A Holy Paradox

It is those who feel their sin with hurt and penitence who are the truly righteous, and it is those who are sure they are righteous and need no repentance who are the real sinners. It is the dispirited who live before God, and it is the marvelously spiritual who often ex(s)pire from God’s presence. (Dale Bruner, The Christbook, pg 161)

Stop trying to be a Christian

We are not meant to control our Christianity; our Christianity is rather meant to control us.  From the standpoint of the Beatitudes, as indeed from the standpoint of the whole New Testament, it is an entire fallacy to think in any other way, and to say, for example, ‘To be truly Christian I must take up and use Christian teaching and then apply it.’  That is not the way our Lord puts it.  The position rather is that my Christianity controls me; I am to be dominated by the truth becuase I have been made a Christian by the operation of the Holy Spirit within.  Again I quote that striking statement of the apostle Paul which surely puts it so perfectly – ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’  He is in control, not I; so that I must not think of myself as a natrual man who is controlling his attitude and trying to be Christian in various ways.  No; His Spirit controls me at the very centre of my life, controls the very spring of my being, the source of my every activity.  You cannot read the Beatitudes without coming to that conclusion.  The Christian faith is not something  on the surface of the man’s life, it is not merely a kind of coating or veneer.  No, it is something that has been happening in the very centre of his personality.  That is why the New Testament talks about rebirth and being born again, about a new creation and about receiving a new nature.  It is something that happens to a man in the very centre of his being; it controls all his thoughts, all his outlook, all his imagination, and, as a result of this new nature, this new disposition which we have received from God through the Holy Spirit.  (D. M. Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, pg 97)