1 Peter

Four Powerful Incentives to Christian Living

May 6, 2012 Series: Scripture: 1 Peter 4:1-6 by Chris Strevel

That Christ has suffered to give us rest from sin and new life in him is a vital piece of our Christian armor. It is the unbreakable “helmet of salvation” that wards off Satan’s fiery missiles, especially guilt and fear (Eph. 6:17; 1 Thess. 5:8). When the evil one assails and temptations trouble, we hold up before his crushed skull that Jesus Christ has lived and died for us. He has born our condemnation, delivered us from despair, and opened heaven to us. Peter writes these things so that we might give ourselves to thinking and living as redeemed men and women in our Lord Jesus. This is the way we make progress in overcoming sin and possessing a living hope to share with the world of dead sinners. When tempted, we must consider that Christ has been tempted in every way as we have been and “saves to the uttermost those that come unto God by him, for he ever lives to make intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25). When our hearts tremble under the attacks of the world and Satan, like Stephen we look up to heaven and behold our Savior; he has overcome the world (John 16:33). We have good cheer in him, because “greater is he who is you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). We have been crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20); we live because he rose again. That we are to be armed with this understanding – of God, self, and the world – powerfully reminds us of our neediness and of our Savior’s sufficiency. He is all our life and holiness, strength and hope in the world, which is at war with God.

We cannot be Christians and avoid this war. Many would like to make their peace with the world, or make the world less worldly in order to be more at home in it. We see this in everything from the levity of modern preaching and toleration of perversity to the rarity of church discipline and happy-go-lucky piety. Let us rejects these offerings of easy peace (Jer. 6:14; 8:11-12). The Lord cures us not by pretending sin is not so bad but by probing deeply into our wound, plunging the cross into our old man of sin, and then arming us to the teeth for combat. Every child of God feels this war within him. He wants to do good, but he does evil (Rom. 7:21; Gal. 5:17). Living in a corrupt society oppresses us, encourages retreat and silence, and tempts us to compromise. Defeats we have known; despair we have felt. Encouragement is required to pick up the sword and put on the helmet, to cry to the Lord for help, to resist sin and sow unto righteousness. Peter gives us four encouragements to be faithful. He speaks with a sobriety that is far removed from today’s motivational speakers: feel better, fix this, smile more, take yourself less seriously. Our warfare is unto the death. Our churches, families, and societies are bleeding from the jugular. Nothing but substantial, heavenly motivation will spur us on to faithfulness, to arm ourselves with Christ’s sufferings, to labor for his truth and kingdom.

He begins with a painful reminder: our past (v. 3). Consider how you used to live: doing the will of the Gentiles. In verse two it was “lusts,” now it is “will,” implying a determined opposition to God’s will. The mention of debauched drinking parties, various lusts, and “abominable idolatries” has one purpose: to humble us to repentance. We wasted enough of our lives on these things before we were believers. We must forsake these old ways; Christ has suffered for us. To return to them, even to dabble in them a little – which many of us have done due to weakness or the hope we could win our old party friends to Christ – takes up the sword that slew the Savior. This way of life was wholly opposed to the will of God (v. 2); it was a life of self-willed pleasure, doing what we wanted when we wanted. This is as true of the baser sins as of the way unbelievers worship God. They live as they please; they follow their corrupt hearts. But Christ has made all things new; if we are in him, we are a “new creation.” Peter is not making the obviously false claim that every unbeliever participates in all this filth, but the root of corruption is in each one of us. Collectively, we are guilty of them all; individually, we are capable of any of them. It is compelling that Peter sees the whole fallen mass of humanity as vitally connected and sharing a common guilt before God. We ought to feel our vileness deeply: both our individual sins and our participation in the rebellion of the human race. It is because men do not feel their sinfulness that they do not run to Christ. Even children of believers who have been mercifully preserved from exposure to these sins have ample occasion in these verses to examine their hearts. Are you thankful for being preserved? Or do you itch to taste a little of them, to participate in a way of life from which the Lord Jesus has preemptively rescued you by allowing you to hear the gospel from your earliest days?

