Monday, January 26, 2015

It Always Comes Back To Obedience

                Over the past few weeks, well, probably more like months, I have been having this back and forth conversation with the Lord. I have struggled with so many various things in my walk, and it seems like I do well for a little while then revert back to old self once again. It was like I had a sort of knowledge, but never could seem to come to the full understanding of what it was that was missing from my walk. Sometimes I draw close to Him in my words, and when I am praying there is a knowing that He is with me, but yet I find that my heart is still far from Him. I sing the songs at church, raise my hands because I am “feeling” it, but yet there just seems to be something missing through it all. In our conversations, He has, every time brought me back to a life of obedience. He tells me that it will always come back to obedience.
              There is a theme that runs throughout the Old and New Testaments, in every book, in the Gospels, in the Epistles and even in the book of Revelation, the same theme runs throughout. It is a theme of obedience. From the beginning of time all Adam and Eve had to do was be obedient to what God had asked of them. But, they were tempted, and they disobeyed, and they threw all of humanity into their disobedience. From Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to David, to the Kings of Israel one thing remained, God was always calling His people back to a life of obedience in Him. But we are a rebellious people, we really don’t want to do what God is asking us to do, let’s face it, we are selfish people. But there His call is, over and over again in the Old Testament for His people to just listen to His commandments and keep them.
                Now enters Jesus. The One and only One who can or ever will walk in perfect obedience to the Father’s will. The One and only One who can walk so perfectly that He fulfills every prophecy, every law, every requirement laid down for us and nails it- nails it all to a cross where He then dies for us, in obedience to God the Father’s will. It is finished. All the requirements, all that was against us is gone. We now live under grace. But, I think this is where we forget that one simple theme that runs throughout our Bibles. We forget that even Jesus tells us to “keep” His commandments. Salvation in Jesus Christ is not a free pass to go and live your life in your flesh the way you want to live your life. No, salvation means that you believe in Jesus Christ, and that now your life is no longer lived for you, but now lived for Him- in total and complete obedience to every single word He speaks.
                “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) If we love Jesus we will have no other Gods before Him. If we love Jesus we will honor our parents. If we love Jesus we will not steal, or cheat or lie to one another. If we love Jesus we will keep the commandments, because the love that we have for Him is seen through our obedience to His Word. You cannot say you love God and hate your brother. (1 John 4:20) As I ponder on this life that Jesus lived before us, I see a life of complete and total obedience. I know that some of you are probably saying that was God in the flesh, He is the only one who could ever live such a perfect life of obedience, and you would be correct. But we forget that we have His Holy Spirit, the same Person who was with Jesus while He was on this earth is in us too. We have access to the same power and the same strength that Jesus did. We just choose not to allow Him access.
                When I think about my life thus far as a Christian, and I look around at the people who are called Christians, I am saddened. Because I think more and more of us are using grace as an excuse to live in our flesh, rather than choosing to live a life of obedience, like the one Jesus lived for us. I think we are missing out on a huge part of our Christian walk if we do not obey His commands. If we say we love God, then our lives will be a life of obedience. We will choose to live as He has called us to live, holy and separate, unspotted from the world. Jesus walked the example before us, but we have rationalized our having to follow His example with “well, we are sinners”, or “that’s why we have grace”. Grace is for those who are walking in obedience to His will and sin, that is when grace covers us. Grace was not meant for us to live carnal lives and use grace as an excuse to sin. That is taking grace way too far, and you are using God instead of serving God. 

                It saddens me to see the state of our church today in this nation. I see more and more women chasing after teachers who tickle their ears, and make them feel good about being a mom and wife. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a good wife and mother, but without obedience to God’s word first, all our efforts are in vain. We say we love Christ; that we have given our lives to Him, yet we choose to live in our flesh rather than in the strength and power of His Spirit. Without obedience there can be no fullness of life. If you believe otherwise you are deceiving yourself.  A true Christian who loves Jesus will choose to live their life in obedience to the Father’s will and His word. A Christian who wants to live in the carnal desires of their flesh will use grace as their covering and their excuse.
                I am not saying that we are made perfect by our obedience, or that by our obedience we are saved. That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that we cannot truly live full lives for Christ if we are not obedient. The Law does not save me, only Christ saves me. But we also cannot forget the commands of our Lord and Savior, we cannot just gloss over the words of obey and obedience, and say that we have grace. When we do this we take the sacrifice of our Lord for granted.  We discredit His example of obedience and make His death a formality for our carnality. Friends, can I please urge you to take some time for yourselves today to see the emphasis that God’s word puts on us obeying His commands. When we say we are His, yet we do not do what He says, we have become liars, and we are breaking His heart. We say we are His but our hearts are far from Him.
                Remember what the Lord spoke through Ezekiel? “So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.” (Ezekiel 33:31) Does this sound familiar? We go to church on Sunday, we say “amen” when the preacher says something really good, but then we leave and forget everything the word of God taught us that day. We take all that we have heard for granted and toss it by the wayside. We have become hearers of the word only and not doers at all. (James 1:22)
                I know that I sound like a broken record, because this is not the first time that I have written about our lack of obedience to His Word, but in all honesty my heart is breaking. My heart is breaking for those who say they are His and do not do the things that He asks them to do. My heart is breaking for those who are believing that they are going to go to heaven, when in fact they are going to be the ones He says, “Depart from Me I never knew you.” These are the ones who tell you on Sunday how much they love you, but when some trial comes upon your life they are the first ones to leave you. These are the ones that Jesus says He will vomit out of His mouth. (Revelation 3:16-17) They believe they are safe because they do all the right Christian things, they serve in all the right Christian ministries, but their hearts are far from God. They do not obey His word, they teach it, but they do not obey it. They preach it, but they do not keep it. They talk about it, share it, but they do not do the things that He says.
                Let us not be deceived, for it breaks my heart to think of all those that have professed their belief, but have chosen instead to live a life of carnality. I used to be one of them. I thought I was doing all the right things, serving in all the right ministries, doing all the right Christian things, but in the end, the one thing that I needed most in my life was not the serving, the titles, the ministries, it was obedience, plain and simple. All those works they are nothing, because I was not following in obedience. Let us not miss the theme that runs through the Bible, for if we do not do the Word of the God, then we are just hearers, and we have become lukewarm;  and He will vomit you out of His mouth, and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    “Therefore the Lord said, ‘In as much as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandments of men;” (Isaiah 29:13) Let us not be so confident in our own conceit that we do not take the time to examine our hearts before the Lord. Let us not be so confident in what we think we know that we are not willing to open our hearts and minds to the knowledge that we may, in fact, be deceived. Let us not think so highly of ourselves and our doctrines that we miss out on the blessings of the fullness of His grace through Christ Jesus our Lord. Let us not be so full of ourselves that we forget to be doers of His word and not hearers only. I pray today that you will begin to see that a life lived in obedience to His word is not only an Old Testament principle, but that it is also a New Testament commandment. I pray that you would wake up and examine your walks, your hearts, and your life before the Lord Jesus. I pray this in hope, through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen and Amen.