For much of my Christian life, I thought sin was primarily fought on the flesh-level, where battleships fire their guns and jets launch their missiles. Recently, I’ve come to realize that the true action is where submarines do warfare. I used to think that, to defeat sin in my members, I must engage things like spiritual disciplines to in a sense “suffocate” the sin out of my flesh. Lust problem? Fast a bunch to teach yourself how to deny cravings. Mouth problem? Practice silence to bridle your tongue with some self-control. And while those things aren’t without merit, I began to realize that sin goes much deeper; that it is the “fruit” of the deeper “root” of idolatry and unbelief. Our sin problem is, primarily and essentially, a heart problem. Therefore, it makes sense that the most tactical and strategic warfare against sin shouldn’t take place on the level of the flesh but on the level of what Jonathan Edwards called “the affections.”...
...Growth is the work of God, and it happens by our beholding Jesus’ glory. If we desire the growth of our brothers and sisters; if we long for the unshackling of our addictions and unburdening of our sin in increasing measure, the best thing we can do for the people of God is plan worship services that climax at the moment of beholding the Lord Jesus in His incarnate, crucified, resurrected, ascended, and seated splendor. We ask questions like, “How can I shape the music and liturgy to climax, theologically and emotionally, at the moment where the good news of Jesus Christ is sung, remembered, preached, and proclaimed? How do I shape contexts for beholding Jesus in worship?” These are the questions a worship pastor asks.
Three concluding tips to help the people of God worship their way out of sin by beholding Jesus:
- The gospel shines brightest when it is set against the dark backdrop of our sin, so find places in your worship services to sing, speak, or pray your confession. And give the people words to help expand their vocabulary of confession beyond the superficial (the Book of Common Prayer’s most common confession prayer is a wonderful guiding tool).
- One step before that: Our sinfulness is amplified when God’s glory and holiness is made much of. So begin your worship services, more often than not, with Calls to Worship and songs that highlight God’s glorious attributes. In this way, we open up the people of God to hear God’s important “first word”—the Law. And when the Law is heralded, it crushes, kills, and prepares the soil for the most honest confession.
- See how you can assist in making the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism more dramatic in their proclamation and illustration of the gospel. Lend your aid to the baptism musically, either before, after, or during, in ways that guide the people of God to cherish Christ in the moment. Explore the ways that the Lord’s Supper can be practiced to enhance how the gospel is felt and apprehended.