Devoted to Christ; Serving Him (Calvin)

Institutes of the Christian Religion (Battles Translation) (2 Volumes) The wonderful truth of the gospel is that those whom Christ died for are not their own, but belong to him, body and soul, in life and in death (see 1 Cor. 6:19-20 and Q/A one of the Heidelberg Catechism).  This is comforting and also motivating.  Comforting because it means my body and soul are in good hands forever.  Motivating because now I want to use my life to serve him out of thanksgiving and love.  It’s right and proper for the Christian to be committed, devoted, and dedicated to serving Jesus.  John Calvin has an excellent commentary on the Bible truth that Christians belong to Christ.  It’s found in Book 3, chapter 7, paragraph 1 of his Institutes:

If we, then, are not our own [cf. 1 Cor. 6:19] but the Lord’s, it is clear what error we must flee, and whither we must direct all the acts of our life.

We are not our own: let not our reason nor our will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds.
We are not our own: let us therefore not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us according to the flesh.
We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us therefore forget ourselves and all that is ours.

Conversely, we are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him.
We are God’s: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions.
We are God’s: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal [Rom. 14:8; cf. 1 Cor. 6:19].

O, how much has that man profited who, having been taught that he is not his own, has taken away dominion and rule from his own reason that he may yield it to God! For, as consulting our self-interest is the pestilence that most effectively leads to our destruction, so the sole haven of salvation is to be wise in nothing and to will nothing through ourselves but to follow the leading of the Lord alone.

Let this therefore be the first step, that a man depart from himself in order that he may apply the whole force of his ability in the service of the Lord.

I call “service” not only what lies in obedience to God’s Word but what turns the mind of man, empty of its own carnal sense, wholly to the bidding of God’s Spirit. While it is the first entrance to life, all philosophers were ignorant of this transformation, which Paul calls “renewal of the mind” [Eph. 4:23]. For they set up reason alone as the ruling principle in man, and think that it alone should be listened to; to it alone, in short, they entrust the conduct of life. But the Christian philosophy bids reason give way to, submit and subject itself to, the Holy Spirit so that the man himself may no longer live but hear Christ living and reigning within him [Gal. 2:20].

Beautifully stated; worth reading again!

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 2nd ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 690.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church
Hammond, WI

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