When you think of obeying, in the Scriptural context of course, what is it that goes thru your mind, law or grace? Is your mindset in relation to 2nd Thess. 3:10, where Paul was speaking to them and said that if a man does not work, he should not eat, one that says you should get up every morning to the alarm clock and head off to earn your paycheck for the majority of your life so that there will be food on your table? Do you believe that you should still adhere to all the commandments of the Old Testament, or just a few, those that you think should be obeyed?
The thought of obedience, even among many followers of Christ, brings with it the notion that if we do not obey, there will be consequences for our inactions, that God is in a sense just waiting to punish us for not following what He has commanded us to do. Look at Romans 10:4 here for just a moment please, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” What laws do you think you should be obeying if Christ is as this verse states, the end of the law? Some might say that we as Christians are still to obey the ten commandments, but I can’t seem to find that anywhere in the words of Christ. Others believe that we should not work on the sabbath, but every day of the week is the sabbath for the servant of Christ.
“And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31) This man thought he could trip up our Lord, many thought they could, but what I would like you to see here is in verse 34, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” Not far, but not in the door, and not going to enter thru that door with the answer that he gave.
You may think that this man was obeying, right, that his answer was the correct one for entrance into the kingdom of heaven, but Jesus said it was not. These are works, and no works done by man gives anyone the right, if you will, to come onto the presence of God, we are saved by grace through faith. What then are we to obey, if all our works are as filthy rags, (Isa. 64:6) what is it that shows to our Lord that we are indeed faithful and obedient servants? How about showing up to church every weekend, praying, tithing, helping the poor and needy, or perhaps it is all of them, and if we are remiss in any, then we are not obedient servants of Christ.
There are some that believe that we are to love our neighbor as our self, and thereby we are fulfilling the law of Christ, we are obeying, but is this not one of the commandments given to the children of Israel in Leviticus 19:34. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2) Here we find two commandments that set us apart from the lost, and I am sorry to say but from many who profess Christ also, love our neighbor and carry our brothers burdens with him. But even if you were to obey these, and any others from either the Old Testament or the New, even if you obey them all to the letter, it would not be enough.
We are to walk by faith, not by sight, (2nd Cor. 5:7) not by works done by men, not by following a pick and choose type of belief system, but by faith. If you want to obey the Lord our God my friends, here is how you do that, you walk by faith. The works that a believer in Christ does are produced by the Holy Spirit within us, anything outside of His leading is a waste of time. Though it may sound good to us, though we may believe that we are obeying, if we are not doing so in faith, then it is a filthy rag. This is a very fine and touchy subject, if you will, for how is anyone to know the things that we are doing are from and for the Lord, there’s a lot of what we will call good people out there who are definitely not saved doing from very fine and wonderful deeds.
Would we be obeying if we told everyone that we met that what we are doing for them is because we love the Lord and He has led us to this work, maybe we could carry around business cards that say something like, “Hi, I’m a Christian, what can I do for you.” “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jer. 17:10) It is our heart that lets us know when we are obeying.
I have found that most of the time when I have felt as if I was obeying the will of God, when the works, if you will, that produced fruit were of any consequence and my mind was at ease that I had indeed been obeying in a matter came after one thing happened each time, I was patient. I waited on the Lord for His guidance. It is still not easy for me, I am an adamant man, and when I meet someone who does not know Christ as Savior, not every time mind you, but there are times that I do not always put my best foot forward. Most generally these are individuals that I am meeting for the first time and they themselves have brought up some items that invariably come out of my mouth about our Savior, but sometimes it is also with people that I have known for quite some time, those who know me as a Christian but still have not come to the knowledge of the grace of God.
Not very time that we are obeying are we obeying as we should be, sometimes in other words we get a little zealous and try to jump ahead of what the Lord may have had planned for that person. This is not to say that we have ruined His plans and He will have to start all over, that would be ridiculous, but what we have done in these circumstances has been not to wait for specific orders, as it were, we have jumped ahead when we should have stood down for a little longer. Patience is the key, but it can also be a major hindrance.
There are those who sit around and wait, and wait, and wait. This is not to say that they are not willing to serve, but they are indecisive because of a lack of the ability to hear what the Holy Spirit is trying to say to them, and the reason is usually quite simple, the world is in the way. Worries, concerns that have no real value, even the television when it becomes the focal point in the life of the believer can hinder their ability to hear what the Spirit is trying to get them to hear, they are unable to obey because they have in a sense blinded themselves. The things of the world and the desires of the flesh have inhibited their ability to serve.
If you truly want to obey Christ, here is where you must start, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10) Yes, you must study your Bible every day, not just read some verses, yes, you must pray without ceasing, and yes, you must tell Him that you are available, in whatever way that He sees fit, but first you must be still. You must turn off the world and all its cares and give them to Him, you must be still, in your heart, your life, in every area where there is a “noise,” it must be shut off and then you will be taught how to obey.
God can talk over the television, over the burdens of your job and family, but sometimes He waits for us to obey first.