The point here is that sin ought to shock us. The rebellion with which we provoked God to his face ought to humble us in the dust – and to think: he had mercy upon us anyway, when we were dead in sins (Eph. 2:4)! While the Holy Spirit does not bring up the past to paralyze us with guilt or swamp us with hopelessness, we should never forget how the Lord has marvelously, undeservedly delivered us. We must never wish to return to our filth: not even to taste. Indeed, past sins ought to fill us with such revulsion that our life becomes nothing but a forsaking of them, rejoicing in mercy, and the pursuit of righteousness (Ps. 25:7). That time was enough. It ought to be more than enough that our Lord Jesus has taken all our sins upon himself, suffered our curse, and applied the power of his sufferings and death to us. The desire of our heart is forever defined by his love, his sacrifice, and his presence in us. “Forgetting those things that are behind” (Phil. 3:14) means that Christ has suffered for them; we must forsake them: even the guilt of them, for we are cleansed by his blood. He obeyed and hoped in God from his youth so that we might be cleansed from our filthy past. As God’s word dwells in us, his strength enables us to forsake our past sins; even their bitter memory can be replaced with overwhelming thankfulness for grace. Let their lingering memory be a goad to holiness. All our time now must be dedicated to doing God’s will: in the light of Christ’s sufferings and life for us at God’s right hand.

Peter’s second encouragement to faithful Christian living is the world’s response to the new life we have in Christ: shock and slander (v. 4). Keep in mind that the world is filled with blind men, dead in their trespasses and sins. Sin is normal among them. As Christian influence wanes or God gives a nation over to a reprobate mind, even shocking sin becomes normal, praised as liberation. The world cannot understand those who forsake the filth in which it wallows. It is surprised and shocked at the change, even insulted. You can almost hear their response at hearing “no” to their invitations: “What’s the harm? Everybody’s doing it. You are not bad if you do these things. They are fun. What are we working for if not to have a few escapades while we are still young and attractive? You take religion far too seriously. Are you judging me?” The world lauds “being different;” it detests differences based upon religious convictions. It is a small step from this to slander and condemnation against those who raise the moral flag. A darkened conscience has no love for light, just as Satan hates those rescued from his clutches, dead men made alive in Christ. A glimmer of light is repulsive, feared, hated.

How could the world’s shock and slander be a motivation to faithfulness? Consider how many believers have fallen into sin simply because they could not bear to be thought strange, different, not part of the crowd. Many a young person has given up purity just to be accepted by his peers. A Christian businessman did not want to rock the boat or be the odd man out, so he goes along with a little dishonesty or to the debauched party with his associates while on a trip. We often cave when the slightest pressure is applied – just to fit in with expectations, to be liked, to be included. Is not the praise of men one of the most abominable idolatries that tempts us? But let harsh words, accusations, or ridicule be added, and we are sorely tempted to give them up rather than to bear our Savior’s reproach. The most common persecution is not organized, widespread, public burning of Christians. This would be far easier to endure than the raised eyebrows or ridicule that meet our refusal to go along with sin. Knowing that we shall face such things is one of the strongest motivations to arm ourselves with the sufferings of Christ. We will wilt under the pressure unless the cross of Christ is always before us, unless we feel it our highest honor to suffer for his name. Shall we demand an easier lot than his? Shall he deliver us from hell only for us to be embarrassed by his cross? Armed with Christ’s sufferings, we shall “rejoice when we are counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” (Acts 5:41). Be embarrassed by them, hold them loosely, and the world will learn our price: glad to include us, relieved that we are more like them than like Jesus.

The pressures we face as Christians in and from the world, though light in comparison to the weight of glory to follow, seem heavy now. Standing for righteousness is often a lonely business. When will the Lord Jesus come and make things right? We are weary of being the oddball, disliked, the butt of jokes and public ridicule, sly comments and jabs behind our back. We endure by “seeing him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27). And seeing him, we adore and fear him, conscious that we shall soon stand before him and give an account (Rom. 14:10). This is the reason Peter draws our thoughts to God the Judge (v. 5), and by implication to Jesus Christ, to whom the Father has committed all judgment (John 5:22,24). This would certainly include the final day of judgment, when the sheep will be separated from the goats, the wheat from the tares (Acts 10:42; 2 Tim. 4:1). “Ready,” however, implies that God in Christ is always judging, always ready to judge. This is because he shall soon appear. It is because we shall soon stand before him. However long we live, however long until the final judgment, we are to live in constant expectation and readiness for his coming (Matt. 24:42). When we feel alone in the midst of the battle, we are not alone. God is there; his eyes behold the sons of men (Ps. 11:4). He is actively, constantly, ever-presently testing the hearts of men. This is a wondrous motivation to faithfulness. God is always present, ready to judge, even to avenge the sufferings of his people. His judgments do not always take the form our worldly hearts imagine, but we have his word. “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Did he not judge – then and there – for Noah against his ridiculers, Samson against the Philistines, the three Hebrew children and Daniel against their tormentors, David against Saul? “I have remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord, and have comforted myself” (Ps. 119:52). To survive as a Christian in the world, we must live consciously before God, the Judge of all.

