Our world is changing before our eyes. The very rules that govern our behavior seem to be shifting on a daily basis and are contingent upon many personal and practical issues. Our democracy ensures individual freedom even to the point of personal interpretation. For example, despite our common enemy—the coronavirus—the government, medical community and other experts are limited in their ability to enforce strict adherence to guidelines.
Not so when it comes to following the Lord Jesus Christ. What might be celebrated by every citizen who calls America home cannot be celebrated by believers who call Jesus Lord. Anything less than full obedience to the commands of our God fall short of His demand to trust and obey Him in every way.
God is not only sovereign in all His ways, but He is unchanging in all His commands. The way we live our lives must come not from our varied opinions and diverse interpretations, but directly from the heart of our loving Savior.
He knows what is best for us in every way. And long before any of us were born, He determined how we should live in a manner that would guarantee the full measure of His blessings on us in every regard. God’s Word is the lamp to our feet and the light to our path (Psalm 119:105).
The commands given to mankind at the very beginning have not changed or altered in any way. But we grapple with the issue of obedience because we are sinners by nature and by choice. Still, God has provided the way for us to accept His commands and obey them.
Perhaps the most precious thing about our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He enters into every believer without exception. John calls the Holy Spirit our Helper and reminds every believer that “He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).
No human being is capable of understanding the majesty of God’s righteousness. But we know this: All the attributes of God’s character emanate from His holiness, and the very holiness of God is the high mark of His standard for our living. And only the Holy Spirit is able to convince us that His standard for our living is not only right but necessary.
Indeed, following God’s ways is critical to all He has promised for His children. “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).
I see many believers who seem willing to do what God commands—but only partially. The result is major pain. Sex outside of marriage is but one example. So is violating God’s design for marriage between one man and one woman for one lifetime. The heartache and heartbreak of fractured relationships is rampantly evident in our world. The list goes on and on. God tells us to love one another. He tells us to forgive one another.
He tells us not to steal, not to murder, not to covet. In every instance, the opposite produces painful consequences. Anything short of full obedience to God’s standards results in emptiness, regret, separation, despair and hopelessness.
Here is the bottom line: God’s commands and instructions for living never become redundant. They never fail to keep up with our rapidly changing world. This is true whether we are talking about the Ten Commandments or other Old Testament moral laws that are still binding on believers today; or Jesus’ command to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors; or Paul’s direction to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience—or any other Scripture that tells us how to live in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord Jesus.
We can expect the world to scoff at any notion that God’s standards are for our good. Some will even claim that Christianity is just a bunch of rules that prevent us from enjoying life. But not so for the Christian. We know better. The exact opposite is true. We love the Lord Jesus because He first loved us. He gave His life for us and has given us an abundant life. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). This we will do! ©2020 Don Wilton
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Don Wilton is senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, South Carolina, and the president of The Encouraging Word television ministry. For many years, he served as Billy Graham’s pastor.
Photo: Paul Sherar/©2020 Samaritan's Purse