2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
According to Billboard Music, the top song remains Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United. Since we’ve already discussed that song, let’s move down the list. The #2 song on the list is climbing quickly and I think it is far superior to Oceans. Today, we will be taking a look at “Greater” by Mercy Me. If you haven’t heard it yet, check out their official lyrical video below:
Lyrics (via AZLyrics)
Bring your tired
Bring your shame
Bring your guilt
Bring your pain
Don’t you know that’s not you’re name
You will always be much more to me
Every day I wrestle with the voices
That keep telling me I’m not right
But that’s alright
‘Cause I hear a voice and He calls me redeemed
When others say I’ll never be enough
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world
In the world
In the world
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world
Bring your doubts
Bring your fears
Bring your hurt
Bring your tears
There’ll be no condemnation here
You are holy, righteous and redeemed
Every time I fall
There’ll be those who will call me
Well that’s ok
There’ll be days I lose the battle
Grace says that it doesn’t matter
‘Cause the cross already won the war
I am learning to run freely
Understanding just how He sees me
And it makes me love Him more and more
So this song’s title and hook comes from a passage of scripture we refer to often here when we speak of discernment.
1 John 4:1-6 (ESV) 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Now, the focus of the song isn’t really the same as the focus John had. The focus of the song “greater” is one of resisting the enemy’s condemnation. It is intended as a song of encouragement to the weary Christian. What John is focused on here is discernment and understanding that we who have been redeemed have the Spirit of Living God dwelling inside of us as promised by Jesus Christ. I think that if we take some time to walk through some related scripture we can fill in some of the blank spots in the song to see how Scripture ties these 2 themes together nicely. Keeping the title of the song as both the starting point and the ending point, let us move through the verses of the song.
The first verse is a call to the tired, shamed, guilty, and pained believers. The closing thought of the opening verse is to remember that those are not your name. As believers, your sin does not identify you. Now, here it is absolutely important to recognize that this song is NOT written for the lost. The unbeliever can derive no hope from this song, because the unbeliever does not have any of the promises in this song because he denies the cross of Jesus Christ. That is not to say that there isn’t any Gospel in this song, but the song is very clearly written to believers. Believers struggle with fatigue and are tempted to despair in their shame. In the second verse we also see that believers struggle with doubts, fears, hurts, and fears. All of these are common to man, but believers have a hope that is in Christ.
I love the second part of the verses that declare that we have been redeemed. That is powerful language if you rightly understand law and gospel. Too often we only think of Jesus starting at the virgin birth, but He was with God in the beginning, and He is God. He came and gave up His life so that He could pay the debt we couldn’t not pay and in so doing He redeemed us to Himself.
Galatians 3:10-14 (ESV)10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Galatians 3:23-29 (ESV) 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came,in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Finally, the second verse points out that there is no condemnation here. This is important for Christians who are striving to live holy lives, but stumble and fall. You are going to stumble and fall as long as you live on this earth in your fallen and sinful flesh. It wages war against the Spirit of God. Your temptations actually live in your flesh. That’s tough for many to hear, but that is precisely what it means to “take up your cross daily”. We must die to our flesh daily, because our flesh is sinful. That is why we look forward to the day when we will be given new, uncorrupted bodies by the grace of God through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Knowing this, we also must know that what Christ did on the cross still covers our sin. There will be conviction, and we must repent from our sin (die to the flesh and turn to Christ) daily, but there is no condemnation for believers.
Romans 8:1-4 (ESV) 8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Now, the phrase “walk NOT according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” is what we focus on in repentance. When we sin, it is because we’ve taken our eyes off of Christ and onto either idols or our own fleshly desires. It’s a constant struggle even within our flesh, and we have a true adversary who tempts us to sin and then tempts us to despair in our sin (condemnation) all in an effort to rob from us the promise we have in Christ. He cannot take you from God, just as he couldn’t remove Adam from God, but he will lie to you and discourage you and tempt you to reject the Creator to serve the created.
Now here is where we come full circle back to the title of the song, we must discern what is of the Spirit of God and what is of the spirits of error. Our flesh wages war against the Spirit. Satan tempts us. All who have been baptized in Christ have been given the Holy Spirit. We must discern conviction from condemnation, Truth from lies. That is why we must live in the Word of God.
1 Corinthians 2 (ESV) 1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Greater is the One living inside of me than he that is living in the world. God the Holy Spirit is greater than anyone and anything living in the world. Amen.
As much as I like this song and its message, I am concerned by a couple of things. First, there is no call to repentance in the song. So, without repentance the line declaring the listener to be holy give me pause. In Romans 8, if you continue reading, Paul is very quick to move to an emphatic call to live according to the spirit and NOT according to the flesh. He’s not talking about mysticism or transcendence, he’s talking repentance. Denying the flesh that craves sin and obeying the Spirit of God that demands Holiness, not by the strength of our flesh but by the Grace of God. We cannot afford to super-spiritualize this, because the flesh is quick to engage in idolatry. So, the song is all affirmation without a call to repentance. I understand that it is a song of encouragement, and it should naturally be primarily focused on encouragement and affirmation, but completely skipping the call to repentance, I think, is a mistake. The other issue I have with the song which is more minor is the reference to the voices “telling me I’m not right” and “those who call me a mistake”. They are quick lines and I’m not entirely sure what is being said here by Mercy Me. If we are still talking about the world versus Christians, well then the world accuses our devotion to Jesus Christ and the Word of God as wrong, and they insist that we are all a cosmic accident (evolution) rather than a precious creation made by a God who loves us enough to have died for us. However, these are quick lines so my concern here is that some might (wrongly) take this as a blanket affirmation that whatever you think is right is right and anyone who tries to point out the wrong in your idea is clearly “he that is in the world”. Please understand that I am citing this only as a small concern, but given the kind of rampant progressive, seeker-mergent, false theology that has infected the church, it is worth mentioning.
This is one of the better Christian songs on the Billboard Chart today. It is not evangelistic song, especially due to its lack of a call to repentance, but it is clearly a biblical affirmation for the weary Christian to remember the cross. The Gospel is not simply something you heard once to “be born again”; rather, it is where we live, breath, and our daily bread. Christians who lose sight of the Gospel find themselves buried by the law, and need to be brought back to the cross, where Christ has already won the war.
I am also quite pleased to see “We Believe” by Newsboys still up near the top of the chart (#4 today). Both songs come as quite the breath of fresh air on the radio from all of the self-loving, self-aggrandizing, and new-age-spiritualism that dominates the Christian (or “Positive Alternative”) airwaves.
Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.