Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Prayer for a Worthy Walk, XVI of ?

Prayer For A Worthy Walk

Colossians 1:9-10

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

Can a Fallen, Sinful Creature Please a Holy God?

But is it possible that a mere creature of the earth - a fallen and sinful one at that - can please the great and holy God? Certainly it is. Of Enoch it is recorded that ‘he pleased God’ (Heb. 11:5). That must not be canalized as though God were subject to emotion; neither must it be emptied of all meaning. The Lord is so infinitely above us that no analogy can be found in human relations. But to aid our feeble perceptions, let us imagine a tutor who has gone to particular pains in instructing one of his scholars. Is he not gratified when he sees him at the top of his class? When parents see their children putting into practice those precepts which they have so lovingly and earnestly instilled into them, do they not rejoice? So, when we act as it becomes His people, we are approved in God’s sight. Said David, ‘He delivered me [from enemies], because he delighted in me’ (2 Sam. 22:20). Those who are upright in the way are His delight (Prov. 15:8). In reality, it is God approving His own handiwork, esteeming that which His Spirit has wrought in us. Nevertheless, we are not passive, but determine and perform as He works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

As there are degrees of wickedness and obnoxiousness to God, so there are degrees of bringing delight to Him. That for which Christians are here taught to pray - and therefore to diligently and constantly strive after - is to so ‘walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing’, which includes not walking ‘in the counsel of the ungodly’ (Psa. 1:1) but walking ‘in the law of the Lord’ (Psa. 119:1). We should be concerned to ‘walk in newness of life’ (Rom. 6:4), to ‘walk by faith, not by sight’ (2 Cor. 5:7), to ‘walk in the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:16), to ‘walk in love’ (Eph. 5:2), to ‘walk circumspectly’ (Eph. 5:15).

Approved of God

As an aid in doing this, observe the following rules. First, be always on your guard in avoiding everything that is grievous to God, and in order to do that, cultivate a sense of His presence. If you are on your best behaviour when in the company of cherished friends, how much more should you be in the presence of your heavenly Friend! If the knowledge of human onlookers restrains you from acts of sin, how much more should a respect for the Holy One! That was what governed Joseph in Egypt: ‘How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ (Gen. 39:9).

Second, be diligent in choosing those things which God esteems. When Solomon sought wisdom that he might rule Israel righteously, we are told it ‘pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked that thing’ (1 Kings 3:10). The more our hearts are set upon things above, the more we aim at God’s glory, the greater pleasure will He have in us.

Third, be wholehearted in your devotedness to the Lord. There must be no picking and choosing among His precepts: no in with one duty and out with another. The whole scope of the Christian life should be a studying to show oneself approved to God: the understanding perceiving what is due to Him, the conscience swayed by His authority, the affections drawn out in adoring homage, the will surrendered to Him. Caleb was one who greatly pleased the Lord, and of him it is recorded that ‘he wholly followed the Lord God’ (Josh. 14;14).

Fourth, maintain a steady dependence upon the Lord, for you have no strength of your own: He must be looked to daily for the needed wisdom and power. Frequent the throne of grace that there you may ‘find grace to help in time of need’ (Heb. 4:16).

Further, if we are to be approved by God, it is by no means sufficient that ‘we make clean the outside of the cup and platter’, although many suppose that is all that matters. ‘Cleanse first that which is within’ (Matt. 23:26) is our Lord’s command. Unfortunately, in this degenerate day such a task is not merely relegated to second place but it is given none at all. The devil seeks to persuade people that they are not responsible for the state of their hearts, that they can no more change them than they can alter the stars in their courses. Such a lie is very agreeable to those who think they are to be carried to heaven on downy beds of ease and there are few left to disillusion them. But no regenerate soul with God’s Word before him will credit such a falsehood. The divine command is plain: ‘Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life’ (Prov. 4:23). That is the principal task set us, for God ever looks at the heart, and there can be no pleasing Him while it is unattended to. Yes, woe be to those who disregard it. He who makes no honest endeavour to cast out sinful thoughts and evil imaginations, who does not mourn over their presence, is a moral leper. He who has no pangs over the workings of unbelief, the cooling of his affections, the surgings of pride, is a stranger to any work of grace in his soul.

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