When I first became a Christian, I battled to understand the concept of sin.
I was drawn by the love of God to surrender to Him, but I couldn’t grasp the beauty of repentance. Subconsciously, I didn’t see myself as a “bad person” (ignorantly qualifying this by thinking that I don’t drink or smoke etc.) However, God found a way to reach deep into my soul with this scripture:
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV)
I suddenly realised I had been measuring myself by manmade/external do’s and don’ts, whereas God has X-ray vision into our hearts and is far more concerned about our attitudes and motives. This is where the sin lay!
Is not obeying a sin?
I have thus come to understand that sin can be summed up in a simple concept: disobedience to God. It is wrapped in the realm of self-will.
What God requires of us is not so much dogged obedience, but more WILLING obedience to Him – in all things. Realising how impossible this was and how far short I had fallen, I was able to finally see the gift He has given us by being able to repent and be forgiven.
True humility is willing and absolute obedience to God. The Cross is the ultimate example of this type of humility. Jesus obeyed all the way, until He had completed God’s assignment to rescue you and me when He cried out: “IT IS FINISHED” (John 19:3).
Not only did Jesus obey, but He was WILLING to obey!
If we want the fullness of God’s blessings, we need to learn to obey willingly. When out motive to obey is one of willingness, we are demonstrating deep faith in the character of God, because we are silently declaring that we trust that He loves us so deeply that He would never ask us to do something that doesn’t ultimately work for our good. Without faith, it is impossible to please God! (Hebrews 11:6).
In this world, we seek instant gratification. But God’s Kingdom is about long-term blessing: short term pain for long-term gain!
Jesus sweated drops of blood fighting against self-preservation…
Philippians 2:9 (NIV) Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name
“So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”
Philippians 2:12 (HNV)
Though God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:15), there will be times when we will feel forsaken. We will not always feel His presence, and it is precisely in those moments that we need to work out our salvation in the fear of God.
Throughout the bible, there are stories of people who learned obedience through their suffering – even Jesus! (Hebrews 5:8)
In Isaiah 59:2, we read that it is our sin that has separated us from God. It is not He that separates Himself from us, but our sin that hides His face from us. Thanks be to God almighty for the power of the blood, as we come to Him in humble repentance and receive His gift of forgiveness. This is how we draw close to Him. Through Christ, we have been given a new nature, so that we can now walk by the Spirit and not in the flesh:
“8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.3For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”
Romans 8:1-3 (NIV)
Thus, we are now dead to sin but alive in Christ (Romans 6:11) for it is God who works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose for our lives (Philippians 2:13).
Thank you, Abba, that your word says that it is possible to live a life of long-term obedience.
Help us overcome the pull of this world for instant gratification and to find the true joy of humbly and willingly obeying you. I want to bring my will into submission to yours.
In Jesus name,
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