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Posts Tagged ‘power of sin’


While preparing for the Maundy Thursday service, I went digging for a quote from Sinclair Ferguson in his book By Grace Alone.  I found quite a bit more appropriate for an addictions group I meet with.

I thought of 3 different things: Unrealistic Expectations, The Agenda of the Enemy and the Agenda of the Father.  I’ll cover these in 3 different posts.  So let’s start with the first of these.

Unrealistic Expectations

“When a person is delivered from an addiction, the effects remain and the ‘pull’ of the old life lingers on.  Constant vigilance is essential.  It is exactly the same with ‘addiction’ to sin (and we are all by nature addicts to sin in one form or another).  The addiction is broken so that its energy no longer dominates our lives.  We no longer want the old way, it is not part of the family life we now enjoy.  But while we no longer want the old way, we are not finally delivered from its ongoing influence.  Increasingly sanctified we may be, but we are not yet glorified.  We are free from sin’s cruel dominion, but we are not yet free from its seductive presence.  So we battle against its influence for the rest of our lives.”

We often suffer from unrealistic expectations with regard to our sin, especially when we are repenting of an addiction.  Jesus has delivered us from the penalty of sin and the power of sin.  But not from the practice of sin, yet.

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In his important work, Cur Deus Homo (Why the God-Man), Anselm corrects Boso, “You have not as yet estimated the great burden of sin.”  Many misunderstand the atonement as a result.

In a similar way, many misunderstand sanctification because they have not yet estimated the great burden of sin.  This is Ryle’s starting point as he addresses the false theologies of santification of his own day.  “Wrong views about holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption.”

It is helpful to think about the penalty, power and presence of sin.  The substitutionary death removed the penalty of sin for those who (will) believe.  Jesus endured the wrath of God’s just punishment on our behalf (which Anselm argues for in his book).  We will not be free from the presence of sin until our glorification.  When we either die or Jesus returns, all who believe will be perfected in holiness, perfectly conformed to the likeness of Christ.

Those who believe live between those times.  Sanctification is the gracious process by which we are progressively freed from the power of sin and enabled to increasingly obey God.  Grace works in both directions: saying “no” to disobedience and saying “yes” to obedience.   Sadly, some underestimate the power of sin in the life of a believer and think we can become perfect in this life either thru a second blessing (Wesley, Hannah Whitall Smith etc.) or changing our bad habits (essentially the view of Neil Anderson who denies the power of indwelling sin).

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