Tired of Trying to Measure Up by Jeff VanVonderen Part One was introduced last week. Part Two has so many great thoughts that I decided to continue instead of cutting too much out.
Part Two is titled Healed by Grace. The title of Chapter Nine reads, “God Says You Don’t Have to Live in Shame.”
Sin and Death: Worse Than We Thought
“At this point, there are several things we all need to grasp about sin. First of all, in my opinion, you and I do not sin because we want to make life worse for ourselves. Rather, we sin because we believe it will make life better. We indulge in a negative behavior because we believe it will improve our situation. And we perform positive behaviors for the same reason.
Second, anyone or anything from which you and I try to acquire life, value and meaning-outside of the true God-is a false god. Therefore, those positive behaviors aimed at generating life and acceptability for us are sins. So even though what we do may be right, the reason why we do it is idolatrous.
Third, because you and I lack life and are helpless, no amount of negative or positive external behavior is capable of producing an internal transformation.” Continuing in this chapter the author writes about the problem, about the solution, about the enemy and about the battle.
In Ephesians 6:10-12, we read about the spiritual battle. Scripture further describes the nature of our battle: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 10:3,4) We are not in a flesh-and-blood battle.
In order to fight the right battle, we need to understand how to renew our mind. (see Romans 12:2) The author writes, notice that Paul does not say, “Be transformed by trying hard to be a good Christian.”
“This instruction is so simple. “Be transformed,” in the Greek, is the same word as metamorphosis in English. It means to change from the inside out. But in the Greek it is passive-that is, transformed is something done to us, not by us. Transformation is not our job. It happens as a result of the renewing of our minds.”
Next Jeff VanVonderen describes the three distinct roles in which God relates to people. God the Father relates as our Source, we are His created children; God the Son relates with compassion as a teacher and sacrifice. The Son did it all on the Cross. (Luke 4:17-21; Hebrews 10:10); God the Holy Spirit relates with his indwelling the believer. (John 14:16, 18) “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b)
The book has many more references and more depth on all of these topics. As we read starting in Chapter Eleven “God’s Solution to Shame: A New Creation”
“The Christian life is a process of learning to live consistently with who we already are in Christ…The gospel’s Good News is that, on the basis of God’s grace and because of Christ’s performance on the cross, we are brand new creations…A Christian is someone who get his life from God. “And I will put My Spirit within you, and you shall live…” (Ezekiel 27:14)
“Apart From Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Real life comes from continuing to depend upon, draw life from, receive our value and acceptance from the Spirit. It comes from learning that what is natural, whether good or bad, is dead and has no real life to offer…Another reminder, “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) God is right now doing the work in you to change you. It’s an inside job.
Tired of Trying to Measure Up by Jeff VanVonderen