To Your Work, Christians, To Your Work!

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. — Romans 12:2

A few months ago our family made the monumental leap into the 21st century and upgraded my Mom’s ancient flip phone to a smartphone. (If you felt the earth shift last September, that was us…) Since that day Mom has been gradually overcoming the frustration of not having enough knowledge to do even the simplest things with her new phone. I help as often as I can, but I’m not always there. For weeks she couldn’t find her contacts, couldn’t make a call, and whenever she touched the screen something unexpected would happen. Not wanting to constantly ask me, she turned to others in her retirement community for help. More often than not they added to the confusion, and after such “help,” I needed to reset her phone to get it back to where she could use it.

I’m glad to say Mom is learning to use her phone. As it happens, lack of knowledge crippled her ability to use her phone, but a little knowledge enables her to do what she needs. As we will see in Hosea, lack of knowledge crippled the Israelites as well.

No Knowledge

In chapter 4 of Hosea, God turns his focus to his judgement against Israel. He begins by declaring that:

There is no faithfulness or steadfast love,
    and no knowledge of God in the land —Hosea 4:1

Instead of loving the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and mind, and their neighbors as themselves, the Israelites turned to the pagan gods of the nations around them and gave themselves to all manner of sins. Who does God hold primarily responsible for Israel forgetting him? Hosea points directly at the priests.

with you is my contention, O priest…
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
    because you have rejected knowledge,
    I reject you from being a priest to me. — Hosea 4:4, 6

The priests who should have been teaching and preaching God’s word and exhorting the people to know him were not only complicit in their rejection of the knowledge of God, but they had willfully forgotten his Law. By not teaching the Law to God’s people, the priests had crippled their ability to rightly worship God, and left them searching for answers among the pagans. Hosea therefore warns the priests that they will be rejected by God and the people will suffer. Israel needed to reset their understanding of God.

The Light of His Knowledge

The Puritan John Flavel, citing Hosea 4, applies Hosea’s warnings to Christians today, highlighting three areas where we may need to reset our knowledge of Christ:

“To the people that sit under the doctrine of Christ daily, and have the light of his knowledge shining round about them: Take heed ye do not reject and despise this light. Firstly, when you despise the means of knowledge by slight and low esteem of it … Secondly, you despise the knowledge of Christ, when you despise the directions and loving constraints of that knowledge; when you refuse to be guided by your knowledge, your light and lusts contest and struggle within you. [Thirdly] take heed that you rest not satisfied with that knowledge of Christ you have attained, but grow on towards perfection … And it is the sin, even of the best of saints, when they see how deep the knowledge of Christ lies, and what pains they must take to dig for it, to throw by the shovel of duty, and cry, Dig we cannot. To your work, Christians, to your work!”[1]

Christians, we need to cherish the word of God as the means he has given to us to know him; we need to heed the directions and loving constraints of God’s word and submit ourselves to be guided and transformed by it; and we need to not be content with mere tastes of the word, but we must hunger and thirst for more.

Be Encouraged

We no longer need to rely on unreliable priests for our knowledge of the Lord! For God has provided in Jesus Christ the perfect High Priest who makes the Father perfectly known to us, and he has given us his word in the scriptures of the Bible so that we may continue to grow deeper in our knowledge of Christ.

In today’s treasure the Apostle Paul encourages us to be transformed by God’s word:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. — Romans 12:2

Hosea, John Flavel, and Paul exhort us to dig into our Bibles at every opportunity. We need to be reading, studying, and meditating upon the treasure chest of God’s word, for it is there that we are transformed, resetting our hearts and minds with the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, so that we may know God’s will for how we are to live in a way that is good and acceptable and perfect.

Pray With Me

Father God, you have provided your transformative word by which I may be renewed in mind and heart with the help of your Holy Spirit. Don’t allow me to be content with the knowledge of Christ I have already obtained, but give me an ever increasing desire to discern your good, acceptable, and perfect will, so that I may present myself as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to you. Amen. —  adapted in part from Romans 12:1-2

[1] John Flavel, The Fountain of Life,’ Works Volume 1, Banner of Truth, 1820, 1968, 41-2. Quoted in Chester, 92. (final exclamation mark mine- how could I not?)

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