As I ended the last post on casting off, I hope I didn’t sound too vague. As much as I want to quickly move on to the second responsibility of putting on the armour of light, I thought I should add a very important tip on how to cast off the former things, the former way of life and unset the old wrong settings. Rom 12:2 helps us to see the importance of being transformed by renewing our mind as the way to cast off former things. So I’ll deal briefly with that before I go ahead with Putting on.
What is God’s provision for casting off the former things?
Eph 5:26 “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word”
God didn’t fail to show us the standard for our lives and the instrument for cleansing, renewing and changing our lives. Paul said to Timothy telling about the strength and power of God’s word as able to instruct, direct, guide, rebuke, correct until we turn out right. In the Ephesians scripture above, Paul talked about sanctification and cleansing that happens only by the word of God. God has decided that if we take heed to His word, we would be renewed daily. His expectation is that we should surrender to the word, that it may do its full work in our lives.
I came across a scripture in Ezra that has shown me three dimensions of devotion and commitment to God’s word that can cause a cleansing, a resetting and renewing of the former things.
“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances”.
Let me quickly point out again that it was Ezra that prepared his heart, he had his heart set on doing these. Another translation says he determined to do it. He didn’t sit casually thinking it will happen by default or automatically, he purposed in his heart like Daniel did as well, remember? May God help you to be this deliberate in your heart about God’s word. So what did he set his mind to do with God’s word?
“This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the laws of the Lord and to become a Bible teacher, teaching those laws to the people of Israel”. (LB)
1. He set his heart to Study God’s word. (Josh 1:8)
The first personal commitment to God’s word must be a commitment to study his word. I see how easy it has been for me to simply browse through my Bible looking for what I want to hear and what I like, without a deliberate study of it. You know those kind of reading you do where you seek out the ‘palatable’ parts of the bible and the kind you read and barely two hours later, you can’t remember what you read! This kind of devotion is one not just to browse the bible, not just to read it casually or as a routine but a deliberate studying of God’s word for it to drive deep into you.
Ezra set his mind up to seek, search, study, dive into God’s word. Will you?
2. He set his heart to Obey God’s word. (Jas 1:22)
The next important commitment to God’s word is to Do what you study. I found this very unclear for most young Christians. Some of us do really study the bible but have not set our minds to obey completely what we have read. The reason our lives have not changed much, nor differ from the way it used to be (unbelievers) is that we don’t consider God’s word serious enough to obey. We say to ourselves, “God couldn’t have meant it like that, it must be a parable!”
If we sincerely obeyed all of God’s word we read and study, the transformation will be obvious, and very soon our old way of life and thinking will give way for the new!
3. He set his heart to Teach God’s word. (2Tim 2:2)
Finally, we must not just obey but also teach it. As much as I wish I would just be left alone to keep growing on my own, with a false thought that I don’t have anything yet to teach anyone, this is another devotion I must give to God’s word… I must commit myself to teaching it to others. In my little growth as a Christian, I’ve seen God finalise several renewing processes in my life as I taught others what the Lord has taught me. God is not expecting you to teach something you’ve not experienced, Paul said to Timothy to teach the things he also had been taught. I usually say to people, go and do to others what has been done to you, nothing more, nothing less!
Let me end with another scripture that has affected me…
1 Tim 4:15 Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! (MSG)
Don’t again just hear these things like you’ve heard before. Cultivate them, immerse yourself in it, dive into studying, doing and teaching God’s word. Commit yourself to His word, knowing it’s His provision for casting off every work of darkness and very soon, your maturity, your progress will become obvious for everyone to see.
God bless you.