We obey because Jesus loved us first - 09/22/19

The Big Idea

We obey because Jesus loved us first.

When we believe and declare Jesus is our Lord (Romans 10:9-10), we commit to what He has called us to do. This includes following His commands and teachings. But don’t worry, He gives us Help.

What does scripture tell us?

John 14:15–17 ESV
[15] “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. [16] And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, [17] even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

What do we know?

We are rebels. No, not the ones fighting the galactic empire to destroy the imperialistic hold they have over all of the star systems. (Yes, this is a Star Wars reference.)

This means we are people who rebel. Let’s address the elephant in the room, the thing we don’t want to say about ourselves: we do not always want to obey God. We tend to resist things we do not want to do. We want to do what WE want to do.

The primary thing that stands in the way for us to fully obey God is us - you and me, individually. And who we end up resisting when we rebel are those in our lives that represent authority, and Jesus is at the top of that list.

If we know we rebel, how then do we work to obey? Is Jesus the main authority in your life? If you say He is, how are you doing with obeying His commandments.

The passage here in John 14:15 follows what we studied previously. Remember that Jesus was preparing the disciples, and us, for the long haul. Here, Jesus is telling us that if we truly are a follower of His we will obey His instructions.

This requires us to recognize three things.

We obey when we know His love

God is love I bet is something you have heard before. There are a number of passages in scripture on love. One of the clearest verses that speak to God’s love for us is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” There can be no objection by a believer in Jesus that this is the greatest gift ever given. What then does this tell us about the God who gave it? Psalm 51:14 tells us He is a God who saves.

Think about the adults in your life, the ones who are helping you to grow and learn and avoid pitfalls. When we talk about obeying, and disobeying, it’s usually associated with the person asking you to do something than it is the task you are being asked to do. Is it mom or dad? Is it a teacher? What about a coach? What if we place Jesus in front of us. How would you act, or react, if you were told to do something by Jesus? When we see Jesus commanding us to do something in scripture, do we immediately think He is doing it on a power trip, or as God in the flesh loving us and giving us instructions that benefit us in His kingdom?

What about forgiveness? We see the love of God from Jesus’ teaching in The Parable of the Prodigal Son starting at Luke 15:11. The son wanted all he could have now so he asked his father for his inheritance. He then ran off spending it all on reckless living as scripture tells us. The son didn’t take the money to invest and grow what was given to him. He ran off and spent it on who knows what. When the son had spent all of the inheritance, not having anything left and nowhere to turn, he returned home. He didn’t come home to a father that said “too bad”, but to a father that said, “I’m glad”.

Jesus uses this to teach how incredible and loving our Heavenly Father is. He knows our hearts, and he wants our hearts. He wants our heartfelt obedience so He knows that His word is on our hearts.

We obey when we know our sin

When we think about love, what comes to mind is either getting or receiving something. Have you ever considered love is also being denied something, being told “No”? I bet you don’t think about laws and instructions as love. When we think of laws, we think of “don’ts” and “don’ts” aren’t things you relate with love. But our God has given us don’ts, along with the dos, so He can be glorified in all of His instruction. If our God wasn’t loving, he could have told us “you guess if it is lawful or not”. But, He didn’t do that. He laid out the parameters upfront so we wouldn’t have to guess. (Soccer illustration, handball)

Sin is the opposite of obedience. It is the definition of disobedience. Adam and Eve sinned in the garden when they disobeyed God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, messing it up for all of us. “Don’t eat the fruit” seemed like such a small, trivial request, right? No request or command from God is small and trivial. He gives it for a reason.

Sin is also a contradiction. Sin makes us think it can give us something greater than God can. Something that appears wonderful as sin is truly small because it can never be fulfilled by God. Think about the results of a lie. You are either busted in the lie or your lie is not discovered then more lies are needed to cover up the progressing lies. God is able to use our disobedience to shape us but how necessary was our sin?

We make mistakes. We mess up. What sets apart the person who loves God and the person who doesn’t is knowing that they sinned and seeking forgiveness through repentance.

We obey when we know what to put our hearts to

The “don’ts” always seem to dominate discussions, but what then are the “do’s”?

We as believers seek out what He says we should put our hearts to. What do you think we do when we put our hearts to something? We love. Then what are we supposed to love? Jesus’ commands. Let’s read John 14:15 again. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Such a simple, easy to understand direction given by Jesus.

Jesus was asked in Matthew 22 what the greatest commandment was and in verses 37–38 He tells us, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Then in verse 39 He tells us, “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.

Consider this example. In a family, you typically have parents and siblings, brothers or sisters. Now not all families look the same but the family unit is similar in most situations. Think about these two commands as it relates to your family. Love your parents all you can, and love your brother/sister as you do yourself. If you aren’t doing those things, your relationship at home will be hard. Anything asked of you at home, then, would seem petty and even wasteful.

Everything we do in bringing glory to God is wrapped up in the two commandments. Many other “dos” could be listed here but our priority should be to take to heart the two core things Jesus said we should do. Obeying Jesus then looks like loving and worshipping Him, because that is what our heart tells us to do.

Now what?

We know God’s love for us. We know we are disobedient in sin. We now know what we are to love. What do we do with all of that? Once we know, we are to obey. Knowing God’s word is so important for two reasons. First, it’s what He has given us to know Him, love him, and why we should worship Him. Second, it’s the basis for us to discern how we navigate the world that we are in. But also, for those that have accepted Jesus, He has given us His Spirit. The “rules” of the world today are ever-changing, but God’s word is ever faithful. When the two conflict, it takes us remembering Jesus’ instruction and trusting in the Holy Spirit to keep His commandments.

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