Week 8 Hope and Certainty
Christ died for us. But wherefore? That we should still live in sin? No; but that we should die to sin, and live henceforth not to ourselves, but to Him.[i]
he Apostle Peter, the rock upon which Christ built His church, began his ministry in disgrace. He made an impassioned vow to Jesus that he could not keep—he said he was willing to die with Him—and Jesus’ response, along with the account of Peter’s spectacular failure to keep his promise, is recorded in all four gospels.[ii] But after the Resurrection, Peter affirmed his commitment to Christ, and this was a seal better than a vow because it was based on love: “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you…”[iii] And thus Peter was reinstated, not through a promise to do better, but by a confession of love for his Lord.
Time and again we forget that our relationship with our Savior is based on love: His great love for us, and the passion of humbled devotion that fires in our own hearts in response. We are made of frail flesh, we live in the world, and we forget that our relationship with God is spiritual and must be nurtured; we neglect the realignment with truth that occurs when we pray, praise, and absorb Scripture. It is when we live only by what our five senses can perceive that we lose focus on Christ; we may keep lip service to love for a Savior but we don’t live as though we believe it. We begin to treat our relationship with God more as a business partnership than a love relationship.
In this frame of mind perhaps we consider ourselves more prudent than the pre-Calvary Peter and have learned not to make vows to the Lord. We are well acquainted with our inability to keep resolutions, and besides, Jesus said not to swear oaths.[iv] We turn aside with false humility, saying, “Lord, You know I’d obey you if I could, but You’ve given me a pretty difficult task, and I don’t want to disappoint You by trying and failing, so, I’m sure You’ll understand if I just rest with the status quo as it is. You know I love you though, right?”
No parent would accept such words, and our Lord doesn’t either. This is because children who refuse to obey their parents show not only a lack of respect, but also a lack of love. Children honor their parents through obedience, and we show our faith and love for the Lord in the same way; remember that Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.”[v]
The Lord is incredibly and sometimes frustratingly patient. He won’t allow us to embark on a freedom journey until we are ready to make a commitment to Him through a love response of obedience. As we have seen, a preparation for the kind of freedom the Lord desires for us entails an exchange; He asks us to release our hopes and dreams, and in return He fills our hearts with His own good and Holy plan.
These weeks of study and preparation have been signposts that point our way to freedom. We are ready for more of Jesus and less of ourselves, but though we are willing, we may also feel uncertain of how to proceed. If we are hesitating at the entrance to the freedom path, a lack of commitment to the Lord may be to blame. The cure is more time spent at Jesus’ feet, because our commitment to Him is renewed through knowledge of Him (see Colossians 3:9 below). We find Him through prayer, we meet Him in praise, we learn of Him through Scripture, and our grateful hearts respond in humbled adoration.
Don’t forget that once we embark upon the obedience path, we aren’t on our own; God will tap the resources of His limitless power to come to our aide, but the first step begins with our commitment to Him when we say, “Lord, I love You.”
Pray: Lord, I am ready to fully commit myself to Your plan for me. Forgive me for reserving areas of my life for my own control; hidden places where, if I am tired or just not willing to go on, I can retreat to have my own way. I release those hidden places to You now, I release everything that comes into my mind and body through my five senses to You; Lord, have Your way with my life. I love You, I choose You, I choose to focus upon You, and I trust You to have Your way in my life. In Jesus’ Name I pray, amen.
… you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.