Scotty Smith’s focus today is on God’s unrelenting delight on those who have been saved by Christ. He opens up texts from Jonah and Zephaniah to show how God’s greatest passion is our heart. The gospel frees us to be honest with God about our idols and invites us to further intimacy with our Heavenly Father.
Why the need for gospel driven spirituality? The work of the gospel is warfare, but that is not something we should be paranoid about. The warfare that we wage is not on our strength, but on Christ’s. Thus, it is not about the victorious Christian life, but about the victorious Christ. It is not about how we feel about ourselves, but about how we glorify and enjoy God through resting on Christ.
What we need is for the person and work of Jesus to get bigger in our gaze, to be the the focal point and the passion of our lives. The problem, however, is we often try to handle spiritual battles by making ourselves bigger in our gaze. We think we can handle the trials and muster up enough strength to win battles on our own. What happens when we think we can be the savior and begin to focus on ourselves too much, is we become spiritually depressed. We are not called to be the savior, but to commend to the Savior all of our longings, fears and sins.
In the midst of gospel driven spirituality, we wonder if we progress in our sanctification. Many times we grow in ways that are not obvious to us. This is why we need to be in the body of Christ. The sign of growth in spiritual maturity is that repentance does not become fewer, but quicker.
8 Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!” – Jonah 2:8-9
Notice the words in Jonah concerning idols. Idols cannot bring comfort and peace because they are lies set up to make us think we can be satisfied. But when we give all glory to God and confess that salvation comes from him alone, then those idols are stripped away and we bask in the glory of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. -Zephaniah 3:14-17
The only way we can think that God can be so gracious to such ill-deserved people is that his justice has been satisfied. God’s delight in his people cannot be lessened in any way. God is at peace with us and quiets us with his love. God is not passive, but aggressive in his commitment to meet us where we are and rescue us. God will rejoice over us with singing.
18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
19 Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
20 At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes,” says the Lord. – Zephaniah 3:18-20
Notice how in Zephaniah 3:18-20 it is God who will be our champion. He will conquer our enemies and draw us into safety. All the ugliness and shame of our sin will be redeemed, so that we may be completely restored.
Then certain of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. 2 And the word of the Lord came to me: 3 “Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them? 4 Therefore speak to them and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Any one of the house of Israel who takes his idols into his heart and sets the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him as he comes with the multitude of his idols, 5 that I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols.
6 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations. – Ezekiel 14:1-6
Notice in the above text that it is less about material idols and more about the idols of the heart. God seeks to recapture hearts that approach him with idolatrous passions. God always desires our hearts. We never feel more alive than when we our hearts are captured by God’s heart. God answers us in keeping with our idols. God gives us time to have our way with our idols so that we eventually see that all idols lead to failure.
There are two aspects to spiritual brokenness. The first aspect is that brokenness is not a moral category, but an indication that something is not the way it is intended to be. Second, is the humility to surrender ourselves to accept the diagnosis and receive care in the grace of the gospel.