Friday, April 11, 2008

The Spectrum of Sanctification in Youth Ministry, Part 4

dan miller @ picks up from his last article with a discouraging note about the futility of the steps we often employ to guard against the flesh. "Steps like being accountable and placing barriers of activity between ourselves and our temptation actually have “no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Col. 2:23, ESV). These steps are not worthless, but they have no effect on our true heart’s desire".

The Prevent Defense

Independent Acting

Philemon 6:

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

Hebrews 10:23-27, NIV

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

Colossians 3:1-2, ESV

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Psalm 119:55, ESV

I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.

Step two in sanctification is meditation on God’s Word.

Colossians 3:16, ESV

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

Psalm 119:11, ESV

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Step three in sanctification is the reaction of a heart that loves God and knows His Word.

Colossians 3:17, ESV

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

John 15:8, ESV

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

Difficult Questions:

1. Are rules evil? See the last clause in Matthew 23:23, “without neglecting the others.” These rules are not evil. They just have no power in sanctification.

Jesus said that at judgment “many” would wrongly think they were His because of various “Christian” things they have done. But He never knew them. It is not only insufficient for us to try to prevent disaster but also impossible. By external pressure, we can achieve lukewarmness. Lukewarmness is just as disastrous as coldness.

2. Do these truths mean that we shouldn’t primarily encourage any external behavior? That is, should we discourage certain behaviors, knowing that they are not the personal convictions of the teen?

3. Do these truths mean that external actions like being accountable or avoiding situations that might cause temptation should not be done? NO, they should be done. We cannot love God or our neighbor without actually doing something. But we should want to see that teens do these actions because of the voluntary choice of a godly heart and not because externals were imposed. The only difference between a precious conviction and a worthless rule is who made it.

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