Surrendered Warriors: It’s a Supernaturally Natural Walk
Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake...
God wants your path to be a good one, a righteous one. That doe not always meant that the way ahead will be easy and trouble free. What matters is how you conduct yourself in the midst of the the world in which you live.
The decision making process in the journey of life for the Surrendered Warrior is one that is supernaturally natural.
The aim of the believer’s life is to be submitted to the will of the Father, to implement His plan, to see their lives as impactful and making a difference. This means prayer and seeking God’s will become a supernatural part of life. This is not to become burdensome.
It is not that literally every decision, what to eat, what to wear that day, or what bus to take to work, needs to be prayed over. I don’t mean to trivialise the importance of seeking the Lord nor to say that God is not interested in the minutia of daily life, He is the constant companion, however the Lord has created us with an ability to think and use our intellect.
Around the big five questions of relationships, work, stewardship, church, and suffering, prayer and His guidance are essential. The need to make ethical decisions in a godly manner needs God’s help.
There is a reason why His Word, the Bible, is written so that our subjective morality becomes subject to His divine principles.
For the decision making process of the Surrendered Warrior to be qualitatively different to other belief systems, they must be made within the framework of the Bible. It is not enough to follow a rule-based (deontological) system or a outcome based (consequentialist) paradigm. The Bible becomes the handbook.
It may seem impossible, and it will be so, if the Surrendered Warrior forgets three things:
- that through Jesus’ death and resurrection God has granted us repentance (Acts 5:31),
- God has given us a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) and placed the Holy Spirit within in us to empower us to live lives which are pleasing to him (Romans 8:9-11).
It is possible for to both to ‘put off’ ungodly thoughts and actions and to ‘put on’ godly attitudes and behaviours:
Ephesians 4:22-24: You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
I hear so many people say, “Well God understands, He made me this way!” But that’s a half truth. God does understand, but He didn't make you the way you are, sin did! He saves us and then remakes us. We are all being transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18).
In our decisions, in our daily lives, is where most will centre their search for the will of God without much consideration for the other aspects to of life.
Ethical decision making can be through about in the following way. Let these be an acid test for the decisions you are faced with:
Sharing the Mind of Christ
To share the mind of Christ, we first need to have a Christian worldview. We need to think about the world in the way that Jesus does and in the way the Bible teaches; in terms of creation, fall, redemption and future hope.
We also have to have our mids transformed to understand to have the mind of Christ, His will for our lives.
Romans 12: 1-2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
If the mind of the Surrendered Warrior is renewed then we will be able to define what God’s will is: His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Does this mean that God has three grades of will? Three levels to His will? No. There is one will being described in three ways!
- Good - Christianity has a moral code and it is goodness. Not good as we see it for that is subjective. It is good as God sees it! His will is good.
- Pleasing (acceptable) - pleasing is not about what is pleasing to us, but about what is pleasing to God. God cheers when we uphold His cause in the world, not ours. Pleasing means the ‘good’ is defined by Father’s will.
- Perfect - has a meaning of being complete. His will is sovereign. There will always be things we don’t fully understand. His will is also revealed to us through the Word of God, and it is the revealed will we focus on. In either case God’s will is perfect!
Holding the Commands of Christ
Holding the commands of Christ means being guided by His word in the way we make ethical decisions. Jesus said that if we love Him we will obey his commands (John 14:15, 15:14).
What starts in the Old Testament as the Old Covenant, the Ten Commandments and the 613 laws of the Pentateuch is, of course, a shadow prophetically pointing to the person of Christ, who will be the only one who is able to fulfil them (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 10:1).
In the New Testament, specifically in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), we see Christ going beyond the mere external legalities of Old Testament law to the very spirit of love that underlies it.
He says that the most important commands in the law are to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength and to love one’s neighbour as oneself. (Matthew 22:37-40; Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18).
Jesus also gave His disciples a new commandment, to love one another as He had loved them (John 13:34,35).
But we are told that all Scripture is inspired (literally breathed) by God and profitable for teaching, correction, reproof and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16,17). So, we need to work hard at deducing biblical ethical principles to apply to today’s ethical dilemmas.
Showing the Character of Christ
One can only act virtuously, in a Christian sense, by being born again, and then transformed by the Holy Spirit so that one develops the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22,23).
