This morning I was reading through the Sermon on the Mount and a phrase from the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) came to mind. In response to Scripture, the WCF speaks of
“. . . yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come.”
The reason this phrase came to mind is that I was struck by how poorly I put into practice what Jesus commands in his sermon. I’m not very good at turning the other cheek. I balk at going the second mile. I grumble about, rather than pray for, my enemies. These are just a few of the ways I fall short of living out the commands of Scripture.
The bad news is that I will never be able to live out the commands of the Sermon on the Mount. This would be overwhelming if it wasn’t for the good news.
The good news (the literal meaning of the word “gospel”) is that God has made a provision for me to get past my inability.
In Christ I am forgiven. In Christ I am not condemned. My inability to live the Christian life has been taking into account and a fix has been implemented.
In Christ, I have the opportunity to obey the commands, tremble at the threatenings and embrace the promises. I can do so, not with the intention of earning merit with God. Rather, I can do so like a child seeking to emulate a loving father. Love is a much better motivation.
The irony of this is that by giving up the desire to put myself in a better standing with God, I then actually am in a better standing. I move from acting from duty or self-interest to acting from love. While God does not love me any more or any less as a result of my behavior, obedience, trembling and embracing align my thinking and behavior with God’s desire.
I find that increased obedience brings increased peace to my soul.