"Sir, You have the common cold."
It is not so easy to diagnose our spiritual life. Instead it is almost impossible. Actually it is impossible without the guidance and discernment from the Holy Spirit.
Here are seven symptoms of a declining spiritual livelihood.
1.) Spiritual Declension - Declining Spirituality and the interest thereof (God). Octavius Winslow points out that "The path of spiritual declension is a 'sloped plane', each step accelerating the rapidity of the soul's descent. It commences at the closet. The restraining of prayer; especially private devotion; is the first stage in the decay and declension of the believer in the divine life. Soon will follow the fascination and power of the world; and when the world enters like a flood, Christ and prayer and eternal realities are swept before its impetuous torrent, then the gracious soul is stranded upon the bleak, rock bound coast of bitter remorse and dark despair."
2.) Formalized religion - legalism, which is more concerned with our outward actions instead of our heart. This is expressed in the corporate sense through preaching and Pharisaical pastoral care. Also there is no desire to see God's word applied
3.) Distracted Desires - a misplaced desire in anything other than Christ. (this list is endless, including, ideals, politics, sports, romance, etc.) As a godly man once said, "Our minds are Idol Factories."
4.) Habitual sin - Cherished sins that are a habit for your life. A true spiritual life will say that, "I am dead" Look at the great church father, St. Augustine. "Father, give me purity but not yet." Later, one of his promiscuous girlfriends walked down the street and said, "I miss you Augustine." To this Augustine replied, "Augustine is dead."
5.) Ignorance of knowledge of the Truth - pride, no humility except a false coat. (1 Cor. 8:1)
6.) Self reliance - instead of the Cross (you can see easily how this would lead to death)
7.) Spiritual Apathy or Death- the result of our sin. When God does not make sense to you (Matthew 11:20-24.)
These cautions warn you and I to hold on to our first love - DO NOT LET GO! There is no greater trial, test or question set before you and I.
Some years ago I wrote a short editorial for the journal Themelios entitled `What do miserable Christians sing?’ It took me about thirty minutes to write, edit and email to head office; yet of all the things I have ever written, I have received more – and more positive – correspondence on that short piece than on anything else I have ever done. What was my basic thesis? That the typical Christian church offered the broken-hearted nothing whatsoever to sing in praise to God on a Sunday; and in so doing, the church was failing in her duty to care for the hurting, the downtrodden, the depressed. The answer I proposed was a recovery of psalm singing, not on the grounds that psalm singing is the only pure form of worship but because it offers a truly deep and authentic idiom for expressing the full range of human emotion and experience to God in the very act of praising him. No hymn book or collection of choruses of which I am aware even comes close to offering what the psalms offer in this regard; and for this reason alone I would personally be quite happy to sing nothing but the psalms.
You know you want to read more
If you really knew me, you would not like me. If I wrote my thoughts and actions in a book, full of sins would it be. Is there any hope for a person like me? Read on....
Q:(Isaiah 6:1-5; Job 42: 5-6) What do we learn about ourselves from these verses?
A: The prophet Isaiah accounts for us the glorious vision of the one true king- Yahweh. Upon this glance Isaiah fell undone; as he fell he cried out, "Woe is Me!" God's holiness caused Isaiah to fall upon his face and worship. This informs us readers that we cannot see God without recognizing our unworthy state. Also we do not recognize who and what we truly are until we encounter God. Job's reaction is one of repentance when he faces the true Creator.
Q: Same Verses: What do we see of the manner of the Love of the Father from These verses?
A: Negatively show His love, because any revelation is mercy. God revealing our sins to us is a great mercy. The love that the Old Testament refers to is God's Covenant and Faithful Love (hesed). We do not deserve conviction, we deserve judgment, for God to do otherwise is nothing short of relentless grace because we do not listen the first time. He comes after us with great loving kindness.
Q: (Habakkuk 3:16; Judges 13:20; Revelation 1:17) What was the effect upon those who witnessed these events?
A: "Rottenness entered my bones and fell on their faces, fell as if I were dead"
Not only was there a sense of Spiritual unworth but also a physical reaction. God does reveal Himself through senses. Have you ever had this encounter? When you realize how big the universe might be, that the universe does not revolve around you (me)? Or upon meditation of a sin, did you (I) collapse on the thought that you (I) offended God? With that petty lie, lust, covet? If so- God is being merciful to you. He loves you.
Think of Conviction in this way. And look to Christ for there is your salvation from your sins.
Q: When you think of God's love to you: what Scripture comes to mind?
Q: We Are called Sons of God what does this mean?
(Hint: Adoption - look at Duguid's article in Tabletalk, have you ever considered yourself to be a true orphan? In the eyes of Scripture you and I once were.)
Q: 1 John 3:3 - Any ideas on what this verse means?
