Thursday, November 09, 2006

Obedience and Change

Using my computer NAS Bible softward, I did a search of the New Testament for the words, "obey," "obedient," and "obedience." It generated forty-four hits. A quick scan of them showed that the first five pertained to the water "obeying" Jesus when He calmed it. The rest typically had something to do with believers and their relation to God, His Son, and His Word or to their carrying out of everyday life in reference to the Word.

Here are links to the ESV Online Bible with the individual words searched:

Click here for a search of the NT for the word, "obey."
Click here for a search of the NT for the word, "obedient."
Click here for a search of the NT for the word, "obedience."

If you were to do the same search and peruse these verses, you would come away with the understanding that God actually cares that we as believers obey Him! That is something that goes against almost everyone's basic nature, especially here in America. We loath being told we have to do something a certain way; we cherish our independence and our right to do and to act in the way we please. We prefer to focus on grace, and ignore that God has a claim on our lives. But we are not our own; we are bought with a price and are now slaves of Christ. He has every right to command us how to live our lives and to expect our obedience.

Also consider the analogy of a parent and a child. We as parents expect obedience from our children for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that we typically know better than they what is good for them. One of the steps of salvation is "adoption," where we as believers become adopted children of God. In this case, though, we never grow up. We will always be His children, and He has every right as our Father to expect our obedience and we should expect that His commands for us result in what is best, even if we can't see it.

The bottom line is that Christ obeyed perfectly. If we are to become like Christ in sanctification, we also should be obeying more and more each day. Obviously we won't have perfect obedience this side of heaven, but we certainly should be progressing that way.

...which brings me to the second point. If we are progressing in obedience to the Word of God, then our lives are going to change. You cannot be the same person this year that you were last year if you are concentrating on conforming your life to God's commands. For example, you will be more patient, more loving, more God-centered, more service-focused, more joyful, more ______ (you fill in the blank). Your life should be more organized according to the standards in the Bible rather than the standards of our culture. You cannot be the same person; your life must reflect more of Christ and His way today then it did at a previous point in time. (The longer the time frame, the more obvious the change should be.) If you are the same person and haven't been moving toward Christ-likeness in obedience, then you should seriously question your progress in sanctification. And if there is a problem with sanctification, then you should have a serious self-examination of your salvation.

The bottom line for the Christian is that a major part of your sanctification is obeying God as He revealed His will in the Word, thus conforming your life to that of Christ. That requires work. It requires the power of the Holy Spirit. It requires that you actually renounce/repent of the way you are and change, sometime dramatically, the way you act and live. If more people who go by the name, "Christian," would do this, then we would actually look different to the pagan world, and would be a far better witness.

Praying for obedience and change, both in my life and in the lives of those I love....

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