How to Train Your Dragons

Image result for how to train your dragons greg morse

Hey TD!

Here’s a good article that Rebecca sent me last month that is quite pertinent to our lives and to our discussion in TD this month on dying to self and living for God.  Slay your dragons, friends.

How to Train Your Dragons

KILLING PET SINS BEFORE THEY KILL YOU

by Greg Morse

“Excuse me, can you repeat what you just said?”

I was certain I heard him wrong.

“ . . . ”

“So you’re saying that if we are struggling consistently with sexual sin, we should wean ourselves off of it by sinning in moderation? If we do said sin six times a week, you’re telling us to limit it to five per week for a time, then to four, three, two, until zero?”

The leader of a highly recommended program for male Christian purity reiterated the sentiment as everyone around me nodded at the sage’s words. After all, we just heard Jimmy’s video testimony about how he went from sinning several times a day to only sinning, well, several times a month. The strategy must work.

The friend who brought me braced himself.

“With all due respect, you can’t be serious. Do you know what sin is?

As he continued to talk, it was evident that he did not.

To him, making provision for the flesh several times a week was, in the end, beneficial to our holiness. To him, a couple of slices of forbidden fruit wasn’t really that bad. To him, sin was manageable, tamable, controllable. To him, cutting off one’s members seemed like an overreaction — just gently wean yourself off of the sin.

To him, sin was not:

  • The glory of God not honored.
  • The holiness of God not reverenced.
  • The greatness of God not admired.
  • The power of God not praised.
  • The truth of God not sought.
  • The wisdom of God not esteemed.
  • The beauty of God not treasured.
  • The goodness of God not savored.
  • The faithfulness of God not trusted.
  • The promises of God not believed.
  • The commandments of God not obeyed.
  • The justice of God not respected.
  • The wrath of God not feared.
  • The grace of God not cherished.
  • The presence of God not prized.
  • The person of God not loved.

Nor was it,

The dare of God’s justice, the rape of his mercy, the jeer of his patience, the slight of his power, and the contempt of his love. (John Bunyan)

To him, sin was like breaking the speed limit — nothing personal.

It was not an injury to our greatest Lover, a betrayal of our truest Friend, a dishonoring of our heavenly Father, an act of war against our mighty King, the creature spitting towards his Almighty Creator.

One of these was enough to curse the entire world. But allowing for several per week was apparently fine. Sin was a pet that we should eventually get rid of, but in the meantime, you could scratch its belly and teach it to play dead.

Sin Is Not a Pet

Sin is not a pet to be walked several times a week. It is a lion, a wolf, a bear. It bites and hunts at will. It attacks as a piranha. It is a restless evil lit ablaze by the fires of hell. Sin cannot be trained, bridled, or domesticated. Cannot be rescued, rehabilitated, or redeemed. Sin will never wear a collar, stick to its kennel, or cease clawing at your throat.

Sin marks us as targets for the great artillery of God’s wrath (Colossians 3:5–6). Sin makes us worthy of death (Romans 1:32). Sin will be found out and hated (Psalm 36:1–2). We never make peace with it, never make provision for it, never mark it in our calendars. Sin must be destroyed by the Spirit if we want to live (Romans 8:13).

Safer to have a pet male tiger than a pet sin.

The Lizard Upon the Shoulder

But many have tried. C.S. Lewis depicts this philosophy pictured above in The Great Divorce. In the book, a Ghost who has been kept out of heaven tries to keep his pet sin, a red lizard. In the scene, the Ghost constantly scolds the pet upon his shoulder. An angel asks the Ghost if he would like the lizard silenced.

“Of course I would,” said the Ghost.

“Then I will kill him,” said the Angel, taking a step forward.

“Oh — ah — look out! You’re burning me. Keep away,” said the Ghost retreating.

“Don’t you want him killed?”

“You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that.”

“It’s the only way,” said the Angel, whose burning hands were now very close to the Lizard. “Shall I kill it?”

“ . . . ”

“Well, there’s time to discuss that later.”

“There is no time. May I kill it.”

“Please, I never meant to be such a nuisance. Please — really — don’t bother. Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it’ll be all right now. Thanks ever so much.”

“May I kill it?”

“Honestly, I don’t think there’s the slightest necessity for that. I’m sure I shall be able to keep it in order now. I think the gradual process would be far better than killing it.”

The gradual process is of no use at all.

