“I beseech (invite) you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1-2).
Yesterday I promised a practical example to illustrate the truths we have considered in this week’s series, namely that Scripture invites rather than commands us to consecration because our Christ-changed hearts are infused with His delight for godliness. Interestingly, an incident (and temptation) of the very nature I referenced happened this morning. Yes, I looked into my rearview mirror and saw a tailgater.
Since I began driving, people who follow too closely have always concerned, irritated, and even angered me. Either they don’t understand the danger in which they place themselves or others, or even worse, they don’t care. My immediate reaction when seeing a tailgater in my rear view mirror always includes one or all of the aforementioned responses, and thus, an opportunity for faith and submission to the Holy Spirit’s working in my heart.
For many years, even after I became a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I experienced little obvious inclination for faith and submission when tailgaters appeared in my rearview mirror. I rather felt the desire to continue in the initial response of irritation and anger. Sadly, often I did. I should have used the temptation to walk in mercy, prayer for the perpetrator, and the knowledge that God allows such challenges to provide opportunities to honor Him. “Glorify ye the Lord in the fires” (Isaiah 24:15). However, my fleshly sensibilities seemed to control me, and tailgaters became even more an irritant to me because they seemed to jeopardize not only my physical health, but also my walk with God.
I rejoice to report that the truths we have considered this week have led to a very different experience with tailgaters in the last ten years or so. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The realization that, regardless of fleshly sensibility or feeling, faithful obedience is actually the truest desire and even delight of my Christ-inhabited heart has changed the experience. “I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22). As in this morning’s incident, the sight of a tailgater in the rearview mirror still incites an initial fleshly response. More and more, however, the remembrance of the Bible’s promise that “it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” strengthens me to replace responses of anger and fear with prayer and thanksgiving (Philippians 2:13).
The choice of faith involves trust in the Lord Jesus, the very essence of our experiencing God’s saving grace. Does His Spirit dwell within me? Has His presence changed my innermost being, as the Bible proclaims? And do I desire godliness therein, whether I feel it, or whether my thoughts seem to be flowing in the direction of faithful obedience to God? These questions answered in accordance with Scripture mean that I realize in times of temptation that, fleshly inclinations notwithstanding, my truest desire yearns for the faith and obedience that glorifies the Lord Jesus.
“The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us” (Romans 5:5). God’s love for us draws us to Christ. God’s love given to us redeems us and begins our relationship with Him. God’s love in us establishes and enables a life wherein faith and obedience become more than possible. Do we believe such blessed truth in principle? We must, or else our faith is not “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). Do we believe such truth in practice? We must, or else we will live as spiritual paupers despite “the unsearchable riches of Christ” that constitute His desire as our desire.
Solely by the reminding, leading and enabling of God, I have prayed many prayers for tailgaters in the last ten years (and who possibly could prayer more than tailgaters?!). Realizing that my initial fleshly response provides opportunity for the faith that believes in Christ’s heart-changing presence has overcome resentment with redemption. I am still learning, and perfection shines only on the Heavenly horizon. However, the Holy Spirit’s ongoing invitation to obedience, based upon His working in me the delight of Christ for the will of God, has transformed a formerly negative experience with opportunity to better know God, and to better know the miracle of grace He accomplished in my spirit when I believed.
“He that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him.”
(I John 3:24)