Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Choice of Obedience

Yesterday I posted on obedience and Friday I posted on being a bondservant.  Today I hope to tie it all together.  You see, being a bondservant implies obedience.  A slave is all about obedience, especially a willing slave.  Being a bondservant implies a choice in that we choose to become slaves of Jesus out of our love and gratitude for what He has done for is.  When we come to Jesus we make that choice and each day we make the choice of whether or not to be obedient.  Today's topic is about those choices and how we react when confronted with them.  First let's discuss the decision of whether to first accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. 
If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has [enough] to finish [it]-- lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see [it] begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.   Luke 14:26-33 NKJV
Coming to Jesus means counting the cost.  Far too many people see coming to Jesus as something casual.  Even worse, far too many people act like it is just something casual as though their life is the same as it always has except that they answered some alter call at some church service.  Coming to Jesus is no light decision.  It is a decision to allow God to come in and change your life.  It is willingly submitting to Jesus as Lord.  It is giving up ownership of everything you have all for the service of God.  You see, a bondservant has no possessions but everything he has belongs to his master.  Coming to Jesus is willingly coming into that relationship.  Jesus holds many roles in our lives.  He has our friend, our help in time of need, our co-heir, but the one relationship that opens up all those other relationships is accepting Jesus as Lord. 

Once Jesus is our Lord, there comes a time to begin to act as the bondservant we agreed to be.  Daily we are faced with temptations from our enemy and direction from the Holy Spirit.  Daily we must choose to follow Jesus.  For those who think we need not concern ourselves with such trivial things as obedience to God in the choices we make, I ask then why is that theme so prevalent in the New Testament?  One can not study scripture and deny the importance of the choices we make each and every day.   The first such choice, is to affirm that decision to be a bondservant of Christ. 
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin [leading] to death, or of obedience [leading] to righteousness?  Romans 6:11-16 NKJV
When we decide to make Jesus our Lord, the first choice is to begin to act like it.  I wrote yesterday that obedience is the natural response to the heart filled with the Holy Spirit.  That is true only when we choose that new nature in Christ and giving up our old sinful nature.  This involves reckoning that old sinful man to be dead and living as a new creation in Christ.  We were once slaves to sin, but now we are free to choose to be slaves to righteousness.  The choice is rather clear as presented here by Paul.  We can either present ourselves again to sin and serve sinful flesh as our master or we can present ourselves to Jesus and serve Him as our Lord.  You can not have it both ways.  You either choose to serve Jesus or you choose to serve sinful self. 

This choice we make is not just in the general sense for our lives, but also a choice we make each day.  God knows we will face temptations.  Sometimes those temptations seem very strong and sometimes even irresistible, but whenever we are confronted with any kind of temptation, it is always our choice whether to obey sin or Jesus. 
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God [is] faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear [it].  1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV
Once again, the Bible tells us that whenever we are faced with a temptation, we are faced with a choice.  No matter how strong the desire to give in may seem, there is no such thing as slipping into sin by accident.  There always comes a point in time where we make the choice to abandon God's way and seek after our own.  There is always a choice to stop seeking the Lord and His way of escape and to give into the temptation.  Each time we are tempted, we are faced with the choice of whether or not we sin.  It is never a question of not being able to bear the temptation, it is always a matter of not wanting to bear it.  That is truth for me, for you, and for any other Christian.  We are free to choose not to sin.  We are called to choose not to sin. 

These choices we face are more than just in whether or not to sin.  Our calling is not just to not sin, but to choose righteousness. 
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things [are] noble, whatever things [are] just, whatever things [are] pure, whatever things [are] lovely, whatever things [are] of good report, if [there is] any virtue and if [there is] anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.   Philippians 4:8-9 NKJV
Living as a bondservant of Christ does not only mean not choosing evil things, but actively choosing good things.  We are to seek out, meditate on, and do those things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy.  That is the choice we are supposed to make,  Furthermore, if you are seeking and choosing those things, you will find yourself less and less in a position to not choose evil.  When you are seeking and doing those things of the Lord, there will be less of a chance for temptations to come.  That only makes sense because if you fill your heart and mind with the things of God, there will be little room for temptation to enter.

And, now that we are choosing good things, we must choose God's calling for our lives.  We all have a place on the body of Christ and we must choose to live that part.
If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body [were] an eye, where [would be] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [would be] the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.  1 Corinthians 12:15-18 NKJV
We are bondservants, pledged to obedience to the Lord.  It is not our place to protest and pout about our place in the body, but to be that place in the body where the Lord has called us.  All of us play an important role and the body works best when we are all playing our role.  A body with 10 eyes and no ears still does not hear.  A body with 20 legs and 1 finger still can not grasp things.  We are all given a part, and it is for us to choose to play that part and fulfill whatever ministry or ministries we are called to fill. 

This is of the utmost importance.  The other things I mentioned are about putting ourselves in the mindset of being a bondservant, but this last one is about being one.  Being a bondservant is about being a servant and whatever ministry or ministries and even in just how we live our lives is our service to God.  God will not force us to serve, but we learn from Jonah that God will work to put us in a position where not serving becomes not pleasant.  He is not going to allow us to enjoy claiming Jesus as Lord yet keeping ourselves on the throne.  We were made for whatever calling God has called us to and not living in that calling will never give us as much fulfillment and joy as living that calling.  In the end, obedience may be a choice, but that choice must be seen in the context not of who we are, but of who are master is.  If you have chosen Jesus as Lord, that question is already answered, and the choice is not who your master is, but whether or not you choose to live in obedience or rebellion to that Master.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit [who is] in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV

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