Why Teaching People to Obey God Isn’t Nearly Enough…..
Devotional?Discussion Thought of the Day:
16 The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. 18 Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (NAB)
280 You know that you will never lack God’s grace, because he has chosen you from all eternity. And if this is what he has done for you, he will grant you all the help you need to be faithful to him as his son. Go forward, then, with assurance and try to respond at every moment.
As I continue to see debates about faith and works online, as I continue see to people demand full obedience to one commandment and not another, I am saddened. For people hyper-focus on the law, and debates about it, much as the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Herodians did in the age of Christ.
Because of this, I know quite a few people who leave the church, dismayed either because of hypocrisy, or because of a burden that they are expected to keep, that they cannot on one hand. On the other, they are dismayed because despite what scripture says, they don’t see the life of those claiming to be believers to be all that different. There are the same kind of sinners, justified not by the blood of Christ, but because of their own justifications, they still go about life, unchanged, and in chains to sin.
My contention isn’t that we need to teach people to obey the commandments, or to simply live free of them. My contention is that we don’t do nearly enough in teaching people to obey God. We go about it wrong in teaching them to obey, and when we reduce it simply to God’s commands, we do something even worse.
First let’s deal with “obey”. In the very well known passage called the great commission, about half of my translations use obey, some use observe, and a few older translations use keep. I think the idea of obey comes from that old KJV era use keep, but they in doing so, they cause a problem. The word in Greek comes from the word to watch over, to guard, to treasure, to protect. As I have noted before, the keep in a castle was the place of the greatest possible defense, the final point of resistance, the place where children and wives were kept, along with the treasure.
Guard them, treasure them, doesn’t make as much sense when we combine it with command. or at least it seems awkward. But consider how much the psalms rejoice in God’s law, in His commandments. (for example in Psalm 119) Consider the opening of Proverbs 7,
1 My child, remember what I say and never forget what I tell you to do. 2 Do what I say, and you will live. Be as careful to follow my teaching as you are to protect your eyes. 3 Keep my teaching with you all the time; write it on your heart. Proverbs 7:1-3 (TEV)
1 My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; 2 keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; 3 bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 7:1-3 (ESV)
I put the two translations here for a reason, there is something more to commandments than what meets the eye. Normally we think of commands as God’s law, the Decalogue, what are referred to as the Ten Commandments.
I would contend that we would be less confused if we replaced commandment with a synonym, commissioned (we call it the Great Commission, don’t we?) But we have a slightly different meaning. Commissioned doesn’t reduce what is taught to the “do’s and do not’s”. It beings out the scope to include all God has ever commanded about you, as well as what He has commanded you.
For instance, the declaration of our righteousness, the work of Christ’s life, lived with one mission.
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed 19 and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people.” Luke 4:18-19 (TEV)
it includes His work in completing what He began in us, and in the Holy Spirit’s work in transforming us. It includes the entire covenant – promises as well as regulations. That is why spending time heaing and meditating upon what God has commissioned brings such joy, not just bondage to a law. (btw, the commission concepts works with the Decalog/Ten Commandments) as well, including what some dismiss as the prelude – the key to understanding it.
This is why the joy is so complete, for what God has commissioned for you and I is wondrous. It is the full measure of His love, not just His plans for our lives. It is that we are to become His worksmanship (Eph 2:10), a people He made for His own.
Teach His people, those He has claimed in baptism this Truth, for they are His disciples, His children. And the joy will be unsurpassed. As they treasure what God has called and commissioned into their lives, the obedience will follow, naturally and assured of His empowerment.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1137-1140). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Posted on November 5, 2014, in Good Articles, Poiema, The Forge, Theology in Practice and tagged 10 Commandments, Decalog, faith, Faithfulness, grace, Great Commission, righteousness, Third use of the Law, Works. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.