This is our journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matthew 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: obedience (Page 1 of 2)

David’s Digest: The Pit (of Hell) and the Pendulum

I believe one of Satan’s clever tools is the pendulum swing. Suppose one believes a certain doctrine, and then they discover the true doctrine that shows their current doctrine to be false. Now, because he couldn’t stop them from learning about the truth, and at this point also not able to keep them from believing it, he says, “Oh, yeah, you’re right! That old doctrine sure was false! Now move on into this true doctrine…that’s it…and…….keep going”, whereby he helps them along past the true nature or meaning or degree of the true doctrine to a place the Bible never intended regarding it, and thus has got that person basically again, believing something false.

For example, someone learns biblical truths from someone or a group of people perhaps, and the later finds out that person or those people are incorrect about other things, and so Satan comes along and says,

“Look at the people who gave you this idea…wow, are they wrong about those other things, so this thing they led you to, it must be wrong too…you need to run far from this!

and so the person decides to reject everything they learned from these other people, even though the original belief was true, and you end up with the proverbial “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” scenario. This is why it’s important to study the Bible and let it be our guide in all matters of truth, not just what someone might say.

Another example might be the following: a person might come to believe in the doctrines of grace, whereby man has no ability to come to God of his own, unless the Father draw him. This would be against a free-will theology that declares man has an absolute free will to decide to choose God and spiritual things. So, they reject that idea, and adopt the doctrines of grace into their belief system.

So far so good. But then, the devil whispers,

“Hey, if God is sovereign over everything, then everything is set in stone, so, honestly, there sure seems no real good reason to pray or try to witness to anyone. I mean, either God’s going to save them or not, and there’s nothing you can really do, no?”

Or, “Well, now that you’re saved and can’t lose your salvation, why all the fuss about trying to live a holy life? You’re already going to heaven, right?”

Or, “Since all graces come from Christ, they aren’t really yours, so there’s no real need to ask for them to be continued, increased, or for help with them. I mean, there’s nothing you can really do anyway, because they’re not your graces, they’re His, and this would end up making your salvation works based, yes?”

which can lead to believe falsehoods and losing any kind of efforts toward actual holy Christian living, or working by using means (prayer, Bible study, etc.) to grow in grace (as commanded in 2 Peter 3:18).

Or he might tempt the other way,

“Now that you have the TRUTH, everyone needs to know this! You need to make sure and get out there, and make sure everyone knows the truth. It doesn’t matter what they say back, just don’t let them dance around it…make sure you stand up and fight against them with the TRUTH!”

Or, “Oh, these people are just so blind! Just so ignorant sheep! You don’t have time for such weak people! Tell them to get away from you, they’re not worth your time!”

which leads to a self-righteous, condemning, impatient, un-loving, horrible manner toward people — a terrible attitude that I believe besmirches Christ’s name and example, and can end up actually hindering someone from learning the truth. And I know, because this is a path I have sadly tread in the past, to a degree, although I have tried to apologize as I’ve been able.

Another example might be modest dress. A woman decides she should dress modestly as she believes the Bible would have, but in a very strict way, especially because of how immodest she sees the culture around her, including no patterns, one solid color, dresses down to the ankles, all of which in themselves is not unbiblical. And the woman believes that everyone around her should dress that strictly, and tells them that it’s not right for them to not do so.

But then Satan might say,

“Oh, look how extreme that is…you’re under such bondage! Throw off those chains!”

Or, “Oh, that’s all under the law — you’re under grace now, so, really, you’re free from obeying those things in the Bible now, as long as you’re not committing adultery or some such, wouldn’t you reason so?”

Or, “Is that much modesty really necessary? I mean, one solid color? Two colors isn’t ok? Dressed down to the middle of the calves isn’t ok? Aren’t you being a little overboard?”

and then she comes to agree with one or more of those, such as it was a little extreme, and that she should back off from the degree at least some but still being biblical, and that the degree of modesty could be a doubtful disputation Paul discusses in Romans 14:1-6.

But, in her journey away from one color and dresses to the ankles, the devil prompts again,

“Well look, all this modest dress only brought you such horrid bondage…anything close to that is just the same thing. Plus, look at everyone else around you. There’s no harm in changing a little more, right?

And then a year later, “Still too much bondage, and remember how extreme and condemning of others you were before. And, it’s only a little bit away from where you are now…and that skirt is just so cute, don’t you think? It’s just a little more anyway, no?