This means that we must live as David did: “I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee” (Ps. 119:168). How differently we would think of sin if we were more persuaded that Jesus Christ is personally present with us at all times by his Spirit! How indifferent we would be to the world’s bad opinion of us if we revered his opinion, if we were more conscious of his indwelling presence, that however the world is shocked at us and slanders us for godliness, he is pleased with us. He is watching. He is discriminating between his people and the world. To dabble with sin – to curse or covet, watch or listen to filth, go along with unbelievers to fit in, refuse to maintain God’s antithesis between light and darkness, holiness and sin – is to spit at his present Majesty and to offend his Spirit. No wonder Paul tells us, after giving examples of sins we must forsake and godliness we must practice, not to “grieve the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 4:30). He does not speak of the Spirit as somewhere in the heavens, far removed from us, but close: in us, bound to us, dwelling and working in us, sustaining our union with Jesus Christ, interceding for us. Never forget, child of God, that God is ever ready to judge the living and the dead: all men. He has given you his suffering-Servant, his eternal word, his unbreakable covenant. Let the world ridicule and think you strange. Commit your soul to God. Live before his face, aware of his presence, at all times. The world may seem to have it all its own way, but this is a short-lived thrill, a deadly delusion. It is irresponsible and dangerous – in the light of creation and redemption, Christ’s sufferings and reign – to do your own will, to live as you please. God knows the secrets of your heart – now (Ps. 44:21). You are accountable to him; you will be held eternally accountable. The day of judgment will be your hour of doom unless you are armed with Christ’s sufferings and commit your soul to him. The Judge stands at the door (Jam. 5:9).

Unbelievers live as if they are not accountable to God. The delusion must not be shattered. They deny and blaspheme, ridicule sincere believers and delight to see them fall. They tolerate no reminders of the tombs in which they live: cut off from God, naked and alone before his eye without any hiding place or defense. This was us. We were dead. If we are alive in Christ, we can take no credit for this. It was God’s mercy that made us alive in Christ (Eph. 2:4). He came and preached the gospel to us. Though we were dead, his word made us alive (John 5:25). This seems to be the main point of the first half of verse six. The gospel of Jesus Christ brought us out of the tomb and released us from our chains of sin and misery. It may seem odd for Peter to make the preaching of the gospel to the spiritually dead, for that is how the phrase should be taken, as a motivation to faithfulness. But think where we would be had God not opened our ears to hear the silver trumpet proclaiming liberty to the captives. Think how awful, how indescribably terrifying it would be to hear the final trumpet announcing the return of the Judge had not God subdued our hearts now: humbled us now; given us faith now; made us his children now. It is true that believing and especially living the gospel brings us into the heat of battle. Men judge us according to their fleshly standards (v. 6). They condemn us. Even if they are not overtly hostile, they think us strange, deceived, a bit mad. But we live toward God in spirit. The gospel makes a very deep rift in this world. All men are not the same. There are two kinds of men: dead and alive. The dead ones give the living ones a hard time. They abuse us for our love to the Savior who is so precious to us, a gospel we hold more dear than our lives, Scriptures that are better to us than all the treasures in the world. If we live this gospel, if we take up the banner of the suffering Son of God, we must expect hardship as his good soldiers. But we are alive. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). His destiny is ours, both death unto sin and new life unto God. We yield ourselves and commit our souls to him for safekeeping (Rom. 6:13; 1 Pet. 2:21). All the injuries, sufferings, and hardships we go through because we love him who loved us will be crowned with glory and honor. The King himself will serve us (Matt. 12:37).

