Volume. XXXiii, No. 28
Sunday, 06 January 2019


From the Pastors Heart: How to be Godly (Part 9)


Last week, we looked at meditation as the second private means of grace.  We considered what we do in meditation and why we have to do it.  The first reason for the necessity of practicing Christian meditation is to fight against sin.  Today, we begin with the second reason for meditation. 

 

Meditation sanctifies our hearts

 

Throughout the Bible, we can find many occasions when God commanded His people to sanctify themselves.  Leviticus 20:7 says, “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.”  John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”  Christ sanctifies us in Ephesians 5:26 (cf. Hebrews 13:12).  God sanctifies us in 1 Thessalonians 5:23.  

 

Westminster Confession of Faith 13.2 reads, “This sanctification is throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part: whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.”  It talks about sanctification (1) as a process because believers will continually suffer with some remnants of corruption in every part.  Therefore, sanctification is a lifetime process; and (2) as a fight against the lusts of the flesh and sin.  It is a battle of the flesh against the Spirit.  Westminster Larger Confession 78 reads, “Whence ariseth the imperfection of sanctification in believers? A. The imperfection of sanctification in believers ariseth from the remnants of sin abiding in every part of them, and the perpetual lustings of the flesh against the spirit; whereby they are often foiled with temptations, and fall into many sins, are hindered in all their spiritual services, and their best works are imperfect and defiled in the sight of God.”  It tells us that (1) every part of us must be sanctified, which implies the total depravity of man, (2) the fight between the flesh and the spirit is a perpetually ongoing experience, and (3) believers fail at times to be pure and undefiled, which implies the necessity of sanctification. 

 

The Lord’s commands to the believers to sanctify themselves and the ongoing nature of sanctification tell us that sanctification is different from justification.  While justification is once and all the work of Christ and does not require any repetition or human cooperation, sanctification is different.  By the grace of God, we are sanctified.  And through this sanctifying grace of God, we are now enabled to sanctify ourselves, which becomes our responsibility.  We are sanctified by the Spirit in 1 Peter 1:2, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied” (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1).  It is the will of God that we are sanctified in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication.”  Sanctification is clearly the believers’ duty in 1 Thessalonians 4:4, “That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour.”

 

The foremost important part of us to be sanctified is none other than our heart.  Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  The present condition of the natural man’s heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.  The second description, “desperately wicked,” is also translated as “desperately sick,” or “beyond cure.”  It indicates that (1) the heart is evil and wicked to the extent that it is beyond any cure.  That is why a man needs to be justified and sanctified.  He must be quickened by the Spirit of God to life.  Or, he must be born again; and (2) once after he experienced God’s grace of sanctification, he must keep himself in check.  Even if we are renewed by the Spirit of God, we may fall into an error that may deceive us, if we are not careful.  If we do not meditate upon our sinfulness and the holy guidance of the Scriptures, we will easily fall into errors and even self-deceptions.  Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”  

 

In order to sanctify our hearts, we must discipline and train ourselves to examine our hearts first.  I saw how students prepare themselves for debates.  Before they go to the debates in public, they study the subjects very thoroughly and see and weigh if their points are stronger than other teams’.  They want to see their weaknesses as well as strengths, and they work hard to strengthen their weaknesses and to make stronger their strengths.  Likewise, good Christians must know their hearts, in particular, their affections and sins, by using a means of godliness, which is meditation.  Without disciplining and training our minds through solitary meditation, we may not be able to stand against temptations and be free from offenses in words and deeds among other people.  When we fail to sanctify our hearts, we do not see and understand the depth of our infirmities, which will deprive us of opportunities to ask the Lord for strength against our infirmities and weaknesses.  If we cannot see our own problems, how and for what can we depend on God?  What could it mean to trust in God?  When we seek for our sanctification through meditation, we shall experience the conditions of higher levels of godliness.