More excuses are given, but now we overhear the lizard whispering in his ear,

“Be careful,” it said. “He can do what he says. He can kill me. One fatal word from you and he will! Then you’ll be without me for ever and ever. It’s not natural. How could you live? You’d be only a sort of ghost, not a real man as you are now. He doesn’t understand. He’s only a cold, bloodless abstract thing. It may be natural for him, but it isn’t for us. Yes, yes. I know there are no real pleasures now, only dreams. But aren’t they better than nothing? And I’ll be so good. I admit I’ve sometimes gone too far in the past, but I promise I won’t do it again. I’ll give you nothing but really nice dreams — all sweet and fresh and almost innocent. You might say, quite innocent . . . ”

It is easy to fall into patterns of training our sin rather than killing it.

If your biggest reason to fight sin is that you don’t want to confess it again to an accountability group, you’re training your sin. If you only pray about the sin after you’ve “done it again,” you’re training your sin. If you do not seek Christ’s presence, if you do not commune with him in prayer and his word, if you do not invite believers into your life to stick daggers into your sin, you are training your sin to play dead without killing it.

Go and Sin No More

If you have a pet sin, you must renounce it at once. Your salvation depends on it.

Only those who have a string of sin’s carcasses behind them will enter into heaven. Only those who “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling” knowing that God is working in them “to will and to work for his good pleasure” will be saved (Philippians 2:12–13).

But what about being saved by faith alone? You’re not. You’re justifiedthrough faith alone. Final salvation comes through justification andsanctification — both initiated and sustained by God’s grace.

There is a holiness that, if you do not have it, will keep you from seeing the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). “But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Do not be deceived. If you sow to the flesh, you will reap ruin (Galatians 6:8). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Many will say on that day that they knew him, but he will cast them out into darkness because they were “workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21–23). Warnings are active for the Christian, and the Spirit uses them to keep us fearing God and turning from sin.

The Christian doesn’t train his dragons. We do not plan on sinning five times per week, then four, then three, until infrequent times of rebellion. After he pardons the sinner, Jesus does not say go and sin less; he says, go and sin no more. Be killing your pets, or your pets will end up killing you.

 

These Verses Changed My Life

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Hey TD!

Don’t you love kids?  I do.  There is this raw, real, unpolished, unpretentious, unpackaged authenticity and realness to them, for better or for worse! 🙂  I also love young spiritual children as well (though they may be chronologically older, even adult-aged).  They too can have that wide-eyed hungry (even naive), teachable way about them that is refreshing and alive.  I love being around real life like that.  But with having children (biologically or spiritually) comes an enormous amount of spiritual responsibility.

It is when I had my first child, Nathaniel, that this hit me like a lightning bolt.  I read Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and it changed my life’s focus, calling, and passion.  Here it is:

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as [b]frontals [c]on your forehead.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

There they were, my marching orders from the Commander Himself.  My duty and calling as the father to my children was to first and foremost teach and train them to walk with the Lord, even before my responsibilities to train and take care of them physically, socially, academically, etc.  I have been charged to constantly bring them before the voice, heart, desires, and will of our God Almighty, through the priceless gift of His matchless Word; and I am to do it passionately, authentically, creatively, and in heavy doses.  Every chance that I get.  Waking.  Sleeping.  Walking.  Playing.  Eating.  Talking.  Traveling.  Every chance that I get.  That was really the underlying impetus behind us homeschooling them.

That’s why I get so excited when I see a young couple like Robert and Kathy take that charge to heart as well, as they begin exposing their daughter to God’s Word at her young age (these pics are the first pics of Hannah “doing” Bible study 🙂 wink, wink).  They know that even though she’s the cutest little thing (did you see her last night??? Sooooo cute!), God’s Word tells us the truth: little Hannah is a born-sinner, depraved at her core.  Little Hannah needs a Savior and needs to come to Jesus and to grow in His grace.  And that cannot happen without the power of His Word.

And you cannot grow in grace without the power of His Word either.  Deuteronomy 6:4-9 applies to YOU.  YOU need to talk of His Word when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.  YOU need to bind them as a sign on your hand and as frontals on your forehead.  YOU need to write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

As a spiritual father to some of you, and a spiritual uncle to most of you, I charge you and plead with you to examine the life you’re living, who you’re living it with, the way you spend your time, the activities you engage in, the conversations you have, etc. Then, I ask you to do some re-organizing of your life to make more time to study, sit under, meditate on, pray through … God’s Word.

Do it this summer, so that by the time you return to school, more time in His Word will be ingrained into your schedule! – Arthur