I have been a professing Christian for over twenty years. Real talk… I don’t think I would want to become a Christian if the only pattern or notion of a Christian I had to go by was… me. My walk is an absolute mess. Rather than growing closer to God, I have found myself moving further and further away from Him. I have been in what Pastor Jesse calls “the take away mode” for many years now. For close to a decade, but even now in these last few years, and even so much more in these last few months, I have known, even felt, that something is wrong, very wrong — my profession/walk/warfare has become a stench to me. It simply does not align with the whole of Scripture. I do not read as I ought, pray as I ought, meditate as I ought, witness as I ought, engage with family, show love/sympathy, check up on loved ones, sing spiritual songs, speak with prudence and loving-kindness, obey authorities, etc., as I ought. Some may say “well, who does any of these things as we ought?” I would say, “if you knew the half of what I really meant, you’d understand; all Christians feel their depravity and shortcomings to a very real extent but it is very different to look back upon two decades and say “my entire walk is suspect.” Some will say “just look to Jesus, there isn’t anything we can do to improve our walk, we can’t do any good, put no effort/focus into obedience, just trust Christ… and it will all work out.” They say this more to comfort and fool themselves I think… but it is what it is; I do not need such fool’s-advice. To such I say, “away from me with your nonsense,” seeing that such doctrine, such error, is the very root of the problem, it’s what got me into this mess in the first place. I do not want to walk with anyone who thinks that it isn’t the Christians’ absolute duty to strive against sin, fight the good fight, deny ourselves, and to work out manifest righteousness and obedience before God and man. We are called to godly discipline and cross-bearing in our lives. Growth in grace, in maturity, is not strictly passive; we musty work at it, strive for it, agonizing it out, but knowing any success is because God Himself is working it all out in all whom He loves, quickens, and saves.
For far too long, far too long, I have been a notionalist, a mere “mental-assenter,” and a practical antinomian. Even when I knew better, felt the error, discerned it with clarity, I didn’t do better because I had these remnant unbiblical, wishy-washy notions, of how “impossible it was for anyone, even the Christian to really do good, keep the commandments, obey God’s word, etc.” Though I wasn’t walking in gross sin (except on a few occasions), I sure wasn’t putting serious effort into developing my character, conduct, patience, l(agape) love, etc. — even when I was being convicted of this major shortcoming in my life. I was floating with the currents rather than “working out my own salvation with fear and trembling.” I was doing my own will, whilst fighting doctrinal battles and pretending it was service to God. I should have been bowing the knee to His will in every aspect of my life, praying for grace, strength, mercy, and maturity to do so. I was being a letterman, a notionalist, a milkman, and an antinomian — despite knowing better, and even despite speaking out against such. I was being an outright hypocrite. My talk (e.g. writing, debating) didn’t, and still doesn’t, match my walk… my walk is a joke. Very few who observe me on a day to day basis will think “I want to be like him, what a faithful Christian he is.” If they are thinking that, they are deluded and should probably be committed. My walk really and truly is an absolute joke — THANK GOD!
What!?! Thank God!?! Thank God that my walk is a joke? No, thank God that He has convicted me of this reality. He could have left me in my folly, in my empty notions. He could have left me to continue on, year after year, decade after decade, as a mere notionalist, a mere debater, a mere dogmatist, with no real vital love for Him, for His word, for His law, for His kingdom, for His glory, and for His (true) people. He could have left me content to speak nonsense, to corrupt his word before men, to be at ease with a poor character, to debate all day, to cast judgments all day, to use Christian liberty as a cloak of maliciousness and licentiousness all day, to feed the flesh all day, to deny and demean His law all day. I am sick of “Social Media,” Soundbite, Christianity (so-called). I am tired of those who know doctrine but do not really and truly know God. I am sick of being one of them or being as close to one of them as possible whilst still be saved. I want to be like Paul, I want to love God, love Christ, love His word, love the brethren, love lost sinners, but also to love/delight in/serve God’s blessed (extant) law. Why? Because you cannot love God, or love your fellow man, apart from the extant commands of God. Those who think they can are deluded at best and hireling-liars at worst.
I am thankful beyond end that God has introduced me (and many others) to faithful pastors, preachers, and teachers; ones teaching the whole counsel of God, telling the whole truth as best as can be expected by men who are still in this body of death. I do not want to make idols of them, esteem them so much that Christ is obscured, but I am thankful for them nonetheless. They do not hobby-horse; they do not set one part of the Bible against another; they do not play the coward; they stand like men and preach the truth, the whole truth, and call you on it when you are not walking in that truth. They do not indulge anomian/antinomian fairy tales. They have a love for, and emphasis on, the Gospel truth. They love Christ, adore Him, and thus they wish to serve Him as He declares He ought to be served. He is worthy of our obedience and yet so many today disdain true biblical obedience — in practice, I have been no real exception. It is so easy to give lip service to obedience, to talk the talk, to abstain from the grosser forms of immorality, but to avoid walking in accordance with so many of the extant law/commandments — it is far too easy to find ourselves despising some, if not many, of these commands 9especially when it comes time to deny self and put them into practice).
I truly believe that when a Christian is made righteous in Christ, and by Christ, there is a real, manifest, experimental walk of uprightness, even holiness, that follows this. When there isn’t, there is only misery. Woe to those who can find great peace and comfort in a prolonged walk of disobedience, disinterest, sloth, or sin — it is a very dangerous sign. Now many will deny this, scoff at it, reject it, and yet, I have no doubt that (as with mine, having embraced such folly to a real extent) there lives reflect it. Simply put, so very simply put, I do not want to be a mere notionalist any more. I don’t want to be a Christian in my head only, in my profession only, with my running mouth (or typing fingers) only. I don’t want to be that guy who makes others say “If he’s a Christian, I’d rather worship Zeus.” Yes, God must make us mature, make us grow, make us real and true; He must truly quicken His people. Yet, The Lord gives us so many, so very many means by which He says, ‘do this and you will prosper;’ and I’m tired of not doing it. I’m tired of justifying in my own life not doing it and I’m tired of watching/listening to others justify not doing it. God has given us 1 & 2 Corinthians, 1 & 2 Timothy, 1 & 2 Peter, the epistles of John, the Proverbs, the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and so much more (even the entirety of the word of God) for a reason. He gives us His word to reveal Himself, to bring us closer to Him — but also to wean us off of this world, and to conform us more and more unto His likeness — if we are serious about His glory and His truth. I really believe this, and for those who don’t, it’s best you do your thing elsewhere. I’m burned/burnt out, I’m at the point where I just want to be immersed in Him, His word, and to do what the song says — i.e. to trust and obey. Ecclesiastes 12:13 is absolute truth “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.” You cannot truly fear God, and keep His commandments, unless you truly love Him, desire after Him, and want to be found nowhere else but in Him and with Him. Forsake the world, be not friends with it, stop making excuses, stop despise the extant law/commandments, humble yourself, trust, love, and obey — all as He enables, all as we are to strive to do, if we are truly His.
To God Be The Glory.