Summary: Christians are called to obedience. In fact, God equates obedience to His will with love for Him. To fail to obey Him is to demonstrate that we love self more than we love Him.
DEUTERONOMY 5:32, 33; 6:24, 25
OBEDIENCE VERSUS THE WISDOM OF THIS AGE
“You shall be careful … to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.”
“The LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.”
The Master has established a standard for all who are called by His Name. This standard may be stated in Christ’s words, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” [JOHN 14:15]. One must wonder whether many among the churches are prepared to apply this biblical standard to life. We say we love God because we give him a few moments of our busy lives—singing repetitious songs in a desultory fashion, enduring a brief lecture about some pious issue or another and reciting prayers that we have committed to memory. Or we say we love God because we fling a hurried request for a non-specific blessing on the food we eat (provided we are not too embarrassed by the presence of strangers). However, the Word of God makes it very clear that the love of a believer is gauged by obedience to the will of the Lord!
The message is a call for all who call themselves by the Name of the Son of God to ensure their obedience to Him. If we are disobedient, we must prepare ourselves for divine discipline or acknowledge that we have never known Him. It is high time that we divested ourselves of every excuse and again sought the will of the Master expressed through our lives.
THE WILL OF GOD — People, especially immature Christians, spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about the will of the Lord. Young men and women are often perplexed, asking what the will of God is for their lives, or asking whom the Lord would will them to marry. Let me make a few general observations about the will of God.
First, God does have a will. There are not multiple wills (a separate will for each of us) as some imagine, but the will of the Lord is revealed clearly in His Word. Let me say in the broadest sense that we focus so much on the aspect of finding God’s specific will as if our lives were fully plotted for us—as if should we fail to discover the secret will of God we will have to settle for God’s second best. Such thinking ignores the evidence of the Word.
We are saved so that we might be free. This truth becomes evident when we remember the glorious dictum, “For freedom Christ has set us free” [GALATIANS 5:1]. If we are free, then, we should not permit ourselves to become enslaved to rules and regulations created by mere mortals. Neither should we be enslaved to the expectations either of other believers or of outsiders. Assuredly, we must not permit ourselves to be enslaved to our own passions. Certainly, we do not wish to be provocative toward outsiders or to deliberately injure the spirit of those who are weaker in the Faith; nevertheless, we were called to freedom [see GALATIANS 5:13]. This freedom is not freedom to do as we wish; rather, it is freedom to lovingly serve one another.
Having emphasised the freedom we are to enjoy, we must not imagine that God maps out each step of our life. For instance, you are free to marry whom you will, so long as the marriage is in the Lord [see 1 CORINTHIANS 7:39; 2 CORINTHIANS 6:14]. As a Christian, you are not free to marry outside the Faith; if you do so, you may anticipate trouble. You are free to pursue any occupation or profession that you desire, bearing in mind that “whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” [COLOSSIANS 3:23; see also COLOSSIANS 3:17 and 1 CORINTHIANS 10:31]. You may live where you will, though I caution that you should avoid living in Sodom, unless you were sent there by the Lord to warn the inhabitants—even then, move with fear and trembling. You have been given freedom, and God does not narrowly restrict your steps.
Having said this, I return to the point that God’s will is revealed in the Word. Because we call Jesus our Master, we are responsible to treat Him as Master, proving obedient to what He commands. Let’s establish the importance of knowing and doing the will of God. It is important to realise that doing the will of God marks you as belonging to Him, and belonging to Him assures eternal life. This is the import of the words John writes in his first letter, when he states, “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” [1 JOHN 2:17]. Moreover, doing the will of God reveals our relationship to the Master. Jesus said, “Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother” [MARK 3:35].