Satan’s Candy Store

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.(1 Peter 4:1)

First it puzzles. Did Christ have to cease from sin? No! “He committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22).

Then it clicks. When we arm ourselves with the thought that Christ suffered for us, we realize that we died with him. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). When we die with him we cease to sin.

It’s just like Romans 6. “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. . . . So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:6–7, 11).

Peter says, “Arm yourselves with this thought!

Paul says, “Consider yourselves dead!”

The weapon for our vacation is a thought/consideration.

When the temptations of Satan come — to lust, to steal, to lie, to covet, to envy, to retaliate, to put down, to fear — arm yourself with this thought: When my Lord suffered and died to free me from sin, I died to sin!

When Satan says to you, Why deny yourself the pleasure of lust? Why deal with the mess you could avoid by lying? Why not go ahead and get that harmless luxury you covet? Why not seek justice by returning the same hurt you received?

Answer him: The Son of God suffered (really suffered!) to deliver me from sinning. I cannot believe he suffered to make me miserable. Therefore, what he died to purchase must be more wonderful than the pleasures of sin. Since I trust him, my susceptibility to your allurements has shriveled up and died.

Satan, be gone! My mouth doesn’t drool any more when I walk by your candy store.

God’s Best Promise

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

The most far-reaching promise of God’s future grace is found in Romans 8:32. This is the most precious verse in the Bible to me. Part of the reason is that the promise in it is so all-encompassing that it stands ready to help me at virtually every turn in my life and ministry. There never has been, and never will be, a circumstance in my life where this promise is irrelevant.

By itself that all-encompassing promise would probably not make the verse most precious. There are other such sweeping promises such as Psalm 84:11: “No good thing does [God] withhold from those who walk uprightly.” And 1 Corinthians 3:21–23, “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future — all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” It is difficult to overstate the spectacular sweep and scope of these promises.

But what puts Romans 8:32 in a class by itself is the logic that gives rise to the promise and makes it as solid and unshakable as God’s love for his infinitely admirable Son.

Romans 8:32 contains a foundation and guarantee that is so strong and so solid and so secure that there is absolutely no possibility that the promise could ever be broken. This is what makes it an ever-present strength in times of great turmoil. Whatever else gives way, whatever else disappoints, whatever else fails, this all-encompassing promise of future grace can never fail.

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all . . . ” If this is true, says the logic of heaven, then God will most surely give all things to those for whom he gave his Son!

Prayer’s Exclamation Point

All the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. (2 Corinthians 1:20)

Prayer is a response to promises, that is, to the assurances of God’s future grace.

Prayer is drawing on the account where God has deposited all his promises of future grace.

Prayer is not hoping in the dark that there might be a God of good intentions out there. Prayer goes to the bank every day and draws on promises for the future grace needed for that day.

Don’t miss the connection between the two halves of this great verse. Notice the “that is why”: “All the promises of God are Yes in Christ. That is why (therefore) we pray Amen through him, to God’s glory” (my translation).

To make sure we see it, let’s turn the two halves around: When we pray, we say Amen to God through Christ, because God has said Amen to all his promises in Christ. Prayer is the confident plea for God to make good on his promises of future grace for Christ’s sake. Prayer links our faith in future grace with the foundation of it all, Jesus Christ.

Which leads to the final point: “Amen” is a full and precious word in times of prayer. It doesn’t mean primarily, “Yes, I have now said all this prayer.” It means primarily, “Yes, God has made all these promises.”

Amen means, “Yes, Lord, you can do it.” It means, “Yes, Lord, you are powerful. Yes, Lord, you are wise. Yes, Lord, you are merciful. Yes, Lord, all future grace comes from you and has been confirmed in Christ.”

“Amen” is an exclamation point of hope after a prayer for help.

Sweetly Devastated by Grace – Piper

What Does It Mean to Seek the Lord?

by John Piper, Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

 

Seeking the Lord means seeking his presence. “Presence” is a common translation of the Hebrew word “face.” Literally, we are to seek his “face.” But this is the Hebraic way of having access to God. To be before his face is to be in his presence.

But aren’t his children always in his presence? Yes and no. Yes in two senses: First, in the sense that God is omnipresent and therefore always near everything and everyone. He holds everything in being. His power is ever-present in sustaining and governing all things.

And second, yes, he is always present with his children in the sense of his covenant commitment to always stand by us and work for us and turn everything for our good. “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

When He’s Not with Us

But there is a sense in which God’s presence is not with us always. For this reason, the Bible repeatedly calls us to “seek the Lord . . . seek his presence continually.” God’s manifest, conscious, trusted presence is not our constant experience. There are seasons when we become neglectful of God and give him no thought and do not put trust in him and we find him “unmanifested” — that is, unperceived as great and beautiful and valuable by the eyes of our hearts.

