Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Act Like Men

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
-- 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Young men, make war on your sin. You can analyze your feelings and circumstances for a long, long time, but repentance is always a cut to the chase. With the power of God's love and the message of the cross, stiffen your back, hold your head up high, and take a machete to the sin that entangles.

An excerpt from my forthcoming book Gospel Wakefulness:
We don’t graduate from the gospel. We hold true to it. And it alone propels us out and empowers us to press on. Grace-driven effort is effort that flows from the joys and wonders of worship that flows from beholding the amazing gospel of God’s grace.

Were this true in you, the sin in you would become your enemy. Do you profess Christ? Have you received Christ? Then, as Ed Welch writes, “Don’t just avoid sin; hate it.” Be as intentional with your sin as Christ was. Carrying the banner of the gospel, which declares Christ’s conquering of sin and death, make bloodthirsty war with the sin in you. Watch for it, search it out, assassinate it with the word of God. Arm yourself with Spiritual armor, put on Christ, and spare no sin you find. Kill it, even as you trust the Spirit is killing it on your behalf. Because he is. And if he is, you should be too.

You won’t drift into holiness. The Spirit will take you there. But God uses means to achieve his ends, and his earthly means of Spiritually sanctifying you is your pursuit of the righteousness of Christ. That we are “being transformed” is a promise; that we should “be transformed” is a command. This Spiritual tension causes Walter Marshall to affirm in The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, his classic work affirming that grace is not only the grounds of our justification but our sanctification as well, that the reader must “endeavour diligently to make right use of all means appointed in the word of God, for the obtaining and practising holiness.”
You're a man. You mean business. Mighty men of God, let's do work.


TW said...

When this verse says "act like men" does it mean "men as opposed to women" or does it mean "men (humanity) as opposed to animals"? Seems like, given the idea of strength vs. weakness, it could mean "as opposed to women" but then, in context, "standing firm in the faith" and "being strong" and "doing all in love" are surely exhortations to women as well. You end with "You're a man" which seems like an exhortation only to males, so I am curious: what is the general consensus / opinion out there...? Are we to act male (as in, strong, tough, etc.) or act human (as in, made in God's image, rational, Spiritual etc.) Thanks!

Jared said...

TW, I think the exhortation is applicable to female believers as well, but Paul appears to be singling out men here. I don't think he is wont to conflating men and women, and indeed, he distinguishes often. I think he is addressing men specifically in this instance, but I don't think this precludes any application for women.

I do not know consensus of commentaries on this passage.

Eliza Huie said...

Wow- really looking forward to this book. Would love to do a review of it if you are interested. Either way, can't wait to read it.

Mike said...

Powerful words, brother! There's a great "sermon jam" on youtube of a snippet of one of John Piper's sermons "Make War" (on sin). Very powerful.

I look forward to your book!

Mike said...

TW, I would say it doesn't mean like "humans" but like "men". Since typically it is men who go to war (for their country, etc), he's using that as an analogy for strength, courage, bravery, etc. Similarly, since it was typically men competing in the arena, he was using that imagery of strength, warfare, competition, striving to win!

However, the exhortation applies also to women...to exude courage, strength, bravery, hatred for sin, etc.

Good questions...that's my take. Jared?

TW said...

Thanks guys, for answering. As a woman, I think it is right to say that the exhortation to strive against sin and self - even to the point of becoming violent about it, and using war imagery - is appropriately applicable to women too. It's not something we usually apply to ourselves (girls), because we do (on the whole, I believe) tend to assign those kinds of war metaphors to men. But... I think my sin is as formidable an enemy as a man's - maybe even more so (isn't there some verse about 1 righteous men in a thousand and no righteous women?) And of course, there was Eve. (Parts of Scripture we women don't like to think about.) Do you know of any "striving against sin" passages that you would say are more universally applicable? Luke 13:24 maybe, or 1 Cor. 9:27? When Paul says "I beat my body and make it my slave" that isn't exactly a feminine image, it is? It's a puzzle. I'm inclined to think that when Paul talks about the flesh and the Spirit - in spiritual terms at least - he is talking in a sort of "gender-neutral" way, and his reasons for using the warrior / athlete imagery is to communicate the intensity of our struggle against the flesh. But that may be because, as a woman, I'm trying to apply it to myself... not sure. Interesting though. Thanks again for your thoughts!

Sam said...

Thanks for this! If you don't mind elaborating, what does making war with sin and putting it to death look like practically?

Jared said...

Sam, I think it depends on the sin. But generally:

- Eliminating the opportunities. (For instance, getting all the alcohol out of the house or putting filters on your Internet.)
- Addressing the root causes head-on (in counseling, if necessary) to identify and attack idols.
- Praying hard.
- Meditating on Scripture.

Bird said...

1 John says, "I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one."

I think that in our society, one of the primary ways young men in the Lord (regardless of age) overcome the wicked one is through victory over sexual sin. (And that starts with repentance.)

A spiritually young Christian man should have a story of victory in that area. That's been my experience, at least.

Mike said...

SAM, you can also check out John Owen's "Mortification of Sin". It's available online in PDF...FREE. He takes the issue into great depth. Reader be warned: it's heavy reading, but well worth it.

Scott said...

John Piper even mentions waging war on sin that we may be prone to committing. This means training the mind to not sin when triggered (eg. snapping back at a rude comment or responding in anger otherwise). Wouldn't it be great if we could get out in front of our sins and train our brains not to react sinfully, but with the fruit of the spirit?

Thanks for your post Jared.