A: Martin Lloyd-Jones once said, "Holiness is not something we might become, instead it has something to do because what we are." We are purified by the hope that we have in Christ, the starting point is God.
A: Mortification is an outworking of Justification (it is sanctification)
Q: What is the motivation given in Scripture for living a pure life?
Q: What are some of the ways in which we mortify indwelling sin?
A: Knowledge of God by faith is what we need to kill sin.
Hebrews 6:11-12; Assurance of Hope... faith and patience
Hebrews 12; with this patience we are to look to Christ who endured the cross (He is the author and perfecter of our faith)
Note that You begin with Christ and His work on the Cross. That is our motivation, that is our salvation and that is our sanctification. The ends, the means and the author is Jesus Christ.
Life is a blessing, a great gift from God, it is by His grace that we breathe. And yet there is this thing called temptation... what is temptation? Mr. Matthess opened this question up to us students, one of whom defined it as, "faced with a choice with the possibility of sin." Good choice of words here, note that temptation is not sin, for proof of this all one needs to do is realize that Jesus Christ faced temptation and was without sin.
God does not tempt us... instead it is part of our own lust, of our fallen natures, or the presence of sin within you.
The Apostle James tells us in James 1:12-15 of the steps of temptation:
For a practical example, Genesis 3 records for us the fall of Adam and Eve.
The Serpent's deception in the garden of Eden is a pattern used by the flesh in our lives. (1) How did the Serpent persuade Eve to eat? Satan warped God's command through lies and deception
(2) What did he hide or disguise? the consequence of the action (3) How did he make sin attractive? You will be like God he said, which is idolatry, and you will know Good and Evil he said.
Simple lies that had drastic consequences. Why did Adam and Eve fail? Ultimately they listened to their own desires instead of looking to God. Remember the place of the mind in resisting temptation - temptation first addresses the mind. The mind makes the choice and is the watchman of the soul.
1.) How is it that you yield to something that you know is sinful?
2.) What is the most bizarre excuse you have ever given to justify something you did wrong? Did it work? (Do you really need sin? Do you really think that pleasure will help you and satisfy you?)
3.) What are some of the physical results seen in people's lives as a result of sin?
4.) What are some of the ways we can guard against yielding to temptation? (Think of Joseph and Christ in the desert)
5.) what is it about the relationship between the imaginations and the affections that makes the imagination so important to guard?
I [Spurgeon] am led to remember this by the fact that a somewhat singular circumstance, recorded in my memory, connects this text [Eph. 2:8] with myself and my grandfather. It is now long years ago. I was announced to preach in a certain country town in the Eastern Counties. It does not often happen to me to be behind time, for I feel that punctuality is one of those little virtues which may prevent great sins. But we have no control over railway delays, and breakdowns; and so it happened that I reached the appointed place considerably behind the time.
Like sensible people, they had begun their worship, and had proceeded as far as the sermon. As I neared the chapel, I perceived that someone was in the pulpit preaching, and who should the preacher be but my dear and venerable grandfather! He saw me as I came in at the front door and made my way up the aisle, and at once he said, ‘Here comes my grandson! He may preach the gospel better than I can, but he cannot preach a better gospel; can you, Charles?’
As I made my way through the throng, I answered, ‘You can preach better than I can. Pray go on.’ But he would not agree to that. I must take the sermon, and so I did, going on with the subject there and then, just where he left off. ‘There,’ said he, ‘I was preaching on ‘For by grace are ye saved.’ I have been setting forth the source and fountainhead of salvation; and I am now showing them the channel of it, through faith. Now you take it up, and go on.’
I am so much at home with these glorious truths that I could not feel any difficulty in taking from my grandfather the thread of his discourse, and joining my thread to it, so as to continue without a break. Our agreement in the things of God made it easy for us to be joint-preachers of the same discourse. I went on with ‘through faith,’ and then I proceeded to the next point, ‘and that not of yourselves.’
Upon this I was explaining the weakness and inability of human nature, and the certainty that salvation could not be of ourselves, when I had my coat-tail pulled, and my well-beloved grandsire took his turn again. ‘When I spoke of our depraved human nature,’ the good old man said, ‘I know most about that, dear friends’; and so he took up the parable, and for the next five minutes set forth a solemn and humbling description of our lost estate, the depravity of our nature, and the spiritual death under which we were found.
When he had said his say in a very gracious manner, his grandson was allowed to go on again, to the dear old man’s great delight; for now and then he would say, in a gentle tone, ‘Good! Good!’ Once he said, ‘Tell them that again, Charles.’ and, of course, I did tell them that again. It was a happy exercise to me to take my share in bearing witness to truths of such vital importance, which are so deeply impressed upon my heart.
