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Archive for July 31st, 2007

Considering that it has been the case that the churches coming from the Reformed lineage seem, from time to time, to have no place for talk about spiritual warfare, it might seem even more an oddity that our most influential theologian had a very significant place for it in his understanding of the Scriptures and what is going on in the world. John Calvin writes:

“There is no reason why we should hesitate to shun the world, which contemns God and delivers up itself into the bondage of Satan: nor is there a reason why we should fear its enmity, because it is alienated from God. In short, since corruption pervades all nature, the faithful ought to study self-denial; and since nothing is seen in the world by wickedness and corruption, they must necessarily disregard flesh and blood that they may follow God. At the same time the other thing ought to be added, that God is he who has called them, that under his protection they may oppose all the machinations of the world and Satan.” (Commentary on 1 John 5:19)

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This past week the sermon was on John’s famous statement that “God is love.” In studying and preparing for the sermon this week I was struck by how different the Christian’s love is to be from the world’s. As a Christian, I am to image the love God has shown to us in sending the Son. Christian love is one of self-sacrifice; the Christian life is one of sacrificing our good or our desires for the good of others.

Furthermore, the motives of this love are different. First, they come from a heart of gratitude for what God has done for us. Second, they come from the Spirit recreating us, giving us the heart to respond in gratitude. We could not love in this way unless we are truly born of God, having the Spirit inside. And it is here at the discussion on motives that most clearly separates the Christian and the non-Christian (or even the “old man” from the “new man” on an individual, personal level). The one not being born of God, or of the world according to John, cannot love in this manner; their motives will always be for self-gratification. Yet, the call of the Christian is to give up everything, following the example of Jesus, to gain everything (of course even “gaining everything” has to be carefully nuanced).

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