WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
JANUARY 5, 2021
TOPIC: LOVING GOD IS OBEYING HIM
BY T. O. BANSO
“The one who obeys me is the one who loves me; and because he loves me, my Father will love him; and I will too, and I will reveal myself to him” (John 14:21 The Living Bible).
Right from the Old Testament, the Bible makes it ambiguously clear the need to love God. In Deuteronomy 6:4-5, the Bible says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (New King James Version).
In this scripture, we can see that love is qualified. Loving God must be done with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. In other words, God wants you to love with all of yourself – not a part of you. We must love Him with all we are and have. We must love Him supremely.
When Jesus came on earth, He emphasized love in His teachings. In fact, He summarized the Ten Commandments into the word love. Answering the question by an expert in religious law, who tried to trap him with the question on which was the most important commandment in the law of Moses, Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40 New Living Translation). Mark 12:29-31 records a similar answer by Jesus.
The first part of Jesus’ answer deals with love for God. How may I love God? This is a very important question because it is possible for one to say he loves God but it’s not true. Before we look at what the New Testament says about this, it will be proper to go back to the Old Testament.
One pattern we notice in the Old Testament is that loving God is associated with obeying His commandments, statutes, instructions, and the likes. For instance, Deuteronomy 11:1 says, “Therefore you shall love the LORD your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always” (New King James Version). Did you see that?
In verse 22 of the same chapter, we again see the connection between loving the LORD and obedience. “For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do — to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him” (Deuteronomy 11;22 New King James version).
Also, in Deuteronomy 30:15-16, the Bible says, “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess” (New King James Version). The Bible stressed further in verse 20 obeying His voice and clinging to Him. Obeying the LORD goes with loving Him.
We see the same relationship in Joshua 22:5 where the Bible says, “But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (New King James Version).
What I am trying to point out here is that we demonstrate our love for God by obeying Him. Whereas it is possible to try to obey God out of fear of judgment, it is impossible to truly love God without obeying Him. For a child of God who loves Him, obedience to Him is a thing of joy. It could be called loving obedience or obedient love.
He knows that the commandments of God or the things He has asked Him to do are out of love for Him. He knows that though, sometimes, some of the things may not be the things he enjoys doing, they are for His good and God has his best interest at heart. Deuteronomy 10:12-13 says, “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? He requires you to fear him, to live according to his will, to love and worship him with all your heart and soul, and to obey the LORD’s commands and laws that I am giving you today for your own good” (New Living Translation).
Everything God asks His children to do or does for them, no matter how negative it appears on the surface, is for their own good. For instance, Deuteronomy 8:16 says, about the children of Israel, “He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good” (New Living Translation). The New King James Version renders “for your own good” as “to do you good in the end.”
If we love God, we will obey Him, notwithstanding what He has commanded us to do. We will obey Him lovingly because we know He is not working against us but for us. Loving God is obeying Him, not just talking about it. Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” (John 14:15 Good News Translation).
Even in human relationships, people obey those they love and sometimes, out of love, not by compulsion, do what they don’t prefer doing. They do this to please those they love. People will doubt your love for someone when you habitually disobey him.
Jesus says further, in verse 21 of John 14, “The one who obeys me is the one who loves me; and because he loves me, my Father will love him; and I will too, and I will reveal myself to him” (John 14:21 The Living Bible). Please take note of the first part of this scripture. The New King James Version renders it thus: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.”
Emphasizing that loving God is obeying Him, Jesus continues in verses 23-24: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me’” (New King James Version).
Also, the apostle John puts it this way: “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and really, that isn’t difficult” (1 John 5:3 New Living Translation). He says further in 2 John 6a that love means doing what God has commanded us,
Do you love God? 1 Corinthians 16:22 says if anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed. Just as Jesus, after His resurrection asked Peter three times if he loved Him (John 21:15-17), I ask you: do you love God? If you do, you will obey Him. Show your love for God by your obedience. Anyone who claims to love God but disobeys His Word is a hypocrite.
The Bible also allows us to know that claiming to love God and even singing about it while hating one’s neighbour is sheer hypocrisy. Your love for God is seen in your love for your neighbour. Love for God and love for one’s neighbours (fellow human beings) are inseparable
This is how Jesus puts it: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21 New King James Version). We love because God first loved us (1John 4:19).
Examine yourself. Are you obeying the written Word of God? Do you obey the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God?
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, help me to love You with all my heart, soul, and mind; and let my love show in my obedience to Your Word. I will love the Lord, not the world in the name of Jesus. Holy Spirit, help me to love my neighbours as myself.
(For over 400 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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