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Becoming a FAT HOG for Jesus
Obedient!
John 14:15-21; Mark 12:30
 
We are two-thirds of the way through our study on “Becoming a FAT HOG for Jesus”.  We have looked at being faithful, available, teachable and holy.  Today I want us to consider what it means to be obedient.
 
It was rather difficult for me to decide what direction to take in this message.  There are so many ways to approach the subject of obedience.  We could look at the results of disobedience seen in the lives of Adam and Eve early in the Bible.  We could look at numerous examples of obedience such as in the life of Daniel or the early apostles who declared, “We must obey God rather than men”.
 
I really wanted to preach from Luke 17 where Jesus said when we’ve done everything required of us we are to consider ourselves to be nothing more than unprofitable servants who have only done what was expected.   
 
But I want to go more to the very foundation of obedience and to do that I want to bring your attention to a passage found in John 14.  Notice what we read beginning in ‘
 
Verse 15-21 
 
Tonight I want to speak to you about how to develop a lifestyle of obedience.  I’m afraid we tend to think of being obedient as something we do rather than what and who we are.
 
That lets us off the hook when it comes to certain responsibilities.  We can justify our disobedience by bragging about our obedience in other areas.  I may not tithe, but I’m faithful in attendance.  I may not come to Sunday School, but I always make sure my tithe check is in on time. 
 
But if I ask, “’Am I an obedient child of God?’ ‘Is my life marked by obedience?’ ‘Does obedience describe me and my lifestyle?’”, then the answer is more complex.
 
In fact, if you want to know what is wrong with the average Christian, it is they are disobedient. In fact, that is what is wrong with the average church. Far too many churches are filled with disobedient people.  Therefore, we are not radiant in our faith, we are not joyful in our worship, we are not enthusiastic in our service and we are not victorious in our lives. 
 
The old hymn writer was correct when he said, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
 
Now somewhere along the way, preachers quit saying much about obedience. I’m afraid we’ve preached so much on salvation by grace through faith and told people that salvation being a gift of God, that if we even mention the requirement of obedience people think we're legalists.
 
But I would remind you that while we are not saved by faith and works, we are saved to work. In fact, as we just studied in the book of James, the kind of faith that does not work is dead and useless. 
 
So what I want to do this morning is help us understand what it means to live a life of obedience. 
And we’ll take it all the way down to the foundation and look at three things that you need to know and understand so you can live a life that is marked by obedience. 
 
First, let’s think about
 
  1. The Secret to Obedience
 
Why do we and why should we obey the Lord? In our text, John says it is our love for Christ that is the motivation for our obedience.  Notice
 
Verse 15
 
Now I know there are all kinds of romanticists and sentimentalists who will try to tell you real love doesn’t use words like “if” and “because”.  Real love is shown in spite of who we are and what we do.  And that’s true.  God loves us in spite of who we are and what we do. 
 
But in response to being shown that kind of love and grace and forgiveness, Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”  And we all understand that.  In fact, to the Ephesians, Paul wrote, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.”  We know that is an unconditional love that puts our needs above those of Christ and makes something of us that we could never be without Him. 
 
But in the same passage he also says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands as unto the Lord.  Let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
 
 
In other words, when unconditional love is extended, there is an expected response and the response to what Christ has done for us is evidenced through our obedience to Him.  What that implies is there is no greater motive for keeping the word of God than our love for the Son of God. 
 
So don't tell me you love the Lord Jesus if you're not obeying him.  Those are empty words and you are wasting your breath and making a fool out of yourself. 
In fact, the Lord makes it very clear and very plain that if we love him we will keep his commandments.  He revisits this subject again in
 
verse 21
 
So the motive for obedience, the secret to living a life of obedience is our love for the Lord Jesus Christ. I don't keep the commandments in order to get to heaven; my way to heaven is paved by the grace of God.  I keep the commandments simply because I love the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
So how are we to love the Lord?  Listen to what Jesus said in
 
Mark 12:30
 
Here is the way we are to love the Lord. We are to love the Lord the same way the children of Israel were instructed to love God. 
 
We're to love God with all of our heart. It's to be a heartfelt love. It's not to be a superficial love.  Would you say that describes your love for the Lord?  Do you love Him with all of your heart? Is there that burning, passionate, emotional love for the Lord Jesus?
You know, people sing and talk about their love for the Lord a whole lot more than they love the Lord. We sing about how our heart longs for the Lord like a deer panting for something to drink. But in reality, our heart longs to stay home and watch the football game more than it longs to be with the Lord and His people. 
 
But Jesus said we are to love Him with all our heart. 
 
Next He mentions the soul.  So what does it mean to love the lord with all our soul?  Well, in the Bible, the soul is the self and what the Lord is saying is that the entire self, the entire person shall be given over to him. There is to be nothing held back or kept private. 
 
