The secret of living a fruitful life is abiding.
If we are going to abide we must pray.
If we are going to pray, we must obey.
A number of you have conveyed that the Holy Spirit has challenged you to abide in Christ as a branch abides in the vine. I trust you made special efforts this week to abide in Christ, to implement this into living as mother/father/executive/student while the desire is fresh in your heart.
If you did, you experienced difficulty and some failure, at least I suspect that you did. The self-control wasn't developed strongly enough to change the channel on the t.v. or shut it off. When the kids got under your skin, the perseverance ceased persevering. When the students at school did those stupid things that students do, your long-suffering became a short explosion, and for the time you ceased abiding in Christ.
There's an art, a skill, a wisdom to abiding that is learned by great desire, a driving compulsion, and also by experience. ( to learn, two qualities must be present- great desire, and experience). An abiding desire and a desire to abide.
Christianity is a long obedience in the same direction.
Not only will you not be able to abide without a strong desire to do so, you may find what we're going to talk about today as discomforting. It may indicate that there needs to be some rearranging done to a life-style that you feel very comfortable with. The truth we are going to discuss, if faced honestly, may point you in a direction where seemingly no one else is going; to an unknown land - and you'd rather not go. I'm aware that it may cause some insecurity as old "false security blankets" are taken away, but if we're to produce genuine fruit, then it must happen. So be it! We must press on to authenticity in our most important relationship. (How can I abide forever?)
Let's keep before us the fact that we're looking at the Word of God which is not just interesting, helpful info. It is ultimately authoritative.
read Jn. 15:10
We've heard "Obey" ever since we can remember. A slap on the hands and a "no no" is one of our first lessons in obedience. Over the years we get fed up with being asked to do what we don't want to do, so that "obedience" becomes contemptible to us.
Contempt is defined as being: "to despise" or "to willfully disobey". Young people will often be openly disobedient, not because they've not heard that they're to obey, but partly because they're sick of hearing it, or are in rebellion against God.
This morning let's take a new look at obedience. Lay aside the hostilities and the contempt. Call for a cease-fire and consider that maybe, just maybe, obedience is a blessing for all of us.
Like the enthusiastic coach who was inspiring his team in the locker room. "Okay, fellows," he said, "here we are- undefeated, untied, unscored upon - and ready for our first game!"
One usually grows up under six principal authorities which require obedience: (lab work in developing the life of obedience)
1. Parents- Col. 3:20, Eph. 6:1
primary place of learning obedience...making the role of the parent extremely important (v.21) may the precious development of a child's soul not be hindered by parents who would ask a child to do things that should not be obeyed. Incest, lying, physical violence from parent to child send signals that scar for a lifetime and it makes it very difficult to ever develop a heart of obedience.
ill. A missionary translator was endeavoring to find a word for "obedience" in the native language. This was a virtue seldom practiced among the people into whose language he wanted to translate the New Testament. As he returned home form the village one day, he whistled for his dog and it came running at full speed. An old native, seeing this, said admiringly in the native tongye, "Your dog is all ear." Immediately the missionary knew he had his word for obedience.
Home is where life makes up its mind. Let's build young people who have a mind to obey. Ask,"What deep lessons did I learn in relating to my parents?"
2. Teachers - Proverbs 5:7-14
All of us, throughout our lifetimes, have the opportunity to incline our ear to the instruction of teachers. They lead us down a path of learning. Here, in the proverbs, we are exhorted to avoid immorality as it will harden one's heart against instruction.
3. Employers or masters in business- I Peter 2:18
The Scripture recognizes the complexity of unreasonable masters.
hupotasso - be under the authority of... seek to be obedient
4. Government- Rom. 13:1,2
during Nero's reign
5. Church- Heb. 13:17
I've seen this from both sides, as a church leader and as someone under the authority of other church leaders, and it makes absolutely no sense to bring anything less than an attitude of submission to church. It is not profitable for anybody.
6. God- Gen. 2:16,17 (paradise lost)
In the garden of Eden, God gave to man in Genesis 2:16, 17 one condition for abiding in the garden of Eden.
Genesis 2:16,17: And the Lord commanded the man, saying "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die."
Man disobeyed that one basic command of God and as a result we see in Genesis 3:1 that man was shut off from the tree of life.
Genesis 3:1: Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, "You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?"
Roll the years of history forward beyond the present into the future and we are told in Revelation 22:14 that man's access is regained by obedience to the commands.
Rev. 22:14 - "Blessed are those who wash their robes,(keep the commandments) that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city."
Either way (variant) this is not accomplished by man but by Christ. That is the teaching of Romans 5:19.
Romans 5:19: For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
So from Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained disobedience reigns, except for the one glorious event, the obedience of Christ.
"The battle of life is fought on the field of obedience." (today is the same).
Obedience is a privilege-not just a responsibility. We have the opportunity as free moral agents by an act of our will, to show God we love Him. Man is the only creature that can do this.
