Creating an Environment for Spiritual Formation in Your Home

I remember several year ago learning that fast food restaurants many times paint their establishments in bright colors because it has the psychological effect of making you move on faster. It makes sense, a part of fast food is moving people in and out so more customers can come in. The goal was to get you in, get you fed, and get you out. They put thought into all the detail… even the colors of the room and furniture. The reason is simple, environments matter. For instance, that’s the whole thought behind a greenhouse, right? You create the right environment for plants to thrive. Environments matter! They can help or hurt. It’s why at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom the parking lot is so far from where you enter the park that you have to take a boat or a monorail shuttle to get there. It’s helping create the perfect get away environment.

It’s the same way in our home. We can create an environment that is either more or less conducive to spiritual formation and spiritual transformation for our children. Deuteronomy 6 lays this out beautifully. As the law is given, it is introduced by the Great Commandment, to love God with all the heart, soul, and might. Israel is told how to go about teaching the law to their children.

Deuteronomy 6:7-8- You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (ESV)

Here we have a great example of creating an environment for spiritual formation. I see four principles at work here for creating such an environment in our homes today.

  1. Be INTENTIONAL about Spiritual Formation.

You shall teach them diligently to your children,

You can’t teach anything diligently without INTENTIONALITY. Investing, shaping, discipling, teaching, training, disciplining… none of these things happen w/o intentional effort.

We plan for a lot! Career plan, retirement plan, paying off the house plan… What’s your plan for spiritually forming your child?

  1. Be RELATIONAL with Your Teaching.

talk of themwhen you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Talk, speak… notice how natural it sounds. At home, walking around, bed time, morning time. – It’s the flow of life. It’s natural, and the context is clear… its relational.

Some of the best talks about God, morality, etc… happen in the daily grind rather than family devotional time (as important as that is). Family devotional time at my house usually has me begging for them to just stop talking, wrestling, and running around. – It’s in the flow of the daily relationship the best stuff happens.

  1. Be IMMERSIVE w/ God and His Word.

talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Notice the immersive nature of this…

  • All places – When you sit, when you walk by the way
  • All times- When you lie down, when you rise

There is never a time or place that is not a time or place to bring the truth of God to bear on your life, or your kid’s life. The big idea here is the RHYTHM and ROUTINE of life. For us, sometimes it’s something simple like praying on the way to school.

  1. Be OBVIOUS w/ the Truth and Who You Are.

You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Notice the picture here… placing the law on the body, on the hands, and the forehead … writing it on the doorpost of the house and on the city gate. Many of the Jews would later literally do this. But you can literally write the word everywhere and miss the point. Remember… it’s about the heart.

This is about embracing your identity as God’s people in a very visible, unmistakable, everyone can know kind of way. It’s about clarity. We are God’s people. We are Bible people. We believe this. We bring it into every situation. That should be a cultural value in our families.

Let’s all take up the challenge to instill these principles in our homes so that we can help create better environments for spiritual formation for those God has entrusted us with.

To hear a message on this very topic click HERE.

 

Walking in Freedom From Sin

If you are a born-again follower of Christ you are free from sin, but you must WALK IN FREEDOM. We must appropriate the gospel we believe into our lives. We must apply truth and live in light of it.

In Romans 6:11-14 the Apostle Paul shows us how to apply and live out the reality of our new found freedom from sin. Based on that passage here are three steps to walking in freedom.

 1. Change How You THINK.

11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The word Consider is a word that means “to count or reckon, or to credit.” It’s an accounting term. On God’s accounting ledger, you are dead to sin and alive to God. Your sin is paid for and you are free from it. You hare clothed in righteousness and made alive. You need to make sure your accounting ledger matches God’s. The idea is you need to keep this in mind and take it to heart. To really get this you have to know and understand the facts – You are dead to sin, you are alive to God!

Satan wants you to think all you are is your sin. He wants you to think you are defeated so you won’t even fight. Satan is a liar. Because we are still in these bodies in this broken world, because we still have the capacity and some appetite for sin … we are prone to thinking wrongly. The problem is wrong thinking will lead to wrong living. Lies are powerful. You need to believe the truth. You cannot live in light of the truth if you don’t know and believe the truth.

This isn’t about self-confidence. This is about thinking rightly about what Christ has accomplished on your behalf! It’ about thinking rightly about your union with Christ. The power is not in the thinking, it’s in the TRUTH. As Darryl Dash writes, “Positive thinking has no power, unless the thinking is also true. But there is tremendous power in thinking in line with what is true. You are able not to sin. It’s not, ‘If I believe it enough, it will be true.’ It’s, ‘Since it is true, I need to believe it.'”

 I watched a video clip the other day of a guy who just knew he could run a 4.4 in the 40 yard dash. If you don’t know, that is elite, professional sports level speed, NFL Wide Receiver speed. He didn’t think it was that fast. He thought he could run that pretty easy. He was challenged by an ESPN correspondent to be timed on film. He then proceeded to run a 5.5. Being confident in a falsehood did him no good. In fact if he had thought in line with the truth he could have saved himself a little embarrassing media moment.

