Love Centred Obedience

By John Thiel, mp3

Scripture reading: Romans 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

It makes every difference how we do service for God. The boy who drudges through his lessons because he must learn will never become a real student. The man who claims to keep the commandments of God because he thinks he must do it will never enter into the enjoyment of obedience. {TMK 118.3}

The essence and flavor of all obedience is the outworking of a principle within–the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God. The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer, doing right because it is right. When the Word of God is a burden because it cuts directly across human inclinations, then the religious life is not a Christian life, but a tug and a strain, an enforced obedience. All the purity and godliness of religion are set aside. {TMK 118.4}

But adoption into the family of God makes us children, not slaves. When the love of Christ enters the heart we strive to imitate the character of Christ. {TMK 118.5}

Do we find as believers in the three angels’ messages and the Ten Commandments, that there is an internal struggle – do I really have to do what God says?

When the Word of God is a burden because it cuts directly across human inclinations, then the religious life is not a Christian life, but a tug and a strain, an enforced obedience. All the purity and godliness of religion are set aside. {TMK 118.4}

We might find certain things of the Bible easy enough to put into practice, but there are certain other things in our life that God requires of us, and all of a sudden it becomes a tug and a strain, an enforced obedience. Do I really have to do this? Have you ever come across that in your Christian experience, or in your religious experience? because it says here that if I come up against something that becomes a tug and a strain, an enforced obedience, then this is not a Christian life, because it becomes like a slavery.

We have studied in the past the standards of God’s righteousness, not only in regards to keeping the Sabbath or all those commandments, but the enlargements of that, like the dress reform and the health reform. We have certain desires and the health reform says, No, that’s not good for you. It’s a requirement of God. Oh, really? Do I have to change my diet? Or dress reform. As we have experienced, there are certain people who are no longer with us, who have found the dress reform a tug and a strain, and therefore, when they left us, they let go of those standards. In other words, the purity and godliness of religion are set aside. It’s been a tug and a strain, and now people feel free when they walk away from this message because they are relieved, Ah, it was too much.

While we are worshipping God there are certain things in our life that make it a tug and a strain. What is it then that will remove that tug and that strain and that will make my Christian life a real Christian life?

When the love of Christ enters the heart we strive to imitate the character of Christ. The more we study the life of Christ with a heart to learn, the more Christlike we become. {TMK 118.5}

There is something that will make my obedience a joy, instead of a tug and a strain. This is what we want to understand. I realise that God’s will is sometimes not exactly suited to me, and I find it a difficulty. So how can I remove the strain and the tug? How can I find obedience something which is a pleasure rather than an imposition? To be able to snap out of our reluctance to obey, whatever I know God is not happy with that I am doing, I am reluctant to give it up because it’s my pleasure, my indulgence. How do I actually dismiss that indulgence, that thing that makes me reluctant to be perfectly happy to obey and do whatever God says?

To assist us to snap out of that, God provides a stimulant, a catalyst. In chemistry a catalyst is something that is added to hasten a chemical reaction. He provides us with a compelling motivation, something to help us to do what He wants us to do, cheerfully and happily. The first thing God does is to show us that, If you continue to do what you are doing, it’s going to undo you; it’s going to lead you to death. He makes it abundantly clear that all the things we do that are not God’s will, are actually a way that will end up in death. Our ways that are contrary to God’s ways are here identified:

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death.

So what I am doing I am finding comfortable for me at this present time; it seems right, why does God say you shouldn’t do it? I struggle with a reluctance to do what God says, and He says, Well, it seems right to you, but look where it’s going to lead. It’s going to lead to death. You know that if you indulge in this it’s going to take away the joy of life ultimately. For now you look like you’re enjoying yourself, it seems right; but you know; your intelligent mind comes up with a realisation, Yes, I know, I know. And God says, That is where you are going if you don’t let go. Now I have to let go because I have to. But then God says, Okay, I don’t want you to do what I am saying because it’s going to be a tug on you; I want you to be happy. So what is the next thing He does? He fills the gap of that which prevents me from letting go. We are told that we should have the mind that is in Christ, but look at what Christ did:

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

There is Jesus, equal with God. It was His, it wasn’t robbery, but He was prepared not to do what Lucifer did – clinging to what you want.

Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Was it easy for Jesus to let go of the beautiful comfort of heaven? Was it easy to let go of His position as the Commander of the heavenly host, and of all the adoration of the angels? Was that easy for Him to let that go? It says He made himself of no reputation. He gave it up. What for?

Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

We are looking at a love that says, You are going to die if you continue in your indulgence, but you want to come to the point where you will let go of your indulgence, not because you’re scared for death. I am going to fill the gap. I am going to give you a love by which you will see something else in regards to finding the joy of being obedient. You will look at Jesus and you will see that He gave up everything to come and make it easy for you to do what is not easy for you.

