Revive Our Hearts Radio

Strength for Real Change

Leslie Basham: When you truly know you’ve been forgiven, you’ll be motivated to live for the Lord. Here’s Elyse Fitzpatrick.

Elyse Fitzpatrick: You sin, and if you are His and the Holy Spirit indwells you, you know what your sins are. How on earth are you going to get up tomorrow morning and say, “I’m going to serve God today” . . . how are you going to do that? You have to know that you’re forgiven, and you have to know that you are righteous, and you have to know He loves you. It’s the only way.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, March 27.

For the last couple of days, Elyse Fitzpatrick has been reminding us of the wonder of the gospel, not just to get you saved, but the power of the gospel to transform your life day by day.

The gospel will rescue you from condemnation and the feeling that you have to constantly work to keep God happy. If you’ve missed Parts 1 or 2 of Elyse’s message, you can hear them at ReviveOurHearts.com. We’re about to get to Part 3 of that message.

First, I want to remind you that Elyse Fitzpatrick will be joining Paul David Tripp and Nancy Leigh DeMoss this September for Revive ’13, a conference for women helping women. It’s coming to the Chicago area September 20–21. Nancy, why was Elyse Fitzpatrick such a good fit for Revive ’13?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Leslie, Elyse and I have been friends for a long time, and she has encouraged me so much in my walk with the Lord, through her friendship as well as her writing and her speaking. So, as we began making plans for Revive ’13 and thinking about the theme Women Helping Women, Elyse came to mind right away.

She has a lot of experience as a biblical counselor, so she understands and cares about the needs of women. She’s written extensively on “women helping women” in various, practical life issues. She encourages women to get involved in the lives of others and to show them what it means to live out the gospel and put it on display.

The thing I love about Elyse is that she’s always pointing us to Jesus. She shows us how the gospel relates to every area of life. We’ve been hearing a great example of that this week as Elyse has shared a message called Because He Loves Me, a message she first delivered at the True Woman conference last fall.

Elyse has been showing us how our identity in Christ will free us from condemnation. Her text is 2 Peter 1, which she’ll read in just a moment. Let’s get back to Elyse’s message.

Elyse: My identity, that I am one who has been loved immeasurably by God and have been made one with Him, will continually be contrasted with this statement: “My identity and self-worth is determined by whether I am popular, respected, a winner and well-fed.” And you can add to that list anything else you want to add.

Who are you? What is your identity? When everything in your life is falling apart, where do you run for assurance? “Well, I was really good . . . I did my list. I got up this morning and I had my devotions. (I’m not saying don’t have devotions—don’t hear me saying that. I’m saying, what do you trust in?) I read the Bible, I did this, I was nice, I made breakfast for my children . . ."

When your life is falling apart, what do you put your trust in? When you’re stuck in traffic, when you don’t have money to buy socks for your kids, what do you put your trust in? When your children are turning into prodigals, what do you put your trust in?

You’d better not ever put your trust in yourself and your own ability to do anything. Do you know why? Because that will always eventuate in pride or despair. Always. So, here’s our verse,

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, self-control with steadfastness, steadfastness with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, brotherly affection with love [sounds like a good list] for if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful [boy, I don’t want to be ineffective or unfruitful] in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. [There’s a gospel hint there.] For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he’s blind, having forgotten the gospel. (2 Pet. 5–9)

Do you want to “get on down the road?” Remember the gospel; remember what Christ has done for you. Then you will have wind for your sails. Why would it matter if I have spiritual amnesia? It matters because it will have a direct and concrete impact on your sanctification. Sanctification is that slow growth into Christ-likeness.

Peter writes that one reason we don’t grow in ordinary, grateful obedience as we should is because we’ve got amnesia—we’ve forgotten that we were cleansed from sin. When you go to bed at night, you wake up in the morning and you pray, “My Father . . . Our Father . . . who art in heaven, glorify Yourself today. Hallowed by Thy Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done by me today, as it’s done in heaven . . . Provide for me what I need. Cause me to be forgiving, help me to remember how I’ve been forgiven, and keep me from temptation.”

I pray that in the morning and at night. Then, I look back on the day and see all of the ways in which God answered that prayer and all of the ways in which He chose not to answer that prayer. God is sovereign over our sin. God is not responsible for our sin.

I say, “Here I am again. Thank You that You are using even my sin today, in my heart right now, to be thankful for Jesus Christ. Oh, God! Change my heart!”  And then I seek to grow. In other words, He’s saying that ongoing failure in sanctification is the direct result of failing to remember God’s love for us in Christ.

You have one thing to remember. Remember God’s love for you in Christ. Remember His love for you. I’ll tell you what, I used to think that if I thought too much about God’s love for me in Christ, it would make me apathetic, it would make me silly, it would make me shallow.    

