Skip to comments.Faithful Commitment
Posted on 03/07/2012 7:13:18 AM PST by hawkins
Jesus, the messiah of mankind, lived a life in the flesh like no other man. His words and his actions perfectly fit the pattern prescribed by God the Father (John 5:30, John 12:49-50). That all men save Jesus fall short of the Glory of God is factual (Romans 3:23). Yet, many who declare themselves prepared for faithful commitment to God soon find themselves transgressing against their vows to serve him. Their declaration of service comes before considering the cost their life (Galatians 2:20). Jesus spoke about this in the parable of the sower.
Matthew 13:20-21 – And he that was sown upon the rocky places, this is he that heareth the word, and straightway with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while; and when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, straightway he stumbleth.
How many souls have walked the path of those words? Hearts praise God every time a sinner comes to Him and humbly calls upon him for forgiveness. The sinner dedicates his service to Jesus as Lord and buries himself in the waters of baptism so he can walk in the newness of life (Romans 6:4). Then, sadly, within a short time he sets aside his vow of faithful commitment and returns to the world. It is much like an individual who swears off addictions. His earnestness appears obvious to all. Yet, he cannot bear the weight of his choice and returns once again to a lack of self control.
The path of those who hastily agree to faithful commitment to God is broad. The people of Israel left Egypt, a firstborn nation of God. When Moses shared with them the ordinances of God, all the people answered with one voice, and said all the words which Jehovah hath spoken will we do. (Exodus 24:3) Shortly thereafter (forty days and forty nights), when Moses would come down Mt. Sinai with the ten commandments etched in stone by the finger of God, he would find the children of Israel already engaged in sins against Him whom they swore to obey. Israel was the bride of God and yet, they chose to be unfaithful. A marriage of 40 days resulting in infidelity demonstrates a lack of dedication to vows. That sinful body of people save those twenty years old and under as well as Joshua and Caleb would not make it out of the wilderness. They would spend 40 years meeting their death.
The feet of the descendants of that people would make it to the Promised Land, Canaan. After establishing themselves in the land, Joshua would speak to them about their renewed vows to God in Joshua 24:19-22:
Ye cannot serve Jehovah; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgression nor your sins. If ye forsake Jehovah, and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you evil, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve Jehovah. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you Jehovah, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.
Joshua was critical of their dedication to the Lord. He warned them of unfaithfulness. Still they declared they would serve God. Following the death of Joshua, the people faltered in their obedience to God their Head and Master. They did not drive the inhabitants of Canaan out of the land. They became idolatrous. They turned their back on the One to whom they had been betrothed. They broke their vows to walk the broad way of their forefathers. They had truly not committed themselves to the Lord. God punished them often for their continued disobedience.
Centuries later, beyond the time of judges and toward the end of the Kings of Israel, the prophet Jeremiah would prophecy of the coming terror of Babylon. He would tell the people of Judah and Jerusalem that they would be disciplined for their infidelity. The people called upon Jeremiah to beseech the Lord in prayer for their safety: Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the LORD our God (Jeremiah 42:6). The word of God came to Jeremiah telling the people to stand strong in the land which He had given them. Not to run in fear back to the land of Egypt. If they would remain, He would turn away Babylon. Yet, the people did run to Egypt. They did not obey God, once again going against their own words. Thus, Babylon destroyed them by the hand of God.
Those things recorded of Israel serve as a guide to the actions of man today (Romans 15:4). God is a faithful God (Deuteronomy 7:9), but Israel did not put their trust in Him. They had received him initially with joy, but they did not have depth to their embracing of Him. He therefore disciplined them for their lack of faithful commitment.
Seeing that man has often jumped into the service of God without a deep commitment, soon turning away from Him, what can be done to reduce the occurrence of this?
First, adequate instruction should be given to those who would come to Christ. So frequently, the demands of discipleship are not explained thoroughly to the potential Christian. Individuals readily clothe themselves in Him through baptism, only to realize their hearts were not ready to repent of their worldly lifestyles. The trials and persecutions which arise immediately overcome the unprepared and weak soul. Great care must be taken with those who have an infantile knowledge of Christ. They must be nourished and fed His Word with the understanding of what it means to be a Christian.
Luke 14:27-33 – Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have wherewith to complete it? Lest haply, when he hath laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all that behold begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, as he goeth to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and asketh conditions of peace. So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Second, those considering Christ must understand the world and its vices are not their friend, but an enemy to be put away with the birth of a new creature (John 3:5, 2 Corinthians 5:17). So many believe they can still be a part of the world around them and serve Christ in faithful commitment. Yet, this was the failure of Israel before them. Israel was not to dwell with the people of the land (Deuteronomy 7:1-3). They were not to marry with them. They were not to make covenants with them. They were to utterly destroy them since their time of disobedience was over (Genesis 15:16). While God does not call His people to discipline by war as He did in the time of Israel (Vengeance is the Lords Romans 12:19), He does still call upon His people to be separate from the world (Romans 12:1-2, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
Finally, consider Jesus Words in Matthew 12:43-45:
But the unclean spirit, when he is gone out of the man, passeth through waterless places, seeking rest, and findeth it not. Then he saith, I will return into my house whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man becometh worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this evil generation.
Not only must those who would come to Christ be truly taught what it means to be a disciple and separate from the world, they must understand the need to fill their lives with the things of God (Philippians 4:8). There is a term often used Nature abhors a vacuum carrying the meaning that emptiness will be filled. The question is what shall fill the life of one coming to Christ? They may indeed cleanse themselves of sin, but if they do not fill their lives in the service and knowledge of their God through faithful commitment, they will once again fill it in service to the god of the world (2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Peter 3:18).
Take a moment to consider all those who you have seen baptized into Christ. Whether young or old, how many of them fully understood before their conversion what was expected from discipleship? Did they separate themselves from the world or did they continue to try and balance the world with their life? Did they fill themselves with the Words which Jehovah spoke or did they once again live a life stained by the filth of the world? Christians, be vigilant to remain faithful (I Corinthians 10:12, 16:13) and take great care with those who espouse themselves to Christ (2 Timothy 2:24-26, Jude 1:20-23).
Our relationship with God is a deep matter in which we should be fully prepared to trust our God and exercise faithful commitment to our vows to Him while training others to observe the same. While souls will still be lost who did not fully consider the costs of discipleship, by taking the steps discussed, more will be prepared.
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Very inspiring post; thanks!