Mortify Your Sins

Romans 8:13 (ESV) 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

In this sensual world we live in today, and with the deluge of social media that’s flooding our world, society, and the worldview of liberal self-satisfaction and actuation as the prime importance, it will be hard to find some saints around on earth that’s unmoved by the lures of the temptations all around. Even the theologians and scholars of the Bible are not exempted, and are as vulnerable, if they don’t follow the strict discipline of the body by the strength of the Holy Spirit in the scripture. Not only the deluge of material, movies, and the ease of getting them example pornography. The destruction of it is heart breaking, but we can take comfort to see that our God has already made providence and provisions for us to escape them. 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

The tension is within our hearts. The word of God that’s been planted within us, and the lust and sin that’s still dwelling within us. Don’t be fooled, born again Christians have not been plugged out from the internal lust and flesh, it’s still there until we die, and meet Christ.

So how do we do it? John Owens wrote the famous book “The Mortification of Sin”, and I will draw some ideas from there. Mortify: to subjugate/overcome (the body, passions, etc.) by abstinence, ascetic discipline, or self-inflicted suffering.

  1. The Exhortation is directed towards believers [1]

The exhortation is for Christians. v1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This is directed towards believers. And then in v9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.

The question is to be in the Spirit, and not in the flesh. The tension is we live in the physical body, which is the flesh, but we are to be in the Spirit.

2. The condition expresses the certainty of the relationship[2]

Romans 8:13 (ESV) 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

An interesting take. There is a clear connection between the mortifying of the deeds of the body and living. [3] This is not a legalistic cause and effect saying , “If by the Spirit put to death…, you will live”, because our action won’t save us. That salvation part of it is already accomplished by Christ, and him alone, on the cross and his resurrection and conquered death! That’s settled, and this passage is Paul exhorting Christians to continue what has been accomplished by Christ himself. It’s a continuation series. John Owens calls it as “means and end.” He says, ‘There is a certain infallible connection and coherence between true mortification and eternal life”: if you use this means, you shall obtain that end; if you do mortify, you shall live”.[4] This then is our main motive for the enforcement of this duty in our lives. [5] Very well put by Owens. This should be indeed our main motivation to put to death the sins in our lives. We got to do something about it. You see, if we are not conscious of it, we will let it slip, and it will catch up with us. We think a little sinning, a little slipping is fine kind of thing. But it grows! Before we know it, it has grown to such size, magnitude, it will topple our character, destroy us. Also we will run out of peace and joy, if sin continues tom plague us. On the outside, we smile, and can be even polished, but inside we will run dry and lack of joy and peace. Galatians 5:9 (ESV) 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

3. Our strength in this duty comes through the Spirit [6]

All other ways of mortification will fail. Men may try, using will power, using discipline, using accountability of men’s group, and even reading the Bible, but they will come short. It is a work of the Holy Spirit, and it is by Him alone we are to experience victory.[7]

Owns writes, “Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, to the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world”. [8]

That is so well said and it defines all religions in the world apart from Christianity. That sets Christianity apart. It’s not something you can self-carry out by your won strength, but it’s something that can only be accomplished by the 3rd person of the Trinity Godhead, the Holy Spirit. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

4. The duty itself [9]

Romans 8:13 (ESV) 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die,  but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

i. “The body” here is the same as the “flesh”, the indwelling sin, the corrupted flesh or lust, that is intended. [10]

They are inly deeds of sins because at some point we have yielded to an inward lust. Owen calls it as , “Deed is an expression of a yielding to an inward lust. Indwelling lust and sin is the fountain and principle of all sinful action.” [11] That’s a very important statement here. Our outward act of sin is a result of our yielding to the constant pressure and pushing inner urge and desire towards sin, lust. The key word here is ‘yield’. This doesn’t happen on an instance, this is like a tug and war, pulling and pulling in opposition, that’s why I call it as a tension between the sinful and the righteousness in me powered by the Spirit. Isn’t that’s what’s called so crisply by Paul in: Romans 7:14-17 [12]

ii. To ‘mortify’ means to put any living thing to death.[13]

To kill a man or any living thin is to take away the principle of all of its strength, vigor, and power, so that it cannot act, or exert, or put forth any proper acting’s of its own. [14]

Treat sin as an enemy that you want to kill. If the hidden lust is at work in you, you will have to be ruthless in take away its strength, vigor and power. This is a very clear target, and to understand we need to sap or take away its strength, vigor and power, our mindset changes straight away. We will stop entertaining it, for example. We will stop thinking over it and letting it grow in our minds. To mortify sins, it will take a determination and our crying to God to help you at that point. The Spirit will come and minster. Remember how Jesus struggled with the temptations of evading the death on the cross in the garden of Gethsemane to the point of sweating droplets of blood, and at that moment, the angels came and ministered to him. That’s why Jesus understands exactly and even more than what and how we suffered under temptations.

Indwelling sin is compared to a person, a living person, called the ‘old man’, with his faculties, and properties, his wisdom, craft, subtlety, and strength. The ‘old man’ is utterly mortified and slain by the cross of Christ. He is crucified with Christ (Rom 6:6), and we are ‘dead’ with him, v8. This takes place in regeneration (salvation). The Holy Spirit who lives in us, opposes the lusts of the flesh (Gal 5:17).  

