In the Bible they found also the mighty doctrine of the sovereignty of God, which taught them not to approach their problems in a subjective manner as you and I are prone to do. Their concern was not, how can I get a bit of help, how can I get some physical healing, how can I get guidance, how can I get happiness and peace, how can I get a friend who will help me in my loneliness? No, they saw themselves before this almighty, sovereign God and the one question was, How can a man be just with God? They bowed before him! They were godly men; they were God-fearing men. God was at the center of their thoughts, the controller of their activities and their lives. The sovereignty of God! They did not talk much about free will, as I read them, but they knew that God was over all, and he was to be worshipped and to be feared.
Excerpt from Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
We have to spend time in understanding and studying…[the] great doctrines of the Christian faith. It is only as we do so that we shall become strong, and become men, and be able to take the stronger meat, and so grow, and be powerful and able to teach others. There is no doubt but that the most unhappy and discouraged Christians today are those who do not exercise their senses with respect to this Word of God.
We cannot live on snippets in the spiritual realm. We have to get down to these profound truths of the Scripture; we have to make time to read them and to read books about them. The trouble today, as it has been for so many years, is that Christian people have not been reading their Scriptures, not troubling to understand them. They say, ‘Oh, I am too busy, I have too many things to do, and life is very harassing at the present time’. But our forefathers, who worked much harder, and for much longer hours, and for much smaller wages, found the time.
Those men used to read their Scriptures and study them. They generally bought a Bible which had a commentary at the bottom of each page, and they studied it and spent time with it. They also read other books which helped them to understand the Scriptures. They were ‘exercising their senses’; and that is what made them strong.
That was the secret of the Protestant martyrs. It was the secret likewise of the Covenanters in Scotland in the seventeenth century. Those men were strong because they knew their Scriptures, and they knew the truth of the Scriptures. They had exercised their senses. They gave time to the exercise; they lived by the Word. And thus they ceased to be babes and became mighty, strong men.
You and I must behave in a like manner. There is no substitute for that. We do not sit back and ‘just look to Jesus’ to do it all for us. That is a false doctrine: I do not hesitate to use such a term. We must exercise our senses, we must build ourselves up in our most holy faith. It will not happen to us automatically; there are no shortcuts in the Christian life. If you want to build yourself up, exercise yourself in the Scriptures.
D.M. Lloyd-Jones, The Christian Soldier
In the footer of ws harbor are numerous helpful resources and one of those is a collection of daily readings by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Below is today’s reading taken from the highly recommended Studies in the Sermon on the Mount.
Freedom from sin’s desires
[The desire for righteousness] means a desire to be free from sin, because sin separates us from God. Therefore, positively, it means a desire to be right with God … All the trouble in the world today is due to the fact that man is not right with God, for it is because he is not right with God that he has gone wrong everywhere else … The man who hungers and thirsts after righteousness is the man who sees that sin and rebellion have separated him from the face of God, and longs to get back into that old relationship …
But it also means of necessity a desire to be free from the power of sin … The man we have been looking at … is a man who has come to see that the world in which he lives is controlled by sin and Satan … He sees that ‘the god of this world’ has been blinding him … He wants to get away from this power that drags him down in spite of himself [see Romans 7]. He wants to be free from the power and the tyranny and thraldom of sin …
But it goes further still. It means a desire to be free from the very desire for sin, because we find that the man who truly examines himself in the light of the Scriptures not only discovers that he is in the bondage of sin; still more horrible is the fact that he likes it, that he wants it. Even after he has seen it is wrong, he still wants it. But now the man who hungers and thirsts after righteousness is a man who wants to get rid of that desire for sin, not only outside, but inside as well … Sin is something that pollutes the very essence of our being and of our nature. The Christian is one who desires to be free from all that … To hunger and thirst after righteousness is to desire to be free from self in all its horrible manifestations, in all its forms … the man who hungers and thirsts after righteousness … wants to be emancipated from self-concern in every shape and form.