In order to secure man to Himself and ensure his eternal salvation, Christ left the royal courts of heaven and came to this earth, endured the agonies of sin and shame in man’s stead, and died to make him free. {AG 176.7}

We are attached to our indulgences, but they are going to take me to death. So to ensure our eternal salvation Christ left the royal courts. He made Himself of no reputation and was made in the likeness of men. What for? To experience with us the consequences of our indulgences. I have to give up my indulgences, which is going to be like a tug and a stress and a strain; but now I am looking at someone who has given up, not His indulgence, but what is rightfully His, and has become one with me to endure the agonies of sin and shame in my stead, and died to make me free. I am bound to my indulgences and my sins, and I enjoy them. Many people don’t realise that sin is pleasurable. But the consequences of sin are a different story. A perfect example is smokers. They have a smoke and they feel better after. Or a coffee drinker, I need my cup of coffee! They’re trembling, and down it goes. They need to have something to make them feel better. And if they can’t have it, it’s a strain. And God says, You can’t have it, because it’s going to kill you. You take that into any other area of our indulgences. To do God’s will, to obey, would be a strain. It is an effort which I don’t want to do; and so I am not living a Christian life, even though I’m not drinking coffee, not smoking, dressing properly, and all these different things. There are certain things that people find they can give up, but what about something that is very close to the core of our indulgence? Then we often think, No, this one is too much.

I will never forget, there was a company in New Zealand that wanted to become members of the Reform, while I was a minister there. They wanted to very sincerely. They didn’t want to continue with the mainline church; they wanted to join the Reform. So I had to show them all the standards of the test of fellowship. Yes, yes, yes… dress reform to some degree, health reform, yes; they were prepared to give up their flesh-eating. And then, as I kept on taking them through the course, through the dress and the worldly fashions and women with their high heels, and I pointed out that this is against God’s health reform and dress reform, one of them said, Oh, that’s too much. But they were so keen to join, so they finally joined the church and put all these things right, as much as possible. And I said to them, Look, don’t be in a hurry to join. Take your time. Study and learn. But no, they were so keen to join, and the leader of the group really enforced it upon them. I thought to myself, Oh dear, this is not going to work out. And sure enough, it was a strain and a tug which made it hard for them, and eventually they all just collapsed within about six months afterwards. It was too much. What went wrong? What was wrong in the first place? The love of God, the love of Jesus, was not motivating them. It was an expectancy to reach what was expected of them, rather than what they joyed to do.

To fill the gap Jesus has placed Himself into our experience, and He says, Yes, your ways are ways of death, therefore I will go through the agonies of the consequences of your life in front of you, and I will suffer the obedience of the cross, the suffering of all the consequences of your sins, the agonies of sin and shame, in your place. And as I now look at my situation, I have to do what God says, but I don’t really want to do it, because it’s a tug. But now I look at Jesus and, What? He is suffering the consequences of what I am enjoying at the moment, which I am going to meet later on; and I think, Oh. Now my intelligent mind begins to function, if only I will look.

We here see Jesus suffering the burden of our sins being laid upon Him in Gethsemane, heading towards the cross. He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. As it was being laid upon Him, as He was experiencing the burden of our sinful consequences, He said,

Luke 22:42 …Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. 43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

We who cling to our indulgences, which are going to end up in death, we look at Jesus and we see Him suffering the consequences of those; and as I am struggling and thinking, Oh, do I really have to do what God says? Jesus is saying, Lord, I am experiencing these terrible thoughts and feelings of sin that You have laid upon Me, do I really have to go through with this? But no, not My will, but Yours be done. I will go through it. He was obedient even in Gethsemane unto the cross. Did He have to do that? He could have just cancelled the whole arrangement.

He was struggling with the going through of this and the angel Gabriel came to help Him, and said to Him, Be strong, go through with this; just like the angels will come to us and tell us, Be strong, go through with this. This love is a catalyst to bring me to obedience, to ensure my salvation.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

It’s not until we read these things applicable to our personal situation that we realise their meaning. If there is something in my life where God wants me to obey, and I find it a struggle, a tug and a strain, what am I straining about? I look at Jesus and I watch Him as He died for me while I was still clinging to my indulgence. While I was yet sinning, Jesus died for me. That’s His love. And as I look at the scenario of me struggling to obey, finding it a strain and a tug, versus Jesus submitting to the strain and the tug of giving over and receiving my sin, the consequence of the indulgence – the Lord is putting a catalyst in my mind, What are you delaying for? Look at My love. While you are still holding on to your indulgence, Jesus went through the consequence of your indulgence, before you have to go through it.

