Week 3 Obey and Partake
Gracious Lord! Teach me this lesson, that it is only through knowing Thy will one can know Thy heart, and only through doing that will one can abide in Thy love. [i]
bedience doesn't make God more inclined to give good gifts to His children, but it does carve a place in our hearts to receive His gifts. When we find ourselves struggling with doubt and fear, it is likely we have ignored the truth that even small acts of disobedience—the ones we label inconsequential—are rebellion toward God.
These habitual acts of rebellion that we dismiss too easily are most often a result of our words and actions toward others. Dieting can cause short-temperedness, and we must remember that Jesus warned us not to worry so much about what goes into our bodies as we do about the words that come from our mouths: “…it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”[ii]
The dissonance between the Holy Spirit filled mind and sinful flesh causes instability when we fail to bring our flesh into submission to the Spirit. Obedience puts the flesh in its proper place, under control of the Spirit-led mind. “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”[iii]
This doesn’t mean we are under the law. Our sense of peace may depend upon obedience, but our salvation does not. God’s love, expressed through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, is a higher law than any other. If we snap at our spouses or choose to eat a double portion when our bodies need only one, we can nevertheless participate in the righteousness purchased for us by Christ. Thus we do not choose obedience in order to earn our own salvation, but we can choose the path that will open our hearts and minds to know more of our Lord and God.
Although in Christ we have freedom, there are things that are better not to have in proximity once we have set our hearts on obedience. As Romans 13:14 says, “…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” We can take active measures to avoid placing ourselves in the path of temptations that have so often caused us to disobey. If the temptation of a full pan of brownies cannot be withstood, we can buy just one at a bakery or utilize the help of an accountability partner who will pray for our self-control (and perhaps accept the gift of some brownies). When we focus upon our love for God and His for us, the desire for sin will recede. If we are afraid to push against the confines of our weak flesh, we won’t become stronger.
Through Christ, God has opened a conduit for His peace to flow directly into our hearts, and any obstructions are on our side and not His. If, over time, we have subsisted on quick prayers punctuated with isolated passages of Scripture, we may need a time of near constant intake of God’s Word in the same way a hospital patient who is dehydrated needs IV fluids. By an act of will, we can immerse ourselves in His Word, turn away from other influences, and thus give Him time to rehydrate our hearts with His truth. Abiding in His love makes obedience possible, and obedience removes the barriers that rebellion has placed between God’s peace and our hearts.
Pray: Dear Lord, help me to obey in a way that brings joy to Your heart. Teach me to keep Your love paramount in my thoughts and understanding, so that the sins I once committed—the sins that cost You Gethsemane and Calvary—become abhorrent to me. Lord, please help me focus upon Your great love so that I manifest that love in my words and actions. Help me to obey you in my eating, but even more, Lord, help me to be like You in loving others. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
I can hear some of you saying, “For me, all things are permitted.” But face the facts: all things are not beneficial. So you say, “For me, all things are permitted.” Here’s my response: I will not allow anything to control me.
1 Corinthians 6:12 The Voice