Recently, the Holy Spirit has been reinvigorating my view on the importance of obedience. This may seem like a very elementary point that shouldn’t need reiterating, but He has been emphasizing the importance of radical, immediate obedience. The desire to hear God’s voice and the desire to obey God go hand in hand. As stated by Ben Dixon, “The fact is, if we don’t want to respond to what God says, then we shouldn’t want to hear His voice either.”
Until my recent study, I had never realized the emphasis that Jesus put on obedience over nearly everything else. Here are a few Scriptures to illustrate my point:
· “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love Him, and We will come and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words.” – John 14:23-24
· “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.” – John 14:15-16
· “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” – John 15:12
· “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” – Luke 6:46
· “My mother and brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” – Luke 8:21
· “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.” – Matthew 7:24
The result of obedience is friendship with God, the abiding presence of the Father and Son through the Holy Spirit, stability in the midst of life’s trials, and the promise of Christ that He will “manifest” Himself to those who keep His commands.
Obedience is the simplest yet most challenging of tasks in the Christian walk. As stated by a friend and mentor of mine, Joel Evrist, “Most biblical truths aren’t hard to understand, they’re just hard to apply.”
Psalm 19 illuminates in beautiful detail the joys of keeping the commands of God, saying,
The law of the Lord is perfect,
Converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure,
Making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right,
Rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure,
Enlightening the eyes.
The phrase “converting the soul” is sometimes translated “restoring the soul.” The Holy Spirit brought to my mind the words of Christ when He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work.” I picture this phrase “restoring the soul” like the body of a starving man who has had no nourishment; skin clinging to a feeble frame. So it is with our souls. The nourishment of the commands of Christ must be acted upon in order to bring the nourishment our souls need.
The Holy Spirit has helped to correct my thinking in regard to the commands of Christ. I used to assume the nourishment came simply from meditating on His commands. Although I would not have stated this outright, that is what my actions revealed about my thinking. The word for meditation in the Bible denotes a cow chewing cud. It chews its food over and over until it comes to a place where it can be digested. In the same way, we are commanded to continually have the commands of Christ circulating in our minds, being considered by our hearts, and being spoken by our mouths, but we get no nourishment by chewing alone.
The chewing allows the food to come to a place where it can be digested. In the same way, our meditation on the Word of God brings us to a place of understanding and revelation so we can digest its truth, but it brings no nourishment until it is swallowed. The cow can chew all it wants but it will never be fed until the food is entirely consumed. We will never receive the nourishment the commands of Christ contain until we obey them, until we swallow them wholeheartedly.
Joshua 1:8 is often quoted as an exhortation for the people of God to meditate on the Word. It says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Many emphasize the point about meditation but overlook the fact that the entire point of the meditation is so that we will obey the words we are meditating on!
James gets to the heart of the subject saying,
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25)
If we hear the Word but don’t do what it says, we deceive ourselves. Meditation without obedience leads to arrogance and self-righteousness. Conviction without repentance produces nothing. It is the doer that God blesses.
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