Saturday, March 19, 2011

Motivation for Obedience

What's Your Motivation for Obedience?

Scripture: John 14:15-14:24

Jesus says if we love Him we will obey Him. This morning we are going to take a close look at “What’s Your Motivation For Obedience?” Be careful–don’t answer that too fast!
+ John 14:15, 21-24 15“If you love me, you will obey what I command . . . 21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” 22Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” 23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” Jesus links obedience to His commands as a sign or proof of the genuine love of His followers. We find Jesus saying this four times within the space of ten verses (verses 15, 21, 23 and 24); do you think Jesus was trying to make a point?
Just as important as what Jesus said is what He did not say. Jesus didn’t say, “If you keep my commandments, then you love me.” You can’t turn a cause and effect statement around without changing it’s meaning. “If you keep my commandments, then you love me” means that love is produce by obedience or love flows out of obedience. Now how many of you know that just isn’t true?
• I’m much more careful to obey the 25m.p.h. speed limit near my house now. I got a speeding ticket for going 38m.p.h. on my way home about a month ago. The moment I saw the police car I knew I was busted. My obedience to the law has not caused me to “love” the police officer who gave me the ticket, nor do I “love” the village council that wrote the law. My obedience to the law has not even caused me to agree with the law. I saw nothing wrong with the speed I was driving then, and I still don’t think driving 38m.p.h. on a rural road with little or no other traffic is too fast. So why do I drive slower? I simply do it because getting home
Jesus said, “if you love me, then you will obey my commandments.” In other words, love produces obedience, or obedience to Christ’s command is the result of genuine love. It is possible to obey Jesus words and not love Him, but it is impossible to love Him and not obey Him.

• All of us as parents know that our children will obey us for many different reasons. I know there have been times that my kids have obeyed to get something that they wanted; at other times they have obeyed because they were afraid of being punished, and believe it or not there have even been times that I have had to make them obey. Yet there is no better feeling that I have as a dad then when I know my kids obey me simply because they love me.
Let me ask you a question: Why Do You Obey Jesus?
• Do you obey Jesus because you are looking forward to the reward of heaven?
• Do you obey Jesus because you are afraid of being punished?
• Do you obey Christ’s commands because you have no other choice; is it a self-imposed self-righteousness like the Pharisees?
• Do you obey Jesus simply because you love Him?

Be careful before you answer that question. How well do you know the motives of your heart?
+ Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Let’s take a moment and think about each of these four different motives of obedience and see if we can figure out what they might look like in real life.

1. THE REWARD OF HEAVEN–what is it like for someone to obey Christ but they do it because they are hoping to get something out of it?

Because their obedience is linked to a reward, these folks will always have their hand out. They expect God’s blessing or a “divine allowance” because they have been so good.
Now I believe that whatever we ask for in Jesus name we can receive. Remember, Jesus just told His disciples that very thing in John 14:14. But as we saw last week, that isn’t a formula for getting our prayers answered, but rather God will answer our prayers because we have Jesus identity within us. Therefore, we would only pray the same kind of prayer Jesus would pray.

Jesus wouldn’t pray many of the prayers we pray. We are quick to want God’s blessing and seek relief from any hardship or difficulty. Yet Jesus embraced the suffering of the cross as God’s purpose for His life.
Jesus lived with the reality of God’s hand of favour and grace upon His life moment by moment. We need to likewise understand that God’s blessing is upon us NOW.

+ Philippians 4:11-13 11. . . I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength
Paul had learned the secret of contentment that each of us need to likewise learn. Christ is with us even in the midst of our suffering and will give us all the strength we need moment by moment. He will be faithful to us always. We don’t have to ask God to make us comfortable or give us everything we want because we have been good.

