A lack of specificity, with one another and to ourselves, often fuels temptation. If we simply say, “Don’t be greedy,” the slumlord will simply define greedy as whatever Wall Street tycoons do. If we say, “Be chaste,” the young adult will believe he’s sexually pure because he’s only had oral sex. If we simply say, “Be content,” the family will assume they’re content even as they claw ahead to pile up all the advertised stuff in their rented, climate-controlled storage units. Specificity exposes how the designs of Satan mask themselves.
You might rattle on about “the family” while neglecting your children. You might fight for “social justice” by “raising consciousness” about “the poor,” while judging your friends by how trendy their clothes are. You might pontificate about “the church” while not knowing the names of the people in the seats around you in your local congregation. Abstraction distances.
“The family” never shows up unexpectedly for Thanksgiving or criticizes your spouse or spills chocolate milk all over your carpet; only real families can do that. “The poor” don’t show up drunk for the job interview you’ve scheduled or spend the money you’ve given them on lottery tickets or tell you they hate you; only real people can do that. “The church” never votes down your position in a congregational business meeting or puts on an embarrassingly bad Easter musical or asks you to clean toilets before children’s camp next week; only real churches can do that. As longs as “the family” or “the poor” or “the church” are abstract concepts, they can be whoever I want them to be. The same is true with temptation and sin.
The spirit warns us about this. King David knew adultery was wrong; but he didn’t want anyone meddling with his situation with Bathsheba. Jesus lit into the Pharisees for “fighting for” the Law of God while ignoring their financial obligations to their parents, all under the guise of religious advocacy (Mark 7:10-13). Specificity identifies where, particularly, temptation (and post-temptation sin) is afoot.
– taken from Russell D. Moore’s “Tempted and Tried” p. 179, 180
The Devil doesn’t mind “family values” as long as what you ultimately value is the family. Satan doesn’t mind “social justice” as long as you see justice as most impotantly social. Satan does not tremble at a “Christian worldview” as long as your ultimate goal is to view the world. Satan doesn’t even mind born-again Christianity as long as the new birth is preached apart from the blood of the cross and the life of the resurrection.
Pastor, Satan doesn’t mind if you preach on the decrees of God with fervor and passion, reconciling all the tensions between sovereignty and freedom, as long as you don’t preach the gospel. Homeschooling mom, Satan doesn’t mind if your children can recite the catechism and translate the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” from English to Latin, as long as they don’t hear the gospel. Churches, Satan doesn’t care if your people vote for pro-life candidates, stay married, have sex with whom they’re supposed to, and tear up at all the praise choruses, as long as they don’t see the only power that cancels condemnation – the gospel of Christ crucified. Satan so fears the gospel, he was willing to surrender his entire empire just to stave it off. He still is.
– taken from Russell D. Moore’s book “Tempted and Tried”, p. 154
Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary and author of Adopted for Life, speaks with Dennis Rainy and Bob Lepine on FamilyLife Today about thinking rightly about adoption and caring for the needs of orphans. Tune in to their three segments below:
- Grappling with Infertility? Could God be leading you to adoption? Moore talks honestly about his family’s struggle with infertility and recalls the precious moment when he opened his heart and mind to the idea of adoption.
- Embracing Adoption: Does God want to bless your life through adoption? Moore fondly remembers the days when he and his wife waited for a word from their adoption agency to go pick up their sons. He describes the orphanage in Russia where his sons lived and the emotions they felt as they prepared the boys to travel to their new home in the United States.
- Welcome to the Family: Adoption is close to the heart of God. Moore, father of two adopted sons talks about the challenges of adapting his adopted children to their new life and the blessings they’ve seen since expanding their family through adoption.
(found via Crossway.org)
Wonderful article by John Piper on what a Christian is:
“The love of Christ constrains us, since we have made this judgment, that one died for all; therefore all died. And he died for all in order that the ones who live might no longer live for themselves but for the one who died for them and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
What does it mean to be a Christian? Charles Hodge sees the answer in this text: “It is being so constrained by a sense of the love of our divine Lord to us, that we consecrate our lives to him.”
Being a Christian does not mean merely believing in our head that Christ died for us. It means “being constrained” by that reality. The truth presses in on us; it grips and holds; it impels and controls. It surrounds us and won’t let us run from it. It cages us into joy.
But how does it do that? Paul says that the love of Christ for him constrains him because of a judgment that he formed about that death. “. . . having made this judgment, that one died for all therefore all died.” Paul became a Christian not when he decided that Christ died for sinners, but when he made the sober judgment that the death of Christ was also the death of all for whom he died.
In other words, becoming a Christian is coming to believe not only that Christ died for all his people, but that all his people died when he died. Becoming a Christian is, first, asking the question: Am I ready to be persuaded that Christ died for me and I died in him? Am I ready to die that I might live? Then, secondly, becoming a Christian means answering, Yes, from the heart.
The love of Christ constrains us to answer, Yes. We feel so much love flowing to us from Christ’s death that we discover in his death our death — our death to all other competing allegiances. We are so overwhelmed (“constrained”) by the love of Christ that the world fades, as before dying eyes.
A Christian is a person living under the constraint of Christ’s love. Christianity is not merely believing a set of ideas about Christ’s love. It is an experience of being constrained by that love.
But that constraint comes from a “judgment” that we make about Christ’s death: “When he died, I died.” It is a profound judgment. “As the sin of Adam was legally and effectively the sin of his race; so the death of Christ was legally and effectively the death of his people” (Hodge). And since our death has already happened, we do not bear that condemnation (Romans 8:1-3). And that is the heart of the love of Christ for us. Through his own undeserved death, he died our well-deserved death.
And therefore that “judgment” that we make about his death results in being “constrained” by his love. How shall we not live for the one who died our death that we might live! To be a Christian is to be that constrained by the love of Christ. Here is the way Charles Hodge put it again:
A Christian is one who recognizes Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, as God manifested in the flesh, loving us and dying for our redemption; and who is so affected by a sense of the love of this incarnate God as to be constrained to make the will of Christ the rule of his obedience, and the glory of Christ the great end for which he lives.
Constrained by His love,
(found via Desiring God)