And then another year later, “Oh, it’s just a little step away from where you are now. After all, it’s only showing your arms, and men aren’t standing there staring at that part of the body, yes?

so that after even many years of this compromise, and even the temptations of vanity as well, the woman ends up in form-fitting jeans or shorts and tank tops, and is essentially dressing like she used to or worse, immodestly, and in concert with how the world defines (in their ungodliness) modesty. And while this is more of a slippery slope issue, it can start with the fact that the pendulum of an absolutism in the issue was perhaps initially swung too far, even in the right direction.

In these things, Satan’s just fine with it all, because he’s got the person off center, veered away from the actual path of truth that lies between the extremes. If he can keep someone there, it doesn’t matter to him, because in the end, he’s still got them off the narrow path of truth.

And as noted in the above scenario, this can occur over a very long period of time, where each step is almost not noticeable from the last step taken.

It’s difficult to not let this happen, especially if emotions or the like are involved in the initial discovery of being too far to one side. Our carnal self jumps in, and we can overreact, and throw out any doctrine or life-belief we might have once held, even strongly.

However, I believe we must be diligent and on the lookout for, what I believe is, a wile of the devil. It’s a difficult path, but graciously, the Lord has provided His Word to us, which we must continuously study, asking Him for direction and guidance in all things, and to keep us on the path of truth and obedience:

Psa 119:105 – “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Deut 5:32 – “Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

Prov 4:27 – “Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

And I believe with God’s help as He directs us, we must maintain that journey on the narrow path, regardless of the devil’s lies and the world’s pull to godlessness:

Luke 9:62 – “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

May God grant us to study His Word diligently, the application of His Word to our heart and minds by His Spirit, and the courage and strength to live out His laws and statutes.

— David

David’s Digest: Walk Worthy of Your Calling

Jude 1 - "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:"

God’s people are “called”:

Romans 1:6 - "Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:"

Ephesians 4:1 - "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation [calling] wherewith ye are called,"

2 Thessalonians 1:11 - "Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:"

2 Timothy 1:9 - "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,"

2 Peter 1:10 - "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:"

But what does this calling look like? How do we evidence we are actually “called” ones, and thus actually one of God’s people?

Puritan Thomas Manton examines several ways, but below is one way that I believe is extra important in our day. It comes from his excellent commentary on the Epistle of Jude.

You can listen to all of verse 1 here:

or download it:

Download

The entire book is available here on Monergism’s site, and this section starts on PDF page 5 near the bottom…

…or you can listen to the entire book on this page:

Thomas Manton – Jude Commentary

From Thomas Manton:

Verse 1. — Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

5. It may be evidenced by the fruits and effects of a call; the call infers a change of the former estate, both in heart and life.

[2.] In the life there will be a change; men will walk worthy their calling, not disgracing it by scandals or unseemly practices: Eph. iv. 1, ‘I beseech you, brethren, walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called;’ that is, suitable to the purity, suitable to the dignity of it. When David was a shepherd, he thought of nothing else but keeping his father’s sheep; but when God called him to be a shepherd of the people, then he had other projects, and was of other manner of behaviour.

A new calling requires a new conversation [behavior of life]: so 1 Thes. ii. 12, ‘Walk worthy of God, who hath called you to his kingdom and his glory.’ The divine calling puts an honour upon you: it is not for princes to ‘embrace the dung,’ nor for eagles to catch flies; to be vain [showy, empty, useless for God], voluptuous [given to the enjoyments of luxury and pleasure], carnal, and worldly, as others are: you are called to the fellowship of saints and angels; will it become one of your hopes to drive on such a low design as a worldly interest?

If you saw a man labouring in filthy ditches, and soiling himself as poor men do, would you believe that he were heir-apparent to a crown, called to inherit a kingdom? Who will believe your calling when you stick in the mud of pleasures, and are carried on with such a zealous respect after secular interests?

The apostle reproves the Corinthians for ‘walking as men,’ 1 Cor. iii. 3. Some walk as beasts, others are of a more civil strain; but this is but as men: you should walk more sublimely [high in excellence], above the ordinary rate of flesh and blood. When Antigonus was going into the house of a harlot, one told him, Thou art a king’s son. Oh! remember your dignity, and walk worthy of your high calling; walk as having the world under your feet, with a holy scorn and contempt of sublunary [earthly, pertaining to this world] enjoyments.

And as you should walk worthy of the dignity of your calling, so of the purity of it: ‘He that hath called you is holy,’ 1 Peter i. 15; and your condition is a ‘holy calling,’ 2 Tim. i. 9; and the end of your calling is holiness: 1 Thes. iv. 7, ‘God hath called us unto holiness.’ All which are so many engagements to urge us to the more care. A filthy, loose conversation [behavior of life] will never suit with this calling; you are a shame and a stain to him that calls you if you walk thus: as some in the prophet are said to pollute God, Ezek. xxxi. 9, namely, as their pollutions were retorted upon God.

