Obedience: The Ultimate Test of God

in The City of Neoxian4 years ago (edited)

When testing God, we could easily fall into the trap of performing spiritual activities simply for the sake of performing those activities. If our heart isn't into it, God will know it. What He really desires from us is a relationship, not simply conforming to outward appearances, following all the right rules and refraining from engaging in all the wrong activities. The stated restrictions on human behavior that He has handed down to His people are there for the protection of said people, and obedience to those standards come with a promise. All those who are faithful to obey will realize the reward and fulfillment of the promise.

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We've been talking about whether or not God is testable. If He is, and I believe He is, then it behooves us mere mortals to put Him to the test, to see if He is faithful to His promises and will keep them. That's what this series is about.

In Hebrews 11, we have a list of saints throughout history who have faithfully put God to the test by demonstrations of their faith. We call it The Hall of Faith. These examples of Godly virtue--the virtue of faith--should serve as encouragement to the rest of us to follow God's commandments and test Him on His faithfulness. When we do, I think we'll be pleased with the results. We'll find that God does what He says He will do, and that His plan for our lives is better than anything else we could have--and did--imagine for ourselves.

I've seen this in my own life many times. Even in my failures, I have noticed that God is there, often carrying me by His grace when I was unaware. You might find the story of how I came to faith in Christ somewhat surprising, but I hope it serves as encouragement that you, too, can have a relationship with the divine creator.

So I started this series on testing God to illustrate how we humans can get in touch with our divine creator by simply testing Him at His word. He has given us instructions, and with those instructions come the command to live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4). The writer of Hebrews quotes the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk in repeating this injunction.

In his systematic theological treatise The Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul states emphatically that whatsoever is not of faith is sin. In this passage, Paul is discussing whether or not Christians should eat meat sacrificed to idols. It was a huge issue in his day since the Romans lived in a Pagan culture where such a practice was common. Paul's instructions were for individual Christians to make up their own minds on the matter and keep it to themselves, but if a brother or sister in the faith had objections, then one was to sacrifice his own view for the sake of the other and not judge or condemn each other on the basis of those dietary choices. The principle extends to all of Christian living. On matters where God has not issued strict instructions, Christians ought to sacrifice their own opinions for the sake of others, doing that which will not cause others to stumble and to do it without judgment or condemnation. After all, this is the exercise of true faith, and whatsoever is not of faith is a sin. We express our love for God by showing love toward each other.

The testing God series delves into four precepts as necessary steps for testing God. The first step is to first believe in Him. The second step is to study Him where He is and has been. This is necessary because to know God is to love Him, and we will never develop a faith-based love for our creator if we do not seek to know Him. The third step is to align ourselves with His purposes, and the fourth is to check for results. The last few posts in this series have been a deeper look at Step #2.

First, I encouraged you to study the Bible. For the Christian, it is the word of God. The #Bible is God's love letter to His people, letting them know who He is, what He desires (a relationship), and how that can be achieved (through Jesus Christ). Next, I encouraged you to move beyond scripture to reading what other believers have said about God throughout history. I also exhorted you to not forsake the gathering of other believers, but to seek fellowship with them. The whole body of believers most purely express the love of God by showing our love for each other. Finally, I encouraged you to test God through prayer and meditation.

While these means of studying God are not exhaustive, they are necessary. There are others, but all the ways and means of studying God, to get to know Him, who He is and what He is all about, and to know what He wants from His creation, can be wrapped up in a single word: Obedience. That is what I'd like to talk about today.

What Is Obedience and Why Is It Necessary for Testing God?

God has given man certain instructions. He has said not to have other Gods, not to want what belongs to others, to honor our parents, to abstain from sexual immorality to avoid foolish arguments, to be sober-minded, to believe in Jesus, to devote ourselves to prayer, to give thanks, to preach the gospel, to live peacefully with everyone, to confess our sins to each other, to pray for our persecutors, and many more . In all, there are more than 1,000 commandments to Christians in the New Testament. But all of them can be summed up in these two:

  1. Love God with everything we have (Matthew 22:37); and
  2. Love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39)

On these two commandments, Jesus said, hang all of the law and the prophets. In other words, the entirety of the Old Testament.

