“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that
he might be the firstborn of many brothers.”
I wrote last week how I was re-starting to read William Gurnall’s “The Christian in Complete Armour.” Well, I’m still reading it! I tell you, this book is dense in the amount of material in such a small package. Honestly, it’s best read a page or two at a time so that it might be savored and appreciated. Here’s what one familiar name had to say about it:
“If I might read only one book beside the Bible, I would choose ‘The Christian in Complete Armour’.”
– John Newton (1725-1807)
Last week, I wrote about Gurnall’s call to renounce our bosom sins and how those sins will fight for us to leave them be. Do you remember that? “Indeed, who can express the conflict, the wrestlings, the convulsions of spirit we endure before we can put our heart into such a command?” (p. 30) Still, we are commanded to do just that.
There seems to be a conflict in our commands. On one hand, we are to be strong and fight. Yet, on the other, we are told that only God can win these battles. Is there a contradiction? No, Paul says, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10b) Jesus had all sorts of difficult sayings, too, like “the last will be first, and the first last.” (Matthew 20:16) I think you get my point. We must pursue God and seek his kingdom if these spiritual truths are to be revealed. And pursue them we must, if we are to claim victory of our most embedded of sin.
Gurnall expands upon the reason for the difficulty in this, and I think you’ll see it makes sense. We, who are born again, are God’s children. In fact, we are hand-picked. While he shows his love for the world, this is not the same as the love he demonstrates for his children. These are special.
John 17:26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
God love me just like he loves Jesus. Do you see that? He loves you just like he loves Jesus. Wrap your head around that! In fact, I don’t think that is the message we typically hear. We hear that there is nothing to compare God’s love for his Son. Yet, we see here that God loves us in the same way.
God isn’t going to forget about you, even if you don’t seem to be making any progress in your walk with him. One way or another, you won’t be left behind.
Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
God put Jesus on the cross for you. Certainly, he isn’t going to leave that work undone. In the meantime, we can learn more and more about all this so that we can look more like his Son, sooner rather than later. Why is that important? Because we were made in the image of God. We have spoiled that with our sin, but Jesus came to rectify all that. We are to be like him.
Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature,
And it is in what he did that we might learn to be like him.
Hebrews 5:8-9 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,
I don’t think I have a good appreciation of how much Jesus emptied himself of his divine power so that he was utterly dependent upon God. I think I will dig deeper into that, but not today. For now, I want to share with you what Gurnall wrote, which is my whole point of today’s post.
“As an earthly parent you rejoice to see your own good qualities reproduced in your children. God, the perfect parent, longs to see His attributes reflected in His saints. It is this image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons. When God defends you, He also defends Himself. Now knowing that the quarrel is God’s, surely He will not have you go forth to war at your own expense!” pp. 48-49
This is why I’m having so much trouble with my besetting sin. I’m trying to get rid of it. That makes me look more like Jesus. Satan hates him so much that he absolutely can’t stand him. So, Satan throws everything at me that he needs to so that I am discouraged and give in to my sin. It’s not my aunt’s pumpkin pie that is the problem, it’s all the voices in my head that are luring me to eat like a pig and devour everything in sight. That struggle is real, man, and it is from Satan simply because he hates God more than we can imagine. We gain life the closer we get to Jesus. Satan will keep us in death as long as he can. Why? I suppose so we don’t positively influence others to get closer to Jesus, too.
Ephesians 5:6-17 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
I know that’s a lot, but it reinforces the message of Gurnall. This isn’t our battle; it’s God’s. He’s equipped us and will leave NONE of us behind. We can stick close to him and enjoy his protection, or we can wander off on our own and get hammered all the more under our own strength. How many examples do we have in the Old Testament of people standing to watch God defeat the enemy right before their eyes? Could it be that I have been fighting this far too much using my own strength? No wonder I am exhausted in doing so!
Do you see what I mean about Gurnall’s book?
Father, whew. I still have lots to learn. For now, sear this in my mind, that this battle is yours and will be won. Show me my proper place in the rank and file. I have been confused and trying to do a job that I am not equipped to do nor will I ever be equipped to do it. I didn’t realize it, but I’ve been fighting Satan. That’s your job, not mine. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers
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