Resolutions, an encouragement for you

Posted: January 11, 2012 by doulos tou Theou in Uncategorized

from The Cripplegate:

As we discussed last week, the seventy Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards exemplify an eternal and God-glorifying perspective that all believers ought to emulate.

But let’s be honest. A list of spiritual goals compiled by one of church history’s greatest heroes can be a bit intimidating, especially when there are seventy of them. When we make similar resolutions — and later fail to keep them — it can be downright discouraging to compare ourselves to someone like Jonathan Edwards.

Well, here’s a nugget of encouragement for you.Even a notable Puritan theologian like Edwards struggled to keep his resolutions.

As historian George Marsden explains about Edwards:

It was one thing to make such a thorough and impressive list of resolutions; it was another to keep them. This we know from his diary, in which he reported his efforts fairly regularly for the next year or two. Although he noted the spiritual highs that he later recalled, his diary also records many days of lows, “decays,” and lengthy times of inability to focus on spiritual things.  (A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards, 24)

Here is one such example from Edwards’s Diary:

The last week I was sunk so low, that I fear it will be a long time before I am recovered. I fell exceedingly low in the weekly account [regarding keeping my resolutions]. I find my heart so deceitful, that I am almost discouraged from making any more resolutions. — Wherein have I been negligent in the week past; and how could I have done better, to help the dreadful low estate in which I am sunk?

Sound familiar?

Like all believers, Jonathan Edwards experienced times of temptation, defeat, and discouragement. His ongoing fight against the flesh is reminiscent of the struggle Paul described in Romans 7. Edwards’s battle resonates with us because we wage that same war each and every day.

So, how did he overcome those times? Even after periods of failure and fatigue, what was the key to renewing his resolve?

The answer is as simple as it is profound. Jonathan Edwards realized that his resolutions failed when he tried to accomplish them in his own strength. They could not succeed unless he relied on God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit for their accomplishment.

In his Diary, Edwards explained that the key to his spiritual vitality was not the mere making of resolutions, but rather a full dependence on the Spirit and grace of God.

Here’s what he wrote:

I find, by experience, that, let me make resolutions, and do what I will, with never so many inventions, it is all nothing, and to no purpose at all, without the motions of the Spirit of God.  . . . There [must be] no dependence on myself. Our resolutions may be at the highest one day, and yet, the next day, we may be in a miserable dead condition, not at all like the same person who resolved. So that it is to no purpose to resolve, except we depend on the grace of God. For, if it were not for his mere grace, one might be a very good man one day, and a very wicked one the next.  (January 2, 1722)

read the rest here

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