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The Privilege and Power of a Praying Pastor’s Wife, by Erin Wheeler

Prayer is one of the pillars of our church. Yet it is the easiest thing for us to neglect. God has ordained that he do great things through prayer and it is my desire for us to see the greatness of God’s glory through the prayer life of our church. I will be posting links to a series of articles from the 9 Marks Journal related to prayer in the life of the church. Here is an encouragement for our pastor’s wives.

Praying in Elders’ Meetings, by Greg Spraul

Prayer is one of the pillars of our church. Yet it is the easiest thing for us to neglect. God has ordained that he do great things through prayer and it is my desire for us to see the greatness of God’s glory through the prayer life of our church. I will be posting links to a series of articles from the 9 Marks Journal related to prayer in the life of the church. Here is an encouragement for us to learn a lesson on elder’s prayer meetings.

Praying the “Big Four” Corporately, by John Onwuchekwa

Prayer is one of the pillars of our church. Yet it is the easiest thing for us to neglect. God has ordained that he do great things through prayer and it is my desire for us to see the greatness of God’s glory through the prayer life of our church. I will be posting links to a series of articles from the 9 Marks Journal related to prayer in the life of the church. Here is an encouragement for us to learn a lesson on corporately praying the “Big Four.”

The Holy Spirit, Prayer, and Preaching by David Helm

Prayer is one of the pillars of our church. Yet it is the easiest thing for us to neglect. God has ordained that he do great things through prayer and it is my desire for us to see the greatness of God’s glory through the prayer life of our church. I will be posting links to a series of articles from the 9 Marks Journal related to prayer in the life of the church. Here is an encouragement for us to learn a lesson on the Holy Spirit, prayer, and preaching.

Corporate Prayer Is More than Your Personal Quiet Time, by Zach Schlegel

Prayer is one of the pillars of our church. Yet it is the easiest thing for us to neglect. God has ordained that he do great things through prayer and it is my desire for us to see the greatness of God’s glory through the prayer life of our church. I will be posting links to a series of articles from the 9 Marks Journal related to prayer in the life of the church. Here is an encouragement for us to learn a lesson on Corporate Prayer.

Praying Together: An Invisible, Yet Vital Work, by Megan Hill

Prayer is one of the pillars of our church. Yet it is the easiest thing for us to neglect. God has ordained that he do great things through prayer and it is my desire for us to see the greatness of God’s glory through the prayer life of our church. I will be posting links to a series of articles from the 9 Marks Journal related to prayer in the life of the church. Here is an encouragement for us to learn to pray together.

A Series on Prayer: A Call for Pastors to Pray for Their People

Prayer is one of the pillars of our church. Yet it is the easiest thing for us to neglect. God has ordained that he do great things through prayer and it is my desire for us to see the greatness of God’s glory through the prayer life of our church. I will be posting a series of articles from the 9 Marks Journal related to prayer in the life of the church. It is fitting that the first step toward a praying church should be a praying pastor. Here is “A Call for Pastors to Pray for Their People.”

What’s So Bad About Sin? Part 3

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. – James 1:15 ESV

          Sin is bad for you. I have learned in raising children that there is a rebellious bent in the lives of children that urges them to do things that are dangerous to them even when they’ve been thoroughly instructed and warned about the sin of doing whatever that thing is. As parents we warn our children that touching the iron will burn them. Unfortunately, it often takes a touch for them to learn the lesson. Sin is that way in our lives. When desire is conceived, it gives birth to death. Usually we limit the use of death to the spiritual and eternal death we experience under the curse of sin, but the death penalty affects every dimension and moment of our lives. As a saint, I have eternal life even though I still commit sin. Because of my relationship to Christ, I have no fear of spiritual or eternal death. However, the death sentence for sin still affects me in my daily walk in a very real and fundamental way. Sin contributes to the decay of my quality of life. When I sin, I may not fear eternal death, but I do still fear the very present and real affect that sin has on my life. God wants what is best for me and my joy. Therefore, he leads me away from sin which destroys my quality of life and toward righteousness which produces the abundant life Christ promises and longs for us to have. Sin is like a mirage. It appears to be a beautiful fountain of refreshing water, but once we swallow it, we gag on the sand. Don’t drink the sand. Come to Jesus Christ, the fountain of living water, and you will never thirst.

