Mar 19, 2014
Yesterday I got an email from a reader of this blog.
He mentioned that his band “The Remnant” just put out their first album, and one of the songs is called “Promises” (check it out here).
The song contains this line —
That made me think of how crucial God’s promises are. They are crucial, because we are called to live by faith in Christ (Galatians 2:20), and because faith means trusting all that God promises to be to us in Christ Jesus (Romans 4:20-21).
But I find that many Christians neglect God’s promises. Instead of trusting God’s promises, they try to live the Christian life by will-power, or by gratitude, or by focusing on who they are in Christ.
These have their place. But the main way to live the Christian life is by faith, and faith means trusting God’s promises.
So whatever else we do, we must not neglect God’s promises.
We can see this by noticing that the biblical authors don’t just give us commands — telling us WHAT to do. They also give us promises — telling us HOW to do it.
Which shows that God wants a certain kind of obedience — the kind that includes conscious trust in God’s promises.
We can see this in how Paul motivates us to battle sin —
“Therefore … touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1)
It’s not that seeking to be cleansed from sin earns God’s welcome.
It’s that because of Christ’s shed blood and perfect righteousness, God will mercifully reward our undeserving battle against sin with his fatherly welcome.
So Paul does not just want us to battle sin. He wants us to battle sin because we are consciously trusting the promise of deeper fellowship with the Father.
We can also see this in Paul’s command that we work heartily —
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
The inheritance is the joy of beholding Christ forever.
So Paul is not just calling us to work heartily. He’s calling us to work heartily in a certain way.
He’s calling us to work heartily because we are intentionally trusting the promise that if we work heartily, then because of Jesus’ blood and righteousness God will mercifully give us even more joy in Christ forever.
And notice how Isaiah urges us to not be afraid —
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Isaiah’s aim is not just to free us from fear.
His aim is that we be free from fear because we are consciously trusting God’s promises — that God is our God, that he will strengthen us, that he will help us, that he will uphold us.
Count It All Joy
And look at how James encourages joy during trials —
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
James not only urges us to count trials as all joy. He also tells us how to have this joy.
It’s by trusting the promise that (by God’s grace, through the Cross) the testing of our faith produces steadfastness, and steadfastness will bring us final perfection in heaven.
So James is not just calling us to have joy in trials. He’s calling us to pursue this joy in a certain way — with conscious faith in God’s promise.
Obey by Faith
These verses are convicting. Too much of my obedience is done without any thought of God’s promises.
But God does not just want obedience. He wants obedience that’s from faith, which means it’s done with conscious trust in God’s promises.
So, by God’s grace, I’m going to work on this.
If you know someone this would help, email it to them using the “share” button below. Or use the other buttons to share it on your favorite social media.
If you would like to interact with others who are seeking to live by faith in Christ, visit our Forums page.
If you would like to receive a Saturday email summarizing the week’s posts — go to the top right of this page, fill in your email address, and click the “Submit” button. (I will only use your email address for Living By Faith Blog communications, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.)
And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Is Biblical Obedience Motivated by Gratitude?
- Identity in Christ: Crucial, but Not Enough
- How Does the Holy Spirit Empower Obedience?
- Jesus Gives Us Reasons to Obey
(Picture is from everystockphoto by cnw.)