 

Meditation benefits our soul

 

In meditation, we are given opportunities to commune with God.  When we meditate upon our sins, we shall see ourselves against the standard of God, the righteousness of God.  By which we find and see who God is and who we are.  Paradoxically, by knowing of our total depravity and corruption, we find even more reasons to come to God and to cry out to Him.  On the one hand, it is a misery to see who we really are, but one the other hand, it opens a door for us to come to God with earnestness for cleansing and restoration.  After all, we commune with Him.  In order to conquer and vanquish our corruption, we commune with Him even more desperately.  In the process, our hearts are softened and our dependence on Him grows.  As we keep walking this path, we desire to separate ourselves from worldliness more and more, which will help us to have better and better fellowship with the Lord. 

 

More positively, while searching for the truth of God and desiring to be conformed to the righteousness of God, we begin to experience changes in our hearts from our old ways and pursue the pathway of the Spirit of God.  We begin to taste the fruits of the Spirit of God in us, and we see the vanity of all transitory pleasures more clearly.  The more we find and forsake the inordinate love of the world, the more we crave the presence of God and heavenly things, which will draw us even closer to God.  In the meantime, we desire even more communion with God.  We also grow in godliness.  Meditation offers us all these benefits.  It is not too much to say that the godliest people even in our days are the ones who are acquainted with godly meditation.  I must leave a very strong impression upon your heart that meditation is a private practice.  In other words, without your and my private godly life by employing various means of grace, we cannot attain to the godliness we ought to possess.  

 

Meditation is hard

 

Oh, yes, it is hard for us to get used to spiritual and biblical meditation, because it does not come automatically when we become Christians.  Meditation is against the work of our flesh and heart.  If meditation is a way to commune with God, it is more than obvious that it requires effort and dedication.  We must be committed to meditation.  We must purpose to meditate.  That’s why only the blessed ones are the ones who meditate on God’s Word day and night.  Even in such a case, we can see the difficulties of meditation.  If we are given time alone, maybe 24 hours from now, and are told to spend the time to meditate upon the Scriptures, how many of us actually can do it?  I am not saying even 24 hours, but may be 12 hours, 6 hours, 3 hours, or even one hour.  Can we sustain our daily meditation of God’s Word with even half an hour a day, everyday?  Many of us will say, it is hard.  I do not deny its difficulty.  Even if a person can regularly spend half an hour a day with God’s Word, can he focus on God’s Word fully, or will his mind be wandering around, while reading the Scriptures?  How about prayers?  Can we sustain our deep communion with God in prayers for 10 minutes without losing focus?  Even though we all know that meditation benefits us to be godly and spiritual, most of us are content to serve the Lord without it.  However, such a person is like a man with lots of fat but no muscles.  In his appearance, he may look good, but is not able to do hard work.  A Christian may look godly, but he may be corrupt in reality.  Meditation is hard.

 

Lovingly,

Your Pastor


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

  • Special thanks to all Hopefuls of all ages who came for Working Bee yesterday to help with cleaning & tidying up the church property & have a beautiful fellowship time as well.
  • During the days of heat wave, our church Hall can be used for relief. Please contact Dn Kevin Low or Bro Edy Lok for access.
  • Daily Manna (Adult & Junior) for Jan-Mar 2019 available at the Foyer. Donation $1/copy.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: AFG. Next week: YAF.

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

  • Visitors & church activities this past week.
  • God’s daily provision, guidance & protection.
  • Watchnight Service & testimonies.
  • Journey mercies: All those who have travelled.

 

Prayer

  • God’s comfort in grief: Dn Wai Kin Wong & family.
  • Wisdom for pulpit committee: New pastor for our church.
  • Missions Trips: Batam: (13-14 Feb). Cambodia: (15-26 Feb).
  • Missions: Rev Sokha & Sis Nam Soon Sun & family & ministry (Phnom Penh); Sis Esther Kim & orphanage (Bandung).
  • Ebenezer BPC (Melb): Unity of doctrine & fellowship. New pastor.
  • Journey mercies: Those who are travelling.

 

 

 

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063