2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

He wants to reconcile us.

2 Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

He is trying to provide a catalyst, something to motivate me so that I will now be happy to give up the indulgence. He has given to me the reconciling exercise by beholding Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

What is this saying? So that if I will look at this intelligently, in the tug of war that is going on inside of me, I will see that my sin that is going to cause my death, Jesus was made. And now, as I look at what, I say, How can I be so cruel to His love? I love Him; look at what He is doing for me. And as I permit my mind to exercise itself, that He who knew no sin was made to be sin, that is what was happening in Gethsemane. Many people don’t realise. He wasn’t afraid of the cross in physical terms. He was experiencing our sins as they were being laid upon Him. And it was a terrible tug for He who knew no sin; it was a terrible soul-destroying thing. He was walking with the disciples and the mind exercise was so deep that He was beginning to sway; He had to get support because He was overwhelmed. He perspired drops of blood. The blood pressure was so high from His thoughts of suffering under our sins, which we are going to suffer if we don’t give them up. He suffered it all.

You know what it’s been like. Look at the mistakes you’ve made in your past life. Gradually those mistakes catch up in you. You can see people dying today with the consequences of their mind torment. Have you been mind-tormented over some of your mistakes? Hmm… And Jesus is mind-tormented with them and everybody else’s as well. As I behold that I think, What? All of a sudden my mind becomes released. I am happy to let Him purchase me. He has purchased me, He has purchased my love, He has purchased my intelligence. And I say, Okay, whatever you say, God, I am happy now to do what You say, because I see what You have done for me.

When Adam’s sin plunged the race into hopeless misery, God might have cut Himself loose from fallen beings. He might have treated them as sinners deserve to be treated. He might have commanded the angels of heaven to pour out upon our world the vials of His wrath. He might have removed this dark blot from His universe. But He did not do this. Instead of banishing them from His presence, He came still nearer to the fallen race. He gave His Son to become bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. . . . {AG 176.4}

The gift of God to man is beyond all computation. Nothing was withheld. God would not permit it to be said that He could have done more or revealed to humanity a greater measure of love. In the gift of Christ He gave all heaven. {AG 176.5}

As I struggle with my sinful indulgences, as God’s word comes along and says, I want you to give it up, this is My will, be obedient; it is important that we don’t ignore the meditation of this catalyst, this motivating, compelling force that fills us with amazement at God’s love. We then say, Okay, if God is prepared to do this for me, then I love Him and I will do whatever He says.

In the natural world, affection is enhanced by being saved from death. When a dog has faced death and somebody comes and saves it, and the dog realises he has been saved from his horror, how will he relate to the person who saved him? The most faithful dog pets are those who have been saved by their master from death. They become loyal to that person; they love him. The natural world teaches us something. We are saved from the death that is a consequence of our wrong doing, and then we see the love of God. Now what am I going to do? Am I just going to say, I don’t care. No, that is contrary to all natural behaviour. We say, Well then, Lord, whatever You say, I will obey You. We will be to our Master what the most loyal dog would be to his.

Christ might, because of our guilt, have moved far from us. But instead of moving farther away from us, He came and dwelt among us, filled with all the fullness of the Godhead, to be one with us, that through His grace we might attain to perfection. By a death of shame and suffering He paid man’s ransom. What self-sacrificing love is this! From the highest excellency He came, His divinity clothed with humanity, descending step by step to the very depths of humiliation. No line can measure the depth of this love. Christ has shown us how much God can love and our Redeemer suffer in order to secure our complete restoration. He desires His children to reveal His character, to exert His influence, that other minds may be drawn into harmony with His mind. {UL 191.2}

Christ, our Saviour, in whom dwelt absolute perfection, became sin for the fallen race. He did not know sin by the experience of sinning, but He bore the terrible weight of the guilt of the whole world. {UL 191.3}

It was not that He practised the sin, but He suffered the consequence as if He had sinned. That is a love that is incomprehensible. Here is the catalyst. God supplies a meditation that fills us with such adoration that it will cause me to joyfully obey. As I have the sense of the indulgence that binds me, and knowing where that is going to lead me, and beholding a love that plunges the Son of God into my consequences, and not only that, but He says, If you will open your heart to My love, then I will give you something, in My love, that you will know you are not worthy of. This amazing enlarges itself. I have seen already the amazing love by which He plunges Himself into my consequences, but now, having done so, the love goes on. I who am so prone to hold on to my own pleasures and indulgences in contradiction to His will,

Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Is this love or what? Having taken my position as a sinner, yet having not sinned Himself, but received all my sinful consequences and guilt, He has died to redeem me from my indulgences, and then to adopt me into the very position of a son of God. You are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your heart, crying, Oh Father, what a love You have. Jesus is me, a human being beside me suffering me. The Majesty of the universe is our Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, what are you? An heir of God through Christ. Most people don’t comprehend this. An heir of God – what is this inheritance? An heir of God together with Christ who is the divine God as well. What is this saying?