We are to love the Lord with everything we are. Every part, every area is given over to the Lord.
 
Then Jesus mentions the mind.  Love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind. 
 
Now the reason He mentions the mind is because we are to think about His love. So just respond with emotion. Listen, some of us have full hearts, but empty heads! Just because you have a heart that sings doesn’t mean you should go around with a head that rattles. 
 
We are to love God with all our mind and the reason that some of us don't love the Lord is we don't study and learn about the Lord and the reason we don't study and learn about the Lord is because we don't love the Lord. You can't leave your mind out of it. The Bible instructs us to study to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that need not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth.
 
Mark also talks about loving the Lord with all our strength.  Matthew says, “heart, soul and mind”.  Both passages are quotes from Deuteronomy 6:5 which says, “heart, soul and strength” and it hink what we have in the writing of Moses, Matthew and Mark is a reminder that we are to love the Lord with everything we’ve got. 
 
Our love for Him is to consume and control us.  We are to be “truly, madly and deeply in love with our Lord and Savior.  It is commanded of us. In fact, Jesus says it is the first and most important of the commandments.       
 
Learn to love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and with all your strength. Would you say that describes your love for God? Do you love him with everything you’ve got? Are all your energies focused in love for the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it He that fills your mind and thought processes through the day? Do you think most about pleasing Him and doing His will? 
 
Now let’s bring that to a sharp focus. The Lord Jesus is telling us the motive for obedience is that kind of love.  And the reason we are not obedient is because our love life is not what it out to be.  
 
He said, “If you love me keep my commandments.”   Don't tell me you love the Lord Jesus if you don't keep his commandments. God is not impressed by your claims and neither is anybody else. Don't tell me how many verses you know and how much you study the Bible or how often you attend church.   
 
 
 
 
I want to know, not only are you reading what this book says, but are you obeying it? If you love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind and all of your strength, then you'll be keeping the commandments of the Lord.
 
That is the secret to obedience.
 
The second thing is
 
  1. The Standard of Obedience
 
What is my guide for obedience? How do I know what to do and what not to do?  Look again at
 
Verse 15, 21, 23
 
If the secret to obedience is my love for God, the standard of obedience is the Word of God. How are we going to know what to do and what not to do?
 
Jesus says, Keep My Word, My commandments.”
 
That means if I will live a life of obedience, I’ve got to know God’s Word.  You can't keep His commandments until you know His commandments.  Did you notice that in verse 21?  Jesus said you’ve got to have and keep them. 
 
And by the way, you are responsible and accountable to keep His commandments whether you know them or not. You are going to answer to God one way or the other.  It would behoove us to become thoroughly and intimately acquainted with what God says to us in His Word.
 
And it really shouldn’t be that hard to do.  After all, if we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will also love His Word.  When I love Him, I will keep His commandments, and obedience simply means I am bringing my life into alignment with and conformity to the Word of God.
 
I’m afraid we don’t really understand how important it is that we conform to the Word of God. Let me show you an Old Testament illustration that will help us to see it. 
 
The first king of Israel was a man named Saul. He is quite an interesting study. He had some extremely high moments and some unbelievably low times. 
 
At one point in his life, described in 1 Samuel 15, Saul was fighting the Amalekites. God told him to destroy everything.  Instead, Saul spared the king and allowed the Israelites to plunder the belongings and flocks and herds and bring them home, and to make matters worse, he tried to cover it up. 
 
So God sends the prophet Samuel to confront Saul with the message that he has been rejected as king by God. When Samuel approaches, Saul says, “Oh look! It’s the preacher! You are blessed of the Lord! I’ve just been out obeying God’s commands!”
 
Samuel says, “Then why do I hear the bleating of sheep and the sounds of oxen?” 
 
And Saul tries to shift the blame to the people.  They did it, and they only did it so we could worship God and bring Him a sacrifice!  Other than that, we did everything just like God told us to!”
 
We pick up the story in 1 Samuel 15:18-26
Now zero in on verse 23 where Samuel says disobeying God’s Word is the same as the worst iniquity or idolatry that man can commit. Have you ever paused to consider that not obeying God is classified the same as idolatry and witchcraft? 
 
You see, to fail to obey God is sheer rebellion. To fail to bring your life into accordance with this book is absolute treason against the Most High God. That means every instruction God gives, He expects it to be obeyed.  There are no little sins when it comes to disobedience.  
 
God may be telling you to go and apologize to someone or give a certain offering or witness to a friend and you are tempted to say, “Well, that's such a small thing.  It really doesn’t make much difference whether I do that or not.”  Listen:  It is never a small thing to disobey God.
 
We love to classify.  After all, our little “oversights” and “failures” aren’t like the big things everyone else is doing! After all, we haven’t killed anybody or stolen anything. And yet the Word of God declares that our stubbornness and rebellion is like idolatry, iniquity and witchcraft.
 
