The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 3/21

Posted on | March 21, 2016 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 3/21

Scripture reading: II Corinthians 5: 14–15

The Expulsive Power of a New Affection

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness

and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)

 

Considered by many to be the greatest Scottish churchman of the nineteenth century, Thomas Chalmers (1780–1847) wrote much and preached often. Perhaps the most famous sermon he ever preached was one entitled, The Expulsive Power of a New Affection. Using I John 2:15 as his text

(Love not the world . . . ) Chalmers examines two methods of dealing with worldly temptations. One method involves willpower and self discipline. The basic idea is that when people realize it is not in their best interests to sin, they will naturally want to avoid it. Victory comes through self-effort and the power of the will. Though this is the preferred method in the church today, it fails to get at the root of the problem and success comes only sporadically.

Chalmers argues for a second and far more effective method for dealing with temptation. Rather than struggling to get victory over sin in our own strength, why not exchange one affection for another? If we could just replace our love for the world by a stronger love for Christ and his kingdom, then worldly seductions would suddenly lose their power. The desire for the milk and honey of Canaan makes the leeks and onions of Egypt unattractive in comparison. The new affection (loving God) expels the old affection (loving the world).

Two separate stories from Greek mythology illustrate beautifully these two ways of resisting temptation. In each, two ships of sailors manage successfully to pass the Island of the Sirens. In Greek mythology, these seductive women sang such beautiful songs that passing ships were lured toward the shore to better see the women and hear the music they were singing. But these were temptresses whose intent was to destroy the sailors. Once near the shoreline, their ships would crash on the rocks, all on board perishing.

One myth tells how Ulysses approaches the island. He commands all his sailors to fill their ears with wax so they cannot hear the seductive voices. However, he wants to hear for himself the music, so he has his men tie him with ropes to the mast of the ship. As they pass the island and the voices become audible, Ulysses struggles with all his might to break the ropes and sail toward shore. Failing in his efforts, the ship continues to sail safely onward.

The other story tells how Jason and the Argonauts manage to pass the island. Rather than relying on wax and ropes, Jason commands Orpheus to bring his harp on deck and make music. No one could play sweeter melodies than Orpheus! As they sail near the island, the music of Orpheus is so beautiful that the songs of the Sirens seem harsh and discordant in comparison. Jason and his men pass by easily and safely because they have discovered the expulsive power of a new affection. The way to conquer the power of bad desires is to find good desires whose attraction is stronger!

Are you struggling with some temptation today? Perhaps you have been trying to find victory by enforced discipline and willpower (wax and ropes). Has it worked? Let me suggest a better way. Bring on the music of heaven so that the sweetness of holy melodies drowns out the seductive music of sin. Let your love for Christ and his kingdom become so passionate and hot that all other passions lose their seductive appeal in comparison.

 

No one need live in spiritual and personal defeat.

A life of victory over sin and circumstance

is accessible to all.—Dallas Willard

 

point to ponder Is your appetite for the milk and honey of Canaan stronger than your appetite for the leeks and onions of Egypt?

prayer focus Someone struggling with the seductive allure of sin.

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