The Expository Files


 Holding Fast the Word of Life
“looking intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abiding by it”

Ezra 7:10


14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing;
15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,
16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

(Philippians 2:14-16)

A part of faithful living before God is “holding fast the word of life”. Turning to the Old Testament for a moment, it is from Ezra, a young priest that we can learn what is necessary, and the proper order.

For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel. (Ezra 7:10).

Here we see that Ezra "had prepared his heart..."
To seek the Law of the Lord
To do it
And to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.

I am certain that these are two different ways of saying the same thing. “Holding fast the word of life” is done by preparing our hearts to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach it to others. In this way we, as God's children, become lights in a fallen world.

A Diligent Search
If our appreciation for things spiritual and eternal is what it ought to be, then we will find ourselves incredibly interested in knowing more. This longing for the word of God is described by the apostle Peter as being like a baby longing for milk (1 Peter 2:2; cf. Matthew 5:6).

Holding fast the word of God also entails receiving it with meekness, and implanting it our hearts (James 1:21; Psalm 119:11). To accomplish this it would be good to make it a daily practice of personal Bible reading and reflection. There would also be the taking advantage of every opportunity to study with others. These would include Sunday morning and midweek Bible classes; private studies and Bible discussions (Acts 17:11; Ephesians 4:15,16).

We certainly do need to be careful and diligent about this. They say “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Jesus spoke of “the blind leading the blind” which doesn't sound like a good idea at all. To be a light in a dark and fallen world, I must properly reflect the spiritual values and truths of God!

A Consistent Application
James writes,
2 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;
24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.
25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25).

It is interesting who ends up being deceived if we do not apply what we teach. We deceive only ourselves (vs. 22)! We cannot deceive God because He knows our hearts. We do not deceive the devil because he has us right where he wants us, as hearers only. We do not deceive those who know us; they will see our inconsistencies.

We will also deprive ourselves of the true blessedness of God's Word, which comes in the doing of it, not just in the hearing of it - (vs. 25) Frankly, Jesus never commended those who knew the right things but did not live them. In fact, some of His most harsh criticisms fell upon people who “say and do not do” (Matthew 23:1-3). I doubt that there is much more harmful to the Lord's cause than such inconsistency.

It is in our "reasonable service", we can "prove" (demonstrate) that the Will of God is "good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:1-2). This is how we can show others that God's way is the best and only way! Let the world see in your life that you really believe that God's way is best!

A Sharing With Others
We saw how Ezra approached his faith as he

“set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra realized that this was the proper order. If we have properly studied and applied God's Word, it will be noticed and some will want to know more. Opportunities will be created this way.

We are to "proclaim the praises of Him who called (us) out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9-11). The “excellencies” have to do with God's excellent love and power and righteousness and majesty and glory. It is to show how good God is! It is to announce the richness of His blessings! It is to stand on His promises! It is to gladly tell of His gospel, the very word which means “good news”.

It was in the “prechristian” culture of the first century that Christianity began its work. It did so in places like Corinth and Ephesus and Rome. Gradually hearts were changed, and a large part of that change was motivated because the people of the day were seeing something fresh and good.

In time a falling away would come, and there would be great evils committed in that pure name by which we are called. The “better way” was obscured, as it is whenever men and women take it upon themselves to change its focus and message.

I may be concerned by the direction our culture has taken today, but I am also aware that today's environment is certainly no worse that first century Corinth. The answer is not to be quiet. Nor is it to give up. It is to become a part of God's plan; to set our hearts to know the law of God; to do it, and to teach others.


By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 18.11; November 2011