Listening to the Good Shepherd

Carefully regard your Shepherd’s voice. You cannot make the least stray but His whistle is at your ears, and His Word and Spirit beat at your consciences. Now hear His voice, feed only in His pastures, wander not after any pastures besides, though they seem more plentiful or more delightful. My meaning is, keep only in His ways, according to His directions, and do not be withdrawn or wander, through any enticements of sin or the world. Though other pastures seem more pleasant, yet they are full of thorny bushes. You cannot feed long on them, but you are caught and scratched, and shall hardly escape without much loss of your fleece. You may delight for a while in a sinful way, but your consciences will pay for it, and your graces. You cannot return without a great diminution of the one, and a strange vexation of the other; he, who will wander to get some pleasant evil, must necessarily be less good and more troubled. And what defense do you have when you do not hearken to your Shepherd? You are then as the silly sheep alone upon the mountains of Gilead.

Obadiah Sedgwick, The Shepherd of Israel (London, 1658), 15-16.


The Key to Sanctification

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
—John 14:15

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.”
—John 15:9-10

The key to sanctification is loving Christ. Loving who He is. Delighting in what He has done. Enjoying Him. Wanting Him above all else. Desiring to make Him known and glorifying Him in the most practical and mundane choices of life.

The key to sanctification is loving Christ. Rather than focusing on self-effort to change behavior and resist sin, the Christian should concentrate on nurturing and cultivating his relationship with Christ! Progressive eradication of sin will most definitely follow, but as a result not a reason—a derivative not a drive, a fruit not a root, a consequence not a cause—of sanctification.

The key to sanctification is loving Christ. The emphasis for sanctification in John 15 centers on abiding in Christ. Therefore, sanctification is far more relational than moral. This is not license to immorality, to the contrary, it is the living power and impetus behind it.

The key to sanctification is loving Christ. To abide in Christ is to actively remain rightly joined to Him; it is the continual pursuit of what we already have—a divinely establish union with Him. Just as a healthy marriage grows in the continual pursuit of what you already have, so does our union with Christ. And just as in marriage, it is the labor of love. The Apostle Paul reminds us that we have been joined to Christ, and so we are to become (morally) one with Him (1 Cor 6:17), “for, as it is written, ‘The two shall become one flesh'” (1 Cor 6:16). Therefore, on this ground of being united to Christ in love, a radically purifying morality follows (1 Cor 6:18-20).

Abiding in Christ’s love is the epitome of abiding, and abiding is the only means of sanctification (John 15:5).

—Pastor Manny

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