This is a constant duty of believers to render a death blow to the deeds of the flesh, that they may not have life and strength to bring forth their destructive influence. [15]

5. The Promise is Life

The promise is eternal life. It is not only eternal life in the future, but also the spiritual life in Christ which we have here on earth, the joy and comfort and vigor of our life in this world. We will rejoice more, more peaceful, more joyful if we put to death the deeds of the flesh.

The second motive for the duty is: the vigor, power, and comfort of our spiritual life depend on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh!  Don’t think it’s only for heaven, its fort here now on earth! It will make a difference NOW on earth as we will have more vigor, power and comfort in our spiritual life!

Amen.


[1] John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p 2, The Banner of Truth Trust 2004

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid

[9] Ibid p 3

[10]Ibid

[11] Ibid

[12] Romans 7:14-17 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate….17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

[13] John Owen, The Mortification of Sin, p 3

[14] Ibid

[15] Ibid

Imago Dei for Racism but not Unborn babies or Sexuality?

In the name of social justice and equitably treating all people as all are imago dei (image of God), the reformed evangelicals have largely criticized the president. In some sense, he needs to be reprimanded, but there seems to be an eerie silence on imago dei issues like killing the unborn lives, calling the abomination as the way to go in society and calling a man as a woman on the other side of the political party. Case in point, this article just published in the Gospel Coalition, like most others essentially sided with one side tending towards emphasizing the racism for the nonwhites and lack of empathy for the illegal immigrants and the like. How Christians Can Prepare for the 2020 Election

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why are the 3 noble points of the very social fabrics of any society to be godly never get published by them! What are the three important points?

I just signed Manhattan Declaration among the 550,000 Christians who signed including many evangelical leaders Timothy Keller Ligon Duncan etc. If you haven’t signed, no reason not to sign. This has to be weighed carefully in the Election 2020, and not just on imago dei on skin color, but also imago dei on : Manhattan Declaration

Sanctity of Life

Sanctity of life deals with the unborn babies are human life that need to be honored and respected, anyone doubting that can just take a look at the many videos showing the unborn babies, or fetus, moving in their mums’’ wombs. Any abortion, some are even stretched and pushed to be legalized by some party to be as late as 9 weeks abortion! That’s inhuman, when you read stories of the shrieking sound, as these fetuses are killed and dumped. Enough horror stories. No, the Planned Family even collects these parts and sell them, as recorded in some news. Horror! Many evangelicals call it as murder. We await the Supreme Court to review this soon, God willing. So how on earth can any Christian honestly touching their hearts go and endorse candidates that do that?? Is there any moral values at all? Even non-Christians , a lot of them, will say that’s immoral! I think Muslims, Judaism, Buddhists will definitely endorse on pro-life side, let alone Christians! Catholics church have been vocal against abortion, but take another look, most of the candidates including the Presidential candidate this November 2020 are all Catholics and all pushing for abortion, calling pro-choice, respecting the women. Non one can beat the ingenuity of choice words to justify their actions as in America, seriously, one can relabel murder of babies to honoring choice of women and protecting the health of women.

Dignity of Marriage

Marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Marriage is the first institution of human society – indeed it is the institution on which all other human institutions have their foundation.[1]

Genesis 2:18 (ESV) 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

It all started with God noticing that it’s not good for the man to be alone. And God decided he will make God a helper fit for him. You see that God noticed it and said that. God said it’s not good for Adam to be alone, so He made a woman out of Adam’s rib, and breathed into her, to give her life. And God handed Eve to Adam to be his wife, his helper. That’s how the marriage institution is instituted from history, as the first couple. The union of a man with a woman, that’s how God started and created the man and woman for that purpose. So to change that definition is going against God’s purpose. So marriage as God instituted is between a man and a woman.

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:23-24

This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:32-33

Religious Liberty

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. Matthew 22:21

The struggle for religious liberty across the centuries has been long and arduous. Religious liberty is not a novel idea or recent development, but is grounded in the character of God Himself, the God who is most fully known in the life and work of Jesus Christ. Determined to follow Jesus faithfully in life and death, the early Christians appealed to the manner in which the Incarnation had taken place: “Did God send Christ, as some suppose, as a tyrant brandishing fear and terror? Not so, but in gentleness and meekness…, for compulsion is no attribute of God” (Epistle to Diognetus 7.3-4). Thus the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the example of Christ Himself and in the very dignity of the human person created in the image of God-a dignity, as our founders proclaimed, inherent in every human, and knowable by all in the exercise of right reason.[2]

Going back to the earliest days of the church, Christians have refused to compromise their proclamation of the gospel. In Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered to stop preaching. Their answer was, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required. [3]

Conclusion

As Dr Duncan mentioned, “I think we need to be “equal opportunity offenders” and say things uncomfortable both to the political left and right. Life is obviously a fundamental issue. This is one reason I signed the Manhattan Declaration.”

