SIGNS OF A HEALTHY SPIRITUAL LIFE #3: OBEDIENCE
Our level of obedience is one indicator of our spiritual health. I took our foster child to the urgent care today at our local children’s hospital. The first thing that they did when they brought him back to be examined was to check his temperature. The temperature of our bodies is one indicator of our physical health. If our temperature is excessively high or low, it can lead to many health issues, ultimately even including death. If there was such a thing as a spiritual hospital, and our spiritual health was being examined, one of the checks that the doctor would perform would be how well we obey the Lord in our daily lives.You cannot read through the Bible without encountering the emphasis that God places on the importance of obeying Him. Click To Tweet
You cannot read through the Bible without encountering the emphasis that God places on the importance of obeying Him. The Scriptures are full of examples of men and women who obeyed the Lord in spite of what it might cost them. Consider Abraham packing up everything and leaving his homeland at the Lord’s command to go to another country. (Genesis 12) Jeremiah preached a message from the Lord with the full knowledge that it would turn people against him. (Jeremiah 1) Joseph took Mary as his wife in spite of the fact that she was pregnant with a baby that he had nothing to do with. (Matthew 1:24) People throughout the Bible and history have literally put their lives on the line in order to obey God.
The Lord sets a high premium on obedience. In fact, He made His promises to the Israelites contingent on a relationship established by their obedience to Him. In Exodus 19:5, He told them, “If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.” And through the prophet Jeremiah, He declared, “Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.” (Jeremiah 7:22-23) If you state these promises in the negative, this is how they would read: “If you do not obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all the nations you will not be my treasured possession. If you disobey me, I will not be your God and you will not be my people. If you walk in disobedience to all I command you, it will not go well with you.”
If you think these statements seem harsh and only fit in the context of the Old Testament, look at what the New Testament has to say about obedience in John’s first epistle:
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. (I John 2:3-6)
In these verses, John does not leave us any wiggle room. He cuts through all of the smokescreens. He affirms that the test of a true believer is his obedience. Anyone can put on a great religious show, but when it comes right down to it, the proof is in the lifestyle. If a man obeys God, he proves that he belongs to Him. If he does not do what God commands, the truth is not in him.
James had strong words about obedience as well:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:22-25)
In speaking about obedience, James warns about a danger that all Christians face: the possibility that we will hear God’s Word, but not respond to it. When believers hear the Word of God, whether through reading or preaching, there are only two possible responses. Either they obey what He commands or they ignore it. Obedience softens the heart toward the Lord, but disobedience will harden it. Our actions are the litmus test of the level of our obedience.Obedience softens the heart toward the Lord, but disobedience will harden it. Our actions are the litmus test of the level of our obedience. Click To Tweet
Perhaps, Jesus put it most succinctly when He asked the following question: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) Anyone can claim to be a follower of Christ. But as the saying goes, “You can talk the talk, but will you walk the walk?” Many people learn how to say the right things when they become a part of church culture. But Jesus warns us that simply calling Him Lord is not enough. We need to demonstrate His Lordship in our lives through the things that we choose to do.
If obedience is one of the key qualities of a healthy spiritual life, it causes me to ask myself some questions:
What does my life look like in regards to obedience?
Are there any areas in my life in which I am not walking in full obedience to the Lord?
If so, what will I do to change that?
Do I look more like the person who is saying the right things, but not doing them?
Am I obeying the Lord and endeavoring to live according to His ways?
To read this article and the Scriptures it contains, agree with it, and then walk away without any application to our lives, is self-deception. Obedience is essential. If there is a lack of it in your life, why not make the necessary changes right now? Let us pray the following prayer to invite the Holy Spirit to help us in this area:
“Lord, I want to live a completely obedient life. Please, reveal to me any areas in my life that I am not walking according to your Word or will. Help me to walk in full surrender to you. Let my life reflect your Lordship in every situation, every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.“
DUSTIN RENZ is the President of Make Way Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to see the world changed one Christian at a time. He has a passion to see the Body of Christ find rich intimacy in their relationship with Jesus and step out in faith to share the Gospel with the world around them. He is the author of Pile of Masks: Exposing Christian Hypocrisy and Something Better. He resides in Dayton, Ohio with his wife and three daughters.