To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: (Colossians 1:2a)
What is it to be faithful in Christ? Is it to abide by a doctrine of beliefs? Do I need to continually learn doctrine and make sure that my beliefs are correct? Doctrine is important, but looking back over my life, I can say that such a task has been a life-long endeavor. Doctrine may be important, but it does not make us faithful.
Is being faithful in Christ a matter of living a certain way or up to a certain code of behavior? We would all agree that God hates sin and that any aspect of sin in the life of a believer is besetting. But at what point of living would a person be considered as faithful? How much sin is allowed or how many times can a person fall before they are considered as unfaithful? If this were the standard for faithfulness, then nobody would be faithful, because everyone is still a sinner and falls short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
So, what is it to be faithful? The word faithful comes from the Greek word pistos which means faith or believe. To be faithful could be stated as to be believing. Those who are faithful in Christ are those who continue to believe in God and his testimony to men.
When the trial comes, they believe in the goodness of God. When they face great need, they believe that God will provide for them as he provides for the birds in the air. (Matthew 6:26). When loved ones die, they believe in look for his comfort. When they have been sinned against, they believe in God’s solution and forgive passing all vengeance to God. The faithful in Christ are those who exercise faith as they face situations in life. Never is it easy, but with Christ in us who is greater than all that is in the world, it always is possible.
To accomplish this, the step is simple: abide in the vine. What is abiding? It is to continue, to tarry, to stay, or to remain with Jesus. It is turning your heart and affection towards him. Jesus commended Mary as she demonstrated this important aspect of the believer’s life. To be faithful, you will need to sit at the feet of Jesus and have a love relationship with him. The earlier mentioned incorrect views were part of a duty relationship to Christ. Those you cannot always perform. God is more concerned with our hearts because when the heart is right, everything else will fall into place.
I remember speaking with a young man back in the early 90’s. He commented about me being religious to which I disagreed. As I tried to explain the difference between being religious and being saved, I ended by asking him this question, “Do you know about God or do you know God personally?” His reply was that he only knew about God. A truthful answer which opened the door for me to present the gospel. It was probably very easy for him to answer because his life was devoid of any religious activity and more than likely filled with sin. But how difficult would it have been had he been very religious. He could have convinced himself that he knew God based on biblical knowledge and the laundry list of do’s and don’ts that he follows. God knew this would happen to man. So he presented a heart condition as the determining factor. This litmus test of the heart would enable man to determine his right standing with God.
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:3-4)
What do these verses mean? More than likely we have heard it preached that if you know God you will keep or obey his commandments. Sounds good. So let’s check. He who has always obeyed God’s commandments, please step forward and declare that you know God. Hmmm, no response. But wait a minuted, don’t we all sin. It must mean those who try their best at keeping God’s commandments are the ones that know him. However the scripture states that if we don’t keep his commandments then the truth is not in us. I guess that leaves all of us out. Help!!!
The word keep can have many meanings one of which is “to guard (by keeping the eye upon), hold fast, or watch”. If this definition were put into the passage, it would state that those who know God will guard the commandments or live their lives with the heart’s focus on God’s commandments for the purpose of observing them. I am first to admit that I sin daily, but with the same breath, I also guard the commandments in my heart for intent of observing them. I may sin daily, but the truth is in me.
The former “keep” meaning to obey is impossible for me and every person on the planet, but to “keep” meaning to guard is attainable. Stop trying to attain the sinless perfect life. You will fail miserably in defeat. Live the guarded heart life. If you do, the sins will diminish and your relationship with God will be a heart based relationship instead of a performance based one.
Can you confidently say that you have obeyed God’s commandments? I cannot, but I can with great confidence say that I have guarded the commandments in my heart.
How good is good enough? We know for certain that sin can rob believers of blessings from the Lord. Therefore, in an effort to keep God from removing his hand of blessing, we strive to live a holy separated life.
At one point in my life, I thought that I lived a holy life, but as I grew in wisdom, I realized that my desperately wicked heart had been deceiving me. To myself I may have appeared to live righteously, but I was wrong.
Around10 years ago, my son called to speak with me as he often had done. During our conversation he stated that he came to recognized that although he was saved, he was a “wicked” person. I chuckled and said, “Yeah, I know. I raised you.” He then went on to explain that for years he had focused on outward behaviors and because they were in line with righteousness, he believed that he was living righteously. He continued to explain that as of lately, he recognized much more evil sins such as pride, stubbornness, unforgiveness, and self righteousness. He too had been deceived.
It seems that for so many people as they strive to become more holy, they may in fact become the opposite. If you separate yourself enough from sin to where you believe you are then living holy enough to be blessed by the Lord, you immediately become more sinful. We never have and never will live holy enough to be blessed.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; (Psalms 33:18)
What God expects is for us to fear him and to believe that his blessings only come as a result of his mercy. This is something that each if us can do each day. There is no level of holiness to achieve, but instead a condition of the heart and this condition reflects the principles of the first or great commandment.