Peter learned this the hard way. He thought the gospel was going to be a badge of worldly honor, a free pass from suffering, a sweeping judgment that would right all wrongs. The Lord taught him otherwise; the cross did. He beheld the sufferings of Jesus Christ. His pride was shattered. Being a disciple would mean bearing the cross, self-denial, even suffering. He armed his mind with Christ’s sufferings. The man of pride became the man of humility, the coward the bold preacher, the self-reliant the Christ-depending. It was s jolting experience for him. He wept bitterly. We still feel his tears in this letter. He knew that those earliest believers would go through great difficulties for the gospel. Satan had enflamed the whole world against them. There would be only one way for them to endure – for us to endure. We must keep the cross and sufferings of our Savior constantly before us. There we find forgiveness and righteousness, joy and peace. There we find strength to bear the world’s ridicule and slander. There we find the most compelling motivation of all to speak God’s truth. The gospel raises dead men to new life. It changes persecutors into allies, enemies into disciples, perverts into a kingdom of priests, those who deeply regret their past into those who face the future with living hope and new life.

Our Rest From Sin in Jesus

April 29, 2012 Series: Scripture: 1 Peter 4:1-6 by Chris Strevel

Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered for our sins, rose from the dead, proclaimed victory over Satan and the demonic realm, and is now seated in victory at the right hand of the Father (3:18-22). We are so united with him that what his death, resurrection, and ascension meant for him, they mean for us. We have died to the curse and power of sin; we have risen in Christ to newness of life (Rom. 6:1-14). This will put us at odds with the world. The gospel cannot be made palatable to those still held tightly in the chains of sin and death. They think our way of life strange. They are shocked by our claims. Tomb-dwellers, like the demoniac, know nothing of real life. We do not like to hear the lines drawn in such stark terms, but if they are not this absolute, the gospel is ridiculous. The sufferings of Christ are a farce. We are raving madmen for making such claims. God has drawn these lines; there is no fellowship between light and darkness (2 Cor. 6:14). The whole world – mankind in its darkened and depraved rebellion against God – “lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). Men without Christ are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). There is hope for sinners in God’s mercy, great hope for our own age, but only through the preaching of the gospel to the dead. This alone is God’s power unto salvation (Ezek. 37; Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:16). Through his life-giving word, our Savior brings the dead from their tombs and gives them new life. We must hold fast to this gospel. It is the key to heaven’s gate, living water for those perishing, light that scatters darkness, and power unto godliness. This gospel gives life to men and families, businesses and cultures, even dead churches. When with dazed eyes and burdened hearts we daily witness sin’s killing effects – high and low, rich and poor, men and nations – we must cling to the gospel of life and grace. It is our only security in the world.

Our Rest from Sin in Jesus (vv. 1-2)

In a deeply personal, defining sense, Christ’s “suffering in the flesh” is ours. Peter indicates this by connecting what he has just written about our Lord’s suffering, resurrection, and ascension to us. His death to sin was our death to sin. We share in his resurrection; it was our rising to newness of life (Rom. 6:4). We even share in his ascension, for we are “raised with him and seated in the heavenly places” (Eph. 2:5-6). How we must tremble with joy when we hear of our close bond with the Son of God! This union goes much further back than the day of our birth or the moment we believed the gospel. God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). He gave his Son to be the “covenant of the people” (Isa. 42:6; 49:8). He is our Head; we are his members, his body, so closely joined to him that the body and head together are called “Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12). This union, this eternal covenant, and these chosen people were ever on our Lord’s heart, especially on that last night before the cross. “As thou has given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him” (John 17:2). “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world” (17:6). “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me” (v. 9). “Keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me” (v. 11). “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am” (v. 24). In these precious lines we find the Priest wearing our names on his chest, hear him praying for us, and behold the Lamb of God resolved to suffer for us. He came with no other purpose in mind but to reveal the Father’s love to us, save us by his sufferings, preserve us from evil, and be with us forever. Our Savior sees his work, his sufferings, death, and triumph, as inseparable from us. His love, power, and grace, his office, humiliation, and cross, all that he is and does as our Mediator has us in mind. We are bound up in him, united to him by election, lovingly near to his heart, now indwelled by him through his Spirit. Never for a moment should we think that his saving work is “outside” us, simply a set of historical facts or religious dogma.

