Dennis C. Abernathy
White Oak, Texas
Webster defines "resolve" as: "to determine or decide; to settle, or settle on; to form a purpose or resolution; to determine after reflection; as, to resolve on a better course of life." He defines "resolution" as follows: "act of, or quality of mind admitting or productive of, resolving or determining; resoluteness, firmness; also, that which is resolved upon or decided upon; settled determination."
In other words, to make resolution, or to resolve to do a thing is to decide or determine in your own mind a course of action you shall pursue. In the parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16, the word "resolve" is found in verse 14 and there it "presses the definiteness of the steward's realization, and his consequent determination of his course of action.
God himself resolved to do certain things. In Acts 2:23, we read: "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." Hence, it was God's determined or pre-determined plan for Jesus to die by the hands of wicked men on a cross. So, God made a determination (resolution or resolve), and he made it ahead of time.
Let us notice briefly some resolutions which we need to make and which will be helpful to us in our service to God. But remember, that we must be determined in our own mind. We run into serious trouble when our resolutions collide with our old set habits.
I. I Resolve To Watch What I Say With My Mouth
Psalms 17:3 says, "I have resolved that my mouth will not sin." We ought to pray with David: "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer" (Psa. 19:14). And further: "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; Keep watch over the door of my lips" (Psa. 141:3). We need to determine right now, that we will watch what we say. How easy it is to sin with our mouth. Therefore, we ought to "put away perversity from our mouth and keep corrupt talk far from our lips" (Prov. 4:24).
Sometimes we speak in haste, saying the wrong thing without thinking. "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words. . . . Do not let your mouth lead you into sin" (Eccl. 5:2-3,6).
We need to realize that what comes out of our mouths reflects that which is in our hearts (Mk. 7:20-23). Therefore, it behooves each of us to exercise care not to be guilty of filthy talk, gossip, backbiting, grumbling, slander and talebearing. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" (Eph. 4:29). If we would just take this precept to heart, the Lord's church, as well as society, would be the better for it.
Last of all on this point, brethren, let us resolve or determine not to praise God with our mouths and forget him in our practice. "These people draw near (honor) Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me, and in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:8-9). Long ago, the prophet Ezekiel condemned this popular practice. "My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain . . . for they hear your words but do not put them into practice" (Ezek. 33:31-32).
Let each of us determine to watch what he says. What a better person we will be in the Lord's service and what a greater influence we will have among our fellow men.
II. I Resolve Not To Defile Myself
"But Daniel resolved not to defile himself" (Dan. 1:8). Defile means "to make filthy, or to befoul; to tarnish, as reputation; to dishonor." I am reminded of the following passages: "Since we have these promises dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates (filthiness) body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" (2 Cor. 7:1-2). "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevelant and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you" (Jas. 1:21).
We defile ourselves, tarnish our reputations, and bring dishonor on the Lord and his church when we give ourselves over to the works of the flesh (see Gal. 5:19-21). The same apostle said the following in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolators nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
I want to emphasize the phrase: "Do not be deceived." In our day an age, many are deceived into thinking that they can commit these sins and be teachers and preachers and God will usher them right into heaven. But Paul said "and that is what some of you were, " not "what some of you are"! One could not be washed, sanctified, and justified from his defilement and continue to commit such acts. Let us resolve not to defile ourselves, but to keep ourselves pure and holy even as our Lord did before us.
III. I Resolve To Preach Christ To A Lost World
As Paul proclaimed the testimony of God, he said: "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2). Like Paul, we need to determine now that we will preach Christ (Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15). "For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord" (2 Cor. 4:5).
Many have the idea that to preach Christ, is to preach only the facts about him and not his doctrine or teaching. But preaching Christ is the same as preaching the word or the gospel. This is made clear in Acts 8:4-5: "Therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip, went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them." Philip preached the same thing those who were scattered preached! In verse 35 of the same chapter, it says, "Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him." You cannot preach Jesus independent of the Word! Also we note that, involved in "preaching Jesus," was preaching water baptism. Since Philip was doing the preaching on this occasion, it stands to reason that he introduced the matter of baptism, because the Ethiopian asked about being baptized as soon as they came to sufficient water. Preaching Jesus, a part of which, is preaching water baptism, is preaching salvation to lost souls. This is true because Jesus died to save lost souls, shedding his precious blood on a Roman cross, and we contact that blood in baptism (Rom. 6:3-4). Also, it was Jesus himself who commanded baptism in order to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-47; Acts 2:5,38).
The only way the church will grow numerically or spiritually is for you and me to get busy preaching Christ. People will not come to our buildings unless we first go to them! The Lord said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel." He didn't say "build a building and sit down and wait for the people to come to you that you may then preach to them." Let each of us resolve now to "preach the word" (2 Tim. 4:2).
IV. I Resolve To Forget The Past And Press On Toward Heaven
" . . . forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14).
Dear reader, we must not dwell on the past. We must put it behind and move on in our service to God. I don't mean that we are just to forget sin – no, we must correct sin. But we can't allow the past to hold up our progress for the Lord.
It is so easy to allow church problems of the past to hinder us in our service in the Lord's work. They can warp our concept of faithful brethren and make us bitter and cynical, if we will allow it. Personal sin can hold us up. We need always to repent when we sin, asking God's forgiveness, and then move on in his service. Perhaps we have received mistreatment from brethren. Will we allow such to cloud our thinking and hinder us from faithfulness to him?
Eric Liddell was a strong favorite to win the 400 yard dash at the 1923 Triangular International. However, 15 yards after the start, he lay sprawled across the track infield, the victim of a tripping accident. Undaunted, "The Flying Scot" picked himself up and resumed his race. With the finish line drawing near, Eric Liddell drew upon his utmost reserves. As the stunned crowd watched, he crossed the tape three yards ahead of his nearest competitor, the man who had tripped him.
In many ways the Christian life is like a foot race. We sometimes encounter adverse track conditions. Competitors may occasionally jostle us as we run. At times we might even trip and fall. No doubt, all of us have probably stumbled a time or two along the way. We have said something we should not have said, we have failed to do things we know we should have and could have done. Instead of heading toward the goal, we find ourselves flat on our face! Brethren, this will happen. It happened to the best of God's servants. But, when it does, what will we do? Do we stay down? Do we bemoan our situation, or do we get up, like Eric Liddell and double our efforts? If you have fallen down in the past, get up and dust yourself off and get back into the race. Forget the failures of the past – God does – if you will repent and confess them (1 Jn. 1:7,9).