I will tell you, that is a lie from hell. Your enemy wants you to think that God is sitting up in heaven with His arms folded, tapping His toe, and saying, “I don’t know how you got into the kingdom, but I guess you’re already here—you might as well go stand over there with the rest of the dunces.” That’s not how He is.

If I think that that’s how He is, then I’m going to lack the comfort and assurance that His love and cleansing are meant to supply. Over and over and over (I’m going to be redundant) and over and over and over again . . . He says, “I love you!” Do you know why He says it? Because we don’t believe it! He says it over and over again, hundreds and hundreds of times in Scripture.

Do you know what we read? We read, “He doesn’t like us.” The very thing that’s meant to motivate your obedience, your growth in Christ-likeness, is the fact that He loves you. Our failures will handcuff us if we lack the comfort and assurance that His love and cleansing are meant to supply.

Our failures will handcuff us to yesterday’s sins. We won’t have the faith or courage to fight against them, nor the love for God that’s meant to empower this battle. You sin, and if you are His and the Holy Spirit indwells you, you know what your sins are.

How on earth are you going to get up tomorrow and say, “I’m going to serve God today” . . . how are you going to do that? You’ve got to know that you’re forgiven, and you have to know that you are righteous, and you have to know He loves you. It’s the only way.

Otherwise, I get up tomorrow morning and I think, “I’m going to work really hard today. I’m gonna ‘do it!’ I’m gonna ‘get ‘er done.’” So much of that has to do with my desire to approve of myself and be free of guilt, and really very little to do with love for God.

I have counseled people long enough to know that I’ve heard this a thousand times, if I’ve heard it once. “I want to get over my anger because I don’t want to ruin my kids.”

“I want to get better so that I can feel better about myself.”

All of that obedience has absolutely nothing to do with God—it’s all about you. How do I get to the place where I offer an obedience from a pure heart, from faith? I offer that obedience to God in light of what He’s already done for me—in light of love for Him, that love being responsive in nature.

How can our faith grow if all we see is the record of our failure? Our virtue or moral excellence will grow in direct proportion to our apprehension of the fact that we’ve been cleansed, forgiven, and loved. We’ll grow in knowledge and acquaintance of Him, because we won’t be afraid of Him.

How many of you are really, in your heart sort of afraid of God and what He thinks of you? You don’t need to be afraid of Him.

When I get home, I’ll go see my grandchildren. When I get there, do you know what they do? They come running out the door. A bunch of them all live together. Our son, Joel, is in seminary, so five of the six all live together, and we’re trying to help Joel get through seminary.

They all come running out the door, even the big ones—they come running out screaming, “Mimi’s here, Mimi’s here, Mimi’s here!” They run and they just jump and hug me. They don’t stop and look, “Do I have peanut butter on my hands?” or “Have I been being really obedient and wonderful?” They just come running out and jump. Right? You’ve seen that.

Do you know why they do that? Because they know I love them, so they want to be with me. They want me to hear their stories, silly stories, jokes I’ve heard for sixty years . . . they want to tell me. Do you get it? That’s how God is with you. He loves your stories, because you’re in the Son.

He sent His Son to get you, to bring you to Him. That’s how much He wants to be with you.

Self-control will come more easily because the idols that used to entice us have lost their power. Who wants to eat stuff off the bottom of a dumpster when you can have a Ruth’s Crisp steak? We eat stuff off the bottom of the dumpster because we’re starving to death, and we’re starving to death because we forget Jesus.

Our steadfastness will grow in response to His steadfast love for us, especially when we face trials and suffering. When we’re most tempted to give up, we won’t be blinded by our pain, but will instead see Him standing there faithfully before us with nail-pierced hands and feet, making intercession for us, giving us the benediction . . . that our faith will not fail.

Finally, we’ll love because we’ll be sensible to the fact that we have been loved. Have you been loved? Are you forgiven? Are you righteous? Okay, then, go obey! Context! Context is everything.

One more thing. You’re more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe. That’s the good/bad news. Do you know what that means? That means that you don’t have to pretend anymore. Aren’t you done with that?

I’m done with that. No more pretending . . . “I’m Mrs. churchy-lady, and I’ve got my act altogether.” No, you don’t! And it’s okay, because Jesus had His act together for you. Not only that, you’re more loved and welcomed than you ever dared hope.

So, I don’t have to pretend to be good, because He said I’m good. Whoopee! “Be free, little birdies. Be happy, have joy.” Not everything in life is happy. This is happy! Here’s Paul, and Paul is talking in Romans 7, and what is he saying in Romans 7? “Everything I’m not supposed to do, I do, everything I am supposed to do, that’s what I don’t do.”

