“Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised you on oath to your ancestors.” -Deuteronomy 8:1
As twenty-first century Christians, there’s a few things that I think we’ve forgotten about. One big thing I think we’ve forgotten about is obedience to God. I think part of the problem is that we have a wrong view on obedience, and we don’t really understand why it’s important.
There are Christians who are caught in legalism, that is “doing the right things” because “we’re supposed to” or “we have to”. And then there are those Christians who believe that God’s grace will cover every step—and misstep—along the way. While both of these views can be “understandable”, both are terribly wrong.
I love the second part of today’s verse. Moses is speaking to the Israelites who have come out of Egypt and have just spent right around 40 years in the desert. Now, they’re on the edge of what they’ve been waiting for for the past 40 years: the Promised Land. However, before they entered the Promised Land, Moses reminded them over and over and over again to stay obedient to God and what He has commanded once they enter the Land, and in the second part of the verse, it explains why: “So that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised you on oath to your ancestors.” Moses had commanded the Israelites to stay obedient so that they could have everything God had promised to give them.
There are two primary reasons obedience is key in the Christian’s life and why it’s beyond important to the heart of God.
- Without obedience, our relationship with God suffers. Now, please hear me. Yes. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. There’s nothing we can or cannot do that will take away our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). However, when we’re not obedient to God, we get in the way of our relationship with Him because now there’s sin in the way. You can’t sin and have an intimate relationship with God. Again, please hear me. We will all still sin. Every day. For the rest of our lives. However, we should not live in sin. That means that once we’re convicted of something we’ve done wrong, we need to ask God for forgiveness and ask for His help in turning from that thing and getting back on the right track. When we are in communication with Him and seek to live lives that please Him, He’ll direct our path step by step. This leads to number two.
- We need to live in obedience because that’s the only way we’re ever going to experience God’s total blessings and favor in our life. It’s the only way that we’re going to do the things that He’s created us for. It’s the only way we’ll ever have real, lasting, and true joy, fulfillment, and life. We’ve forgotten that the command for obedience is actually for our good! God hates sin, and He hates to see what it does in His children’s lives. Do what He says, when He says to do it, and how He says to do it, and I promise you that your life will radically change. When you’re obedient to Him, you have the forces of heaven behind you to do what God has called you to do. While obedience may be hard, your reward is more than anything you can ever imagine. Even if you can’t see it now, or it looks like God has forgotten about that part, He hasn’t. And He won’t. Stay obedient, stay faithful.
To recap, yes there is grace for our mistakes (always!) But that shouldn’t motivate or encourage us to do whatever we want. It’s only through obedience and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that we can have a relationship with God and experience and accomplish all the amazing things we were created for.
So if He says go, go. If He says stay, stay. If He says no, trust Him. Don’t go if He says stay, and don’t stay if He says go. Let Him lead you. Let Him show you the next steps, and don’t move until He does. He only has His great glory and your best interest in mind. To say that Jesus is the King of your life means that you are not. You can’t say He’s your King and then try to sit yourself on the throne. If you’re a Christ-follower, then follow Him. No matter what. And while it may be hard, you’ll never regret it.
2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us this, “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” He’s looking for people who are obedient and want to be obedient to Him. What’s your commitment to God look like? Are you willing to obey Him? Take a moment to ponder and pray through these things. It begins with a desire to be obedient to God. Once we want to be obedient, He’ll always be willing and ready to help anyone who asks Him. We can’t be obedient in our flesh, but when we rely on His Spirit, that’s what makes obedience in our lives possible.
- Do I want to be obedient to God? Why or why not?
- Am I being obedient, or is there an area in my life that I know I’m not being obedient to Him? Do I want God more than temporal things that won’t satisfy in the end?