Ethan’s Aphorisms

“Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight…”
(Proverbs 4:1)

Rather than my usual “devotional” writing this week, I thought I’d share some of the little proverbs that I’ve been jotting down as they come to me in my study time.  I call them: Ethan’s Aphorisms.

  • A pastor should never complain about his congregation.  All their faults and failures may be precisely what God is using in his sanctification.
  • A congregation should never complain about their pastor.  All his faults and failures may be precisely what God is using in their sanctification.
  • Those who leave a church because they don’t get along with the congregation or the pastor eventually find their problems follow them.
  • Rather than complain about something, pray for something.
  • Love covers a multitude of sin. (Okay, that’s not mine, but it is still good.)
  • The lack of prayer reveals a lack of faith.
  • The desire to pray is prayer itself.
  • Distractions in prayer may be promptings to pray.
  • The one who is most ready to live in Heaven is best suited to serve on earth.
  • What you believe has tremendous effect on how you live.
  • How you live ultimately reveals what you believe.
  • If you don’t know what you believe, you don’t really don’t believe it.
  • If you don’t read the Bible, you are likely not living according to the Bible.
  • A husband who will not put his wife before himself will not put Christ before himself.
  • A wife who will not submit to her husband will not submit to Christ.
  • Your child’s relationship with you is a good indication of your relationship with God.
  • A Christian’s trials are never the wrath of a judging God.  Christ has borne that wrath.  A Christian’s trials are the fruitful discipline of our loving Father.
  • That which you cannot live without has become a god to you.
  • Your sin is great.  God’s grace is greater.
  • It is never too late to repent.
  • Lost people do lost things.
  • If you are not aware of a sin from which you need to repent, you aren’t paying close enough attention.
  • The sin you despise in others is usually also found in you.
  • The more time you spend in the presence of Christ, the more you will begin to live like Him.
  • You are either connected to that which brings you life or that that which brings you death.
  • Even just a little sin, a little disobedience, a little death is too much.
  • You are either growing closer to God or further from Him.
  • Those who say they can worship God just as well while alone in nature as they can while with a congregation don’t understand what it means to worship God.
  • What you get out of worship matters far less than what you give in worship.
  • The most important thing about you is not what you do, what you’ve done, what you have, or who you know.  The most important thing about you is that you are loved by God and called His child.


Killing My Old Man

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
(Romans 6:11)

The past couple of weeks I have written on the theme of “Killing Sin.”  I have more to write on that, but I thought I would first take a step back and give a little thought to the language here.

Is it acceptable to use terms like “killing sin,” or “putting sin to death?”  One might object to that kind of harsh, brutal language.  I mean, it doesn’t sound very Christian, does it?  Wouldn’t it be more appropriate, more polite to say things like, “pursuing the potential of good within,” “accentuating the positive,” or even, “Let go of yesterday. Let today be a new beginning and be the best that you can, and you’ll get to where God wants you to be.”  That certainly sounds a whole lot nicer than, “killing my old man” (thank you Petra).

The thing is, such polite platitudes fail to recognize the pervasive power of sin and how far that sin has permeated into our lives (phew, that’s a lot of “p’s”).  Sin is not just something we do, it is a power over us, enslaving us, which, if left untouched, will destroy us, rob us of the joy of salvation, and even call into question our very assurance.  Think about it, when we choose sin over righteousness, when we choose not to engage in warfare against sin’s hold on our hearts, then that sin is more attractive, more desirable, more of our hearts desire, than Jesus, the lover of our souls.

We must be in the business of mortifying, killing, sin.  This is what Paul is saying in Romans 6:

Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means!  How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life… For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  So you must also consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The mandate, the instruction, to mortify sin does not come as a way for you to finally “get right with God,” or “live into your full potential.”  No, the call to die to sin is based in the reality of your established identity in Christ.  If you have been baptized into Christ, that is, if by faith you have come to Christ for salvation and His word has washed you clean, then you are, in fact, dead to sin and alive to God.  The power of sin is broken, your life is hidden in the risen, righteous life of Christ.  You have been crucified, buried, and raised with Christ – this is your identity.

In Christ, sin no longer defines you, no longer rules over you, no longer determines your position.  Since you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above (Col 3:1).  Put off the old self, take on the new (Rom 13:12; Eph 4:22; Col 2:11, 3:9).

To walk with Christ and continue in sin is cognitive dissonance, an identity crisis to the nth degree.  You cannot feed a passion for Christ and also nurse a grudge.  You cannot proclaim the truth and spread a lie.  You cannot build one another up while also passing along rumors and gossip.  You cannot enjoy the fellowship of Christ and despise those who sit across the aisle from you.

At the Pastor’s Conference I attended last week, Sinclair Ferguson said, “Much of pastoral ministry is simply reminded people who they are in Christ, again and again.”  Remember your life is hidden in Christ Jesus, the one who died for our sins and who was raised for our justification.  He is risen, mighty over sin and death; and through faith, so are you.

Now, get busy killing sin!