“God calls us to enjoy continual consciousness of his supreme greatness and beauty and worth.”

His face — the brightness of his personal character — is hidden behind the curtain of our carnal desires. This condition is always ready to overtake us. That is why we are told to “seek his presence continually.” God calls us to enjoy continual consciousness of his supreme greatness and beauty and worth.

What It Means to Seek

This happens through “seeking.” Continual seeking. But what does that mean practically? Both the Old and New Testaments say it is a “setting of the mind and heart” on God. It is the conscious fixing or focusing of our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on God.

“Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.” (1 Chronicles 22:19)

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mindson things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1–2)

A Conscious Choice

This setting of the mind is the opposite of mental coasting. It is a conscious choice to direct the heart toward God. This is what Paul prays for the church: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). It is a conscious effort on our part. But that effort to seek God is a gift from God.

“Seeking God is the conscious effort to get through the natural means to God himself.”

We do not make this mental and emotional effort to seek God because he is lost. That’s why we would seek a coin or a sheep. But God is not lost. Nevertheless, there is always something through which or around which we must go to meet him consciously. This going through or around is what seeking is. He is often hidden. Veiled. We must go through mediators and around obstacles.

The heavens are telling the glory of God. So we can seek him through that. He reveals himself in his word. So we can seek him through that. He shows himself to us in the evidences of grace in other people. So we can seek him through that. The seeking is the conscious effort to get through the natural means to God himself — to constantly set our minds toward God in all our experiences, to direct our minds and hearts toward him through the means of his revelation. This is what seeking God means.

Obstacles to Avoid

And there are endless obstacles that we must get around in order to see him clearly, and so that we can be in the light of his presence. We must flee spiritually dulling activities. We must run from them and get around them. They are blocking our way.

We know what makes us vitally sensitive to God’s appearances in the world and in the word. And we know what dulls us and blinds us and makes us not even want to seek him. These things we must move away from and go aroundif we would see God. That is what seeking God involves.

“The great promise to those who seek the Lord is that he will be found.”

And as we direct our minds and hearts Godward in all our experiences, we cry out to him. This too is what seeking him means.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6)

“If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy . . . ” (Job 8:5)

Seeking involves calling and pleading. “O Lord, open my eyes. O Lord, pull back the curtain of my own blindness. Lord, have mercy and reveal yourself. I long to see your face.”

Humility Essential

The great obstacle to seeking the Lord is pride. “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him” (Psalm 10:4). Therefore, humility is essential to seeking the Lord.

The great promise to those who seek the Lord is that he will be found. “If you seek him, he will be found by you” (1 Chronicles 28:9). And when he is found, there is great reward. “Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). God himself is our greatest reward. And when we have him, we have everything. Therefore, “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”

Look to Jesus for Your Joy

“They do all their deeds to be seen by others. . . . They love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.” (Matthew 23:5–7)

The itch of self-regard craves the scratch of self-approval. If we are getting our pleasure from feeling self-sufficient, we will not be satisfied without others seeing and applauding our self-sufficiency.

Hence Jesus’s description of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:5, “They do all their deeds to be seen by others.”

This is ironic. Wouldn’t you think that self-sufficiency should free the proud person from the need to be made much of by others? That’s what “sufficient” means. But evidently there is an emptiness in this so-called self-sufficiency.

The self was never designed to satisfy itself or rely upon itself. It never can be self-sufficient. We are are not God. We are in the image of God. And what makes us “like” God is not our self-sufficiency. We are shadows and echoes. So, there will always be an emptiness in the soul that struggles to be satisfied with the resources of self.

This empty craving for the praise of others signals the failure of pride and the absence of faith in God’s ongoing grace. Jesus saw the terrible effect of this itch for human glory. He named it in John 5:44, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” The answer is, you can’t. Itching for glory from other people makes faith impossible. Why?

Because faith looks away from self to God. Faith is being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus. And if you are bent on getting the satisfaction of your itch from the scratch of others’ praise, you will turn away from Jesus. That is not what he is like. He lives for the glory of his Father. And calls us to do the same.

But if you would turn from self as the source of satisfaction (repentance), and come to Jesus for the enjoyment of all that God is for us in him (faith), then the itch of emptiness would be replaced by a fullness — what Jesus calls “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

 

How Do You Define Joy?

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-do-you-define-joy