By Dean Lusk
Emphases in the verses below are mine...
"If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door.Deuteronomy 19:8-9, NLT)
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, [then] I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14, NLT)
"If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:14-15, NLT)
"But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' The son answered, 'No, I won't go,' but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, 'You go,' and he said, 'Yes, sir, I will.' But he didn't go.
"Which of the two obeyed his father?
They replied, "The first."
Then Jesus explained his meaning: "I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do." [this had to go over quite well with the chief priests and elders...]
(Matthew 21:28-31, NLT)
God makes conditional promises: "if
you do this, then
I will do this." I don't think that some of us really like to hear that, and therefore we choose to disbelieve it, often having a tendency in our minds to replace these conditional promises of God with the unconditional love of God
, which is not the same thing. Do we read John 3:16 and take the first part ("God so loved the world...") without taking the last part into account ("...that whosoever believes in Him...")?
This is one reason I believe that many Christ-followers become lethargic in following Him, or even launch their new lives with built-in lethargy. There's simply no motivation when we think we can take the tail end of a promise (the actual promise part) without commiting to our part (the "do this" part).
I'm not suggesting that we can buy our way into heaven by doing good stuff (Ephesians 2:8-10
says that we aren't saved by things that we do, but by faith. Then we should do the good works that God has prepared for us). I'm just noting what I've often stated, that the new nature of a Christ-follower will progressively, readily, and visibly manifest itself in everything that person does.
Are we holding up our end of the bargain?