Obedience is a strength many of us do not possess. Many give much but fall short of giving their whole self to Christ. In other words, they live in a religious dream. They picture themselves forsaking sin, abiding in Christ, loving God, being filled with the Holy Spirit and enveloped in God’s eternal, covenant love, but mainly in their minds. They do not recognize their true condition.
Think of the Scribes and Pharisees who suffered under this spiritual delusion. They assured themselves they knew God. They fasted, they prayed, they taught in the synagogues and explained the scriptures. However, they shut the door to the gospel. They displayed a clean and faultless exterior yet remained defiled on the inside. In their delusion, these leading men of the faith persecuted the true church, killing God’s people, thinking that they were doing God’s service. Jesus warned the disciples beforehand that
“They will put you out of the synagogues, Indeed the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.” John 16:2.
These same leaders worked relentlessly to kill the Lord of glory, violently hating him without a cause. What irony. The ones who whole heartily claimed to know the God of Abraham, lived in a delusive dream. Are we doing the same? It is a scary thought.
The disciples were also under a religious illusion, thinking they were saved. Up until the day of Jesus’ arrest they debated among themselves who will be the greatest in the kingdom, who will sit on his left and on his right. Until that faithful Friday, they were convinced they were ready to die for Christ. Remember what Jesus said to them?
“You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written ‘I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered…’” Matthew 26:31.
Peter, always quick to respond, said
“Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise, also said all the disciples.” Matthew 26: 31-35.
The disciples were sure of themselves, however, unless had Jesus prayed for them, they would have all fallen away.
Do you obey Christ? This is one way we know we truly love him. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know him” and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:3-4. How many dreamers have been pointed out by Jesus’s haunting question,
“Why do you call me Lord and not do what I tell you?” Luke 6:46.
Good intentions, sincere hopes and wishes, positive inclinations towards God and Christ do not in themselves show evidence of the newness of life. Jesus taught that “If you love me keep my commandments.” Friends, we all need to regularly examine the life we lead and ask ourselves are we doers of the word or hearers only? Are you filled with knowledge only? Or are you filled with the Holy Spirit that will give life and inspire action. Let us pray for obedience and the ability to live out His Word.
Do not be like many before you, wondering through life, deluded that they are following Christ, living and empty religious life to a dreadful end. May you and I not be among them that hear Jesus declare “I never knew you; depart from Me…” Matthew 7:23.