Someone who takes the name of Christ upon themselves is required to live a different life than the rest of the world. Holiness not only means separate but pure, and it’s not any separation or purity, but God’s separation and purity, His holiness — our holiness should be godliness, and this should encompass every area of our life, at all times in our lives, in some fashion.

Are the things of the world around us, especially entertainments and the like, and how we spend our time, part of the holiness of God, which is perfect and absolute purity?

Philippians 4:8 - "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

1 John 2:15 - "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

And we have a God-given duty to work on these things, with the help and strength of the Holy Spirit:

Romans 8:13 - "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye [us, our work] through the Spirit [with His help and strength] do mortify [our duty to labor to perform] the deeds of the body [the carnal, sinful man], ye shall live [if you actually work to do this, with the Spirit's help and strength]."

Colossians 3:5 - "Mortify [a command of duty for us to perform] therefore your members which are upon the earth..."

May God give us a holy desire to be obedient to Him in all areas of our lives, and may He grant us a desire and help by His Spirit to think on the things of Him, and His blessed Son Christ Jesus, the most lovely of all, and to put away (mortify) the things of the world, especially those which might be most pleasing to our carnal man, and may we do all these things to not be a reproach on the Lord Jesus’ name, and out of love to Him who has betrothed us and whose name we have taken upon ourselves.

— David

David’s Digest: Of Being Christ’s Servant

Jude 1 - "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:"

Jude here calls himself a servant of Christ. And I think most who claim Christ’s name themselves would call themselves the same.

But what does being a servant of Christ look like?

Puritan Thomas Manton explores this briefly near the beginning of his excellent commentary on the Epistle of Jude, which we present to you below.

You can listen to all of verse 1 here:

or download it:

Download

The entire book is available here on Monergism’s site, and this section starts on PDF page 5 near the bottom…

…or you can listen to the entire book on this page:

Thomas Manton – Jude Commentary

From Thomas Manton:

Verse 1. — Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

Obs. 2. Observe, again, his relation to Christ is expressed by service; as he describes himself to be James’s brother, so Christ’s servant; by that means he was entitled to Christ; if we would be Christ’s we must do his will: our relation arises from service, John xii. 26. Therefore I shall here take occasion to show you what it is to be Christ’s servants.

(1.) Whoever is Christ’s servant must resign and give up himself wholly to the will of Christ; for he that is Christ’s servant, he is so by covenant and consecration. We are indeed Christ’s by all kind of rights and titles; ‘he made us, and not we ourselves;’ no creature is of itself, and therefore it is not its own, but another’s. It is God’s prerogative alone to love Himself and seek Himself, because He alone is without obligation and dependence; but we owe ourselves to Him, and therefore cannot without robbery call ourselves our own. Your tongues are not your own to speak what you please, Ps. xii. 4, nor your hearts your own to think what you please, nor your hands your own to do what you please; by virtue of your creation you are another’s, and are bound to live and act for another, according to His will, for his glory.

But this is not all; by redemption you are Christ’s: ‘Ye are bought with a price,’ 1 Cor. vi. 20, as the redeemed are bound to serve Him that ransomed them. If a man had bought another out of captivity, or he had sold himself, all his strength or service belonged to the buyer. Christ has bought us from the worst slavery, and with the greatest price; no thraldom so bad as bondage to sin and Satan, no prison so black as hell; and certainly Christ’s blood is better than a little money. So that to live as if we were at our own disposal is to defraud Christ of his purchase.

Thus we are Christ’s by creation and redemption; but now, if we would be his servants, we must be His by voluntary contract and spiritual resignation: ‘Yield up yourselves,’ etc., Rom. vi. 13. Christ loves to have his right and title established by our own consent. We take Christ for lord and master, and give up ourselves to Him, that we may be no longer at our own disposal, and therefore it is not only robbery, but treachery and breach of covenant to seek ourselves in anything. This resignation must be made out of a sense of Christ’s love to us in his death and sufferings: 2 Cor. v. 15, Christ died, ‘that they which live should not henceforth live to themselves, but unto him that died for them.’ We enter upon other services out of hopes, but we enter upon Christ’s service out of thankfulness.

Again, this resignation must be universal, without reservation of any part. You must have no other master but God: Mat. vi. 24, ‘Ye cannot serve two masters, ye cannot serve God and mammon.’ Usually men divide themselves between God and the world; they would give their consciences to Christ, and their hearts to mammon. The devil pleads for a part, for by that means he knows that the whole [all of the person] will fall to his share; therefore all, the whole man, in vow, purpose, and resolution, must be given up to God.

