I (Nick) read a book recently that opened my eyes afresh to the holy standard God calls me to as a believer. As I read this book I realized that often in the midst of trying to ‘discern my heart’ and ‘look for the root of my sin’ I was actually hiding my sin behind all of the language about sin. My sin isn’t that complicated. The roots of it are not that complicated either.
As I read Words from the Fire: Hearing the Voice of God in the 10 Commandments by Al Mohler I was refreshingly convicted of my sin in a very basic way. I was reminded that God has set out in the 10 commandments the framework for Christian living. In these simple commands I saw the basic framework for the Christian life, and it wasn’t that complicated. God has redeemed me and now calls me to obey Him as my LORD.
1 And God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
God has already redeemed me by bringing me out of my slavery to sin. Through Christ, I have been set free from the bondage of sin and am now a slave of righteousness. I do not obey to redeem myself; I obey because I have already been redeemed. The LORD’S righteous requirements of us are always preceded by and place in the context of God’s redeeming love for us.
I found this refreshing because it moved me out of my often laborious and tortured introspection and toward the grand realities of the gospel and my call to obey the LORD who has saved me. And the commands given were not complicated. You shall have no other gods before me, you shall not commit idolatry, you shall not murder, you shall not covet…So often I make the process of sanctification all about the hunt for my sin, when in reality my sin is often simple, I simply need to repent of it, turn to God in humility, and receive the forgiveness offered to me through Jesus Christ…and then get on with it.
The image I have had in my head for the last month as I have meditated on the 10 Commandments has been that of a parent and a child. All day long I am instructing my 2 year old saying, “you may do this and you shall not do this.” I tell her over and over that my instruction to her is given in the Lord’s stead and that by obeying me she is learning to obey the Lord. To me her life and my instruction are very simple.
Yet, when it comes to the LORD’S commands in my life and my own obedience to them, I often try and make these simple commands much more complicated. And yet his instruction to me is as simple as my instruction to my two year old. ‘You may do this and you shall not do this’. When I am tempted to lust. I hear my Father’s voice in my head saying, “you shall not commit adultery, find your delight in me and in the wife of your youth.” When I am tempted to ‘shade the truth’ on something so I don’t have to deal with a difficult conversation, I hear my Father’s voice in my head saying, “you shall not lie.” These are the words of my Father. They are non-negotiable. They are not complicated, and I am called to obey them ‘immediately, cheerfully, and completely.’
Returning to this simple message of obedience to my Father who has redeemed me through Christ has been so refreshing. It isn’t legalism. I am not doing this to earn my Father’s favor. I already have the unchanging favor of my Father through Jesus Christ. I obey because I have been redeemed and I owe my allegiance and obedience to my LORD and King.
Copies of Words from the Fire are available in the bookstore. I would recommend you give this book a look through and consider purchasing and reading it. It is a quick read of 195 pages. It is devotional in quality and would be and engaging read for High School students on up.
PS – I (Nick) am going to be highlighting books in the bookstore from time to time. I am also the person responsible for CrossWay’s bookstore. I am making an effort to slowly bring our inventory up to date and also introduce new books that are concise and engaging yet not void of theological rigor. If you have any thoughts or suggestions for the bookstore or for titles to be considered, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org