Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Five Vows

Five Vows by A.W. Tozer

I found this to be an amazing read. It is a little long but so worth reading.

Some people object to taking vows, but in the Bible you will find many great men of God directed by covenants, promises, vows and pledges. The psalmist was not averse to the taking of vows: “Thy vows are upon me, O God,” he said. “I will render my praises unto thee” (Psalm 56:12).

My counsel in this matter is that if you are really concerned about spiritual improvement--the gaining of new power, new life, new joy and new personal revival within your heart--you will do well to make certain vows and proceed to keep them. If you should fail, go down in humility and repent and start over. But always keep these vows before you. They will help harmonize your heart with the vast powers that flow out and down from the throne where Christ sits at the right hand of God.

A carnal man refuses the discipline of such commitments. He says, “I want to be free. I don't want to lay any vows upon myself; I don't believe in it. It is legalism.” Well, let me paint a picture of two men.

One of them will not take vows. He will not accept any responsibility. He wants to be free. And he is free, in a measure--just as a tramp is free. The tramp is free to sit on a park bench by day, sleep on a newspaper by night, get chased out of town on Thursday morning, and find his way up a set of creaky stairs in some flophouse on Thursday night. Such a man is free, but he is also useless. He clutters up the world whose air he breathes.

Let's look at another man--maybe a president or prime minister or any great man who carries upon himself the weight of government. Such men are not free. But in the sacrifice of their freedom they step up in power. If they insist upon being free, they can be free, just like the tramp. But they choose rather to be bound.

There are many religious tramps in the world who will not be bound by anything. They have turned the grace of God into personal license. But the great souls are ones who have gone reverently to God with the understanding that in their flesh dwells no good thing. And they know that without God's enabling any vows taken would be broken before sundown. Nevertheless, believing in God, reverently they took certain sacred vows. This is the way to spiritual power.

Now there are five vows I have in mind which we do well to make and keep. The first is: Deal thoroughly with sin. Sin has been driven underground these days and has come up with a new name and face. You may be subjected to this phenomenon in the schools. Sin is called by various fancy names--anything but what it really is. For example, men don't get under conviction any more; they get a guilt complex. Instead of confessing their guilt to God and getting rid of it, they lie down on a couch and try to tell a man who ought to know better all about themselves. It comes out after a while that they were deeply disappointed when they were two years old or some such thing. That's supposed to make them better.

The whole thing is ridiculous, because sin is still the ancient enemy of the soul. It has never changed. We've got to deal firmly with sin in our lives. Let's remember that. “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink,” said Paul, “but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). Righteousness lies at the door of the kingdom of God. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20).

This is not to preach sinless perfection. This is to say that every known sin is to be named, identified and repudiated, and that we must trust God for deliverance from it, so that there is no more sin anywhere in our lives. It is absolutely necessary that we deal thus, because God is a holy God and sin is on the throne of the world.

So don't call your sins by some other name. If you're jealous, call it jealousy. If you tend to pity yourself and feel that you are not appreciated, but are like a flower born to blush unseen and waste your sweetness on the desert air, call it what it is -- self-pity.

There is resentfulness. If you're resentful, admit it. I have met people who live in a state of sputtering indignation most of the time. I know of a preacher who acts like a hen thrown out of the nest. He keeps running in all directions clucking and complaining -- somebody is always doing him wrong. Well, if you have got that spirit, you must deal with it now. You must get that out of you. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin. Instead of covering it up and trying to find a Greek marginal rendering somewhere to hide it under, call it by the right name, and get rid of it by the grace of God.

And then there is your temper. Don't call it indignation. Don't try to christen it by some other name. Call it what it is. Because if you have a bad temper you will either get rid of it or it will get rid of much of your spirituality and most of your joy.

So let's deal with sin thoroughly. Let's be perfectly candid. God loves candid people.

Now the second vow is: Never own anything. I do not mean by this that you cannot have things. I mean that you ought to get delivered from this sense of possessing them. This sense of possessing is what hinders us. All babies are born with their fists clenched, and it seems to me it means: “This is mine!” One of the first things is “mine” in an angry voice. That sense of “This is mine” is a very injurious thing to the spirit. If you can get rid of it so that you have no feeling of possessing anything, there will come a great sense of freedom and liberty into your life.

Now don't think that you musty sell all that you have and give it to charity. No, God will let you have your car and your business, your practice and your position, whatever it may be, provided you understand that it is not yours at all, but His, and all your are doing is just working for Him. You can be restful about it then, because we never need to worry about losing anything that belongs to someone else. If it is yours, you're always looking in your hand to see if it's still there. If it's God's you no longer need to worry about it.

