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Entries in J.I. Packer (15)

Tuesday
Jun062017

We hate all sin but our own

In his book Rediscovering Holiness, J.I. Packer emphasizes the need for repentance. If we are going to be holy, repentance is essential. Practicing repentance is what he calls "going downward to grow up." Repenting is essential for our initial conversion to Christ, and it's essential to our ongoing pursuit of holiness.

Packer points out that in order to pursue regular repentance (and he insists that repentance must be daily because sin is daily) we must pursue humility:

Humility rests on self-knowledge; pride reflects self-ignorance. Humility expresses itself in self-distrust and conscious dependence on God; pride is self-confident and, though it may go through the motions of humility with some skill (for pride is a great actor), it is self-important, opinionated, tyrannical, pushy, and self-willed. 

I don't know about anyone else, but I see myself all too clearly in those last five adjectives. I am far too opinionated at times, far too sure of myself, too self-willed. The principle that we must be aware of ourselves is crucial, I believe. Too frequently, rather than focusing on our own sin, our attention is drawn to the sin around us. Yes, we hate sin, but how much do we hate the sins that lurk subtly; like the sin of pride? It's so easy to point a finger, totally oblivious that the act itself may reveal our own pride.

I found Packer's comment convicting:

We should not take it for granted that, because we are holding on to the faith that others have given up, God has to be pleased with us, and therefore we should be pleased with ourselves.

Are we pleased with ourselves? Do we take pleasure in pointing out others' sins? Do we spend more time proclaiming the faults of others rather than our own? If we use social media or blog, is our writing filled more with the descriptions of others' sins? Too much focus on the sins of others leaves little time for reflecting on our own. Are we patting ourselves on the back, oblivious to the fact? Do we even take time on a daily basis to examine our own hearts or do we rely on our respectable exteriors?

Only by doing what Packer suggests, "growing downward," will we be honest with ourselves about our own sin. It's painful, to be sure, but without that honesty, we will not grow in holiness.

Friday
Jun022017

Same sin, different packaging

I highly recommend hanging out with older, seasoned authors. J.I. Packer's book Rediscovering Holiness if proving to be very enjoyable. I loved this:

Puritan theology affirmed that in Christians, sin has been dethroned but not yet destroyed. Now sin takes on, as it were, a life of its own, seeking to reestablishthe dominion it has lost. Its power appears both in bad haibts, which are often deep-rooted and linked with temperamental weaknesses, and in sudden forays and frontal assaults at points where one thought oneself invulnerable. Of itself sin never loses strength. The most that happens is that with advancing age, ups and downs of health, and shifting personal circumstances, indwelling sin finds different modes of expression. 

At the time packer wrote this book, he was in his 80's, so he knew a lot about sin's impact on our lives. I am only into my 50's, and I can see the truth of Packer's observation about indwelling sin. The daily circumstances of my life are very different today even from ten years ago, but there are certain sins I still struggle with; they simply appear in different packaging. 

We can have victory over sin every day, but as Packer points out, it has not been destroyed. Part of the pursuit of holiness (not the entirety, mind you) is putting off sin. And that means self-examination and honesty with ourselves. 

Tuesday
Apr282015

Say it over and over 

Words to encourage, from J.I. Packer, on our assurance:

Do I, as a Christian, understand myself? Do I know my real identity? My own real destiny? I am a child of God. God is my Father; heaven is my home; every day is one day nearer. My Savior is my brother; every Christian is my brother, too. Say it over and over to yourself first thing in the morning, last thing at night, as you wait for the bus, any time when your mind is free, and ask that you may be enabled to live as one who knows it is utterly and completely true.

 

Monday
Mar302015

Our Perplexing Trials

From Knowing God, by J.I. Packer:

We should not, therefore, be too taken aback when unexpected and upsetting and discouraging things happen to us now. What do they mean? Simply that God in his wisdom means to make something of us which we have attained yet, and he is dealing with us accordingly. 

Perhaps he means to strengthen us in patience, good humor, compassion, humility or meekness, by giving us some extra practice in exercising these graces under especially difficult conditions. Perhaps he has new lessons in self-denial and self-distrust to teach us. Perhaps he wishes to break us of complacency, or unreality, or undetected forms of pride and conceit. Perhaps his purpose is simply to draw us closer to himself in conscious communion with him; for it is often the case, as all the saints know, that fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, when the cross is the heaviest. 

Wednesday
Mar112015

Utterly realistic

From J.I. Packer, Knowing God:

What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it -- the fact that he knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands. I am never out of his mind. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me, and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.

This is momentous knowledge. There is unspeakable comfort -- the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates -- in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.