At the same time, do you remember the first time you got a smartphone? Did you know everything it would do? Probably not. The more you knew the more it impacted your enjoyment of that phone. You could spend more time using it and less figuring it out. Understanding the facts, knowing the truth about the phone was step one in maximizing its potential. Understanding the truth about your union with Christ, thinking rightly about the gospel’s impact on your life is step one in walking in freedom.

2. Make the DECISION

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.

The next obvious part of this is to decide. It’s one thing to think rightly but now you have to make a decision in light with Paul’s command. Paul commands this because by God’s grace with the Spirit’s help… it is possible. Decide… “Sin is not going to reign in my mortal body.” We have to change our thinking then decide that we are going to live in accordance with our gospel formed reality.

Many times when one is losing the battle of sin I believe this is where people check out. It usually happens in the form of an excuse. You don’t understand my struggle. You don’t understand my past. You don’t understand my temptation. It’s a little sin, nobody is getting hurt, nobody even knows. There are worse sins. There are worse people. So and So is way worse.

Ultimately we all have to decide. Who’s my Lord? Is sin going to reign like a king like a lord in this area of my life or is Jesus? Believer, we only have One who is to reign over us. King’s reign, our King is Jesus. He’s not looking to share His place in our life with gossip, greed, self-centeredness, lust, or any more polite sin. You must DECIDE. Sin will not reign in me, I will not obey it. When I see it …  I’ll repent of it, I’ll run to Jesus with it, I’ll kill it.

3. Choose to ACT on it Daily 

13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

This is PRACTICAL. You must choose to present your members, all of you, for righteousness. The word “present” is the idea of “making available or to offer.” This is involves action. It’s by faith acting to orient our lives around God and not sin. It’s living with our minds and bodies surrendered to Jesus and not to sin. Paul’s point is we need to choose to make our all of us unavailable to unrighteousness, and to make ourselves only available to God for righteousness.

This is a daily act. This isn’t just a one-time thing, it’s every day, every moment… every temptation acting to make ourselves fully available to God and not sin. This is not about simply trying not to sin. It’s about more than a “sin fast.” It’s not just about depriving yourself of something. It’s about feasting in another area. You have to give yourself fully to God.

For example, believers are not just people who turn from greed … God makes us generous. We are not just those that turn from gossip … God makes us kind, encouragers. We are not simply those that repent of hate, God makes us loving.  Living out who we are in Christ means not only turning from… but pursuing the thing God has called us to. Leaning into our identity in Christ, leaning into the fruit of the Spirit.

All of this is done in response to the gospel. It’s done for God’s glory. It’s done out of a changed and grateful heart. It’s done because we BELIEVE THE PROMISE in Romans 6:14, “Sin will not have dominion over us.” Why? Because we are “not under law but under grace.” All of this is motivated by and in response to… and brought about by GRACE.

God’s grace enables us to think rightly, make the decision to kill sin, and to act daily by presenting ourselves fully to God and not sin. That’s how we walk in freedom once we have found freedom.

Finding Freedom From Sin

We tend to think about what the gospel in terms of what it means for our eternity. We think of how Jesus’s gospel delivers us form the PENALTY of sin. We think about how we can go to Heaven and not go to Hell, how we can be forgiven of sin. But what about the POWER of sin? This concerns right now. Sin is not just something we have to pay for. Sin is also a controlling influence in our lives. Sin is not only like a crime, but also like a drug. Every person is born with sin dominating us. We have a sin nature and are bent toward it. Sin wreaks havoc on our lives, relationships, our families. Does the gospel have anything to say about this? YES!

Jesus doesn’t just want to deliver you from the PENALTY of sin but also the POWER of sin. He is not only concerned about your future but your present. He not only wants you to one day be victorious, he wants you to live free today. In Romans 6 Paul makes it clear the believer is united with Christ in His death and resurrection. When Christ died, we died. When Christ rose, we rose.

Rom. 6:5-8- For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

If you are a born-again Christ follower you are FREE FROM SIN. You have died with Christ and been raised with Christ to walk in newness of lie. Your future resurrection and current spiritual life are rooted in and therefore just as sure as Jesus’ being raised to life.

I remember last year I had to jump my car battery off. I had to borrow cables from someone in the office next door. My poor car had no power. I hooked those cables up to my car and the running car with power. Then we cranked my car…. and all the sudden … Power! Why? It had power given to it by its association with the other car battery! It was GIVEN life. Through our union with Jesus, by our association with Him… we get LIFE. Our new life of spiritual vitality is just as certain as His resurrection. He’s alive and believers are too! Our conversion is both a funeral and a resurrection / new birth. The old you dies, the new you comes forth.

We can’t kill sin without faith in Jesus. He died FOR our sin and through faith in Him we can be dead TO our sin. Being dead to sin and alive to God is only possible through faith in Him. It’s association with His death that kills sin in our lives. You can’t defeat sin by simply trying harder, you need to be united to the risen Christ. If we are united to something other than Jesus we won’t find freedom, just deeper enslavement.

Here’s the thing … there is a difference in something being true and you applying that truth to your life and living it out. We are free, but we must choose to walk in freedom. Victory has been won and victory must also be applied.The gospel is to be believed and must be appropriated. In a future post I’ll deal with how we daily walk in the freedom we have through faith in Jesus. 

(This post is adapted from the North Park sermon series “Finding Freedom.)