Do we want to get to know God better? Do we want to receive a deep(er) revelation of Christ’s intimate love for us? I do not know about you, but as for me, I know I want these things. If we find ourselves somehow stuck in our spiritual situation, it might be that we have failed to see the most obvious things by ignoring God’s still small voice of warning regarding those matters that are really important to Him. So, what is important to God? If we carefully read chapter 28 in the Book of Deuteronomy, we might see to what extent obedience to God’s commandments is blessed and how far disobedience is cursed. I only chose to take the two respective verses of introduction so that we can see the consequences of our (un)readiness to listen to and to finally follow our Shepherd’s voice. We read,
“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you TODAY, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” (Dt 28:1-2 ESV)
“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you TODAY, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.” (Dt 28:15 ESV) – Emphasis in caps added
Sometimes it is not so much about the bigger things like to not yell at someone who wronged us and made us mad or to not gossip about our neighbor who behaves strangely at times. Hmm… or did we perhaps think these were the smaller things? It might be different for everyone of us, dependent on our natural inclination. Some people never gossip because they do not like to talk at all and others who like to talk can, of course, more easily be caught in situations where they run others down through idle or even malicious gossiping. Although I believe it is mainly our heart that matters to God – not so much our moral uprightness UNLESS our good manners have sprung from a completely new and God-given heart – we ought to be cautious how we as Christians talk or write in public, since, shouldn’t we be the light of the world? 🙄
It should not come to us as a big surprise that this world loves gossip and tittle-tattle. You only need to read the headlines of the news and you know what I mean. But if Christians, even bloggers, keep gossiping about other Christians (or non-Christians) and think they have the authority to do so, then I really doubt their testimony. I know that the Holy Spirit usually convicts about these and other sins. Brothers and sisters, let’s just look at another ‘small thing’ that can easily be ignored. Imagine you follow some Christian blogs and read their stuff. Maybe, you like it, maybe you don’t. But even if we don’t like all what we read, yet use parts of what others were inspired to write about, once, twice, three…. even several times in our own entries without giving them credit for having been inspired by God in their individual way, do we not despise the Giver and the Head of the Body of Christ by doing so?
Below you can find some thoughts by T. Austin Sparks on the connection between obedience and blessing. The blessing in this excerpt is the deeper revelation of God in Christ, a spiritual blessing which is typical for the New Covenant we live in, while the ‘lists’ of more material blessings and curses you can look up in Deuteronomy 28 primarily belong to the Old Covenant. But God who never changes still loves His people’s obedience and chastens continuous disobedience by a professed Christian as He sees fit. Please note, I do NOT speak about new believers here who stumble from one small sin into the other, hardly able to discern what is right and what is wrong! Instead, I thought about those of us who have been walking by faith for many years and should know better. Just think about it for a moment… Can anyone of us seriously say they love God and then intentionally (!) disobey Him? Doesn’t Scripture take us to task as we hear Jesus say, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” (Jn 14:21 ESV)? T. Austin Sparks said it this way.
The progressive knowledge of God in Christ is to the heart that trusts and the heart which has a disposition to obey the Lord.
Be careful about the word “obey”. So often we mentally have a kind of catalogue of things about which we think obedience is required, and we reduce the whole matter of obedience to some of these things, and when we hear a word spoken about being obedient to the Lord we either think of some ordinance that we have got to obey, or some outstanding thing that has been a matter of reservation; some question or some fear. Let us remember that this kind of obedience the Lord speaks of is all-round obedience. It is not just the public obedience to the Lord in outstanding things. It is obedience in secret. Very often we are found out in the matter of obedience away back in the secret place where no one else in all the world knows anything about that particular thing, and the Lord has just mentioned that to us. Sometimes it is in our domestic life. The Lord has said something about a thing that wants attending to, something that is not to His glory, and obedience touches there. It might be in our business life. It may be anywhere, just something that is not according to the mind of the Lord, and if only we were to allow ourselves to reflect upon it, we should know that that is not glorifying to the Lord. Obedience touches that, and remember that whatever may be the amount of teaching that you get in conferences or in meetings, this resurrection manifestation of the Lord to your heart can never come where there is not the obedience of love in every realm of your being. Lack of obedience shuts the door to revelation to the heart if there is not this disposition to see to things about which the Lord speaks, whatever they may mean.
Just for clarification, the knowledge of God in Christ Sparks wrote about does not consist in mere head knowledge about God, Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, Scriptures, creeds, doctrine, dogmatics etc. It is simply about knowing (read loving) God with our whole being, or rather about being loved by Him (1 Cor 8:1) and to respond to the love received (Rom 5:5). What we really need to know, then, comes to us by revelation through the Holy Spirit as we obey the one whom we love.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mk 12:28-31 ESV)