Have you struggled with obedience? How do you make a disobedient man obedient?
Many have said glibly, “Well! You just obey!” If we are honest we would admit that at some point in our walk with the Lord, we could all identify with Paul’s experience in Romans 7 – “Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of sin?” Thankfully, God has the answer.
How do you make a disobedient man obedient then? Trying harder in your own strength does not work!
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” The ability to live to the glory of God is found “in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Jesus Christ is our pattern man. If you want something to work you follow the pattern. Yes!…He is the Son of God, but He became the Son of man, that we could become sons/daughters of God. There is only one way for us to become obedient and that is to follow His pattern. Jesus had to learn obedience as the Son of man. Hebrews 5:8 “Though He were a Son, yet He learnt obedience through the things which He allowed (Old English – “suffered”)….the things which He yielded to, He chose God’s will over His own.
Philippians 2:7-8 “He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.” Jesus came into the womb of a woman and was born, like us, “He was found in fashion as a man.” So our Pattern Man humbled Himself to identify with our humanity.
Jesus’ greatest challenge on earth came in the Garden of Gethsemane, prior to His crucifixion. He agonised with His Father over His approaching death. “Father,” he pleaded, “If You are willing, remove this cup from Me.” He desperately did not want to die. At His darkest hour, those closest to Him, His friends the disciples, had all fallen asleep. They had no understanding of the events taking place, even though He had tried to prepare them and warn them that He would be put to death, but be resurrected on the third day. His friends were unaware, sleeping through His agony.
In that passage of time Jesus humbled Himself, and chose the Father’s will, which was for Him to die. “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine, be done,” Luke 22:42. Then the Lord sent an angel to strengthen Him for His coming ordeal. He humbled Himself and became obedient to death. When Jesus said, “Nevertheless, not my will….” He demonstrated that my will, or having “my own way”, is the lesser walk – nevertheless! – the lesser walk.
Just as when Jesus humbled Himself, it triggered obedience to the will of God, so it is with us. He is our Pattern Man. This is the mechanics of obedience – how it works – humbling, dying to my will, choosing God’s, produces obedience in a disobedient man/woman. The more we practise humility, the more obedient we become. The work is God’s – “God works in you to will and to do of His good pleasure.”Philippians 2:13 Man’s obedience pleases our Heavenly Father. The work is the sovereignty of God, the responsibility is mine.
GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY GLOVES HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY.
God comes alongside of our choice and enables us to go through in His strength.
Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him, learning obedience through yielding. Trying to make ourselves obedient in our own strength will not work and brings confusion and disappointment. We have to follow our Pattern Man and choose to humble ourselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He will show us the place to humble “under His mighty hand.” He will guide us to the place of unconditional surrender.
If I say that it is hard to be obedient, or it is hard to be a Christian, the Word of God rebukes me. Proverbs 13:15 declares, “The way of the transgressor is hard.” – so all I am revealing is an inward condition that is out of order that God wants to deal with.
When I seek my will, my way – it is control. There is a difference between control and authority. ALL authority was given to Jesus, so only when I humble and submit to Him, do I walk in authority.
AUTHORITY IS FUNCTION (In Christ) – NOT STATUS.
We can make a virtue out of hardship and difficulty but this opposes the words of Jesus. His invitation has rung down the ages and still appeals today, ” Come unto Me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. TAKE MY YOKE UPON YOU AND LEARN OF ME; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest for your souls. FOR MY YOKE IS…..EASY…..AND MY BURDEN IS LIGHT.” Matthew 11:28-30 Easy…what a refreshingly simple word!! There we have His promise to us. His yoke is easy, not difficult, not hard. The only way is His way and Jesus is the WAY. He offers joy for the journey, in spite of our circumstances. The joy is our intimacy with Him amidst our trials. He offers deliverance IN, not deliverance FROM our circumstances, to form the image of Jesus Christ in us. Only His life in us can produce a life to the glory of God. True authority is the Indwelling Christ living His life through me, reaching out to others in demonstration of 1 Corinthians 13.