Summary: Walking in the light of God's love will change our lives and our outlook on life.
Walking in The Light of Love
Obedience is the twin sister of discipleship. Jesus calls us to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Him in obedience. The great German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, said that grace without repentance, grace without obedience is nothing more than cheap grace. The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon said, "Faith and obedience are bound up in the same bundle. He that obeys God, trusts God; and he that trusts God, obeys God." (Charles Haddon Spurgeon 1834-1892)
In our study for today the wise, weathered disciple tells us that we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we know God by the level of our obedience to His commands. This statement troubles many of us today because we are so keenly aware of our lack of obedience, our inconsistency in walking in Jesus' steps. As I look at my own life, if I were to come up with a phrase to describe my walk with God it would have to be "stumbling in His steps." I do not think that I am alone. Louis Cassels speaks of the difficulty we face in dying to self in order for us to be obedient to God. He writes,
Obey ... take up your cross ... deny yourself ... it all sounds very hard. It is hard. Anyone who tells you differently is peddling spiritual soothing syrup, not real Christianity. And yet, in a strangely paradoxical way, it is also easy. With every cross that we lift in obedience to Christ comes the strength to carry it. It is always a package deal. (Louis Cassels)
There is a tendency for the followers of Jesus to swing the pendulum of faith to one extreme or the other. On the one hand we are tempted to swing the pendulum to the side of "works." I can prove that my faith is real, that my walk is right, if I do the right things, say the right words, and think the right thoughts. I can gauge the validity of my faith by comparing it to yours. If my actions are more moral than yours and my life appears to be more godly than yours then my faith must be strong. If my actions do not appear to be as pure as yours and my words are not as saintly, then my faith must be weak. Some use these gauges to estimate where they stand with God and they are quite content with pursuing God based upon how they add up to those around them. After all, James said, 18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder. (James 2:18-19 NIV)
On the other hand there are those who say that our actions really don't matter. Much like the Gnostics, they dismiss the call of God to live a morally pure life and cling to their beliefs. What we believe, preserving the purity of our doctrine, is the only thing that matters. What really matters is the sufficiency of God's grace to forgive every sin imaginable. How I live doesn't matter - what God has done through Jesus is what truly counts. After all, Paul wrote to the believers in Rome and said, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24 NIV)