“How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart.”
“I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments. I shall keep Your statutes; Do not forsake me utterly!” Psalm 119:2; 7-8 (NASB)
There is no time for us as faith believers to cease from obeying the word of God. Some pay little attention to what Scriptures say and pretend they can yet obey what they think they understand. Obedience is observing God’s testimonies found in the Bible so reading the Bible is essential to obedience. Obeying whenever we do read what the will of God is.
“Only Jesus Christ is perfect, therefore, only he could walk in sinless, perfect obedience. But as we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us from within, we grow in holiness. This is the process of sanctification, which can also be described as spiritual growth. The more we read God’s Word, spend time with Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to change us from within, the more we grow in obedience and holiness as Christians. ’Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.’ – 2 Corinthians 7:1. “This verse says, ‘Let us work toward complete holiness.’ We don’t learn obedience overnight; it’s a lifelong process that we pursue by making it a daily goal.”*
* Fairchild, Mary. “Why Is Obedience to God Important?” Learn Religions, Aug. 28, 2020, learnreligions.com/obedience-to-god-701962.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” – Romans 12:1 (ESV)
While the Bible places a strong emphasis on obedience, it’s critical to remember that believers are not justified by obedience. Salvation is a free gift of God, and we can do nothing to merit it. True Christian obedience however, flows from a heart of gratitude for the grace and mercy we have received from the Lord and our response is the worship of obedience. The Greek word for “I appeal” or “I urge” springs from a root which means “to call alongside to help.” In Acts 24:4 it is “beg”; in Act s 27:34 “encourage.” Jesus used a related word, “comforter” or “helper” in reference to the Holy Spirit. Here Paul was writing as a counselor with full weight of apostleship to his readers. In light of all the spiritual riches we believers enjoy solely as the fruit of God’s grace and mercies, it follows that we owe God our highest form of service which is our act of worshiping God; an act of our spiritual service offered genuinely from our hearts. For those in Christ, our only acceptable worship is to offer ourselves completely in worship to the Lord our God.
“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.” – Deuteronomy 11:26-28 (NASB)
To be listening to the commandments of the Lord is to be in obedience to God. The Children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land and Moses gave these instructions. It drove home the importance of obedience and trust in God. Throughout the Bible we find much about obedience. But we consider obedience to be an infringement on our so-called “free will.” With that free-will it is impossible for one to obey. We need God o obey God as it is a gift of God. It’s not a chore; it’s a blessing. When we obey blessing and joy is poured out into our hearts. We find in Scriptures reasons why obedience to God is important. We looked at one yesterday. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). A Second reason is Jesus calls us to Obey. He’s the perfect model of obedience. As God’s children, we follow Christ’s example as well as his commands. Our motivation is love just as Jesus obeyed His Father’s commandments. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15:10.)
“Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” – John 14:13-15 (NASB)
It was a most solemn meal that Jesus had with His disciples on Thursday night before His death the next day. None of the disciples yet understood they were celebrating the last Passover meal Jesus would ever observe under the Law of Moses. In their pending hour of the departure of Jesus, He comforts them and promises the means that would provide them with the necessary resources to accomplish their task. They had come to depend upon Jesus’ immediate presence which would not be there in the same way. To ask in Jesus’ “name” does not mean to tack such an expression on the end of a prayer as a mere formula. It means our prayers as believers should be for His kingdom purposes and not selfish reasons. None of our merit qualifies our prayers in this promise but only the merits of the work of Jesus. In short, our prayers should be in pursuit of His glory alone. Of supreme importance is our obedience to His commandments. Love for Christ is inseparable from obedience. “My commandments” include the entire revelation from the Father. We obey because we love which is enabled by His work of grace in our lives.
“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” – James 1:18 (ESV)
Let’s take a moment to recognize how often we misunderstand the meaning of God’s promises because we use our own finite ability to reason out what makes sense. If a passage makes sense in our own reasoning there is no guarantee that we have a good understanding of what the Holy Spirit wants us to know of His inspired and authoritative words in Scripture. By example the promise in today’s verse teaches us that our regeneration is fully according to God’s will. He wills and it happens. “Of His will” a Greek. word that makes the point that regeneration is not just a wish. It is an active expression of God’s will. He always has the power to accomplish His will. James places this phrase at the beginning of the sentence in Greek, in order to emphasize that the sovereign will of God is the source of our new life. Regeneration, or the new birth is described as “He brought us forth.” We are God’s chosen “firstfruits” of the work Christ accomplished for us through His death. Let’s reflect back to the previous verses (James 1:16-17), where God promises us every perfect gift comes from our Heavenly Father.
