One of the primary questions that must be answered by any ministry, especially a ministry focused on an individual’s personal recovery, is “How do people change?” In his classic sermon titled The Expulsive Power of a New Affection, Thomas Chalmers (1780 – 1847), does a fantastic and thorough job of answering that question.
Chalmers begins his sermon with these poignant words…
“A moralist will be unsuccessful in trying to displace his love of the world by reviewing the ills of the world. Misplaced affections need to be replaced by the far greater power of the affection of the gospel.”
Chalmer’s message meets the rampant moralism and behavioralism of our day head on and offers the only solution to change the hearts of men…the gospel of Jesus Christ. All too often we meet individuals who are struggling in the area of sexual sin who are completely debilitated by guilt and shame. The church has done a great job of telling them what not to do…what to “put off”, as Paul states in Colossians chapter 3. And so they spend day and night in a vicious cycle of acting out, promising vehemently to NEVER do it again, acting out again, making more promises, and ultimately coming to believe that God is mad at them because they can’t get their act together.
We want to help men and women who are currently trapped in sexual sin to expose the lies that God is somehow mad or disappointed in them and point them toward a bigger, more adventurous story. We seek to help them “put off the old” and “put on the new” by discovering that the gospel is a wonderful scandal…that God loves them as they are and is every day singing over them. This is indeed the “power of a new affection.”
As we prepare to celebrate Easter, may Chalmer’s message ring loudly in our ears and may we find this new affection ourselves.