As far as obedience is concerned, everything gets measured by the Word of God. And if I am not bringing my life into conformity with his word then I'm not obeying him and if I’m not obeying Him, then I can’t say that I love Him. 
 
And if the truth be known, there are many who don't have an intimate, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. They’re on their way to heaven, but there is not a closeness to the Lord. 
He’s more of an abstract concept than a close friend and Father.  If that describes you, do you know why that is? It's because you're not obeying the Word of God. Let me show you why I say that. Look again at
 
John 14:21
 
Now follow the thought line. Jesus says, “If you want the Father to love you, then love the Son. If you want to prove that you love the Son, then keep the commandments of the Son of God.”
 
But now notice the rest of it. 
 
“And I will love him and manifest Myself to him”
 
Do you want Jesus to be real to you? Do you want Jesus to show Himself to you? It's so simple. Pick up a Bible, read it and obey it, and Jesus Christ will suddenly become very, very real to you!  It’s not complicated! 
 
You’ll never again have to wonder why God seems so distant. You won’t have to wonder why your prayers don’t seem to get any higher than the ceiling. You won’t have to wonder why everybody else seems so happy and you’re miserable. 
 
If you will learn to trust and obey, you’ll discover the way to be happy in Jesus. It is so plain and obvious.  If you want Jesus Christ to be real to you, then be obedient.  As a result, God will love you and Jesus will show up in your life!
 
And just to underline the point, notice
 
verses 22-23
Jesus says, “That's how I'm going to do it. I'm just going to dwell in your heart in such a real and vital way that you just know that I'm in there.  But the key is you must be keeping my word. You must be obeying me.”
 
Do you sometimes wonder why you can't understand the Bible?  You read it, but you just don't understand it.  Well, I'll tell you why.
 
Anytime you read a commandment in the word of God and God makes it plain to you that's what he wants you to do and you haven't been doing it and you need to start doing it, at the point where you say “I'm not going to do that”, you're going to cease to understand any more Scripture.
 
It doesn’t matter how much you study or read or listen, God will always bring you back to the last un-obeyed instruction He gave.  And at that point of disobedience, you have ceased to receive the Word as a spiritual man and you now hear it as a carnal natural man. And the things of God cannot be understood apart from the Spirit of God. They are spiritually discerned. 
 
And as a result, the Bible will be dull and uninteresting to you. You'd rather be home watching television or out at the lake or reading the newspaper.  And yet you say you believe the Bible and you love the word of God and there are many things in the bible you'd like to understand. And you wonder why it is it you don't understand the Bible and it seems as though God doesn’t speak as He once did. 
 
It is very simple. You do not understand the Bible because you do not obey the Bible. 
Let me give you a very simple, yet practical Bible study help this morning: “The way to understand the parts of the Bible you don't understand is to obey the parts you do understand”. 
 
Let me explain that.  Let’s suppose you encounter some commandment in the Bible and you refuse to obey it and then you read a few verses further and you say “Lord, show me what this means.”
 
Do you know how God responds to that request?  God says, “I'm not going to tell you.” You say, “Lord, Why not, God? I really want to know.” God says, “You are a hypocrite!  You don't really want to know because if you really wanted to know then you would obey that that I've I ready shown you and when you start to obey what I've already shown you then I'm going to show you more.”
 
Listen to me: there is no way to really know Jesus in a vital way or to understand His book in a transforming way except through obedience. It is the standard for obedience. 
 
We are motivated to obey because of our Love for the Lord.  We are guided in our obedience through the Word of the Lord
 
One more thing, and that is
 
  1. The Strength for Obedience
 
comes through the Spirit of the Lord. 
 
When it comes to obedience, many well-intentioned Christians are overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.
And oftentimes we are tempted to believe we just can’t do it. We don’t seem to love the Lord like we should or obey Him as we ought. We just don’t have the strength and if you see it that way, you are exactly right. You don’t have the strength and I don’t either. 
 
I hear people all the time talk about how hard and difficult it is to live a Christian life. That’s not true.  The Christian life isn't a hard life, it is an impossible life in an of our own strength. 
 
The only way we can successful love the Lord as we should and obey Him as we ought is for God to give us the supernatural strength to do it.  And that is why verse 16 follows verse 15.  Notice what it says
 
Verses 16-18 
 
So what does that mean? Well, verses 16-18 are not separate and apart from verse 15. That means I don’t have to generate a love for the Lord or obedience to the Lord in my own strength. Those things are done in the power and might of the Holy Spirit of God.
 
Listen: You cannot love Jesus without the Spirit and you cannot obey him without the Spirit.  And knowing that, Jesus promises to send the Spirit so we can do both. Jesus says, “I will ask God the Father to send you a Helper, someone to strengthen you, someone to stand alongside of you, someone to guide you and energize you. You're not called upon to do it by yourself. 
 
