Spiritual formation – the power of a new affection

People try hard to change their ways, they make vows/resolutions, try to crucify the Flesh, pray more, believe more, stand on the promises, bind the devil, etc.. but very often with little effect.

Why?

It’s not for want of good intentions. The reason more often than not lies in the affections, there hasn’t been a change in affection, the affections of the old life, the old sins, still hold sway over their hearts, and without a change, without a new affection, there is no hope of lasting personal transformation.

This is not the gospel. The gospel not only offers us forgiveness and reconciliation with God and hope of Heaven but also real transformation. Read Paul, its there in all his letters. Paul’s great desire was to present every one mature in Christ. (Col. 1:28). Not some, but all. Maturity and transformation go hand in hand. It didn’t matter what their background, what their history, transformation and maturity was possible for all because of what Christ has done and the gift and reception of the Spirit.

Its possible for all, its possible for you.

Our problem is in seeking transformation without a change of affection. Without it we will not succeed, we will be defeated every time, however we try, and however sincerely.

In Colossians 3 Paul talks about setting our hearts and minds on things above. Some translations focus it all in the mind, “set your minds…” But there are some that translate the Greek as “set your affections” on things above, which gives it a different slant, and all of this precedes Paul’s exhortations to put off the old way of living and put on the new. Our affections need to be changed, only after they are changed can we go to the next stage.

Thomas Chalmers a preacher of years gone by spoke about the ‘expulsive power of a new affection.’ He understood from scripture, human nature and science, that change can only be effected by a change of affection, the ‘expulsive power of a new affection’ as he put it. Frequently we love our sin too much, we still have affection for it. If we are to overcome it we need the power of a greater affection.

  • Think of a young man whose parents are constantly trying to get him to change his ways, but to no avail. Then one day he falls in love with a young lady and suddenly things begin to change. The expulsive power of a new affection!
  • Think of a child playing with others and they fall out over a toy, they squabble and tears are shed. Then one of the mums has an idea, she gets another toy, a favourite and shows it to the child, and suddenly the other toy is forgotten, the tears stop, and harmony reigns. The expulsive power of a new affection!
  • Think of a person who finds treasure hidden in a field, then from the joy of such a discovery goes and sells all that they have and buys that field (Matt 13:44). The power of a new affection.
  • Think of the great faith chapter in Hebrews where it says that if they were thinking about where they came from they would have had opportunity to return (11:15). The power of a new affection kept them moving forward.

To be transformed we must have a greater affection. The old attraction will only yield to something far better, more attractive, more compelling, a vacuum won’t do.

Paul says, “Seek the things/set your sights/set your hearts/set your affection on the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:2,3)

We need a more compelling vision of Christ: “We, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” 2 Corinthians 3:18. Have you forgotten your first love, do you need to rekindle that flame of sacred love?

We need a more compelling view of heaven… “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” 1 John 2:15 “Set your sights on things above/the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honour at God’s right hand .” Col. 3:1. Is your view of heaven to much like earth? The saints of old had a compelling, all consuming vision of heaven.

We need a more compelling vision of a transformed life…. “Predestined to be like Jesus.” Rom. 8:29 what does that mean, what does that look like? O to be more like him.

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