Our union with the Lord Jesus in his sufferings must not be forgotten. Hearing of his resurrection and his ascension, that he reigns over principalities and powers, indeed, that he has already proclaimed his victory over them, we might be tempted to think that our lives on earth will be free from trouble and suffering. We find this is not the case. Loving him and pressed down, do we not feel so drawn to him that we would fly to heaven this instant and be with him, to behold his glory and be done with the body of this death? Our union with Jesus is unto glory, but it is through suffering. This is the reason Peter says we must “arm ourselves with the same mind.” The paradigm of glory and victory is through the cross: self-denial, warfare against the world, many tribulations. If we would reign with him, we must suffer with him and for him. His life will be played out in ours, for in joining us to himself, he intends to show the same power in us by which he overcame the world, the same wisdom condemning the world’s foolishness, the same joy in obedience. To be armed with the thought of Christ’s sufferings is the key to partaking of his life and power. We must not expect our lives on earth to be easy or for the world to love us. Glory is coming – resurrection, crowning, “Well done,” eternal joy with God forever – but we must first walk with our Savior through the valley of suffering. This is to be armed with understanding: when we believe that he overcame through submission, was exalted after humiliation, endured through hope, and was patient in tribulation. If we are to endure suffering patiently, even to suffer with joy and bless our enemies when they curse us, we must have the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). We must adoringly meditate with humbled, awe-struck hearts upon the glory and fruits of his sufferings. The cross must be our boast (Gal. 6:14). Even more, we must see our lives on earth as a bearing of that cross, sharing in our Savior’s weakness and humiliation, learning as he did obedience through suffering (Heb. 5:8). As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7). By often bringing to mind Christ’s sufferings, adoring him for them, embracing them as part of our union with him, and fleeing to him for grace and strength in time of need, we shall overcome. Christ will live in us.

Behind all the suffering and the world’s opposition lies the specter of sin, which is not only an “out there” fact that we witness with horror but also an inner reality that causes us to groan. When we would obey God, we find another law in our members. Desiring holiness, the old man fights back (Gal. 5:17). No wonder Paul cried: “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death” (Rom. 7:24)? This wretchedness, however, while bitter, no longer defines us. Follow Peter’s thought. Christ suffered in the flesh. He bore the whole curse and judgment of our sins upon his own back on the tree. We are one with him. What his death meant for him, it means for us. Thus, we suffered with him. When we believe in him, his stripes, his cleansing blood, his “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and his righteousness are applied to us. This is Paul’s glorious argument in Romans 6:1-14. We have died to the power and curse of sin in the death of Christ. He died to the power of sin; he has now ceased from it – from having anything to do with it, from sin, judgment, and death having any claims upon him. The verb “ceased” can also be translated “rest,” as it is in Matthew 11:28. Or, as Paul states in Hebrews 4:10, Christ has “entered into his rest,” into his “ceasing from sin,” his triumph and exaltation. We share in his “resting.” Though we are still very conscious of having to deal with sin, repent of sin on a daily basis, and struggle against the flesh, we have been “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:6). Sin no longer has dominion over us. We have rest from its worst aspects: a sense of condemnation and alienation from God, an unsettled, tormented conscience, and the misery and hopelessness of sin. In union with Christ, we have ceased from sin. It does not define us; Jesus does.

We must arm ourselves with this thought: we have ceased from sin. We have been released from its curse through the ransom price of our Savior’s blood. Its stranglehold has been broken. Our great Captain has burst our bonds, flung open our prison doors, and carried us out of the tomb. We must still deal with the sin in our lives – but not as condemned criminals or powerless captives. We are not bound to sin’s dominion but to the “liberty with which Christ has made us free” (Gal. 5:1). In our conflict with sin, it makes all the difference in the world to know that Jesus Christ has triumphed over it, born its curse, and silenced the condemning voice of conscience. This is the reason Paul said: “Think of yourselves as dead indeed to sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:11). We enter the fray as “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37). We can resist sin (Rom. 6:12). Forgiveness is purchased for us and secured for us through his blood. The throne of grace is open to us at all times for “mercy and grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). When you face sin, turn your face to him; call upon at all times, people of God! If we will but don the livery of Christ’s victory over sin, his death to the power of sin, the battle may be long, but we shall prevail. Temptations, hardships, and suffering there will be, but we face them in union with him who “loved us and gave himself for us” (Gal. 2:20). It is not our strength, but his; not our will power, but his promises; not our feelings but his covenanted presence. We fall; he picks us up “seven times” (Prov. 24:16).We suffer; he comforts. We are besieged; he delivers. Stand fast in the Lord, child of the King! Rest in his rest; overcome in his power; depend upon his intercession. He is praying. He is one with us. He will never leave or forsake us. Think on these things. Give yourself wholly to them. Never let a day pass without praying for the Lord to help you believe them and live them more fully. Let them control your thoughts, tame your will, direct your priorities, shape your business, and influence your family. Christ in us is the “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