As we approach Presidential Election 2020 in November , the imago dei of unborn children and marriage between a man and a woman are our top thoughts as imago dei in racism issues. The Lord grants you wisdom in this election.


[1] Manhattan Declaration, 2009. The Bible teaches us that marriage is a central part of God’s creation covenant. Indeed, the union of husband and wife mirrors the bond between Christ and his church. And so just as Christ was willing, out of love, to give Himself up for the church in a complete sacrifice, we are willing, lovingly, to make whatever sacrifices are required of us for the sake of the inestimable treasure that is marriage.

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

Imago Dei for Racism but not Unborn babies or Sexuality?

In the name of social justice and equitably treating all people as all are imago dei (image of God), the reformed evangelicals have largely criticized the president. In some sense, he needs to be reprimanded, but there seems to be eerie silence on imago dei issues like killing the unborn lives, calling the abomination as the way to go in society and calling a man as a woman on the other side of the political party. Case in point, this article just published in the Gospel Coalition, like most others essentially sided with one side tending towards emphasizing racism for the nonwhites and lack of empathy for the illegal immigrants and the like.

How Christians Can Prepare for the 2020 Election

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why are the 3 noble points of the very social fabrics of any society to be godly never raised by them? What are the three important points?

I wish to bring up this declaration that captures beautifully the major issues we need to embrace and ask ourselves before we go for this Nov 2020 Presidential Election.

In this Manhattan Declaration: Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience

I just signed Manhattan Declaration among the 550,000 Christians who signed including many evangelical leaders Timothy Keller Ligon Duncan etc. If you haven’t signed, no reason not to sign. This has to be weighed carefully in the Election 2020, and not just on imago dei on skin color, but also imago dei on :

Sanctity of Life, Dignity of Marriage, Freedom of Religion.

Sanctity of Life

Sanctity of life deals with the unborn babies are human life that need to be honored and respected, anyone doubting that can just take a look at the many videos showing the unborn babies, or fetus, moving in their mums’’ wombs. Any abortion, some are even stretched and pushed to be legalized by some party to be as late as 9 weeks abortion! That’s inhuman, when you read stories of the shrieking sound, as these fetuses are killed and dumped. Enough horror stories. No, the Planned Family even collects these parts and sell them, as recorded in some news. Horror! Many evangelicals call it as murder. We await the Supreme Court to review this soon, God willing. So how on earth can any Christian honestly touching their hearts go and endorse candidates that do that?? Is there any moral values at all? Even non-Christians , a lot of them, will say that’s immoral! I think Muslims, Judaism, Buddhists will definitely endorse on pro-life side, let alone Christians! Catholics church have been vocal against abortion, but take another look, most of the candidates including the Presidential candidate this November 2020 are all Catholics and all pushing for abortion, calling pro-choice, respecting the women. Non one can beat the ingenuity of choice words to justify their actions as in America, seriously, one can relabel murder of babies to honoring choice of women and protecting the health of women.

Dignity of Marriage

Marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Marriage is the first institution of human society – indeed it is the institution on which all other human institutions have their foundation.[1]

Genesis 2:18 (ESV) 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

It all started with God noticing that it’s not good for the man to be alone. And God decided he will make God a helper fit for him. You see that God noticed it and said that. God said it’s not good for Adam to be alone, so He made a woman out of Adam’s rib, and breathed into her, to give her life. And God handed Eve to Adam to be his wife, his helper. That’s how the marriage institution is instituted from history, as the first couple. The union of a man with a woman, that’s how God started and created the man and woman for that purpose. So to change that definition is going against God’s purpose. So marriage as God instituted is between a man and a woman.

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:23-24

This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:32-33

Religious Liberty

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. Matthew 22:21

The struggle for religious liberty across the centuries has been long and arduous. Religious liberty is not a novel idea or recent development, but is grounded in the character of God Himself, the God who is most fully known in the life and work of Jesus Christ. Determined to follow Jesus faithfully in life and death, the early Christians appealed to the manner in which the Incarnation had taken place: “Did God send Christ, as some suppose, as a tyrant brandishing fear and terror? Not so, but in gentleness and meekness…, for compulsion is no attribute of God” (Epistle to Diognetus 7.3-4). Thus the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the example of Christ Himself and in the very dignity of the human person created in the image of God-a dignity, as our founders proclaimed, inherent in every human, and knowable by all in the exercise of right reason.[2]

Going back to the earliest days of the church, Christians have refused to compromise their proclamation of the gospel. In Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered to stop preaching. Their answer was, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required. [3]


[1] Manhattan Declaration, 2009. The Bible teaches us that marriage is a central part of God’s creation covenant. Indeed, the union of husband and wife mirrors the bond between Christ and his church. And so just as Christ was willing, out of love, to give Himself up for the church in a complete sacrifice, we are willing, lovingly, to make whatever sacrifices are required of us for the sake of the inestimable treasure that is marriage.

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

The Need for Good Works as a result of Grace

The Need for Good Works as a result of Grace

Romans 2:6-11 (ESV) 6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Salvation by Grace can’t stop there

Doing good works alone will never get us to heaven. We are saved by grace alone, faith in Christ for what He has done on the cross by his redeeming us from death and judgement of God. However, grace can’t stop us just for salvation, sanctification (life transforming) must take place after the salvation or justification by faith.

