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A New Approach to Obedience

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\\ A New Approach To Obedience at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
- Philippians 2:13 NAS

A New Approach To Obedience (1)

Paul says, " at work in you, both to will and to work for His
good pleasure." Most of us don't connect obedience with pleasure. We're
used to obeying out of necessity or fear. Perhaps we had parents who made
us obey "just because I said so." Now it's not wrong for parents to
expect obedience from children, or bosses to expect cooperation from
their employees. But it's not the best definition or the highest
motivation for obedience. The element that's missing is the "want to"
factor that God built into each of us at the point of salvation. This
takes the "ought to, have to, better do it or else God will destroy you"
element out of it. It elevates obeying God to a level of joyful response
to all that He's done for you. Obedience is not something you have to
manufacture. It's something you have to cultivate, then activate, because
the desire is already present in you. This is called "serving the Lord
with gladness." Anything else is merely outward compliance.

It's like the boy who misbehaved and was told by his mother to go and sit
in the corner. After a few minutes she called to him from the other room,
"Are you still sitting down?" He replied, "Yeah, I'm sittin' down on the
outside, but I'm standin' up on the inside." You could call that
obedience, but actually it's nothing more than outward compliance without
the inward response of eager and joyful obedience. Biblical obedience is
gladly doing on the outside what you really want to do on the at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
- Philippians 2:13 NAS

A New Approach To Obedience (2)

Jesus said, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and
humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is
easy and My burden is light" (Mt 11:29-30 NAS). Some of those who heard
these words were farmers who used oxen to plough. They understood Jesus
because they wouldn't dream of putting an ill-fitting harness on their
oxen that caused them to chafe. Nor would God! And these farmers
understood something else: without a harness oxen can't be directed and
won't fulfil their highest purpose - to be productive.

"But if I'm supposed to have this desire deep down to obey God, why can't
I find it?" you say. First, because you still live in a body of flesh.
And until God gives you a new body you'll contend with the lower impulses
of your old one. The second reason many of us don't feel this inbuilt
desire to obey is that it's been covered by calluses built up over years
of doing things because we had to. It's like the hard dry skin that
builds up on your feet. That hard layer has to be removed to get to the
soft skin underneath. That's usually the first thing a doctor does when
treating your feet. In the same way, the Holy Spirit has to remove the
calluses from our hearts as part of the softening process that makes us
receptive to God's will. And how does He do that? Through love! Our love
for Christ in response to what He's done for at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
- Philippians 2:13 NAS

A New Approach To Obedience (3)

A man trying to win a woman will do anything for her. She'll call him and
say, "I know it's late, you're tired and it's raining, but could you come
over and change my flat tyre?" "Sure, I'll be right over," he says. And
over he comes with a smile. Now, fast forward. They've been married 10
years; he's in the same house with the same woman he courted and won. She
asks him to get up off the couch and do something for her. She has to say
it three or four times, and you'd think she'd asked him to cut off his
leg the way he moans and groans. Then she gets upset. What's happening?
What was once a delight has become a drudgery - because the love
motivation has cooled off!

Our problem isn't really obedience, it's keeping our love for Christ
strong, for love makes obedience a joy. Less obedience is simply less
love. Often we replace grace with law, and love with rules. But we don't
enjoy the rules because we don't exercise the love. Our new nature
functions best when motivated by relationship, not rules. Rules without
love lead to coldness. Christ said to the Christians at Ephesus: "I have
this against you, that you have left your first love" (Rev 2:4 NAS). In
other words, "You don't love Me like you used to." Then He commanded them
to return to the point where they had fallen, which is where they let
their love for Him slip. Is Christ saying the same thing to you today?

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