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Four Essentials to Finishing Well
Paulendured to the end but Demas, as far as we know, did not (2 Timothy4:7,10), even though he was once a fellow worker (Philemon 1:24). Thisis a sobering thought because so many of us are still very young.Finishing well is guaranteed to none of us, apart from the grace ofGod. How can we, like Paul, endure by God's grace?
1) Daily time of focused personal communion with God.It must be daily, otherwise we will find ourselves drifting in thewrong direction. Demas was in love with this present world. Our timewith God must build in us affections for God that trump the temptationsto love this world. It's helpful to have a plan, but the plan mustdirect us to God himself.
2) Daily appropriation of the gospel. Thegospel is for sinners. Before we spend time in communion with God, wemust come to him with the attitude of the tax collector who prayed,"Have mercy on me, a sinner," and trust God alone to make us righteous.This alone will give us the confidence to approach God and havecommunion with him.
If we don't daily appropriate the gospel then wewill begin to base our spirituality on our performance, which willeventually lead us either towards pride or despair. But remindingourselves daily that we are sinners and that, by God's grace, we'vebeen clothed with the righteousness of Christ, will equip us with trueand pure motivation to continue following Jesus and renouncing thedesire to love this world. We ought to work hard, not in order to earnGod's approval but because we already have it.
3) Daily commit yourself to God as a living sacrifice.Romans 12:1. The Old Testament sacrifice that Paul alludes to wasdaily performed by the priests. He carries that same significance overto new covenant saints. Our bodies are on loan from God, and we mustdaily re-consecrate ourselves to him. Just as Paul appealed to Philemon(Philemon 1:8-10), even though he had the right to command him, so alsohe appeals to us to give ourselves to God. The sheer wonder of themercy of God should cause us to spontaneously give it, and this we willdo if we daily bask in his love.
4) A firm belief in the sovereignty and love of God. Lamentations 3:37-38. Life is full of pains, through naturalcircumstances and the ill will of others. But God is sovereign over allsuch evils, and—by faith—we can give thanks for them. God is usingthem to conform us to the image of Christ and will never leave us orforsake us. The gospel and the promises of God will never fail, norwill he take them from us.