A thousand thoughts and desires flood the mind daily, yet there is only one body of thought that can give meaning and wholeness to our lives, and that is “The wisdom that descends from above (James 3:17). A thousand words can pass our lips, yet the only ones that Jesus calls us to live by are “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Both Moses and Joshua urged the people of Israel to “meditate day and night” on the Law of God in order to walk in His blessing, but their subsequent apostasy suggests that this didn’t happen. The truth for Christians today is this: Jesus is the Word made flesh; we are flesh re-made by the word. As James put it (James 1: 18): “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.”
The flesh of Jesus was perfect as it was the human incarnation of The Word; God expressing Himself perfectly in human form. The flesh of Man is, of course, imperfect, as we are born into the corruption of sin; and it is only the word of God that can work His perfection in our lives as He speaks into our spirits and “writes His Law on our hearts.” As Paul writes to the Corinthians, Jesus writes our lives as His own epistle: “Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” (2 Cor 3:3)
Jesus calls us to be “yoked” to Him. (Matt 11:29) If we want to understand how it’s possible to be yoked to the living Christ, I think it’s helpful to think of the material of His yoke as His word. We can’t accept His yoke unless we have died to self and picked up our cross – but if we are to follow Him closely we need to know where He is walking. And if our lives are to be His epistle, then the substance of who we are and the motivation for what we do must be found in the words that He has spoken. We cannot be like Him or do the things that He did unless the core and very makeup of our lives are the things that He says. Whatever our flesh says, whatever the enemy might whisper, our response must be: “Lord, what do You say?”
We have, in the Bible, a wonderful library of what God has already said. Whatever revelation we have by the Holy Spirit in these days will be grounded in something on the shelves of that Library. When Jesus gathered His disciples for the last time before He ascended into Heaven, they might reasonably have expected to be given a wonderful new revelation to propel them forward into the next phase of their lives. But instead He points back to the words He had already spoken during His time with them, and further back, to the Old Testament:
“Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me. And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Luke 24: 44-45).
More than anything, we need the Holy Spirit to open our understanding to the Scriptures. As Jesus spoke with His disciples shortly before going to the cross, he makes this wonderful promise: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him,” and in the next breath he assures them that they aren’t going to forget what he has said, because “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14: 24, 26.) The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to bring the word of God alive in our hearts, to make us His epistle, as we have already noted.
Finally, there is more to walking in obedience to the Word of God that the matter of being “yoked” to Jesus, essential though that is. Psalm 119 is a treasure trove of truths about God’s word. Just to pick two jewels: It is settled in Heaven (verse 89). Even perfection has its limits, but God’s commands have none (verse 96). Even a cursory reading of just a few verses make one truth absolutely clear: God’s word is the perfect expression of heavenly perfection and power. Nothing on Earth can even begin to approach it in beauty, truth and majesty. It is imbued with the very atmosphere of Heaven; and that is why the Word can only be brought to life by the Emissary of Heaven who dwells within us: the Holy Spirit. But once the Holy Spirit has brought God’s word to life in our hearts, there is one thing that does connect this capsule of Heaven to the mortal realm of Earth, and that is our obedience. Our obedience grounds God’s word on Earth. When we do what Jesus says, the creative power of the Word is released into the world.
To love Jesus is to keep His word. If we do that, He and the Father will come and make their home in us. It is our obedience to the Word of God that brings Heaven down to Earth.