That’s why Romans 2 here says God will render to each one according to his works. Works is very important. That’s what James 2 says:

James 2:14-17 (ESV) 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

No one should live under the assumption that we are saved for good and ignore the process of change in life, sanctification, and therefore good works. No one can be saved, and stay as a spiritual baby, and not wanting to quit smoking, quit hatred, stealing, greed, lust and all the evils from the heart. Because if we don’t produce good works as a Christian, you would wonder if we have been saved on the first place. Salvation by grace is a first step, but it can’t stop there. Now if one is saved and tries to gain good favor of God by doing good deeds, the motivation or driving point of that will be wrong and unbiblical and not sustaining, and that won’t be under the category of Romans 2 here, because that’s done by human will effort, not based on what Christ has done. This is what is called you are trying to save yourself by your good deeds, and that will be wrong and not acceptable to God. That will be the case of never been saved at all. But if we produce good works, after we are saved by grace having faith in Christ alone, then it will be acceptable. Then change to produce good works is not to earn salvation, but as a change of our internal being.

God is the center point of discussion

David says to you alone have I sinned. You see how God centered he is? It’s all about God. He sinned against Bathsheba and her husband, but he said he sinned against the Lord and the Lord alone. What he means is that , of course, included Bathsheba and her dead husband, but the overarching person he’s sinned against is God himself. You see how intimate this is, our God is not a faraway God, but a very intimate, personal, and ownership God. So much so, Jesus said, I am in you, and you in me. Jesus has gone to the extent to have loved us and to totally identify with us that he says we are his brother, we are his children, and we are all in Christ. Paul says clearly that we are in Christ, an amazing theology.

Therefore our doing good works, is because of God himself. We want to please him for sure, but not for the reason to gain salvation, but just to please him, and also we are changed more and more to be like him.

Romans 2: 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek

And Romans 2 has gone on to say there will be tribulations and judgment for those who do wickedness, evil, and there will be glory honor and peace for those who do good deeds in Christ. Not in ourselves. So for Christians, this is a wakeup call to experience the sanctification and produce that visible fruit of salvation. Point in case, our conversation can’t be centered around primarily human pleasures, family children well-being, without much concern for the house of God, for the city we live in and our neighborhood. Do we also giver unto the poor and needy and the marginalized? To our churches? Support in money and manpower. All these are visible demonstration of care, love, compassion that will be the fruit of the Spirit that’s so important. I say the good deeds must come with the fruits of the Spirit, and if separated, they will be doomed.

Judgements and reward awaits us in the eternity

Romans 2:6-11 (ESV) 6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Those Who know God have great energy for God (Daniel 11:31-32)

….but the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits. (Dan 11:32b)

People who know their God shall be strong and do exploits! Those who know their God shall be strong and do exploits, and if you are not strong, you don’t know your God enough. There is actually a real connection between the two, knowing God must unleash a bunch of energy!

There is a ‘but’ there before the exploits.  Daniel 11: 32 “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.” The ‘but’ is God’s people’s reaction towards the absolute profanity and anti-God abomination thrown at God’s people as in v31-32. “Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate. 32 He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.”

You know many times in ancient spiritual fathers, giants of the land like Augustine, Calvin, wrote their best theology treatise, books in response to the heresy that swept the land that redefined God, redefined salvation or grace of God. That’s the time, the best shines out of God’s people. Under pressure, under persecution, God’s holy unction stirs in God’s servants and produced the best that they wouldn’t have otherwise produced. It is amazing this occurred again and again, the list goes on. For Augustine, he defended the Trinitarian God, he defended the City of God in which he debunked and rebutted the blame of Roman empire of the fall of Rome because of Christianity. In fact, to the contrary, City of God demonstrated that the real city that men needs is that from heaven, not the fleshly type full of greed, selfishness, of men like in Rome. Human civilization was best depicted in Augustine’s brilliant book. John Calvin’s brilliant Institute of Religion was produced to shift the focus on man’s ability to God’s glorious providence. Calvin shifted the entire human foci of operandum from human to God. In reality, humanism which is enthroning human on the throne, and dethroned God, has swept the western civilization for centuries, and the church has a hard time to recover that for God in the secular age. In fact, that’s idolatry. Humanism is idolatry.

JI Packer writes, Daniel set himself to seek God “in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes” (v3, and prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem with a vehemence and passion and agony of spirit to which most of us are complete strangers.[1] That’s an intensity that most of us have not experienced. Why? Where did Daniel get his energy passion from?

As beautifully put by Packer , “Yet the invariable fruit of true knowledge of God is energy to pray for God’s cause—energy, indeed, which can. Only find an outlet and a relief of inner tension when channeled into such prayer—and the more knowledge, the more energy!” That’s so true. The only way to relief that tension building up in us when we are hit with such profanity and anti-God messages and spirit and culture in this world, is to channel all we have into prayers. That’s why Psalm is so therapeutic, healing and being able to connect with God is what we are made for. That’s what Daniel did. We may not be able to make public gestures against ungodliness and apostasy, but we can all pray ! If there is little energy in us for such prayer, this is a sure sign that as yet we scarcely know our God. [2]


[1] JI Packer, Knowing God, p 28, InterVarsity Press 1973

[2] Ibid p29

How to Meditate on God’s Word?

