“If you [really] love Me, you will keep and obey My commandments.“
- We are saved by faith and faith alone
- Jesus said that He fulfilled the law
- James said faith without works is dead
- Jesus also said that some who do great and mighty works would not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven
How do we reconcile all of these statements? Why does it appear that there may be some works that we need to do? The answer is that we are being sanctified. God is in the process of renewing our minds so that we move from the world’s way of thinking to His way of thinking. Paul says in Romans 12:1-2 (AMP):
1 Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].
We are (or should be!) progressively transformed into the likeness of Christ as our thinking changes and we act on what we believe. The word transformed is very interesting. In the Greek it is “metamorphousthe” (an imperative command – we are expected to do this – it is not a suggestion!) from the root word “metamorphoo”. We get our word metamorphosis from it (think butterflies. They don’t just look a little different from caterpillars; in their cocoon they literally liquefy [in our case, it is the Word of God, and trials that cause crises of faith] and emerge on the other side something completely and irreversibly different).
Transformation is not merely intellectual ascent, but rather the practical application (or implementation) of the values and ideals that we have learned into everyday living. How does this work, do you ask?
- Do you believe that you need to eat food in order to live? So, do you eat food?
- Do you believe that you need to put gasoline in your car to keep it running? So, do you put gasoline in your car?
- Do you believe you should put on clothes when you are in public? Do you put on clothes when you leave your residence?
- (Special thanks to Dr. Steve Vesolich for all four example questions)
If you have answered yes to these, it would appear that you act upon your beliefs by implementing them in practical ways in your daily life. Now let’s ask another question:
- Do you believe that you should pray continually? Do you pray without ceasing?
If you answered, “Well, I guess I fall a little short (a lot short?) in that department,” then do you really believe it? How long can you go without food before your body suffers (that is a GREAT feedback mechanism that God gave to us!)? How many times do you need to run out of gas in your car until you fill it up BEFORE the needle gets to “E”? When we pray, we are spiritually filling up with God. The problem is that we don’t always “feel” the spiritual feedback mechanism that occurs when we don’t “fill up” with God until the consequences of ignoring this very important requirement of spiritual life impact our lives, often in very detrimental ways.
Jesus calls us to be obedient to all that He says. This is for our benefit, the benefit of others, to produce righteous living in His called out ones, and finally, it brings glory to God. Jesus became completely obedient to the Father though submission to the Holy Spirit. How much more should we then, who need guidance every second of every day of our lives?
The works that pour forth from us are a response to the love of God. Additionally, He has graciously planned in advance to use our gratefulness to Him in a real and practical way to save the lost and bring glory to His name as we are being transformed into His image.
So, let’s ask the question: Are we being obedient to the portion of God’s word that we know and understand?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You are holy, holy, holy. You have called us out of sin and into righteousness. Father, our sin natures are interfering in our ability to be obedient to You and Your Word. Help me, O God, that these hindrances would be removed, and that in every aspect of the life that You have provided to me, that I would be obedient to You. Cleanse my heart Lord God, and give me a greater desire to be obedient to You, especially where I feel any resistance in my heart. Holy Spirit, reveal to me the root cause of any resistance. Bring it out of me, and show it to me, that I may deal with it, for my heart longs to obey you. Help me to overcome any fears with it, and heal my heart where needed so that I can let go of the past. Help me to be accountable and take ownership of any part of my past that has led to this rebellion. Father, give me strength that I may confess these sins to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, that we may pray for one another and be forgiven. You long for holiness in your people; please start with me. This I pray as a representative of your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?