It’s Really About Obedience, Pt 1

May 8, 2018 at 2:52 PM 1 comment

It’s unfortunately too easy for today’s Christians to conclude that salvation exempts us from being obedient. It’s all grace, right? If we mess up, God forgives. Yes, but we should not use that as an excuse to sin.

On one hand, the Law is designed to point out our flaws and our inability to fulfill its demands perfectly without exception. On the other hand, becoming a Christian does not mean we become exempt from doing what is morally correct; what God expects us to do, which is to obey. It means that because God lives within us through the Presence of the Holy Spirit, we now have the ability to begin living a life that brings glory to God. How? Through our obedience to God’s will and moral code. It’s as simple as that, though it is not as simply lived out because of our sin nature.

I want to be very clear here though so that there are no misunderstandings. Christians are not obligated to go back and adopt the ways of Judaism. We are not to deliberately place ourselves under the constraints of the Mosaic legal code as we have been freed from that tyranny (Gal. 3:23-26; . Rom 6:14-15; 11:6). However, being free from having to uphold all aspects of the Law does not mean that we are not obligated to be obedient to God in Christ. There is a moral law or code, which is clearly delineated by Jesus in the Gospels (and expounded on by other writers of the New Testament, that we are required to live by. Christians certainly have a choice though, don’t we? We can strive to live in obedience to God and His “law of love,” or we can live carnally, doing our own thing, based on what we believe to be right in our own eyes. Unfortunately, for those Christians who choose to live like that, they are flirting with God’s chastisement, which if left unchecked, may result in being taken home out of this life sooner, rather than later (1 Corinthians 15:18).

If we stop to consider things, whether the Old or New Testaments, God tends to judge people’s lives by the way they live. Clearly, example after example proves that only those who truly want to please God even attempt to do the things that uphold God’s Law. We’ll start in the Old Testament and end in the New with this short series.

Rehoboam was king of Judah and was one of the sons of Solomon (2 Chronicles 11:3). He became king of Judah and decided to attack Israel, the northern kingdom to reunite it with Judah, the southern kingdom. That was his plan at any rate, but God had other plans, so God sent a prophet – Shemaiah – to share God’s will with Rehoboam.

3 Say to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all Israel in Judah and Benjamin, 4 ‘Thus says the Lord, You shall not go up or fight against your relatives. Return every man to his home, for this thing is from me.’ (2 Chronicles 11:3-4 ESV)

Here is an instance where God chose to speak to a king of Judah to express His (God’s) will in a particular matter. Did Rehoboam have an option? Sure, he could do what the Lord had spoken through Shemaiah or he could ignore it and do his own thing, whatever seemed good in his own eyes. Of course, the consequences of any decision would be his to bear. What would Rehoboam do?

So they listened to the word of the Lord and returned and did not go against Jeroboam (v. 5)

Notice that Rehoboam listened to the literal word of the Lord. He obeyed without flinching, without complaining and just did what God told him to do. No muss. No fuss. Simple, plain, reverent obedience. What was the result of Rehoboam’s obedience? As we continue to read the remainder of chapter 11, it is clear that God blessed Rehoboam as he rebuilt cities, fortified his power, and brought the priests and Levites back to Jerusalem.

16 And those who had set their hearts to seek the Lord God of Israel came after them from all the tribes of Israel to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the Lord, the God of their fathers. 17 They strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they made Rehoboam the son of Solomon secure, for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon. (vv. 16-17)

Pretty impressive, isn’t it? But do you think Rehoboam was “sinless” during those three years? Do you think he ever made a mistake and fell short of God’s glory? I’m sure of it because as a human being and suffered from the same internal malady that every one of us suffers from – the sin nature. We all have it. We all succumb to it from time to time and we are worse off because of it. It is a constant reminder of why we need our Savior in the first and last place, isn’t it?

But notice, though the Bible does not point out any of Rehoboam’s sins during that three-year period, we can comfortably believe that he did sin from time to time, but possibly not in the area of deliberately, intentionally determining to disobey the Lord. However, we get to chapter 12 of 2 Chronicles and all of that changes.

When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he was strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. (2 Chronicles 12:1 ESV)

Sad, isn’t it? This was a tremendously dangerous predicament Rehoboam got himself into and it was all due to the fact that he somehow and for some reason, determined he would no longer observe (obey) the “law of the Lord.” Not only did he turn off the path, but he unfortunately led the entire nation of Israel into sin as well. What the king of Judah modeled is what the Israelites imitated. They initially imitated his observance of the law of the Lord and now imitated Rehoboam’s deliberate ignoring of the law of the Lord.

God could not set this aside and He acting against Rehoboam’s attitude almost immediately. I say immediately, even though this rebellion occurred in Rehoboam’s fourth. God saw it, gave the king time to change his mind and when nothing came of it, sent a strong rebuke to Rehoboam in the fifth year of his reign. That rebuke was in the form of a king from the south.

