So what is journal group? A journal group is simply a gathering of people who spend time reading the scriptures, writing about what they read and then sharing it together with the group.
Instead of making it too complicated I wanted to share some notes from David Cotrone. He is in one of our groups. I love hearing God speak through our people.
If you are interested in getting connected to a group just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
- Scripture commands us to stand and to stand firmly, not just stand.
- How interesting to have to remind ex-prisoners of their freedom?
- Implies our being prone to run to dead works, not only running to sin, but also running to anything besides Christ. Anything that isn’t Christ = Slavery
- 5:4 “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”
- How can you fall from grace? By not trusting in it. Not by sin, as the world views sin, but by the sin of unbelief.
- Reference: Hebrews 10:29 “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?”
- The Spirit of grace can only be outraged by our unbelief. Grace is the free gift of God in light of our weakness and sin. Then how can it be outraged? By our sin? Of course not. We were saved at our weakest. It can only be outraged by our unbelief in the free gift of grace. This unbelief is submitting again to a yoke of slavery. Think Romans 5:1-11.
- 5:5 “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness”
The author of Hebrews tells us to beware of the “deceitfulness of sin” in Hebrews 3:12-13.
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
What is the deceitfulness of sin? How do we avoid it?
Sin draws us away from God in two ways. First it leads us into rebellion. These are our blatant sins. The lying, stealing, lusting, hating, un-forgiving, things we do. These are those things where we are actively ignoring God and listening to sin, believing the lie that these things are better. But sin draws us away in one other way that is even more deceitful then these things.
So many of us know that moment when the Spirit convicts us in the middle of some emotion or action in which we realize, “Wow. What am I doing? I don’t want this. This is sin.”
This is when sin becomes its most treacherous, it’s most deceitful.
As soon as the Spirit convicts, sin swoops in to remind us of our most recent actions or emotions and then urges us as some sort of Holiness Police.
“You can’t run back to God! Don’t you remember what you were just doing? What you were just thinking? There is so much rebellion in your heart and God is so holy. You need to do something before you go back to God.”
Sin could even quote scriptures from Romans, “… do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience…” Romans 2:4
This is the deceitfulness of sin. This is why, so sadly, we as ex-prisoners of the law and dead works need to be commanded, urged, and pleaded with to stand firm in freedom.
What other sort of people have to be reminded not to submit again to slavery? Did anyone have to remind the freed African American slaves not to submit again to the harsh yoke of their oppressors?
The craziest thing is that Paul’s command to not submit to slavery is not chiefly a command to stay away from sin. Yes, we are to stay away from sin. But the more powerful reality is that chiefly this command is a command to stand firm in the fullness of the freedom of the cross in the midst of your sin. Daily, moment by moment we are prone to wander, yet we hold fast to the Cross, not to our fighting against that sin. We fight against sin because we are free regardless of that sin.
He is commanding them and me to not run to dead works. There is nothing I can do, sinful or otherwise that can alter my place before God. If we want to not fall away from grace, then we trust grace as our only hope.
What do I value as more sinful, gross, blatant sins or trusting in dead works? Which is worse, adultery or trusting in dead works? How about murder verse dead works?
I pray that I would see that trusting in dead works is as weighty a sin as all the rest combined! It is so easy to think that trusting in dead works is almost some sort of holiness in us! It isn’t, it is sin and the worse kind.
It is you falling from grace! Trusting in your dead works is the only way to fall from grace! Trust in the freeness of the Cross. It is your only hope.
This is what makes grace so hard. This is the offense of the gospel.
The gospel of Christ urges us in the middle of the black filth of our sin to say, “Before I move out of this sin, even as I stand here, knee deep in the filth of my sin, Christ is enough!”
In Galatians 5, Paul is urging these people to not believe the deceitfulness of sin that is yelling to them, “Be circumcised. This will get you closer to God.” What is your circumcision today? What dead work do you think you can add to the Cross that will save you?
Lord, I want such scandalous hope in grace. To laugh in the face of sin and its lies that dead works could ever help me. You are not bargained with. You are holy and as such I am lost with no hope. I have nothing. No work. No hope in anything. Not yesterday. Not today. Not tomorrow.
All I have is what you give me. All I have is grace because you have in eternity past, in love, predestined me to sonship. Why? Because of my works? No! Based on no work I have done, good or evil, you have saved me, so that the purpose of election might stand. You have given me a salvation that comes through nothing except the crushing of Christ in my place.
All is grace. Stand firm.