The blessings of obedience to God...
Last week we talked about obedience to God and our focus was upon why must obey Him in all things, but also the reasons we often don’t. But today I want to talk to you about the benefits of obeying God. At the end of this little homily, my hope is that you will see its always, always better to obey God—-rather than men.
John Calvin was right when he said that “all true knowledge of God is born out of obedience”. So let me begin with that point. Do you want to know God and begin to grasp the awesomeness, majesty, might and love of God? It’s the by-product of obedience. You’ll never enjoy intimacy with Him until you yield to Him and obey Him. Do you really know God? Do you want to know Him?
So let’s talk today about the blessings that come our way, all the time, when we obey Him. And we should begin with the perfect example of a life totally obedient to God and totally blessed—the earthy life of Jesus. He came to earth and lived a life of perfect submission and obedience to God. The supreme expression of his obedience was Jesus' determination to submit to the humiliating and excruciating death of crucifixion…but it was also the supreme expression of his love for His Father. Oh to have sons that obeyed their Father like Jesus obeyed and trusted His father!
Do you want that an incredible, confident, powerful life of faith and intimacy such as Jesus had? I sure do! Here’s the secret: Jesus said “If anyone would come after me (that is, become like Him) , let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Following Jesus requires choosing to live a life of obedience—moving steadily away from our former areas of disobedience and back into the will of God. The power to do this comes from the Holy Spirit, but the decision must begin with us—-perhaps even this very day. Sure, there will be times when we disobey, but we are promised forgiveness if we repent and return to the Lord. This process of discipleship or sanctification, which restores the image of God in us, takes a lifetime and is completed only in the world to come. But as we draw closer to Him He gives us a taste of how glorious it will soon be—-and we lead others, but our obedience, to question their own disobedience.
But, again, I want to encourage you today with the blessings that follow obedience. As C.S. Lewis said, “Obedience (to God) is the key that opens every door.” Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep (which means “to obey”) my commandments” (John 14:15, NIV). Just as Jesus’ love for the Father was expressed in His obedience, so our love for Jesus is best expressed not in our acts of kindness, eloquent prayers or long verbal testimonies, but in our obedience (John 14:31; 15:9-10 ). When we demonstrate our love to Jesus, by obeying His commands, and adhere to the whispers of the Holy Spirit, the Father blesses us. Are you being blessed right now?
1. Let me tell you from personal experience the grandest reason and blessing for choosing to obey Him—-it increases your faith. And, of course, disobedience diminishes your faith. When I disobey it’s not that I stop believing in God so much as I start believing less in me! But when I humble myself and decide I don’t have to understand, agree or see the benefit of obedience, and yet I am going to nonetheless obey, frankly I feel stronger and better about my existence. My prayers seem to have more power, and I leave my time of asking for His help far more confident that He has heard me and that He holds me as the apple of His eye. Oh, He loves me when I am bad, I know that, but I am bolder in prayer and far more courageous to place my petitions before Him when I have done my part, by trusting Him and obeying Him.
The initial decision you make to obey God (to commit yourself to God and to surrender yourself to Him) gives you a new power over sin. It sets you free from sin. Paul said in Romans 6:16-18, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”
When we humble ourselves before God and obey Him, He gives us a new power over sin and a sustaining power to continue to obey Him when others might give up. Our obedience turns us from slave to our bad habits into slaves of righteousness. Right living becomes our nature and our heavenly desire.
2. The next thing to expect if you obey God is this: Your individual life will be blessed.
Isaiah 1:18-20 says:
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
God cannot lie. Test Him this. Obey Him and see how He blesses you!
3. Your obedience WILL lead others to salvation. Did you ever think about that and how th
e opposite is also true? The greatest horror any of us should be able to imagine is the eternal tragedy of some soul never coming to Jesus Christ because of our disobedience to Him! If anything should keep you awake at night, that should! People are watching to see if our talk matches our behavior when we think that no one else is watching. Are you being obedient to Him in terms of what you watch, listen to, where you go, and the very intents of your heart? You might think that no one else knows that you’re disobeying God, but Satan is waiting for the chance to let someone see a record of what you’re watching on the internet or the kinds of applications you have on your phone. He wants to devour, humiliate and destroy you and your reputation. But unwavering obedience to God will lead others, who have great doubts about the faith, to reconsider——as they marvel at your joy in obeying Him.
4. You will become intimate with God in a way the disobedient never can. Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:21, NIV. The word “manifest” in this verse means to disclose or to show oneself. It is a term of friendship. Obedience to God brings to us the friendship of the Father and the Son. There’s nothing grander in the universe!!!! In John 15:14 Jesus says it plainly: “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.” That thought, to be a friend of Jesus, is just overwhelming to me. It is hard to comprehend and describe it. It is so wonderful, so heartwarming. And just think, Jesus is willing to be a friend to anyone who will come to Him and obey Him.
5. By obedience we get to come to know God’s will. You do not get to know God better by defying Him, but by humbly surrendering to Him. It’s really quite simple: the more we do what God tells us to do the more we get to know Him as a friend. And the more we grow as His friend the more He reveals Himself and His will to us.
We will also find that His will is mysterious, awesome, breathtaking and quite overwhelming. If you make it our aim to obey God day by day He will show you who He is and will fill you in on many of His wonderful plans. You’ll soon be praying, as David did inPsalms 24:4: “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths.”
6. By obedience we find power for continued obedience. Things will happen when we obey God, miracles will occur…..our prayers will be heard and answered. What a marvelous thing!
7. By our obedience to the Father the Son, Jesus, is glorified. In John 15:7-8 Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” In a word or two, “you make Jesus proud”. And with that satisfaction in your obedience you discover kinship with Jesus. Jesus promised us that if we abide in Him (which includes our obedience to Him), we will receive answers to our prayers. In verse 8 Jesus said, “By this My Father is glorified…”
8. OBEDIENCE BLESSES THOSE WE LOVE THE MOST. The blessings from God spill over, erupt around us, and overwhelm us—-we will not be able to contain it! ….and it is witnessed and shared by those we love—-those to whom we are the closest.
Think about this: Jesus Christ, “who knew no sin” became sin for us “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). His perfect obedience to God’s law as God’s loving and faithful Son can now be imputed to us, and our disobedience can be laid upon him, setting us right with God, if we choose it. I can choose to be obedient today and I can determine to stop sinning because of the “dunamis (δύναμις)” of the cross! Are you connected to the source? If you are, your faithless will be a blessing to those you life with, work with and worship with.
I am praying every day for our nation with an intensity my parents’ generation did not—they didn’t have to. I can choose to obey, but I cannot force those I vote for to obey Him——I can only pray for them. G.K. Chesterton saw that it was not easy for a Christian nation to obey God —and that was 100 years ago! He believed that obedience to God is what a sane person, or sane nation should obviously do. But nations and people often don’t act very sane. In fact, he believed that achieving the true ideal of obedience might even be impossible for any nation. Impossible, he says, but not insane. But rather impossible because “we are preaching sanity to a planet (nations) of lunatics.”