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

Heirs of God, an inheritance – we become the sons of God because of what Jesus did. As I try to comprehend this mystery, this amazing story, not only does God take away my sin in Jesus Christ, but He gives me a position as one with Him – the inheritance of God. Ponder it. What sort of a love is this?

“Partakers of the divine nature.” Is this possible? Of ourselves we can do no good thing. How, then, can we be partakers of the divine nature? By coming to Christ just as we are, needy, helpless, dependent. He died to make it possible for us to be partakers of the divine nature. He took humanity upon Himself that He might reach humanity. With the golden chain of His matchless love He has bound us to the throne of God. We are to have power to overcome as He overcame. {HP 59.2}

Where does this power come from? It is the power of the fact that we have been bound together with Jesus in our sinful life to die and rise together with Him so that now I am an heir of God. I am actually bound to the throne of God through Christ, and I now have the power of the divine nature operating within me, the love that exists in the heart of God. I am prepared to do anything that God says, just like Jesus did, even to the point of doing God’s will in taking our sinful life.

1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

People can’t understand this. They don’t understand, they don’t know.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Here you have the actual outcome of the catalyst. It is going to make me be willing to obey at any cost, because it cost God and Jesus everything. So next time we stand in front of an indulgence that is going to cost me something, remember this amazing story. Open your hearts to all this. Can we not see that we will comprehend the process to true obedience? As we open our hearts to all this, we will now have an obedience that is entirely a joyful one, not a tug and a strain. As I stand in front of my indulgence and I comprehend the intelligent application of everything that we have studied here, we say, yes anything, Lord; I am happy to do what You say. I will give up anything that You say and that I know you’re not happy with. You don’t even have to read it; you know inside, your conscience tells you. This isn’t right, I know it’s not right. So that’s alright, Lord, I am happy to obey You.

The man who claims to keep the commandments of God because he thinks he must do it will never enter into the enjoyment of obedience. {TMK 118.3}

If I want to enter into the enjoyment of obedience I must comprehend what we have studied here – the amazing scenario of me in my sinful indulgences which are going to end up in death and Jesus coming along, the Son of God, and taking hold of that consequence. As I look at that, I think, What would He do that for? Because He loves me. And as I see that, I think, Wow. Now what? He has actually died with it, and He rises again because of the divine nature that is functioning within Him, and He says, If you will die with Me you will be an heir of God. How can I deny that love? How can I regard obedience as a drudgery?

The essence and flavor of all obedience is the outworking of a principle within… {TMK 118.4}

What is the principle?

…–the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God. The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer, doing right because it is right. When the Word of God is a burden because it cuts directly across human inclinations, then the religious life is not a Christian life, {TMK 118.4}

You see, the Christian life is a life that is wrapped up with Christ, that loves Him. But if I am doing it under that tug and that strain, it is not a Christian life

But adoption into the family of God makes us children, not slaves. When the love of Christ enters the heart we strive to imitate the character of Christ. . . . The more we study the life of Christ with a heart to learn, the more Christlike we become. {TMK 118.5}

This love that we have contemplated and that we are to contemplate continually, it does something to us.

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us;

There is the catalyst. There is the motivating force. It compels me. It is a love that makes me do what God says because I love.

2 Corinthians 5:14 …because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

Here is the very essence of obedience. He died for me so that I would no longer live unto myself, to indulgence myself. I will now live unto Him who died for me. I will do everything He says. By experience we understand the meaning of Galatians 5. When the word of God is a living experience it’s not just words on a page.

Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

As I look at all that Jesus is doing I pick up on the faith, and as I see it, it is going to operate within me and it will work by love. I will have righteousness by faith, which is doing God’s will by love. Nothing else. Righteousness by faith is faith that works by love to will and do all of God’s will.

Romans 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations

What for? What is this subject of the atonement of Jesus, Jesus suffering with us in the flesh and rising again and giving us the divine nature, what is this?

Romans 16:26 …for the obedience of faith:

The obedience of faith that works by love. To comprehend what the apostles have written we need to enter into the path of the gospel with them. Then we will understand what we are reading. Jesus said it Himself, If you will do His will, then you will know of the doctrine. Then everything starts to come alive in the Bible. It is so meaningful.

God grant us that from this hour we will go forth to meet every indulgence of our life that my conscience and the Holy Spirit tell me is not God’s will, and with the love of God that I have comprehended here, I will gladly obey anything that God says. May God bless us to this end is my prayer.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

Posted on December 20, 2016, in Divine Service Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: