Suppression Isn’t Transformation: Where Can We Find Real Change?

“Suppression is not the same thing as transformation, and it is always the latter that the Spirit seeks to effect (2 Cor 3:18).”

– Sinclair B. Ferguson, In Christ Alone

We spend a lot of time and effort trying to force ourselves to be people that we, at the core, are not. But solid Christian character is not a simple act of will or resolution. It is not, for example, forcing ourselves to suppress pride for a moment or doing an act of love It is to have a God-wrought transformation so that we are humble and loving.

Connection to Secret Sin

I see a connection here between secret sin and suppression. If we feel like we are hiding secret sin – that we put on the outward show of a hypocrite – it is because we are trying to suppress our sin before men instead of seeking inward transformation before God.

Source of Real Change

We find real change when we confess that we can’t effect it in ourselves and instead turn to Christ.

That is part of the message of the Gospel: In Christ, by the Spirit, transformation is promised.

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Play Like a Child — Again

**Guest post by Demian Farnworth at Fallen and Flawed.**

My son owns a red tricycle. Behind that tricycle he likes to pull a red wagon. He likes to haul stuff around in that little wagon.

One day he lugged a large, faded plastic Joseph (from an old nativity set) around. I asked my son, “Who’s in your wagon?”


“Jesus’ father,” I said.

He looked back at the faded Joseph. Then back at me. “Yeah, God’s dad.”

I chuckled. But then it struck me–that’s exactly what we do with God…that’s exactly what I did with God. Let me explain.

Destroying My Family

Not long ago there was a time in my life when, as a Christian, I toyed with God. Yes, I said the prayer, bought the Bible, spent a lot of time at church.

But something was wrong. Very wrong.

See, throughout the first ten years of my so called Christian walk, I obsessed about one thing and one thing only: Becoming a world famous writer.

Much to the disappointment of my wife, this ambition took first place to everything else–my marriage, children, work–and even church.

In fact, I believed it was a very natural thing to neglect your wife, children and God for the sake of art. But you want to know the really sad part? I was miserable.

I lived that way for ten years until I finally crashed and burned. And it’s no surprise that when we are bent on our own way that we eventually crash and burn. The Bible teaches that pride comes before the fall.

So true.

The Happy Ending

In the end, I wasn’t pulling God around in my little wagon. I pulled around a resin coated image of God. The real God was waiting for me to surrender.

Listen: God is not a toy. Nor someone who tags along. He’s not our “co-pilot.” He’s the Creator. The guide who blazes the path. The pilot who’s behind the divine rescue mission called salvation.

In essence: He’s in control. And usually we’re out of control.

So let me challenge you with this: How’s your spiritual life? Is it full of joy? Peace? Or is it dominated by frustration and anxiety?

If the latter, there’s good news: You don’t have to live like that. A full, complete surrender to God means incomprehensible joy and peace.

It means you get to play like a child again. Which sounds like a lot of fun, don’t you think?

Author Bio: Demian Farnworth is keynote blogger for Fallen and Flawed.

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A Prayer-Producing, Sin-Slaughtering Love for God

Do you have the wherewithal to repel the muscular attacks of the devil or the discipline to flee temptation like a bolt of greased lightening?

There’s a diagnostic test to see if that kind of power has been granted to you: Take a look at your prayer life.

“Now what is the cause of most backslidings? I believe, as a general rule, one of the chief causes is neglect of private prayer. You may be very sure men fall in private long before they fall in public. They are backsliders on their knees long before they backslide openly in the eyes of the world.” – J.C. Ryle

Prayer Does Not Keep Us From Sin

Prayer has no special power to keep us from sin. But both prayerlessness and sinfulness have the same cause: a lack of love for God. Thus our prayer reveals our heart, and the condition of our heart determines our ability to fight sin.

“Besides, this mind (speaking of the pious mind) restrains itself from sinning, not out of dread of punishment alone; but, because it loves and reveres God as Father, it worships and adores him as Lord. Even if there were no hell, it would still shudder at offending him alone.” – John Calvin

Prayer is a Barometer of the Heart

Prayer is a barometer of the heart. If our heart is filled with a robust love for God, our life will be filled with focused prayer and victory over sin. If our heart is not filled with love for God, it should not surprise us if we are both prayerless and addicted to sin. We must cling with hope to the message of the gospel, because it is God who grants to us a heart increasingly filled with prayer-producing, sin-slaughtering love for God.

After doing a guest post over at Fallen and Flawed on secret sin, I couldn’t help but see its connection to prayer.

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Decietfullness of Sin

This is one of my all time favorite sermons, by Charles Spurgeon:
Deceitfulness of Sin – www.spurgeongems.org/vols34-36/chs2130.pdf

We must grasp that sin is a lie trying to keep us from the best there is, God Himself.

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Taste and see

Ps 34:8-10
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”

Jer 2:19
“Your evil will chastise you,
and your apostasy will reprove you.
Know and see that it is evil and bitter
for you to forsake the Lord your God;
the fear of me is not in you,
declares the Lord God of hosts.”

Heb 3:13
“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

Sin is a lie. With its beckoning appearance of sweet satisfaction, we are lured into the fantasy of a satisfied soul apart from our Maker. Our hearts recoil at the bitter taste left in our mouth as the lie is unveiled and the delusion is shattered by awakening reality. Sin wasn’t what we thought it was.

But oh! taste and see that the Lord is good! Take refuge in Him, fear Him, for those who fear Him have no lack. Seek Him. Our Lord never promises sweet only to deliver bitterness.

Evaluated experiences alight our vision with the fire of understanding. When you compare your experiences with sin and those experiences with God, we shamefully find sin decidedly lacking, and we can then see life with an understanding that sin will not satisfy what our heat longs for. Seek Him.

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Hating every false way

Ps 119:102-104
I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.

Am I just trying not to sin because I don’t want to look like a sinner, or am I avoiding sin because I hate it as God hates it? Those are two different motivations for living holy. The first is a motivation to look good before men. This motivation is also ultmately ends in failure because as long as people aren’t look at us, the sin is suddenly ok.
The second motivation drives us to hate sin always because we see it as God sees it. We see sin as a lie.
How do I tell which motivation is pushing me in my spriitual walk? If I find myself weaker to sin’s temptation when I am not being watched, then there’s a good chance I am likely trying to live holy only for the public show.
If we have God’s hatred for sin, then sin loses that appeal.
How do we learn to hate sin? And yes, we must learn it because our flesh is prone to sin. We learn from His Word as He teaches us through the Holy Spirit. I think this goes directly along with, “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” We recognize a sin in our life, we declare war on it by memorizing and studying revelevant passages in the Bible, and as we see sin as God does, we hate it.

God please don’t let me simply try to sin because I don’t want to look like a sinner. Please teach me to hate sin so that it is as repulsive to me as it is to You.

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