‘I am under vows to you O God; I will present my thank-offerings to you. For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling that I may walk before God in the light of life’ ~ Psalm 56:12-13
A Believer is under vows to God, a vow that must be fulfilled. That vow was taken the day we became born-again, the day we believed and accepted that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (Romans 10:9), declaring that we will walk in His ways and live for Him. The prayer that we made was not simply one-off, but a vow that we made to God. Some do not realize the magnitude of their salvation and so afterwards run helter-skelter, not knowing that they are under vows to God. Solomon cautions us, ‘When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfil your vow’ (Ecclesiastes 5:4). The single most important vow that we can ever make to God is giving our lives to Him. And not keeping it is synonymous with ‘call(ing) down curses’ (Mark 14:71) on ourselves, as we invite God’s wrath. That is why Paul urges, ‘Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of the eternal life, to which you were called when you made your good confession before many witnesses . . . I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Timothy 6:12,14). So, the sooner we start living out our confession of salvation, the better. There must be no delay.
Whether we know it or not, when we became saved, we started being under vows God. This vow is for life. It is as Paul says, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is not an event but a continual state of being, a lifestyle practised daily. That is why David says, ‘. . . I will ever sing praise to your name and fulfil my vows day after day’ (Psalm 61:8). In essence, salvation is a lifestyle of thanksgiving/praise and rest. David who declares that he is under vows to God, proceeds to declare that I will present my thank-offerings to you. So, fulfilling our vows to God as Christians means that we always need to be in a state of thankfulness/praise to God, no matter the circumstances within and around us. In other words, we are to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’ (Philippians 4:4). Paul even urges, ‘Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name’ (Hebrews 13:15). Praises and thanksgiving are the fruit of our lips, a sacrifice we offer to God in fulfilling our vows.
Fulfilling our vows to God also means rest. Resting in God is looking to Him in all things, and allowing Him to act on our behalf. Isaiah says, ‘Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him’ (Isaiah 64:4). When we become born-again, we fulfil our vows by resting from our works, and accepting God’s rest in Christ Jesus who beseeches, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28). It is only by resting in God can our faith be truly activated, so that we can ‘fight the good fight of faith’ (1 Timothy 6:12). The ‘fight’ lies in relinquishing control of our lives by allowing God to take full charge. The Christian life is a continual suppressing of our wills by allowing God’s will to dominate every area of our lives. This is a real struggle, a fight – but a good one. Jesus sets us an example to always declare; ‘Yet not as I will, but as you will’ (Matthew 26:39).
When God delivered David from death and his feet from stumbling, David knew that his deliverance was not without a purpose, but that he may walk in the light of life. In the same way, those under vows to God, those born-again, know full well that God wiped away our sins and delivered us from death. We know the price Jesus paid for our salvation, ‘though I know not its measure’ (Psalm 71:15). We are thus saved and delivered not to live as we formerly did, but to walk in the light of life. Our salvation is not a label, but an increasing transformation. We who ‘were taught with regard to your former way of life’ (Ephesians 4:22), ought ‘to put off your old self, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind’ (v22-23). But it is only by fulfilling our vows of thanks/praise and rest can we be renewed by faith in the spirit of our minds. For, ‘In returning to rest shall ye be saved, in quietness and trust (faith) shall be your strength’ (Isaiah 30:15).
‘This is what the Lord commands: When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said’ (Numbers 30:2). When we become saved, we must yield to God so that He can enable us to do everything we vowed, for ‘A matter shall be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses’ (Deuteronomy 19:15). When we become born-again, we do it in the presence of God (the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit), and in the presence of our own spirit. ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us’ (Hebrews 12:1). Since the declaration of our salvation was made in the presence of God, and in our own presence (and for some in the presence of others), this means that the matter has been firmly established in heaven and on earth.
When we revoke the good confession we made of salvation by starting to live in ingratitude and refusing to rest, God and our spirit testifies against us. We are considered grumblers, rebellious, religious, Sabbath-breakers and faithless, because we have gone against our vows to God. ‘And without faith, it is impossible to please God’ (Hebrews 11:6). Solomon in fact says, ‘It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfil it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest before the angel, “My vow was a mistake”. Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God’ (Ecclesiastes 5:5-7). This goes to show the intensity and seriousness of our salvation before God. We cannot turn back, or protest by our words and actions by disobedience. In fact, for those who turn back, ‘It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them’ (2 Peter 2:21). It is therefore important for a Believer to be aware that they are under vows to God. A vow that must not be revoked.
‘Therefore, since you have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire’ ~ Hebrews 12:28-29