I have to admit I am a fan of Tim Keller’s ministry in New York City. Even though Tim did not preach anything new to me he does summarize a lot of things that have been speaking to me for my Christian life as I have been dealing with my own sin.
One my main reasons for liking Tim is he sees sin for what it is and he is honest about it. He proclaims against worldly and religious sin equally. He also sees sin at the idolatry level and not just the behavioral level. Thats the problem with Christian talk is we are less about the underlying sin and more about the external behavior. Of course we need to deal with the day to day practical aspects of scripture and our behavior; but we also need to see the Pain and Passion of Christ on the Cross dying for a man He loved as we deal with the idolatry of our heart.
This passion Christ had for us needs to translate into a passion that man has “in Christ” and in walking in repentance daily. However, if we dont see how deep our sin is then Christs’ purpose on the Cross does not electrify the Christian into a changed heart and to ultimately remove the idols of the heart.
Tim Keller once said [paraphrased] what man needs is expulsive, replacement rejoicing of Jesus Christ in the face of our idols. Well said Tim. What I want to add to this is we also need to rejoice in Gods plan and design for man. We need to rejoice in his sovereign life-changing grace. In the following article Thomas Chalmers says the same thing as Tim. An mp3 of the sermon with the quote of Tim Kellers can be found here —> Gospel Realization. The article of Thomas Chalmers is below:
As Chalmers discusses mans sin and behavior toward sin he makes the following claim:
Misplaced Affections[of the world] Need to be Replaced by the Far Greater Power of the Affection of the Gospel
Lets think about that. Chalmers is telling us that misplaced affections (mans idolatry, lust, and sin) need to be replaced by something greater and he offers the Gospel, the good news of what Christ did for us, as that greater affection. For the Christian we need to engage in the Passions of Gods purpose and design for us so we dont allow temptation to enter into our hearts. Christ needs to come first, Gods provisions for us need to follow, and the rest will work out. Chalmers goes on to say
[Mans love] becomes love in a state of indulgence. Under the impulse of desire, man feels himself urged onward in some path or pursuit of activity for its gratification. The faculties of his mind are put into busy exercise. In the steady direction of one great and engrossing interest, his attention is recalled from the many reveries into which it might otherwise have wandered; and the powers of his body are forced away from an indolence in which it else might have languished; and that time is crowded with occupation, which but for some object of keen and devoted ambition, might have driveled along in successive hours of weariness and distaste
Chalmers here is discussing an obsessive compulsive or addictive trend in man… and many people have this in some form or another (if you are honest with yourself). In the case of love he is discussing obsession or addiction over sexual tendencies possibly. The document was written in the 1800’s so he probably did not feel like he could openly state that it may be a sexual addiction or obsession.
Chalmers hit the nail on the head. This is why Tim Keller said man needs expulsive, replacement, rejoicing of Jesus Christ in the face of mans idols (mans worldly passions). We can not fight mans addictions and Satans lusts withoug supplanting it with something greater and more powerful. That greater power is two things: (1) it is Jesus Christ and (2) it is Gods sovereign design for man. If we don’t learn to fight satans lusts and mans idolatry of the world with Gods passion, in Christ, then we are giving Satan a foothold to twist the truth. Satan seldom gives man a full lie; he normally dealsn in half truth (also half lies) that look much like the truth.
Chalmers goes on to offer a solution:
A New Affection is More Successful in Replacing an Old Affection than Simply Trying to End it Without Supplanting it With Something Better
What I have seen in todays world is that man has replaced the passion seen in many books of scripture with a knowledge based approach to scripture. Man, it seems to me, has replaced a knowledge of the heart with a knowledge of the head. Now do NOT get me wrong, we need to understand scripture but, as I see it , many people and especially many marriages, have just learned to be ‘acceptable’ in Christ. We have learned to peacfully co-exist in Christ. And even though we do quite often do this in full understanding of scripture, we use scripture in a kind of pharasaical, religious way — which is a kind of idolatry of its own.
I personally do not want to just peacefully co-exist with my wife; and I dont want to just be an ‘acceptable’ Marriage in Christ. My wife deserves a lot more than that. I know I will struggle in this world and Satan will try to derail me. I will replace the lusts of the world with the passion of the gospel. In Christ and the Gospel I can actualize the passion of Gods design for my marriage. In this paradigm of the Gospel thinking it has already been done for me so I can have the confidence to overcome. This passionate, intimate relationship that God wants to have with me can be found by what Jesus did for me on the Cross. Also, this passionate language of Gods design for my marriage can be found in the Wisdom books of the Bible; Psalms, song of solomon, Proverbs, Job,Ecclesiastes.
Not many people or marriages want to go so far to replace the lust of the world with passions of God. Why? Because this is hard, relationally time consuming work and it means we have to take risks emotionally to make progress toward this goal with the people that also have the power to hurt us the most. Many marriages do NOT live in “Gospel freedom”……. they have walls of sin or performance based Christianity surrounding the heart of the individuals. With a deep understanding of what Jesus did we can have hope of actualizing spiritual one-flesh intimacy in our Marriages and we have the hope of overcoming the lusts of the world with the passions of God. These walls can only come down with a passionate understanding of what Christ did for me on the Cross. Because Jesus has already won the battle for me it means I can take the risks I need to take to have an emotional and spiritual intimacy and vulnerability with my wife. I just need to remember…………………….
THE GOSPEL — THE POWER OF GOD!!!!!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is and Jesus’ purpose on the cross tell us …
We are more sinful and weak than we ever cared to admit and…
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope.