Eric Metaxas, in his book, Seven Men and the Secret of their Greatness, spends a chapter focusing on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He presents one of Bonhoeffer’s foundational beliefs:
If one is unprepared to live out what one claims to believe, perhaps one doesn’t believe what one claims after all.
There should be a perfect correspondence between the revelation I receive, the thoughts I think, the loves I have, and the actions I take. However, perfect I am not, and therefore I am a duplicitous, double-minded, unstable, spiritual schizophrenic.
For example, I read of God’s holiness, However, I discount his good and strict Law, I invent ways to consider myself good and holy, I look down on others, and imagine God gives me a pass and a “good job” sticker.
I read of God’s atoning sacrifice, However, I doubt my complete forgiveness, I struggle with self-loathing, and then I turn to some form of religious asceticism or probationary period as I attempt to pay recompense for my some of my transgressions.
I read of God’s gifted righteousness, However, I doubt his unqualified declaration of my undeserved justification. So, I give myself a religious scorecard, play games with the strictness of God’s standard, and then walk in either unjustified arrogance or foolish despair — depending, of course, upon the day and my success rate.
I read of God’s omnipresence, providence, omniscience, omnipotence, and immutable affection. However, I doubt his intimate attention, I doubt his wisdom, I doubt his sovereign ability, I doubt his affection, and then I despair, fear, quit, compromise, and/or pursue some form of self-medication.
I read of God’s satisfaction, but I continually seek idol after idol, even though “I can’t get no satisfaction.”
What’s wrong with me?
Why do I neglect and then second-guess his timeless wisdom and scriptural teachings and principles?
Why do I get arrogant when there is absolutely no reason for boasting?
Why do I despair when my entire sin debt is already cancelled, and my righteousness account is full and over-flowing?
Why do I fear when there is nothing to fear?
Why do I continually go back to unsatisfying idols and then seek to replace them with other false gods? And why do I not pray when God tells me how powerful and effective it is?
Well, as for me, as for today, this insanity stops right now. The Bible says that God will keep me in perfect peace as my mind is fixated upon him. (Isaiah 26:34)
Therefore, I am ready to talk to my Heavenly Father. You might as well do the same.
Oh Father, let’s talk about you and your Word. It contains inspired, inerrant, immutable, truth. Those who know it, learn of you and your ways. Help me to be more convinced of the veracity of Scripture. Assist me to have the discipline needed to be more consistently immersed in your Holy Word. Jesus, you said it, “Your Word is truth.” May your Holy Spirit revive my heart so that I, with great passion, long to meditate on your Word day and night. If you will so incline my heart, I will be found in your Word, and it will be honey to my heart and head.
And Father, as I read and hear your Word taught and preached, help me to be transformed by your Holy Spirit. There are many who read and are not improved. Frankly, I have read and read and still only half-believe much that you have clearly taught me. Oh Lord, reading and hearing is not enough. Help me to believe. Help me to think differently. Help me to feel differently. Help me to lust differently. Oh Father, I am sinful. Forgive me for my “stinking thinking.” Forgive me for overvaluing the philosophy of the world and the vain-teaching of my flesh. I am your double-minded and unstable child. I abhor this! I hate my duplicity! Please convince me afresh of the truthfulness of your truth. I want to really believe you. I want to be a man of deep, consistent, faith.
Finally Father, I want there to be no discrepancy between your Word, my thinking, and my actions. With greater consistency, I want to worship as did Jesus — your perfect Son. With greater consistency, and with less sin, I want to read, believe, and obey. Thank you for paying for all my sin, including my duplicity. Now, grace me further, and help me to show you, my neighbors, and me, that I really believe that which I say I believe.