Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Obedience vs. Victory

Hello friends, I just finished the book I quoted last week, The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges, and I wanted to share a couple more thoughts I learned from it.

Obedience vs. Victory- Many people speak and write about victory over sin. This isn’t a bad thing by itself, but I believe victory should not be the focus of our attempt to be holy. It is true that Romans 8:37 tells us we are more than conquerors, and many verses speak about victory over sin and death. However, victory is the effect of something else, so I don’t feel victory should be our focus. Also, victory is a self-centered attitude to have about sin. We seem more focused on our own victory over sin than the fact that every sin we commit grieves the heart of God

God wants us to walk in obedience, not victory. Obedience is oriented toward God, victory is oriented toward self. This might seem like a small difference, but it can have a large impact on the way we pursue holiness in our lives. Obedience places importance on following all of God’s commandments because they all grieve the heart of God. Attempting to live in victory causes us to focus on conquering certain sins that seem to “defeat” us the most frequently. 

Another key difference is the result of our sins. The opposite of victory is defeat. Saying we were defeated by sin implies that something bigger than us that is outside of our control has beaten us. Being defeated by sin is not possible. This is a lie from the enemy designed to steal our effectiveness to produce good fruit. The devil desperately wants us to feel defeated and depressed. The opposite of obedience is disobedience. Saying we were disobedient shows that we knew what we were doing is sin, but we still made the choice to do it anyway. 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Victory has already been given to us. Falling into sin is not defeat, it is disobedience. When we are disobedient, we repent and are forgiven which allows us to continue our walk. 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

We have already been given victory through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Our duty is to live in obedience. Walking in obedience will lead to a victorious life that is full of love, joy, peace, and all the other fruits of the spirit.

1 Corinthians 15:54-58 “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I hope everyone has a blessed week!

In Christ,
Steven Stockwell

P.S. This Saturday is January 22, the 38th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the US. There are many rallies, marches, and other meetings around the country set on this day to promote pro-life legislation. I’m going to the Texas Rally For Life in Austin. One of my good friends, Briana Fischer, will be sharing her testimony at the event. One of the specific focuses of the rally is to support the Sonogram Bill in Texas, which would not allow an abortion to occur until the woman had seen the image and heard the heartbeat of her unborn baby. This has the potential to save countless lives. All are welcome to come. Please pray for this and all other similar events that are going on this Saturday. Here is the website for the event if you would like more info,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pursuit of Holiness

Hello everyone! This week I have been reading a book called the pursuit of holiness. It is a practical, uncompromising look at how our lives should be. It also focuses on finding and eliminating things we might not even view as sins that hinder us from having a fruitful walk with Christ. Today I want to share an analogy from the book that I really like as a representation for how we can increase the holiness in our lives.

A farmer plows his field, sows the seed, and fertilizes and cultivates—all the while knowing that in the final analysis he is utterly dependent on forces outside of himself. He knows he cannot cause the seed to germinate, nor can he produce the rain and sunshine for growing and harvesting the crop. For a successful harvest, he is dependent on these things from God. Yet the farmer knows that unless he diligently pursues his responsibilities to plow, plant, fertilize, and cultivate, he cannot expect a harvest at the end of the season. In a sense he is in a partnership with God, and he will reap its benefits only when he has fulfilled his own responsibilities. Farming is a joint venture between God and the farmer. The farmer cannot do what God must do, and God will not do what the farmer should do. We can say just as accurately that the pursuit of holiness is a joint venture between God and the Christian. No one can attain any degree of holiness without God working in his life, but just as surely no one will attain it without effort on his own part. God has made it possible for us to walk in holiness. But He has given to us the responsibility of doing the walking; He does not do that for us. We Christians greatly enjoy talking about the provision of God, how Christ defeated sin on the cross and gave us His Holy Spirit to empower us to victory over sin. But we do not as readily talk about our own responsibility to walk in holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24 “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Thanks for reading, hope everyone is having a blessed week!

In Christ,
Steven Stockwell

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Jealous God

Hello everyone, I hope you had a merry Christmas and a great start to the new year! Today I want to write about an attribute of God that I’ve had issues with. This is jealousy.

Exodus 20:4-5, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God.”

Jealousy is considered such a negative characteristic. How can our perfect, holy, loving God be jealous? I think many people struggle with this word. In fact, this is where we lost Oprah! Oprah said that she absolutely refused to believe in a jealous God. I believe the problem is based on an improper definition of the word jealousy.

Jealousy has different meanings. Jealousy is most frequently used as a synonym for envy or covetousness. He is jealous of his neighbor’s new car. This is obviously not how God is jealous.

Another meaning for jealousy is being vigilant in guarding something or someone. This is generally considered controlling and possessive and a very negative human characteristic. However, we need to be very careful when comparing characteristics of humans to those of God. This is how I view the jealousy God has for us.

How many times have you watched a friend make mistakes that negatively affect their lives? Do you just sit back and watch, or do you care enough to tell them the facts and tell them that they are going down a path that leads to destruction? This is jealousy for their well being. Knowing what can benefit someone, and helping them achieve it. We can only understand God’s jealousy when we consider who He is.

God is perfect. He is holy. He wants the best for us. Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” The only way we can be fulfilled, joyous, and successful is to submit ourselves to God’s will. He wants to bless us, but He is pained and disappointed when we go astray because He knows that any path other than following Him leads to destruction. God is jealous for us because He knows that following Him is the only way good things will happen for us.

I am full of immense joy when I consider that the God of the universe cares enough about me to be jealous for me!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! i pray that you have a blessed week!

In Christ,
Steven Stockwell