(2.) Having given up yourselves to God’s service, you must walk as his servants; that is, not as you list [want/desire], but as the Master pleases. The angels are God’s ministers, ‘doing his pleasure,’ Ps. ciii. 21. A servant has no will of his own, but has given up his liberty to the directions and commands of another; therefore, if you be God’s servants, you must earnestly desire the knowledge of his will, and readily comply with it; you must not do things as they please self and flesh, but as they please God. David begs for knowledge as God’s servant: Ps. cxix. 125, ‘I am thy servant, grant me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.’ A faithful servant would not willingly offend his master, and therefore would fain [gladly] know what is His will. They plead with God, and search themselves, Rom. xii. 2, and all to know His pleasure; and not only to know it, but to do it, otherwise they are worthy of many stripes by Christ’s own sentence.

The master’s will should be motive enough, 1 Thes. iv. 3, v. 13; 1 Peter ii. 15. If God will have it so, if Jesus Christ will have it so, it is enough to a faithful servant. The very signification of God’s will carries with it reason enough to enforce the practice of it.

Yea, you must equally comply with every will of God, not only with the easy and pleasant ways of obedience, but such as cross lusts [generally any corrupt desires of the heart] and interests. When two men go together, a man cannot tell whom the servant follows till they part. When God and our lusts or our interests command contrary things, then you are put to the trial whether you are God’s servants.

May we seek God for, and may He grant us, this desire to know and do His will, in every area of our lives, recognizing that we are not our own at all, by creation and by the redemption found in His blessed Son Christ Jesus….and may we truly say, our Lord!

— David

David’s Digest: What Does It Mean to Submit All Our Actions to God’s Will?

James 4:15 – “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

At what depth should our wills in the actions of our lives be submitted to our God if we claim Him to be so? What does it mean to truly submit our lives in what we do to Him?

Puritan Thomas Manton in his superb work “A Practical Commentary, or an Exposition with Notes, on the Epistle of James” takes a deep and detailed look into what it means to submit the actions of our lives to God.

You can listen to all of verse 15 here:

 


or download it:
Download

 

The entire book is available here: https://ia800904.us.archive.org/2/items/apracticalcomme01mantgoog/apracticalcomme01mantgoog.pdf#page=375, and this section starts on PDF page 379 (in the print, page 360), or you can get it in other formats here

…or you can listen to the entire book on this page:
Thomas Manton – James Commentary

From Thomas Manton:

Verse 15. – For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

Observation. All our undertakings must be referred to the will of God; not only sacred, but civil actions. Our journeys must not be undertaken without asking his leave; as Jacob, “O Lord God of Abraham thy servant, send me good speed this day” (Gen. xxviii. 20, and xxiv. 12). No wonder, if this be neglected, that you meet with so many cross accidents; they do not come from your hard luck, but your profane neglect.

But what is it to submit all our actions to the will of God? I answer,

1. To measure all our actions by his revealed will [the Bible], that is the rule of duty. We can look for no blessing but upon those ways that suit with it. There must be a submission to his secret will, but first a conformity to his revealed will. Lust [generally, any corrupt desire of the heart] has its wills (Eph. ii. 2); but we are to serve the will of God till we fall asleep (Acts xiii 36).

2. We must the more comfortably undertake any action, when we see God in it. Acts xvi. 10, he gathered that God had called him to Macedonia: so, when we see God in the sweet means and course of his providence, or by inward instinct guiding and leading us, we may with more encouragement walk in the way that he hath opened to us.

3. When in our desires and requests we do not [try to] bind [constrain] the counsels of God; [we should say] “Not my will, but thine be done” (Matt. xxvi. 39). In temporal things we must submit to God’s will both for the mercy, the means, and time of attainment. Creatures that cannot ascribe to themselves, must not prescribe to God, and give laws to Providence, but must be content to want [lack], or have, as the Lord pleases. If any thing succeed not well, the Lord would not [wills it not to be]; that is enough to silence all discontents [discontentment].

4. We must constantly ask his leave in prayer, as before was urged.

5. We must still reserve the power of God’s providence. If the Lord will. If the Lord permit: God would not have us too carnally confident; it is good to inure the soul to changes. Two things we should often consider to this purpose, and they are both in the text:

(1st.) The sovereignty and dominion of Providence: the Lord can blast your enterprise, though managed with never so much wisdom and contrivance [of our own]; he can nip it in the bud, or check it in the very article of execution: and I have observed, that usually God is very tender of his honour in this point, and usually frustrates proud men that boast of what they will do, and conceive unlimited purposes, without any thought of the check they may receive in Providence.

