• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Why is it so hard (again)?

A friend and former prof, Jack, used to say that the evil one rubs your nose in your sin and drives you to discouragement and despair.  The Holy Spirit shows you your sin and drives you back to the cross for forgiveness.

When I wrote yesterday about how hard it is (or seems to be) to do partnership development, I trust you knew that was only a small tip of the iceberg.Tip of the Iceberg --- Image by © Ralph A. Clevenger/CORBIS

Why is life so hard?  Primarily because we struggle against sin, the flesh and the evil one.  The struggle is compounded by the fact that we can’t always distinguish which ‘one’ is working on us.

When our skirmish is against sin, we find ourselves face to face with that ‘law’ which works within us (Romans 7:23); that temptation when ‘fully grown brings forth death’ (James 1:15).  It is like running through a darkened hallway where you keep bumping into things, not knowing what they are, or what they might contain.

Those who went before us talked about ‘mortifying sin’ (see John Owens’ famous treatise, “The Mortification of Sin”).  Mortifying sin was the way people in those days talked about the need to deal with our heart (or our heart sins) in serious ways.

That sounds kind of rough, I know.  However, an Australian mate, Simon, made the comment over coffee today that he doesn’t often hear much talk about sin.  It’s more about the ‘help’ that Jesus can be to us.  Sin, in our lives, needs to be dealt with in serious ways in order for us to know more of the depth of the impact of the cross.

A Scottish pastor shared the following ideas as a way to practice ‘mortification’ of sin.  First, see sin for what it really is.  Self-deception keeps us from seeing a ‘struggle’ as idolatry.  Next, see sin for what it is in God’s presence.  “The masters of the spiritual life spoke of dragging our lusts to the cross (kick and scream, though they will), to a wrath-bearing Christ.”  Next, remember who you are.  You are no longer the ‘old’ man or ‘old’ woman, you are a new creation in Christ.   Finally, put sin to death.   “Refuse it, starve it, and reject it’.

None of this work can happen outside of the ‘great exchange’; outside of the Spirit of Christ at work in our hearts and giving us the grace to do the ‘hard work’.

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