After forty-five years in ministry, here is what I have seen to be true: Jesus Christ came to comfort the troubled and trouble the comfortable.
The adventure of new life in Christ begins when the comfortable patterns of the old life are left behind.
What use is it to us to hear it said of a man that he has thrown off the yoke, that he does not believe there is a God to watch over his actions, that he reckons himself the sole master of his behavior, and that he does not intend to give an account of it to anyone but himself? Does he think that in that way he will have straightway persuaded us to have complete confidence in him, to look to him for consolation, for advice, and for help, in the vicissitudes of life? Do such men think that they have delighted us by telling us that they hold our souls to be nothing but a little wind and smoke — and by saying it in conceited and complacent tones? Is that a thing to say blithely? Is it not rather a thing to say sadly — as if it were the saddest thing in the world?
The awareness of sin used to be our shadow, Christians hated sin, feared it, flew from it. But now the shadow has faded. Nowadays, the accusation you have sinned is often said with a grin.
Dear friends, let us shake off the intoxication of compromise. Too many of us are entertained by things we should weep over. God destroyed the world during Noah’s day because of violence, yet we sit before televisions and in theaters amused by violence. The Lord ultimately destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of their twisted morality, yet we do nothing to protest similar perversity entering our lands.
It is hard enough, even with the best will in the world, to be just. It is hard, under the pressure of haste, uneasiness, ill-temper, self-complacency, and conceit, to continue intending justice. Power corrupts; the “insolence of office” will creep in. We see it so clearly in our superiors; is it unlikely that our inferiors see it in us? How many of those who have been over us did not sometimes (perhaps often) need our forgiveness? Be sure that we likewise need the forgiveness of those that are under us.
I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.
The keeping of the heart is a work that is never done till life is ended. There is no time or condition in the life of a Christian which will suffer an intermission of this work. It is in keeping watch over our hearts, as it was in keeping up Moses’ hands while Israel and Amalek were fighting. No sooner do the hands of Moses grow heavy and sink down, than Amalek prevails. Intermitting the watch over their own hearts for but a few minutes, cost David and Peter many a sad day and night.
There must be a constant and increasing appreciation that though sin still remains it does not have the mastery. There is a total difference between surviving sin and reigning sin, the regenerate in conflict with sin and the unregenerate complacent to sin. It is one thing for sin to live in us: it is another for us to live in sin. It is of paramount concern for the Christian and for the interests of his sanctification that he should know that sin does not have the dominion over him, that the forces of redeeming, regenerative, and sanctifying grace have been brought to bear upon him in that which is central in his moral and spiritual being, that he is the habitation of God through the Spirit, and that Christ has been formed in him the hope of glory.