What’s So Bad About Sin? Part 2

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. (James 2:10-11 ESV)

 

All of God’s law is an expression of His character. He is righteous, therefore, His commands are perfectly righteous. When we break God’s law at any part, we offend His character. That is why James can say that, “whoever keeps the whole law but fails at one point has become accountable for all of it.” It’s not because all sin is equally dangerous to society or that the consequences are the same for every sin. It’s because the same God who said, “Do not commit adultery,”[1] also said, “Do not murder.”[2] Sin offends God himself. Suppose that you expressed to the world that there were two things that completely offended you and would cause you great nausea. Now suppose that someone chose to do one of those things to you. Would you be offended? Their offensiveness would still be nauseating to you, even though they did not do the second thing that offended you. This is how sin is taken by God. When you sin, you are not just breaking some arbitrary rule that is indifferent to the nature of God. You cannot sin without offending His character. You are sinning against God Himself who gives His law as an inseparable expression of His character. The law is holy, righteous and good[3] as a consequence of coming from God who is holy, righteous and good. Any violation of God’s perfect law is offensive to His perfection. Your sin personally offends Him. Therefore, your sin breaks fellowship with God.

[1] Exodus 20:14

[2] Exodus 20:13

[3] Romans 7:12

What’s So Bad About Sin?

The wages of sin is death.[1] That’s what the Bible teaches. To many this seems like a harsh penalty just for making a mistake. After all, nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. Doesn’t it seem reasonable that death is too harsh of a penalty and isn’t it likely that not every sin is punishable by death? Certainly God will forgive our imperfections won’t he? No! Absolutely not! Not a single sin ever committed will ever go unpunished. That is why Jesus Christ had to come into the world and become a substitutionary sacrifice in the place of sinners. There are only two possibilities. Either your sins were punished in the death of Jesus Christ or your sins will be punished in you. So why is it so essential that someone, either Christ or you, must be punished for sin and why such a harsh penalty? That is a reasonable question and one that I will address in a series of several posts.

First of all, it is important to identify exactly what sin is. The catechisms answer the question this way, “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.”[2] This is very clearly stated in 1 John 3:4, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” Sin is not a social construct. It is possible to break social rules, norms, values and even governmental laws and not sin. It is also possible to sin without breaking social rules, norms values or governmental laws. For example, abortion is socially and legally acceptable, however, it is a sin against the law of God and is murder. Sin is defined by God, not man. Since God is our creator and we are His creatures, He has an absolute right over our lives to command us and hold us responsible for obeying Him. He has created us for His purpose and we are responsible to fulfill that purpose. In summary, we are created to love God with all of our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves.[3] When we cease to love God and others the way God commands us to, we sin. In the Ten Commandments we have a further development of the application of what this means.[4] When we don’t do what God commands or do what God forbids, we sin.

Furthermore, we must understand that sin is in relationship to God. Our sin is personal to God and He is personally offended when we violate His law. When you get pulled over by a police officer for speeding, he doesn’t come to the window of your car and discipline you for personally attacking his character and law. The speed limit is not related to the character or personhood of the officer. However, when we break God’s law it is a direct offense to Him. Sin is your personal rejection of Him and His perfect will for your life. That is why the book of James can say, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”[5] The same God who gives one commandment gives the others also. Any sin against God’s law is an offense to Him personally. Until we come to grips with the personal nature of our sin against God, we will never fully grasp the gravity of sin. Our sin is offensive to God and deadly to us.

[1] Romans 6:23

[2] Question 14 of The Westminster Shorter Catechism and question 17 of The Baptist Catechism.

[3] ‘But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40 ESV)

[4] See Exodus 20:1-17

[5] James 2:10 ESV