For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Love Christ by Opposing His Enemies

We often have a wrong understanding of what it means to be a “loving” people. Too many think that Christians are supposed to be pushovers, that we are supposed to be these mild mannered folks who never really oppose a sinful world because we “love” everyone and don’t want to offend. Here’s a shocker for you: loving good means hating evil. And we demonstrate our love for God by vigorously opposing that which opposes Him.

The class I teach at church has been reading through Thomas Vincent’s The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ. He spends a great deal of time talking about the love we ought have, how worthy Christ is of it, what to do if we don’t have that love, and so on. And at the end, he offers some practical demonstrations of that love true Christians ought to have for our Lord.

In particular he mentions things like: Obedience; Learning, Keeping, Asserting, and Maintaining all of Christ’s Truths; Public Zeal for Christ’s Honor and Interest; Following His Example; Readiness to Take Up and Patiently Bear Christ’s Cross; and A Desire for Christ’s Presence.

In the midst of that, Vincent points out that we Demonstrate our Love for Christ Through Vigorous Resistance and Opposition to Christ’s Enemies. Let me just share his thoughts (hoping that I’m not violating any copyright laws in the process!):

There are three grand enemies of Christ which you are, by your baptism, engaged to fight against, namely, the devil, the flesh, and the world, which war both against Christ and against your souls. This trinity of adversaries agree in one, and combine together against His Anointed, doing their utmost endeavor to break His bands, to untie His cords, and to unhinge His government. . . but all their attempts in this kind have been, and will be, in vain. Christ has tried the strength of these enemies, and has vanquished them; but still some life and power is left with them to war against the holy seed.

You are Christ’s soldiers, listed under His banner; show your fidelity and your love to your Captain and General in manfully maintaining your spiritual combat against His and your spiritual enemies. Fight the good fight of faith, resist unto blood, do not yield upon any account. Disdainfully turn away the eye and ear when these enemies would entice and allure you, and stoutly make resolute opposition against them when they most furiously assault you. Hearken to no suggestions of the devil, temptations of the world, or motions of the flesh, which would induce and draw you into ways of sin, or which would force and drive you out of the ways of Christ. Resist, oppose, and labor to gain some victories over these adversaries every day. Especially get conquest over the flesh and the other two will be soon vanquished.

Christ showed His love to you in submitting Himself to be crucified for you; do you show your love to Christ in crucifying your flesh, with its affections and lusts, for His sake, in your self-denial and mortifying the deeds of the body, when you deny your carnal reason, your carnal wisdom, your carnal will, your carnal affections, your carnal interest, all inordinances of your sensual appetite, for the sake of Christ? When you crush pride, envy, revenge, malice, inordinate grief, lustfulness, and all evil concupiscence, for the sake and because of the command of Christ, all these are acts and evidences of love to Christ, and herein you should exercise yourselves daily.
(Thomas Vincent, The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ, Soli Deo Gloria Publications, Orlando, FL, 2006 reprint edition, p. 108)

Manfully maintain your spiritual combat. Fight the good fight. Resist unto blood. Resist, oppose and labor to gain victory. Yes that means in part fighting against our own sinful nature, but it also involves all three parts of this unholy “trinity of adversaries.” That means the same vigor is applied to fighting against the worldly system which dishonors our Lord and shames His name and fame.

I suggested to our class that it’s no different than defending the honor of our spouse. If someone were to slander my wife’s name; physically attack her; seek to violate her in anyway; you can bet that I won’t stand idly or meekly by and watch it. Rest assured I will resist unto blood. Why should we not fight equally as boldly against those who disparage our Bride-groom?

Now please don’t misunderstand. I’m not advocating any sort of armed rebellion here. I’m a redneck hillbilly in many ways, but not one of those kind. I’m simply saying that the Bride of Christ ought to stand up for the honor of her Bride-groom. We shouldn’t just look the other way while folks attack our Lord; or even worse, join right in with the same kinds of entertainment and goals and passions as the sinful world around us.

We ought to stand firm. Forgive the patriarchal phrase, but “be a man.” Manfully maintain your spiritual combat against His and your spiritual enemies: the devil, the flesh, and the sinful world which is at war with Christ and your soul. This is how we demonstrate our love for Christ. So do we love Him, or not?

As Vincent writes: What do you say, sinners? Shall Christ have your hearts or not? And what do you say, believers…Your love has been very weak, will you love Christ more strongly? Will you be persuaded to get off your hearts from earth and earthly things…Will you love the Lord Jesus much, whom you can never love too much?

Then let us demonstrate that love.

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