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‘Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me from among all peoples.’ -- Ex. 19:5
‘By faith Abraham obeyed. -- Heb. 11:8
Obedience is one of the most important words in the Bible and in the life of the Christian. It was in the way of disobedience that man lost the favour and the life of God: it is only in the way of obedience that that favour and that life can again be enjoyed. (Rom. 5:19; 6:16; 1 Pet. 1:2,14,22) God cannot possibly take pleasure in those who are not obedient, or bestow His blessing upon them. ‘If ye will obey My voice indeed, ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me;’ ‘The Lord will surely bless thee, if thou only diligently hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.’ These are the eternal principles according to which alone man can enjoy God’s favour and blessing.
We see this in the Lord Jesus. He says: ‘If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.’ He was in the love of the Father, but could not abide there otherwise than by obedience. And He says that this is equally for us the one way to abide in His love: we must keep His commandments. He came to open for us the way back to God: this way was the way of obedience: only he that through faith in Jesus walks in this way shall come to God. (Gen. 22:17,18; 26:4,5; 1 Sam. 25:22; John 25:10)
How gloriously is this connection betwixt the obedience of Jesus and our own expressed in Heb. 5: ‘He learned obedience, and became unto all them that obey Him the author of eternal salvation.’ This is the bond of unity between Jesus and His people, the point of conformity and inward unanimity. He was obedient to the Father: they, on the other hand, are obedient to Him. He and they are both obedient. His obedience not only atones for, but drives out their disobedience. He and they bear one token: obedience to God. (Rom. 6:17; 2 Cor. 10:5; Phil. 2:8)
This obedience is a characteristic of the life of faith. It is called the obedience of faith. (Acts. 6:7; Rom. 1:5; 16:26) There is nothing in earthly things that so spurs on men to work as faith: the belief that there is advantage or joy to be found is the secret of all work. ‘By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed:’ according to what I believe shall my works be. The faith that Jesus made me free from the power of sin for obedience and sets me in a suitable condition for it, has a mighty power to make me obedient. Faith in the overflowing blessing which the Father gives to it, faith in the promises of the love and indwelling of God, of the fulness of the Spirit which comes by this channel, strengthens for obedience. (Deut. 28:1; Isa. 63:5; John 14:15,11,23; Acts. 5:32)
The power of this faith, again, as also of obedience lies especially in intercourse with the living God Himself. There is but one Hebrew word for ‘obeying voice’ and ‘hearing voice:’ to hear aright prepares to obey. It is when I learn the will of God, not in the words of a man or a book, but from God Himself, when I hear the voice of God, that I shall surely believe what is promised and do what is commanded. The Holy Spirit is the voice of God: when we hear the living voice speak, obedience becomes easy. (Gen. 12:1,4; 31:13,16; Matt. 14:28; Luke 5:5; John 10:4,27) O let us then wait in silence upon God, and set our soul open before Him, that He may speak by His Spirit. When in our Bible-reading and praying we learn to wait more upon God, so that we can say: My God has spoken this to me, has given me this promise, has commanded this, then shall we also obey. ‘To listen to the voice’ earnestly, diligently, is the sure way to obedience.
With a servant, a warrior, a child, a subject, obedience is indispensable, the first token of integrity. And shall God, the living, glorious God, find no obedience with us? (Mal. 1:6; Matt. 7:21) No: let cheerful, punctual, precise obedience from the beginning be the token of the genuineness of our fellowship with the Son whose obedience is our life.
O Father, who makest us Thy children in Christ, Thou makest us in Him obedient children, as He was obedient. Let the Holy Spirit make the obedience of Jesus so glorious and powerful in us, that obedience shall be the highest joy of our life. Teach us in everything only to seek to know what Thou desirest and then to do it. Amen.
For a life of obedience these things are required: --
1. Decisive surrender. I must no longer have to ask in every single case: Shall I or shall I not, must I, can I, be obedient? No: it must be such an unquestionable thing, that I shall know of nothing else than to be obedient. He that cherishes such a disposition and thinks of obedience as a thing that stands firm, shall find it easy, yea, shall literally taste in it great joy.
2. The knowledge of God’s will through the Spirit. Pray, do not imagine that, because you know the Bible in some sort, you know the will of God. The knowledge of God’s will is something spiritual: let the Holy Spirit make known to you the knowledge of God’s will.
3. The doing of all that we know to be right. All doing teaches men: all doing of what is right teaches men obedience. All that the word, or conscience, or the Spirit tells you is right, actually do it. It helps to form doing into a holy habit, and is an exercise leading to more power and more knowledge. Do what is right, Christian, out of obedience to God, and you shall be blessed.
4. Faith in the power of Christ. You have the power to obey: be sure of this. Although you do not feel it, you have it in Christ your Lord by faith.
5. The glad assurance of the blessing of obedience. It unites us with our God, it wins His good pleasure and love, it strengthens our life, it brings the blessedness of heaven into our heart.
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