It is a flower of the imperial crown of heaven, and the bridle that God hath upon the reasonable creature, to dispose of the success of human affairs; therefore herein God will be acknowledged: “A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps” (Prov. xvi. 9). Man designs, but the execution depends wholly upon God’s will and providence.

In peremptory resolutions there is a contest between us and Heaven about will and power; therefore, in such cases, the answer of Providence is more express and decisive to the creature’s loss, that God may be acknowledged as Lord of success, and the first mover in all means and causes, without whom they have no force and efficacy.

(2nd.) Consider the frailty and uncertainty of your own lives. Our being is as uncertain as the events of Providence. If we live, and God will, are the exceptions of the text, and do imply that there must be a sensible impression of our own frailty, as well as of the sovereignty of Providence, that the heart may the better submit to God. It is said, “His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish” (Psa. cxlvi. 4).

Frail men are full of thoughts and projects; this they will do, and that they will do; go to such a city, promote their interests by such an alliance, gain so much by such a purchase; and then they will raise up some stately fabric which shall continue their name and memory to succeeding generations, and all this because they do not mind the earth which they carry about them, and how soon the hand of Providence is able to crumble it into dust. Certainly man will never be wise, till he is able to number his days, and does sufficiently possess his soul of the uncertainty of his abode in the world (Psa. xc. 12).

Observation. We shall live, and do this or that. Mark! it is not enough that God suffer [allow] us to live, but he must also by the same will suffer [allow] us to do or act. The point is, that God’s will concurs not only to our lives, but actions. We may live, and yet not be able to do any thing for the promotion of our designs: for, if God suspend his concurrence, the creatures cannot act, at least not with any towardliness and success, which quite crosses the doctrine of the heathen philosophers. Seneca said, “That we live, it is by the benefit of the gods; that we live well, it is of ourselves.” So Tully: “This is the judgment of all men, that prosperity is to be sought of God, but wisdom to be gotten by ourselves.”

But in the Scriptures we are taught otherwise, not only to seek success of God, but direction; he gives abilities to perform, and a blessing when the action is finished.

  • Without the efficacious [effective], as well as permissive will of God, we can do nothing; he must give us life, and all things necessary to action.
  • We must not only look up to him as the author of the success, but the director of the actions.
  • It is by his conduct and blessing that all things come to pass.
  • Our very counsels and wills are subject to the Divine government, and he can turn them as it pleaseth him (Prov. xxi. 1);

and therefore we must not only commit our ways to his providence, but commend our hearts to the tuition of his Spirit. In short, all things are done by bis will, and must be ascribed to his praise.

May God grant that we indeed see our frailty, His greatness, His supremacy in all things, His worthiness to be submitted to, His lovingkindness in His dealings with us, and may He grant that we be full of thankfulness at all times, especially if by His graces and mercies we have the Lord Christ Jesus as our own!

— David

David’s Digest: Can We Offer Up Our Issac?

James 2:21 – “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Abraham’s Issac was his only son — the son of the promise, and yet God would have Abraham offer Isaac as a literal sacrifice on an alter. I would assume this caused Abraham at least a little angst of heart and mind. However, he was quickly obedient.

What has God required of us that causes us pause by way of reason or feelings? How are we to approach obedience to God? Are we willing to offer up our “Issacs”?

Puritan Thomas Manton in his most excellent work “A Practical Commentary, or an Exposition with Notes, on the Epistle of James” applies Abraham’s experience in a practical way to our lives in this verse.

You can listen to all of verse 21 here:


or download it:
Download

The entire book is available here: https://ia800904.us.archive.org/2/items/apracticalcomme01mantgoog/apracticalcomme01mantgoog.pdf#page=246, and this section starts on PDF page 246 (in the print, page 227), or you can get it in other formats here

…or you can listen to the entire book on this page:
Thomas Manton – James Commentary

From Thomas Manton:

Verse 21. – Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Obs 4. From that Offered Isaac upon the altar He brings this as the great argument of the truth of Abraham’s faith. It is not for faith to produce every action, unless it produce such actions as Abraham’s. Such as will engage you to self-denial, are troublesome to the flesh. David scorned such service as [that] cost nothing. There — where we must deny our own reason, affections, interest — that is an action fit to try a believer.

Let us see what is observable in this action of Abraham, that we may go and do likewise.

(1.) Observe the greatness of the temptation. It was to offer his own son, the son of his love, his only son, a son longed for, and obtained when ‘his body was dead’, and ‘Sarah’s womb dead’; nay, ‘the son of the promise’. Had he been to contend only with natural affection, it had been much — descensive love [I believe, love of a descendant, like a child] is always vehement; but for love to Isaac there were special endearing reasons and arguments.

