Saturday 16 May 2009

A Living Faith #9 Our Manner of Life

Our Manner of Life

When we consider the great price that has been paid for us and the great love extended towards us, really it is very reasonable matter that we are asked to respond to that love. If we truly do love the Lord our God, then we will strive to obey His Word and put the Commandments into practice day by day. In addition we will earnestly desire the return of the Lord Jesus and strive to diligently prepare for that great and glorious day.  By way of exhortation Peter asks:

“What manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” 2 Peter 3:11-12

That word ‘ought’ means: ‘it is necessary’, or ‘there is need of’, or ‘it is right and proper’. It is indeed only right and proper, that as children of the Almighty, we live our lives striving to be holy, separate and undefiled to the best of our abilities. There is a great need for personal conduct to be upright and to be ‘Christ like’ in our way of life and behaviour. Indeed Paul speaks of this as being our ‘reasonable service’. So we read:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1 

That word reasonable means, logical or rational. Reflecting upon the great price paid for our redemption, the great mercy extended towards us and the divine love shown towards us surely must inspire a willing, wholehearted response. The rational response is to demonstrate loving appreciation by obedience to His Word. Our manner of life must change as we grow in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith and love will be shown not merely by our words, but by our actions.

Yet as always being so prone to forgetfulness we need constantly reminding about the true values in life. We must maintain the right perspective, thus Jesus commands us to remain in his love lest we stray:

"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in my love.”If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  John 15:9-10

Now the Commandments of Christ booklet is a loved and valued reminder of the principle teachings of Christ.  Our manner of life must manifest obedience to those commandments, if faith is to be something that is living, vibrant and active in our daily lives. Ask yourself the following questions:

Ø What do those commandments mean to me personally? 
Ø What effect do they have upon my daily life?
Ø How am I as an individual, personally putting them into practice?

These questions are very pertinent for Jesus must come first and above all else in our lives. Indeed he is our life! Did not Jesus say:

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26-27

What does bearing a cross daily mean? Clearly, it means a sacrifice of self, a crucifying or putting to death the ‘old man’ and following Christ daily. In other words, not our will, but doing the will of Yahweh as expressed in the commandments so clearly laid out in scripture.

So then what do I mean by suggesting that the commandments of Christ are personalised? Well, firstly consider the greatest commandment of all, Jesus said:

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.” Mark 12:30

What does this mean in practical terms?

Personalising this commandment might go something like this:

Ø  Service to God must be first in my life: Matthew 6:33

Ø  I must work in the Lords service faithfully and diligently to the best of my abilities: Isaiah 66:1-2; Matthew 24:45-47; 1Tim 2:15

To give another example of personalising the commandments of Christ we can recall that Jesus provided the means by which in his absence his disciples would be reminded about his ministry and resurrection. We read:

“And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” Luke 22:19-20

What does this mean in practical terms?

Well, if we honestly desire to remember Jesus and all that he represents, then again personalising this commandment might go something like this:

Ø  Jesus must be my example in everything and I will try to be like him. 1Peter 2:21-23; John 13:15-16
Ø  Only through Jesus can my sin be covered, therefore I must remain in him.  John 15:5-7; Heb 2:1-3
Ø  My aim must be to prepare diligently for when Jesus Christ returns. Because of this, I will not get too engrossed with the work and interests of this life. Matt 24:44; Luke 12:35-38, 40; 2Peter 3:10-14

For a third example of personalising the commandments of Christ consider these words of John:

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1John 1:6-7

What does this mean in practical terms?

Well before answering that question let us first reflect upon some more scripture:

“The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130

“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:4-6

Without the Word of Yahweh there is only utter spiritual darkness. Therefore our manner of life must be subjected to the scrutiny of His Word which alone can illuminate and guide our feet in the way of life. There can only ever be one Truth, any other gospel is a lie and will not save. Therefore personalising this commandment to “walk in the light” might go something like this:

Ø  I cannot have fellowship with those who live in darkness, but must set an example to others: Eph 5:11
Ø  I cannot have fellowship with those who turn away from sound doctrine and/or practice: Gal 1:6-9; 2Thess 3:6,14; 2John 8-10

 Andy Peel

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