Let me point out some things you'll have to turn over to God. Property is one thing. Some of the dear Lord's children are being held back because there's a ball and chain on their legs. If it's a man, it's his big car and fine home. If it's a woman it's her china and her Louis XIV furniture and all the rest. Take that vase for instance. There it stands, and if anybody knocked it off and broke it the poor owner would probably lose five years from her life!

The third vow is this: Never defend yourself. We're all born with a desire to defend ourselves. And if you insist upon defending yourself, God will let you do it. But if you turn the defense of yourself over to God He will defend you. He told Moses once, in Exodus 23:22: “I will be an enemy unto thine enemies and an adversary to thine adversaries.”

A long time ago the Lord and I went through the 23rd chapter of Exodus together and He gave it to me. For 30 years now it has been a source of untold blessing to my life. I don't have to fight. The Lord does the fighting for me. And He'll do the same for you. He will be an enemy to your enemy and an adversary to your adversary, and you'll never need to defend yourself.

What do we defend? Well, we defend our service, and particularly we defend our reputation. Your reputation is what people think you are, and if a story gets out about you the big temptation is to try to run it down. But you know, running down the source of a story is a hopeless task. Absolutely hopeless! It's like trying to find the bird after you've found the feather on your lawn. You can't do it. But if you'll turn yourself wholly over tot he Lord He will defend you completely and see to it that no one will harm you. “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” He says, and “every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn” (Isaiah 54:17).

Henry Suso was a great Christian of other days. Once he was seeking what some Christians have told me they are seeking--to know God better. Let's put it like this: you are seeking to have a religious awakening within your spirit that will thrust you farther out into the deep things of God. Well, as Henry Suso was seeking God, people started telling evil stories about the man, and it grieved him so that he wept bitter tears and had great sorrow of heart.

Then one day he looked out the window and saw a dog playing on the lawn. The dog had a mat, and kept picking the mat up, tossing it over his shoulder, running and getting it, tossing it some more, picking it up and tossing it again. God said to Henry Suso, “That mat is your reputation, and I am letting the dogs of sin tear your reputation to shreds and toss it all over the lawn for your own good. One of these days things will change.”

And things did change. It was not very long before people who were tearing his reputation were confounded, and Suso rose into a place that made him a power in his day and a great blessing still to those who sing his hymns and read his works.

Next vow; Never pass anything on about anybody else that will hurt him. “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). The talebearer has no place in God's favor. If you know something that would hinder or hurt the reputation of one of God's children, bury it forever. Find a little garden out back--a little spot somewhere--and when somebody comes around with an evil story, take it out and bury it, and say, “Here lies in peace the story about my brother.” God will take care of it. “With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged” (Matthew 7:2).

If you want God to be good to you, you are going to have to be good to His children. You say, “That's not grace.” Well, grace gets you into the kingdom of God. That is unmerited favor. But after you are seated at the Father's table He expects to teach you table manners. And He won't let you eat unless you obey the etiquette of the table. And what is that? The etiquette of the table is that you don't tell stories about the brother who is sitting at the table with you--no matter what his denomination, or nationality or background.

Our next vow is: Never accept any glory. God is jealous of His glory and He will not give His glory to another. He will not even share His glory with another. It is quite natural, I should say, for people to hope that maybe their Christian service will give them a chance to display their talents. True, they want to serve the Lord. But they also want other people to now they are serving the Lord. They want to have a reputation among the saints. That is very dangerous ground--seeking a reputation among the saints. It's bad enough to seek a reputation in the world, but it's worse to seek a reputation among the people of God. Our Lord gave up His reputation, and so must we.

Meister Eckhart once preached a sermon on Christ cleansing the temple. He said, “Now there was nothing wrong with those men selling and buying there. There was nothing wrong with exchanging money there; it had to be. The sin lay in their doing it for profit. They got a percentage on serving the Lord.” And then he made the application: “Anybody that serves for a commission, for what little bit of glory he can get out of it, he is a merchant and he ought to be cast out of the temple.”

I go along with this. If you're serving the Lord, and yet slyly--perhaps scarcely known to you--you're hoping to get just a little five percent commission, then look out! It will chill the power of God in your spirit. You must determine that you will never take any glory, but see that God gets it all.

Now the easiest possible thing is to give a message like this. The hard thing is to make it work in one's own life. Remember that these five vows are not something you write in the back of your Bible and forget. They've got to be written in your own blood. They have to be made final, irrevocable. If it only comes off the surface it's no good. Much of our promises come off the surface. No, no. Let is come out of the depths of your heart, the deep depths of your spirit.

Theses vows cut against the old human nature. They introduce the cross into your life. And nobody ever walks back from carrying his cross--nobody, ever. When a man takes his cross he's already said goodbye. He's pulled the roll top shut on his desk and said farewell to his wife and children. He's not coming back. The man with the cross never comes back. When you make these vows, remember: They introduce the cross into your life, they strike at the heart of your self-life and there is never a place to go back to. And I say, “Woe to the triflers!”