But Abraham was not only to conflict with natured affection, but reason; not only with reason, but faith. He was, as it were, to execute all his hopes; and all this was to be done by himself; with his own hand he was at one stroke to cut off all his comforts. The execution of such a sentence was as harsh and bitter to flesh and blood, as to be his own executioner.

Oh! go and shame yourselves without, you that can so little deny yourselves for God, that attempt duties only when they are easy and obvious, never care to recover them out of the hands of difficulty and inconvenience. Public duties, if well done, are usually against carnal interests; private duties against carnal affections. Can you give up all that is near and dear to you? Can you offer up your Isaac? your ease and pleasure, for private duties? your interests, for public? Every action is not a trial of faith, but such as engages to self-denial.

(2.) Consider the readiness of his obedience. As Abraham is the pattern of believing, so of obeying. He received the promises, as a figure of our faith; he offered up his son, as a figure of our obedience (Heb. xi. 17).

(1st.) He obeyed readily and willingly: ‘Abraham rose early in the morning’ (Gen. xxii. 3). In such a service some would have delayed all the time they could; but he is up early. Usually we straiten [confine, make narrow] duty, rather than straiten ourselves: we are not about that work early.

(2nd.) Resolutely: he concealed it from his wife, servants, from Isaac himself, that so he might not be diverted from his pious purpose. Oh! who is now so wise to order the circumstances of a duty, that he may not be hindered in it?

(3rd.) He denied carnal reason. In difficult cases we seek to elude the command; dispute how we shall shift it off, not how we shall obey it. If we had been put upon such a trial, we would question the vision, or seek some other meaning; perhaps offer the image of Isaac, or some youngling of the flock, and call it Isaac; as now we often pervert a command by distinctions, and invent shifts to cheat our souls into a neglect of duty; as the heathens, when their gods called for a man, they offered a candle; or as Hercules offered up a painted man instead of a living.

But Abraham does not so, though he had a fair occasion; for he was divided between believing the promise and obeying the command. God tried him in his faith; his faith was to conflict with his natural reason, as well as his obedience with his natural affection. But he ‘accounted that God was able to raise him from the dead’ (Heb. xi. 19), and he reconciled the commandment with the promise. How easily could we have slipped out at this door, and disobey out of pretences and reasons of religion! But Abraham offered Isaac.

May God grant us to be able to see the “Isaacs” in our lives that we might not be willing to easily let go of;

… may we not lessen duty because it goes against carnal selves in some way;

… may He grant us the faith and trust in Him to not hold on to any things of this temporal world;

… may we see ourselves only as stewards of anything we have, with God as the actual owner of them;

… may we cheerfully and obediently surrender and submit ourselves to whatever His pleasure is in the retrieving of these things from us at any moment, even those things most dear to us and least pleasing to our carnal selves;

… and may the Lord grant that He be our only portion, now and always!

Psa 16:5- “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.

Psa 119:57 – “Thou art my portion, O Lord: I have said that I would keep thy words.

Psa 73:25-26 – “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

— David

David’s Digest: Love of Christ: The Motivator of True Obedience

I have read to Sue, as part of our family worship, the Puritan John Owen’s Complete Works, Vol 1, “The Glory of Christ”, which I highly recommend; our fellowship is going through it as well on each Lord’s Day.

Among the many wonderful revelations of Christ in it, one point really stuck out to me that Dr. Owen spends time declaring and defending in chapter 12 of the work “Christologia or a Declaration of the Glorious Mystery of the Person of Christ — God and Man”: the Bible declares that if we love God, we will obey His commandments; but this also means that those acts which are actually accepted of God vs. ones that are not, even though they might be the same acts, are differentiated primarily by the motivation behind them — that motivation being love for Him. Any person can perform an act that outwardly performs a command of God; but if it is not out of love for God, it is selfishly motivated — performed improperly inwardly — and thus cannot be acceptable by Him.

Here is a snippet from Dr. Owen’s chapter, which, along with the rest of the volume, I hope you will read in their entirety:

That which does enliven and animate the obedience whereof we have discoursed, is love. This himself makes the foundation of all that is acceptable unto him. “If,” saith he, “ye love me, keep my commandments,” John 14:15. As he distinguisheth between love and obedience, so he asserts the former as the foundation of the latter. He accepts of no obedience unto his commands that does not proceed from love unto his person. That is no love which is not fruitful in obedience; and that is no obedience which proceeds not from love. So he expresseth on both sides: “If a man love me, he will keep my words;” and, “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings,” Verses 23, 24.