I’m afraid far too many people have never understood how to live the Christian life because they try to do it apart from the Holy Spirit out. 
 
So they try to do it through education or intellect. If they can just go to the library and study or take a course and go deep and get their heads full of information, then they’ll be successful in living the Christian life.
 
But I want you to know studying is not going to make you spiritual.  There are a lot of backslidden Baptists with a Bible under their arm. The answer is not intellectual.
 
There are other people who think the answer is emotional.  If we can just reach a certain place emotionally through the music and preaching and get the people worked up, then we’ll be able to do what God wants us to do. 
 
I'm not against emotion. I'm not against people getting excited in church and if your cup overflows let it overflow. I’ve always thought it easier to tone down a fanatic than to warm up a corpse. But the answer is not found in emotion.  
 
Still others think the answer must be in activity and their motto is a busy Christian is a happy Christian so hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work they go. But at the end of the day, even though they’re worn out, they’re not any closer to God.
 
Still others are like the Pharisees.  The answer is to make a list and impose it on everybody and conform their behavior to the list.  But again, God says the reality of our faith is on the inside, not on the outside. 
 
So where do find the strength for obedience? Well
the strength for obedience is found in the Spirit of the Lord. 
Jesus said, “I will pray the Father and He will give you another Helper, that he may abide with you forever.”
 
Now we need to understand, the Holy Spirit is a person.  He’s not an “it” or a thing.  He is the third person of the Holy Trinity.  That is so important to know because I will never serve the Lord until I understand that the Holy Spirit is a person sent by God Himself to take control of me. He is here to take Jesus’ place.
 
Notice in verse 16, He uses the word “another”.  Now the word “another” can refer to another of a different kind or it can refer to another of the same kind.  We can go to the zoo and see an animal called a bear, then see another animal called a lion.
 
But we can also go to the garden and see a rose, then see another rose of the same variety. Where we use the word “another” to speak of both, the Greeks used two different words and the word used here to describe the Spirit is “another of the same kind”. 
 
That means when Jesus says, “I will pray the Father and he will give you another Helper”, He is talking about someone just like Himself. 
 
And in that sentence we find a great definition of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is simply Christ living within the Christian’s heart. He is Christ within. 
 
So how am I going to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and how am I going to keep the commandments?  Why not just let the Jesus living inside of us do it? 
 
 
Do you think it is a given that the Spirit loves Jesus?  The Holy Trinity exists in absolute agreement with each other. I promise you the Holy Spirit will never have a problem loving the Lord as He should.  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are getting along fine! They exist in a perfect relationship.  Therefore, the Holy Spirit has not trouble expressing His love for Jesus.   
 
Do you think the Spirit finds it difficult to keep the commandments of God? Listen: He wrote the Bible!  He is just like Jesus and Jesus lived in absolute submission and obedience to the Word of God. Therefore, there will never be a time when the Spirit has to rationalize His behavior or will take issue with the Bible or be found in rebellion against the Word of God.
 
That’s why we thank God for the work of the Holy Spirit in us.  Remember this: If I love the Lord Jesus Christ, I'm going to keep this commandment because love for Jesus is the secret to obedience. The Word of God is the standard of my obedience. I cannot claim to be obedient if I'm not bringing my life in to conformity with this Word. 
 
But the only way I can do either of the first two is to find in the Spirit of God the strength to do it.  It is He in me that loves the Lord Jesus and allows me to keep the commandments. And through that relationship and the strength it provides I am able to be obedient to God. 
 
I'm so grateful that I don't have to do it myself and I know that as I yield my life to Him, He takes over and allows me to live a life of obedience to the Word of God and express my love for the Son of God. 
When missionary Hudson Taylor was director of the China Inland Mission, he often interviewed candidates for the mission field. On one occasion, he met with a group of applicants to determine their motives for service.
 
"And why do you wish to go as a foreign missionary?" he asked one. One replied "I want to go because Christ has commanded us to go into all the world..."
 
Another said, "I want to go because millions are perishing without Christ." Others gave different answers. Then Hudson Taylor said, "All of these motives, however good, will fail you in times of testings, trials, tribulations, and possible death. There is but one motive that will sustain you in trial and testing; namely, the love of Christ."
 
Sometimes, the most profound truths can be expressed in the simplest of ways. Listen to these lyrics written by Bill Gaither:  
 
I will serve Thee because I love Thee
You have given life to me
I was nothing before You found me
You have given life to me
Heartaches, broken pieces
Ruined lives are why You died on Calvary
Your touch was what I longed for
You have given life to me.
 
Obedience is just that simple:  I will serve you, obey you, because I love you. And I love you because you’ve given life to me.
 
Let’s pray.
 
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