            This is probably the most important thing to do to live happily and joyfully as a Christian. Though it sounds simple, it is demanding. Meditation is a lost art today. We want to do everything today like the social media but meditation, because there seems to be a spiritual warfare every time we pick up a bible to read. If we don’t meditate on God’s word on our own spending time alone with God, no matter how good the sermons are from the pulpit we will head to dryness in our spiritual walk with the Lord, and discouragement. We don’t get the rhema, the quickened word of God, if we don’t meditate on God’s Word. Christians suffer grievously from their ignorance of the practice.

  1. The goal is to apply to yourself the works, ways and purposes and promises of God to yourself

JI Packer writes, “Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God.” [1]

The goal of meditation of God’s word is simply to apply God’s words unto yourself. Apply God’s promises to self, God’s purposes for you, God’s ways for yourself, and God’s works. Now we know , for example, “God’s purpose is higher than my purpose” Pslams, so meditation is a time of thinking over the scriptures, and dwelling on it, to adjust our attitude to God’s ways, God’s purposes. There will be a lot of confession coming out of us as we meditate over them, and there will be a time of struggle to adjust and realign ourselves to God’s views etc. This is all good, because, it’s in those moments of struggle, silence and thinking and dwelling over the word of God, one feels the presence of God and allows God to work through in our lives, in our souls. A very good book to meditate on daily is Psalms from the Old testament. My wife and I started to meditate on a chapter of psalms every night (almost) and thereafter we pray together. I am amazed how much it has enriched my prayers as I begin to flow into the ways of psalmist prayers, asking’s, confessions, and struggle. I need to get out of the “requests prayers” all the time to God, but also into a time of worship, awe, confession, which is so important. Look at the Lord’s prayers which starts as “Our Father who’s in heaven, holy is your Name..” first is worship.

2. An activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God [2]

The goal is to commune with God, to have communion with God. It simply means to spend time in the presence of God and talk with God, and listen to God, especially from reading the scriptures. That’s what meditation is all about, to hear from God as we mediate, dwell over, think over the scriptures in the Bible. Our thoughts are channeled to God at those time of meditation over God’s word. We begin to detach ourselves from our daily life activities for that period of time, like morning devotion I always set aside for God. Those times are holy, like Moses was told he was standing on holy ground as God appeared to him over the burning bush. Presence of God is the song of worship for every Pentecostal charismatic or evangelical Christian.

3. A matter of arguing with oneself, reasoning oneself out of the moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God’s power and grace [3]

Give time and think over the scriptures and let God’s truth make its full and proper impact on one’s mind and heart. It’s a matter of talking to yourself about God and yourself. Digest it and dwell over it, until it makes an impact on yourself. Move yourself from doubt and unbelief to God’s power and grace. That’s so important and powerful, somehow we will have to let God’s word make its way into our hearts, our conviction, our souls, and take root, and catches fire. It may not happen every time we meditate on his word, but don’t feel discouraged, they come in waves, some big, some small. Regardless, we are blessed and impacted, that’s the key.

4. To contemplate on God’s greatness and glory and our own littleness and sinfulness[4]

Nothing blows us away more than reading psalms of praise and worship that takes me into a moment of adoration and I usually pause and dwell on it and enjoy the moment in the presence of God. It’s not self-generated, but its the anointing of God’s word that generates it. And that glory is revealed when we contemplate on the unsearchable riches of divine mercy displayed in the Lord Jesus.[5]

First of all, we need to grasp the good old puritans reformed theology that shows how broken, depraved and little we are and the love, glory and beauty of God in contrast. I can testify to that without such theology, we think of ourselves as pretty good by default except we needed to confess for sins to be forgiven. The idea of self will and ability does block our ability to see God’s fullness of glory. The teaching of reformed that teaches we are so far from God and by default hostile to God’s ways as in Romans, will set us free into exploring more into the richness of the divine glory in Jesus. Without that I can foresee we will be handicapped for sure, not that we won’t see God’s glory, but we will be handicapped.

The unsearchable riches of divine mercy, like Paul writes, Romans 11:33 (ESV) 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

A beautiful prayer:

Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Enjoy your meditation on God’s word. Blessings!


[1] JI Packer, Knowing God, p. 23 Intervarsity Press 1973

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

The wrath of God is not capricious, mean, random, but the holy indignation, justice towards the evil of the world

This is not a popular topic, but Jesus mentioned hell more than anyone else in the Bible. Why is it so important? Because without hell, without the wrath of God, he cannot express his love towards his covenant people. Just to ask the question, who will repay justice for those blood, which was wrongly shed, innocently killed, wrongly murdered, and worse still, a whole massacre or genocide, how will that blood be paid?

Genesis 4:10-11 (ESV) 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. Abel’s blood cried out to God, and God cursed Cain who murdered his brother Abel.

