In my old Jeep it is not uncommon for one of the indicator lights to flash on. Sometimes more than one may illumine. Whenever this occurs it is an indication that there may be a problem. Because it is an old Jeep, some lights pop on more frequently than others – often enough that it would be easy enough to ignore. But to disregard any of these signs, common or not, could prove costly in the long run.
What is true of that old Jeep is, in a way, also true of my life. For one thing, I have some miles on me, and no little wear and tear. And sometimes my body will provide me with warning signs. But what of the parts of me that are not physically detectable? They also can go out of kilter. And neglect of these areas is even more perilous than neglect of the body. (1 Timothy 4.8)
Fortunately there are some indicators of our Spiritual vital signs. While not “scientific” the following inventory, adapted from a list developed by Jared Wilson, are excellent personal examination points to consider:
- The gospel doesn’t interest you – or it maybe it does, but just not as much as some other religious subjects.
- You take nearly everything personally.
- You frequently worry about what other people think.
- You treat inconveniences like minor tragedies (or maybe even major tragedies).
- You are impatient with people.
- In general, you have trouble seeing the fruit of the Spirit in your life. (Galatians 5.22-23)
- The Word of God holds little interest.
- You have great difficulty forgiving.
- You are told frequently by your spouse, a close friend, or some other family members that you are too “clingy” or too controlling.
- You think someone besides yourself is the worst sinner you know. (1 Timothy 1.15)
- The idea of gospel-centrality makes no sense to you.
“OK”, you might say, “I have checked the list and see that a few of these lights come on at least every now and again. So now what?
2 Peter 1 tells us:
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
…but it is verse 9 that really stands out to me, and makes everything else in this passage :
9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.
In other words, if anyone lacks any of the qualities listed above; or if we find any of the indicator lights from the list above flashing, the reason is because we have “forgotten we have been cleansed from our former sins”. In other words we have functionally forgotten the gospel.
In saying we have functionally forgotten the gospel, I am not suggesting we no longer know that Jesus died and rose again, and that we have no other hope except for what Jesus has done for us. what I am suggesting, and what Peter was saying, is that while we have the knowledge of the facts, we are not appropriating that knowledge; we have functionally forgotten. Elaborating on Peter’s illustration, we are so concerned with something else that we are nearsighted – seeing only what seems most immediate; and we are so nearsigthed we are as blind to anything beyond whatever seems most immediate. We are not cognizant of the truth of, and implications of, the gospel.
So what is the answer to those flashing lights? Remember the gospel.
“But how do we recover and remember what we are failing to see and consider?”, one might ask.
That’s where the earlier part of this passage now becomes more awesome. He has given us everything we need:
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…”
In other words, the ability to do what needs to be done does not originate in us, but from God. And whatever causes of our forgetfulness and nearsightedness, he has provided what is required to overcome them. And then, now remembering, those qualities begin to show in us.
While we would prefer our warning lights not come on very often, it is God’s grace to us that they do come on, no matter how often.