Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Bible as the Only Means of Sanctification

"How can a young man keep his way pure?
     By guarding it according to Your word.

I have stored up Your word in my heart,
     that I might not sin against You.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
     and a light to my path.

Keep steady my steps according to Your promise, 
     and let no iniquity get dominion over me."
- Palm 119:9, 11, 105, 133

Muslims and cultists around the world speak of the morality of professing American Christians and claim that it is a reflection of the nature of Christianity. And, in a sense, they are right to look at us. After all, if we profess that faith, then we should live accordingly. What is sad, however, is that they understand that, but all of those professing Christians don't. As I have pointed out here, the religion of America ceased long ago to be Christianity, and is, instead, deism, though baptized with Christian terminology.  

However, for the true Christian, what brings moral failure? How should he judge whether his life reflects the Lord that he professes? In the four verses above, the Psalmist gives us clear and explicit counsel.

In each of these four verses, there is a reference to the Scriptures. In the first three, it is called the "word." That emphasizes that the Bible is no mere word of men, but is really the word of God (I Thessalonians 2:13), God-breathed (II Timothy 3:16). And the last verse calls it  the "promise," because it is God's word to us, His message of salvation, of sanctification, and of glorification (Romans 8:30).

Then, also in all four verses, the Psalmist describes a role for the Scriptures in our sanctification, that is, the process of repudiating sin and striving more and more to be like Jesus. He desires to be "pure" (verse 9), "not to sin" (verse 11), to be enlightened (verse 105), and that "iniquity will not have dominion" (verse 133). Each of those phrases describes his desire to repudiate his old life of sin and to live as the new creation he is in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17). He refuses the deistic, humanistic mindset, which says that doing right is what he feels is right. Rather, doing right is doing what God says is right. And that we can find only in Scripture.

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