Obedience

Obedience

The Way to Deeper Intimacy with the Savior

by Elsje Zornes | January 1, 2014

“If only God would bring a romantic relationship into my life, then I wouldn’t be lonely and purity wouldn’t be such a strain.” “If only I had a decent amount of encouragement, then taking a stand for truth would come easily.” “If only I was a morning person, then getting up early for prayer would be as effortless as finding a grain of sand on the beach.” “If only my husband was a little more genteel, then submitting to him would come naturally.” “If only my bank account looked slightly more promising, then I would freely give to the poor.” “If only my emotions weren’t up-and-down like a playground teeter-totter, then I wouldn’t  have any problems not being catty towards others.” “If only I had more time, then I would be more faithful to study the Word.” “If only my parents understood me, then I would joyfully honor them.”

We’ve all heard, and uttered, similar statements, most probably more than once. For some reason, we are always looking for ways to excuse and exempt ourselves from obedience to the commands of Scripture. We are ingenious and cleverly creative in finding a hundred and one reasons why the commands of God do not apply to us and our current situation. If only we could be as committed to obeying the Word as we are to justifying our disobedience! Our flesh would just love to cling to those “if only” lies to soothe our defiance toward what our King is calling us to.

 

God promises all that we need for life and godliness; with no exception. And when the Bible says all that we need, it means...all! Our good and gracious Father does not give us a little sliver of grace for obedience, and then leave us exhausting ourselves in futile attempts to draw strength from the well of self-effort. He gives the full measure of grace needed to victoriously live the Christian life, not just sometimes, not just when our “if only” ideals become reality. Right now, in your current situation and season of life, God has made available to you all that is needed for glad obedience. It is when we are relying on our own strength and power to obey, and not on the power of Christ, that we find ourselves failing and faltering! It is then, when we are tempted to shift the blame for disobedience onto our circumstances; it is then that we insist that we would obey “if only”.

Whatever you might be justifying in your life now, will still be justified even when your circumstances change. If you are not disciplined in your quiet time with the Lord now, even though your schedule is as crowded as Walmart on Black Friday, then you will not be disciplined when “free time” has once again befriended you. If you are not living to honor your husband and the marriage covenant right now, as a single, then that dishonor will be carried into your marriage. If you are not giving out of your little, you will not give out of your plenty. God does not give us commands without also supplying the means to fulfill them. 

Growing up, one of my favorite answers to my mom’s requests, was “just now.” When she asked me to set the table for dinner, my simple answer usually was, “I’ll do it, just now.” Just now was a conveniently ambiguous term which I could use to acknowledge that I heard, and would obey her request...eventually! “Just now” could mean anything from 2 minutes to five hours to never. The undefined and unclear timeline of “just now,” allowed me to obey at my convenience, when I was ready to, not when I was asked to. Most of the time my “just now’s,” slowly and subtly unfolded into “not at all’s,” and my mom either had to repeat the command, or administer some form of discipline. In my mind, the postponement of my obedience was just perfectly acceptable, after all, I was going to do what my mom had asked, just on my terms and when I was ready to. That mindset didn’t make it very far down the “narrow way,” after I surrendered my life to the Lord.

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So many Christians today, have a “just now” attitude towards the commands of the Word of God. They acknowledge its truth and validity, and even go so far as to agree that Scripture is to be unconditionally obeyed. Yet, their lives do not affirm their claimed faith and confidence in the Word. They profess Christ with the lips, but deny Him with their disobedience to His holy commands. We cannot have a “just now” card ready in our pocket in our relationship with the One who saved and rescued us. It was only when I was older, and only a little wiser, that I came to see that sin and selfishness was firmly planted at the driver’s seat of “just now.” My delay in obedience was, in fact, plainly and simply: disobedience. We cannot delay our obedience to Christ until it fits into our schedule or it is convenient and easy for us. We can trust that God uses those moments when bending ourselves before the Word of God seems to be the hardest thing to do, to conform us more fully to the image of His Son, until we reach the point where we can join the prayer of Jesus; “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Christ’s obedience did not hinge on convenience, and we are called to walk in that same pattern.

What would the history of the world, and the fate of our souls have been if Jesus delayed His obedience to the Father’s will? What if Christ allowed His response to the Father’s commands to rest on convenience? What if He had an “if only” mindset, like so many of us do, and waited until He felt like it before laying down his life upon the Cross? Yet, because Jesus was instant in His obedience, a way was made for us to be reconciled and brought near to God. His obedience paved the way to His death, and paves our way to Life.

Obedience is an avenue to intimacy, and disobedience a hurdle to the same. Most of us crave and yearn for greater and deeper intimacy with our Savior, but we neglect the obedience intimacy demands. The Bible says in 1 John 2:3-5 “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”

Scripture makes it clear that is it those who keep His commandments that truly know Him. Those who choose to follow and heed His voice and not delay obedience to His precious commands are the ones who will enjoy sweet intimacy with the King. 

Martin Luther says it well: “Obedience is the crown and honor of all virtue”. May we all freshly evaluate our response to the Lord’s commands. Is obedience the crown of our relationship with the Lord, or do we simply obey when the feeling strikes? Prayerfully ask the Spirit to open your eyes to any areas of disobedience, and allow Him to build you into a woman who walks in instant, joyful obedience unto the Prince of your heart!