“In fact, this is love for God: to keep His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:3-4
I have to be honest in saying that I have grown weary of the perceived need to water down the truth of the gospel to ensure that it will be more palatable for some. This phenomenon has begun to take over the American church, shouting statements at us such as, “Follow your heart. Do what you think is best. Say and believe what you want to, and God forbid you tell anyone else that they are wrong.”
It has been a slow but steady decline of sound doctrine and theology, which has unfortunately produced a lot of “feelers” with little knowledge and even less motivation to obey. No one today wants to be told what to do or that there is, in fact, ultimate truth by which we are to live. God’s Word is strikingly clear, however, on this issue of “loving God” and “obeying God”. Many are quick to say that they love God, but when push comes to shove and obedience is required, obedience that demands sacrifice of will and change of behavior, those hands that were quickly raised in the air slowly but surely start to come down.
God is not trendy; He is timeless and relevant just how He is without need for change. To love God = to obey Him. His commands are not dusty and outdated. They are for us, for today. As difficult as this might be to swallow, the command to obey God is followed by the promise that His commands are not burdensome or too difficult to be obeyed. There is no other way to “interpret” 1 John 5:3-4. And so, what does it mean to obey God?
• Stop loving anyone or anything more than you love God.
• Stop bowing down to our modern day idols (sex, money, fame, power) and start bending the knee to a Holy God.
• Cease the flippant use of God’s name in vain.
• Start honoring the Sabbath (a day of rest) by making corporate worship with your church family a high priority.
• Honor and respect your parents in thought, word, and deed.
• Do not murder (to hate or harbor anger against– see Matthew 5:21-22) anyone.
• Do not commit adultery (or look lustfully at ANYONE who is not your spouse, single people included).
• Stop stealing (taking anything that is not yours).
• Stop lying. This would also include fabricating the truth or not telling the whole truth.
• Stop wanting what others have that you don’t.
If you didn’t pick up on it, we just took a good look at the 10 Commandments. If you say you love God, that means that you obey what He has commanded, end of story. You and I can talk about grace, love, and forgiveness until we’re blue in the face, and YES God is fully all of those things and fully extends all of those things to us…as we walk in obedience to His commands (1 John 1:9). We cannot cut obedience out of the equation. God is after our obedience. If loving God = obeying Him, what can we conclude of disobedience? That we don’t love Him. Because the one who loves God will obey Him. That is the mark of a Christian.