Loving God Equals Obedience…

December 28, 2017 at 11:19 AM Leave a comment

There is simply no getting around the truth stated in this article’s title. It is impossible to read the gospel of John, 1, 2, 3 John, James, or many other portions of Scripture and arrive to any other conclusion. Obedience appears to be the key as far as God is concerned. Of course, He isn’t interested in obedience performed in a rote way as an outward external; not from the heart. God wants people to put their hearts into it and to live it from our hearts. In other words, obeying God should be our heart’s desire as Christians.

John 14:21 states, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (ESV)

Or consider 1 John 1:5-10, which plainly informs us what it means to be in fellowship with God.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (ESV)

The apostle John has said a mouthful in the above text. Let’s break it down.

John says that God is light. Because He is pure light, there is obviously no darkness in Him at all. Light represents complete truth, while darkness represents sin and untruths. Christians need to seriously consider and understand the ramifications of this statement.

If we call ourselves Christians, we do so ostensibly because we have received salvation. We understand that salvation comes to us because of and through Jesus and the work He wrought on our behalf. This work was His entire sinless life, culminating in His brutal and painful death on the cross. There, God the Father poured out His wrath on God the Son; wrath that was meant for us because of our personal sin. Jesus did nothing deserving of death, much less deserving of the Father’s wrath, but He willingly chose to place Himself under it because of His great love for us, so that we might receive the free gift of salvation.

If that describes your understanding of salvation, great. However, it needs to be stated that salvation begins there. It does not end there. There is tremendous responsibility resting with Christians that we must follow through on. It is the process of our sanctification that follows receipt of salvation (justification). If we do not follow through, while we will not lose our salvation, we will not maintain fellowship with God.

John’s logical is beyond reproach. He says that if we say we have fellowship with Him, but our life says otherwise, we are lying, we are not practicing the truth. What is the truth? The truth is that each and every Christian is supposed to walk in the Light because of the salvation within us. We should reflect (God’s) Light from within us in our daily living. That can only happen when two things are present:

  1. we have salvation
  2. we live in obedience to God’s commands

If we have the first without the second, John rightly questions whether that person actually has salvation. This is not proof-texts for “Lordship salvation,” by the way. John’s point is that a person who is truly saved will exhibit at least some evidence of that salvation by mirroring the life of Christ in some way, however inconsistent that might appear.

We can look to Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. There, he was clearly writing to people whom he believed were authentically saved. Yet, his problem with their lives was manifold. They were very spiritually immature. They were fleshly (carnal), in the way they lived. Paul was essentially saying to the Corinthians that their lives needed to be a reflection of the salvation they possessed, but were not. This is also true of us and every other Christian.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. Behold all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)

If our lives never show any signs of authentic salvation, there is something drastically wrong. Either we are saved and fail completely to grasp our new creation status in Christ, or we are not truly saved at all. John’s words teach us that if we have salvation, we will live differently than when we did not have it.

Being saved does not mean we will never sin though. Sin exists, yet we are without excuse. Can a day go by when I won’t commit some sin? No, in fact, I recall that I sinned this morning knowingly. I did so out of brief anger. After wards, I could only wonder why Scripture I had memorized didn’t come to my mind? Why couldn’t I hear the Spirit’s urging within trying to prompt me to not become angry? Sin never seems to be far away.

However, I am aware of my need to confess these sins so that I can regain fellowship with God, lost through sin. I also have a responsibility to do what I can to correct my actions if my sin created a problem for another person. John says as I confess my known sin in order to regain fellowship with God, the blood of Jesus will also cleanse me from the sins of which I am not aware.

So the first step in being in fellowship with God is to have received salvation. The second step is to be in fellowship. Fellowship is not an automatic state between the Christian and God. It is something that requires the Christian’s effort. God is always ready to fellowship with us, but we are not.

I am taking piano lessons after years of being away from the piano. I’m getting the hang of it. The more I practice, the better I sound. The more time that goes by between practicing, the worse I sound and the more frustration that is caused. If I practice the piano daily, I might say that I am in “fellowship” with my piano routinely. If I ignore the piano, I’m out of “fellowship” during that time. Forgive the weak analogy, but it might help to flesh out the meaning of what John is saying.

How do we get into and remain in fellowship with God? The big clue John provides is in the phrase “walk in the Light as He is in the Light.” To understand that concept, the entire epistle of 1 John needs to be read and absorbed because John starts breaking things down for us immediately in chapters 2 and following.

The first few verses of chapter 2 tell us that when we sin, Jesus is our Advocate who defends us against our accuser, Satan, before God the Father. We can rest assured that when the Holy Spirit brings to mind our sin, we can humbly confess knowing that Christ’s forgiveness will be applied to us so that we can regain fellowship. While my sin – past, present, and future – was dealt with at the cross, it is important to realize that any current sin will break off fellowship with God in real-time. My fellowship with God cannot be reinstated until I deal with my personal unconfessed, known sin. Again, this does not affect my salvation. It affects my fellowship with God. It is similar to when two people argue and stop talking. There is no fellowship until apologies are made and accepted.

Following this, John defines what he calls a new commandment, which he also says is not really new. It’s the same one heard from the beginning, but newly emphasized. It is that we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is a must. We must love them as Jesus loves us. Then John begins to tell us how we do that and moreover, that we will continue to grow in love toward our brothers and sisters and the lost of this world in increasing measure.

This is also the problem with the signs and wonders crowd that we’ve discussed in previous articles and series here. People there tend to rely on the emotional pull connected with signs and wonders as opposed to simply relying on obedience that draws us closer to God.

1 John 2:15 then tells us that if we love the world, we are not loving God. God hates the world’s demonic system and will physically overthrow it one day. So Christians who say they love God, but by their actions are actually loving the world’s system, are deceived or outright lying.

If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:16 ESV)

Could that be anymore clear? Loving the world’s system means not loving God. The two are diametrically opposed to one another.

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:17 ESV)

John is not saying we cannot do business with the world. He is warning us not to fall in love with it, not to be captured by it. In other words, we should not allow our emotions or our obedience be to the world and its satanic system.

In verses 18-27, John speaks of the spirit of the Antichrist. He recognized the world already had many Antichrists by his time and history attests to that before and since. Of course, Paul speaks of the final Antichrist to come (2 Thessalonians 2; cf also Daniel 9). John is speaking of the Antichrist “collective” that undergirds the world’s system.

John makes several statements at the end of 1 John 2 that we need to focus on. The first one deals with our reaction to Jesus when we ultimately and physically see Him. If we lived our days as Christians until we die striving to be in obedience to Jesus (from the heart), we will not be ashamed when we see Him. However, if we lived in a way that feeds and glorifies self, giving into the temptations around us, we will be ashamed when we come into Jesus’ Presence.

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. (1 John 2:28 ESV)

The importance of John’s words above cannot be stressed enough. John wanted his readers to be confident when they physically stand in Jesus’ Presence at His coming (or at the end of their earthly lives). He wants us to say what Paul said to Timothy.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8 ESV)

Notice Paul says he loves the truth of Jesus’ appearing one day. Paul knew his time was very short, as he was soon going to be martyred for his faith in Christ. He knew – though he did not live perfectly (no one does) – that he would not shrink back from Jesus upon seeing Him. Will you? Will I?

The idea here is that we are to live lives that bring God glory now so that when we see Him then, we will not shrink because of shame at having not lived the way we should have lived.

Next time, we will talk more about how to do that from Scripture.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, Eastern Mysticism, emergent church, Emotional virtue, new age movement, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: , , , .

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