1 John 2:3 “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.”
Knowledge of God comes through Obedience?
How does this work? I would have thought that John would have been more inclined to say that knowledge comes through studying the Word or Prayer or Praise. But then I realized that all 3 of these avenues actually fall under obedience.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 1 Timothy 2:15
“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually” Hebrews 13:15
These are all commands given to us by God. The expectation is that we will be obedient. In the doing of these things we become obedient.
We can constantly see pictures of God’s blessings on those who were obedient.
- Because Abraham obeyed God’s voice, he made his seed “to multiply as the stars of the heavens.” (Gen 26:4-5).
- God promised Israel that He would be with them because of their obedience (Hag 1:12-13)
- We are promised that the Holy Spirit will be given to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32)
- We are made free from sin and servants of righteousness because of our obedience (Rom 6:16-18)
- Children will find pleasure in God’s eyes through obedience of their parents (Col 3:20)
- Jesus is the author of our Salvation to those of us who obey (Heb 5:9)
- Our souls have been purified in “obeying the truth through the Spirit” (1Pet 1:22)
- Pharaoh did not obey the voice of God and would not let the people of Israel leave with Moses (Ex 5:2). He suffered many plagues and his army was swallowed up by the Red Sea.
- The Lord took the kingdom of Israel away from Saul and gave it to David because of his disobedience (1 Sam 28:17-18).
- Israel was taken into captivity by the King of Assyria due to their disobedience (2 Kings 18:11-12).
- Jeremiah prophesied that Israel would drink “water of gall” and “scatter them among the heathen” and “send a sword after them” because of their disobedience. (Jeremiah 9:13-16)
- God will give indignation and wrath to those who “who obey unrighteousness”. (Rom 2:8)
- Those that obey not “the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” will be “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thes 1:7-9).
But I don’t feel like it….
I know how you feel brother/sister. I have sat many days and nights wrestling with feelings of laziness, apathy, anger, covetousness or lust. It is so much easier to turn on the television. So much easier to roll over and sleep an extra half an hour. It is so much easier to nurse that bitterness inside of you. I learned a principle recently that stated that you must determine the value and worth of an action by the end result of that action, not by the feeling you receive while engaging in that action. For instance, if you determine to get up a half an hour early so that you might spend some time in the Word and you wind up hitting the snooze button instead and sleeping through your quiet time, how do you determine if the action you took (or didn’t take) was productive or good for you. How do you feel for exchanging 30 minutes of sleep for time in the Word? Do you feel some remorse or even guilt? And how would you have felt if you had risen at the sound of the alarm, taken your Bible to a quiet place and read and prayed your way through the first 30 minutes of your day?
Sometimes, our feelings deceive us. They distort what we know in our hearts to be good and right. They convince us that they low road is not only easier, but more enjoyable. They cry out to be fed by the tasty morsels of the world. But they continue to become emaciated through a slow starvation wanting more and more of the worldly foods, but never becoming nourished in the consuming.
The Progression of Obedience
Obedience starts in the mind. It begins with repentance. It is a turning of 180 degrees away from the old life and toward a new life full of joy, contentment and reward. We must make a decision to be obedient. We can only do this with the help of the Holy Spirit. God knows that it takes work. God knows it is a hard thing. That is why we have the Comforter to come alongside and buoy us up right when we need it.
Obedience then moves to the Heart. The Heart is where commitment is born. Our Heart begins to place flesh on the bones of our decision. Our Heart strengthens our resolve to walk in the light. It begins to understand that obedience is not just an act in and of itself, but it is an outpouring of the Love we are developing for our God. Our hearts begin to soften as we continue to be obedient. And we become clay in the hands of the Potter.
Finally, our emotions come under submission. We begin to feel joy when we obey. We see the fruits of our obedience. We experience peace in knowing that we are honoring God in our actions, words and thoughts.
The Hole in my Soul
True Joy (and maybe even happiness) comes when the hole in our souls become filled. As we begin to experience the fullness of life, we begin to know the benefits of walking with God. God blesses us in our obedience. He gives us the things that make our souls healthy. We become full in Him.
Nothing else can fill this hole. No matter what we put into it. We can spend all of our days tossing everything we possibly can into this bottomless sinkhole. Money, pleasure, power, popularity, success, anger, bitterness. We just stand at the edge of the hole throwing anything we can get our hands on, and it never fills up.
We begin to fill that hole through obedience. Obey God’s words. Give them heed. Seek them out. Memorize them. Hold them dear to your heart. Treasure each and every word. Dig through his Word looking for jewels. Let God speak to you. He wants you to know Him. Obey Him and He will fill that hole.