“The time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths”
(2 Timothy 4:3–4)
Imagine a world in which physicians tell patients that the cancerous tumors in their bodies are actually good and should be celebrated. Instead of addressing the sickness that is killing the patients, the physicians ignore it and send away the patients with a false sense of security for the future. The doctors’ lies are easy to believe because the patients would much rather hear positive messages than negative ones, even if the negative ones ultimately result in healing. But millions would die if this kind of treatment were tolerated in the medical profession.
Visualize in the same scenario that there are doctors who, out of genuine love for their patients, speak the truth. Even though it may be initially hard to hear, these doctors feel an obligation to clearly diagnose the tumors and give clear courses of treatment. These doctors want to see their patients whole and alive. Yet shockingly, in this bizarre world, the doctors who speak truth are labeled unloving, while the ones who speak lies are considered good.
Friends, this is the jacked-up world we live in. One of the signs of the end times is an increase of false teachers in the church.
The Bible clearly warns us that we must stand firm against those who teach things that do not align with God’s truth. Although these teachers may be popular and sound loving, we must use our discernment to discover the harm in the message.
Our culture celebrates what God says is destructive to our bodies, minds, souls, and spirits. And there are many teachers in the church who either endorse or ignore a lifestyle of sin that ultimately destroys the soul. We must be careful and discerning. Not everything that sounds loving and kind is actually either.
The most loving thing Jesus does for us is convict us of sin, helping us turn from it and experience healing. He is the Great Physician! He doesn’t ignore our brokenness; He calls our attention to it because He desires our wholeness. He knows that all sin leads to death, and He wants us to experience real life in Him. When we gravitate toward those who teach us what our ears want to hear instead of what is good for our souls, we remain stuck in our sin and sickness.
We can’t pick and choose based on what is approved by the culture. Sure, this stance might not be popular, but we must come to the place where we are more concerned with being right with God than being right with man. Plus, there are incredible blessings to those who hold fast to God’s Word. The apostle James stated it this way:
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.
What is the result of obedience? The Bible is clear that there are blessings—tremendous blessings—to the one who obeys God’s Word. But the opposite is also true. When we ignore God’s commandments and walk in disobedience, we reap harvests of destruction.
THE ABUNDANT LIFE
God’s commandments are not merely rules to follow; they prove a pathway to blessing. Obedience does not earn our salvation, but it is the legitimate response to God’s love and grace. When we put His precepts into practice and obey His truths, we declare with our lives that we believe Him and trust Him. One of my favorite quotes says it this way:
“Faith is of the heart, invisible to men; obedience is of the conduct and may be observed. When a man obeys God he gives the only possible evidence that in his heart he believes God.” -Unknown
I’ll never forget discovering the “love + faith = obedience” formula when I was a new believer. My life before Jesus was filled with sin and destruction. I saw obedience to God as a burden and something I “had to do.” But after I experienced God’s love and grace, my heart changed. The Holy Spirit took up residence in my heart, and I wanted more than anything else in the world to live for His glory and align my life with His truth. His teachings weren’t mere rules to follow—far from it! God’s words became my protection and delight.
I wanted to follow Him because I trusted His heart. I wanted to build my life upon His words because I believed He is good. I wanted to obey Him because I loved Him.
I am living proof that blessings come from obedience. God’s Word is right, and when we live according to it, we experience His favor and goodness. My before-and-after-Jesus transformation is proof that His words bring life and blessing to the soul.
Even as a Christ follower, I’ve faced seasons of temptation to doubt God’s Word and not live according to His truth. Back when I was still single, I was tempted to disobey God and walk in the ways of the world concerning sex and relationships. But something in my heart said that Jesus is better. Instead of settling for the world’s version of love and sex, I trusted God and waited for His best. My words fail to express how richly God blessed me because of this one choice of obedience. Avoiding sexual sin spared me tremendous heartbreak and also paved the way for a beautiful marriage.
Please don’t hear this as bragging. I’m just a sister in Christ begging others to do the same. I’m boasting in the grace of God and the blessings that come from obedience. I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and my heart burns for others to take Him at His word.
Blessed … are those who hear the word of God and obey it.
God is good! His commandments are not intended to hinder our pleasure but rather to protect us. Sin lies and steals; Jesus protects and heals. Whether it is God’s teachings concerning forgiveness, finances, marriage, gluttony, or anger, all His commandments prove beneficial and a blessing to the ones who build their lives upon them.
One thing we must always keep in mind is this: love is always the motivation for obedience. After all, God desires our hearts. He wants relationships, not robots. Jesus said it this way: “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). He’s not seeking our blind obedience to a set of rules. The Lord seeks those who are enchanted with Him and long to please their Redeemer.
Our relationships with God are lived out through His Holy Spirit, who indwells us. The Spirit of God has one thing on His agenda: to glorify God. He longs to please the Father and show the world that Jesus is better. When we obey His voice (which is God’s Word written on our hearts), we are in right relationship with God. Because we have free will, we still have a choice to obey the Spirit and live in a way that honors the Lord or to follow our sinful nature and live outside His will.
Notice how Ephesians teaches us to “put off” disobedient actions so that we don’t hinder our intimacy with God:
Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may ben- e t those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:25–31)
In this passage, we see a long list of sinful actions. Anger, rage, gossip, stealing, lying—all of these are examples of disobedience to God’s Word. The Holy Spirit living in us wants to please God and obey His Word. Therefore, when we ignore His voice and continue in these sins, the Bible says we “grieve” the Spirit.
To grieve the Spirit does not mean we lose our salvation, but it does mean we lose our fellowship with Him until we repent. Remember, this fellowship is God’s primary desire; this is why He redeemed us in the first place. When we disobey the Spirit, our hearts become hardened and we don’t experience the over flow of blessings.
Here is the good news for anyone currently living in the consequences of sin: you can start fresh! Repentance simply means we turn away from our sin and turn back to Jesus. Repentance is confessing the wrong, asking forgiveness, and accepting anew the grace of God. When we agree with God about our sin, our intimacy with the Spirit is restored and we can walk in fellowship again.
Friends, Jesus is better. When we choose to follow Him, walk in His truth, and obey His commands from a heart of love, we show the world and God that we love and believe Him. Our surrendered lives are the vehicles through which we worship our Redeemer.
Marian Jordan Ellis
For further study, checkout Marian’s latest book, STAND.
copyright: Stand by Marian Jordan Ellis, 2016