For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 43

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13

If you have ever worn braces, you are familiar with the work of an orthodontist.  The latin word “ortho” means straight, right or proper.  So, an orthodontist is one who helps you get your teeth straight. In this passage, we are reminded of how important it is to get our beliefs, our lives and our attitudes straight. Let’s take a moment to understand our faith in three theological terms- Orthodoxy, Orthopraxy and Orthopathy. 

1.  Orthodoxy: “right belief” It is essential for disciples of Jesus to believe true and sound doctrine.  This comes through “holding fast to the word of life.”  We can never relinquish our grip on God’s Holy Word if we desire to maintain right belief. Like braces for our teeth, the more we spend time in God’s Word, the more our convictions will be rightly aligned with God’s.
2.  Orthopraxy: “right actions” It is essential for disciples of Jesus to live rightly, walking in a manner worthy of the gospel and bearing fruit in keeping with repentance. We are called to be “blameless… without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.”  A true faith will always produce the works, or lifestyle characteristics or a disciple.  Faith without works is dead.  A belief that is not translated into an action is not truly a belief. Ultimately, a belief is not a conviction unless it finds its way into your daily living.  If your beliefs and behavior are inconsistent, you are living a divided, hypocritical lifestyle which will only result in deep suffering.
3.  Orthopathy: “right affections and attitude” It is essential for disciples of Jesus to be inwardly consistent (affections and attitudes) with their outward profession and works of faith. Striving to be “innocent” and learning to “be glad and rejoice” is a reflection of having a right affection and attitude.  When we hold the right belief, that should lead us to act rightly with the right attitude. Orthopathy is the “secret sauce” for Christian living, because it addresses the unseen, unspoken motivations and thoughts that exist under the surface.  In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke to the orthopathy of His followers on multiple occasions, including the Beatitudes, anger and murder, lust and adultery, retaliation and loving your enemies and even what is happening inside of us when we give to the poor, pray in public and fast from food.  Christian orthopathy requires that we invite the Holy Spirit test our affections and attitudes for malware- “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24

Here is the kicker… we cannot believe right, behave right or be right in our attitude and affections until we are “made right” with God.  Read this passage from Paul in Romans 3 and take note of the various expressions of “made right” and how it is accomplished in our lives. (bold added for emphasis)

“But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.  Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.” Romans 3:21-28

As Paul so eloquently describes, we can only be “made right” with God by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.  By placing our faith in Jesus to forgive our sins as the perfect sacrifice, we can enter into a right relationship with God.  This is the first and most important of all- Orthocognatio, which means “right relationship.” 

It does no good to try to get someone to believe like a Christian, act like a Christian or think like a Christian, if they are not yet a Christian. Without a right relationship with God, nothing else in your life will ever be right.

Warren Mainard

Let’s conclude with these four reflective questions:
1) How is my relationship with God? Am I in a “right relationship” with God?
2) Is God’s Word shaping my belief and conviction? Do I have “right beliefs”?
3) Am I walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel? Is my lifestyle (“right actions”) aligned with Scripture?
4) Is there any malware in my motivations? Has God searched my heart to find “right attitudes and affections”?

If something in your life is not right, if you have gotten off track in some area of your life, the road back to God is through repentance.  Confess to the Lord where you have been wrong, turn from the ways you have sinned against Him and receive the full relational forgiveness that will restore you into the orthocognatio that God desires for you.

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