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Walk Down a Different Street

This is my version of a poem originally written by Portia Nelson. I didn’t agree completely with some of her statements, so I adjusted them. Some of you need to walk down a different street today. Not tomorrow…today.

Day 1: Today I walked down a street. I fell into a hole. I did not see the hole until I had fallen in. I climbed out.

Day 2: Today I walked down the same street. I saw the hole. I knew it was there all along. I got caught up in the crowd and fell into the hole again. I climbed out.

Day 3: Today I walked down the street. I knew right where the hole was. All of a sudden, my attention was drawn to an accident. And before I had realized it, I had fallen into the hole again. I climbed out.

Day 4: Today I walked down the street. I saw the hole ahead of time and I walked on the other side of the street.

Day 5: Today I walked down a different street.

A Prayer for Saturday

Incomprehensible, Great and Glorious God,

I adore you and abase myself. I approach you mindful that I am less than nothing, a creature worse than nothing.

My thoughts are not screened from your gaze. My secret sins blaze in the light of your countenance.

Enable me to remember that blood which cleanses all of sin, to believe in that grace which subdues all iniquities, to resign myself to that agency which can deliver me from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.

You have begun a good work in me and can alone continue and complete it.

Give me an increasing conviction of my tendency to err, and of my exposure to sin.

Help me to feel more of the purifying, softening influence of religion, its compassion, love, pity, courtesy, and employ me as your instrument in blessing others.

Give me to distinguish between the mere form of godliness and its power, between life and a name to live, between guile and truth, between hypocrisy and a religion that will bear your eye.

If I am not right, set me right, keep me right; and may I at last come to your house in peace.

From The Valley of Vision (page 174-75)

Send Jesus to Answer the Door

Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:13-14 ESV)

Sin comes knocking on the door of your heart. If you only crack open the door, sin will push it down. The writer of Genesis draws a vivid picture of the invasive nature of sin:

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7 ESV)

When sin knocks you have a choice. You can present your members (your body) to sin as instruments for unrighteousness. Sin wants your eyes, your tongue, your mind, your hands, your feet. Sin wants your entire body so that it can destroy you piece by piece and lead you down the road to destruction.

On the other hand you can present yourself to God as one who has been brought from death to life. You can present your members to God as instruments for righteousness. The reality is that sin won’t quit knocking. Becoming a Christian doesn’t stop the knocking of sin on the door of your heart. However, you don’t have to answer the door. You have a new king on the throne room of your heart. His name is Jesus. He is eager to answer the door of temptation when the world comes knocking, when the flesh rears its ugly head, or when the enemy assaults.

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

When Jesus answers the door, sin flees. When sin flees your heart is ready to be alone with God.

Send Jesus to answer the door…every time.

The Underestimated Power of Sin

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (Romans 6:12 ESV)

Sin is tenacious. Sin is powerful. Sin is persistent. Sin is dominant. Sin is controlling. Sin is devastating. If you doubt the power of sin, consider Josh Gordon’s story:

Josh Gordon is a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns. He is 23 years old and his annual salary is $1.3 million. He was suspended for ten games of the 2014 season because he could not say no to marijuana. A failed drug test sealed his fate. Now his playing ability for 2015 is in jeopardy. He has tested positive for alcohol. Gordon has opportunities that any athlete would only dream about…yet he is rocked by the reality that he can’t resist the temptation of drugs and alcohol.

Sin is controlling. Sin is not content as a guest in the throne room of your life. Sin will insist on being king on the very throne of your heart–sin will reign. And once sin reigns, it will call the shots, choose your course, determine your destination.

The Cleveland Browns are dealing with another potential rising star who’s mesmerized with sin. Consider this post today on nbcsports.com.

Browns head coach Mike Pettine just said that he has to approach this offseason as if he’s looking for a starting quarterback, saying “it’s probably accurate” to think that’s the team’s approach.

Pettine said he visited Manziel in rehab last week, and that “he has our full support.”

“He’s in a much better place now than before he went in,” Pettine said. “We’re proud of him. . . .

“We had the same information everyone else in the League had. It turns out to be a deeper-rooted thing that we thought.”

The support for their quarterback at a human level is impressive. But the lack of support from a football standpoint is telling.

Johnny Manziel’s bout with alcohol has gotten the best of him. He might just lose his career over it.

Don’t underestimate the power of sin.

The Believer’s Ledger

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:8-11 ESV)

Jesus died once and will never die again. Why? His death was no ordinary death. He died receiving God’s wrath against sin. Consider the guilt you have felt over some ridiculous sin you’ve committed…again. Multiply that guilt by billions of sinners who have lived through all the millennia: Jesus experienced at once that multiplied guilt. His death was no ordinary death. The physical weight of the cross paled in comparison to the moral weight of your sin on his shoulders.

