Our neighbor walks her dog, he’s on a leash bounding ahead. He sniffs the grass, pees on the fire hydrant and barks at the birds. Garbage bags dot the street for the morning pickup and he runs toward them. With a gentle tug, she leads him away.
It reminds me of a trip we took to Disney World when I was a four-year-old child. I don’t remember the rides or seeing Mickey Mouse, but I vividly recall the leash my parents had me wear. A long coiling cord attached to a wristband on my arm and my dad’s. Apparently, I was an energetic child, and they were afraid of losing me in the crowds. I heaved on that cord, trying to pull my dad along. But he firmly led me in the direction to go and I followed along.
This is how the Word of God leads us, firmly and gently.
Yet it's not always easy, nor simple. Sin becomes entangled, and we want to pull away and resist. Here are two places in particular we don't like to allow scripture to lead us.
Correcting Our Way
The purpose of my leash was to keep me out of harm and close to my father. In the same way, scripture points us to safe boundaries and draws us near to our Father.
After God rescues the Israelites from Egypt by the power of his mighty hand, he establishes them in the promised land, and dwells among them at through temple worship. However, it didn’t take long for the Israelites to abandon God’s instructions for worship, choosing instead to live according to their own wants and freedoms, as the pagan nations surrounding them.
Almost three hundred years later, when cleaning up the temple, they find the book of the law. They haven’t read it, never mind followed its teaching, in a very long time. King Josiah hears the secretary read the words of this sacred passage and tears his clothes in anguish. Suddenly it all makes sense, the wars, the famines, he realizes God’s anger with his people for their disobedience.
Moved to confession and repentance, King Josiah seeks the Lord. He renews the covenant between God and the people, tearing down the pagan altars, destroying the idolatrous images, and those who led the people astray. “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did – with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses” (2Ki 23:25).
The Word brings our sin to light. Once illuminated, the pressing question becomes: what will we do next? We can tug on the leash attempting to pull away from the safety of our Father’s presence, or we can draw near in godly sorrow to receive his grace and mercy. Thomas Watson concludes his book on repentance with these words, “Thus I have laid down the means or helps to repentance: What remains now, but that we set upon the work; and let us be in earnest, not as fencers, but warriors.”
May we earnestly allow God’s Word to correct us.
Defining the Truth
As a four-year-old, I couldn’t understand all the reasons my parents wanted to keep me safe by putting me on a leash. Even if they explained it to me, I could’ve doubted or trudged along in unbelief.
Scripture provides us with the truth of who God is, it reveals his character and his plan from the beginning of time; from creation through the fall, to redemption, and finally the restoration of his kingdom. We are given the whole picture, not every specific for the future, but the theme of how he has been at work. If we take a single verse and create beliefs around it, we risk developing false teaching that will lead us astray from truth.
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master…and many will follow their sensuality and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Pet 2:1-2).
We guard the way of truth by learning and growing in our knowledge of God’s Word, that we understand who he is and his work in the world. This way, if false teaching lands in front of us, we can see it in contrast to the truth.
Become a Doer
There are times we need to acknowledge we don’t want to be led. We don’t want to feel guilty for the gossip, the lie or the judgement, nor for the lust, the skimming from the top or the greed. Scripture corrects us and it admonishes us to keep learning and growing for, “the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:25).
We find blessing in knowing God and becoming more like him. May we endeavor to persevere in our repentance and in gaining understanding of his Word.