Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Trust and Obey, There is No Other Way!

I recently heard a pastor say something interesting about the way God’s promises are presented in Scripture. The realization of many of His promises comes as the result of our obeying His commands. In other words, God commanded something, and, if we act, His promise will follow. As the pastor said, God’s promise undergirds our obedience.

But for those of us who may take the sovereignty of God to an extreme, this seems contrary to what we think about Him. We think that God is in control of everything, which He is, and that God will bring about whatever He wants to bring about, which He will, so we may have a tendency to flop back like a wet rag and say, “God, you have to do this for me!” But if many of God’s promises are dependent on our obedience, He says, “I will. . . when you obey.”

An example of this comes from a recent discussion I had with some friends. The topic of besetting sins came up. These are sins that continue cropping up over and over in our lives, and we have yet to gain complete victory over them. A question arose over the seasons of victory a believer does have in his or her life. Since they did not last, were they just a result of man-driven will power? We do want to do everything in the power of the Spirit, so we must avoid trying to do anything on our own, right? But once I began to look at scripture regarding this, I saw exactly what the pastor was talking about. God’s promises often undergird our obedience, and we must have a measure of resolve to obey.

Here are some examples of such commands: Romans 6:12-14 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. I Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness and do not sin. Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. 1 Peter 1: 13-16 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

These are all direct commands. But you may say, “Wait a second. Now it’s about works and what I do, not what God does!” But where does your desire to obey God’s commands come from? It comes from HIM! In Romans 3, Paul quotes the Psalms to describe the natural state of man. He says: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit.” But upon conversion, a change takes place. God says of the new Christian: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them.” – Hebrews 10:16.

So the desire to obey God; the desire to do as He commands; the desire to be resolved to rid ourselves of our besetting sin is a God given grace. If He has given you a new heart that now desires after His righteousness, but you have not yet been perfected, then rejoice! This is in His plan! Your desire to obey and your struggle are signs He is working in your life. It is all a gift from Him. Come to Him in obedience and see His promises start to work in your life.

Hebrews 12


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