Monday, January 7, 2013

III. Why do we obey?

     "Why?" is a favorite question of children.  I remember when one of my sisters or I would feel like being particularly annoying, we would respond to every thing the other would say with "why?".
"Jessica, you have to help me clean up!"
"Because we need to clean up this mess!"
     And so on until it got old.
     However, I do feel that it is worth asking the question "Why do we obey?" Why is obedience such an important part of the Christian's life? I do think there is one major answer to that question, which I will address in another post, but before I get to that, there are various other reasons that have come to mind lately.
    We obey for several reasons, the foremost being that Christ is worthy. We do not obey because we must prove our worth to God, or because we need to in any way earn our salvation; rather, we obey because He is worthy of our obedience. Consider this:
He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
He is the first and the last,
the Author and Creator,
the Sustainer and the Guide.
He is the Bread of life,
the Lion of Judah, the Lamb That Was Slain.
He is YHWH, the God of Angel Armies,
the One who fights for us,
our Redeemer, our Deliverer, our Warrior.
He is the Good Shepherd,
he is the Gate, he is the Door,
he is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
He is our Intercessor, he is our Great High Priest.
Christ is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all Creation.
He is King of kings and Lord of lords,
He shall judge the living and the dead,
He is the Conqueror, the One who died and rose again,
the Resurrection and the Life.
He is GOD.
Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father,
full of grace and truth.
He is the Prince of Peace
the Everlasting Father,
Mighty God.
He is the One who is coming again.
Amen, come quickly, Lord Jesus.
We obey because he is worthy of our obedience. He is righteous and holy and just, he is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving. When we begin to grasp who God is, when we even taste the goodness of our God, there is no question that we ought to obey. When was the last time you considered the worthiness of our Lord? When was the last time you contemplated the glory of God, and how he is worthy of obedience and praise?
     (If you are struggling with even beginning to grasp this, consider taking some time out to watch this video on the worthiness of Christ by David Platt. )
    We obey because there is grace. It may seem like backward logic, but we obey because he gives more grace. James 4:6-10 reads, ' But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.' (ESV) The proper response to grace is not to continue in our sin, but to repent, to change our ways and submit ourselves to God.
     It is evident upon thoroughly reading the Old Testament that humans are incapable of keeping the laws of God. He gave them a perfect law, a clear law, a just law, and time and again they broke it. As Christians, the only way that we are able to obey at all is because of the work of Christ which enables us to receive the baptism of the Spirit. Through the Spirit we are sanctified, through our sanctification we are taught to obey. We are able to obey only because we first have been given grace.
     We obey because we are sons. During Christmas break I spent five days in St. Louis with a group from my church, attending the Urbana missions conference. Throughout our time there we studied the book of Luke, both in morning Bible studies and morning and evening sessions. One morning as we were studying the parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son, our Bible study leader said something that stuck with me. The loss of the sheep, or the coin, or the son is tragic because it belongs. The sheep should be with the shepherd, but it is not. It should belong, but it has wandered away; therefore the shepherd will leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go and search for the lost sheep. The coin belongs to the woman, it is hers, but it is missing, therefore the woman will light a lamp and sweep the house and search for the coin. The son belongs with the father, he belongs as a part of the family but he has rebelled and has gone away; therefore the father will eagerly await his return and will welcome him when he returns.
     We belong with God, in relationship with him, in communion with him. And the great tragedy is that we have disobeyed, we have broken relationship and broken communion and have run away. We have sold our obedience and allegiance to another who is not worthy. We have rebelled as the prodigal, and the tragedy is that we are not where we belong. But the good news is that Christ has restored us as sons, and therefore in response we obey. We obey because we are children, and children must learn obedience. Even Christ, the perfect Son of the Father, learned obedience: "Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 5:8-9)
     If God is teaching you obedience, rejoice! He is treating you as a son.
"It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
     Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,  and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. " (Hebrews 12:7-13)
     Today may you obey with joy, knowing that there is grace in the presence of the Father, that he is ever worthy of our full obedience, and that you are a son or daughter of God.
    Almighty God, our heavenly Father: We have sinned against thee, through our own fault, in thought, word, and deed, and in those things which we have left undone. For the sake of thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us all our offenses; and grant that we may serve thee in newness of life, to the glory of thy Name. Amen.

May the Almighty God grant us forgiveness of all our sins, amendment of life, and the grace and comfort of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

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