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Part III. A New Posture – The Gospel and a New Habit

This entry is part 26 of 54 in the series

"One Thing Have I Desired"

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A posture is a physical pose or position we adopt for varying situations. Running requires one posture. Balancing a basket on your head requires another. Playing the violin needs a different posture. The situation, and the desired action, determines the posture.

In fact, seeing certain things requires a posture: looking up through a telescope, examining an insect on the ground with a magnifying glass, or lining up a sextant with the horizon require different actions with the head, neck, arms, and legs, so that the eyes can see the desired object.

In our study of the Christian life, we have said that our priority is to love God ultimately by seeing and showing His beauty, as we live in his presence. Thusfar, we have considered the new nature that enables us to live in God’s presence and experience communion with him. This new nature is foundational, yet we need something functional on top of the foundation. To live in God’s presence calls for a particular posture of the heart: the life of faith. If we are to live in God’s presence and commune with him so as to love him, it requires a certain stance towards God, a way of thinking and acting and feeling.

The absence of this posture explains failure in the Christian life, for every failure is ultimately a failure of faith. Unbelief is the mother of all sins, and the root of all spiritual malfunction. The cycle of communing with God is maintained to the degree that we adopt the posture of faith. The same cycle is interrupted when our doubt and unbelief triumphs over faith.

Though God works with us responsively, it is safe to say from our study of the position of the Christian life that a loss of communion with God is not so much a matter of God’s withdrawing from us, as it is the spiritual dullness and hardheartedness that our unbelief brings into the relationship. To train the eye of faith is to place ourselves in the prime viewing spot to see the glory of God manifested to us in a relationship of communion.

The Nano-Principle of the Christian Life

The Gospel is at the heart of loving God. The completed work of Christ, and its ongoing work of mortification and vivification are the elemental principles of loving God. Killing the old self-loving life and strengthening the new, Christ-loving life: this is how loving God works at the most basic level. The bird’s-eye view of the Christian faith is loving God, the worm’s-eye view is death and resurrection.

We could think of the posture of the Christian life as two legs needed for balance, or the two balancing halves of communing with God.

The first side is the principle of death: humility, self-negation, mortification, repentance, confession, penitence, contrition, self-denial, surrender. Consider the many Scriptures that contain this idea:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mat 16:24-26, see also Mar 8:34-37, Luk 9:23-25, Luk 17:33)

Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Rom 6:11-13)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Rom 8:13)

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Col 3:5)

Inseparable from the self-dying posture of humbling, repenting, confessing posture, is the other side of the coin: the resurrection-like posture of seeking, renewing, putting on and submitting:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom 12:1-2)

For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. (Rom 14:7-9)

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Co 5:14-17)

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal 2:20)

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Col 3:1-4)

If we understand these two stances, we will be in the best place to commune with God in his presence, see His beauty, and love him ultimately. Our first stop will be to understand the first aspect of this posture.

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David de Bruyn

About David de Bruyn

David de Bruyn pastors New Covenant Baptist Church in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a graduate of Central Baptist Theological Seminary and Minnesota and the University of South Africa (D.Th.). Since 1999, he has presented a weekly radio program that is heard throughout much of central South Africa. He also blogs at Churches Without Chests.

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