[Preface:  An oft-heard refrain among Christians is that it is impossible to live as Jesus teaches.  Others admire His teachings too but from a distance and use them, if at all, as whips against erring Christians!   But the truth is God wouldn’t command us something we cannot obey…..]

There’s growth in Christianity
Seldom attained;
Though the water-mark is preset
And all aid to be had on board!
 

GOD’S TESTS OF OBEDIENCE

INTRODUCTION:

 This service is founded on the cumulative teaching of the following verses that speak for themselves:

  • Rom 12:2, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind..”.
  • Isa 55:8-9, ” ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord…”.
  • Col 3:1-2. “…Set your hearts on things above……Set your minds on things above..”.
  • Jn 16:13-15, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth……”
  • 1 Cor 2:10, 12-13, “……The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”, and “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit Who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.  This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.”
  • Jn 8:31, “…..’If you hold to My teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
  • Gal 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
  • Isa 35:8, “And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness.  The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it.”
  • Ps 29:2, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His Name; worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.”

In summation, the Spirit of God shall guide you into all truth, and the truth shall set you free to pursue righteousness and holiness according to the perfect and pleasing will of God.

SEEK HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS:

The study of God’s tests of obedience is one of the many steps toward it.  An oft-heard refrain among Christians is ‘It is not possible to live as Jesus teaches.  His commandments are good, but difficult to keep.’  Others admire them too, but from a distance and use them, if at all, as whips against erring Christians. 

But the truth is God wouldn’t command us something we cannot obey!  Eg. Abraham’s test.  It simply calls for our trust. Our trust and our willingness to perceive His will in it.

HIS HOLINESS:

For example, we are taught to worship God in the splendor of His holiness (Ps 29:2, 1 Chron 16:29).  His holiness cannot come from ourselves.  It has to be acquired from Him.  Instead of doing that, we are in the habit of substituting His holiness with our own interpretations of it and end up offering something altogether detestable to Him (Isa 1:13).

God’s commands get distorted when we do that.  They are lofty commands, as high as the heavens.  Isa 55:8-9 show us how high and lofty are God’s thoughts and ways.  In comparison, ours are as far removed from them as the earth is from the sky!  A complete dependency on the Holy Spirit will only help us discern between the two and equip us to worship Him in the splendor of His holiness (Jn 4:24).

PROPHET HOSEA:

Take for instance, when God commanded prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute.  God chose His obedient prophet to teach His people that all their acts of unfaithfulness towards Him are vilest adultery in His sight (Hos 1:2, Hos 4, Hos 4:12(b)). Jesus conveyed the same truth in Jn 8:1-11.  Hence we find that all who had come to stone the adulteress woman had to instead retract shamefacedly.

Yes, He is the unchanging God.  Heaven and earth will pass away.  But His Words will remain.  Read Hos 4:14, “I will not punish your daughters when they turn to prostitution, nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery, because the men themselves consort with harlots and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes – a people without understanding will come to ruin!.”

Finally, when as was expected, Hosea struggled to keep his wife, Gomer, faithful to him, God commands him to receive her back along with her children to demonstrate His love for His people (Hos 3:1)all of whom He just longs to gather unto Himself as a hen gathers its chicks under her wings.  Read Matt 23:37, “…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”  

SURPASSING RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LORD:

So it is with all God’s commands.  Unless we learn to see them in His perspective, we will not be able to obey them.   Jesus, in whom was the Law fulfilled by His surpassing righteousness and holiness; and the wrath of God appeased by His vicarious death, commands, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:20).  And, indeed, to seek His righteousness and His kingdom we do not retrace our steps back to the Law but to Him Alone Who is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2). 

THE COMMANDMENTS OF JESUS CHRIST:

His commandments are classified into seven and dealt individually for better and concentrated perception.  So they will be followed in seven small volumes under the following titles:

  1. The commandment to Love.
  2. The commandment to Forgive.
  3. The commandment to Sacrifice.
  4. The commandment to Forsake.
  5. The commandment to Give.
  6. The commandment to Witness.
  7. The commandment to Watch. 

CONCLUSION:

To minister to His people by the infallible Word of God is the sole purpose of this freely accessible service.  Let His Word speak and drive out demons to bring deliverance to His people.  Mk 1:38-39, “Let us go…..so I can preach there also.  That is why I have come.  So He traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.” and “My food”, said Jesus, “is to the do the will of  Him Who sent Me and to finish His work .”(Jn 4:34)  

This is the Master’s commitment to His work which continues even today, until the Day of the Lord.  Jn 5:17, “Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”  And Phil 1:6, “Being confident of this, that He Who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus.”  Yes, the Lord is working on us.  Let us, therefore, yield unto the Spirit and persevere in seeking His righteousness, His kingdom.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow all the days of our life; and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

 May God bless you!

   Faith Part III to be contd…Next: The Commandment to Love