In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, because they had been unfaithful to the Lord, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem with 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen. (2 Chronicles 12:2-3 ESV)

There is a clear and direct relationship between being faithful/unfaithful to the Lord’s will and our actions related to that. The clear point is that God expects us to obey Him. He has every right to expect it whether we think so or not. Rehoboam served God in obedience for the first three years of his rule as king over Judah. The fourth year? He moved away from God. I wonder why? I could be wrong, but my hunch is found at the end of Chapter 11 of 2 Chronicles.

22 And Rehoboam appointed Abijah the son of Maacah as chief prince among his brothers, for he intended to make him king. 23 And he dealt wisely and distributed some of his sons through all the districts of Judah and Benjamin, in all the fortified cities, and he gave them abundant provisions and procured wives for them.

By the end of the third year, Rehoboam was doing well. He was using wisdom in his role as king. He placed his sons throughout all of Judah and Benjamin where they would be able to act on his wishes in those areas to ensure that things were good and safe throughout all of Judah. Cities had been fortified and there was plenty of “abundant provisions” for his sons and ostensibly for the people of Judah. Rehoboam even got wives for his sons. He was a good king and a great father who wanted his children to excel in life. Nothing wrong with that.

However – and I think this can easily happen to any Christian in life – when things are going really well, we tend to think, “Okay Lord, I’ve got this. Thanks for your help. I’ll call you if/when I need You.” Have you ever done that? Have you ever thought it or been tempted to do that? It’s pretty easy when things are going very well, isn’t it? It’s when life hands us lemons that we generally turn to God out of fear or worry because we don’t want to be overtaken, so we tend to want to hide in the shadow of the Almighty.

When life is going well, it is just too easy to go on cruise control. We erroneously think that life is good and it will stay good for quite some time. It’s easy to become careless at that point and our relationship with God suffers because of it. Rather than continuously being thankful for everything God has provided for us, we tend to look at the things we have and glory in those things rather than the One who provided those things. Do you find that to be true or not in your own life?

I tend to think this attitude, which can be very subtle, yet pervasive, got hold of King Rehoboam. It made him think he was at a permanent resting place with God.

Unfortunately, Rehoboam, because of his self-sufficiency, did the same thing most of us do where God is concerned. Rehoboam simply got carried away with life and the world and began to forget about God. The Bible makes it appear as though Rehoboam’s break with God was the result of a single decision where he said, “I think I’m done following God. I’m doing my own thing.” However, that’s usually not the way it happens. People move away from God into sin by degrees.

It’s like reading the Bible every day. If you are in that habit, you know that it just doesn’t feel right to omit one day. You don’t feel complete. You feel as though you’ve not done something very important. You might tell yourself you’ll get it to later or you’ll read today’s day with tomorrow’s, but it doesn’t take much to come to a point of forgetting to read it one day and getting out of the habit the next. Eventually, you’re not reading the Bible at all. Did you intend to do that? Did you set out and say, “Tomorrow, I’m going to stop reading the Bible”? No, you simply got very busy or lazy for one or two days and all of a sudden, a new habit of not reading God’s Word developed.

I’m inclined to think that this happened to Rehoboam during his third year of ruling. He began possibly to pat himself on the back. Things were going very well. He was using wisdom to make good decisions. His sons were helping him rule throughout Judah. Look at all the blessings coming into Judah as well! So maybe Rehoboam began to relax his standards where God was concerned. All of a sudden, he’s simply doing his own thing and ignoring God’s rule. The people of Judah saw that it was no longer important to their king, so they adopted the same attitude. This is a lesson for us Christians as well. People “read” our lives and they wind up making judgments about God based on what they see in us.

But Rehoboam wasn’t completely bereft. Even though he was in rebellion against God by abandoning the will of the Lord, he was still capable of repentance through humility. In verse 5, Shemaiah the prophet was sent by the Lord to Rehoboam to explain the problem. To his credit, Rehoboam listened to the prophet!

Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, ‘The Lord is righteous.’ (v. 6)

Wow, is that cool, or what? They recognized they had been wrong and fully repented of their sin. By saying, “The Lord is righteous,” the king and princes were deliberately placing themselves under God’s rule again. Christian, this is what we do every time we come to God confessing our sin in deep humility. We are re-establishing our fellowship with God that we lost because we went out on our own. God’s response to this true humility was extraordinary.

When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah: “They have humbled themselves. I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless, they shall be servants to him, that they may know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.” (vv. 7-8)

God didn’t have to do forgive as He did, but He is a rewarder of those who seek Him and turn to Him in true humility.

Folks, God makes the rules. All people will bend the knee to God and will give Him glory and acclaim. They will either do it willingly with abandon or be forced to admit it against their will, but they will all do it.

I know I’m a sinner, saved by the wonderful grace of Jesus. I know I continue to have the sin nature deep within me that wars against me, wanting me to do things on my own that do not bring God glory. I also know that each time I sin, God will receive me back into fellowship. The obvious goal is to live a life of obedience to God so that He and He alone will receive glory.

Entry filed under: christianity, Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, Emotional virtue, eternity, israel, Judaism, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , .

Should Christians Fear God? It’s Really About Obedience, Pt 2

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