God declares through the prophet Isaiah: “I, even, I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Is. 43:25).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, because of your blood, I can live life with the freedom that comes from knowing that my sins are completely forgiven and remembered no more. Give me confidence today to live the life that you have called me, a life worthy of the Gospel. Place your word deep in my heart, so that I can be kept from sinning against you. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 11
Lunch Break Study
Read Romans 8:1 (NIV): There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
Questions to Consider
- What is the basis of our freedom from condemnation (Romans 7:25)?
- How can we overcome the tension caused by our two natures, the nature of sin and the new nature (Romans 8:6)?
- How can we break the power of sin in our lives (Romans 8:2)?
- Romans 7:25 teaches us that we have been freed from the consequence of sin by the atoning death of Jesus Christ. This is the objective reality that believers live in and no matter what our subjective emotions and experience might tell us, we no longer live under the threat of condemnation.
- We cannot hope to live a life of peace and abundance unless we submit ourselves to the control of Holy Spirit. Paul points out the difference between a mind that is Spirit-controlled as opposed to one that is dominated by our sinful desires. Transformation can only come when there is a renewing of the mind and a desire to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (Romans 12:2).
- Paul presents two options to live under, the repressive power of sin or the freedom of the Spirit. The work of Jesus Christ is not the end of the gospel, but the beginning of a life lived by the law of the Spirit. Unfortunately, many believers are stuck in the old patterns of sin even though the power of sin has been broken. A classic illustration of this principle involves pigeons that are tied down from birth. Even when those strings are cut later in life, these pigeons are unwilling to fly because they are still in bondage to the old patterns. This is where prayer ministry and inner healing can help release a believer from these self-imposed limitations and struggles with sin.
Returning to what we talked about this afternoon, at times, it is difficult not to feel like a hypocrite as we try to live out our faith. We can all appreciate and relate to the words of the apostle Paul when he writes, “For what I do is not the good I want to do.” This can become a maddening condition in our souls and the only solution is the freedom found in the finished work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Did you feel the Holy Spirit’s empowering presence during the day? Reflect on how God guided you through the daily routine of work, family, and life.