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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Fighting Inclinations With Resolutions

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; Let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I may not sin against you. Psalm 119:9-11 This is a lesson that I have learned today and think will continue to glean from in the days ahead. I am learning to fight inclinations with resolutions. In every human heart there is the inclination to sin. It is in our nature to "wander from your commandments" as the psalmist put it. Luther said referred to it as homo en se incurvatus, which means "man bent in on himself". Isn't that what we are? Aren't we bent towards sin? What makes sin such a problem? If we weren't inclined to it, then it wouldn't be an issue. Yet the truth of the matter is that we are in desperate need of grace. This grace responds to sin not with passivity, but with sheer resolution. It is a predetermined mindset to "make no provision for the flesh and the lust thereof" and to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" as Paul puts it in Romans 13:14. The only way to fight such inclinations is with resolutions - resolutions that are embedded in our thinking, programming our consciences, and guarding our hearts at all times. When the psalmist prayed, "do not let me stray from your commands", what was sandwiching that request? Two resolutions! First, "with my whole heart I seek you." Second, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I may not sin against you." In the presence of fleshly weakness and sinful inclinations is a grace-based resolution to fight the fleeting pleasure with superior satisfaction in doing God's will. Joseph new something about resolutions when it came to Potipher's wife. Daniel knew it when it came to eating the king's food (Daniel 1:8). The Hebrew boys knew it when it came to bowing down to the golden image. On and on, the Scriptures show us how resolutions, directed by the Holy Spirit and grounded in God's Word, carry us through times of weakness, times of temptation and sifting. While man's will is in bondage outside salvation in Christ, once a sinner is saved, the Holy Spirit liberates the will to pursue holiness. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." Right? Therefore, we should agree with the Holy Spirit and submit to his divine work of making our convictions concrete and unwavering, our confessions true and transforming, our lives resolute and a mainstay. Jonathan Edwards knew something of the importance of resolutions and made 70 of them early in his life. Here is a list of his resolutions, many if not all have great importance to me. Earlier in my life, while I was in college, I, engaged by Edward's example, began my own set of resolutions based on experiences I had learned and truths the Lord taught me. Hopefully, someday I can post some of them. Anyway. I don't know about you, but I feel the inclination to conform to the world, to gratify the flesh, to indulge in sin, and to pamper my "self" all the time. So I all the more need to battle such inclinations with resolutions that will embolden me to overcome through Christ, encourage me to fight the good fight, and empower me by sovereign grace to live holy, pure, and blamless in this crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2). Do inclinations have the best of you? They at times have had the best of me. Nevertheless, I am learning to sandwich my "wanderings" with an Edwardsian resolve that, by God's grace, will keep me on the path of holiness and "walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which I have been called."

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