Yesterday, I mentioned the necessity to put off the old self and to put on the new, to remove and replace.
But removing and replacing isn't enough. Something has to be done to cut off the source of sin. Something has to be done to fix our hearts. This is why we must be renewed.
At the seminar today, one of the guys asked how our hearts could be renewed in the arena of pornography. We could come up with ways to (at least temporarily) remove porn from our lives and we could come up with meaningful and constructive replacements for the consumption of pornography. But how can we be renewed?
Theologically, we can say that renewal is God's work, it's what he and he alone can do. But I'm not sure that that answer helps.
It sounds overly simplistic, doesn't it? Renewal's the most important part of this whole thing, but you need to focus on removing and replacing. That just doesn't sit right. If renewal is the most important part, we feel like we should help. Or if we can't help, we should at least pay attention.
This is why the gospel continues to remain important to us, even after we become Christians. As Jon said in the seminar today, the gospel isn't the "abc's" of the Christian life, it's the "a to z's". The gospel provides a window, a story that allows us to see into God's renewing work in us. Our continued attention to this story is vital if we're going to continue to "remove and replace."
God's renewing work jump-starts our other efforts.
God's renewing work directs our other efforts.
God's renewing work fuels our other efforts.
God's renewing work sustains our other efforts.
God's renewing work perfects our other efforts.
Remove, replace and renew. Renew, renew, renew us, O Lord.