Verse two tells us the reason that we must be armed with this understanding. Upon our conversion, we do not fly to heaven in fiery chariots. We must live – here. Christ Jesus has joined himself to us so that we will lead a certain kind of life. It is because this life is so difficult, filled with so many enemies, pressures, trials, reasons to despair and fear, that Peter calls all our attention to “Christ suffered for us, and we in him.” We have ceased from sin because he has conquered it and redeemed us by his blood. No longer” reminds us that the “old things have passed away” (2 Cor. 5:17). However evil our past, we are to put it behind us: its influences, habits, guilt – all and only through faith in Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:13). We have been delivered to a new life. And the time is short. This adds to the difficulty of living in the world. We know death is coming, that our strength is fading. The older we get, and hopefully the wiser, the more we feel it. But the time also is short to do all we might for Christ, to learn and speak more of him, to lead others to him, to defend his name and gospel in the world! Yet, however much time is left to us, whether we spend it healthy or sick, die young or live long, enjoy peace or be continually hounded, we are to live to God. All our time – Christ Jesus has purchased it – every second of it. We belong to him. We are not our own; we have been bought with a price: a very high one (1 Cor. 6:20).

There are two choices as to how we may spend this time – and rejoice, believer, for even if the Lord presses these truths upon you today with such freshness that you feel like the past was something of a waste, like you lived in the shadow lands of a divided, worldly, selfish heart, remember what he says: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). We may either live as all other men live, to the lusts of men, or to the will of God. Do not cringe or pull back when our Father speaks in such absolute terms. Embracing his judgment about sinners is the key to success. “Lusts of men” refers to the various sins that dominate men’s thoughts, words, and deeds. Do not live for the moment, by the passion of the moment, only to find that all your moments have been wasted – because you lived by your feelings, your reason, for your friends, for yourself, for the world. There is another option, and it is stressed by the presence of “but,” which makes the antithesis absolute; there is no middle ground. The only alternative to a life of slavery to sin is to live “to the will of God.” This is the new life our Savior gives to us; it is the life he lived. It is the life of one dominant aim: “For me, to live is Christ. I want to please my Lord and Savior in all things; to be crucified with Christ, raised with Christ in newness of life, rule with Christ as his kingdom of priests and holy nation is all my desire.” However dominant sin once was in us, however much we struggle with sin now, Jesus Christ has given us new life. He calls us to walk with him in obedience to God’s word. Call upon him to give you this blessing. Do not let this gospel moment pass without asking him to make doing God’s will your meat, as it was his, the very food of your soul (John 4:34). Do not live as many do, saying “Lord, Lord,” but never giving themselves sincerely to doing the will of God (Matt. 7:21). Do you want joy, peace? Do you want the Son of God to walk with you, to know his power in your weakness? Say, “Lord, in your darkest hour, you prayed, ‘Not as I will, but thy will be done.’ Give me this life. I repudiate myself, the way I have lived, the kind of husband or wife I have been, the child I have been. I want you, only you, all of you. You are mine; I am yours. Save me; indwell me by your Spirit; make me a doer of God’s will, not just a hearer.”

There is absolutely nothing higher, holier, or happier than the Christian who prays in this way. You will not hear angelic choirs or find all your troubles have passed away. You will find hope, great assurance in Jesus Christ, confidence in the Father’s pleasure in you, and enjoyment of his favor. To pray this way, however, we must see how important the doing of God’s will is. We learn this nowhere more clearly and powerfully than by beholding the cross of Jesus Christ. He went to that awful place, suffered that curse, and paid that price because nothing, absolutely nothing is more important than doing the will of God. If we will not seek grace to do it, we are declaring war against the God who “works all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11). By continuing in sin, we are taking up the knife that slew the Lamb of God, adding fresh stripes of rebellion to his misery, crucifying him afresh. Sin is evil; worldliness is evil. Lust, pride, lies, unbelief, disobedience to parents – all crucified him. Let us not do it again but fall before his cross, plead his blood, and ask the Father to give us new life in his Son. But we can only have this life if we walk in union with Jesus Christ. We must be armed with this thought: that we are one with him. His death to sin is ours. He rose to newness of life; we have been raised in him. He remains the resurrection and the life. His rest is ours. There is strength in him. O, we must seek him. We must pray without ceasing. His word must dwell in us. When we feel like sinning, we must cry to him. When we feel ourselves drowning, let us pray with Peter, “Lord, save me; I am drowning.” He will rescue us. We are one with him. His life is our life. He still makes all things new to those who look to him.