“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”
Today is the start of a new series which I am calling “The Path.” It is a profoundly important subject that every Christian should study with great diligence. When you commit your life to Christ, you commit to a way of living. You commit to His standards. You commit to The Path.
The Christian life, however, is much more than a commitment to rules and commandments; it is a commitment to a relationship with Jesus. We are not called simply to follow a set of moral principles or ethical standards; we are called to follow Jesus Himself.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16.24-25)
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10.27)
There are two errors that must be avoided. The first is emphasizing our relationship with Jesus at the expense of His standards. This is permissiveness. It is compromised Christianity. It is what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.”
There is no avoiding the truth that the Bible gives us many directives and commands. It is full of “do this and don’t do that.” If someone is offended by the commands in the Bible, or if they think obedience is merely optional, they are making a serious spiritual mistake. As James wrote, “Faith without works is dead.”
In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul spells out the relationship of grace, faith, and obedience. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2.8-10)
The second error is emphasizing the standards at the expense of our relationship with Jesus. This is rules without relationship. It is sterile, joyless, performance-based religion. It is legalism.
The truth is that our obedience to God’s standards should flow from our relationship with Him through Jesus. We don’t obey the Lord in order to be saved; we obey the Lord because we are saved. We are called to obey the Lord’s commands out of a spirit of love and in response to His grace. “If you love me, you will keep My commandments,” Jesus said.
Following Jesus is a great adventure, and it is the adventure for which we were created and redeemed. And following Jesus means following the path to which He calls us.
Welcome to The Path!