It is one thing to know the right thing to do. It is something else altogether to have the character to do it.
Standing firm in making correct ethical decisions requires great wisdom, patience, perseverance and courage.
Carrying the Cross of Christ
Carrying Christ’s cross means two things in a world hostile to Christian faith and values. It means, first of all, that we are prepared to fulfil the ‘Law of Christ’.
The Law of Christ is an interesting concept. It is mentioned twice in the New Testament.
The first mention comes in 1 Corinthians 9:21:
To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.
Then, in Galatians 6:2, we have the command: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.
This lines up with Christ’s words to his disciples at the Last Supper:
John 13:34,35: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”‘
If you like, it is the very opposite of the Darwinist ethic of the weak being sacrificed for the strong. It is instead the strong making sacrifices for, or laying down their lives for, the weak.
This is the guiding ethic for everything we see in the New Testament.
We are called to emulate Christ in making sacrifices, or laying down our lives, for the weak (Romans 5:8).
Additionally, part of carrying the cross in a society hostile to Christian faith and values is that we are prepared to speak and act in godly ways, even when it is tremendously costly to do so; in other words, even when it leads to great opposition. This is part of the cross.
It’s About Him, Not You!
The reason for the importance of making godly decisions is because it is about Him, not about you!
His name's sake: God’s will for your life is not just for your comfort or happiness, those are by-products, the goal is His name's sake - He is honoured, glorified and worshipped by you and those around you!
It’s about the reputation of God, the reputation of His universal Church. When one person behaves badly in the church it reflects upon the whole church!
Now we know we all mess up from time to time. I’m not talking about those mistakes that are unintentional. Its the intentional things we do - in the name of Christ - that are not aligned to His will that brings so much damage.
I overheard a conversion. Two men were chatting about a third part they both knew. It transpires that they both felt that they had been ripped off in separate business deals by this other unnamed man. Thats life right? It happens. But then the conversation turned tot he other guys professed Christianity. Not only did this chap profess Christianity He apparently was on of those who used it in business: “You can trust me I’m a Christian!” Both these guys said they’d never do business with a born again Christian again.
It affects the whole Chruch when we make decisions that we know are not glorifying to the name of Jesus that we know are unethical.
In your daily lives you may well say: “Keith, you don’t get it? We work in a ethically immoral worked not in the Christian bubble of church. We are asked to do things that can’t be avoided or we could lose our jobs!”
Some may be in very tricky situations. The cross of Christ only becomes real when we actually pick it up!
When I had a 'proper job' I became aware that the was a scam being operated by the transport manager - booking trucks in for work that they did not need and splitting the money with the garage. I reported it. I got no where because I guess my manager was part of it. They made my life really hard after this. After a time the Lord gave me a better job in a recruitment company. I thought no more of it until the transport manager contacted me to help find him a new job. He’d been dismissed! Well I did my job. But when it come to getting the reference I was referred to the MD of the company, a man I’d only met once. He told me that they could give a reference and that the scam I’d reported had turned out to be true and to a greater extent than I knew about. He then personally apologised to me and offered me a job. He needed people of integrity in the company! I politely refused.
Was this whole experience painful? Yes. I had a family to provide for.
Did I feel like some kind of spiritual giant on a quest for the King? Nope. I felt abused!
Did God provide a new way for me? Yes. A righteous path!
Principle: if someone asks you to lie for them they will also lie to you and about you!
We are about to engage upon a new chapter in our lives where corruption is part of the culture. When We have explained to people that we will be signing a no bribery policy as we represent Elim, people have asked how do we intend to the get permissions to build homes for children without bribing the local officials. I outlined my strategy for this and received applause. Why? Because as Christians we are to model a different way. A way that continually sacrifices for those less fortunate that us.
Wrapping this Up:
Theres the old bracelet that used to say WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? After a while the fad left and we don’t where them much now. They were a useful reminder that we are supposed to be living representatives of Jesus to those around us.
A quick read of the gospels will show you how Jesus behaved in His decision making:
He upheld the cause of God’s justice of the poor, outcasts and widows.
He loved the unlovable
He shunned the religious
He fed the hungry
He ministered to the sick
He lived as a servant of others
He lifted others up
He gave everything of Himself.
We would do well to do the same!
I'm grateful to Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship, for some of the framework for this talk.