Series Detail

REFRESH How Cross-Centered Gratitude Breaks the Compelling Allure of Sin

January 28, 2024 | Buster Brown

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we can confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'”  Hebrews 12:28-13:6

"But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."  2 Corinthians 3:16-18

In discussing acceptable worship in the life of a believer, the writer of Hebrews speaks of sexual immorality and materialism/greed.

"Addiction is a complex, progressive, injurious, and often disabling attachment to a substance (alcohol, heroin, barbiturates) or behaviors (sex, work, gambling) in which a person compulsively seeks a change of mood… What drives addiction is longing - a longing not just of brain, belly, or loins - but finally of the heart."  Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (p. 130-131)

To strangle lust and greed, the writer of Hebrews runs to the character of God: unchanging/permanent (vv. 5, 8) and the one who continually helps and daily sustains - which leads to a life of trust as opposed to fear (v. 6).

What breaks the allure or corrosive effects of lust/greed? Answer: Beholding the greatness of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:16-18).

Seeing Jesus as a great, moral teacher who gives us steps to behavior modification misses the glory of the fact that he is the wisdom incarnate, eternal God who, by his life, death, and resurrection empowers his followers to walk in the way of obedience.

“For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course, once it has got its wings, it will soar over fences which could never have been jumped and thus beat the natural horse at its own game. But there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow, when it cannot do so: and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders - no one could tell by looking at them that they are going to be wings - may even give it an awkward appearance.”  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (p. 216)

The Power of Beholding:

“Prudence: Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances, as if they were vanquished/conquered?
Christian: Yes, when I think of what I saw at the Cross that will do it (Jesus shedding his blood for the forgiveness of sin); when I look upon my embroidered Coat that will do it (the freely given once and for all imputed mercy/righteousness of Jesus given to those who believe); also when I look into the certificate I have in my chest pocket that will do it (the assurance that I am truly saved and eternally secure in Christ) and when my thoughts wax warm about where I am going to the Celestial City that will do it.”  John Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress (p. 51)

"He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free; His blood can make the foulest clean; His blood availed for me."  Charles Wesley

1. Jesus came to call his people to a life of joyful obedience. This is realized as we glory in the cross.

2. Contentment is the result of understanding we have an Abba Father, a shepherding Savior, and an ever- present, empowering Holy Spirit who orders our days.

3. We advance in godliness and advance by putting sin to death, holding the greatness/beauty/desirability of Jesus (Romans 8:6).

4. Behavior modification (i.e. Poor Richard's Almanack by Benjamin Franklin, etc) is a distant echo of the reverberating power of the grace of the cross. 

5. The power of the gospel teaches us that the love of money or unholy sex is corrosive and destroys the shalom/flourishing the Lord wants to give his people. Therefore, we take measures to put sin to death.

“The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace, but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.”  Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (p. 10)