Monday, February 19, 2007

Lloyd-Jones 'Spiritual Depression' (VI)

Yes, I'm still going on this book too! Lloyd-Jones is teaching us that an unhappy Christian is a contradiction in terms. All the obvious caveats apply, as my past posts on this book make fairly clear, I think. As it happens, the last couple of chapters are some of my very favourites. But the whole book's a cracker - accessible but far from simplistic, with a real depth to it & very practical. Oh for more preachers to preach a bit more like this!

10. The Spirit of Bondage

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." (Rom 8:15-17)

These are stunning words, standing out even in that stunning chapter. Why were they written? To protect the Christians in Rome from discouragement and despondancy. That makes it vital to see how he came to make the statement, and why he came to write this statement. They were discouraged by living the Christian life, dealing with sin - the issue Paul has been dealing with over the past few chapters.

The essence of the problem is their failure to realise certain truths about the Christian life. Ultimately they fail to understand doctrine - and that stuffs them up! They seem to fail to understand that truth must be appropriated. It is very easy to read the Bible and give a kind of nominal assent - but there is a massive danger in that, as it may well lead to nominalism.

Bondage often appears to be to the Law - even in those who are very clear as to what their theology is, their failure to appropriate suitable passages may bind them to works. Not just RCs here, but many evangelical Christians too. Such bondage always carries fear along with it - a wrong fear of God, a wrong fear of the greatness of the task, a wrong fear of the devil's power and a wrong fear of their own sin. Ultimately this is a fear of themselves and of failure. To them, Paul says Rom 8:15-17.

And this message works out in two ways. First, we are to walk in this awesome task just as Christ walked, indwelt by the glorious Holy Spirit, with his mighty power at work in us - a truth we've seen worked out all through Rom 8. Secondly, we're reminded by the Holy Spirit's presence of our relationship to God - that wonderful truth which is our calling God "Abba, Father". It doesn't do away with godly fear, but certainly does kick away that ungodly bondage Paul is addressing. How? Because our object in the Christian life is not to achieve a certain standard, but to please God because he is our Father - to which truth the Spirit witnesses.

Finally, the Spirit reminds us of our destiny - Glory! Take these truths, and having gives assent, then appropriate them. In Christ, you are glorious! 'Take your full salvation and triumph and prevail.' (175)

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