For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. (Psalm 86:10-12)
A few weeks ago, I almost fell down the stairs. I was leaving for work and my heel got caught in the cuff of my pants. In an instant, I could see myself tumbling down the steps to be left in a crumbled, bleeding pile until one of my neighbors ventured outside. Thankfully, that did not happen. Just as instantly, I reached out and braced myself against the side of the building and stopped myself. More accurately, I put my forearm against the wall and the friction between my skin and the brick was enough to counteract the force of gravity and keep me from falling.
My arm sustained only minor scrapes, and aside from a thudding heart and shaking hands for a while after, I walked away virtually unscathed.
But that near fall got me thinking about truth. Until that moment, I knew about gravity. I believed it was real and it worked and that E=mc2 (though I don't really know what all those letters stand for), but it wasn't until I was facing a header down a full flight of stairs that the knowledge of gravity had an effect on my life. The proof that I actually believed it was revealed when I did all I could to counteract the reality of the force of gravity, and stop myself from tumbling down.
And that, truth which is followed by action, is the proof of anything we say we believe.
I can say I believe in the gospel and that the Bible is God's word of truth, but if I don't walk in that truth...if it doesn't determine how I live or effect the decisions I make and the standards I set for my life...then I really can't say I believe it.
Saying I believe that Jesus Christ was the Word in the Flesh, very God of very God, who became a man and died for my sins that I might escape the wrath of God and live with Him for eternity should not be the same as saying "I believe Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492." It is not just something we can rightly say we believe and acknowledge as a true thing and leave it at that. The gospel is a truth that requires action. Someone died for me, and not just a natural, peaceful death. Jesus died a horrible, torturous death BECAUSE of me...because of my sin. And it wasn't just that a good man took my place...God Himself did this for me. Not just to spare me a moment of pain, but an eternity of wrath...which I deserve.
To believe that compells me to respond and not just intellectually or emotionally. It requires that I "walk in" that truth. Failure to do so says I don't believe it really is the truth.
Just like my belief in the truth of gravity provoked a response from me as I began to fall, my belief in the truth of the Gospel (and thus the entirety of God's Word, both the commands and the promises) will provoke a response of obedience to that truth. It will effect how I walk. In practical terms it will effect the choices I make, how I am with my family, what I surround my life with, what I choose to take part in or avoid, what comes out of my mouth and what I allow to linger in my head or in my heart.
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: (1 John 2:3-5)