While announcing this text I seem to hear that dear voice, which has been so long lost to earth, saying to me, “TELL THEM THAT AGAIN.” I am not contradicting the testimony of forefathers who are now with God. If my grandfather could return to earth, he would find me where he left me, steadfast in the faith, and true to that form of doctrine which was once delivered to the saints.
[HT - Shepherd's Scrapbook]
"'The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.' The whole earth is full of God's glory. The chief incentive in subduing the earth and the chief end to be promoted by it would have been the discovery and exhibition of the manifold wisdom and power of God. We know how intriguing, even to godless men, is the scientific quest, and how untiring are their labours to discover the secrets of what they call nature. How incomparably more intriguing and defeatlessly rewarding would have been the quest of sinless man when, at every step of his path and in every detail of progressive understanding, the marvels of the Creator's wisdom, power, goodness, righteousness, and lovingkindness would have broken in upon his heart and mind, and every new discovery, every additional conquest, would have given cause afresh for the adoration, 'O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches' (Psalm 104:24). We get a glimpse of the stupendous undertaking and the unspeakable glory of it all. We begin, perhaps, to understand a little of what culture should be. This is the culture that would have engaged and inspired man if he had been confirmed in his integrity. It would have been culture untiringly inspired by the apprehension of the Creator's glory and by the passion to apprehend and exalt that glory more. That our culture is so little inspired by that ideal is but proof that man has fallen. That any of this culture is found in the earth is proof of redemptive grace." – John Murray
The above is a quote taken from the Sovereign Grace Ministries Website, the beloved group of churches under the leadership of Mahaney. They are launching a worldview conference for those within their fellowship of which one of the keynote speakers is Dr. Iain Duguid. Should be enlightening for sure.
A prayer request - the beloved brothers from Christ Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Sheridan Indiana had their congregational building burned down on Monday. My good buddy Gilbert is from that church where his dad is an elder. Please uphold these brothers and sisters in prayer.
Kris Lungaard is his book, The Enemy Within says under the heading of The Medicine of Humiliation “Think greatly of God’s greatness. Thoughts that reach up toward the excellency of God's majesty are beautiful and delicious to the soul, but they come with unpleasant side effects. Even a hint of his greatness shows us up as a grasshoppers, dust, and "less than nothing" in comparision (Isaiah 40:12-25). No one wants to go out of his way to feel small, weak, and defiled; but this strong medicine gives us hope against sin. In this humiliation our sin withers. We have a helpful problem in thinking of God's greatness: we can't do it! He is too much. Our puny minds can't take him in. And that helps, because it humbles us before him. Think of how little you know the God. Can you walk up to the edge of infinity and not feel vertigo? Can you stare at the sun and not go blind?"
Kris Lungaard is his book, The Enemy Within says under the heading of The Medicine of Humiliation “Think greatly of God’s greatness. Thoughts that reach up toward the excellency of God's majesty are beautiful and delicious to the soul, but they come with unpleasant side effects. Even a hint of his greatness shows us up as a grasshoppers, dust, and "less than nothing" in comparision (Isaiah 40:12-25). No one wants to go out of his way to feel small, weak, and defiled; but this strong medicine gives us hope against sin. In this humiliation our sin withers.
We have a helpful problem in thinking of God's greatness: we can't do it! He is too much. Our puny minds can't take him in. And that helps, because it humbles us before him. Think of how little you know the God. Can you walk up to the edge of infinity and not feel vertigo? Can you stare at the sun and not go blind?"
Monergism - the treasure trove of the world wide web. Challies did a massive overhaul of this treasure chest not too long ago and now it is more accessible for everyone. This site addresses ever major topic in Christian theology (and then some). Filled with great quotes, excellent articles, and lots of cool pictures- it is a great instrument for theological studies for everyone.
Sermonspice - full of great humor for your soul that brings a smile to your face, but also tears to your eyes as you think about the decadent state of Christendom today. Even the feeble attempt of this website is sad, as they say "5063 ways to spice up your sermon!" Man cannot spice up the sermon, we can make it more entertaining but the more we do that- we take away the gospel of Christ.
Watch MeChurch for a taste
Who makes the better multi purpose tool? Leatherman or Swiss Army ... let me know
The path of spiritual declension
is a 'sloped plane', each step accelerating
the rapidity of the soul's descent.
It commences at the closet. The restraining
of prayer; especially private devotion; is the
first stage in the decay and declension of the
believer in the divine life.
Soon will follow the fascination and power of
the world; and when the world enters like a flood,
Christ and prayer and eternal realities are swept
before its impetuous torrent, then the gracious
soul is stranded upon the bleak, rock bound coast
of bitter remorse and dark despair.
(From Octavius Winslow's "Prayer Out of Soul Depths")