Monday, March 17, 2014

Our Duty - The Instructor and the Compendious Word of Scripture

This is a continuation of my series on Clement of Alexandria and his book, "The Instructor." If you are new to this series or are unfamiliar with Clement and his book, you may want to first read the introduction to this series.
"Knowing, then, the duty of each, 'pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: forasmuch as ye know that ye were not deemed with corruptible things, such as silver or gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.' 'For,' says Peter, 'the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.'" (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 3, Chapter 12)
Christ has come and made a way for us that we might be rescued "from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son." (Colossians 1:13) Our duty is to learn to walk away from the things of our past, from those things we did in ignorance, and to learn to fully enter into His Kingdom of love; to leave behind sin and lawlessness and to embrace righteousness and truth. Jesus did not come that we might become better religious people, He did not come that we might be corrected in our beliefs, He came that we might have a new life and that more abundantly. No amount of change can make us fit for what He has brought to us, we must learn to die to our old manor of life that we might live new in God's Kingdom.
"We have as a limit the cross of the Lord, by which we are fenced and hedged about from our former sins. Therefore, being regenerated, let us fix ourselves to it in truth, and return to sobriety, and sanctify ourselves; 'for the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.' ... But the best training is good order, which is perfect decorum, and stable and orderly power, which in action maintains consistence in what it does." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 3, Chapter 12)
The cross stands as a marker between our old life and our new one; showing us the way to blessing and joy in His Kingdom and warning us of past bondage should we desire to return to our old life. As we stand at the cross we have a choice to make: either to continue in our association with the world and its sin, or to sanctify ourselves for holiness and obedience to Him. To sanctify means to consecrate or to separate ourselves for one's service. We are no longer the world's that we might live for it, we are now God's possession, His children, that we light live for Him.

So the question remains, how does one learn to live anew in a new kingdom? How does one learn to forget their life of sin and learn a life of righteousness? It may seem rather nonspiritual, but Clement's belief is that the best trainer of our lives is a life of good order; a life of moderation, stability, and consistency. Such a life takes practice, both in wisdom and action, but it is a life that will bear dividends especially as we face the ups and downs of life. Some may see it as dull or boring, but how can a life consistently lived for God ever be such things?
"If these things have been adduced by me with too great asperity, in order to effect the salvation which follows from your correction; they have been spoken also, says the Instructor, by me: 'Since he who reproves with boldness is a peacemaker.' And if ye hear me, ye shall be saved. And if ye attend not to what is spoken, it is not my concern. And yet it is my concern thus: 'For he desires the repentance rather than the death of a sinner.' 'If ye shall hear me, ye shall eat the good of the land,' the Instructor again says, calling by the appellation 'the good of the land,' beauty, wealth, health, strength, sustenance. For those things which are really good, are what 'neither ear hath heard, not hath ever entered into the heart" respecting Him who is really King, and the realities truly good which await us." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 3, Chapter 12)
Clement is nearing the end of his book and, to some, his words might appear harsh or extreme. Some may feel that his tutelage is to strict to be followed as they prefer a more liberal life. However, he warns us that even the scriptures can speak boldly towards us, not to inflict us pain, but to lead us to peace and safety. Clement's concern is not for whether we obey him or not, but his concern, as that of the scripture, is for our salvation and for the good things that await us in the Kingdom of God. Those who accept the boldness of the scriptures will find the good things it has to offer; things which have no comparison in this creation, such as heath, beauty, wealth, and strength. These things come down from above, not from this earth. If we will learn to listen to and obey the words of scripture, then we will be blessed and will possess eternal treasures.

David Robison

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