Jesus had told His followers, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Obedience to God is something many make light of. Yet, Jesus did associate love with obedience! When we trulyloveHim, obeying Him and His commandments becomes a natural outcome of our life as a believer. The two work together to draw us into intimacy with God. We must see that intimacy with God is a privilege and we will get as close to Him as we choose to. Let’s look at what Hebrews 10:22-24 says:
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
We live in a world where hatred is becoming more and more rampant. In the last handful of years, there is a new level of hatred and violence that has been released upon the earth that is causing great fear among millions of people. Hatred is taught by some as a means to prove one’s loyalty to a religious creed. Murder is taught as an automatic means to paradise, yet the Messiah teaches us just the opposite. There is no greater power than love. It is greater than the power of armies; in fact, it is greater than all the power of hell, but this is not what the world teaches us.
We are taught in God’s Word that we would not be able to love God except for the fact that God loved us first. There are several Scriptures that teach us this:
God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)
We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19 NIV)
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:5 NIV)
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The creason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 NIV)
In this last passage, we find the Apostle John making sure we understand that it is well worth—in fact, necessary—for us to purify ourselves because of what our LORD has planned for our eternal future. We discussed the need for purity as part of intimacy with God in an earlier part of this study series. Purity is connected with love and obedience which we are discussing at this time.
God has taken the first step in our direction. The next step must be ours. When we reach out to Him in response to His love and provision of grace, He draws that much closer yet to us. We find this in James 4:8-10:
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:7-10 NIV)
This is a passage of Scripture that speaks to both those who are new believers and those who have served God for years. For the young believer, it is a time of learning and training. We serve a God that loves us with a depth none of us can even imagine. All we need to do is respond to it. The more we respond, the deeper God takes us in our walk with Him.
For the more mature believer, this is a strong reminder of what our life of love and obedience to our King should be. It is easy to be distracted by the world and take our eyes off of what is really important. In some parts of the world, Christians are dealing with unspeakably violent horrors. In the West, we have an onslaught of materialism, entertainment, and depravity such as others in the world never experience. Each of us as believers have our own responsibility to maintain our Christian walk with the Spirit of God as He has offered it to us–no matter what stage of our walk with God we are in or where in this fallen world we live in. John 14:21 puts it well:
The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who really loves Me, and whoever really loves Me will be loved by my My Father, and I too will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him–I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him. (Amplified Bible)
If you read that Scripture word for word and meditate on what it says, not only does it show the importance of being obedient to our King because of our love for Him, but there is an amazing promise that comes with it! Jesus says that the person who loves Him enough to keep His commands will be drawn into an intimate fellowship with the Triune Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus promises to make Himself real to the obedient one! Amazing!
A concept that is hard for the old nature within a human is “quick and unquestioning” obedience. Some of the most extraordinary miracles have come about as God’s people obeyed when He instructed them to do unusual things. Extraordinary obedience like this and the supernatural result coming from this obedience is a study all of its own, but it must all come from our personal, intimate walk of love and obedience to our King.
Is it really a life of “good works” that we are living? After all, Jesus did say that if we live as we should, the world around us would see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven. The “good works” is not the goal. The “good works” of the Kingdom of God come out of our relationship with the King of the coming Kingdom. Quick and complete obedience to God does not start for any of us by doing good works, but rather by sitting at His feet and hearing His word. Devotion to the secret place is the saint’s first great act of obedience. Jesus said it this way:
But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are my mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” (Mark 3:33-35.)
So often believers put themselves on a treadmill of “Christian” activity, never stopping long enough to sit at the feet of Jesus. How many pastors, preachers, evangelists, or teachers of God’s Word give out God’s Word day after day in one form or another but never do the very thing that will give them the most power and anointing for the task–this being the uninterrupted time alone with God, so as to get new and fresh anointing and instruction.
Another great example of this very thing is found in Luke 10:38-42. Here is how it reads:
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. she came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
You might say that the demands of life are too great to take this kind of time. Here Jesus is making a distinction between what may need to be done and what must be if we are to get the most out of our intimate walk with God. The Master Himself was continually leaving the disciples behind so that He could spend time alone with the Father. If Jesus the Messiah felt it necessary, can we do any less? Matthew 14:23 is one of many examples of Jesus going off by Himself to pray:
“After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray.”
We find from reading the Scriptures that this was the habit of Jesus again and again. We must do the same if we intend to walk in love, obedience, and power the intimate Christian walk requires. All of the spiritual seminars, conferences, and spiritual think-tanks put together to come up with creative ideas for furthering the Gospel of Christ are worthless and will continue to be so without our spending that personal quiet time with the Spirit of God. God takes the wisdom of men and shows how foolish it really is! Is it not said in Psalms 33:10-11:
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever.
