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Obedience (part 2)

Why is obedience so hard?

There are several reasons why obedience seems hard. I will comment on some of them and then speak positively on how obedience is easy.

1) Obedience is an infringement on freedom. Since we are free in Christ, and obedience is somehow contrary to that freedom, we conclude that obedience is not good. Yet we know it is good. Thus, we become confused about obedience and are not single minded.

2) Obedience is works. We who have been justified by grace through faith are opposed to works; therefore, we are opposed to obedience.

3) We have tried to obey and have failed--frequently. Therefore, the only solution is to disobey and later confess to receive forgiveness. It is easier to be forgiven by grace than to obey by effort.

4) We confuse obedience to men with obedience to God. Although these are sometimes one and the same (as in Romans 13, 1 Peter 2 and 3, Ephesians 5 and 6, Colossians 3, and Titus 2), sometimes they are not the same (as in Colossians 2:20-23, Mark 7, 1 T…

Feedback on "How to Be Free From Bitterness"

Anonymous’ letter on How to Be Free From Bitterness:

Interesting article on the riddance of bitterness. Let me ask you this, what does the bible say about parenting? What are the obligations of parents? Yes, they should provide a loving and Christian home, but what after that?

Maybe the bitterness so many kids feel is unwarranted, biblically speaking. From what I can find, I see nothing where the bible commands fathers/mothers to send their children to college, be constantly active and involved in their children’s’ lives (schoolwork, soccer practice, building their self esteem, say “I love you”, hug you, compliment you, teach you non-biblical things, worldly guidance, etc, etc)

I ask this because I’ve been pretty bitter myself. But then I thought, “what does the bible require of my parents? It seems that the ONLY requirements of parents is to love their children and bring them up in the ways of the lord. That also means to provide a home, love and food for them. Beyond that, they’re not …

Obedience (part 1)

But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” (1 Samuel 15:22, 23 NIV)

I really wish you would open your Bible right now and read the fifteenth chapter of 1 Samuel. Have you read it? Notice why Saul spared the animals (vv. 21, 24). Notice also that God was grieved because of Saul’s disobedience. God did not call it partial obedience. Saul was saying how he had obeyed the Lord while all around was evidence of his disobedience; bleating sheep and lowing cattle. Saul called his “partial obedience” obedience. God called his “partial obedience” disobedience.

God continued in that direction and called disobedience rebellion, and rebellion He likened to witchcraft. He also said stu…

Matthew 5:17-20

“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven…” (RSV)

Jesus taught that there are three eternal destinies:

1. Least in the Kingdom
2. Great in the Kingdom
3. Never in the Kingdom.

In the rest of chapter five Jesus teaches how He fulfills the Law. He fulfilled the Law by going back to motives--hate, lust, and love. The Spirit of the Law is never less than the letter of the Law; it is always more. The Pharisees were living the letter only and would not make…

Refraining from Disobedience

There are several aspects of the Christian life that are generally considered under the heading obedience. The first is refraining from disobedience; the second is the state of walking in the light; and the third is an active, positive obedience to New Testament commands. These are not necessarily in the order of importance. They are in the order they will be covered here.

Refraining from Disobedience

The first broken command was worded negatively: “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Almost all of the ten commandments were also worded negatively. Starting with Deuteronomy 5:8, “You shall not” occurs eleven times in the next thirteen verses.

Disobedience is doing, thinking, or saying that which we have been commanded not to do or think or say. It is also the opposite: not doing, not thinking or not saying that which we are commanded to do or think or say. For example,

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with…

Grace and Faith III

There is another Faith that is a gift of grace given to certain people who already have saving faith. You see this gift described in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. (NIV)

There are two key verses in this paragraph, the first and the last. This gift of faith is not saving faith; it is faith for the common good. This faith is not caused by the preaching of Christ; it is given as the Holy Spirit determines. All Chri…

Grace and Faith II

Saving faith is a gift of God. It is a trust that God gives to man that always has God as the object of the preposition “in.” What am I talking about? Trust in God, faith in God.

The faith that man has in spirits, idols, demons, and false gods is not a gift of God. Faith that is a gift of God is recognized 1) by the object, 2) by its unwavering quality, 3) by its saving results. This faith is given, caused by God in a certain way clearly described in the Bible.

Look at Romans 10:17:

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (NIV)


Preaching of the word causes faith. When someone says “Do not use the Bible,” or “Don’t preach to me, I don’t believe that stuff.” Of course he doesn’t believe; he has not heard it.