In the Old Testament the love of God was the life and substance of all obedience. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, thy mind and strength,” was the sum of the law. This includes in it all obedience, and, where it is genuine, will produce all the fruits of it; and where it was not, no multiplication of duties was accepted with him. But this in general we do not now treat of.

That the person of Christ is the especial object of this divine love, which is the fire that kindles the sacrifice of our obedience unto him — his is that alone which at present I design to demonstrate.

The apostle has recorded a very severe denunciation of divine wrath against all that love him not:

“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha,” 1 Corinthians 16:22.

And what was added unto the curse of the Law we may add unto this of the Gospel: “And all the people shall say, Amen,” Deut. 27:26. And, on the other hand, he prays for grace on all that “love him in sincerity,” Ephesians 6:24. Wherefore, none who desire to retain the name of Christian, can deny, in words at least, but that we ought, with all our hearts, to love the Lord Jesus Christ.

I do not so distinguish love from obedience as though it were not itself a part, yea, the chiefest part, of our obedience. So is faith also; yet is it constantly distinguished from obedience, properly so called. This alone is that which I shall demonstrate — namely, that there is, and ought to be, in all believers, a divine, gracious love unto the person of Christ, immediately fixed on him, whereby they are excited unto, and acted in, all their obedience unto his authority. Had it been only pleaded, that many who pretend love unto Christ do yet evidence that they love him not, it is that which the Scripture testifieth, and continual experience does proclaim. If an application of this charge had been made unto them whose sincerity in their profession of love unto him can be no way evidenced, it ought to be born with patience, amongst other reproaches of the same kind that are cast upon them. And some things are to be premised unto the confirmation of our assertion.

1. It is granted that there may be a false pretense of love unto Christ; and as this pretense is ruinous unto the souls of them in whom it is, so it ofttimes renders them prejudicial and troublesome unto others. There ever were, and probably ever will be, hypocrites in the church and a false pretense of love is of the essential form of hypocrisy. The first great act of hypocrisy, with respect unto Christ, was treachery, veiled with a double pretense of love. He cried, “Hail, Master! and kissed him,” who betrayed him. His words and actions proclaimed love, but deceit and treachery were in his heart. …

2. As there is a false pretense of love unto Christ, so there is, or may be, a false love unto him also. The persons in whom it is may in some measure be sincere, and yet their love unto Christ may not be pure, nor sincere — such as answers the principles and rules of the gospel; and as many deceive others, so some deceive themselves in this matter. They may think that they love Christ, but indeed do not so. …

There is much more, and I do hope you will read the whole chapter from the beginning, chapters 13 and 14 also, which continue on this topic, and even the whole volume.

Is your “obedience” truly motivated by love for God? A true love? Are you sure? If it is not, then your obedience is not obedience at all. Have you ever thought about it? If not, then your religious activities and worship might actually be sin. Ask the Searcher of hearts (Psa. 139:23-24 to examine yours and reveal the truth of your motivations toward obedience. Ask Him for love for Him and a true and deeper revelation of Christ, as He is the source of all things spiritual (John 3:6; John 3:27; John 15:5; Acts 17:28; Gal. 5:22-23).

May He grant us love for Him, and repentance for acts of selfish obedience.

— David

Susan’s Musin’s – Journey Into Obedience (Becoming a Help Meet, and Submission)

When Dave and I recited our wedding vows to each other, I wanted to be sure to include the words “obey” and “help meet” in mine. I was juuuust beginning to understand my ordained, Biblical role as it looked on paper; but to actually live it on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute, second-by-second (you get the picture) basis would prove to be a HUGE learning curve.

Many times I had read Genesis 2:18 which states, “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.” and not thought much about it. I had recently been studying God’s institutions in the Bible and learned that marriage, work, and men’s and women’s roles and duties, among other things, were institutions actually ordained by God, meaning this is how God set an example and precedent to show us how He wants us to live. Interestingly and in light of that, I was recently watching an episode of the old Jack Benny show, and he had Art Linkletter on as a guest. Remember this was back in the 1950’s just before the women’s liberation movement took hold. He had three or four young children on for one of his “Kids Say the Darndest Things” segments. He asked each child what they wanted to be when they grew up. The little girl, without hesitation, said, “I want to be a housewife,” and Art Linkletter said something to the affect of, “Of course you do. You want to grow up to be just like Mommy.” In essence, she was saying, “I want to be a help meet.” Today, most women watching that would sit horrified and sorry for that little girl’s completely wasted potential in life. Well, that is the world’s opinion; however, that little girl’s desire was to obediently fulfill her God-ordained role.