In America--and maybe in other places, too--so many people are saying, “Try Jesus, try God!” Triflers, experimenters, tasters they are. Like a rabbit with a half dozen holes so if one is stopped up he can flee to another! No! From the cross there is no place to flee. You don't “try” Jesus. He's not there to be experimental with. Christ is not on trial. You are. I am. He's not! God raised Him from the dead and forever confirmed His deity and sealed Him and set Him at His own right hand as Lord and Christ. Turn everything over to Him and you'll find your life begin to lift. You'll blossom in a wonderful way.

Now, if you happen to be one of those on whom God has laid His hand for a deeper life, a more powerful life, a fuller life, then I wonder if you would be willing to pray this kind of prayer: “O God, glorify Thyself at my expense. Send me the bill--anything, Lord. I set no price. I will not dicker or bargain. Glorify Thyself. I'll take the consequence.”

This kind of praying is simple, but it's deep and wonderful and powerful. I believe, if you can pray a prayer like that, it will be the ramp from which you can take off into higher heights and bluer skies in the things of the Spirit.

Looking back


Lynette said...

I love this post. When God called us into ministry it was with the work in Luke to the rich young man. It meant that he wanted all that we are and all that we have for His glory. He also gave us the scripture in Isiah that says that the glory that belongs to Him, He shares with no other. I can truly say that the ministry that we are involved all His doing.

Thank you so much for blessing me with this post today:)

Christine said...

Lynette..this was all Gods doings not mine. My son brought this home this week end from a Mens retreat he went to. I happen to find this in the family room where he had left it and read it. As I was reading this I was so touched and convicted by this message. It is a step in faith to reach out and make a vow to God and then keep it.

I loved this....the gaining of new power, new life, new joy and new personal revival within your heart--you will do well to make certain vows and proceed to keep them. If you should fail, go down in humility and repent and start over. But always keep these vows before you. They will help harmonize your heart with the vast powers that flow out and down from the throne where Christ sits at the right hand of God.

God's Not Finished With Us Yet... said...

Wow Christine,

That was quite a post, but you're right; so worth the read.

Vows; when I think of this word it obviously first reminds me of marriage, but also because of this makes me think of very strong and powerful committments....(is 'committments' with two 'T's' in the middle are just one?)

Anywho, I love this post! It's so great to remember that we have to stick to what we confess we will abide to. And if we stumble or run into a road block than we know it's better to pick up where we left off, finish the race and complete the run; instead of giving up or turning away.

God will always allow us to come back to Him, swallowing our pride, admitting our weakness, and returning back to the vow we first made to Him.

But for me personally, I love the third vow; never defend yourself. That is something I know that I need to work on; allowing God to be my Defender, trusting that He will battle the fights I struggle with.

Thank you for posting this! This is great! And it's also so great that your son went to a mens retreat! How awesome is that?!!!

Love this read! Thank you for sharing! :D

Debbie said...

Putting myself last and God's will first is often a struggle. Thanks for the reminder to keep working toward that goal.

P-Dot said...

Loved talking to you and this is really full of powerful reminders. If you're not there yet, as a Christian, it gives a great goal to head towards.
Thank to God for great writings like this and thanks to you for listening for His voice.

Sarah said...

Well, there's a call to a challenge if I've ever heard one. Wow. Great dissertation and so much insight. Gives me so much to think about. I think you are spot on about how we don't call sin for what it is - there's always an excuse or a reason for the behavior or action. I need to get to the heart of the issue, particularly with my kids as well, so they can see its consequences. I have one son who has an excuse for everything!

But, I need to write these down and make my vow today! Thanks for the spiritual message this morning.

May God bless your day!

Bonnie said...

Wow, I was getting ready to do my Bible study - but I think I just did it. Alot of points hit home there. Serving and receiving Glory or desiring recongnition - yes Ive been there. To God be the Glory forever and ever amen!!!
Thanks Chris - I love ya.

Christine said...

I to had really only thought of the wedding vows as well. And as he says not to give up and keep working it through. As I was sharing with someone the other day, that it really is scary to step out there and commit to something so powerful as a vow. This truly was eye opening to me for sure.

Laurie said...

Thank you so much for posting this. It felt like water to my dried, parched soul! I'm going to read through it again...

Bev Sykes said...

I would send this to you by e-mail, but you do not post your e-mail address. I have had this discussion with SO many others before you over the past 20 years I have been on the Internet. It always takes the same turn. Short comments that escalate into huge diatribes citing countless biblical references, and includes ignorant comments like "sodomy is a lifestyle," which ignores lesbians and all celibate gay people.

