Freed to enjoy God forever: A reflection on God’s commands for obedience

How we feel about the imperatives in Scripture reveals much about the condition of our hearts. For those whose hearts are hard, commands seem like unwarranted intrusions into our otherwise free living. Christians who have been softened by the grace of God see God’s commands in a different light. When the light of the cross of Christ is shed upon these imperatives, they become less drudgery and more joy. That’s why the apostle can write such a shocking statement in 1 John 5:3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” Well, if they’re not burdensome, what are they? They’re our joy.

When we get down to the basics, Christianity is quite simple. Christians are people who have realized that they’ve dumbly been walking toward eternal hellfire and having discovered that they’re desperate and determined to do whatever it takes to escape. They hate sin and its effects, so they not only cling to Christ for salvation from the eternal punishment of sin but they also cling to the Word for salvation from the immediate consequences of sin. They seek salvation from hell and despair. They’re not content to wait for the joys of heaven; they do all they can to bring the joys of heaven down.

And that’s why Christians love obedience.

Obedience releases us from the tangles of sin and frees us to enjoy God forever.

I treasure all the commands I find in Scripture because behind them I hear the voice of a loving Father telling me where to find true joy.

Obedience is often seen as a straight jacket. Born-again believers, who have been given eyes to see the greatness of the glory of Christ, see obedience as a treasure map. It doesn’t restrict me from pleasure, it enables me to find that which is my heart’s greatest delight—Christ.

 

Eternity is tomorrow

How would you live your life today if you knew you’d step into eternity tomorrow?

Or, to put it more practically, how would you live your life if you really believed in eternal rewards and eternal consequences?

For example, I believe (have an intellectual conviction) that winsome evangelism in the name of Christ for the glory of God will be rewarded. I believe that those that suffer the embarrassment of evangelism will say, in the end, that it was totally worth it. I believe that in eternity we will only regret the times we passed up the opportunity to speak the truth in love.

I believe those things.

What keeps me from acting on them?

Essentially, it’s unbelief.

My head believes them, but my heart isn’t so sure. Authentic belief described in the Bible results in obedience. Faith creates action. Belief produces movement.

My only conclusion is that this intellectualism has not reached the deep recesses of my heart. God, help me see the brilliant reward of taking risks to expand your Kingdom.

Finding Hope Amidst Your Sin

Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you say down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.’ (John 13:37-38)

The account of Peter’s declaration of his willingness to die for his Lord is one that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Peter has good intentions that the Lord sees straight through. Jesus knows Peter’s desires, but he also knows his weaknesses. He knows the sins of denial that Peter is about to commit.

We like to make bold claims for our Lord. But often, our eyes are bigger than our stomach. We believe we are much more capable than we actually are many times. We downplay our capacity for sin and we bank our stalwart abilities to do what’s right. We look at ourselves and think “Pshh, I could do that.” In other words, too often we are woefully self-dependent.

This story has the piercing ability to cut through self-sufficiency and self-reliance and bring us to our knees before the cross. Here are three reflections on the little story:

1. God already knows when we will sin, and what the sin will be. It is clear to him. And Jesus doesn’t forsake us because of it– his love for us doesn’t change–he still goes to the cross. O what a savior!

2. God is not dependent on our obedience to accomplish his purposes— in fact, our failures can be used for good. For example– in the Luke account of the story Jesus said to Peter, “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (22:32). His ability to strengthen the brothers came after he was broken. It is good to get broken now and again.

3. Good intentions, commitments, or aspirations to obedience don’t mean anything. The obedience that matters is the obedience you incarnate– not the kind you hypothetically will do if such-and-such happens.

“When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see him there, who made an end to all my sin.” Hope in the gospel, even when your adversary the devil tells you otherwise.