Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Discipline of Grace - Chapter 2

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

We all found this chapter very challenging. It made us look into our own hearts and see what secret sins reside there…

Here are a few things we discussed:

Refined sins:
If we are honest with ourselves we can all see refined sins in our hearts that have gone unchecked and untamed for years. Maybe we have subconsciously justified them because as Jerry suggests ‘These are sins of nice people, sins that we can regularly commit and still retain our positions as elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, and yes, even full-time Christian workers’ pg 33 We can go about our Christian lives with all the right, and Godly actions, and still commit these sins in our hearts; nobody sees… but God sees.

The chapter on refined sins beginning on page 33 was very challenging. I personally identified with Jerry Bridges when he said 'As I looked at my own life, one of the first [refined sins] that came to mind was the tendency to judge others and to speak critically of them to other people. That this sin came to mind so quickly surprised me, because I don’t think of myself as a critical or judgemental person. Perhaps that is part of the problem. This seems to be such and acceptable vice among believers that we don’t even recognize it unless it is flagrant – and always in someone else.’ page 33. I started to think of occasions when I have thought this way. When I have looked at another’s beliefs, philosophy or even parenting, and spoken of them to others. Even when I havn’t spoken about them, I have judged them in my heart. We felt convicted when we read that... ‘We are simply not to say anything about someone else that we wouldn’t want to eventually reach that person’s ear. Even criticism addressed to someone should be given only with the goal of benefiting that person.’ Page 35. Is our critisism really benefiting that person? We are to defend the truth, and speak to people about the truth, but it needs to be motivated by love and tempered with kindness. Is our motive to help them, rather than make ourselves feel superior? Are we motivated by love? Do we walk in the fruits of the spirit?

The Seriousness of Sin
We know sin is very serious. Of course we believe that all sin offends Gods. We acknowledged that we certainly give verbal assent to this. But when we tolerate these refined sins in our own hearts are we not saying ‘this little sin isn’t so bad’. ‘We forget or perhaps have never learned, how seriously God regards all sin.’ Pg 36. ‘Again, the seriousness of sin is not simply measured by its consequences, but by the authority of the One who gives the command.’ Page 37

In light of the fact that often these ‘refined sins’ are hidden from others, and we are not challenged to change by those around us, how do we recognise our sin. Meditating and studying Gods Word, shows us our sin in James 1:23-25 we see Gods Word as a mirror revealing to us our true character and showing us our need of Grace. Psalm 119:11 says ‘Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.’ Psalm 119:105 ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’. I’m sure there are many other scriptures you could find to show us how important it is to spend time in and meditate on Gods word, so that we recognise sin, and hate it for what it is.

Realising that these sins are so ingrain in us as humans only magnifies the glory of Gods Grace and shows us that without the gift of faith it is impossible to please God. We loved the quote he gave from a Puritan preacher ‘Even our tears of repentance need to be washed in the blood of the Lamb’ pg 44. Even our most holy acts are sinful.

Since we have been saved by Grace; that is a free unmerited gift of God, to sinners. Shouldn't we be excited and willing to share it with others!? Lets not be afraid to share the Gospel. Let us not be ashamed or fearful.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Hi Amy and the group.
Your summary of this chapter brought out many of the things that I found very challenging also. Being critical of others and having refined or "acceptable sins" but thinking they are not as bad as other sins, are things I have to do deal with in my own christian walk.

The section on christian pharisaism, about self-satisfaction with one's Christian life and comparing ourselves to other more gross forms of sin, and with other believers who are not as committed as we are, and that we feel righteous in comparison was a wake up call for me too.

Looking forward to further discussions through the book.
Cathy H