On the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter stood before a crowd and preached the gospel. He said these words:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In one sentence, we have the gospel--the good news--sent from God to man. Anyone who repents of their sins (and we're all sinners) and is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the only name through which anyone can be saved, then those individuals will (God's promise) receive His spirit. Incidentally, we also know that anyone who receives the Holy Spirit is sealed with salvation for eternity.

As an aside, I'd also like to point out that the Trinitarian nature of God exists in that sermon, as well. #Jesus (the second person of the Godhead) is the name through which we must believe, the Holy Spirit (the third person of the Godhead) is the seal and comforter of our salvation, and the Father (the first person of the Godhead) is the forgiver of sins.

All this boils down to one thing: Everyone who obeys the command of God to believe in the name of Jesus Christ, repents of his sins, and follows Jesus' example to live a pure life of faith before all other men, will be saved in the end. His other promises, to live by faith, to refrain from certain sins, to commit specific acts of faith as He has commanded, all point to that eternal promise through the lens of temporal promises of happiness, joy, and spiritual protection on a daily basis.

All the other ways of studying God point to this one. When we study the Bible, we get to know God, understand His promises and His expectations, and learn what His cosmic plan is all about. God wants us to be like the Bereans, not taking any man's word for it, but finding out on our own. He wants us to meet together regularly as a community of faithful believers and followers of Jesus in order to encourage one another, pray for one another, and demonstrate our love for one another so that others can be drawn to the love of God. And He wants us to know that nothing can separate us from His love once we have to come to faith. Through obedience, we prove all of God's promises are true and that God is faithful above all things. If we truly want to test God, we must obey Him.

Have you tested God? Please tell us how you've tested God and what the outcome was.

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Posted via neoxian.city | The City of Neoxian

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@blockurator thank you for the truly refreshing post! 🌼

I have a related question. Sometimes people say certain activities are not good or pleasing to God, e.g. like reading/writing fantasy/science fiction etc, but you are personally convicted that's not true. What's your take on this?

Thanks once again! 🌼

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Thanks @joeylim. I think what is displeasing to God is explicitly spelled out in scripture, in most cases. In those cases where it is not spelled out clearly, one can derive what is displeasing based on what is clearly spelled out. For instance, nowhere is pornography as we define it in the West explicitly condemned, but I think we can ascertain that God does not like it because it objectifies another human being and there are good reasons to believe God finds that displeasing. The whole "love others as you love yourself" theme wraps it up.

On matters of literature, art, and such, it's a bit murkier what is pleasing or displeasing to God. One could say that anything that doesn't explicitly glorify God misses the mark. That would be just about anything that doesn't intentionally honor God in the way He wants to be honored. In that case, we're talking about 99% of all produced art in all media. That's a pretty narrow window.

On the other hand, in Matthew, Jesus told his disciples to consider the lilies of the field and how they grow into beauty without any effort. Just before that, he was talking about serving two masters. You can't say you love God and hold up some other masterpiece as more valuable. I think God appreciates the natural beauty of the world, and art--literature, sculptures, painting, etc.--is naturally produced by man, who was created in the image of God. So this is a natural outgrowth of God's own creation. Where it displeases God is when it becomes a perversion of the senses, or an idol.

Thanks @blockurator for your detailed response! (:

Yeah, I totally agree with what you say about it being a very narrow window (sticking to only what explicitly honours God).

I've been thinking about the fact that God was the one that imbued us with the aesthetic sense in the first place - created us to respond to His glory and beauty in the world - and as well as it's placed under our overarching aim of pleasing Him it's fine.

Really enjoying your series, btw!

Thanks. The series is almost over. But there will be more!

God wants to know that you love him and you love other people. If it's done without love it's worthless to him.

Thanks for your comment @barncat. God certainly does want us to love Him and others (Matthew 22:37-39). "Worthless," hmm, I'll have to contemplate that. I'd say that, certainly, anything done without faith falls short of God's perfect plan. I think the human race, on the whole, however, is worth quite a lot to God.

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