Jesus’s work didn’t stop with his death. But the life he lives he lives to God. He now mediates on behalf of all believers. He was single-minded in his death and he is now single-minded in his life.

We must be too.

When we received Christ as our Savior, we died to sin. That one act of faith didn’t finish the work. We have a day-to-day, and sometimes moment-to-moment, responsibility: consider yourselves dead to sinThe word consider is an accounting term: it means to write it down in the debit or credit column. Here we have an entry for both sides. Every day in the debit column we write: dead to sin. But we don’t stop there. In the credit column we write: alive to God! The name of the account at the top of the ledger: Jesus Christ. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

debit credit

What kind of balance does this yield? A victorious Christian life.

This is what it means to consider yourself dead to sin and alive to Christ. No emotional fanfare. Some days you will not feel “saved.” Some days you will battle harder against sin than others. Every day your thinking must be on point: you are dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. That’s who you are! That’s the believer’s ledger.

By the Glory of the Father

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4 ESV)

Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. 

God’s glory is difficult to define. Glory is an ambiguous term. Let me try to illustrate it. Let’s say Lebron James goes to play for the Chicago Bulls. He walks into the United Center as a Chicago Bull and demands to wear jersey #23. What would happen? The place would go crazy, the fans erupt! Why? The number 23 has great significance in Chicago…it belongs to Michael Jordan and no one else will ever wear it as a Bulls player–no one. As good as Lebron James is, to insist on wearing #23 would insult Jordan and steal his glory.

God’s glory is what distinguishes him from all of creation. He stands alone as God. You can say that, when Jesus died on the cross, his jersey was retired. No one has ever done nor ever will do what Jesus did for us by dying on the cross. But that wasn’t enough. When Jesus went into the tomb, God’s glory was on the line. Would he raise? Would he live again? If he didn’t, God’s reputation, His distinctiveness, would be marred forever. What kind of Father leaves his Son in a borrowed tomb. Three days later, God defended his glory by raising His Son. God defended His honor by making good on his promise. The dead Christ would come to life again! Nothing, not even death, would steal God’s glory.

Here’s the catch. Romans 6 asserts that, when God saved you, He put his glory on the line. He is committed to getting you home and with joy in the journey. Your holiness is His project. Your sanctification is His aim. Your righteous living is His objective. His glory is on the line. The result is this: just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Your new life is a display, not of your own dogged determination to get it right, but of God’s ability to get it right. His glory is on the line.

Just as death had no power over Jesus in the tomb, sin has no power over you. As a new believer you get to live a new life. And God will see that you do–He will raise you by His glory.

I Did Not Know

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4 ESV)

For the first 17 years of my Christian life I did not know.

Here’s what I did not know:

  • I did not know that I was baptized into Jesus’s death.
  • I did not know that I was buried with Jesus in his burial.
  • I did not know that I was resurrected with Jesus in his resurrection.

I did not know. I’ve told this before (and it’s really embarrassing, but true). For several years I drove a Chevy S-10 that had a 3rd door. chevyred-754828Behind the driver’s door was a 3rd door! For years, when Trent wanted to ride with me, he would climb behind my seat into the back and sit on the fold-down chair. I never saw the door handle to the 3rd door. It was hidden in plain sight. That’s embarrassing.

But it’s more embarrassing to admit that for 17 years of my Christian life, I battled sin in my own power because I was ignorant. I was ignorant of this reality: when I trusted Jesus as my Savior (baptized into Christ Jesus) I was immersed in his death. My old sinful nature died that day. Death isn’t fun. My sinful nature hasn’t been happy ever since. As a matter of fact, every day my sinful nature (flesh) tries to rear its ugly head, tries to convince me to satisfy its desires, tries to deceive me into thinking I can be satisfied by its desires.

Death is devastating unless there’s a resurrection in the future! I did not know that I was baptized into Jesus’s death. And I did not know that I was buried with Jesus in his burial. And of course I did not know that I was resurrected with Jesus. That’s right!

How was Jesus raised from the dead? “By the glory of the Father.” That’s a loaded statement…one that this blog won’t allow today–tomorrow we will delve into it. Here’s what I didn’t know. I didn’t know that the death of my sinful nature had lead to the resurrection of a new man in Christ…one not bound by sin, one not under the sway of the world, one not gripped by the power of temptation.

Lamar Silver showed me the 3rd door on my truck. Chuck Swindoll, in his sermon series on Romans 1-8, opened a whole new vista into what it means to walk by grace, to be raised to life by the Spirit, to live an entirely new life.

Now I know. And I have choice. Climb over the seat to get to the back of the Chevy S-10…or open the 3rd door.