Obedience Perfects Us

Obedience Perfects Us
1 John 2:3-6
Evangelist Denise Abraham
A woman told me a relative of hers had died. I asked if he was a Christian. She said, "Oh, yes, he made a profession of faith and was baptized at age seven. He never went back to church or read the Bible in the seventy years after that, but I'm sure he was a Christian." Such a claim is unbelievable in light of what John wrote in these verses.
Obedience is a central theme throughout Scripture. From the beginning of creation to the end of Revelation, it's difficult to turn a page that doesn't deal - directly or indirectly - with God's call for obedience.  Remember, Jesus not only said, "Believe me," He also said, "Follow me." God places a high premium on our obedience.

In our time, however, obeying God's commands often is ignored, dismissed, or glossed over. Why? Because obedience slaps us in the face. Why? Because we are so comfortable with saying, “I’m human”, making it “rule” for not obeying instead of an “exception” to the law of obedience. Obeying God’s commands confronts our sin. It challenges our lives. It runs contrary to our unwritten mantra: Who are you to tell me what to do? Sound, very familiar?

Yet God commands us to obey, not because He is on a power trip, but rather because He wants what's best for us. God's commands are not to kill our fun, but to increase our enjoyment. Disobey those commands and quickly we will see how much sadness we can experience. God's commands are not to box us in but for our protection. Again, disobey those commands and quickly we will see how much trouble we will be in.

Four realities for obeying His commands are revealed in these verses 3-6.
Obedience proves our salvation (Vs 3) John is not teaching that salvation is conditional on obedience. John is teaching that salvation is evidenced by obedience. And, in turn, that obedience contributes to our assurance of salvation. Obedience is a sign that we know God, recognizing that God expects His people to live a certain way - His way.

Obedience transforms our lives (Vs 4) By way of contrast, in verse four, John restated verse three with a warning: "The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4 NIV). His point is: If you claim to know God but your life is not changed by knowing Him, then that is a certain sign that you don't know God. He is not saying that the truth is in one's head and has not made it to their hearts, like we try to do, letting people off the hook.

He is saying that the person who does not keep God's commands does not have the truth at all. Why? Because the truth of God turns our lives upside down. It changes us. It transforms us. Once you have the truth it fills you with a fire in your belly and a love for the living God; it changes everything. God's truth always leads to love; it always leads to obedience; it always leads to a transformed life. There should be evidence of growth. So, when that transformed life is not present, you can be certain that the person has never had the truth; he or she has never known God.

Obedience springs from our love (Vs 5) In this verse John broadens the scope from "obey his commands" to "obeys his word." But it is second half of the verse that arrests my attention, "God's love is truly made complete in Him." John seems to be saying that our love for God is a reflection of God's love for us and a response to it, so that our keeping of God's word could be a sign that God's love had done its full work in us. Made complete means that the believer's love is entire and mature.

Here John addresses motive. In essence, he is communicating that we know that we know God when we love to do what He commands. Three motives for obedience exist: We can obey because we have to; we can obey because we need to; or we can obey because we want to.
A prisoner obeys because he has to. If he doesn't obey, he will be punished. An employee obeys because he needs to. He may not enjoy his work, but he enjoys getting his paycheck. He needs to obey because he has a family to feed and to clothe.

But a believer obeys God's word because he wants to - for the relationship between him and God is one of love. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15 NIV).
Obedience characterizes our walk (Vs 6) Here's the question for you: Would people know that you are a believer by the way you live? Do you walk as Jesus walked?

In other words, if someone said to the apostle John, "I know Christ." John would reply, "Good. But, if you're in Him, abiding in Christ, then you are walking like Christ, living like Christ." And, how did Christ live? He lived in obedience to the Father.

Are you living in Christ? If you're resting in Jesus Christ, if you've found Him to be the source of every spiritual blessing, you're trusting in Him for salvation; you're fellowshipping with Him in grace; then your whole life will have been changed. You see, everyone who is united with Christ expresses that union with Christ by living like Christ, by walking as He walked.

This message is important for at least two reasons. It's important because some people profess to be Christians, but are not living in accordance with God's word and really have no deep desire to do so. And what John would say to you is, "MY FRIEND, You're not a Christian. Come to grips with that. Realize that you need grace! You don't need to be cleaned up and made to look better; you need grace; you need saving grace!"

This message is important because some people wrestle with a lack of assurance because of imperfections in their lives. And John would say, "I'm not asking for perfect obedience to God's word; I'm asking you to look at your heart and answer this question: Are you keeping God's commandments?" While keeping the commandments is not a condition for salvation, it is a sign, evidence, of your salvation - a mark of a Christian.
During this Lenten Season, I encourage you to make an intentional effort to access the character as a Christian and ask yourself the questions mentioned in this devotional. 
Where there is room for improvement-improve!  Where there is room for growth-grow!

Obedience perfects us: True love for God is expressed in moral obedience. We keep the commandments because of our love for God. When we comprehend what Jesus did for us by sacrificing himself on the cross, our response is to love him and to obey him. Love delights to do God's will because it understands the cost and sacrifice of that love. Jesus loved to do God's will, did he not? And, if we are like Jesus, then we will love to do God's will as well. If we love God, we will keep his commands and that obedience will in turn evidence our true love to God.
Prayer: Father, you said, that if we love You, we will keep Your commandments and to walk with You is to avoid sin. We must always be killing sin, lest it rises and kills us. Therefore, give us a willing and able desire to follow You and shut down sin. Wherever following You may take us, let us follow You as a lamb follows his/her shepherd in full love, obedience, transformation and faithfulness. In Your Son Jesus’ name I pray. Amen. Ase.
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