Make War

“I make war, ’cause sin never sleeps, it’s got me in a trance, you can see it in my dreams. I make war, I beat my flesh to the death, every breath, like I beat my chest. I make war, sun up, I make war, sun down, I make war, against lust, I make war, against pride, I make war, against me, ’till I die.” – Tedashii, “Make War” featuring Flame

Making war against sin has been the main focus or theme of Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters’ camp this summer. There are t-shirts that we sell at the Snack Shack with the words “MAKE WAR” and an outline of a gun on the front and a quote on the back that goes like this:

Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.

The quote, from 17th century theologian John Owen, has really challenged me this summer. Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.

There’s two parts to this quote, and I kinda want to look at both of them individually. Ok, I want to, not kinda want to.

Let’s take the first part: BE KILLING SIN. Sin is anything that goes against God. Selfishness, murder, lying, cheating, stealing, sex before marriage, cursing, drinking to drunkenness, et cetera. Anything that’s against God’s law is against God. And it drags us away from God.

We have to kill those things in our lives. It sounds like it would be very simple, but we are deceived if we think so.

I can speak from experience about a sin that really plagued me for a couple weeks during my freshmen year of high school. I remember one day just yelling, “Get off of me (fill in the blank)!” on the basketball court. It was the beginning of me going on a cussing streak for a couple weeks. The reason: pure selfishness. I wanted people to like me and get along with me and think I was cool.

Foolishness on two parts. First, that wasn’t going to make people like me. Second, it was displeasing to the one true holy God.

After about two weeks, I cut it out. I’ve let a word loose every now and then, very rarely. It was a sin that plagued me, and I made war on it. Through the grace of God and discipline, that cussing problem was gone.

Fighting sin also really involves being in the Word, as it is our sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). By memorizing Scripture and first applying it to situations and second using it to stay away from giving in to temptation, we are more equipped to fight sin.

Second part of the quote: OR SIN WILL BE KILLING YOU. Sin has a way of taking us down into the depths of the darkest part of our mind and soul.

1 Peter 2:11 says:

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

Simply, the passions of our flesh, which is sin, are waging war against us. Daily it’s fighting. And daily we lose. We either fight to the end and fall or retreat and let sin conquer us.

It takes someone really pursuing holiness and sanctification, spending time seriously studying the Word of God and actively disciplining themselves to fight sin.

Psalm 73:25-26 says:

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart my fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

We’re not always going to succeed in defeating sin. We are infirm, depraved men living in a twisted world. We will fall. It’s what we do after we fall that matters. It’s how we represent Christ that matters. And to do that, we need to rely on Christ’s strength to be the well we draw from.

That Tedashii song that I quoted at the beginning of this post has been on my mind a lot the past couple of days. It reminds me how little I’m making war on sin in my own life. Every time I hear it and sing along (or rap along, whatever you want to call it, it’s a rap song), I am constantly reminded that I need to be following my own rapping/singing/whatever and make war on the sin in my life. It’s that constant reminder and that conviction that keeps me humble and reminds me of my need for a Savior.

And that’s what all of life is for. A constant reminder of our need for God and our call to serve Him.

Make war.

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The Heart of the Contrite

“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” – Isaiah 57:15 (ESV)

I was reading John Piper’s Desiring God┬áthis morning and was in a chapter about worship. He wrote in that chapter:

…because we are all sinners, there is in our reverence a holy dread of God’s righteous power. “The Lord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread” (Isaiah 8:13). “I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you” (Psalm 5:7).

But this dread is not a paralyzing fright full of resentment against God’s absolute authority. It finds release in brokenness and contrition and grief for our ungodliness: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). (Desiring God, 86)

Then the Isaiah 57 verse popped up. Piper had quoted a part of it earlier and I had looked up the verse and been encouraged. Then he quoted the entire thing. Obviously this is an important verse, one that I needed to look at further.

My favorite part of the verse is “to revive the heart of the contrite.” The heart of the contrite is something the Lord will revive. In my Bible’s commentary, John MacArthur wrote, “After all the years of Israel’s sin and backsliding, and of Israel’s punishment, God’s grace will prevail and spiritual healing and revelation will come.”

The only way that our heart and mind can be revived after a pattern of sin and disobedience is for us to be genuinely contrite. The Hebrew word used for “contrite” is “daka’.” Other uses of the word in the Old Testament include “crushed” (Job 5:4, 6:9, 22:9). Possibly my favorite use of the word is Isaiah 53:5 – “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”

Jesus was “crushed for our iniquities.” His body was destroyed, His emotions were crumbling and His will was most assuredly shaken. Otherwise He would never have asked His Father to “let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39). He was broken.

When we sin, we must be broken. We must honestly feel like a train has run over us spiritually and emotionally for God to revive us. Psalm 51:17, as Piper quoted earlier, says, “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” We must be “broken and contrite and trusting in the Christ,” as Lecrae said in his song “Desperate.”

To do it honestly? We need to have the Holy Spirit working inside of us to feel that way. Our sinful flesh will not respond negatively to sin that “satisfies” or “pleasures” us, for “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

That same verse tells us that “the spirit is willing.” The Greek word for “willing” (which is prothymos) is only used in this verse, in the same story in Mark 14:38 and in Romans 1:15 where Paul tells the Romans that he is “eager to preach the Gospel” to those that are in Rome. Our spirit must be shaped by God’s will and be broken by the sin in our life.

Contrition is a conscious decision of our mind to feel bad or convicted about something, but our minds must be shaped by the Holy Spirit to truly feel it about our sin. In those circumstances, God will “revive the heart of the contrite.”

Working here at Snowbird this summer has taught be a lot about contrition. I’ve been broken about so much in my life that it gets to the point where I almost live in a state of contrition. While conviction and contrition are great things and necessary to be revived by God, we need to be accepting of His grace and salvation because we serve a loving and holy God who wants to use us. Even though we struggle with sin and go through numerous trials, they’re made to strengthen our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7, James 1:2-4) and encourage us to love him more.

God bless.

A Ransomed Soul.

Why Write

Some of you may know that I like to write. If you don’t know me, you probably don’t.
Anyways, I’ve been working at Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters this summer as a counselor, and God has changed me. It is with zero doubt in my mind that I feel led to live for God and work for God the rest of my life. It’s something I know I was called to before, but now the passion is there, and it’s incredible.
This blog exists for me to write about God. Simply. I hope that, to whoever reads this, it is encouraging, strengthening, sobering, God-praising and Jesus-glorifying. My motto for this blog is 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.”
I’ll be writing about what God is teaching me through my quiet times in the Word, reading books by authors such as John Piper, listening to sermons or podcasts from guys like Piper, Mark Driscoll and such and just observations on daily life. They’ll often be short little quips, but some will be longer and more in-depth. Those are my favorites, by the way.
Hope you enjoy the blog. I’ll try to do this as often as I possibly can. I know that I will benefit from doing this probably more than you, because I’ll be reading it more. But if you want to let me know that my blog is encouraging you, send me an e-mail at whorner@elon.edu or post a comment. Make sure to give the glory to Him first.

Praise God. Make war.
Zach