Alter Your Course

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There is a human tendency to resist change; however, God commands us to be different. A quote from one of the great debates of American history speaks to the need to periodically assess our lives and make corrections.

Early Americans viewed the existence of a standing army as a threat to their personal liberty, and the question of maintaining an army during peacetime was quite controversial. At our country's inception, locally conscripted militias acted as both the police force as well as the primary national defense against invasion, while a federal army was only put together on a temporary basis in times of need. In 1798, an intense debate began in Congress over whether the army should be disbanded now that peace had been achieved. Among the debaters was John Nicholas, a representative from Virginia, who asked a profound question. Out of concern that the army was too costly and that the rising national debt was in itself a threat to national security, he inquired,

Is a nation never to alter its course? Is it never to determine whether it has done right or wrong, and change its system? Is it to persevere in doing the very work of its enemy, and never to retrench an expense, though ever so extravagant?

Our country has long since decided that the benefits of a standing army are worth the expense and the risk to individual freedom, but Mr. Nicholas's point is one that can be applied very broadly. As Christians, we should be asking these same questions about the way we live our lives.

Are we never to alter our course? Are we never to determine whether we have done right or wrong, and change our way of life?

God calls for us to repent when we come to believe the gospel message (Mark 1:15 Mark 1:15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
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, Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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). In Haggai 1:4-6 Haggai 1:4-6 [4] Is it time for you, O you, to dwell in your paneled houses, and this house lie waste? [5] Now therefore thus said the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. [6] You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but you have not enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earns wages earns wages to put it into a bag with holes.
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, Israel had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon and began to build nice houses for themselves, but meanwhile God's temple remained in disrepair. After convicting the people of their negligence, God admonished them: "consider your ways!" In the New Covenant, the Church is the temple of God: "the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1 Corinthians 3:17 1 Corinthians 3:17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
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). Have you allowed your spiritual life to fall into disrepair by drifting away from God's commandments? Consider your ways - determine whether you have done right or wrong, and, if needed, change your way of life!

Are we to persevere in doing the very work of our enemy?

When we do no not repent of our sins and turn to do what is right, we are doing Satan's work by weakening our defenses. On the contrary, James 4:7 James 4:7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
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tells us that we can fight back by obeying God and resisting temptation. In James 1:12 James 1:12Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him.
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, we're told, "blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life." Instead of working for the enemy, we should be keeping God's law and fighting the urge to sin, thereby building God's temple rather than destroying it.

Are we never to retrench an expense, though ever so extravagant?

The expense of not repenting is certain death, and this expense is made even more dire by the reward to be gained by repentance and faith towards God, which is eternal life (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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, Ezekiel 18:20 Ezekiel 18:20The soul that sins, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be on him.
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)! And, better still, not mere human life, but a resurrection to the same glory to which God has exalted our Savior (1 John 3:2 1 John 3:2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
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). If we are not willing to repent with so much at stake, then God has no use for us: "if anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1 Corinthians 3:17 1 Corinthians 3:17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
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).

You may be aware that Passover is approaching. God commanded Israel to remember this day each year because God had delivered them from bondage in Egypt, and it was on this same day that Christ was offered as a sacrifice, delivering Christians out of bondage to sin and death. Paul encouraged the Corinthian church to observe the Passover very carefully: "but let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For whoever eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself" (1 Corinthians 11:28-29 1 Corinthians 11:28-29 [28] But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. [29] For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
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). This is a time of year that God has called us as individuals to "consider our ways" and to alter our course. Let's be sure that we know what God requires of us, that we repent of what we have failed to obey, and that we do all that God commands!