In this final segment of our study on obeying, I would like to address a topic that should be obvious to every born-again believer, in fact two final statements that are tied together. The first would be this, and it relates not only to every human soul ever created, but indeed to all of creation, everything that is obeys the will of God. From the migrating birds who knows a journey of thousands of miles, to the great seas that obey His command of “this far, no further,” (Job 38:11) all that is subjugates itself to the will of God. Even our adversary and the fallen demons can do no more than what is allowed by our Lord, so how much less man, in whose image all men were made. (Gen. 1:27)
We tend to believe that we have the capability to determine our own fate in our short time here on this earth, walking where we would walk, plotting our own paths, and to a lesser degree this is true for not just the lost, but also those who have given their lives to Christ, but just how free is our free will? We cannot travel off this planet anytime we choose to, and those few who have, are few in comparison to the entire human race, they must not only wear specialized attire, but count on thousands of others to make these short journeys possible. We can of course travel to almost anyplace on earth, but again, great expense of time, money, and many other relative factors must come into play first, we are subject to all the physical laws that the Lord God has placed on all His creation, and if we do not obey them, the consequences, if only to our flesh, will be dire. We cannot live unless we obey these basic laws, you cannot exist outside of the parameters that He has set for His creation, to put it simply my friends, you have the free will to do anything you want to do, as long as they obey the laws the Lord has set in the physical realm, there is no way around it.
Go outside in the freezing cold without the proper attire, you will die, decide to no longer eat, you will die, the fact is incontrovertible, obey the “laws of nature” that God has set in place, or suffer the consequences. Can these laws be broken, as it were, of course, didn’t Peter walk on water, (Matt. 14:29) didn’t Philip disappear in front of the Ethiopian eunuch and was found several towns over, (Acts 8:39) wasn’t Paul bitten by an asp? (Acts 28:3) If the Lord needs you to walk on water, you will walk on water, and here my friends is where we differ in the lost in our view of God’s creation, we are not as subject to it as you might think. Now, don’t rush out and jump off a tall building to test this, thou shalt not put the Lord God to the test, (Deut. 6:16) but do not think that if He wants you to be several cities over at a certain time and you see no possibility of fulfilling the task He has set before you that it will not happen, nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37) I watched as a small child was thrown by invisible hands out of a swing set much further than was possible, land on sharp rocks, and not receive a single scratch, and I see no need to give you many other examples of what is called the impossible happening, for I am sure you have many of your own.
Our Lord is not limited by His creation, all of it obeys His will, and at anytime He desires for the “laws of nature” to be altered, they will be altered, for that which is made obeys He who made it. Which leads us into our second observation in this final chapter on obeying, to the free will of the children of God, those whose names will not be blotted out of the Lambs Book of Life, a fact that should be true in every believers life, and it is this, we want to obey. I saw an image years ago, I cannot recall where, of a theater filled with people, all of course staring at the large screen ahead of them, and on that screen was one word in large letters, “OBEY.” In my mind I saw it as a forceful statement, one that inferred that if those in attendance did not comply with the order, there would be severe consequences, a negative action would ensue to those who did not follow the directive.
I would ask you to contemplate this verse long after you have finished reading this poorly written letter to you, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1) To be condemned is not the same as being punished, it is not the same as being chastised by the Lord, as all His children are at times. (Heb. 12:5) Think on the structure that has long outlived its usefulness, where once a business thrived or a family lived, but now has a big red sign on the front that reads “condemned,” now see that same sign hanging around the neck of every single lost soul walking around on this planet, those on whom the wrath of God abides on. (John 3:36) They have refused to relinquish their free will and submit to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom all will serve, no matter their desires to do otherwise. If they do not obey and accept Christ as Savior, they will die in their sins. “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6:2)
You see my friends, no one can escape, all will obey God, it is here that the personal decision to do so must be made, no one will ever escape hell, and no one will ever want to leave the presence of the Lord in heaven. It is here than that this poorly written letter must lead us, how much do you want to obey. How much of your life did you give to Jesus Christ at the cross, how much of you still rebels at His commandments, how much of you are you keeping from Him, thinking that there is a part of you that is worth holding onto. Here is the great dilemma that all who serve Christ as Lord know nearly everyday of their life, the desire to be pleasing in the eyes of the Lord, and the holding onto our self, not our sinful nature mind you, but the very substance, the essence of who we are, individual, unique creations of God.
Let me set your mind at ease, as best as I can, when you get to heaven, you are not going to see millions, hopefully more, individuals who look exactly like Christ, at least not on the outside. Although we will all be like Him (1 John 3:2) in our central attributes, as it were, in our nature, we will all still retain not only our outside appearance, although glorified, (Phil. 3:21) but we will still have our own personalities, albeit without the sinful nature. Paul was not like John, Peter was not like Matthew, yet all are part of the body of Christ, as we are. The choice for the born-again believer to obey Christ is just as much a part of our lives as it was theirs, and as they and all who have come before us have, we do not always obey the will of God in our lives. This does not make us “bad” Christians, it does not mean we are not loved, but for those who refuse to obey, for those who do not continue on the path of dying to self, it does mean that while they are here they are not as profitable to the kingdom of God as they could be, and their rewards and treasures will be few, if any.
2 Timothy 2:12 reads that if we suffer with Him, we will reign with Him. If you decide to obey only in part, if you flee from the suffering that He sends, then the inverse of the statement stands true, you will not reign with Him. You will indeed be in heaven, for no one can lose their salvation, but positions of authority are not given to servants who will not obey. If you will not serve here, if you will not obey and die to self here, placing your life in His hands, throwing personal desires away, living a life of service to Christ no matter the circumstances, no matter the possible consequences, then I will not presume what your place will be in heaven, but this and other verses are quite clear, you will not reign with Him.
The believer must look at his service to Christ as one might when accepting a position of employment here on earth, the goal should be to move up the ladder, to start on the bottom floor, learn everything there is to know about the company, and while doing so apply the skills to end your career on the top floor. Many read the Scriptures, but do not apply them, many that apply them only do so with those they are comfortable with, while some are willing to obey without question. Our level of obedience to the Lord our God has been left entirely up to us, we are loved, we will be in His presence eternally, but those who sow only a little will reap only a small amount. (2 Cor. 9:6) It is beyond amazing to me to realize that He whom all are bound to serve is served in such a small way by so many who profess to know Him as Lord, and it is inconceivable to know that as Lord and Master of all He allows such small service from so many. Praise be to God for His incredible love for us.
I can conclude this series only with this my brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been blessed with free will, we can choose to obey in part or in full, God looks on the heart, (1 Sam. 16:7) He is the rewarder, those who have served well here with a willing and obedient heart will be rewarded beyond their comprehension in heaven, and will know not only here on earth but in heaven that they deserve not one thing from Him. We obey because we want to, because we love Him, because Christ is more dear and precious to us than we can ever explain, even to ourselves. The choice to obey is yours, it always has been.