Are you obliged to obey God? Is it your duty to follow Him?
Those are interesting questions. So many, many people I've talked to would say, "Yeah, look at where Jesus says that love is keeping His commandments... you don't necessarily want to do it, you don't like it... but that's just the way it is when you're a Christian. Yeah... it's a duty to obey God."
I'm going to tell you something: these same people, bless their hearts, are the ones who often lack happy-hearted, carefree joy in the Lord Jesus. I'm not judging; it's just an observation.
So, what about keeping God's commands. How do you read John 14:15 where Jesus says, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Do you kind of read it like Jesus admonishing, "Now if you love me... you will keep my commandments"... as though Jesus were claiming that love for Him is the same as rule-keeping?
And then there's I John 5:3 which says, "For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome."
I know what's going through your mind. I know where your head is going. Like many Christians, you may be assuming that it's a matter of obligation or duty, as though keeping God's commands is a burden of responsibility placed on the Christian's shoulders.
But wait. It says that God's commandments are not burdensome. And, oh, what a free-ing concept this is. Because the point of John 14 is simply this. Jesus says, "If you love me, then it is me whom you'll obey." And when it comes to
I John 5, it's as though the Lord is saying, "Loving God means keeping the commandments in such a way that they are not burdensome."
It is a huge difference. To love God means to be so satisfied in Him and so delighted in all that He is that His commandments are no longer viewed a drudgery. To love God is to be so happy in Him that you really would rather follow the Lord in obedience than disobey. When people love God, they don't feel obliged to obey Him. It is not a matter of duty. Obedience becomes a joyful, happy-hearted willingness to simply do what He says, simply because you love Him.
Augustine, the saint who lived in the year 430, the church father who wrote The Confessions, said that the human will is governed by whatever the soul delights in, and those delights are ultimately ordered by God. In other words, as you delight yourself in the Lord, as you seek Him, learn about Him, pray and read and grow closer to Him, God will graciously turn your heart's delight toward Him so that wild horses won't be able to keep you from obeying.
Dr. John Piper, a favorite theologian of mine, says that we most glorify God when we are satisfied in Him. Love the Lord and you can't help but keep His commandments. Delight yourself in God and following Him will be anything but a burden.
Previously aired as Program #4797 on 9/19/00.
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