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on …

Quality and Quantity

I suppose everything has a quality to it. The measurement may have differences in character. These differences may be, for example, in sweetness or hardness. The quantity, in most cases does not change the quality. If I have a hard rock and increase my rocks to 100 rocks. The rocks do not become harder. If I decrease the number to 50 rocks that does not mean the rocks are half as hard as the 100 rocks. I still have hard rocks. If I take the square root of 100 rocks I now have ten hard rocks.

Here is my point.

If I am bitter and cut it in half or take the square root of my bitterness I am still bitter. Making the quantity less does not make the smaller quantity not bitter.

Download How to Be Free From Bitterness from our website at http://www.ccmbooks.org/.

Bitterness is Bad

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15

Defile: to make unclean or impure befoul, besmirch, to corrupt the purity or perfection of, to make filthy. A bitter root that grows up and bears fruit makes many people filthy.

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:14-16

Bitter envy does not come from Heaven; it is “earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.”

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31

“Bitterness” has close associates, rage, anger, brawling, slander and every form of malice.

Before we can understand that bitterness has to be gotten rid of we must understand that it…

Praise (part 2)

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. (Psalm 100:1, 2 NIV)

In this world there are sad songs, love songs and battle songs, but when it comes to singing of salvation the songs are songs of joy and gladness. David knew this when he wrote the lyrics and probably the music for Psalm 51. In it he sings,

Restore to me the joy of your salvation. (Psalm 51:12 NIV)

Salvation means joy, and joy means singing. Psalm 126 is speaking of release from physical captivity, but it is also a great picture of spiritual salvation.

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out…

Praise (part 1)

My mouth is filled with praise, declaring your splendor all day long. (Psalm 71:8 NIV)

It is the custom of all churches to sing hymns of praise at worship services. It is not the habit of Christians to sing praise all day long.

I remember clearly the text that was preached the Saturday night in October 1947 when I received Christ. It was Psalm 40:2:

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (NIV)

The result of my cry to God that night is expressed by verse three of Psalm 40:

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. (NIV)

Truly he put a new song into my mouth. Because of his new song, many have put their trust in the Lord.

Please make a habit of singing hymns daily if you have a new song in your mouth. Here are two hymns of praise:

All Hail the Power

All hail the pow’r of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall,
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And cr…

Fear--Boldness

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Acts 4:29

“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31

Pray for boldness when threatened.

Fear--Love

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

Run to the one who loves.

Fear--Lie

There are opposites to, solutions to, and preventions from fear.

I mentioned that fear is based on a lie or lies. The devil is the father of all lies. A liar always says that he is telling the truth. We believe him, not realizing that this lie is a temptation from the evil one. We take the temptation as true and end up in fear. Because we thought it was true does not keep our fear from being sin. We must confess it and forsake it. It is a sinful response to a temptation just like every other sin.

Hope

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14

“Hope” like “fear” is an anticipation of something in the future. There is a difference. Hope is not negative and it is not based upon a lie. It is a glad anticipation of something that is sure to happen. It is a dead certainty. Hope is not iffy.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,” Hebrews 6:19

Terror

Terror is a fear that is bigger than fear. In quality there may not be a whole lot of difference between fear and terror. It is a present feeling about something future that is awful. Terror by definition can be communicators in all directions to whole populations. We see the idiom in scripture.

“Terror on every side”

Terrorists are people who wish to cause terror. They have no desire to kill people other than to immobilize the people who did not get killed. Terror immobilizes people.

Mourning

“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” Matthew 24:30, 31

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” Revelation 1:7

All nations and all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the son of man coming in the clouds of the sky.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

We have a responsibility to all nations b…

Panic

Panic is terror that becomes mobilized with no intelligent direction. People are trampled to death in panic. This fear is also based on the future, but the future is the immediate future like a fire in a theater.

“He shall say: "Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them.” Deuteronomy 20:3

Speak the Truth in Love

It is wonderful to live in a nation that is increasingly tolerant of differences. However, this increasing tolerance is becoming syncretistic. We are saying there is no difference, they are all in agreement. We can no longer express differences of opinion.

I will quote from the Mikado.

“I am right and you are right and all is right as right can be and I am right and you are right and everything is quite correct.”

That which is satire in the song is now a major creed in this country.

In the major public relations effort to keep Islamic people, Arab or other Middle Eastern peoples, American citizens or not, from being mistreated we have implemented the above creed.

All Christian denominations, Eastern Roman, Conservative, Liberal, and Fundamentalist have in their creeds or doctrinal statements the deity of Jesus, his death on the cross for the sins of the world, his burial and bodily resurrection from the dead and that repentance and belief in this truth is the means of salvation and the ass…

Fear

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

All fear is an anticipation of something negative we think will take place in the future. It is not only future, it is also based on a lie. In other words, this negative thing will not take place in the future.