Is Your Cart Before Your Horse?

imagesAs I was talking with some young men at a youth detention center yesterday, I noticed that they were somewhat confused by what we had told them. My partner had tried to lay out very clearly the concept of salvation from Ephesians chapter 2. On one hand he explained emphatically that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ and that we can’t earn our way to Heaven. Next he was telling them the importance of repentance, which literally means a change of course or direction. The idea of salvation through faith and the necessity of a changed life had them confused. I realized that these young men were not the only ones this befuddles. One part of the church emphasizes faith to the point that they believe obedience has little effect on their salvation while another part emphasizes obedience to the point of becoming enslaved to the law again.

When I set out to clarify the concept, the Holy Spirit gave me an illustration. If you are old enough, you are probably familiar with the saying, “Don’t get the cart before the horse”. This is exactly what some people do when they try to gain salvation through their actions. Galatians 2:16 know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified. In this case the horse is faith in Jesus Christ and our actions are the wagon. Putting the wagon in front of the horse makes the entire rig uncontrollable. It is sure to send you veering of course. The wagon is designed to be pulled by the horse. This arrangement is very maneuverable and ensures your ability to stay on course. Staying on course is of utmost importance since Jesus told us the road we are to travel is straight and the gate we enter is narrow. Mathew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.

 In this illustration, the wagon which represents our actions will always follow the horse. Our action will always indicate what we truly believe and have our faith in. Because of this, we must use our actions to check our heart condition. If we are yielding to the Holy Spirit in faith, we will not be acting under the control of the carnal nature. If we are acting carnally, we are placing our faith in something other than Jesus. In other words, if our wagon is going down the wrong road it is hitched to the wrong horse. The horse of faith never deviates from the path of righteousness. Galatians 5:16  I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. While the wagon can’t pull us to the Kingdom of God, we can certainly tell if we are headed there by determining which road our wagon is on. When we find our wagon on the wrong road, the only answer is to hitch it to the right horse. We need to reconnect with Christ by giving the Spirit control when our actions don’t line up with what we say we believe. Faith in Jesus is the only way to salvation but our actions will always indicate the condition of our faith.

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1 Comment

  1. Mike

     /  October 17, 2013

    The problem often times is our definition of repentance. What if it means a change in mind. His kindness leads us to repentance, a change of mind. We need to change our mind about who God is. This will end all the misunderstanding, wrong thinking, about salvation and faith in Christ.


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