A.N. Martin

B. Childress
Sep 03 2010 08:00 A.M.

What are the roots of a life of principled obedience?  If you and I are to render to God a life of conscientious conformity
to his will, what foundational perspectives must be present in our hearts?  The psalmist tells us the answer when he
declares, 'Jehovah is my portion: I have said that I would observe thy words.'  Our text displays two of the roots of a life
of principled obedience: (1) a saving choice of God - 'Jehovah is my portion'; (2) a determined commitment to serve God
and to do his will - 'I have said that I would observe thy words.'  Without these two tap roots securely fixed in the heart,
there can never be a life of principled obedience.  

First, the psalmist affirms that Jehovah, the great God of the Covenant (the God who now has manifested himself to us
in the person of Jesus Christ), is his portion.  In other words, he has taken God himself to be the supreme object of his
love and devotion.  He has made a saving choice of Jehovah to be his God.

How does the New Testament express this perspective?  In order to answer this question as simply and clearly as
possible, let us take as our point of departure the so-called 'I-am sayings' of Jesus recorded in John's Gospel.  Jesus
affirmed, 'I am the bread of life.'  The true believer responds from the heart, 'O Lord Jesus, you are my portion of bread:
I will feast on you as the only healthful food for my soul.'  The Son of God said, 'I am the water of life; if any man thirst let
him come to me and drink.'  The genuine Christian replies, 'You are the portion of my cup and my inheritance forever.'  
Christ asserted, 'I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father except by me.'  The new creature in
Christ responds, 'I choose your way, your truth, your life and repudiate every false way; you are my only portion in this
world and in the world to come.'  This is the very essence of true biblical conversion - to choose Jehovah according to
the terms of the revelation which he has made of himself in his Word and in his Son, to embrace him as our portion, as
our life.

Dear reader, if you have never seen your sin and recognized your desperate need of God's saving provision revealed in
Jesus Christ, if you have never acknowledged your desperate need of that which Christ alone can give to needy sinners
in virtue of his perfect life and his sin-bearing death upon the cross, a life of principled obedience to God is impossible
for you.  All of your determination to live a life of principled obedience will either end in total frustration or you will
become a self-deceived formalist, content with outward conformity to a code of decency and a form of religion which may
gain the applause of men but which does not please God.  In order to do God's will, you first must make a saving choice
of Jehovah to be your God.

By God's grace there are many who have made such a saving choice.  This, however, is but the first root of a life of
principled obedience.  Coupled with it is the second -
a determination to serve God and do his will.  If there has been a
saving choice of the Lord to be your portion, then there will also be a determined commitment to serve God and to do
his will.  The psalmist says, 'I have said [as the expression of the deepest resolution of my heart] that I would observe thy
words.'  The God who is his portion also is his Lord and Sovereign.  The psalmist not only has taken Jehovah to be all
that he has revealed himself to be as the God of saving mercy; he also has taken Jehovah's words as the rule of his
life.  Commenting on this passage, Charles Bridges observed:

    If we take the Lord as our portion we must take him as our king.  'I have said,' this is my deliberate resolution, 'that
    I would keep thy words.'  Here is the Christian complete - taking the Lord as his portion and his word as his rule....
    All that we are and all that we have, are his; cheerfully surrendered as his right, and willingly employed in his
    work.  Thus do we evidence our interest in his salvation.

Do you have the roots essential to a life of principled obedience?  By God's grace have you chosen God himself,
revealed in Christ, to be your portion?  I am not asking whether you have chosen to live a decent life, or chosen to go to
church, or chosen to raise a hand and have an evangelist pray for you.  No!  Has the Holy Spirit unveiled to you the
depth of a need that can be met only in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ?  Have you chosen him to be your
portion?  And has there been a determined commitment to serve God and to do his will, a joyful resigning of your will to
the lordship of his will, and the choosing of his words to be the rule of your life?

Is this true of you?  If it isn't, you have no biblical grounds to say that you are a Christian.  And that may be the heart of
the problem with you when it comes to trying to live a life of principled obedience.  The root of the matter simply is not in
you.  There has never been a saving choice of God himself and a determined commitment to serve him.  And if there
has not been, then here and now, while he is yet near in grace and mercy, make the Lord your choice and bow your
neck to him.  Come under the yoke of the Lord Jesus who said, 'My yoke is easy, and my burden is light' (
Matthew 11:


A LIFE OF PRINCIPLED OBEDIENCE, by A.N. Martin, Copyright 1992, The Banner of Truth Trust.