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Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Five Vows

This past weekend at our Men's Retreat, I gave a little talk I called "Five Vows Real Men Make." This talk was a total rip-off from a sermon A.W. Tozer first gave called "Five Vows for Spiritual Power." I think it applies well to men because these five declarations stand in direct defiance of what our culture teaches about manliness.

I thought you all might appreciate them, as they have universal application, and not just for men. These are "forgotten ideas" anymore in a culture obsessed with self, luxury, and pleasure. May you be challenged and reminded today of what real life in Christ looks like. (All of these words are Tozer's. If you want a longer version which also ran in the magazine aLife, let me know!)

"Some people object to taking vows, but in the Bible you will find many great men of God directed by covenants, promises, vows, and pledges. The psalmist was not averse to the taking of vows. He said, “Thy vows are upon me, O God, I will render my praises unto thee” (Psalm 56:12).
My counsel in this matter is that if you are really concerned about spiritual improvement—the gaining of new power, new life, new joy, and new personal revival within your heart—you will do well to make certain vows and proceed to keep them. If you should fail, go down in humility and repent and start over. But always keep these vows before you. They will help harmonize your heart with the vast powers that flow out and down from the throne where Christ sits at the right hand of God.
There are five vows I have in mind which we do well to make and to keep.
1. Deal Thoroughly with Sin
Sin has been driven underground these days and has come up with a new name and face. You may be subjected to this phenomenon in the schools. Sin is being called by various fancy names – anything but what it really is.
The whole thing is ridiculous, because sin is still the ancient enemy of the soul. it has never changed. We’ve got to deal firmly with sin in our lives. Let’s remember that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Righteousness lies at the door of the kingdom of God.
2. Never Own Anything
I do not mean by this that you cannot have things. I mean that you ought to get delivered from the sense of possessing them. This sense of possessing is what hinders us. All babies are born with their fists clenched, and it seems to me it means, “This is mine!” One of the first things they say when they begin to speak is “mine” in an angry voice. That sense of “This is mine” ‘is a very injurious thing to the spirit. If you can get rid of it so that you have no feeling of possessing anything, there will come a great sense of freedom and liberty into your life.
3. Never Defend Yourself
We are all born with a desire to defend ourselves. And if you insist upon defending yourself, God will let you do it. But if on turn the defense of yourself over to God, He will defend you. He told Moses in Exodus 23: “I will be an enemy unto your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.”
4. Guard Your Words about Others
Never pass anything on—about anybody else that will hurt him. “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). The talebearer has no place in God’s favor. if you know something that would hinder or hurt the reputation of one of God’s children, bury it forever. Find a little garden out back – a little spot somewhere – and when somebody comes around with an evil story, take it out and bury it and say, “Here lies in peace the story about my brother.” God will take care of it. “With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.” If you want God to be good to you, you are going to have to be good to His children.
5. Never Accept Any Glory
God is jealous of His glory and He will not give His glory to another. He will not even share His glory with another. It is quite natural, I should say, for people to hope that maybe their Christian service will give them a chance to display their talents. True, they want to serve the Lord. But they also want other people to know they are serving the Lord. They want to have a reputation among the saints. That is very dangerous ground – seeking a reputation among the saints. It’s bad enough to seek a reputation in the world, but it’s worse to seek a reputation among the people of God. Our Lord gave up His reputation, and so must we.
These vows cut against the old human nature. They introduce the cross into your life, and nobody ever walks back from carrying his cross. When you make these vows, remember they strike at the heart of your self-life and there is never a place to go back to. Turn everything over to Him, and you’ll find your life begin to lift. You’ll blossom in a wonderful way.
From Five Vows for Spiritual Power, published by Christian Publications, December 1990.

1 comment:

Marcia said...

Thanks for posting that, Nick. Good job, Tozer! The line that really struck me was "no one walks back from carrying his cross".