Dear Church Family,
The sixth section of our newly adopted church covenant reads: “We will seek, by His grace, to live in a manner striving for holiness in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts. We will constantly renew our minds to the truth, leading a new and holy life glorifying our Father in heaven.”
This past weekend we were blessed to have Dr. Steve Gaines and his wife Donna with us. We were encouraged and challenged as we thought about faithfulness in our church membership, prayer, giving, and words. Underneath all of these specific applications however, there is one source—our hearts. In other words, where we find ourselves in each of these areas goes back to the heart. You see, the Christian life is about growing in our relationship with God. The Christian life is about loving the Lord.
To be sure, all of our church covenant hinges on this reality, but it is especially important to understand it in connection with this sixth section. As Christians, the reason we seek to live devoted to God and forsaking ungodliness is because we love God. The reason we labor to renew our minds to think rightly about God and all He has created is because we know that our sinful natures fight to keep us from loving God.
When God saved us by His grace through giving us faith in His Son, He put His Spirit within us and made us into new creations. That means, from the moment we were born again, we were each given a new heart that loves God and longs to love Him more. That love leads us to desire to be with Him which requires walking in the light as He is in the light. That loves moves us to desire to bring Him praise in all we do which requires walking in a way that pleases Him. Conversely, John writes, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
Obedience and disobedience are tied back to the heart. The heart that loves God wants to obey God and repents when it doesn’t. The heart that doesn’t love God continually looks to sin to satisfy. Of course, as Christians who truly are new creation yet still struggle with their flesh, we must remember we are living in a time of tension—a time of proving, as it were. We live in the already-not-yet. On this earth we are in the process of becoming what we are by the work of the Spirit within us. We are new, but we are now also being renewed. By God’s design, this is a lifelong process.
So, as our minds are renewed by His Word, our lives ought to reflect our enhanced knowledge. Then as we know God fuller we should love Him deeper. This journey should cause us as Christians to be beautifully distinct from the world. Our aim should not be to live and look as much like unbelievers as possible. To be sure, we want to join Paul in his desire to save as many as possible by becoming all things to all people—but that desire never warrants or justifies sin. The light overcomes the darkness—not by dimming, but by shining all the brighter. If we love Jesus, we will see losing this world by obeying His commands as gaining more than we could ever imagine in Him. Therefore, this section is not primarily about what we can’t do as Christians, but rather what we get to do. Let’s pray that holiness would be our ever growing delight.