Ascribing Greatness – Part 2

So we’re talking about the command/exhortation to ascribe to the Lord glory and strength and to help us explore this I have been looking at the ways in which my life betrays my tendency to ascribe glory and strength elsewhere. In the first post I looked at the foolish ways I ascribe glory and strength to myself. Now I turn to the horrible error of ascribing glory and strength to God’s enemy.

We would never praise God’s enemy, so why do we give him so much credit by ascribing such power to him? Of course we must not underestimate him, but it is to God and God alone that we should ascribe glory and strength. C.S. Lewis famously said something along the lines of..

We can make two dreadful errors in dealing with Satan: we can either pay him far too much attention, or far too little.

While I don’t want to cause us to stray into the second error I would like to consider if and when we live as ‘practical ascribers’ of glory and strength to those that oppose the gospel and to the one they serve.

For example:

Am I practically ascribing glory and strength to Satan when I doubt God’s ability to save? When I fail to speak of Jesus to someone because it just wouldn’t make a difference – am I not practically ascribing Satan glory and strength?

Well yes, I think I am. If I were ascribing the glory and strength to God I would cry out to him and keep going. Not perfectly, and not always with any visible fruit, but with confidence in the gospel which is “the power of God for the salvation of all who believe” *. If the person I am speaking to is one of those whom God has chosen in eternity to give to his beloved Son than there is nothing Satan can do to stop him. Similarly, if this is not the time for God to reveal an individual’s final response to Jesus, their reaction is not ultimately Satan’s doing, but God’s.

Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!

Am I practically ascribing glory and strength to Satan when I can’t quite bring myself to prepare diligently and prayerfully for something because, well, no one will turn up, or if they do – well, they won’t really engage and be changed will they?

Well yes, I think I am. If I were ascribing the glory and strength to God I would do the work he had given me faithfully and with delight while trusting him to do his work perfectly. It is not my job to decide what counts as a ‘successful’ bible study or evangelistic event – but simply to ascribe to him glory and strength as I prayerfully do what he has called me to do. If his is the glory and the strength than the bible or study or the evangelistic event will be just as he pleases whether it seems to soar in ‘success’ or crash and burn!

Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!

Am I practically ascribing glory and strength to Satan when I fear that our church culture will never change and as a result either sigh in resignation and keep going because I have to, or wonder about giving up?

You know the answer by now! YES!

Whether the visible church in our area lives or dies it will be by God’s strength and to his glory – not Satan’s. I don’t know what our little churches will look like in ten years’ time. Perhaps they will be flourishing, Christ-exalting churches, shining as lights in the darkness in our little corner of the world! Please God may it be so, for only by your mighty and glorious hand can this take place. Imagine how we would sing: “To God be the glory great things he has done!”

But, maybe, God will act in his righteous judgement – giving the church over to its desire for self-rule and self-preservation. If so – it will not be Satan’s mighty hand that has closed the doors, or signed the death warrant – but God’s. And if that is how God chooses to act then we could sing just as heartily: “To God be the glory great things he has done!”

Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!

Am I practically ascribing glory and strength to Satan when I am paralysed by fear for my children’s salvation?

Short answer: YES!

Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!

Am I practically ascribing glory and strength to Satan when I just can’t bring myself to pray? When it just seems too tiring to open my heart to the Lord in the face of such mountains.

Of course I am!

Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!

Am I practically ascribing glory and strength to Satan when I surrender to sin with my hands up in a ‘I just can’t change’ manner or when I go to opposite extreme and despair of forgiveness?

In the words of the nodding dog advertising car insurance: OH YES!
God’s word is clear: The grace of God teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness**, we are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness***. Yes, we will go on sinning – as John says: “If we say we have no sin the truth is not in us..”**** but to treat sin as our master is to wrongly ascribe glory and strength to God’s enemy. Don’t despair of God’s work in you to defeat sin – instead ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! And don’t despair when you do sin – John goes on: if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.*****

Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!

Oh what joy and peace, confidence and endurance there is for those who “Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!” How our relationship with him could thrive!

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Psalm 103:1

P.S. What about you? In which ways are you practically ascribing glory and strength to Satan?

* Romans 1:16, ** Titus 2:11-12, *** Romans 6:17-18, **** 1 John 1:8, ***** 1 John: 1:9

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