For the Christian, facts are the foundation of sure knowledge and renewed life in union with Jesus Christ. We are folk of conviction as to the truth of divine revelation laid before us in Holy Scripture. Our confidence and abiding hope are lodged in God the Three-in-One, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A reality derived from historical record and insight into the invisible sustains and surrounds us. We are inhabitants of the realm of faith with a grasp of verities illuminated only by the light and manifestation of things as they really are by the Spirit of Christ. The Word of God shapes our world view - our understanding of this world, and our incomplete apprehension of the world to come. A God-given certainty accompanies us through life and into the enjoyment of life everlasting. Solid truth surrounds and sustains us. The divine message in the Lord Jesus, Son of God, guarantees an adequacy of accurate perception to the mind and the guidance of the Comforter ensures our safe journey toward eternity.
The substance of our faith is objective. Its content is communicated and confirmed by God himself at work within us. The basis of our confidence is infallible. But not so is our behavior. We are frail and fallible to a high degree. If God and his truth are immutable we are creatures of fluctuation determined by mood. By mood means that we vary in our apprehension and sensibility toward matters and our attitude and actions are not yet consistent with the will and character of God. Within our subjective selves there is a dissonance with the nature and ways of God. There will be such discord until we are fully delivered from self, sin, and the ways of this world. We are not yet perfect. That is our prospect in paradise. Our holiness and wholeness are partial. The exhortations and encouragements of Scripture, prophetic and apostolic, are essential. We are not only to be instructed in the truths of the Lord; we need to be educated as to being true in the Lord. Life here, under God and with God, is developmental. It is a process of healing. Scripture is comforting and corrective in accordance with the divine compassion.
There are many lapses in the lives of the saints. Some of these are evident but many more are secrets confined to the deepest crypt at the core of our being, driving our secret conceptions and imaginings, and often not discovered or detected by ourselves. Jeremiah, that man of deep inner disturbances, declares that we cannot know ourselves exhaustively. “The heart is deceitful: above all things: and beyond cure: Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Knowing this predicament the prophet wails before the Lord: “I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. Correct me Lord, but only with justice — not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing’ (10:23-24).
Hence the biblical insistence on justness of outlook and of life. Belief and behavior must be right with a divinely determined fairness of approach to life, evident in active roles and relationships. The God of grace will make us gracious gradually as we discern our continual need for supernatural assistance. “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). This is an enormous responsibility so contrary to our self-serving ambitions (often disguised). Harmony is a collaborative exercise among the people of God. It is godly, sensible self-denial that promotes peace and harmony. The vengeful heart, wounded unjustly or reacting from offended pride, must struggle through the donation of grace not to provoke conflict and division. Paul does not hector the family of God. It is evident that he sees the problems among folk that are difficult to surmount given the residue within us of the old Adamic nature that still fosters the evil of the curse. He ardently desires the wellbeing of believers individually and collectively (an ecclesiology we have not quite grasped).
We are a congregation, all believers, gathered to the Lord, not separate individuals occasionally swarming together, all busy bees seeking our own advantages and forgetting our obligation of mutual care and service, shared respect and patience, love and fairness (justice). Paul is familiar with the instant instincts of human nature that rush to the fore of our minds and manner. With God’s strong aid we must, with deliberation, curb and quash the evils that still prompt our old, familiar inclinations. May God supply his grace in abundance. May he ever be accessible to our urgent plea for righteousness, and may we always be alert to our total dependence upon him.