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"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee..." Psalm 60:4

God's Imposition of Personal Responsibility
By Fred O. Blakely
 
The consistent line taken by Scripture regarding believers' infirmities and sins contrasts sharply with that promulgated in some church circles. The exponents of the doctrine that God-does-it-all, so-only-trust-in-Him continually proclaim to those who are "out of the way” (Heb. 5:2), Just rely on the Lord; He will bring everything out all right. Conversely, the Spirit speaketh on this wise: "Gird up the loins of your mind," your heart, your will, and your determination, and correct the deviant situation in your life, lest God summarily come and smite you for it (I Pet. 1:13-17). Thus, does God impose individual responsibility upon His people for the recovery of themselves from the snare of Satan when they are taken captive by the evil one.
 
Salvation in all of its aspects, it is gloriously true, is ultimately “of the Lord" (Jon. 2:9), being, in the last analysis, all of grace (Acts 15:11; Eph. 2:8). Notwithstanding, Scripture nowhere invokes this blessed circumstance either to excuse brethren in their sins or to encourage them to expect that God will deliver them therefrom independently of their firm resolves and diligent efforts to that end. Instead, it calls upon them to assiduously employ these elements of personal application. The stark fact of the matter is, There is no moral improvement in an individual without conscious and vigorous effort on his part. It is well, indeed, for us to face squarely up to this kingdom principle, so that we may effectually get on with the divine purpose of "perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (II Cor 7:1). This is especially so, since all of us are constantly beset by sin and are always falling short of God's glory.
 
As specimens of the living oracles treatment of sin in believers, we cite the following. Their number could, of course, be greatly multiplied by anything approaching a comprehensive survey of the case. These, however, will suffice to demonstrate the point at hand. "Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Col. 3:5, ASV; cf. Eph. 4:22). "Let not therefore sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lust thereof" (Rom. 6:12; cf. vv. 11, 13). "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isa. 55:6-7; cf. Acts 8:22). "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us" (Heb. 12:1-4). "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come upon thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent" (Rev. 2:5; cf. vv. 16, 21-23; 3:3, 18-19).
 
 "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (II Cor. 7:1; cf. ch. 6:17-18; I Jn. 3:2-3). "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Cor. 10:5: cf. Gen. 6:5; Col. 1:21; 3:7). "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (Jude 20-21). "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world"(Jas. 1:27; cf. Rom. 12:1-2). "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Tit. 2:11-13). "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Lu. 9:23). "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple" (ch. 14:27). 
 
Undeniably, this self-discipline must be achieved in the power of God, not in one's own might. The point of emphasis here, however is it is a responsibility which God lays squarely upon the individual. It is only when that imposition is duly recognized that one will become acutely aware of his natural impotency to do that which is required of him. And it is only in that awareness that he will hasten to the throne of all grace to "obtain mercy" and "grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:14-16). Let us not be led into the disastrous error of inordinately waiting upon God to do for us that which He repeatedly has commanded us to do for ourselves in "the power of His might" (Eph. 6:10) To do so is to rebel against the divine will for us and to reproach that worthy Name by the which we are called.