The word “resolve” means to make up your mind beforehand. For instance, before the next year begins, those who make New Year’s resolutions already determine how they will live differently than they lived in the current year. Then, whenever challenges to their goals come along, they can overcome those challenges – because they have already decided/predetermined their course of action! Now, there are many good resolutions you can make that will improve your physical life. However, the Christian has made the greatest resolution of all – the resolution to follow the Lord!
In Acts 11:19-21, there were many in Antioch who turned to the Lord. When the church in Jerusalem heard this wonderful news, they sent Barnabas (who was known as an encourager) to these new Christians (Acts 11:22). Then, Acts 11:23 says, “When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.” Other translations reference the phrase “purpose of heart” as “steadfast purpose” (ESV), “firm resolve of heart” (HCSB), “steadfast devotion” (NRSV), and “resolute heart” (NASB). So, in all of these translations, the idea is one of purposeful devotion/resolution to serving the Lord! Again, this would imply that you make up your mind to serve the Lord prior to any temptations or trials!
Why The Christian Is Resolved To Follow The Lord
Why has the Christian made such a purposeful decision to follow the Lord in every area of his/her life? Consider the following four reasons.
(1) Because he has been created for that purpose. Everyone should resolve to follow the Lord because that is the very purpose for which God has created his/her! The Christian has simply recognized his/her true purpose in life and has determined to live his/her life in fulfillment of that purpose. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 says that mankind’s entire duty is to fear God and keep His commandments, recognizing that God will bring every work into Judgment (including every secret thing – whether good or evil).
(2) Because he will be judged and spend eternity somewhere. This is true about everyone. However, the Christian has embraced this fact and is conducting his/her life in such a way that he/she can be judged to have lived a faithful life for the Lord and be rewarded with eternal life in Heaven! When your life is over, you will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ and be judged for how you have lived your life on the earth, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10). The standard/criteria that will be used in your judgment will be the word of God (the Bible). Then, if you have lived your life according to the instructions in God’s word, you will be welcomed to spend eternity with God in Heaven. However, if you have not lived your earthly life according to God’s word, you will be sentenced to spend eternity in Hell.
(3) Because Jesus died so that he would. Jesus Christ died so that every person would resolve to follow Him. Romans 5:6-11 reveals how that Jesus Christ was willing to die even for those who were not living according to God’s instructions. The Christian recognizes the great love of God and has determined to give his/her life entirely to God. According to Titus 2:11-14, Jesus Christ gave His life on the cross so that He would redeem for Himself those who would be “zealous for good works.”
(4) Because Jesus Christ is the way. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus Christ is the only Way to eternal life in Heaven – for everyone! He is the only Way the Christian has found the forgiveness of his/her past sins and the only reason he/she has any hope of living eternally in Heaven!
Why Resolve Is Needed
Now that we have seen the motivation behind this resolution to follow the Lord, let’s spend a little time thinking about why a resolution is even needed.
Godliness will always require a resolute heart
The things that are most worthwhile require the greatest effort! That is true physically – and it is true spiritually. Godliness will require that a determined effort be made. It is certainly much easier to do whatever appeals to your fleshly desires at any given moment than it is to deny those fleshly desires in order to serve the Lord! However, giving in to those fleshly desires (though it may result in instant gratification) does not lead to the lasting joy that comes from a Christian life! In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said that the way leading to destruction is broad (easy) and there are many people who walk on it. However, while it takes little-to-no effort to walk down the broad path, the path that leads to everlasting life is narrow and difficult. Therefore, it is the path that requires great determination and focus to walk on!
The way of the flesh is contrary to the way of God
One of the reasons that godliness will require such a strong resolute heart is because the way of the flesh is contrary to the way of God (the Spirit). This is plainly demonstrated in Galatians 5:16-26. Clearly, the flesh and the Sprit pull you in two very different directions – and you must choose between them. In fact, 1 Peter 2:11-12 says that the fleshly lusts (desires) “war against the soul”! So, this is not a small conflict! This is a war for your soul – to determine whether your soul will spend eternity in Heaven or in Hell! Consequently, being victorious in this war will not happen accidentally. Instead, it will require a resolute heart to follow the Lord!
Satan tempts you to sin
This war for your soul that is being fought between following the ways of the flesh and following the ways of God is intensified by the fact that you have an enemy who wants to destroy you (spiritually speaking). 1 Peter 5:8-9 identifies Satan as being your “adversary” (enemy), who is pictured as walking around like a roaring lion, seeking an opportunity to devour you! Thus, as you fight this war for your soul, you have an enemy, who is pictured as having schemes for defeating you (Ephesians 6:11). He learns your weaknesses and attempts to attack you through those areas. In addition, he is pictured as hurling “fiery darts” at you (Ephesians 6:16). However, God has promised that you can overcome Him – and has given you the necessary armor to equip you to do so (read Ephesians 6:10-18 and 1 Corinthians 10:13). Certainly, to overcome such a fierce opponent, it will take a determined purpose to follow the Lord!
The Christian must make a resolution to follow the Lord in every area of life: To study and meditate on God’s word daily, to practice New Testament Christianity, to correct any sin in his/her life, to put first things first, to put on the whole armor of God, to worship God in spirit and in truth, to become more like Jesus, to show Christ to others through his/her life, to build strong relationships, to use his/her words for good, to practice good stewardship, to encourage others, to be a doer of God’s word, etc. When your earthly life ends, whether or not you have resolved to follow the Lord will be the only resolution that matters!