Tim Johnson, editor
February 20, 2011
Christ Before Men
Hard to Obey
Why is it so hard to obey God? As a preacher, I can remember numerous times when I've preached lessons with as much conviction and passion as I could muster, entreating, even begging, brethren in the assembly to make needed adjustments in their lives. Yes, I've stepped on some toes, even my own. After some of those lessons, some of the very same ones who I hoped would become more obedient to God shook my hand and complimented me on a "very good and needed" sermon. Then, they've gone on their way with nary a change being made!
It sometimes reminds me of how things went as I raised my daughters. "I love you, Dad" they would say, but then they would continue to do some of the very things I admonished them not to do just moments before. I know, I know - It's like that for most parents, but I can't help wondering if our heavenly Parent doesn't sometimes feel the same frustration with His stubborn children.
"Casting all your cares on Him" His apostle said (1 Pet 5:7), but some answer, "I can't. My problems are too much and besides, You won't answer the way I want You to." Or we read "Be holy for I am holy" (1 Pet 1:16) but some reply "But the world is so much fun, and besides, don't You want me to be happy?" Or perhaps we've heard recently that we should not be "forsaking the assembling of ourselves, as is the habit of some" (Heb 10:25), but the reply we offer is "I can't fit You into my schedule. I've got other things to do that are more important to me." What must He think? Do we really think we can fool Him by simply uttering "My Jesus, I love Thee..." once in a while, yet fail to show our love by our obedience (John 14:15)?
In a prior job I had managing a parts department for a tractor dealership, I attended a management seminar. A contrast was drawn between two bosses: One is liked but not feared by his subordinates. Because they like him but don't respect his authority, they don't follow his directives. The other boss is both feared and liked by his employees, and their adherence to his leadership shows it. The same can be seen in how some Christians "love" God but don't obey Him.
"But I don't want to obey God just because I'm afraid of Him!" some would say. The Lord desires that His people both love and fear Him. God demanded both from Israel: "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut 10:12). The same sentiments are repeated to Christians in the New Testament (Matt 10:28, Mark 12:30, John 14:15). To fear God is to have the utmost respect and reverence for Him, and we will, if we fully appreciate the provisions He's made for our salvation and relationship with Him. Then, this gratitude will cause us to love Him more and work to remove any obstacles that stand in the way of real service, real obedience.
We can listen to wonderful sermons preached by eloquent men; we can sing rousing hymns with great fervor and harmony; we can read and study deeply from God's word, but, unless we make the necessary adjustments, we will be just like those Christians whom James referred to as looking in a mirror, seeing themselves, but doing nothing to fix what is wrong (James 1:23-24). When we move from simply "hearing" about what God desires, to "doing" what we know we must, then the implanted word will bloom within and will show its fruit by the changes in our lives. And then, it won't be so hard to obey anymore.
-- Zeke Flores
Confession is probably one of the most misunderstood of God's commands for his children. In Luke 12:8, Christ shows the importance of confession by stating that if one confesses (in) Him before men, He will confess (in) that one to the Father. Conversely, one who fails to confess (in) Christ will not be confessed (in) before God. Just what is this "confession" that is required of us to be acceptable to God?
It is interesting to note that the literal definition of the word we translate "confess" is "to speak the same thing." Today, many seem to have the idea that confession is some sort of formal, one time acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. By its very definition, this is simply just not the case. The tense of this verb indicates an ongoing action. In other words, one who "confesses (in) Christ" is one who continually speaks the things of Christ.
As long as Christians "confess" Christ, they can remain a true child of God (1 John 4:15). When a Christian fails to speak Christ or fails to "have this mind ... which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5), which is a mind of submission and obedience, then he ceases to confess Christ before men and is out of favor with God.
Non-Christians simply cannot "confess" Christ before men. To confess Christ is not only to publicly acknowledge that He is the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10; 1 Timothy 6:12), but also to freely and openly admit to having Christ as Lord and Master and being obedient to His will. Many confess belief, but are disobedient and thus displeasing to God (Titus 1:4).
When one has the humble mind as did Christ, he will engage in further confession, such as in the confession of sins (James 5:16). Again, this is not some formal ritual, but is a result of being a true child of God with a penitent heart.
Really we see three basic tenets of confession: 1) to publicly acknowledge Christ, 2) to repent and confess sins, and 3) to live a life before men in humble submission to Christ "speaking the same things" as Christ. If one fails in any of these areas of confession, he fails in all, for God expects them all.
Do you live your life "confessing in (Christ) before men?" Do you live your life so that He will confess you to the Father?
-- S. Scott Richardson
Via The Challenger, Vol. 37, No. 8, August 1991