I read that the term “help meet” in the Bible basically means “one who helps.” THAT is what God has designed for me to be as a Christian woman. Period. And if I had a daughter who wasn’t married, I would do my best to prepare her to be a help meet, should God see fit to bring her a husband.

Submission goes hand in hand with being a help meet. In writing this blog post, I researched the verses that discuss God’s command for wives to obey and submit to their husbands. It was startling that God pretty much hits us over the head with a hammer with all of the verses He provides; however, disobedience and rebellion among Christian wives obviously runs rampant throughout the professing church:

Eph 5:22 – “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Eph 5:24 – “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” (Uh, yes, Sue, that means EVERY thing)

Col 3:18 – “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

Titus 2:5 – “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

1 Pet 3:1 – “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

1 Pet 3:5 – “For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

Being required in the Bible to submit to my husband, I looked up the word “submission” in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary and found the following:

1. The act of submitting; the act of yielding to power or authority; surrender of the person and power to the control or government of another.

2. Acknowledgment of inferiority or dependence; humble or suppliant behavior.

3. Acknowledgment of a fault; confession or error.

4. Obedience; compliance with the commands or laws of a superior. Submission of children to their parents is an indispensable duty.

5. Resignation; a yielding of one’s will to the will or appointment of a superior without murmuring. Entire and cheerful submission to the will of God is a christian duty of prime excellence.

Wow! Some of those key words are pretty humbling and convicting: “yield”, “surrender”, “compliance”, “humility”, “suppliant”, “without murmuring”, etc…

It is clear in the Bible that Christ is our prophet, priest and king. As I have studied types and shadows in the Bible, I have learned that marriage between a man and a woman is the physical manifestation of Christ and His spiritual Church. Likewise, since Christ is declared in the Bible as the husband, prophet, priest and king over His bride, the Church, the temporal manifestation is the husband being prophet, priest and king over his wife and household. When thinking about being the bride of Christ, I would think it is inappropriate to question Christ or take on an attitude toward Him and start telling Him what to do. I am to treat my husband with the same reverence and respect. I now look at my husband as a benevolent king over me, his subject, and therefore do not have the right to disobey or disrespect him. I realize this is much easier said than done and am finding it a lifelong process to implement. HOWEVER, this is no excuse to give up or be rebellious. More and more I love serving my husband because that is what I was called and created to do. That is my honor and duty under God. And when I serve my husband properly, I am serving God properly. I cannot imagine anything to help me sleep better at night knowing I am doing God’s will in fulfilling my role as a help meet. Then the worldly importance of status and accomplishments starts to lose its satisfaction and seduction. I’ve also learned to pray, and pray, and then pray more for my husband, so God might grant him the proper, Biblical mindset and authority perspective. It takes two to tango, but all I can do is focus on my part and trust God will handle the rest.

Upon further study in the Bible, I believe God has very graciously shown me the grave error of my previous ways in the corporate and professing Christian world fulfilling roles that are reserved by God for men alone. I was very gung ho on climbing up the corporate ladder and taking leadership roles at church; but I cannot even begin to explain the peace and joy I have experienced by understanding my role, giving up those other things, and tending to my husband and our ranch full time. It has helped me to better comprehend the spiritual type we are living out here on earth. This is so contradictory to how our society functions and teaches that many heads of women reading this will probably start smoking and eventually explode. (ewww, gross)

There are so many subjects this topic touches. In a nutshell though, I think I’ll close this post by encouraging any women reading this, single or married, to truly study the Bible concerning their role as a woman and ask God to grant them obedience regardless of what it requires. I have learned to meditate and implement the following phrase over the course of the past few years as God has shown me His truths in the Bible: “My job is to be obedient and God will handle the rest.” Period. No excuses. I am to serve my husband and household and to be obedient to him as to God. Period. No excuses; no attitude. I pray that, when I am called before God to answer for my choices here on earth, He will not find me making a bunch of excuses as to why I think I was better suited to fulfill roles that He blatantly reserved for men. I look at professing Christian women in mainstream churches in roles of worldly corporate success, and teaching, preaching, and eldership in the church; and now I see them as being in disobedience to God even though they may be very talented and intelligent. God has made it clear in the Bible they are not supposed to be in these roles (1 Tim 2:11-12). God will raise the proper men for these positions if the women will simply vacate them and obey what God has told them to do.

There is a book entitled Created to be His Help Meet by Debbie Pearl that I believe has some really helpful information to women searching for how they are to fulfill this God-ordained role. I do not subscribe to some of the author’s doctrinal positions but believe this book has some great guidance for Christian women.

May God be glorified as He leads us into all truth and grants us repentance, belief and obedience to His word.

Susan

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