A God who doesn’t show wrath when its needed, righteous, is a weak God. Why?

God didn’t just randomly capriciously impose judgement. Look at the judgment God poured upon Egypt, the 7 plagues that struck Egypt was not random at all, they were unleashed by God to judge the gods of Egypt.

Exodus 12 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.

That’s the judgement of God against the gods of Egypt.

Romans 1:22-25 (ESV) 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

This is God judging all those who turned to idolatry. There is a huge consequence to that, as God saying he gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity and dishonoring their bodies. Now this can be confusing because in modern days, there is no such thing as images like mortal birds and animals that we bow down to as idols, but rather our idols are the invisible imagery or things that we hang on to with higher regards and worth than the creator God. The relevant ones will be money which Jesus has spoken against the love of money many times, our career, fame, children, family, sex, power, anything that holds higher place in our lives than the God of heaven and earth is idolatry.

Then:

Romans 1:26-27 (ESV) 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Then God gave them up to dishonorable passions, women exchanged natural relations to contrary to nature, men turned to men committing shameless acts and received in themselves due penalty. That’s the judgment of God now in this world, not in the end time when there will be the judgement of heaven or hell, and when the devil, Satan, the serpent, will be thrown into burning lake of fire, hell.

Revelation 20:7-10 (ESV) 7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

There will be huge battle where Satan will march for the titanic battle like the sand of the sea and surround the camp of the saints, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them. Then the devil will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophets are and be tormented day and night forever and ever. It’s hard to go against God. The judgement is too severe for anyone to even imagine.

We have not preached wrath enough because we have been labeled as brimstone preachers who do that! So much so that it’s never or hardly preached but it’s a major doctrine in the OT and NT especially in Revelations on the wrath of God. It has a conjunction of sin and justice and God’s goodness! God will not leave his people under wickedness and evil, he pours out his judgement also to protect his godly folks!


In Sodom & Gomorrah, God waited for Lot and family to be out before pouring his judgment , but in the end time there will be no mitigation on his judgement. It will be final and frightening!

Ephesians 5:3-6 (ESV) 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Because of sexual immorality, all impurity, covetous or idolater, are the things that caused God to pour out his wrath upon the people who committed such disobedience. The wrath is not only poured out in the day of judgement in the end time, but it’s a present day judgement now while this is happening. If you look around Hollywood, big cities New York, etc., it makes you wonder is there wrath of God upon them now? They seem to continue to be sexually immoral, impurity of sort is extolled in our mainstream media which are overwhelmingly liberal, but the wrath of God is cranking away. Sons of disobedience are paying the price now, in one way or the other.

God is pouring out his wrath and will do so. It behooves is to take a second look and think through what that means to us today in our daily lives. Don’t let the invisible blind you and fool you, but it’s coming and it’s also happening! To heed is wise and to ignore is a fool.

Psalms 58:10-11 (ESV) 10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

God does judge on earth now.

Did the early church fathers, after the Apostles, perform signs and wonders, healings and speaking tongues?

Then we have the early church. How did they do? Did the signs and wonders stop after the 12 apostles? Did the early fathers and churches, bishops, experience miracles signs and wonders? Of course they did. 

Augustine

“In the same city of Carthage lived Innocentia, a very devout woman of the highest rank in the state. She had cancer in one of her breasts, a disease which, as physicians say, is incurable. . . . This lady we speak of had been advised by a skillful physician, who was intimate with her family, and she betook herself to God alone in prayer. On the approach of Easter, she was instructed in a dream to wait for the first woman that came out of the baptistery after being baptized and to have her make the sign of Christ upon the sore. She did so and was immediately cured” (The City of God 22:8 [A.D. 419]). [1]—supernatural healing.

And that’s Augustine! He’s no shallow healings seeking charismatics, using today’s terminology.. He’s the prime theologian that influenced the world as par excellence in the Reformed world, Catholic world, and any worlds! And that’s taken from one of his most famous books in history and Christendom, “The City of God”. 

Jerome

On coming thither he made the sign of the cross over the bed and fevered limbs of each [child] and called upon the name of Jesus. Marvelous efficacy of the name! . . . In that very hour they took food, recognized the mourning mother, and with thanks to God warmly kissed the saint’s hands” (Life of St. Hilarion 14 [A.D. 390]). [2]—supernatural healing

Ambrose of Milan

During the translation a blind man was healed. . . . [Arians] deny that the blind man received sight, but he denies not that he is healed. He says: ‘I, who could not see, now see,’ and proves it by the fact. . . . He declares that when he touched the hem of the robe of the martyrs, wherewith the sacred relics were covered, his sight was restored” (Letters 22:1–2, 17 [A.D. 388]).[3]

Ambrose of Milan, famous big name bishop , in fact he baptized Augustine! A blind man ‘s eyes opened! That would have blown away every evangelistic meeting or church meeting even among the charismatic, Pentecostal circles. Seriously, there is any hardly blind eyes opened miracles these days across the board. And that’s by Ambrose, not in some Azusa St of Los Angeles, or some healing crusade meetings of today, which is unfortunately also tingled with prosperity health teachings so sadly marred the supernatural.

