Bible Basics: Service to God is by Choice
Jesus said, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John 7:17). One must desire to do what God wants done for His service to be accepted by the Lord. Service to God is not by force; it is by choice! John says, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (1 John 5:3). If one looks at what God wants one to do, thinking it to be galling, he cannot do the will of God. When one gives even of his money, but gives it "grudgingly, or of necessity," God refuses the service (2 Cor. 9:6, 7). The sour or reluctant mind will not be able to give so that God will accept his offering. Until the heart wills to respond to the calls of God one is wasting his time giving lip service. Initial obedience to God which saves alien sinners is by choice. Jesus says, "Whosoever will" may come (Rev. 22:17). Jesus further declares that some Jews were yet "not willing to come" that they might have life (John 5:39, 40). Many are lost in sin and on their way to hell because they do not wish to do what the Lord says that they might be saved in Christ.
After one becomes a Christian, acceptable living before God remains a choice. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:1, 2). Some having been raised from baptism with Jesus keep Him enthroned in their heart (1 Pet. 3:15), while others choose to live in sin for the devil, but at the same time want all the blessings and freedoms enjoyed by the faithful. Whether sin comes alive within one or not is dependent upon one's choice, sin always takes its toll; the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
The Lord wants a pure church (Eph. 5:26). Sin not only gets the one committing it but, if allowed to continue unchecked, it will destroy the congregation where that one is a member (1 Cor. 5:6). Christ gave Himself up in death "that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:25, l6). The words in the King James "and cleanse" translates the participle katharisas, which is aorist active. Paul affirms the Ephesians were sanctified having been cleansed. He does not tell the when of the cleansing, just the fact of it though the when of their cleansing took place in their baptism. The fact of the cleansing is the point we now emphasize and seek to show must remain with the child of God. Some Christians are careless about the way they live. Their lives are "spots, wrinkles, and blemishes" (Eph. 5:27). This is the course they have chosen and, too often, there is no blush or shame when approached about their sins. In fact, most of the times there is an effort to justify what has been done, or a denial altogether. But when this is the course of life so-called Christians want to live, it becomes a most difficult task for anyone to change because sin hardens the heart (Heb. 3:12, 13).
The influence of one who is pure in heart (Matt. 5:8), and wants his whole life to help others see the Way (nom. 12:1, 2), is unmeasurable by man. The exercise of heaven's will in the heart of-a man produces influence and power-influence in turning men to God; turning cold, indifferent churches into churches of warmth, strength, evangelism and benevolence-such is the kingdom of God (Lk. 17:20, 21). We must learn that we can be no better than we truly want to be in the kingdom of God. What do you really desire before God (Psa. 27:4; 2 Cor. 5:2) as a parent? citizen? Christian?
Truth Magazine XXII: 30, pp. 488