Since my last post, I hope you have had an occasion to consider how your relationship with your Lord and the practice of obedience is lacking cohesion. As it is with me, you probably struggle with the old man, your sin nature, and ask yourself what it is that prohibits you from a better performance of your duty to your Master. This is a time for brutal honesty and complete candor. As part of his series on Luke 6:46, Boston provides several possibilities as to why you call Christ Lord, but do not reflect it in your practice.
Do you have a sense of being bound to the will of God? As Americans, we have a tradition of loving our freedom. As entropy would have it, we have devolved into a people who have no knowledge of what the first settlers to these shores were trying to be free to do. They wanted to be free to live as followers of their Lord. They sought freedom to be bound. Our natural tendency is to be independent and do as we please, but believe it or not, that is not freedom either. Everyone is in bondage to something. Being in Christ is the freedom to be his servant. Seek to view yourself as his possession.
Are you infected by the world system. That is not a typo, like a pathogen invades the body, the ways of the society we live in infects us to the very marrow of our bones. There is no antidote to the plague that is Satan’s world view except for the precepts of God. In a passage that speaks to the dead nature of fallen man, Paul emphasizes the inherent cause for disobedience to God. “As for you (believers), you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of the world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now working in the children of disobedience.”(Ephesians 2:1&2) The next time you are faced with a decision, ask yourself which world view are you using. Even simple daily routines and activities can be used to check the pulse of your citizenship. Which Lord is driving you? What world are you living in?
Do you pick and choose which of God’s laws you obey? Do you attempt to justify your actions? Oh, I would never commit murder or steal. It is acceptable, however, to go to my job on Sunday or tell a lie to my children like “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause.” We not only do damage to our own foundation when we discriminate between important and unimportant laws, we do damage to the very foundation of our religion and the Church.
Is your first inclination to act contrary to God’s law? There is still the remnant of captivity alive in all of us. Like a convict who has lived a long time in prison has difficulty assimilating in society, we have difficulty acting as followers of Christ. Use the time you have left in this world like a halfway house. Practice your assimilation into the society of the Saints.
Are you a relatively new believer? Has the new begun to wear off? Fads and phases come and go. Not that your faith is a fad, but it does tend to have phases. More often than not the new believer is excited about what has happened to them and the novelty tends to drive their behavior. Whether your conversion was radical or gradual, look to the factors that inspired your zeal. Seek to recapture that wave that once carried you.
Do you struggle with the assurance of you faith? Timothy Rodgers, a Puritan pastor in the late 17th and early 18th century, experienced a long period of doubt about his salvation. Many years, while shepherding his flock, Rodgers suffered what, in that time, was called Melancholia. Today we label this condition as depression, and quite often the Church discounts it as worldly psychological nonsense. Now I am no expert on mental nor emotional disorders and whether or not a victim of these disorders should receive psychiatric care. However, by definition, psychology is the study of the soul, and yes the soul can be medicated. Whether it should is out of my wheelhouse. However, if we believe man to have a soul, and that the soul can be sick, then would it not be logical to determine that the symptom of having weak assurance of your salvation be caused by the pathology of the soul. From this psychopathy, the practice of obedience to God would necessarily be effected. For many Christians this condition goes unrealized and therefore untreated. Even close friends and family may never know of the pain and suffering of there loved one, and the daily struggle they endure. If you believe that you assurance is weak, do not be silent. Seek the counsel of a sympathetic ear, even if you can only bring yourself to acknowledge it to the Great Physician.
Obedience to your Lord, or the lack there of, can be directly influenced by your system of belief. Entertaining wrong notions of religion breeds contempt for the Law of God. This contempt may be from the burden the law places on your soul or from the licentiousness of believing the prescriptive law of God to be abolished by Christ. True, the law of God no longer has power over the regenerate soul. The bondage of it has been repealed. However in no way, apart from ceremonial law, has God discarded his commands. Do you understand what your church teaches, or do you follow blindly like lambs to the slaughter. There is no greater urgency in this life than to study the Word of God and the doctrines of the Church. To practice obedience requires that you practice understanding.
How much time is spent even considering the requirements of your Lord? I spend far to much time pondering the ways of this world. The greatest benefit of this blog is all mine. It is my excuse to search out the ways of God. The real question is, “Why should I need an excuse?” Do you find that you need to excuse yourself from the world, in order to give devotion to you Lord? Do you have to put off family, social, or professional responsibilities in order to carve out a few moments for your soul? Look at that practice from a biblical world view. Do you think God is apt to provide the increase to your worldly efforts, when your kingdom efforts are so few? Your religious practice will be directly influenced by the proportion of time spent working on it. This is a good time to revive the notion of God’s Means of Grace, the ways he disperses his blessings. The reading and preaching of the Word, prayer, the Lord’s Supper, Baptism and the edifying fellowship of the Church are the primary ways God meets out his favor. If you ever wonder what might be wrong with your Christian walk, consider how much time you devote to these things. If you don’t come to the well your thirst will continue.
The next time you use the term “Lord”, whether in addressing God in prayer or in your daily speech, ask yourself what you really mean. Imagine Christ speaking to you and saying, “And why do you call me Lord, Lord?” What will be your answer?