Tertullian

“[When a scorpion stings someone’s heel] we have faith for a defense, if we are not smitten with distrust itself also, in immediately making the sign [of the cross] and adjuring and besmearing the heel with the beast. Finally, we often aid in this way even the heathen, seeing we have been endowed by God with that power which the apostle [Paul] first used when he despised the viper’s bite [Acts 28:3-5]” (Antidote Against the Scorpion 1 [A.D. 211]).[4]

The healings of someone beaten by vipers.

Eusebius of Caesarea

This being immediately done he prayed over the water and with firm faith in the Lord commanded them to pour it into the lamps. And when they had done so, contrary to all expectation, by a wonderful and divine power the nature of the water was changed into that of oil. A small portion of it has been preserved even to our day by many of the brethren there as a memento of the wonder” (Church History 6:9:1–3 [A.D. 312]).[5]

Water changed into oil! Wow, I haven’t ever read that in modern Pentecostal churches movement or any charismatic circles for the last centuries and in 21st! And that’s by Eusebius who is spoken of in many of our seminary papers, among reformed circles who teaches cessationists. 

The list goes on. Need we anymore early church proofs where early fathers opened eyes of the blind, change water into oil? Healed the sick instantly, cast out demons? All these were done not by the apostles, but by bishops, leaders, theologians like Augustine, Tertullian, Ambrose, Eusebius! As Reformed teachings says that miracles and signs were works of the apostles, and after them they ceased. Tongues ceased.

The answer is : God is still demonstrating and doing all the signs and wonders, as Jesus says, “Greater works than this you shall see”. 

John 14: “12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”


[1] https://www.catholic.com/tract/do-miracles-still-occur

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

Evangelism is the hardest thing in the world & the most important thing in the world

Evangelism is probably the hardest thing in the world, and ironically, the most important thing in the world too! What a paradox in life. Most Christians feel tightened and uncomfortable when we talk about evangelism and yet we know we should be doing more evangelism. Why? Because the society is so hostile towards Christian values and faith, let alone listening to you evangelizing, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many Christians have opted for the passive Christian lifestyle evangelism. It’s like I am living out the godly life, and I show compassion to non-believers, kindness to them, and hopefully by my kind deeds, they will be open to the gospel and asked about our faith. Doesn’t that sound lame? And yet, that’s the most comfortable posture default in our lives, and we hope we can alleviate then the guilt of not fulfilling the Great Commission as in Matthew 28 :28-30 “Go and make disciples of all nations…” How can we go and make disciples, if we sit still in our posture, social life? And if we socialize, we can’t even mention God and religion in our workplace in America, because that’d be too sensitive. So where does that leave us? Christian faith has been pushed to the edges about to fall off the cliff! That’s why there are talks that its actually easier to evangelize in the third world, before the enlightenment of Europe hits a country. 

There is really nowhere to turn practically and realistically. And most have such sentiments. Except we learn the skills of bringing up God organically, naturally like Elizabeth Pippert says in her book “Stay Salt”. 

I like to take a road back to Jesus and the early church and see how they evangelized and how Christianity grew so rapidly. 

Jesus evangelized rapidly and he is a class of his own, unmatchable. His miracles drew big crowds. He doesn’t need Alfa course, he doesn’t need the 3 spiritual laws, he doesn’t need the friendship evangelism, his feeding of 5000 men and women broke the straw, his raising up the crippled on sabbath rocked the boat, his cleansing the leper shook the very fabric of the Jewish society, and the list goes on. In a passage, folks were running everywhere bringing the sick, the lame, to Jesus for him to heal them. You see, physical needs come first in everyone’s mind. One parent begged Jesus to heal his seizure boy, and he got what he wanted; one woman with years of bleeding problem and pushed her way through a crowd of men to touch Jesus only to be healed, and she did. The woman by the well, when told by Jesus that she had 5 husbands, and the man she lives with now is not her husband, was so stunned by him that she went around and told every that she’s met the Messiah! The healed, the touched, were the most effective and powerful agents of evangelism and spreading the gospel for Jesus! That’s the kind of supernatural power that spreads his name wide and deep. He needs no crusade; he needs no website announcement. His healings is the announcements, better than all Google and Facebook and Twitter combined can ever do. We the church today needs to recover that to some degree!

Then comes his amazing stunning teaching packed with authority, he speaks as one with authority, the crowds said. There is one time, Jesus went up to take the scroll and read “I have come to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord”, and then he sat down, saying today in your hearing this scripture has been fulfilled. The congregation in the synagogue was stunned, as he spoke as one with authority. You see Jesus didn’t say this is going to be fulfilled, he is saying I am the fulfillment! He is God incarnated.