We should show our commitment by shutting ourselves in with the Lord and waiting for that private audience. I love the passage found in Isaiah 40:27-31. It reads like this:
Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Do we have time? Of course we do! It takes a reset of our priorities. A little less golf, a bit less football, a bit less arm-chair quarterbacking of our politicians, less time on social media, maybe a lot less time on video games, etc. Pick the poison that is sickening your spirit or leaving you spiritually anemic and set it aside! God is warning us again and again that the time of Grace is at an end and we must decide whether we are going to live for eternity or live for this world which is collapsing into chaos around us. What and Who are you going to choose?
I have been enjoying an excellent book that I would highly recommend. The book is “Secrets of the Secret Place” by Bob Sorge. One of the chapters has to do with obedience and I would like to pass on four points this author made in a chapter on Obedience. Obedience brings many benefits and below are four of them (with my own comments added):
- Obedience unlocks eternally abundant life.
Think about this: When we integrate ourselves with the Creator of our very being, His very own life force begins to flow through us! This is the life force of the Creator of the universe Himself! Where are the limits to this? What cannot be done? What wisdom will be lacking? What provision will escape His notice or power to meet? Some of us are quick to retort and say, “Well, I don’t experience these things when I spend time alone with God!!” Unfortunately, most of us try and push God into our own time schedule. After all, there is that football game to watch! I have that meeting to go to! God is God and He will do what He does when He decides to do it. It is not His task to accommodate me, it is my privilege to put myself totally at His disposal–even if it seems I got nothing out of it! That is never really the case anyway. As we “sow” ourselves into our relationship with Him, we will eventually “reap”, and it is likely to come running over like out of a jar that can’t contain the half of what is coming!
- Obedience incurs the gaze of God.
Isaiah 66:2 says, “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My word.” Imagine God being that intent on your attitude and your trembling spirit as you approach the opportunity to spend some personal quiet time in His Presence! He WATCHES for this!! 2 Chronicles 16:9 even says: “For the eyes of the LORD range (or roam) throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…” In the second part of this verse disappointment was expressed because the Israelite king Asa was not one of these and there was a price for him to pay he should not have had to pay. I would rather be one of those who is seen by my God as one fully committed to Him! How about you? I would like my Father to fasten His gaze on me in order to do good on my behalf! You?
- Obedience produces greater intimacy.
Anyone can express their love for someone else. Many express their love for Christ Jesus, but do they follow His ways? Do they obey His commands? Do they follow His example? Not near as many as make a profession of their love! Talk is cheap! Jesus taught us that the proof of love is obedience and love brings us into incredible intimacy with the Father. Have you ever thought of what it would be like to unlock the affections of Jesus for you? See, there is not a religion in the world that teaches of love in the way that we are taught in the Bible! Why is that? Could it be that this is the only Book that was authored by the God of love Himself? My motive for obedience to my LORD is because of the incredible opportunities to get closer to His heart as a result! Try it; you’ll like it!
- Obedience builds unshakable foundation.
The scripture used by the author is so good I will quote it here, from Matthew 7:24-27:
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.
Everyone has storms. I have and will again, and so will you. What is your foundation built upon? The closer you get to God, the more obvious and quick your obedience to the Master must be. This does not preclude confirming what you think you’re hearing from God by prayer, but once you have confirmed His Word to you, don’t delay. I am struck by some of the acts of obedience being performed in response to the Word of the Lord–no matter how strange and downright dangerous they seem, as they are given to Christian believers in the Middle East. God is honoring the faith and obedience of these courageous people with incredible miracles that are nothing less than outlandish! It is causing people to notice Who God is! God is showing in case after case that He is the Almighty, and the onlyAlmighty! There can be only ONE!
There is a depth of relationship available that I myself have not tapped yet, but I intend to get as close as I can. Will you commit yourself to the same? The Bible tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart! Then there was Abraham. He was called a friend of God! Wow! Then there was the prophet Daniel who the angel Gabriel said was greatly beloved of God! We could talk of Elijah who was taken from this earth before ever dying. It was the same with the ancient prophet Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. The Bible says that at the age of 365, the prophet was no more on the earth because as he was walking with God, he was no more on this earth, because God took him. God wanted him home!
There was only one David, one patriarch Abraham, one prophet Daniel, and obviously there can only be one Elijah and one Enoch, but God has made this same relationship available to anyone that is willing to pursue such a relationship.
In conclusion to this portion of this study, I pray that we can see how much God desires to be close to us. If you want it, go for it!