John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."
To gain a better perspective on the importance of obedience let's look at it historically through the Scripture and trace the roots and development of the concept through the main players. Stick with us through the O.T.- the N.T. puts it together for us.
With every new beginning, God stressed the importance of obedience. God gave Noah some specific commands. In Genesis 6:22 we read: (also Genesis 7:5).
Genesis 6:22: Thus Noah did according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.
Genesis 7:5: And Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him.
In obeying God's commands, Noah was spared from the flood that wiped out all of disobedient mankind.
It is said of Abraham in Hebrews 11:8, "By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance, and he went out, not knowing where he was going."
As a result...- Genesis 22:18: And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.
As Abraham passed from the scene, his son Isaac was spoken to by the Lord. (Genesis 26:4,5)
Genesis 26:4,5: And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, my commandments, My statutes and My laws.
When Moses met on Mount Sinai with God, God stated to Him the importance of obedience.
Exodus 19:4-6: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine: and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.
Israel comes to the land, and fall into fear before the giants and don't go into the promised land. They begin to wander.
Moses because of disobedience was not permitted to enter the land. That entire generation of disobedient Jews dies in wandering except Joshua and Caleb (two obedient spies).
To the new generation of Israelites, ready to go into the land God re-states His will regarding obedience.
Deuteronomy 11:26-28: See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today: and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.
Now, I'd like to spend a few minutes here considering the law God gave to His people. By and large, we have really failed to look at the law of God correctly.
It's so easy to look at the law of Moses as a sort of prison for us. It's a ball and chain to keep us from straying very far. We chafe against that slavery.
When we look at the law in this way, it is difficult to understand how the psalmist couuld say "The law of the Lord is perfect...it is sweeter than honey in the honeycomb." Paul says the law is "holy, just and good." James calls it the "law of liberty."
The law of Moses rather defines the basis for maintaining love between us and God and among ourselves. They are laws that liberate.
The law is a discipline for freedom, that's why James called it the law of liberty.
(ex.) When Nadia Comaneci performed so gracefully and effortlessly in 1976 that she received perfect scores, many were tempted to say that most of her ability came "naturally." But a look at her life showed a young girl 3 to 5 hours every day working out, practicing for a period of 6 years. Her friends could come and go as they pleased, but not Nadia; she had to go work out in the gym- she confessed that she often felt like a "caged bird."
But she had a goal, and freedom to win a gold medal could be achieved only through intense discipline. Furthermore, the more she mastered gymnastics, the more her love for it increased. She was disciplined in order to be free, and in her increasing freedom to perform she grew in her love for her sport.
In the skill of living as we discipline ourselves in obedience we become free, and our capacity to live in love grows.
As we come to the New Testament the concept of Obedience is even stronger than in the Old Testament.
AUGUSTINE: "Love God and do as you please!"
(adopted by Christianity)
Christendom has abused Augustine's thought. Many would practice loving God as somehow in place of obeying His commands. The commands don't matter, love becomes mere sentiment.
Feelings reign over faith. An existential, ego-centered Christianity emerges and Christianity begins to look a lot like the world.
"Every man doing that which was right in his own eyes."
Jn.14:15 "If you love me, keep my commandments!"
CHRIST AS EXAMPLE: Phil.2:5-8 (Christmas) humbled--obedient
Heb.5:8 "Although he was a Son, He learned obedience by the things which he suffered."
ill. KGB vice chairman Stolyarov's comments (Christianity Today, Jan. 13,1992)
Jesus called for obedience (15:10)
An unknown author penned these words:
"You call me Master and obey me not,
You call me Light and see me not;
You call me Way and walk not;
You call me Life and desire me not;
You call me Fair and love me not;
You call me Rich and ask me not;
You call me Eternal and seek me not;
You call me Gracious and trust me not;
You call me Noble and serve me not;
You call me Mighty and honor me not;
You call me Just and fear me not;
If I condemn you blame me not!"
Australia- The premier of Australia said that, when the Great War broke out, the Australian Commonwealth at once offered to do what they could to back Great Britain. They asked what was the most useful thing that they could do, and the reply came - "Build us ships: we want ships".
The Australians did not build ships, so they smiled and began to till the fields, sow seed and reap harvests to send food to the motherland. Grain was gathered, put into sacks, and brought down to the water's edge to wait for the ships. But the ships never came. The mice got in, and then found their way into towns and villages and cities, carrying disease with them - a disease that attacked the eyes of many and blinded some. And all the time Great Britain said, "Ships! Ships! Ships!"
blinded by rats
disobedient by nature
ill. Next to the one who does not pay his bill, the doctor's most annoying patient is the one who refuses to follow orders. Recently it was estimated that between 16-90 percent of all patients leave half-empty pill bottles, cheat on diets, continyue to smile, or never return for checkups despite careful prescriptions and cautious advice."