There is a world of difference between good intentions and true resolve that translates into changed living.
A lot of people would love to be Joshua, the man of conviction seen in Joshua 24:15. But before you can be the Joshua of verse 15, you must be the Joshua of verse 14.
Joshua 24:14-15 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
There are some character traits that we must allow the Holy Spirit to develop in our surrendered hearts if we are to become people of true resolve. Notice them with me.
The Fear of the Lord
Psalms 25:12 What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
No person will have a true resolve to serve the Lord who does not have a true understanding of Who the Lord is. Joshua had learned much from his parents and from his tutelage under his mentor Moses. He had learned that God was the ultimate Judge, not men. It is the Lord Who decides what is right and what is wrong. It is the Lord Who determines what is enough or what is too little. It is God Who will reward, Who will chastise, and Who will bless. It is not the measure of man that is final, but all is up to the decision of God. God is the Great Decider!
2 Corinthians 5:10-11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
If ever we are to be Christians who see their intentions go to resolved Christian living, it will be when we have a proper fear of the Lord as the One who will measure, decide, and judge our lives.
An Allegiance to Sincerity and Truth
The word sincerity means literally “entire.” In other words, we must serve Him with our entire being, completely, with our whole heart. No hypocrisy! No hint of saying one thing but doing another. Intentions will never become resolve and commitment if we are content to be false with God before men. Hosea said that Israel was a “cake not turned.” They were willing to appear to be something on the outside that they were not on the inside. No believer is perfect, and all of us can be false; but the danger is when we are willing to accept that false testimony of surrender as our permanent condition. Joshua learned to serve God completely in Joshua 1:6-9, and the key to his entirety, his sincerity, was his commitment to the Word of God. Our resolve to follow through on commitments made will be evidenced by our commitment to the Word of God. The way to blessing is meditating on His Word and observing to do all that it commands. Yes, we fail; but we repent and correct. It is that contrite and broken spirit that God can bless. That one who refuses to appear to be what he knows he is not. Real confidence and success come from walking with God with sincerity (entire) and truth (His way).
A Putting Away
This is the most difficult step in getting from intentions to commitment. The process of “putting away.” Our friends, family, flesh, and even the devil do not mind us intending to serve the Lord but hate when we actually serve the Lord. Satan will fight us every step of the way and often uses those closest to us to defeat us. Don’t forget Joshua is announcing this to his family, friends, and closest relatives. But get this: “action must accompany intention.” In our lives, our intentions, our decisions, and our promises will be useless if we do not put away the sin that hinders.
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
What needs to be put away in your life if your intentions are going to become commitment?
The difference between intentions and commitment comes down to a very basic decision. Joshua said in verse 14, “choose ye this day whom ye will serve.” He chose to serve God. The basic question is what do we want? This world or Jesus? The songwriter put it this way:
“I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold,
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.”
Joshua decided. His intentions became resolve to serve the Lord. Are we living today in the realm of intentions or commitment?