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Learning from Sin

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“Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off…” Mr. Miyagi makes poor “Danielsan” repeat the motion over and over and over again. Later, Mr. Miyagi suddenly starts to attack Daniel and tells him to block. Daniel thinks he has no idea how to block, but the motion of waxing is thesame as blocking. Daniel quickly learns why he’s been doing the monotonous chore for so long, and to his surprise, he blocks with ease.

This is what I picture in my head when it comes to how we “do righteousness.” What is worshipping God supposed to look like? How do I stir myself up by way of reminder? How do I make provision for the Spirit? How do I practice the promises of God? We all feel lost to start with. But it’s important to realize that we’ve been “waxing” for quite some time.

For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (Romans 6:19)

We actually do know how to worship. We’ve been doing it since birth. We sigh with longing, closing our eyes to the little movies we play in our heads: kids who obey, a house that doesn’t break, retirement, that last loan payment, that promotion, being desired, or close friendships in a new city.

We also know how to pursue mission. We study how to look up pornography and not get caught. We think up our spouse’s mistakes, crafting detailed arguments against them. We learn our neighbors’ routines to avoid them. We sneak in the extra work hours, telling our family that it’s “required.” We find ways to appear busy while not doing work. We memorize every nuance of our favorite sports team, TV show, or novel.

Nobody had to teach us how to do these things. As odd as it sounds, we can learn a lot from how we “do sin.” See the depth of desires, the vivid imaginations, and the real world actions that follow. Righteousness works out in the same places as sin used to. Where disobedience carried out its mission under sin’s power to mask God, obedience now carries out its mission under God’s greater power to make Him more known.

When we aren’t living Godly lives, it isn’t because we don’t know how. It is ultimately because the desire is lacking. This is a time to behold God like we beheld sin, to fantasize over God like we fantasized over sin, and to pursue God like we pursued sin. Where sin was pointless, rote movement that accomplished nothing, obedience leverages that motion to accomplish eternal things by God’s power. This can help us lead others through what righteousness looks like in their lives.

When righteousness doesn’t look as concrete and vivid as sin did, this reveals a desireproblem, not a “knowing how” problem.

Posted by Matt Norman with

Inspiring Others

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After His well-known encounter with the Samaritan woman at a well, Jesus’s disciples offer Him some food.

But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about. [...] My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. (John 4:32-34)

Do we eat only rarely, or do we eat often? Is eating arduous, or is it refreshing? Do we need to eat, or is it optional? Think about what Jesus is really saying about how He views His Father. It changes our approach to law. Law is supposed to be like eating for us. It is for Jesus.

Jesus later says,

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.” (John 6:48-50)

This is the foundation of how we inspire people toward a Godly life. It starts with Jesus as our example. I took a fresh read through John recently and was just shocked at how often Jesus talks to His Father and about His Father. He sounds like a broken record. His eyes are utterly glued to His Father. He thinks about Him often. He enjoys remembering who His Father is. It just gushes out of His mouth like a mac fan’s excitement over the next iPhone. Jesus is our example.

The next brick in the foundation of how we inspire is that Jesus is our power. I was also shocked at how often Jesus tells us to drink Him and eat Him. Painting the picture with Israel’s wanderings in the desert, Jesus tells us that He is what sustains us. What does it mean to eat Jesus’s flesh? It means to behold, taste, and enjoy His work for us on the cross as His body was broken instead of ours, as He bore the torment of the Father’s disgust toward sin instead of us. Jesus must be our “manna.” We eat and enjoy Him like food. Jesus gives us power to enjoy the Father by being our true provision from the Father.

Jesus is our rescue from sin’s captivity and our continual rescue through the wilderness of trial. We rely entirely on this rescue as our foundation. More practically, we build on this foundation by pointing others to something real about God. Are they stubborn? Join Hebrews with all the seriousness of the gospel to show them a God who cannot be trifled with, and let the Word do the heavy lifting for you. Are they afraid? Join Romans in all the compassion of the gospel to show them a God who is powerful and is for them. Let theWord melt their fears.

Our refrain must sound something like, “God is that good, He is worth it!”

Posted by Matt Norman with

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