Habakkuk Thoughts: Living by Faith and God’s Sovereignty Over Sin

Reading thru Habakkuk this morning I was struck by 2 things.  One of them is pretty quick, the other one not so much.

Habakkuk 2:4b is the famous “the righteous shall live by faith.”  I’ve always put the accent on “faith” but this morning as I read it I realized that the intended emphasis may be on “live.”  This is then picked up in the New Testament in Rom 1:17;  Gal 3:11 and Eph 2:8 – and used to explain that we are not actually saved by keeping religion, we are saved by trusting in Jesus Christ as our sin-bearer.  But this trust is not a one time thing – it’s a daily continuing thing.

Again, the ESV study note helped me see this, it says  – “The kind of faith that Habakkuk describes, and that the NT authors promote, is continuing trust in God and clinging to his promises, even in the darkest days.”

Piper is all over this.  Check out When I Don’t Desire God and/or Future Grace.  The read Hab 2:4b with emphasis like this – “the righteous shall live by faith” and pray that God will give you the perspective that we need to be trusting in him with our lives constantly.

So, switching gears – I was also struck this AM by God’s sovereignty over sin.  Habakkuk is complaining to God about how bad things are, the Lord informs him that he is going to use the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to come in and exile the people of Israel, for their hundreds of years of rebelling against God, despite his hundreds of years of warning that he is going to do this…they persist.   Habakkuk complains again to God, but this time seemingly taking issue with this plan.  He says in 1:12-13 basically, you have ordained this to happen this way, but you are going to use the Babylonians?  Really?

Skip ahead to 2:6-20 – we see the Lord is intending to punish the Babylonians too for their sin.  Declaring “woe” on them for their conquering other nations, their murdering, their pride in their nation from unjust means.

Here’s the mind melter:  God doesn’t cause sin, but he is sovereign over it and he always is just and true to his holiness – he will always punish sin.

God knows the sin of the Babylonians – he is sovereign over that sin and uses it for his purposes for Israel.  Yet, he will indeed punish the sin of Bablyon.

We all make the choice to sin, like Israel and Babylon.  God doesn’t cause that sin in our lives, but he is sovereign over it and uses it for his purposes.  Yet he will punish our sin as well.

But…thank God there is a but…(Eph 2:1-10)

We will be punished for our sin, by being banished from his presence forever in Hell, or he will apply the punishment given to his Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross and that blood will be payment and payment in full.   He is both JUST and the JUSTIFIER of those who have faith in Christ Jesus.  (Rom 3:26). He will always treat sin as it deserves, but yet he has provided a way for us to be justified from that sin, in his Son Jesus Christ.

As for those that have been sinned against – whoever sinned against you will be punished – either they will be punished in Hell or they will have the sacrifice of Jesus applied to them as God’s accepted payment by faith in Jesus. Kinda changes the way I’ve been praying for a few situations.

May we all turn (repent) from our sin and turn to Christ so that we may live in faith!

Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth.  For I am God, and there is no other. (Is 45:22)

Discipline of Grace – Part 1

It’s a double blog kinda day!  Perhaps it’s all the coffee (I just had to make more coffee for my precious wife, lest she soon awake and find that I have in fact drank the first pot…)

I love Jerry Bridges.  I have for quite some time.  (Pursuit of Holiness, Gospel for Real Life, Respectable Sins…).  My in-laws got me “The Discipline of Grace” for Christmas and I haven’t really been able to put it down since. I’m half way through, but this morning’s chapter was a major light bulb moment for me, that I wanted to write down for future use.

In Chapter 6 “Transformed Into His Likeness” Bridges focuses on Sanctification.  The key verse is 2 Cor 3:18 which reads:

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.

Bridges is focusing on SANCTIFICATION – straight up transformation of people.  God making new people, like only God can do!  I look back on who I was 15 years ago and it is usually a mix of shock, sadness, remorse, anger and eventual wonder of what God has done.  Don’t let yourself get bogged down in the negative – always bring your thoughts to the positive of what God has done and let that amaze you and let it cause you to praise him for Christ and the cross!

Bridges takes us through some great BBW’s (“Big Bible Words”) – first REGENERATION (The Spirit giving us new life  as new creations in Christ); JUSTIFICATION (saved from the penalty of sin) – then he gets to SANCTIFICATION.   As you know I’m a huge fan of BBW’s so I’m positively giddy by this point…

The goal of sanctification is to become like Jesus.  How do we do that? We study his character.  What will it look like if we are progressing in sanctification?

  • We will hate sin.  (In OUR life)
  • We will seek his will more than our own
  • We will seek to please him in our actions more than ourselves
  • We will be aware to test our motives in our hearts because we know God knows whats in there anyway

Always remembering that sanctification is a process, not an event.  Also always remembering that there will be conflict with our remaining sinful nature.  (Gal 5:17) Bridges gave a great illustration of sin being like a defeated army retreating into the hills to wage guerrilla warfare on us. This is the way it is and shouldn’t be a shock.  Also remember that while sanctification is a work of God – we have a responsibility – we need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this process.

We will also be aware that as the light of the Holy Spirit shines more brightly in our lives, “smaller” sins we be more clear to us.  Bridges illustrated this as a room with a light on a dimmer, as the dimmer gets turned up, things in the room become more clear – as we grow in sanctification – sins in our hearts will become more clear.

It is vital that we pray daily for God to continue to sanctify us and for us to submit to the Spirit in that work.  (Heb 13:21)

How does God sanctify?

  • First, remember it is the role of the Holy Spirit (see key verse above)
  • Thru trials and adversities, challenges
  • Exhortation and encouragement of fellow believers
  • Scripture
  • Prayer
  • MOST of all – thru JESUS CHRIST

It is vital, critical, paramount (here is the “a-ha moment”) that we appropriate the truth of the gospel BEFORE we get into the mindset of trying to knuckle down and grow in sanctification.  It is the foundation.

Bridges writes “It is the glory of Christ revealed in the gospel, the good news that Jesus died in our place as our representative to free us not only from the penalty of sin, but also from its dominion. A clear understanding and appropriation of the gospel, which gives freedom from sin’s guilt and sin’s grip is tin the hands of the Holy Spirit, a chief means of sanctification.”

“To the degree we feel that we are on a legal or performance relationship with God, to that degree our progress in sanctification is impeded. A legal mode of thinking gives indwelling sin an advantage, because nothing cuts the nerve of the desire to pursue holiness as much as a sense of guilt. On the contrary nothing so motivates us to deal with in in our lives as does the understanding and application o the two truths that our sins are  forgiven and the dominion o sin is broken because of our union with Christ.”

“The cleansing of our consciences from the guilt of sin must preceded our efforts to deal with the presence of sin in our daily lives.”

“We cannot serve God or pursue holiness with any vigor at all if we are dealing with a guilty conscience. Therefore we need the gospel to remind us that our sins are forgiven in Christ and that the “blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

This is WHY we preach the gospel to ourselves EVERY DAY.

This is WHY we never move past the gospel.

This is WHY the gospel of Jesus is of first importance and must remain so.

Otherwise we take our eyes off of Him and put them on US – and we then do not grow in the likeness of Christ – we do not stand on the rock solid truth that HE is our righteousness, our forgiveness, our innocence before God and we work FROM that identity, not FOR that identity as he transforms us from one degree of glory to another.