July 3, 2014.
“But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
This is actually one of my favorite stories in the book of Acts. Here Peter and John have been arrested and told to stop preaching the gospel of Christ. Peter makes the bold claim that they are serving God rather than man and if you read on you will find that the church prays for boldness to speak in the name of Jesus rather than safety from those who wished to do them harm. I love the example they set forth here of their commitment to Christ, even though just a few days before (before the resurrection) they did not have this same boldness. I believe this shows the true power of the Holy Spirit.
What I want to talk about today is commitment. Not necessarily our general commitment to Christianity, but more so specific commitments we may make towards specific points in our walk. Is it necessary to make these specific commitments? I am learning this to be the case. Often when sin abounds in my life it is because I don’t have a strong commitment to stop it. Of course I don’t want to sin on some level, but just not wanting to is not enough to fight the desires within and the temptations without. I don’t want to sin, but I still do usually because I don’t have the will power to stop it.
I am going to try a new path. I am going to start making specific commitments to Christ to stop a particular sin that is in my life at the time. I think this is the first step in overcoming that sin. Well, the first step may be admitting the problem, but this is a close second step. Once we acknowledge the problem, we must make a pointed effort to fix the problem. I believe making a personal commitment to actively fight against that sin is a step in the right direction.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am not talking about making a vow. Vowing is actually spoken of in a very negative sense in the New Testament. Jesus says this:
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”
An oath is not to be taken lightly. We are told not to do it probably for our own safety honestly. The one who took and oath by heaven and didn’t follow though… well, suffice it to say that the curse invoked is not fantasy. James puts it this way:
“But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.”
Solomon’s wisdom gives us some insights as to why Jesus and James would make statements like this.
“When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.”
A commitment, however, is not a vow. A commitment is a conscious decision that you are going to do something. It is not enough to simply know what sin is. We must actively avoid it, especially when it comes to our weakest points. We all have that temptation that effects us the most. Mine may not be the same as yours, nor yours mine, but that doesn’t make our struggle any less. We should be here for one another to help in our fights. God is on our side. We need to make the commitment to be on his. Try it and see. I’m going to give it a shot.
Suggested Daily Reading: Matthew 5, Acts 4, Galatians 2, James 5.
The Lord bless you and keep you.