Keeping His Ways
So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. (Deuteronomy 8:6)
“Wait on the Lord, and keep his way.”(Psalm 37:34) It May be that the consciousness of shortcomings and sin makes those words look more like a hindrance than a help in waiting on God. Let it be not so.
It is true that you have not the strength yet to keep all God’s ways. But keep carefully those for which you have received strength already. Surrender yourself willingly and trustingly to keep all God’s ways, in the strength which will come in waiting on Him, without reserve and without doubt. He will work in you that which is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ.
Keep His ways, as you know them in the Word. Keep His ways as nature teaches them, in always doing what appears right. Keep His ways, as Providence points them out. Keep His ways as the Holy Spirit suggests. However weak you feel, only be willing, and He who has worked to will, will work to do by His power.
Come with everything evil you feel in yourself, every memory of unwillingness, unwatchfulness, unfaithfulness, and all that causes such unceasing self-condemnation. Put your power in God’s omnipotence, and find in waiting on God your deliverance.
Your failure has been owing only one thing; you sought to conquer and obey in your own strength. Come and bow before God until you learn that He alone is good, and He alone can work any good thing. Believe that there is no true power in you, and in all that nature can do.
Be content to receive from God each moment the working of His mighty grace and life, and waiting on God will become the renewal of your strength to run in His ways, and not be weary, to walk in His paths and never faint.
When the Israelites were on their journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land, they had no ability to sustain themselves. I’m sure they took food with them as they left Egypt but it was not sufficient for the journey. Likewise as we began our journey with Christ, we brought with us all our available resources. I’m sure we brought determination, desire, and effort to live the Christian; rightfully so. Like the Israelites, we have discovered not too far into the journey that our resources aren’t sufficient. Paul captures this dilemma in Romans 7:
“For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. For the willingness [to do good] is present in me, but the doing of good is not. For the good that I want to do, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want to do, I am no longer the one doing it [that is, it is not me that acts], but the sin [nature] which lives in me. So I find it to be the law [of my inner self], that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully delight in the law of God in my inner self [with my new nature], but I see a different law and rule of action in the members of my body [in its appetites and desires], waging war against the law of my mind and subduing me and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is within my members. Wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will [rescue me and] set me free from this body of death [this corrupt, mortal existence]? Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind serve the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness, my sinful capacity—I serve] the law of sin.”
Here’s the great revelation. Our deliverance is in and through Jesus Christ alone. Paul had been a faithful practicing Jew, keeping the law with zeal, but he discovered that human desire and effort is not enough to win the war against the sin nature. He describes the struggle by saying, “ “For the willingness to do good is present in me, but the doing of good is not.” This, I think describes most of us. We want to do good, we want to live as Christian, we want to be witness of Christ in us, but far too often our sin nature rears it’s ugly self. So as Paul we cry out, “O wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me and set me free from this body of death, this corrupt, mortal existence.” Heaven responds to that cry with the cross and the death and resurrection of Christ. So we shout, “Thanks be to God for my deliverance through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
“It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed]. For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another. But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another.”
“Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us stay true to what we have already attained.”
In the natural life, children are born literally small and helpless. They must receive constant intense care. As they grow, they begin to walk, feed, dress and care for themselves. All this is in stages and as they progress, they usually do not revert back to former behavior unless something is wrong. For example, when they learn to eat with a spoon, they do not usually go back to the bottle or when they are potty trained, they do not go back to wearing a diaper. They may not be perfect, they may miss their mouth with food and make a mess or they may have an accident because they didn’t get to the bathroom in time. But they keep trying until they become successful….. So as they progress, they maintain to that level. In the same way, as Christians, we are born again and initially there is more sin nature than Christ nature. As the Holy Spirit reveals and convicts, we begin to grow. We like natural children may hit a place of plateau and become tempted to go back to old ways or we may reach a place that even though we’re giving it all we have, we can’t “get over the hump”. At this moment, don’t be discouraged, cry out to God, wait on Him and see His deliverance and help. Keep moving forward in your faith and walk. If you hit an obstacle, stand still until God moves it of gives you strength to overcome it, but don’t give up!
“In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.”
Dr. John Thompson