His Light shrinks the shadow of the past …

As we have ventured through chapter 3 with the outline and commentary from this week, we can now take specific points for application. Sometimes application comes through further explanation. In this case I think it comes best through questions generated by the text. Let’s use our outline for chapter three and face some serious questions freshly squeezed from the text of the chapter to aid us in applying its truths.

Believers should be:

  • Rejoicing: verse 1

Is your mindset or attitude determined by your circumstances, or worse your mood, or do you exhibit joy and contentment in any situation? Keep in mind that the Bible shows God’s most faithful people having plenty of precarious times. Rarely do we find a hero of the faith whistling while walking down easy street.

James 1:2-3 reminds us that we are to trust God and His Word and exhibit joy in anything we face.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3

  • Counting accurately: verses 2-11

Are you counting on your religion, religious experiences, or religious traditions for security and stability? They are wobbly legs at best. What is one thing that is keeping you from relying on Christ alone? (You know the answer in general here, it’s pride, but think on what some specific barriers might be).

“And he (Jesus) said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” Mark 7:6-9

  • Pressing on: verses 12-16

Growing in Christ is not an experience; it is a daily discipline. It is not a passive process; it is an active, ongoing process.

Are there things in your past that hinder you? Are you holding onto something from your past and marinating in it so that you can feel sorry for yourself? God grants us freedom from the past and our mistakes by grace in Christ. Why hold on to something that He has forgiven and wants to remove from your mind, heart, and life? God promises freedom and joy, please do not forsake it and continue to soak in the past. I have to ask a hard question here: do you hold on to something from the past so that I can serve as an excuse?

Jesus did no go to the cross so that we could ignore what He has purchased and provided for us. He died so that we could forget the past (an ongoing process) and press on to the future by holding on to His promises. Go on, be free!

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

Jesus wasn’t kidding then, He isn’t now either. You can be free.

  • Watching: verses 17-19

Who are you looking to for motivation to grow in Christ? Look to Him. Also, take time to read biographies of great Christians of the past. An untapped resource that we have nowadays is the biographies of our spiritual ancestors such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Bunyan, John Owen, C.S. Lewis, etc. Check out John Piper’s book entitled 21 Servants of Sovereign Joy. It is a collection of short biographies of 21 faithful believers throughout the ages.

  • Waiting: verses 20-21

As we anticipate our Lord’s return, we should do so expectantly, while exacting in our growth in Him.

Soak in these truths, not the past. Let Him help you to move forward, and to keep pressing on. Jesus came to us, taught, died, and rose again so that we can be free from the past and ourselves, and to be free to pursue Him earnestly and persistently.

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