Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 1 September 21:
2 Timothy 3:2,7 — For people will be lovers of self….
The root of all sin is a love of self over God and others, or selfishness. Sin always prioritizes self over God and others. Sin entered this world when Adam and Eve chose self over God – “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6) Sin starts in the heart, with what we truly desire most – “Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.” (Psalm 36:1) “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
“You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” (Genesis 3:4, 5) In selfishness and sin, we essentially dethrone God and attempt to make ourselves gods, deciding for ourselves what is right and wrong and what is true and untrue rather than submitting to God’s laws, commands and principles, committing what R.C. Sproul calls “cosmic treason.” John Calvin writes, “He who loveth himself claims a superiority in everything, despises all others, is cruel, indulges in covetousness, treachery, anger, rebellion against parents, neglect of what is good, and such like.” Today, self-love is praised in popular psychology, as a simple web search will demonstrate, and it is void of God, as are most self-help philosophies of the day, though many seek to adopt biblical language to validate their pursuit of self. Those in pursuit of self will often convince themselves God is on their side (like a neighboring ally), God doesn’t care, God is powerless, or God simply doesn’t exist. Regardless how someone justifies their sin, God knows and judges the heart.
Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Repentance is a change of heart which desires to love God and others over self, submit to the sovereignty of God, and obey God in love. Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments…. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love…. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 14:15; John 15:10, 12) In his pursuit to “come after” Jesus, Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Paul understood that he had been saved by grace through faith in Jesus and not because of his works of love, and he also understood that only God could give him the ability to truly love; but in that knowledge, Paul was compelled to fan the flame of love in His life as an act of worship, which involved sacrificing self daily. Paul further encouraged others, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) In Christ, we are dead to sin and selfishness and alive in Christ and His love, a reality we more fully realize with each day as we practice sacrificial love in His Name.
- Galatians 5:22-26 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
- Romans 8:13 — For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
- Colossians 3:5 — Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Today, Paul warns, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12, 13) Tomorrow, Paul will explain further, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4) Denying self and submitting to God is offensive, even blasphemous, to those who worship the idol of self; it is an afront to their entire worldview, exposing its foundational fallacy and hypocrisy. The love of Christ, which exposes the truth of selfishness and sin as an affront the sovereignty and holiness of God, will be characterized as hate and considered dangerous, a crime against humanity. Under their banner of love (which is self-love), the world will naturally seek to destroy Love (God is Love). What should be the Christian response? Deny self, take up your cross daily, follow Jesus, love others as He loves us, and proclaim the Gospel.
- Luke 12:51 — Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.
- John 3:20 — For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
- 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 — For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ….
- Hebrews 4:12 — For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
- 1 Peter 2:12 — Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 September 21: Deny self, take up your cross daily, follow Jesus, love others as He loves us, and proclaim the Gospel.