2. FEAR OF PUNISHMENT–what does the person look like who just wants to escape the fire of hell?

Some may be quick to point out that it is okay to be motivated by fear. You could argue that it’s even scriptural.
+ Proverbs 3:7 . . . fear the LORD and shun evil. + Philippians 2:12 . . .work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Are we supposed to have a fear of the Lord? Yes, that fear is the reverence and awe of God; it is to view God above and before all else.
But are we to have a PHOBIA OR UNHEALTHY FEAR of the Lord? No, we should not dread or be terrorized by the thought of God; we should not be afraid of God anymore than we should be fearful of a loving father.

HOW CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE between a healthy and an unhealthy fear. An unhealthy fear will either paralyze you or cause you to run away; you don’t want to be near that which terrorizes your heart.
Those who obey God with a fear of punishment have a hard time drawing near to God in worship and praise. It is difficult to lovingly embrace that which you are afraid of. They fear that God will reject their efforts to obey Him.

The individual who obeys God because they don’t want to be punished ALSO LACKS FAITH. They have difficulty believing that God will meet their needs or answer their requests because of how they view God. They can only see God as the one who hands out eternal punishment and not as a loving Father who cares for His children.

3. NO OTHER CHOICE–what is it like to impose a strict self-righteousness upon how you live?

These folks will look good; they will be careful about everything they do. They will even tell you how much they love God. But they will also tell you how badly you have missed the mark; the self-righteous are overly critical and judgmental.
Jesus took on the Pharisees of His day. He could see beyond their self-imposed righteousness and see the real condition of their hearts.

+ Matthew 23:27-28 27Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
4. AN OVERFLOW OF LOVE–does our love produce a life marked by obedience?

+ 2 John 1:6 Love means following His commandments, and His underlying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love. This is the first think you heard and nothing has changed. (THE MESSAGE)

Love is key. A heart that fully loves Christ produce a life that is marked by obedience to His word. How can you recognize loving obedience to Christ and His word?

1. Love obeys Christ’s commands WHOLEHEARTEDLY.
Those who love Christ will obey His commands simply because it is Christ’s word spoken to them. Whether it is the spoken commandment of Christ in scripture, His teachings, the Old or New Testament scriptures inspired by His Spirit, or the still small voice of His spirit speaking to the heart those who love Him will obey Him. Period.
+ Psalm 40:8 I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. (NIV)
+ Luke 11:28 [Jesus said], “Blessed . . . are those who hear the word ofGod and obey it.” (NIV)

I just want to obey Christ and serve Him only. If my obedience is because of convenience or my personal belief, then I am serving my self and not Christ. If my obedience is the result of those in authority over my and my desire to please them, then I serve man and not Christ. Only as I wholeheartedly respond to Christ with a willing heart of devotion do I serve Christ and Him alone.

2. Love obeys Christ’s commands WITHOUT QUESTION.

Because I love Christ I will do whatever Has asks whenever He asks me to do it. I am not free to pick and choose what or when I want to obey. It’s like we tell our kids, “delayed obedience is disobedience.”
The scriptures tell us that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are different from ours (Isaiah 55:8). We may not always understand the path Christ wants us to walk; we may think we know a better way. If only God would consider what we think would be best, or direct us at a different time.
Love for Christ keeps us walking in obedience to the direction He tells us to go. Love makes His way our way even when we don’t understand it. We obey Christ without question.

3. Love obeys Christ’s commands CHEERFULLY.
Love never obeys begrudgingly or with remorse. Love obeys willingly. Loves desire is to please the one it loves through glad and joyful obedience.

+ Psalm 119:97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
+ Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.

4. Love obeys Christ’s commands CONSISTENTLY.

Love never fails. Because I love Christ I will always continue to love Him, therefore, I will continually obey Him.
+ Psalm 119:44 I will always obey your law, for ever and ever.
How is it possible to faithfully obey Christ at all times? Yes, our love for Christ produces or overflows with obedience, but it doesn’t end there.
+ Deuteronomy 30:14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

Our heart has been transformed by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It’s the Holy Spirit that enables us to have a consistent love for Jesus that never fails.