If you are like me, you may have spent the majority of your Christian life motivated by the wrong feelings and aiming for the wrong goals. You may have forgotten the Gospel, while in pursuit of the Christian life. It's not guilt, but gratitude for redemption, that should drive our pursuit of the Christian life, and yet, so many of us find ourselves in the cycle of fear and pride. It's not the formula of regimen and knowledge that determines a mature relationship with God, but the fruit of the Spirit exemplified in our lives, yet we so often look to our checklists for affirmation:
Remember, real progress in the Christian life is not gauged by our knowledge of Scripture, our church attendance, time in prayer, or even our witnessing (although it isn't less than these things). Maturity in the Christian life is measured by only one test: how much closer to his character have we become? The result of the Spirit's work is not more and more activity. No, the results of his work are seen in our quality of life; they are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." It is life like his. (p. 158)
While we spend much of our energy erroneously pursuing activity and badges of Christian discipline, the Lord desires for us to first and foremost concerned with what his greatest joy: to display his great love for us through the forgiveness of sin. And how do we value our forgiveness in Christ? We simply must see our great need for forgiveness if we are to value it.
We are in Chapter 10: Take Courage: Your Sins Are Forgiven, of Because He Loves Me. This chapter is perhaps the most situationally practical chapter we've read thus far. Through sketches of real-life situations we each struggle with in different ways: Self-image/self-worship, Ambition/self-promotion, Depression/self-pity, Lust/Self-interest. Rather than prescribing techniques and formulas for conquering unpleasant symptoms of our sinfulness, Elyse walks us through the gospel declarations (who we are in Christ and what the Cross has accomplished on our behalf) and how we can fulfill gospel obligations (responses in obedience.) In other words, she shows us how the reality of our forgiveness in Christ practically applies to each of these situations...and more.
Rather than the truths of forgiveness and faith being ancillary in our lives, everything else needs to be ancillary to them. Nothing--not your position at work, not your children's successes, not your physical attractiveness, nothing--is more important that this. (p. 160)
We are forgiven, friends. And, like we are reminded in this chapter, THAT FACT should amaze us, shock us, provoke us to utter humility and joy. Because we are loved and forgiven, we can now know the full transformation of the gospel in our lives...the power of new life and new identity...the likeness of Christ!
Now let's talk about it...
1) Take one area of your life, and apply the gospel the way Elyse did in this chapter? What ways can you see your struggle in a new light?
2) How does the title of the chapter: "Take courage. Your sins are forgiven" make a difference in your life today?
3) Is your pursuit of the Christian life more informed by your identity in Christ than it was 10 weeks ago? How has the Lord changed your thinking?
I'd love to hear your thoughts! You can do so in two ways...
*Leave a comment below, and feel free to discuss with others there!
*Write a blog post either answering these questions or with your own reactions to the chapter, and link up your blog post below! (Remember to add the title and url for the specific post and not your blog url and name. Thanks!)
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(It's not too late to read along. If you haven't purchased a copy of the book, you can do so here.)
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