What is Your Problem?

You want to know what your problem is? You don’t love Jesus enough. I know this not because I know you, but because I know me. I’ve got the same problem. My wife has the same problem, as does every member of my family. Every person I know suffers from the same problem.

Wherever there is a sin-problem, underneath it all, Jesus is not loved enough. Husbands don’t love their wives as Jesus loves the church, because husbands don’t love Jesus enough. Children disobey their parents, because they don’t love Jesus enough. Pastors soft-pedal the Bible because they don’t love Jesus enough. And people hop from one church to another because they don’t love Jesus enough. Politicians grow power hungry because they don’t love Jesus enough. Rich people suffer from greed, because they don’t love Jesus enough. Middle class people suffer from greed, because they don’t love Jesus enough. Poor people suffer from greed, because they don’t love Jesus enough. Find a sin and you will find there a heart that doesn’t love Jesus enough. Find Jesus, and you will find the solution to our problem. Which is just what Jesus has promised will happen.

It is good and proper that we should be about the business of making manifest the reign of Christ over all things. We fight the culture wars because they are simply a manifestation of the war between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. But the serpent is more crafty than any of the beasts of the field. He took the biblical wisdom that argued that we ought to tend to our souls and turned it into world-denying piety. And now he takes the biblical wisdom that argues that we must push for the crown rights of King Jesus, and turned it into worldliness, and a denial of the call to piety. Jesus, on the other hand, calls us to seek first two things, the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

How can we seek two different things first? We do so when we realize that the weapons of our warfare, that the very engine of changing the world, is changing ourselves. The reign of Christ will be manifest in the political, social, artistic, and cultural realms only insofar and only through the manifestation of the reign of Christ within His people. We will only make known the great Gospel truth that this is our Father’s world, as we live as pilgrims, recognizing that this world isn’t our home, that we are just passing through.

It is because we are worldly that we embrace the culture’s engines of change. We think that we will change ourselves and the world only as we read more books, make more movies, elect more politicians, produce more widgets, and add more programs to our churches. We think sanctification is a doctrine to be studied, rather than a calling to be pursued. In truth, it is neither. We do not pursue a calling, but a person. Sanctification isn’t merely the means by which we become more holy but is the means by which we become more like Jesus. Just as He, the Son of God, is the express image of the glory of the Father, so we, the bride of Christ, are the image of our eternal Husband. We glorify Him by becoming more like Him. This is the promise of God, the end of our sanctification, our glorification.

1 John 3:3 ESV
And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Everyone who has this hope of seeing Christ and of being like Him, purifies himself, just as He is pure. It has long been recognized by Christians that the hope of the imminent return of Christ has a sanctifying influence in the life of the believer. He does not want to be doing anything that he would not want to be doing when Christ returns. Notice that it says, “purifies himself, just as He (Christ) is pure.” It does not say “just as He (Christ) purifies Himself.” The Lord Jesus never had to purify Himself; He is pure. With us, it is a gradual process; with Him, it is a fact.

Living in the reality of Christ’s return makes a difference in a Christian’s behavior. Since Christians someday will be like Him, a desire should grow within the Christian to become like Him now. That was Paul’s passion, expressed in Philippians 3:12-14

Philippians 3:12-14 CSB
Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. [13] Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, [14] I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

Which brings us back to our troubles. Our sanctification is long and laborious simply because we do not seek His face. We do not long for His presence. We do not seek to behold His glory, because we are insufficiently impressed. It is the pomp and the power, the dazzle and the sizzle, the bright lights and the baubles of the world around us that have captured our hearts. We don’t find His glory glorious enough, and so we are not yet like Him. We do indeed see through a glass darkly, a glass darkened by our love affair with the world. If we loved Him, we would seek Him. If we sought Him, we would find Him. If we found Him, we would see Him. And if we saw Him, we would be like Him. And believing this, John tells us, will purify us, “and everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure”. So, may it be said of us.

 

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