There is no way for us to do what Jesus did. We can’t even agree doctrinally to believe in the gifts of healing, between the cessation’s, and the continuist. Many with great doctrinal knowledge and minds, do not believe in the gift of healing, sad. The only group that’s probably believing and exercising the gift of healing is the Pentecostal or charismatic group.  But even among them, it’s also not too easy to see healings too, though they do happen at least. People’s greatest and number one longing is their needs met. And many times, their physical and emotional needs demand the first and foremost attention.And meeting needs evangelism is actually Jesus style of evangelism, but with such power and authority! Don’t talk about the gospel, if you can’t meet their needs. And that’s why Pentecostal churches are the fastest growing churches in the world, the global south!  But of course, now that I am in seminary learning all the richness of reformed theology, I will not be satisfied with just a big size church with no depth of Christ centered teachings, cross centered teachings. 

Then we have the early church. How did they do? Did the signs and wonders stop after the 12 apostles? Did the early fathers and churches, bishops, experience miracles signs and wonders? Of course they did. 

Augustine

“In the same city of Carthage lived Innocentia, a very devout woman of the highest rank in the state. She had cancer in one of her breasts, a disease which, as physicians say, is incurable. . . . This lady we speak of had been advised by a skillful physician, who was intimate with her family, and she betook herself to God alone in prayer. On the approach of Easter, she was instructed in a dream to wait for the first woman that came out of the baptistery after being baptized and to have her make the sign of Christ upon the sore. She did so and was immediately cured” (The City of God 22:8 [A.D. 419]). [1]

Jerome

On coming thither he made the sign of the cross over the bed and fevered limbs of each [child] and called upon the name of Jesus. Marvelous efficacy of the name! . . . In that very hour they took food, recognized the mourning mother, and with thanks to God warmly kissed the saint’s hands” (Life of St. Hilarion 14 [A.D. 390]). [2]

Ambrose of Milan

During the translation a blind man was healed. . . . [Arians] deny that the blind man received sight, but he denies not that he is healed. He says: ‘I, who could not see, now see,’ and proves it by the fact. . . . He declares that when he touched the hem of the robe of the martyrs, wherewith the sacred relics were covered, his sight was restored” (Letters 22:1–2, 17 [A.D. 388]).[3]

Tertullian

“[When a scorpion stings someone’s heel] we have faith for a defense, if we are not smitten with distrust itself also, in immediately making the sign [of the cross] and adjuring and besmearing the heel with the beast. Finally, we often aid in this way even the heathen, seeing we have been endowed by God with that power which the apostle [Paul] first used when he despised the viper’s bite [Acts 28:3-5]” (Antidote Against the Scorpion 1 [A.D. 211]).[4]

Eusebius of Caesarea

This being immediately done he prayed over the water and with firm faith in the Lord commanded them to pour it into the lamps. And when they had done so, contrary to all expectation, by a wonderful and divine power the nature of the water was changed into that of oil. A small portion of it has been preserved even to our day by many of the brethren there as a memento of the wonder” (Church History 6:9:1–3 [A.D. 312]).[5]

The list goes on. Need we anymore early church proofs where early fathers opened eyes of the blind, change water into oil? Healed the sick instantly, cast out demons? All these were done not by the apostles, but by bishops, leaders, theologians like Augustine, Tertullian, Ambrose, Eusebius! Contra the Reformed teachings that says miracles and signs were works of the apostles, and after them they ceased like the canon is closed. I disagree. Tongues didn’t ceased. Healings of modern days go on, and yes Jesus says:

John 14 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Their evangelism is powered by miracles too! 


[1] https://www.catholic.com/tract/do-miracles-still-occur

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

God of Miracles of Impossibility

Psalms 105:41 (ESV) 41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed through the desert like a river.

As I was fasting tonight and praying to God, this verse hit me about the exodus of Israel out of Egypt. The power of God was so mighty striking Egypt that, the strongest nation in the world at that time, Egypt with its Pharaoh, the mightiest king of earth, was glad when Israel, the slaves of Egypt left them!

Psalms 105:37-38 (ESV) 37 Then he brought out Israel with silver and gold, and there was none among his tribes who stumbled. 38 Egypt was glad when they departed, for dread of them had fallen upon it.

Egypt was GLAD when Israel departed from Egypt for dread of them had fallen upon it!

They were on the way out , they went through wilderness, desert, they ran out of food, water, v41 described one of the most amazing verse, miracle happened! God opened the rock, and water gushed out. This is a miracle! Water gushing out of a rock, right in the middle of a desert. This is not an oasis. This is God showing the impossible happened by his miracle, so that Israel will truly know this is humanly impossible, and the only way is God! Have you ever felt you needed a miracle from God? Many of us have, and some do. I do. That’s our God! He is the God of impossibility! When men despair, when Israel and Moses went into despair mode, crying out to God, God stepped in and provided the most miraculous way. He could have commanded water to flow from the sand, but no, from the rock!

Not only that, v41b says it flowed through the desert like a river.

Not only did water gushed out from a rock, and you thought you would be lucky to get a couple of buckets, but no! Again, another convincing and convicting miracle of the immensity of God, the God our providence, caused the water to flow through the desert like a river. Can you see the contrast between a rover and a desert? The two most unlikely things become partners in the grace of the miracle of God!

I am so convicted, and whatever I asked from God, seeking him for his strength,

Psalms 105:3-5 (ESV) 3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! 4 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! 5 Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles

Those who seek the Lord rejoice!

Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually!!