Resolved to Follow Jesus
They parade before us, examples of resolve. Enoch walked with God in an evil age, bearing witness against its sins (Jude 14-15). He pleased God when no one else did or cared. Noah preached righteousness for a century, while he patiently constructed the ark that would serve as his floating tomb and his vessel of safety. Hated by his brothers and kidnapped, Joseph would not yield to easy pleasure, but confessed: “How can I do this great evil, and sin against God” (Gen. 39:9)? Daniel was forbidden to pray to the true God, so he went to his room and prayed, with his window open, as was his custom. The three Hebrew children refused to bow to the statist colossus of their age, choosing the fiery furnace rather than survival by political polytheism. And our Lord stands gloriously supreme among those who were resolved: “Father, not my will, but thine be done.” “He set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51), knowing what he would find there, and “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
The Scriptures are packed with examples of resolution and encouragements to be resolved, determined to obey God, regardless of the cost. “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). “You have not resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Heb. 12:4).”Choosing rather than to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25). “And as they stoned Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). “And they overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death” (Rev. 12:11).
It is a mark of faith that “it does not draw back unto destruction, but believes to the saving of the soul” (Heb. 10:39). Resolve is the grace of Jesus Christ in us, whereby depending upon him, we determine to obey him regardless of personal cost or sacrifice. Resolve is a combination of the fruits of the Spirit – the love that binds to Christ, joy in pleasing him, the power of peace with a reconciled Father, the patience to endure hardship without anger, and the self-control that denies self and presses forward when afraid. Resolve is the opposite of petting our feelings and vain thoughts, indulging our flesh, and making excuses for our sins. Resolve is the opposite of giving in to sin, and then relying upon easy forgiveness to make us feel better. Resolve to follow Jesus Christ is necessary to overcome the world, obey God wisely and courageously in our particular circumstances, and deny ourselves, our appetites, our passions, and our preferences, so that we may follow him, please him, and honor him.
Resolve is necessary to resist political tyranny and the old man of sin. It is necessary to bear the cross, endure the insults of unbelieving men, and maintain a joyful spirit in the midst of trials. Resolve is an important difference between those who know God’s will and do not do it, and those who know God’s will and do it. Resolve is often found in the company of soul-searching, humility before the Lord, seasons of wrestling against indwelling sin and hungering for righteousness. Resolve is another way of stating Jesus’ basic call to discipleship: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
To be resolved to come after Jesus, to keep coming after him when we do not feel like it, to deny ourselves when the flesh is screaming to be indulged, and to take up the cross when it is heavy, we must begin with the root, Jesus Christ. It is in union and communion with him that we can be resolved, for he is the Faithful one (Rev. 3:14; 19:11). To say that Jesus Christ is faithful is to say that he did the will of God when it cost him the highest price anyone has ever paid or can pay. Resolve and faithfulness are closely related, near synonyms. Jesus was resolved to obey his Father, resolved to love us to the end, and resolved to the Suffering-Servant. His resolve led him to Calvary. In his fellowship, he calls us to be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10). The secret of the Christian’s resolve is to be much in the fellowship of the faithful Savior, learning of him, seeking from him the specific graces that feed resolution.
One of these graces is the mortification of sin. We must identify, renounce, put to death, and repent of sins that weaken our resolve to stand, to obey, and to speak for our Master. Some of these are constitutional sins, such as mental laziness and distractedness, nervousness, moroseness, and melancholy. Others are the filth we feed and fall into – love of the world, fear of man, fleshly lusts, and impatience. If you know, for example, that you tend to be easily distracted, you must “exercise yourself unto godliness” by training yourself to think and pray with focus. Having an open Bible in front of you to guide your prayers will help. Forsaking the entertainment lifestyle is a must. Arming ourselves with Scripture is necessary for us all, for it is a “lamp unto our faith.” If you easily wander into the Slough of Despond, do not stray into the fields of regret, forgetfulness of the love and advocacy of Jesus Christ, or distrust of God’s sovereignty. Stay close to the sovereign God and the interceding Savior, casting your burdens upon him and seeking joy in the same path he did (John 15:9-11).
To be resolved it is also necessary to live intentionally. The Holy Spirit says to “gird up the loins of our mind,” to be prepared and ready for whatever the world, sin, or Satan throws our way. This is part of “watching unto prayer,” for how can we pray without ceasing unless we maintain a composed mind and spirit? To live intentionally is to see yourself as a child of God, belonging to him by the purchase price of Christ’s blood (1 Cor. 6:19-20), at war with sin, the devil and the flesh, not your own, but under orders. This is very different from “follow your feelings” and “be true to yourself.” Instead, Jesus Christ is our ever fixed mark, the polestar, and if the compass of faith is pointed toward him and his word, we shall not be easily lost or moved from our course. We can be resolved to follow him in seasons of suffering, when we do not feel particularly close to him, when he is testing us – for he is the same and does not change (Heb. 13:8). Our resolution to follow him requires a conscious, thinking commitment to build our lives upon him as our immovable rock and fortress.
Christian resolution requires the preparation of knowing God’s will. Being resolved to make a fortune is a sinful resolution, as is to stay beautiful and young forever, or never to feel any sadness in life, or to avoid dealing with relationship issues. These resolutions are destructive. But if we know God’s will, for example, that we marry only in the Lord, that is, only committed Christians, it will give us resolve in our dating and marriage choices. If I know God’s will and am resolved to follow him, then I will not show or encourage any romantic interest from an unbeliever (2 Cor. 6:14). To know God’s will is to be armed with his mind and to lay a foundation for resolution.
This assumes an active discipleship, that whatever we do, wherever we are, with whomever we are, we are slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from our heart. By his Spirit, he has planted in our hearts a sincere love for him and saving knowledge of his will. We are consecrated to him, for he has given us a new heart and mind, so that we can understand his truth. It is written upon our hearts, so that our nature has been re-formed as God’s image. Discipleship as it grows is consecration to Jesus Christ, which is another way of saying resolution. See your Captain by faith; know his word; follow Him. The world can blow around you like a hurricane, and the souls of the unstable will swirl around you with their fears and foibles. Come and keep coming after Jesus, keep following him. There is no telling what a deep, consuming love for Jesus Christ will accomplish in our lives. Resolution gains the prize, Christ himself.
We aspire to be resolved but do trust your resolve. Cling to the Lord’s resolve: the Father’s resolve and determination to save you; our Savior’s resolved love, that “having loved his own, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1); the Spirit’s earnest desire and resolve to have us for himself (Gal. 5:17). Because the living God is resolved to save you, no one can pluck you out of Christ’s hand or overcome the Holy Spirit in you. Think often on this. Our resolution wildly fluctuates. Sadly, the most ardent disciple barely crawls toward heaven. If his faith is strong, he struggles with his practice. If he can think clearly, his heart is often an iceberg. If his feelings are warm, his thoughts are weak. We simply cannot do all that we would. None of us has all the graces and loves. Jesus Christ possesses all. Be resolved of this – daily, hourly, to seek all your lack from him (Col. 2:10).