Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hearing & Doing {Thinking Theology} | Part 1

I have been thinking a lot on hearing and doing.  I've spent a lot of time in 1 John where this is emphasized but also in James over my Christmas vacation.  Some of the statements I've read are so clear that I wonder how we get away with rationalizing lazy Christianity.  I'll warn you now - this post is inspired by a passion that I have for making every area of our lives subject to the Lord and is not just about walking away feeling good about ourselves as Christians.  I pray it touches your heart where needed and know that I'm speaking to myself as much as any of you, my dear readers!

First, let me share a few of the verses that have stuck out to me (emphasis mine):

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says." James 1:22

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:18

"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are. Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1 John 3:10

"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?"  James 2:14

"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." James 2:17

"Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show it by is good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." James 3:13

That is a lot of doing, isn't it?

Now, I know a quick response to this always seems to be that we are not saved by works.  Amen!  I completely agree. But, the Bible also makes it very clear that if we claim to have faith but it is "not accompanied by action" then it is dead.  Dead mean's it is not actually faith - it's a lie.

I have often met people who will claim to be Christians but who sadly fit into this last category - living a lie with dead faith.  You (or I) can claim to have put our faith in Christ, but if we continue on in the lifestyle we've always lived, we are lying.  We are claiming something that sounds good and even looks good to others (maybe we claim faith because it helps us fit in or because it's what we've always known) but if we've relegated God to a small portion of our lives, it's all false. God isn't satisfied with the leftovers.

How do we know where our faith stands? Romans 7:18b says,  "For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out."  Here, Paul explains that we can desire to do good and yet fail when we attempt to carry it out because we are doing it by ourselves (apart from Christ).  We aren't expressing a faith that resides in Christ, but one that resides within ourselves.  This form of doing will not bring salvation and is not an evidence of salvation because it is placed in the wrong thing. 

Paul goes on in Romans 8:1-2 and verse 9 to say, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death...You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you."  The key in all of this is the gospel!  His death on the cross is complete and He has finished that work. It's very clear - when we are saved by Christ and redeemed to a life as a part of His people, we are freed completely from sin and death to a life devoted to Him.

He has saved us for a purpose.

This is a radical call for action!  Christ requires our heart and our lives. We cannot be completely His when we are still holding on to our own fleshly desires. We cannot be content giving Him Sunday morning and keeping the rest of the week for ourselves. We cannot be wholly His when we are seeking our own way.

So what is our excuse?  Why aren't we doing?  (And realize when I say that, it is within the understanding of "doing" through His help and with His direction, not as a prerequisite for salvation or grace).  Do we shy away from releasing hold of our lives to Him?  Do we make excuses to continue to live the way we want?

I pray you will ask these questions and contemplate them today.  What is holding  you back from being His?  Tomorrow I will focus on the beautiful fact that we are not alone in this!  I hope you check back in to see the rest of this truth unfold in practical ways.