Thursday, January 19, 2006

Try to Obey

The following is my answer to a person having difficulty living the Christian life. I find myself giving this answer frequently in person or in letters.

Listen carefully even if you have to read this several times. The key sentence in your letter is, "I have really tried most everything." The key word in the sentence is tried. That is the reason for your continued defeat. Try is a dirty, un-Christian word. It is a practice taught by the devil. It is a lie of the enemy. A person who tries is trusting himself. That is the wrong person to trust. It is impossible to trust God and try at the same time. In order to trust God we have to quit trying. You did not get into the kingdom by trying. You had to quit trying in order to be saved. What makes you think that you get into the kingdom by grace through faith, that you are now made perfect by effort or trying. You were saved by faith, you walk by faith. Let's both sing that wonderful hymn, Try to Obey. That's what we do, so let's sing it. If we sang Trust and Obey the whole congregation would be lying. "Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" (Galatians 3:3)

"Am I just gonna have to suck it up? What do I do?" Another key sentence. The answer to your first question is, "No!" The answer to the second question is "Nothing." Your questions are wrong questions. Pay attention to the following verses. "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) "... for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" (1 Peter 1:16) The command is to be, not to do. Start thinking in terms of what you are. Think in terms of the indicatives in Scripture. We do out of what we are. "God is love." "For God so loved the world." God did out of who and what He is. We also do out of who and what we are. "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45) The first three chapters of Ephesians are indicatives on where we are in Christ. The last three are imperatives. Live in the first three. The second three are then easy.

Who does the saving and the sanctifying?
"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves," (Colossians 1:9-13)
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." (2 Peter 1:3-4)

1 comment:

larry white said...

Thanks, I will call that one in church next Sunday--"Trust and Obey." As you said in your book, On Being a Christian, "That is what faith is--trusting in the faithfulness of God. The preparation for believing prayer is 1) a clean heart, and 2) being saturated in meditation with Scripture (faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ)."