When you and others like you obey ALL the rules of the bible (including all of Leviticus -- do you eat pork? wear mixed fibers?) then I will consider your biblical "proofs"

Thank you for praying for my immortal soul.

Christine said...

lol...Bev...of course we eat Pork and mix fibers...I really need to introduce you to the New Testament. Jesus came and freed us all.

Bev Sykes said...

I'm glad you find comfort in your Bible. I'm afraid I just can't believe in a document which is riddled with questionable statements. I think there are good thoughts to be found within its pages, but I think it is up to each of us to interpret it for ourselves...heck, that's what writers of various editions of the Bible have been doing for centuries!

Christine said...

There are only questionable statements to those who are on the out side looking in. You reference God but do you really know Him and understand Him? It all started in the Garden with Adam and Eve. They were told to stay away from the one fruit. They sinned, Adam and Eve at that point were alone, on their own, separated from God. Sin Separates us from God. In Gods eyes sin equals death. Until we come to know who God really is and why he doesn't ask for righteousness but demands it, can we begin to understand why He is who He is and what he has done to send a bridge back to Him.

Bev, You are where I use to be...on the other side looking in to what is a confusing book full of passages that make no sense, especially if you are only being quoted bits and pieces here and there. Until you come to the point that you need help, you will never reach out for it. And that is the beginning of the salvation process...admitting we are sinners and that we can't do it with out Gods help.

I'm not saying I have all the answers but if you want I'll sure search out any question you throw my way.


jenjen said...

Hi Christine!
Thanks for such a well-researched and thought out post! Just what I needed to read today. I am going to print it out and read it again.

You are so awesome!


The Farmer's Wife said...

I'm intrigued by this book! When I hear the word "vows", it reminds me of nuns or priests...and I'm not Catholic, so that's odd. But it carries the same sort of weight. I think sometimes I'm intimidated by the idea of creating a covenant with God, afraid I'll break it, or disappoint Him, forgetting I'm in relationship with Him by grace and grace, alone.

I read Bev's comments, and it caused me pause. Even after knowing Christ as my Savior for 32 years, I still dig, search, question, wrestle, and wonder, daily, in my faith. I tend to be sceptical of those who calmly accept everything, without question. Isn't that awful? But at the end of every struggle and quest, I find the Lord has been guiding me to a new relationship with Him, that was better and closer than before.

Thank you for this post. Another book for me to put in the B&N cart! I've been wondering about it, since you mentioned it a couple of posts ago. Good stuff, my friend!

Jeanneoli said...

I have so much work before me! I want to daily make the Lord first and I fall short, but my heart desires that. That hope I can grow to be so bold!

Jackie said...

Chris, I'm needing a new post here. :) Did you get a job or something? When do you go to Penni's? Throw me a bone, would ya? :) Hugs 2 all, Jax

Jackie said...

Well, I declare. I just looked back through your posts and realized I didn't see my original comment from about a week ago. Where did it go?? Lost in cyberspace no doubt! I really did like this post and I promise I left a nice comment about it too! ...Now I just need a new one. LOL!

Jules from "The Roost" said...

I really want to grasp each of these vows to their fullest!

Sherry said...

I love this post! I love your blog...I have three girls and the title should be mine, because all I do is wash, fold, put away, and repeat! LOL

I have stayed up way to late reading!

Ms. Tee said...

Hi friend - I hope you're doing well. I'm way behind on my blog reading - love the photo you have at the top. Hope you have a great Sunday :)
P.S. I can't believe your brother built a vanity like the one in PB. Yes, I'd love to see it sometime!

God's Not Finished With Us Yet... said...


I nominated you for the 'Golden Heart Award' after someone nominated me. So swing by my site tomorrow when it's posted on my blog and copy/paste it to your site along with the instructions.

It's such a joy to have met and be a friend of yours. You have such a sweet blog! I love it!

Your friend,
~Sarah Cecilia

God's Not Finished With Us Yet... said...

That's Cristine for enjoying my site. It's not always perfect and I will never say I am....I am constantly in the making.

By the way I have a vey similar photo of the image you have on your top post of "Five Vows" with the Bible and wedding ring, but it doesn't have the heart. It's under my 'Who are we?' tab. I love it!

I love yours too.

Your friend,
Sarah Cecilia

Angie said...

Hi Christine! I do post on both blogs, just not as often as i'd like. In the Yada Yada series there are seven books. I found a discount book store that is selling them for $5.99 ea. Woohoo! Happy Mother's Day to you as well. I have to work all day from 10:30am to 9pm. I will be pampering other Moms waiting on them when they go out to eat with their families. Wish me luck in the energy department!
blessings and hugs, angie