The Bible describes God “sealing” His people. God’s people are “sealed unto the day of redemption” by His Holy Spirit, Paul writes in Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30. As Gerald Flurry writes in Malachi’s Message, when God seals you, His part is sure. He will do what He has promised, no matter what.
What about your part? Though God has sealed you, that seal can be broken by your actions. “God’s part of the sealing is secure,” Mr. Flurry writes, “but the final outcome is not known until we are born sons … Covenants and seals can be broken by men. But God’s Word cannot be broken. This is the character we must build to become members of God’s Family.”
This shows a major difference between God and human beings. When God commits to an agreement, He keeps it—period. When you and I commit to agreements, we can—and do—break them.
But biblical manhood is about becoming like God. How? By keeping our word.
Much of the time, our agreements, our commitments, our promises are to other people. It is critical that we put a high value on being reliable men of our word to others. The seriousness with which a man fulfills his word says a great deal about that man’s character.
But think about whether you keep your word to God.
A man who is striving to embrace biblical manhood speaks often to God, praying on his knees, at length, on a daily basis. In doing so, he speaks of how he wants to improve: I want to pray more passionately—I want to love my wife and children more—I want to devote more time to reviewing my Sabbath notes—I want to overcome this or that sin. These are good thoughts and good words and good commitments to make.
When you take such matters to God, do you follow through with them?
God keeps track of these statements. “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God,” says Ecclesiastes 5:2, 4-5, “for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. … When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”
You and I need to be careful in what we tell God. He holds us to account! Do not make a promise you cannot keep. Do not be rash in what you say.
That is not to say you should never make any kind of commitment to God, or that you should carefully say everything with non-committal wording. It is to say that when you commit to God, you must strive diligently to follow through.
You and I must develop godly character to keep our word to God.
We must strive harder, work harder, pray harder. We must cry out to God more passionately, not just for a day or a week, but day after day after day until we follow through, make a permanent change, and keep our word!
Talking Back to God?
Revelation 3:14-17 shows God correcting the Laodiceans and them answering back, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing. “God tells them they are slothful and lethargic, yet they respond, Sure God, I am that way, but I have a reason for being that way,” Gerald Flurry wrote in How to Be an Overcomer.
Then Mr. Flurry showed how we may also talk back to God—but in a subtler way. “Sometimes we’ll hear a sermon or read an article and be inspired to do something,” he explained. “We start for a week or a month or so and work very hard on what we are going to do, but we don’t have enough daily prayer and Bible study and occasional fasting to sustain us.” Notice that! It is our failure to take the necessary steps to receive the spiritual power we need that causes us to fail. “Then we begin to think, Maybe I just overreacted; I really didn’t need to be that zealous. In a sense, we begin in a subtle way to talk back to God. But we must be careful to keep that inspiration alive in our lives, because that is what is going to motivate us to seek the Kingdom of God” (emphasis mine).
Measure yourself by that standard! Because God is measuring.
Does God consider you reliable? When He tells you to do something—by showing you something you need to change through Bible study, prayer, literature, a spoken message, a conversation or an experience—can He count on you to follow through? God does not forget!
This is why God’s truth is dangerous knowledge. We are accountable for what we learn.
“The human man is made literally from clay,” Herbert W. Armstrong writes in The Incredible Human Potential. “God is like the master potter forming and shaping a vessel out of clay. But if the clay is too hard, it will not bend into the form and shape he wants. If it is too soft and moist, it lacks firmness to ‘stay put’ where the potter bends it. … [T]he human clay must be pliable, must yield willingly. … [Yet] if he is so lacking in will, purpose and determination that he won’t ‘stay put’ when God molds him partly into what God wants him to be—too wishy-washy, weak, lacking root of character, he will never endure to the end. He will lose out.”
God must be able to rely on you and me to stay put when He shapes us! Yes, we need His guidance and power. But we also need that “root of character” within us to do as God instructs. That “root of character” is not the holy, righteous character of God. It is a necessary ingredient for God to be able to build His holy, righteous character in us!
The overwhelmingly prevalent and comfortable attitude is to simply fail in our attempts to overcome, and then to make excuses after the fact. But as the saying goes, “An excuse is nothing more than the skin of a reason wrapped around a lie.”
Examine yourself on this area of biblical manhood. Compare yourself to God. When He says He will do something, He does it. When He gives a promise, He keeps it. When He resolves to accomplish something, He sees it through. This is God’s character, and this is exactly what He is working to create in us! Do not think, God is God; I can never be like that. Your potential, your purpose, your duty to your God and to others—and your only hope beyond this life—is to be like that. Ultimately, God must build that in you.
“Why is it impossible for God to sin?” Mr. Armstrong asks in The Incredible Human Potential. “No greater power exists that will prevent Him—but God has simply by His own power—supreme and above all power—set Himself that He will not!” (emphasis mine).
This seems overwhelming perhaps, and with the human spirit alone, it is impossible. You cannot accomplish this by simply willing yourself into following through. You need God’s help! You need His Holy Spirit!
How to Do It
Here are four practical points for becoming a man of your word before God. (You will also find these beneficial in keeping your word to everyone else as well.)
1) Ask God to set your priorities. God knows what you can handle. He does not expect you do more than you are capable of. Appeal to Him to influence your decisions on what to focus on, what to pour your heart and effort into, what to use His Spirit to accomplish.
2) Only commit to what you can fulfill. Jesus Christ lived sinlessly and showed that this is possible. When He dwells in us, He can live a sinless life through us. Never compromise on striving for that. But when it comes to specific commitments like, I will pray for 10 people every day; I will use my Bible in my study; I will approach that person about that problem; I will strive to help my child overcome this weakness; I will sacrifice this and that—do not just let these lightly tumble off your tongue in prayer. Don’t be rash with your mouth before God. Seek His guidance, carefully consider what needs to be done, and take your word to Him seriously.
3) Keep track. We are human beings and we forget. We forget even our seriously considered, earnestly delivered commitments to God. When we get up from our prayers, we quickly become distracted or overwhelmed. Record your commitments, your projects, your plans. Make note of the sin you are specifically besieging. Write down the virtues you want to grow in. Do not let these commitments exist only in your mind while you are praying. God remembers them—you must too!
4) Change one thing at a time. Real change requires focus. If you try to change too much at one time, your focus is diffused, and your efforts are ineffective. Choose the most important thing, commit to it, and keep it at the forefront of your thinking. Grapple with that commitment day in and day out until it becomes a new habit. A good rule of thumb: No more than one per month.
In the Overcomer booklet “Science of Spiritual Warfare” chapter, Mr. Flurry emphasized the example of King David, who in one instance committed adultery, murder and deception. “But after he repented, David never committed those sins again—and there is a reason why,” Mr. Flurry wrote. He quoted Psalm 51:1-3, where David said, “My sin is ever before me.” “From that point forward in his life, David kept that sin right before his eyes. He had a clear mental picture of his problem—kept it right before his eyes—and never let it happen again. And any time that old man—that carnal nature—began to rise up, David went on the offensive and smashed it! That is how he was able to avoid that sin and become a man after God’s own heart.”
We must become like God and keep our word. Developing strength of will to follow through is a battle. We cannot win by our own willpower, but we can keep our word to God—and we must keep our word to God—by using His power. As Mr. Flurry wrote in Malachi’s Message, “Covenants and seals can be broken by men. But God’s Word cannot be broken. This is the character we must build to become members of God’s Family.”