For the execution of divine commands, before it becomes habitual, may shatter the pure brilliance of virtue and fall short in its judgments, clouded by the fog of sense-bound thinking. The keenness of profoundest contemplation, on the other hand, once it has perceived the countenance of the truth, neither hesitates, nor slips, nor is ever darkened by any cloud.
- Eriugena, Homily on John 1.1-14, Irish, 9th century
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You…
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
- Psalm 119.11, 14
Let’s take a close look at Eriugena’s thinking.
First, he suggests that “the execution of divine commands” – keeping the Law of God in good works of love – can become “habitual.” Obedience can be so much a part of who we are that it just flows from us, as the Spirit takes the Word and transforms us increasingly into the image of Jesus Christ (Ezek. 36.26, 27; Jn. 7.37-39). To love this way is not burdensome (1 Jn. 5.1-3); it’s just who we are in Christ and His Spirit.
However, this doesn’t happen automatically. Too often we allow the “fog of sense-bound thinking” – our own best ideas about this, that, or the other – to cloud our decisions, so that we neglect the Word, fail in obedience, and “fall short” of what God commands.
The way to improve “habitual” obedience is through “profoundest contemplation”, in which we search the Scriptures, seeking the face of God and longing to enter into His glory (2 Cor. 4.6). As we read, meditate, pray, and wait on the Lord, we will ultimately come to perceive “the countenance of truth”; and when we do, we will with joy and enthusiasm obey whatever God requires.
Thus we go from meeting with God in His glory to living for the glory of God in every area of life. Glory to glory: This is the way to inward transformation, obedience, good works of love, and rejoicing in the truth (2 Cor. 3.12-18; 1 Cor. 10.31).
When we’re first trying to obey the Word of God, before the Word is really lodged in our hearts, we’re going to make some mistakes, miss some opportunities, act in selfish rather than self-denying ways, and otherwise fall short of the glory of God.
That’s OK, as long as we don’t get comfortable there. We must always be ready to confess our sins, repent, and return to the Lord (1 Jn. 1.8-10; Ps. 119.59, 60). The goal must be to store up the Word of God within us, so that it penetrates deeply and becomes part of us, cauterizing and renewing the soul, and redirecting the outer life increasingly, in every area.
As that is being accomplished, what flows out in our lives will neither hesitate in obedience, slip on temptation, nor cling to any shade of darkness. It will be just right obedience, issuing from a heart that is just right with God.
The key is searching the Scriptures in meditation, as Eriugena and the psalmist agree; and meditation takes time. All of Scripture leads us to consider Jesus (Jn. 5.39). We must seek the face of Jesus, and the glory that is revealed there, spending long moments in silence, waiting on the Spirit of God to unfold the meaning of His Word and shape us into the Savior’s image. Let yourself be embraced by the beauty, majesty, holiness, grandeur, and nearness of Jesus. Wait on Him, until His glory begins to do its transforming work in you, so that you can live for His glory in all you do (1 Cor. 10.31).
The more time, effort, and faith we invest in meditation and fixing our eyes on Jesus, the more “the execution of divine commands...becomes habitual”, that is, becomes the reality of who we are. Meditating on the glory of God, we are transformed into His likeness on Whom we meditate; and we live for His glory more and more each day.
This is the way to realize more of the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
1. What is the glory of God? How can we know when we are in the Presence of God and His glory?
2. How much do meditation and waiting on the Lord factor into your spiritual life?
Psalm 27.4-6 (Joanna: Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise)
One thing we request but to dwell with You, Lord,
Your beauty to test and to think on Your Word.
In trouble You hide us secure in Your grace;
no foe may o’erride us: We sing of Your praise.
Help me to take seriously Your call to meditate on Your glory, Lord, so that I…
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T. M. Moore
 Bamford, p. 72.