Colin Smith

Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard in northwest suburban Chicago.

A New Struggle

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)

Christ gives his people a new heart and a new Spirit, but then he also gives us a new struggle. Don’t expect the road ahead to be easy.

That’s what we learn from both the story of David and the story of Jesus. After David was anointed he had to put up with Saul. What happened after the Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism?

The Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil. He launched out into public ministry where he faced intense opposition and the relentless demands of the crowds. Then he goes to a cross where he suffers and dies in agony—no crown yet.

There was a great struggle between the day of Christ’s anointing and the day when he rose from the dead and ascended in power and glory to take his seat on the throne. The pattern for David was the pattern for Jesus, and the pattern for Jesus will be the pattern for us!

Christ gives you a new heart. He fills you with his Spirit. Then it’s back into the world with all its pressures and relentless demands – back to that difficult marriage, that secular school, that hostile environment. Why? To honor Christ there!

So Christ offers us a new heart, a new spirit, and a new struggle. Saul had none of them. David had all of them. Saul lived with a crown, and in the end he lost it. David lived without a crown, but in the end he gained it.

Which of these two would you rather be?   

[Based on the sermon series "A Tale of Two Kings"] 

For more resources by Colin Smith visit Unlocking the Bible, where you can request a free sample of LifeKEYS Daily devotional, listen to the radio program, or browse other gospel-centered, Christ-exalting resources. You can also follow Colin on Twitter.

Why We Choose to Follow Christ

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36, NIV

If slaves could set themselves free, they wouldn’t really be slaves, would they? But Christ says, “I can set you free.”

Christ does not drag you, kicking and screaming, to follow him. We follow Christ because we want to. God shines his light into your mind and pours his love into your heart. What happens? The rockets of the will start moving in a new direction.

Christ sets the will free in regeneration so that, gladly and freely, you choose to follow Christ! Paul says, “We make it our aim to please him” (2 Cor. 5:9). Do you see how wonderful that is? It is the evidence of this miracle in your life.

Will we always choose what’s best after we become Christians? No. The freedom Christ promises is not freedom from the struggle with sin, but freedom from slavery to sin. You will fail, because the prevailing disposition of your soul is not the only disposition of your soul.

There may be times when you fall into pride or lust or lies or greed, but at the core of your being, you know that is not what you want. You want to honor Christ. You want to walk in purity and to grow in holiness. You want that because you are a new creation in Christ.

So be who you are! True freedom is when what God calls you to do and what you most want to do turn out to be the same thing. That is the freedom Christ gives. If you have this freedom you are free indeed!

Do you have this freedom?

[Based on the sermon series "Regeneration: How Christ Changes Your Soul"] 

For more resources by Colin Smith visit Unlocking the Bible, where you can request a free sample of LifeKEYS Daily devotional, listen to the radio program, or browse other gospel-centered, Christ-exalting resources. You can also follow Colin on Twitter.

I will remove from you your heart of stone.  Ezekiel 36:26

Here are a couple more worthless stones in the human heart that can keep you from following Jesus Christ:

1. Comfort. “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27 NIV

If your heart is set on maintaining a comfortable life, that will keep you from following Christ. Jesus makes it abundantly clear that there will be a cost, and there will be pain in following him. So if your heart is set on choosing the easiest path, you will not follow Christ very far.

2. Cherished Sin. “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19 NIV

How many people have been kept from following Christ because their heart is set on pursuing a sexual impulse—whatever that may be? Satisfying the sexual appetite has become a god for many people today. If that’s what matters most to you it will keep you from following Christ.

3. Self. "God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:5

Do you see what Satan was saying: “Eve, why should God be God and not you? You can be your own god! You can decide for yourself what is good and what is evil.” You cannot be a worshipper of God so long as you are set on being your own god. The desire to be your own god is a stone in the heart that resists Jesus Christ.

Are any of these things keeping you from following Christ?

[Based on the sermon series "Regeneration: How Christ Changes Your Soul"] 

For more resources by Colin Smith visit Unlocking the Bible, where you can request a free sample of LifeKEYS Daily devotional, listen to the radio program, or browse other gospel-centered, Christ-exalting resources. You can also follow Colin on Twitter.

If the Blindness Is Real

The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  James 1:20

Understanding our wretched condition apart from Christ is profoundly helpful for us as we pray for and long for unbelieving friends and relatives to come to Christ.

Think about a father and mother who have been grieving for many years for their daughter. She went into a deep rebellion in her early teens. She made life at home extremely difficult for both her parents, and when she left home she broke their hearts.

If you asked them, they would tell you that not only were they exasperated, but there were times when they were furious with her. Do you know what this is like? You are frustrated by the stubbornness of someone you love, and you know it isn’t getting you anywhere.

Think about this verse: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” If the blindness is real, this daughter really can’t see what her parents see in Christ. It’s not just that she doesn’t want to see. She really can’t see! This can help us. If you know that a person is blind, you don’t get angry with them, you have compassion for them.

Being angry with the unbelieving world doesn’t get you anywhere. You may say, “Didn’t Jesus drive out the money changers?” Yes, but he is the sinless Son of God. To us he says, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Is there someone in your life that you realize is blind? Ask God to help you move from anger to compassion.

[Based on the sermon series "Regeneration: How Christ Changes Your Soul"] 

For more resources by Colin Smith visit Unlocking the Bible, where you can request a free sample of LifeKEYS Daily devotional, listen to the radio program, or browse other gospel-centered, Christ-exalting resources. You can also follow Colin on Twitter.

  

About Colin Smith

Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard in northwest suburban Chicago. Before coming to the United States in 1996, Colin served as Senior Pastor of the Enfield Evangelical Free Church in London for 16 years. He is heard daily on the radio broadcast Unlocking the Bible, speaks regularly at preaching conferences, and is the author of more than two dozen books and booklets. Follow Pastor Colin on Twitter @PastorColinS, and Unlocking the Bible @UnlckngtheBible.

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