“In my inner man, I desire to do that right thing, but every time I turn around, I’m doing the wrong thing.” And he goes on in that stream of thought until he’s ready to pull out his hair. And he says, “Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?! Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ our Lord."

The next verse—too bad that the chapter break is here. "I am so sinful and flawed . . . who will deliver me? Jesus Christ! 'There is therefore no condemnation . . .'" When? Now! Say the word, “Now.”  “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Whoo-hoo!)

So, here we go . . . Can you say with assurance, when God looks at you, that He looks at you and He says, “This is my beloved daughter in whom I am well pleased”?

(In whining voice)—“Yeah, but I didn’t have my devotions.”

“This is my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased.” Live zealous, obedient lives, burn yourself out for Christ, pour yourself out for the mission. The only place that comes from is the gospel. That’s the only place it comes from.

This is what I want you to do. I want you to look at the person next to you, and I want you to say, “When God looks at me, He says, ‘This is my beloved daughter in whom I am well pleased.’”

“Ooh, that’s a little edgy, isn’t it?”

See, you could say it about the person next to you, couldn’t you? You could say, “When God looks at you, He says, ‘This is my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased.” But can you say it about yourself? You have to say it about yourself if you want to have the motivation . . . wind for your sails . . . good news . . . zeal. Do it now.

Nancy: That’s Elyse Fitzpatrick speaking at True Woman ’12. She’s been showing us how important the gospel is, not just for our salvation, but also for our ongoing growth. Perhaps you’ve been trying hard to please God through your accomplishments, and it’s led to pride in what you can do. Or perhaps you feel the opposite—you’re discouraged because it feels like you can never do enough.

Elyse has been inviting us to experience the gospel . . . resting in the knowledge that Jesus has done everything you need to be pleasing to God. In fact, would you just stop for a moment and thank the Lord for that truth? Receive it by it faith. Just say, “Thank you, Lord, that You have finished the work that was needed to make me pleasing to You.”

Elyse writes about the gospel and how it will affect your day-to-day life in a book called Because He Loves Me. It would make a great follow-up to the message we’ve been listening to from Elyse this week. We’d love to send you a copy as our way of saying “thank you” when you make a donation of any amount to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

Ask for Because He Loves Me when you call with your gift. The number to call is 1-800-569-5959. Or you can visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com. Thank you so much for your support of this ministry which makes it possible for us to continue sharing these life-giving truths with women across the United States and around the world.

If you could ask Elyse Fitzpatrick a question, based on what you’ve just heard, what would it be? Well, you can ask Elyse your question. She’ll be part of the Revive Our Hearts listener blog today. Just go to the end of today’s transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com. You’ll find questions and comments from our listeners, as well as responses from Elyse.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. If those closest to you were to describe your deepest passions, what would they say? Would they include your desire to be close to the Lord? Nancy Leigh DeMoss will talk about that tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

To close our time, we’ll again hear from Elyse Fitzpatrick, speaking at the True Woman conference last fall.

Elyse: What is at the root of all our troubles? Do I need to say it? Sin! One time, in the 1920s or so, a British newspaper asked the question, as an editorial, “What’s wrong with the world today?” G. K. Chesterton wrote back, and he said, “Dear Sir, I am.”

What’s wrong? What’s wrong is, we’re sinners and we don’t just sin because we sort of accidentally blow it, we sin because that’s our nature—we are sinners. Sin is at the root of all of our trouble, and that’s not to imply, of course, that there’s a one-for-one correlation between whatever trouble you’re facing and your own personal sin. I’m not saying that.

I am saying that we live, as sinners, in a sin-cursed world. My mother-in-law falling into this dementia and dying, and all of the ways that we have struggled through that, and the unbelief that I had to struggle against in the middle of that, all has to do with the fact that I am a sinner living in a sin-cursed world.

Sin can be defined as a poverty of love. Let’s just boil sin down to the bare bones. Do you want to know what the bare bones are? Here you go . . . God only gave you two commands . . . so anybody can remember, just two. “Love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength . . . and your neighbor the way you already love yourself.”

See, there are not three commands there. There’s not a command there for you to love yourself. Jesus assumed you already did—that was the problem. “Love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself."

You’ve never done that. Not wholeheartedly, not disinterestedly, not with your whole heart bent on just serving Him. As a matter of fact, as soon as you get even close to doing that, you say in yourself, “Oh, look at me, I’m really great!” And then you’re done!

Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind—this is the great and first commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (see Luk 10:26–28) Everything is summed up there.

Our problem is, we don’t love. We don’t love God, we don’t love our neighbor.

Leslie: Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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