Do you remember hearing those words in a recent church service? Do you remember saying those words at a very big moment in your spiritual life?
“I do so intend, with the help of God.” That is the response given by the confirmand when he or she is asked, “Do you as a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church intend to continue steadfast in the confession of this Church, and suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?” (The Rite of Confirmation, The Lutheran Agenda)
The confirmation vow is quite a mouthful for anyone to say, let alone the young teenage Christian who comes before the Lord and the congregation to make this solemn promise. On the day of confirmation, we stand before the holy God and pledge to remain true to His Word and true to Him, no matter what circumstances or afflictions or persecutions we must face! It can be quite unnerving, to say the least, especially when you consider the opposition and the difficulties that always stand in the way.
Beware The Devil!
When the confirmand promises to hold firmly to the truth of Scripture, the devil is planning to deceive this believer with the error of false teaching. When the confirmand vows to diligently use the means of grace, the devil is hoping to lure the young Christian down the path of spiritual carelessness and neglect. When the confirmand makes it his firm intent to live a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ, the devil has other ideas, namely a hazardous journey through the spiritual minefield of temptation and sin. Satan remembers the moment of success he had with Peter in the courtyard. Perhaps he can topple yet another would-be follower of Jesus Christ.
Peter’s problem in the courtyard boiled down to one main thing: he had misplaced trust in himself. When he said to Jesus, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You,” he was basing his promise on his own strength of character. Peter forgot the last part of the vow. He forgot to say with his heart and his mouth, “I do so intend, with the help of God.”
The Mighty Means Of Grace
The vow of confirmation is never based on human strength or commitment. It is a vow of absolute dependence. While it is the sincere intention of our faith to remain true to our Lord, we express that intention with the knowledge that we cannot make this promise become reality. We are weak. We are under attack by a strong and vicious bully. We are too distracted by the people of this world and too attracted to the things of this world. It’s the pesky problem of our flesh, which leaves us with only one way to stand, only one way to remain true to the vow of faithfulness.
We look to the dependable “help” of God. We depend on the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to hold us up. The enlightenment of His Word will keep us anchored on the truth. The mighty means of grace will keep us nourished and growing in the faith. And the power of the cross will keep us on the road of repentance and sanctification, as we renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways and strive to live each day according to the will of our heavenly Father.
“I do so intend, with the help of God.” How else can it be? If we are faithful to Him, it is only because He has made us faithful to Himself.
We look for confirmation sermons to emphasize this truth, even as Scripture makes it clear: “It is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Php. 2:13).
Let us make and renew the vow of confirmation with this in mind as our hope and prayer: “May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24).
— Pastor Steven Sippert