There is a place for discussion and there is a place for doing. Sometimes we do a whole lot more discussing than doing. As far back as 2,000 years ago, Paul the apostle noticed this penchant for endless discussing and inaction:
“Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.”
Sometimes it is the Scriptures that we endlessly discuss and do not act on. The author of Hebrews urges us to get beyond being stuck there:
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine [Greek “logon,” which also means “word,” “principles,” or “discussion”] of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation. …”
You can lay a foundation again and again and never grow because you do not build your life on it. The words in the Bible just preceding the verse from Hebrews above are all about practicing, and this is what the author is trying to get his hearers to do: Practice faith this minute, don’t just talk about it.
In today’s column I wish to share as concretely as I can the way to turn discussion into action—or faith into “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26). You do it by developing a habit of worshiping God on the spot whenever Satan tempts you with any kind of thinking that is contrary to what the Word of God says. Just as it is possible to develop bad habits, it is possible to develop good habits.
You know the kind of unscriptural thinking I mean. Satan reminds you of all your past sins. He suggests that you may not be forgiven. He gets you to confess obsessively sins God long ago cast behind His back. He suggests that though your sins have been forgiven, the destruction you caused will last forever. He gets you to think that your sins are worse than the sins of anyone else you know. He convinces you that your sins are a special case, and nobody knows how bad you are, and you are all alone in this. He says you have to be realistic and not expect that your life will significantly improve.
Satan need do nothing more to keep you from being fruitful and joyful than to keep your thinking the same old way as before. Here is a very simple thing you can do to own that transformed mind God wants you to walk in (Romans 12:2): Whenever renegade thoughts pop into your mind, do not delay. Immediately say something like, “I praise you, Jesus. This moment I proclaim my faith in you before all the principalities and powers. I believe you have forgiven me, you love me, you have given me all I need for life and godliness, and I believe that nothing is impossible for you.”
That is the whole Christian life. Nothing else matters.