“O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” – 2 Chronicles 20:12 (NASB)
It shouldn’t be surprising to realize that as faith believing Christians we face resistance from those who do not believe in God. As we live according to the precepts and commandments God has given to us and if the teachings of Jesus are how purpose to walk on life’s journey, our enemy Satan will throw hard times in our path. It doesn’t take much for us to see our inadequacies—especially in living for and serving God. When life’s circumstances press in on us, we become aware of the challenges set before us and can quickly sense ourselves recoiling from it. There was this time when King Jehoshaphat of Judah faced the descendants of Lot, (i.e. Moab and Ammon), and the offspring of Esau, (i.e. Edomites), were intent on sacking Jerusalem and Judah’s forces. Jehoshaphat knew his weakness and was afraid. He was aware of their power and of the inadequacy of his own people. He also knew that the proper response to his weakness was full dependence upon God (2 Chronicles 20:3). As he confronted this reality, he kept his gaze firmly fixed above, praying, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” – Romans 5:11 (NASB)
Promises of peace, grace, hope, love, and deliverance from wrath are ours forever because Jesus, the Son of God condescended and stepped into this world and became for us the bearer of our sin. So, what then is to be our reaction? Are we to continue in doubt? Hold misgivings that God has us secure as his forever adopted children? Are we to question if we’ve done enough, been good enough to earn these gifts because of our good works? Just as the Apostle Paul declares seven times in his letter to the Romans “may it never be!”* Our God is a faithful God. If our salvation depended for one second on our personal righteousness, we’d be lost forever. But it doesn’t. It depends on God’s love anchoring us in a permanent relationship of peace, grace and hope. And the God who loved us enough to save us when we were enemies, loves us enough to keep us now that we are friends, and has proven it by depositing his Holy Spirit in us, (Ephesians 1:13). This fills our heart with joy⸺for “exult” means to rejoice jubilantly. The end of the whole discussion is this produces joy, right?
* (Romans 3:4; 3:6; 3:11; 6:2; 6:15; 7:7; 7:13: 9:14)
“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” – Romans 5:9 (NASB)
In the fifth chapter of the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul wrote to faith believers in the city of Rome, confirming promises we have:
- The promise of a relationship of peace with God.
- The promise of grace, providing standing before God.
- The promise of hope that will never cause us to be disappointed. What He has said He will indeed do.
- The promise of God’s perfect love as it is poured out and into our lives. God’s love for us is eternal and permanent.
Today in the ninth verse, a fifth promise. We are saved from the wrath of God as described for in Romans 1:18 is not an impulsive outburst of anger aimed capriciously at people whom God does not like. It is the settled, determined response of a righteous and just God against sin. Faith believers have been, are being, and will be saved from God’s wrath through Christ’s violent, substitutionary death. References to the blood of the Savior include the reality that He bled in His death. The term “blood” is used as a graphic way to describe violent death in our place.
“…and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. ” Romans 5:5-6 (NASB)
In verses 1 & 2 we’ve found three promises giving us assurance of security in God. The justification which God granted to us by faith comes through the work of Jesus Christ. It’s also through Him that we are now standing in grace. This undeserved grace is given in a promise that gives us hope and cannot be broken. Now, in verse 5, we read this confirmation, “Hope does not disappoint.” God will never disappoint any who have hope in Him. None who hope in Christ will ever be disappointed in eternity. How do we know this? Because the love of God has been “poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Paul goes on to describe how helpless we were when at the right time, Christ died for us, the ungodly. This promise of love is the fourth link we have to our security in God. It speaks not of our love for God, but of God’s love for us. His love is personal, and intimate. More than just bequeathing it, verse 5 says that he pours it out within our hearts. Like a waterfall of love, He fills us with this love.
“Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”” – Luke 15:2 (NASB)
This Man, who is no other than the eternal God, before whom angels veil their faces—this Man receives sinners. That any of us should be willing to seek after the lost is nothing wonderful—they are of our own race; but that he, the offended God, against whom the transgression has been committed, should take upon himself the form of a servant, and bear the sin of many, and should then be willing to receive the vilest of the vile, this is marvelous. “This Man receives sinners”; not, however, that they may remain sinners, but He receives them that He may pardon their sins, justify their persons, cleanse their hearts by His purifying word, preserve their souls by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and enable them to serve Him, to show forth His praise, and to have communion with Him. When Jesus receives sinners, He opens the gates of his royal heart, and receives the sinner right into himself—he makes him a member of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. This fact is still most sure this evening, he is still receiving sinners: would to God sinners would receive him.
Our verse today and selected commentary is shared from C. H. Spurgeon. The adversary of Jesus Christ had in his camp an elite group of Jewish leaders who were always quick to criticize and condemn Jesus. But it never caught Him unawares or knocked Him off balance.
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).