The God of the Bible does not take risks. He is not a God who sees the world spinning out of control. He never gets frustrated at what happens. Nothing is “out of his will.” Psalm 115:2-3 reiterates this. “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Later on in this chapter, in verse 11, it says, “You who fear in the LORD, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield.” The psalmist is communicating that God is a God to be trusted in because he is dependable and unchanging. He is a rock and a defense. He is not a God who is doing things on the fly. Later on, in Psalm 135:6, David says, “Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” That whole chapter teaches how the Lord controls all things. God does all things and everything pleases him, because he ordains it. He cannot disappoint himself.
O, how we can rest in the only Sovereign in the universe! O, how we can turn to him in times of trouble and rely on his unshakable nature. When times are hard and questions come, God is a utterly immovable. When storms arise and our lives our flooded with trials, resting in the sovereignty of God gives us a fortress of safety and comfort. He is a God to be praised and worshiped because his knowledge is far beyond anything I can think up. It is deeper and wider than what I can fathom. As Paul cried in Romans 11, “O, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” It’s too much for my finite mind, yet it is glorious to embrace and learn about.
I urge you to wrestle with this attribute of God and search the Scriptures. Discover the blessing of trusting in the Sovereign Lord, for he is our help and shield! He is in the heavens and he does all that he pleases!
Perhaps the plea before God that dominates my prayers more than anything else is a desire for holiness and that comes through killing sin. Romans 8:13 says, “But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Simply, this means that if I hate sin and strive for holiness by the Spirit (don’t forget that part!) I will endure to the end. I will persevere. No one will hear, “Good start!” from the Lord on the last day. Rather, we will hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” What’s the epicenter of this? It’s obedience! We will never experience complete victory in the Christian life. Jesus doesn’t want complete victory–he’s already provided that. He wants obedience.
From his book The Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges offers his commentary on Romans 8:13.
It is time for us Christians to face up to our responsibility for holiness. Too often we say we are “defeated” by this or that sin. No, we are not defeated; we are simply disobedient! It might be well if we stopped using the terms “victory” and “defeat” to describe our progress in holiness. Rather we should use the terms “obedience” and “disobedience.” When I say I am defeated by some sin, I am unconsciously slipping out from under my responsibility. I am saying something outside of me has defeated me. But when I say I am disobedient, that places the responsibility for my sin squarely on me. We may, in fact, be defeated, but the reason we are defeated is because we have chosen to disobey. We have chosen to entertain lustful thoughts, or to harbor resentment, or to shade the truth a little.
We need to brace ourselves up, and to realize that we are responsible for our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. We need to reckon on the fact that we died to sin’s reign, that it no longer has any dominion over us, that God has united us with the risen Christ in all His power, and has given us the Holy Spirit to work in us. Only as we accept our responsibility and appropriate God’s provisions will we make any progress in our pursuit of holiness.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds us that no matter how much we know or study, eternally it does not matter if we aren’t investing that knowledge in good, holy, pleasing, acceptable, worthy things, and eternal things. He writes,
You can be so interested in great theological and intellectual and philosophical problems that you tend to forget that you are going to die.
So, when we learn doctrines and other great, deep truths of God’s word, may we apply them to our lives with the Lord and others in a way that brings God the most glory, others the most edification, and us the most satisfaction. Many times we can learn and learn and learn and have a head-full of book knowledge, yet not a speck of ministerial or personal experience with the particular doctrine. Let us drink of the deep rivers of God’s truth and live in a way that shows Jesus is our Treasure and not the knowledge he gives.
From Sovereign Grace and Man’s Responsibility (sermon), on the two biblical truths of God’s election of souls and man’s responsibility to seek God.
But sinners, sermon hearing is an awful thing unless it is blessed to our souls. If God has kept on stretching out his hands every day and all the day, it will be a hard thing for you when you shall be justly condemned not only for your breaches of the law, but for your wilful rejection of the gospel. It is probable that God will keep on stretching out his hands to you until your hairs grow grey, still continually inviting you: and perhaps when you are nearing death he will still say, “Come unto me, come unto me.” But if you still persist in hardening your heart, if still you reject Christ, I beseech you let nothing make you imagine that you shall go unpunished. Oh! I do tremble sometimes when I think of that class of ministers who tell sinners that they are not guilty if they do not seek the Saviour
…This doctrine [man's responsibility] is as much God’s Word as the other [unconditional election]. You ask me to reconcile the two. I answer, they do not want any reconcilement; I never tried to reconcile them to myself, because I could never see a discrepancy. If you begin to put fifty or sixty quibbles to me, I cannot give any answer. Both are true; no two truths can be inconsistent with each other; and what you have to do is to believe them both. With the first one, the saint has most to do. Let him praise the free and sovereign grace of God, and bless his name. With the second, the sinner has the most to do. O sinner, humble thyself under the mighty hand of God, when thou thinkest of how often he hath shown his love to thee, by bidding thee come to himself, and yet how often thou hast spurned his Word and refused his mercy, and turned a deaf ear to every invitation, and hast gone thy way to rebel against a God of love, and violate the commands of him that loved thee.
This is just too good not to post. Thanks, Mark Driscoll, for your truth, passion for Jesus, energy, and outright humor. You can see the whole sermon here.