Monday, September 20, 2010

The Expulsive Power of a New Affection

In my class last week, a particular sermon was brought up as we ended our discussion on sanctification. I was surprised to find that I have never mentioned this sermon before on this blog, because it has had a very profound impact on me over the last couple of years (props to my friend Whitney for introducing it to me).

The sermon is entitled The Expulsive Power of a New Affection and it was given/written by Thomas Chalmers in the early part of the 1800s. The sermon is based on the text in 1 John 2:15 which says "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

The sermon is basically about how to pursue holiness and turn from sin. Here is the basic argument that Chalmers gives:
the most effectual way of withdrawing the mind from one object is not by turning it away upon desolate and unpeopled vacancy, but by presenting to its regards another object still more alluring.
And again:
You must address to the eye of his mind another object, with a charm powerful enough to dispossess the first of its influence, and to engage him in some other prosecution as full of interest and hope and congenial activity as the former.
His point is that "the heart must have something to cling to" and that the best way to not love the world is to set one's affections on the gospel of Christ. Here he describes this new affection: the gospel do we so behold God as that we may love God. It is there, and there only, where God stands revealed as an object of confidence to sinners—and where our desire after Him is not chilled into apathy by that barrier of human guilt which intercepts every approach that is not made to Him through the appointed Mediator. It is the bringing in of this better hope, whereby we draw nigh unto God—and to live without hope is to live without God, and if the heart be without God the world will then have all the ascendency. It is God apprehended by the believer as God in Christ who alone can dispost it from this ascendency.

It is when He stands dismantled of the terrors which belong to Him as an offended lawgiver, and when we are enabled by faith, which is His own gift, to see His glory in the face of Jesus Christ, and to hear His beseeching voice, as it protests good-will to men, and entreats the return of all who will to a full pardon, and a gracious acceptance—it is then that a love paramount to the love of the world, and at length expulsive of it, first arises in the regenerating bosom.
As you can tell from my last few posts, I have absolutely loved learning and being reminded of the gospel-centered way of sanctification. I am hard wired to be a doer and by doing I want the credit for the thing done. And since I can't do perfectly, I fall into despair OR I choose to not recognize sin as sin. By fixing my eyes on the gospel and treasuring Christ above all, I am given power and freedom to resist that which destroys me, namely sin, and pursue that which gives life, namely God.

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